Geocaching!!! It’s a weird way to spend your time. A warning to the uninitiated, you’ll get hooked very easy. If you like the challenge of the hunt, like to spend time outside (City and/or Country), like to play with high tech toys and like to meet interesting and really nice people, then maybe this is the game for you. The challenge of matching your hunting skills against others hiding skills, makes this a wonderful adventure sport. A great way for families, couples, or individuals to use their GPS to search for “Treasure” all over the world. The website at <geocaching.com> will give you much more information. The cost? If you have a computer and a hand-held GPS unit-Nothing! Yes, you may later want to signup for a Premium Membership for $30.00 a year (many advanced tools), and there are several good programs that may make caching even more fun such as GSAK, but these are not necessary for the basic sport.
In the next few sections, we will give you more information, links to websites, and our observations and hints on playing the sport.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
1. A computer that can access the internet. The starting webpage is <geocaching.com>. The first big box in the middle of the page labeled Create or Upgrade your Membership has a link labeled Create an Account Now. When you click on this link, it will take you to a signup page where only simple information is needed (First and Last Name and email address). Then you need to think of a USER NAME. Think of one that is interesting. (Examples: My name is Robert Wayne Holmes so my User Name is "rwsherlock" and my wife’s User Name is “His Princess”. I have many geo friends that have great User Name handles such as “Snowbirds VT”, “Zig and Zag”, “Goofy Butterfly”, “123 Florida” (a team from southeast Germany), and “XCO” and many others). Then finally pick a good password. (Don’t forget to write it down. That’s all there is to a Basic Membership. Simple, wasn’t it. After playing for a while, you then may want the Premium Membership.
2. A handheld GPS unit. This is your most immediate important choice. There are several good companies out there and all offer great products. (Examples: Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance, etc. But there are two or three important considerations to be made in what model you will purchase.
FIRST: How do I enter the waypoints (coordinates) of the caches I want to find? First way is to just match the coords in satellite view until I match the published waypoint coords. Problem: Quite slow and awkward.
SECOND: Enter the coords into the GPS and use Navigate Mode. Problem: Quite slow and prone to entry error, but better. After doing it this way for many caches, you will think “there has to be a better way”.
THIRD: Download from your computer directly into the GPS unit. Comment: This is the best way because most GPS units can hold 500 or more waypoints in memory. You can do the downloads directly from Geocaching or a secondary program such as Mapquest or GSAK.
As you can see from the three choices above, number 3 is the best choice. When you purchase your GPS unit, make sure that it has a computer access port and software and interface cable to downloading from your computer. The cost of handheld GPS units can range from fifty dollars to several hundred dollars. All will do the job but you will find that at around $150.00, you will get the most “bang for the buck”. An example is my GPS unit, the Garmin eTrex Legend. It is a simple B/W screen with the ability to hold 1000 waypoints and a battery life of about 18 hours. It cost about $150. Color and other “Bells and Whistles” are very nice and even desirable, but also add bucks.
Now that you have the GPS unit and have downloaded some waypoints from the Geocaching.com website (LOC for Basic Membership and GPX for Premium Membership, lets go caching.
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