Archive for December, 2009

Geocaching Outing

The Queen Mother called me this morning, early, and asked if I would like to go geocaching for the day. Hello! Like I ever need to be asked twice for an Outdoor Adventure. It was decided that we’d head to Sedona from Chino Valley, along the Interstate instead of over Jerome, caching along the way.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my family isn’t really the biggest on doing a bunch of Park-and-Grab geocaches along a route. Oh, sure, we PLAN it, but we usually find something interesting along the way and get sidetracked. So, this was a new record for us: 10 finds in one day and 2 more that we attempted with no luck.

We started out along highway 169 going after a series of jeananjoe caches. jeananjoe are some local Prescott cachers that hide some NASTY micros and some very kind not-micros.

In one of the first caches of the day I found this AMAZING ring that just screamed my name:


Perfect ring for The Outdoor Princess!

It was also at this cache that we finally met a police officer while out caching. I’ve heard that 99.9% of law enforcement are totally cool when you explain what you were doing. This gentleman didn’t even seem to care WHAT we were doing poking around in the bushes as long as we hadn’t heard any gun shots. Apparently, he had been called out by a report from the locals about gun shots.

I was just glad that it wasn’t a report of suspicious characters poking around in the bushes!

The next cache of the day netted another wicked-cool ring, this time in yellow. You can see The Outdoor Princess & family “striking a pose” near the cache site. Another jeananjoe but not too hard a find.

The Outdoor Princess and Family.

The Outdoor Princess and Family.

Although, this being yet ANOTHER nut jar from jeananjoe, I did have to wonder just how many nuts they consume in a year!

I took this photo as an illustration of the term: UPR – Unnatural Pile of Rocks. Refers to common practice of stack rocks on top of the cache to hide its location. The resulting pile often stands out to natural formations. You can find out all about terms at the post: Log Abbreviations: Decoded!

UPR hiding a Pez Cache.

UPR hiding a Pez Cache.

This was the hiding place for a “theme cache”. This is the type where all trades are asked to have a common theme. In this case, trading pez dispensers. I was excited to see that there were 3 in the cache. Of course, I didn’t have time to actually hunt any of my old pez dispensers down so I couldn’t trade for one. I know I have one (or 5) in a box in my garage somewhere, but I just didn’t know WHERE. I’ll have to remember this cache and come back to trade one someday.

Pez dispensers.

Pez dispensers.

Unfortunately, a lot of these caches required the crossing of cattle guards. On foot. Neither The Queen Mother nor myself really likes crossing these things. I think it has something to do with my wonky depth perception alá my astigmatism. Still, The Queen Mother and The Outdoor Princess bravely crossed them. My dad, on the other hand, just trotted happily across. None of the hang-on, pigeon walking of us ladies!

The Queen Mother crossing a cattle guard.

The Queen Mother crossing a cattle guard.

Here’s a closeup of feet. Firmly planted on the slat, if at all possible, walk across on the concrete!

Evil cattle guards!

Evil cattle guards!

Now, my father, aka ESP Boss, really is NOT a fan of micros. Maybe that’s because the very first one we went after was another jeananjoe cache and we spent nearly an HOUR searching a “zebra” looking for it. To no avail. So, I did convince him to look for one.

jeananjoe tend to call these caches "zebras".

jeananjoe tend to call these caches "zebras".

I KNEW it had to be in the end of the guardrail. And it was a painted Altoids tin so it wasn’t TOO tiny. Thankfully, my mom, aka, The Queen Mother, found it easily.

Hiding magnetic tin.

Hiding magnetic tin.

This container was actually large enough for a few trade items so I left a pair of EatStayPlay geotokens and then signed the log.

What tale of caching adventures is complete without a "SL" photo shoot?

What tale of caching adventures is complete without a "SL" photo shoot?

From there, it was onto a series of not really hard to find, but great camo. Even though they were kinda out in the open, so to speak, we still had to hunt for them.

Camo duct tape makes ALL the difference!

Camo duct tape makes ALL the difference!

The hint said under a PINE tree. There were no pine trees ANYWHERE. But lots of grey sticks!

The hint said under a PINE tree. There were no pine trees ANYWHERE. But lots of grey sticks!

Note the paint job!

Note the paint job!

This last cache impressed me just because someone had taken the time to paint the tin the same colors as the dirt. Even though this LOOKS obvious from the photo, it was really well hid under a bush.

And, our favorite hide of the day was a travel bug hotel with a difficulty rating of 3. Even though we didn’t have any bugs to trade, I really wanted to find it since it was a FULL SIZE ammo can. I mean, who can hide something that big? (As usual, I am not going to post the GC code so as not to spoil anything. Just  the photos!)

THIS is the cache.

THIS is the cache.

Now, that doesn’t look like anything, right? Just a root sticking up? Well, scroll down!

See it now?

See it now?

The only thing about this cache was that the sticky-up root just invited a kick. I don’t know how long it’ll last with people kicking it all the time!

Getting warmer!

Getting warmer!

Holy cow! We didn’t have to dig for it, just lift a lid.

The cache in the open.

The cache in the open.

From here, we just had a few more we wanted to find, racing the coming darkness. And, since it WAS New Years Eve, we wanted to get home before the crazies came out!

This was as close as we got to Sedona.

This was as close as we got to Sedona.

We got close enough to SEE the red rocks of Sedona, but didn’t actually make it to town.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Since you can see from the FIRST family photo, we’ve started piling on the layers. Next time I go caching, I need a princess tee from CafePress!

Geocaching Princess Tee Shirt

Geocaching Princess Tee Shirt

Find Your Geocache

Using To Find A Spot For A Cache

Here’s the scenario:

You get the cache container all ready to go. It has a log book, swag, the geocaching disclaimer and the PERFECT camouflage. You hike out to where you’re going to place the cache, going through all manner of pricklies and brambles. You find the PERFECT spot, stash the cache, take a GPS reading (I’ve some tips on just how to do this!) and the scurry home to submit it to

But, alas! When you submit it for publishing, you get that nasty message that says that it is too close to another cache! All caches need to be .10 miles apart. says: “Cache containers and physical stages should generally be separated by a minimum of 0.1 miles (528 feet or 161 m).”

Here’s a tip to help you find likely places for your caches BEFORE you get all carried away!

This past summer my family and I were camping and caching near Flagstaff, Arizona. Since I came up a full week after my folks were there, my Dad asked me to research all the caches near Ashurst Lake. Well, that was really easy since by that time, had coordinates for most attractions. All you need to do is visit the attraction page on the website and then click on the link: Find geocaches.

This link appears on any attraction that has GPS coords for!

Bingo! A link to with all the caches listed. But, that didn’t really tell me WHERE those caches were located in relationship to the lake.

All the caches near Ashurst Lake, in a list.

So, what I did was click on a cache listing. For this example, since now there ARE caches at the lake, we’ll pick “Mud Bug Haven”, the second one down and placed by EatStayPlay & ESP Boss. Scroll down on the cache page until you see the lower map.

There are two maps on the page. This is the bottom one.

And then click on the map which will show you all caches as icons on the page. As you can see from this view, there are only TWO caches near this huge, popular body of water. That means that it is ripe for placing caches just about anywhere there’s a good spot. In fact, when I first placed “Mud Bug Haven” it was the only cache there! But, since I live about two hours away from this cache, I wanted to be REALLY sure before I placed it that I wasn’t going to have to drive back up to the cache to move it!

(Here’s the link to Mud Bug Haven in case you want to see it for yourself!)

Now you can see all the caches in the area.

Now, what about if an area where there are caches? Principle is the same. In this image, I zeroed on a road here in Prescott near Goldwater Lake, a road that I was pretty sure had nice pull-offs for caches.

And what do I see? I see caches evenly spaced along a road, Cougar Trail. I’m pretty sure that THIS means that in every pull-out there’s already a cache. But, this is an instant where I really can’t tell without driving the road.

All the caches along this road. I'll bet they're EACH in a really great pull-off.

So, if I REALLY want to lay a cache along this road, here’s what I do.

  • Load the caches into the GPS.
  • Find my favorite pull off, one that backs public forest land.
  • Then, hike AWAY from the cache, into the forest, for .10 miles to hide the cache. Not at all a park-n-grab, but at least I know that it’s likely to be found. MUCH better than placing a cache only to find out that it is too close to another cache.

Now, here’s a question for all you senior geocachers out there:

How do you find likely places to place a cache?

What techniques do YOU use before you place the cache container to make sure there are no other caches nearby?

Have you ever asked somebody to move their cache so you could place yours?

Find Your Geocache

Caches Along A Trail

Do you remember that commercial? That one where the company launches their website on the Internet and the owners are all gathered around a computer in an otherwise empty room. They’re watching the counter. Nothing.

Watching the counter. Nothing.

Watching the counter. Nothing.

And then suddenly, a click, an order. Then another! Then the numbers shoot through the roof and one man turns to the other and says…

I think that might be one of the experiences new geocachers have with placing their first geocache. A few people find it and then WHAMMY! your geocache shoots to be the most popular cache in your area. People are talking about what a great location, what clever clues, fantastic swag. It’s worth driving two hours JUST to find it.

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration! But, still, when I placed my first geocache, I expected it to be found regularly. And to have comments about it more exhaustive than TFTC SL.

The very first geocache I placed is called High Gear. And it IS in a fantastic location, if I do say so myself. A friend of mine explained the location: a bike frame hanging about 15 feet up a ponderosa tree. Wow! What a neat place. AND, there’s a bike shop in Prescott that happens to be called High Gear — a perfect name.

Bike in a tree!

I spent WEEKS getting ready to place the cache. The friend who knew exactly where the bike was made a trip to the site to take a GPS reading to make sure there wasn’t a cache there. At the time I didn’t know about how I could use to figure out if this was a good location WITHOUT heading up there. (I’ll write an article about how I do that!)

Then, I actually went to Wal-mart and spent a small fortune on a cache container. And on perfect bike swag. And on camouflage patterned duct tape. And then, I visited the High Gear Bike store to get my FTF prize: a $15 gift certificate.

GREAT bike-themed swag.

When the bike store heard what I was doing, they actually gave me some swag and the gift card for FREE. Funny thing, the owner had NO idea what geocaching even was — just liked the idea that I was going to call a bike in a tree “High Gear”.

On the day of placing the cache, we had a picnic and then headed up the trail. And up. And up. Since I had never been up the trail before, I didn’t realize how long it was, about a mile. And it was a good trail but covered in loose rocks so I had to be careful in the climbing. And a pretty steep elevation gain.

So, cache perfectly placed, I headed home to nurse my blisters and aching legs. And to post it on

And then I waited for somebody to find it. And waited some more. The FTF was by a die-hard cacher in the area nearly FIVE DAYS after the cache was published. In my area, that’s unheard of! FTF can happen in as little as 5 HOURS.

And two weeks later the cache was found again. Then no finds for 5 months.

Needless to say, I wondered what I had done wrong in placing the cache. I mean, yeah, it was a hike, but not a crazy hike. It wasn’t like hiking all that way to find a micro. I had good swag in there! And, it was well hid from muggles, but kinda obvious to anybody who plays the game.

What gives?

Then I realized something: it was the only cache on that trail. There had been one about half way up, but it had been muggled and removed. It was just too much of a hike for anybody but a serious cacher to go after.

Then, something really neat happened: four OTHER caches were placed along the same trail, all leading up to High Gear. Suddenly people WERE making the trek up and down the mountain to find MY cache. Apparently, in my area at least, four caches with a 2 mile hike (since you have to hike up and down!) made it a worthwhile trail.

Caches along a trail.

Here’s the moral of the story:

Caches along a trail get found!

Most people like PNG caches, but it’s nice to get out of the car and stretch your legs a bit. It’s even better when there are plenty of geocaches along the way.

So tell me, what’s your experience in your neck of the woods. How far will people hike for a solitary cache? Do caches along a trail see more action?

By the way, High Gear has now been found a grand total of 9 times in the last 9 months. Not going to win any most-visited-cache awards, but I still think the swag is cool!

Mystery Mondays: Staying Warm on Winter Outdoor Adventures

I’m the first to admit that I hate cold weather. I hate being cold and I hate being wet. Still, I head to the great outdoors as often during the winter as I do during the summer. Most of the time, my winter “camping” is limited to day-trips, even though my area of northern Arizona isn’t all that cold (say compared to Flagstaff, AZ or Idaho!)

Here are some of my tips to make sure that you enjoy your winter day-trips.

Common Sense
If you’re not comfortable with your cold-weather gear, don’t go out! If you’re expecting rain, snow, wind, etc in your area and if you’re not 100% sure you know what to do, that’s the PERFECT day to go to and plan a spring activity.

Layer your clothing. Wear several layers of lighter clothing instead of one heavy layer. This way you can better regulate the amount of insulation. If you get warm you can take layers off and add some more clothing layers if you get cold.

Wet = cold! And you can get wet from rain OR from sweating. Remember when buying clothes for cold weather that wool retains most of its insulation properties when wet, while cotton does not.

Long underwear can be cute AND warm!

Long underwear can be cute AND warm!

I have and use long underwear! I picked mine up at in the women’s section, so it’s very cute. In the men’s clothing section, I bought a pair of very baggy cargo pants that I wear over my long underwear so I can still move around. I recommend getting something you’ll actually wear — if that’s color or style. Here’s some options.

Fleece pull-over.

Fleece pull-over.

I can’t wear wool, since I’m allergic. A great alternative is fleece, like the stuff made from recycled plastic bottles. Fleece wicks away moisture from the body, so it feels dry, even when soaking wet. It offers tremendous warmth in comparison to its weight. I tend to get men’s sizes so they’re big & bulky. Perfect for layering. Here’s a suggestion: Russell Athletic Men’s Dri-Power Hooded Pullover Fleece Sweatshirt

Wear a hat or hood (or both!) since we lose most of our heat through our heads.

My very ugly green camping jacket is a lined canvas with a deep hood. I put on a hat, pull up the hood, and I’m usually protected from the wind. I also wear a scarf, since the zipper is where most cold air gets into my jacket.

The Outdoor Princess in the ugly green coat.

The Outdoor Princess in the ugly green coat.

I also have a coat that has a material in it that protects from the wind; you know the type of wind that just cuts through all layers like they weren’t even there. The only thing is I don’t like to wear it out to much around in the woods! It’s too nice. But here a pick of us all out geocaching LAST winter and I am wearing my good coat. A winter storm was coming in but I was toasty warm.

The Outdoor Princess & Family.

The Outdoor Princess & Family.

Athletic shoes and nylon hiking boots do not provide enough insulation. Wear a pair of cotton and a pair of wool socks to increase insulation and take the perspiration way from your feet. (If you choose to wear rubberized boots, remember they do not allow for ventilation, therefore you will need to change your socks several times a day.)

Waterproof your footgear with the appropriate commercial treatment.

If you’ll be out camping or hiking for multiple days, think about bringing two pairs of shoes and then alternating. That way, it gives one pair the chance to dry out a little bit.

I hate it when my feet get cold. In addition, it’s not really a safe prospect to have cold feet — hypothermia, not feeling your feet, balance, etc. I always take more than one pair of shoes and when I change my socks, I change my shoes as well.

Other Considerations
Wet = cold. It may seem like breathing on your hands, sticking your head in your sleeping bag, etc. is a good idea, but the moisture from your breath will make you colder in the long run.

If you’re going out, even if it’s just for the day, be sure to tell somebody where you’re going and when you’ll be back. (And, when you GET back, call that person!)

Now, considering I’m from Arizona, this might not be the best advice for places where it is truly bitter cold.

For those of you who DO live where it snows in early winter and then stays snowy all season, what do you recommend? What have I missed? What do you do to enjoy your winter adventures?

Fun Food Fridays: Layered Nachos

For this Fun Food Fridays I wanted to share one of MY favorite dishes with you: nachos! Good anytime and easy to make when you’re camping. A hearty plate of nachos can be a full meal or shared as a snack.


Yum! Nachos!

Yum! Nachos!

– Nacho Cheese Doritos®
– 1 can refried beans
– 1 lb cooked, drained hamburger
– 1 can diced tomato (you can substitute fresh tomatoes as well)
– Shredded cheese

Cook and drain the hamburger. You can season it to taste. Heat the can of refried beans.

On a plate, spread a layer of Doritos® Top with a layer of beans, then a layer of hamburger. Add the diced tomato and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat again with the Doritos®, beans, meat, tomatoes and cheese for another full layer.

Then you have two ways of eating: either eat it as is for nice contrast between the hot beans and cold tomato, or put it in the oven to melt the cheese.

If you want to get really daring with your flavors, you can try the following variations:
Top with fresh jalapeno slices
Use shredded pepper jack cheese
Switch the regular can of refried beans for one with Chili and Lime


This recipe and 60 others are available in the eGuide: “Camp Cooking from the Pitch Your Tent/Set Your Hook Newsletter” This is an instant download that gets you 54 PAGES of camp cooking recipes! Many were sent in by newsletter readers! The eGuide is only $5.95 and you get it INSTANTLY.

Find Your Geocache

Log Abbreviations: Decoded!

My favorite part of the whole geocaching process is not finding the cache, signing the log, or even trading swag. My FAVORITE part is actually reading the log. I love reading the history of the cache, noting when items were placed for trade and when they moved on.

The best logs have a little “snippet” in them; the story of the find, the drive, the hike, etc. I love reading the antidotes. This is one of my favorites! It was one of the first caches we ever found. It’s near Williams, Arizona, above Kaibab Lake. Kaibab Lake actually has a TON of geocaches nearby but this is the only one I’ve found personally: GC86B4

The first log sheet. Notice the date!

The first log sheet. Notice the date!

But, of course, like anybody, I was puzzled by some of the things said in a log. What, for instance does:

TFTC TN SL mean??

Is this short hand for:

This Find Took Climbing. Tired Now. Sleep Later. ?

Well, it took me a long time, but I think I finally have most of the cache signing jargon figured out. These are the most common abbreviations I’ve seen.

Common Geocaching Abbreviations:

ATCF – As The Crow Flies. Point to point mileage, irrespective of roads or barriers. Note that it’s not a true point-to-point distance, as the distance calculated by a GPS is actually measured following a mathematical model of the curvature of the earth.

BYOP – Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil. An acronym often used by cache owners to communicate to other geocachers that you will need to bring your writing utensil in order to sign the cache logbook.

CITO – Cache In Trash Out. On your way to find the geocache, pick up trash and clean up the area. CITO is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community. Since 2002, geocachers have been dedicated to cleaning up parks and other cache-friendly places around the world. Learn more at

CO – Cache Owner.

DNF – Did Not Find. An acronym used by geocachers to state that they did not find a cache. This is also a type of online log on and is useful for alerting cache owners of potential issues. Cache owners who repeatedly receive “Did Not Find” logs should check to see that there cache has not been removed.

FTF – First to Find. An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds to denote being the first to find a new geocache.

You can see the FTF on this cache belongs to a cacher named Aotea.

You can see the FTF on this cache belongs to a cacher named Aotea.

GCxxxx – Abbreviation for a cache identifier used on Also known as GC code.

GPSr – Global Position Satellite Receiver. Slang for a GPS device.

GZ – “Ground Zero. The point where the coordinates displayed on your GPS exactly match the coordinates given for a cache. Can also mean the location where the cache is hidden, does not necessarily mean on the ground since many caches are hidden above or below the ground.

L: – Left. Means that they left a trade item. Usually logged like this: L: Keychain

LEO – Law Enforcement Officer.

LN – Left Nothing.

LPC – Lamp Post Cache. A very common hiding place for micro caches, this exploits the fact that the shroud (or “skirt”) on lamp posts that cover the anchor bolts are usually not secured, and can be lifted up to provide a hiding place.

MEFF – Most Esteemed First Finder. (I’ve never personally seen this one but I could see how it might exist!)

MKH – Magnetic Key Holder. The hide-a-key box, usually intended to conceal a car or house key, can be utilized as a ready-made micro container. Since they are usually not water tight, logs need to be within small zip-lock baggies, if the container is going to be out in the elements.

MOC – Members Only Cache. A Members Only Cache is one that’s reserved for Premium Members of MOC caches are designated with a icon. Only Premium Members can display a MOC cache page, and consequently, only Premium Members can log a MOC.

NIAH – Needle In A Haystack. A small cache placed in an area where there are a great number of possible hiding locations.

P & G – Park and Grab. A easy-to-find cache that you can get very close to by car. Sometimes written as “P-n-G” or “PNG”.

PAF – Phone A Friend. Usually done in the field, via cellphone. This may take one of two forms. If the cacher is hunting a cache without the cache page information, he or she may call someone who will look up the cache page and relay the description and hint. In other cases, the cacher may phone someone who has already found the cache, in hopes of getting additional information about its location.

PI – Poison Ivy. Meaning that poison ivy (or sumac) might be in the area and finders beware!

R.O.W. – Right Of Way. Often, the area between a street and the sidewalk.

SBA – Should Be Archived. Log type indicating that there is a severe problem with a cache (missing, destroyed, inaccessible, or on private property without permission). When a SBA log is made to a cache, a copy of it is automatically sent to the administration, who then route it to a local reviewer. The official log type is Needs Archived but the term Should Be Archived came first, and has stuck.

SL – Signed Log. Every geocache item should have a paper log near it and geocachers will sign the log to show they found it. They typically sign their username instead of their real name.

STF – Second To Find. The Silver medal winner in the race to find a cache first.

SWAG – An acronym often referred to as standing for ‘Stuff We All Get.” It includes the trade items left in caches by geocachers.

T: – Took. Usual short hand is something like this: T: Keychain L: Golf Ball

TB – Travel Bug. This is a blanket term for any trackable including a geocoin.

TFTC – Thanks For The Cache. An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds. Occasionally written as T4TC.

TFTH – Thanks For The Hide. (or Hunt). Occasionally written as T4TH.

TN – Took Nothing.

TNLN – Took Nothing. Left Nothing. The cacher did not exchange an item from the cache contents.

TNLNSL – Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log. Similar to TNLN above, but also indicating that they signed the cache’s logbook.

TNSL – Took Nothing. Signed Logbook.

TNX4GC – Thanks For The Geocache. Similar to TFTC.

TOTT – Tool Of The Trade. This generally indicates that some type of tool or instrument may be required to retrieve or gain access to a cache. The nature of the tool is usually not specified, but there may be hints within the cache page. It could be an actual tool, such as a screwdriver, or something as simple as a long stick to retrieve a cache from a high perch.

TPTB – The Powers That Be. Refers to the upper echelon of the administrative hierarchy.

UPS – Unnatural Pile of Sticks. A common telltale sign of a hidden cache.

UPR – Unnatural Pile of Rocks. Refers to common practice of stack rocks on top of the cache to hide its location. The resulting pile often stands out to natural formations.

URP – Unnatural Rock Pile.

XNSL – Exchanged Nothing, Signed Log. A variation on TNLNSL (see above).

YAPIDKA – Yet Another Park I Didn’t Know About. Refers to the fact that some caches bring people to parts of town they know little about.

This is a GREAT log: plenty of abbreviations and a fantastic story of the experince.

This is a GREAT log: plenty of abbreviations and a fantastic story of the experince.

If you want to read the original log post, it’s available at:

Now, here’s a question for all you senior cachers out there:

Is it more common to use the abbreviations in the written logs in the cache or in the digital logs on

And, in doing my research, there are a TON of abbreviations I’ve never seen before. Is that just me or are they rare?

Mystery Mondays: Winter Car Kit

Winter snows have arrived in Northern Arizona! Over the weekend, I was dying to get outside and just “do stuff” but the best I could manage was letting Lily, the Mascot, drag me around the block. I’m not really a big fan of the white-stuff, but I know a lot of people are. And those people will be heading to Flagstaff in DROVES over the coming weeks.

That’s why, in this week’s “Mystery Mondays” post, I wanted to share with you an article about a Winter Car Kit to keep you safe.

The last time I was in Flagstaff to look at the snow (again, I don’t actually TOUCH the stuff!) I watched a party of four vehicles being rescued from the snow. So, I started planning an article about what you can do to minimize your risk when you’re out enjoying the snow. These people who were rescued were NOT caught in a storm. The day was sunny and mild. But, they got stuck in the snow anyway. Luckily, there were along AZ Hwy 180 so they didn’t have to wait for help. But what if they had been someplace not as accessible? Would they have been prepared? Are YOU prepared?

Read on!

Winter storms are considered deceptive killers… because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm:

  • People die in traffic accidents on icy roads.
  • People die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

First off, your car’s in good working order, right? Each fall you should have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze, as needed. Replace your windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture and replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires. Plus, during winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.<p>

(I’m 100% guilty of being lax on that! My tank currently says E and we’re getting to well below freezing each night with another storm moving in! Parking in a garage is NOT an excuse!)

Assemble a Winter Survival Kit for Your Car

The Basics of a Winter Car Survival Kit

The Basics of a Winter Car Survival Kit

Equip your car with these items:

  • blankets (I prefer a space blanket to regular blankets. I can only get the heavy-duty space blankets seasonally so I always stock up when they’re available.)
  • first aid kit
  • a large, clean can and a way to start a fire (to melt snow for water.)
  • windshield ice scraper (Buy a good on of these! It’s a myth that you can use a credit card to scrape ice!)
  • jumper cables
  • road maps
  • mobile phone and car charger
  • compass
  • tool kit (you should have one of these in your car at all times ANYWAY)
  • paper towels
  • bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for added traction)
  • tow rope
  • tire chains (in areas with heavy snow)
  • collapsible shovel
  • container of water and high-calorie canned or dried foods and a can opener
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • canned compressed air with sealant (for emergency tire repair)
  • “hunter orange” material or red cloth
  • extra clothing, including mittens

I’m sure some of you are thinking: “I live in a warm area. We don’t get FROST let alone SNOW! What do I need this stuff for?” Well, you may LIVE in a warm area but do you ever DRIVE to a colder area?

I don’t keep all my gear in my car, I’ve got a Grab-It-And-Go-Box’. You can assemble all these items in a big plastic container and then you just grab it when you’re leaving. When you get home, it goes back on a shelf. PROVIDED that you replace any items that you’ve used!

It can be frozen in the morning and then look like THIS on your way out in the afternoon!

It can be frozen in the morning and then look like THIS on your way out in the afternoon!

My father told me this story:

When I drove in on the back road, the ground was frozen. By mid-afternoon, when I was driving out, the ground had thawed into a muddy mess and I got stuck. Even without snow, I needed my “Winter Survival Kit.”

Here’s another thought for you:

Be sure you know how to USE all the gear in your kit! If you have tire chains but don’t know how to put them on, what good do they do you?! Make sure that all your gear is in good working order with fresh batteries, all the parts to the kit, and that the adhesive in the bandages is still good.

Before you head out…

Tell someone where you’re going, being as exact as possible, and when you’ll be back. Then, when you get back, call them and let them know! This is common sense that needs to be followed no matter the season, EVERY time you head to the great outdoors.

If you DO get stuck, here’s what you do:

Call for help on your cell phone. If you can’t get a signal, you can rest easy that your buddy back home is expecting you and will call out the cavalry (or the sheriff) when you don’t show up home on time.)

Stay in your car or truck. In the case of a snow storm, disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold. You can run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat, but be sure to open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow or anything else.

To make yourself visible to rescuers you should turn on the dome light at night when running engine, but be sure to turn it off when you shut off the car. You should tie a colored cloth to your antenna or door. The best color is “hunter orange” which is that ugly neon orange that isn’t found in nature- meaning it stands out really well. Second best color is red.

Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm. This is good advice if you’re stuck in any type of storm!

So, go out, enjoy the snow and BE SAFE.

If you are in Arizona and are heading to Flagstaff, I really do recommend the 2009-2010 Flagstaff Snowplay eGuide. It has this article and others as well as complete details about where to go to play in the snow. A big thing this year: Flagstaff has a bunch of places where you’re NOT allowed to go play in the snow. That’s new. The eGuide covers it all, for just $4.95. You can find it at:

Sledding in Flagstaff

Every year, gets a TON of search traffic from people looking for the best places to go sledding in Flagstaff. It started about 4 years ago, purely by accident. That first year, Leah & I dutifully researched sledding areas and then put it up in Flagstaff.

Much to my surprise, just having that information really wasn’t enough. People were looking for ALL our sledding, skiing, and snowplay information in ONE location — preferably something they could print.A big plus of the eGuide also is that I can include really great maps of each AREA, not just driving maps. This is big. And, there are two bonus articles to help people out with planning for the snow. Especially useful for people who aren’t from Arizona’s High Country and may not know how to drive in the snow.

Well, I’m not one to ignore the demands of my users, so the Top 10 Winter Activities eGuide was launched. The best news: I just finished the 2009-2010 update for this year’s winter season. Flagstaff already has snow and is expecting more tonight and through the weekend. Plus, this year, since everybody is strapped for cash, I lowered the price from $6.95 to $4.95!

Cover for this year's guide

Cover for this year’s guide

This is an instant download ebook. Which is really nice since that means that people can get it INSTANTLY.

New this year:

GPS coordinates, a list of where NOT to go (places where you’re not allowed to go sledding), and updated maps.

You can order the eGuide at from the Store

Find Your Geocache

Best Cache Camo vs. Whimsy Caches

I’m always very interested in the best cache camouflage that’s out there in the “wild”. Like in the animal kingdom, camo can make or break a cache. If it lacks camouflage it’s just too easy. Of course, too hard of a hide isn’t always fun either! In my opinion, there’s a big difference between camouflage and unique hides. Camouflage is designed to be that thing that you look at and look at and you’re not sure that the cache is there and then you get an “a-ha!” moment when you find it.

Unique hides are for location or whimsy. They’re usually evident that the cache HAS to be there.

Here are some examples from my favorite caches. I’m purposefully leaving the GC codes out (the codes provided by that give the name and coordinates of the caches) so there won’t be any spoilers.

Whimsy Caches:


Javalina cache guard

This metal javalina is on the side of the road, nearly in somebody’s front yard. A park-and-grab style cache that gets serious props for it’s whimsy.


Rock-man with a geocacher's heart!

Now, this man is in the middle of nowhere. And NO, before you ask, it wasn’t built to hide the cache! The person who hid this cache actually says that he found it out hunting in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s — that’s long before the creation of geocaching. Of course, this stone man in Northern Arizona gets my whimsy vote since it was the ONLY place the cache could be hidden. Plus, the cache container was hidden in the man’s chest. He is a geocacher at heart!

Excellent Camouflage:


The clue was "Stick"

Ah, a stick. Under a tree. With LOTS of rusty tin cans lying around. Now, the photos just don’t do it justice. Since this stick was under a palo verde tree. In a basin full of OTHER palo verde trees and the clue was something like: “Stick”.

The Outdoor Princess and family

The Outdoor Princess & family

You can see in the background all the palo verde trees as well as the multitudes of “sticks” on the ground. Not very helpful!

The best camo!

In the stick

This pill bottle was painted grey and then clipped into a carved hole in the stick. The clip is a hose clamp. The whole thing is VERY clever. In fact, the Queen Mother actually moved the stick with the end of her walking pole before me, the ever brave Outdoor Princess, actually flipped the stick over. Of course, being in Arizona, there could have been any number of poisonous creepy crawlies in residence under the stick. There were evidence of biting spiders but no actual spiders in residence at the time.

And then of course, there are the caches that fall somewhere between whimsy and excellent camouflage.

Best of Both Worlds:


There's a small cache HERE?

This is a favorite cache of mine in Tucson, Arizona. Not so much that it was hard to find, in that there were so many great PLACES to look! This is the type of place that you just need to visit. My first trip was Thanksgiving 2008 but I was back for Thanksgiving 2009 to enjoy the garden in the daylight. (The light was failing on my first visit.)



This could be excellent camo except that the bolt was a bit out of place in the welcome sign. It was a bit TOO easy to find since it was the only bolt of it’s kind. Full props for camouflage, it’s just the context of the hide could have been more exciting.


Itty Bitty Micro

I’m sure that sign posts all over the geocaching Universe have micros like this one. But this was the first time I’d ever seen it and I was impressed. A little obvious for the next time I go looking for one like this (whimsy) but for the size and coloring (excellent camouflage!)

What are your favorite camo hides? What about the whimsy hides? Let me know what YOU think!

Don’t forget: You can find caches near your favorite attractions on!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger... Affiliate Link
Let Kim Help You Publish Your eBook
On The Beach Publishing
Share |
Royalty Free Images