Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Find Your Geocache

10 Mistakes New Cachers Make & How To Avoid Them

1. Thinking GPS units are 100% accurate

They’re not! A GPS will get you close, but you’ll never stand right on top of a cache. And different units will be off by different amounts.

Tip: Expand your search area

Magnetic Cache Container

This was the first magnetic cache container we'd ever found. For people used to finding ammo cans in the woods, it took some time to readjust our thinking.

2. Hides are always on the ground.

Nope! People use string or wire to put caches on a branch and magnets to hide it under benches.

Tip: Look high AND low.

3. The cache will stand out in some way.

A lot of caches do. Especially larger caches in the forest. But not all caches do stand out. Some are so well hidden they’re used as a TOOL by cachers to flip over rocks and sticks.

Tip: Expand your thoughts about what a cache can and cannot look like.

4. Not reading the cache page carefully.

The cache page is there to help you with hints. Even the most careful (and evil) cache owner leaves digital hints in the cache description.

Tip: Read the entire cache page, including the hint, carefully.

5. Digging.

It’s against the rules to require digging to find a cache. You’re not mining for gold so leave the shovel at home!

Tip: But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t underground! I’ve found two that required me lifting something (a lid, a rock, and a cleverly disguised root) to find the cache below ground level.

6. Not double checking the coordinates of the cache.

Especially when you are manually entering the coordinates into your GPS! I’ve made the mistake of entering the coordinates of the PARKING area as the cache and then having to return to the truck to look up the real coordinates.

Tip: Enter the coordinates into the GPS and then check it for accuracy.

7. Not noticing the NAME of the cache.

Sometimes the name of the cache is more helpful than the hint.

Little Job cache

The name of the cache was "Little Job" but I kept looking under rocks in the stream!

Tip: A lot of times, you can see evidence that the name is important by reading the logs of the cache.

8. Paying too much attention to what other cachers have said in their logs!

Go off what the cache owner says FIRST since various cachers will approach a cache from different directions.

Tip: Look for clues, but don’t take logs as gospel. Some cachers will be misleading in their logs on purpose!

9. Making the terrain harder than it should be.

A terrain of 1.5 and you’re fighting your way through a bush? Climbing a rock? Climbing down a cliff?

Tip: If the terrain seems a lot more difficult than listed, try approaching from a different direction. A lot of times, you’ll find a clearly marked path!

10. Not having the right tools.

As we gain more experience as geocachers, we all develop our go-to geocaching tool kit.

Tip: Read the article Geocaching Supplies Checklist for hints.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are some mistakes you made when you were new to geocaching?
  • What advice can you offer newbies about the game?

Pitch Your Tent: Trip Planning

Camping Trip Planning From The Ground Up

I’ve published several articles about checking your gear after you get home from a camping trip. But ESP Boss & I have a trip planned for October 16-17 that made me realize there’s a whole OTHER dimension to planning a trip:


For our trip, ESP Boss & I will be kayaking the Colorado River from Hoover Dam to Willow beach. Now, that can be done as a day trip, but we’ll be doing it as an overnighter. Packing for an overnight kayaking trip is a lot like packing for a backpacking trip. Since I’ve never been backpacking (it’s on my list of things to do!) I’m pretty much a newbie to it all.

Hoover Dam

We'll be going south of the river towards Willow Beach.

I figure I’ve been camping all my life but I’ve never backpacked or done an overnight kayaking trip. This means that YOU get a really interesting experience where I can write some articles from the window of a beginner:


Here is what I’ve learned so far: (and I think most of this will apply to all beginners going on a first camping trip)

Do Research About Where To Go.

ESP Boss knew that we could kayak the Colorado River but he did some serious research about which stretches of the river are the best. We were looking for something really specific: steady current, not too rapid, not too much boat traffic but not too remote either. Turns out, the section that we’ll be doing is motor-prohibited on Sundays and Mondays. Perfect for our trip!

In case you didn’t realize it, my website has GREAT information about public camping areas. It covers all the western states and is free.

Find Out If You Need Any Special Permits or Permissions.

There are actually a lot of areas across the USA that require a special access permit. Often times if you’re going to a Wilderness area you’ll need to get a permit to be there. When the “Royal” Family attended a big geocaching event/campout last March there was a special permit we needed to get.

The Outdoor Princess & ESP Boss at Blue Ridge Reservoir

We'll need a special permit to kayak the river.

Most of the time, special permits aren’t expensive or hard to get. But what IS expensive is getting fined for NOT having a permit. Call the governing body of where you’re planning on going and ask if am access or use permit is required. I recommend CALLING as opposed to looking on line since sometimes the permit requirements aren’t clearly published.

Decide If You Need Special Gear.

If you’re camping in a campground, chances are good that you can make your gear list as easy as falling off a log. Place to stay? Check! Way to cook? Check! Sleeping bag? Check! Food? Check!

But for this trip, we needed some gear for above and beyond: a water filtration system.

The need for specialized gear can be really daunting for a lot of beginners. But don’t let anything get in the way of having a great outdoor adventure! I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about this topic in this post; it needs more than a paragraph or two. Just keep it in mind and then check back next week for my thoughts on it.

Create A Budget.

Yes, camping can be a “cheap” vacation. But sometimes I think that’s only in comparison to, say, a week at Disneyland! You’ll need to have a budget for gear, fees, gas, and food. Once you know where you’re going and if you need a permit or gear, then a budget will help you decide if you can actually take THIS trip or if you need to re-think your plans.

Trust me, it’s better to think about the money-side of adventures before you’re committed to a trip that gets more expensive by the minute.

Buy The Gear. Test It Out.

You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, right? Or a pair of shoes without trying them on and walking around the store either. So why people go straight from the store to the campsite is beyond me!

Before you head to the woods (or in this case, the river) test out the stove. Make sure all the parts work and you know how to use it. Open the sleeping bag and lay it out. Does the zipper work? Are all the seams intact?


For the geocaching event in March, we broke a cardinal rule! We didn't set the tent up until we got to camp. We were really lucky and all the tent pieces were in the box!

And the big one: Set up the tent! Partly so you know how to do it, but also because if you’re missing a part, if the tent wall is torn, or if a pole is broken, etc, you can fix it BEFORE you head out.

I wish I had a picture, but last week, I set up our backpacking tent INSIDE the house! It was crammed into the spare room at my folk’s and looked completely ridiculous. But, I figured out how everything went together AND I made sure that it all worked. ESP Boss will be testing our new backpacking stove this weekend.

Make Some Lists.

Anybody who regularly reads my articles knows I’m really big on checklists. Just because you might not have a ready-to-print checklist doesn’t mean you can’t make lists of your own!

Good list topics are:

  • Food
  • General “big” gear (stove, tent, sleeping bags)
  • Specific “little” gear (camera, GPS, flashlight)
  • Clothing (be specific!)
  • Medicines/Toiletries
  • Maps and manuals

When I’m making lists, I start with generalities to brainstorm what I’m thinking of (like the list above) and then I make a specific list for each topic. Trust me, after one packing list that said “Toiletries” and then a trip where I didn’t bring my allergy medicine, toothbrush, or bug spray I go ahead and get specific!

Readers Weigh In:

  • If you were giving advice to a person who was planning their very first camping trip, what would you tell them?
  • What pre-planning steps do YOU do?
  • What are your must-do steps to get ready for a camping trip?

Find Your Geocache

In a couple of weeks, ESP Boss & I will be taking an overnight kayaking trip on the Colorado River. We’ll start at Hoover Dam and head down to Willow Beach.

Like any business trip, we’ve got out fair share of agenda items. One of which was to hide a geocache along the way.

But then I got to thinking:

Isn’t that section of the River in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area?

A quick glance at Google Maps and yep, the whole route is inside a National Recreation Area. (The green area on the map!)

That means that I won’t be able to place my geocache on the trip after all because geocaching is not allowed with in ANY area governed by the National Park Service (NPS).

Unfortunately, that’s kind of a blanket statement that isn’t exactly accurate. So I’m here to clear up any confusion about if geocaching is or isn’t allowed inside America’s National Parks.

What areas are governed by the National Park Service?

Just because an area doesn’t say “national park” in the title doesn’t mean that it might not be managed by NPS.

Wupatki National Monument Sign

Yep, the national monument is run by NPS too!

  • National Battlefields
  • National Cemeteries
  • National Heritage Areas
  • National Heritage Corridors
  • National Historic Sites
  • National Historic Trails
  • National Historic Trails
  • National Lakeshore
  • National Memorial
  • National Monuments
  • National Parks
  • National Parkway
  • National Preserves
  • National Recreation Areas
  • National Recreation Trails
  • National Rivers
  • National Scenic Trails
  • National Seashore

Can you see why just saying “No geocaching in National Parks” doesn’t really begin to cover it?

Why doesn’t the NPS allow geocaching?

Though rugged, unspoiled natural areas may seem to be desirable spots for geocaching, cachers can cause unintentional damage to the areas. Cachers can inadvertently develop social trails when they leave established trails to look for a cache. This can result in serious impacts on a park’s natural, historical, and cultural resources.

Because federal National Park regulations prohibit abandonment of property, disturbance or damage of natural features, and, in some areas, off-trail hiking, that means that most units of National Parks can’t allow geocaching.

In our post-9/11 world, the fear of terrorists and “mystery” objects is high. By prohibiting caches, it cuts down on the potential for bomb scares.

But I did a Google search and a whole bunch of National Parks say they offer geocaching. What does THAT mean?

When the NPS says that they don’t permit geocaching on National Park Land, what they really mean is that they don’t allow TRADITIONAL caches in the parks. That means NO cache with a container, including nanos and micros.

When you see that NPS offers “geocaching” it isn’t really a traditional type of caching. Most parks have Virtual caches or EarthCaches. Sometimes, the park itself even sets it up!

But the confusion sets in when cachers don’t realize that NPS isn’t really using our terminology correctly. When I did the search, I saw headlines like:

‘Petrified Forest National Park – Geocaching’

Yeah, they mean EarthCaching or Virtual Caching. These are both a type of geocache, but unless you have some familiarity with exactly what those terms mean, then I can understand the confusion.

If you’re just getting started in geocaching then you hear ‘geocaching’ and assume ammo cans and film canisters. I know I did!

*** UPDATE 9/30/10 ***

Oh, and I forgot to mention: Virtual geocaches are a grandfathered type of cache. You can still place them, but they’re not available on Virtual caches are now considered a waymark.

How would they know if I placed a traditional cache anyway?

Come on, now! YOU would know you were placing a cache where you shouldn’t. Be responsible! is a whole game built on the honor system. However, there are those critics of the game out there that claim that geocachers are disrespectful and the game should be shut down. And if the geocaching community is placing caches in National Parks, after we’ve been asked not to, then that lends a lot of credibility to the critics claim.

Do I need to ask for permission before I “place” an EarthCache or Waymark?

Technically, you probably should clear it with the Park’s superintendent before you “place” an EarthCache or Waymark cache. It defeats the purpose of having a container-less cache if seekers would still have to travel off-trail to log the find.

If you were requesting that a waymark cacher send you a photo of a sign or landmark that is accessible (visible) from an established trail or parking area, you’re probably okay. But if it were me, I’d get the okay a head of time anyway. I’m thinking of “placing” a waymark cache while I’m out and you can bet I’ll give Lake Mead National Recreation staffers a heads up first!

Readers Weigh In:

  • If you were going to “place” a waymark or EarthCache inside an area governed by the National Park Service, would you ask for permission first? Why or why not?
  • Do you think we should be allow to place traditional caches in national parks?

Set Your Hook

Contain Your Anchor

Before I started fishing from the kayak (very fun!) if I wanted to go fishing, it was always in my family’s 12 foot fold-a-boat. I LOVE fishing from a boat because you can get to fishing holes that you just can’t reach casting from shore. Plus, you can troll, cast away from the boat or bottom fish, and it’s less buggy ON the water than near it.

But, one of my pet peeves about fishing from the boat was that my gear always got wet, even though the boat doesn’t leak! You know how it is: you reach for a sweatshirt and it’s wet. Or you put the ice chest on your lap to get a snack and the bottom was soaking — and now your pants are too!

And don’t even get me started on what happens when my the-fish-aren’t-biting book gets wet!

Finally ESP Boss realized that when we would bring up the anchor, the anchor rope was creating pooled water on the floor of the boat. Not to mention the addition of lake scum and mud that was getting caked on the boat floor.

Then, ESP Boss had a great idea: buy a bucket (with a handle) just big enough to hold the anchor and the anchor rope. We use mushroom shaped anchors that are covered in a vinyl coating.

When you bring up the anchor, put all the rope and the anchor into the bucket. Viola! No more water in the bottom of the boat! Plus, should the need ever arise; there’s a bucket on board for bailing out the boat.

Here’s a second anchor tip:

Tie a quick link to the end of the anchor rope. Then you can attach the whole rope to the boat. Trust me, if at all possible (or practical) you want to attach your gear to the boat!

A quick link attached to the anchor rope.

Quick links aren’t always the easiest thing to use, so you could also try a swivel eye snap hook or a trigger snap hook. Both are easy to attach to your anchor rope in a way that the rope won’t come off your hardware. For that reason, I don’t really recommend a carabiner; it’s too easy for the rope to come off the carabiner. If the rope isn’t attached to the hardware and the boat, then it defeats the purpose!

Fastener options, depending on what you like!

Shopping Links:

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your anchor tips?
  • Have you ever lost an anchor (or other piece of gear) off the boat? What did you do?

PS: If you don’t believe me about attaching your gear to something, then check out my video about Extreme Geocaching. I managed to lose a $40 piece of equipment!

Pitch Your Tent: Fall Camping

9 Must-Know Things About Fall Camping

Yeah for fall! Any long-time reader of the newsletter would know, I LOVE fall camping. Why? Because there are fewer crowds, most insects have died off or have reduced their activity, fewer people, the crisp fall weather, good fishing with fewer biting bugs, fantastic nature hikes with changing vegetation, oh, and fewer people!

Ah! Fall.

(Okay, so maybe that can get boiled down to: less people and biting bugs & good fishing…)

This year, I’ll be heading camping in September rather than October. I’ve got a trip planned the last weekend in September for my birthday. We’re going earlier this year since fall is appearing across Arizona’s High Country with a vengeance this year AND because I don’t really want to chance snow in a tent!

Of course, fall camping doesn’t come without risks. People die each year when they get caught in weather they weren’t ready for. (Do you remember ESP Boss’ “fall” hunting trip in October 2006? He got snowed out!)

1. Don’t get caught in the snow. In most mountainous areas of the United States a light dusting of snow can be expected in the fall (thinking places above 7,000 feet.) If you are going to be camping at altitude be very aware of the weather forecast. A chance of rain in the low-country may mean dangerous conditions at higher elevations. Getting snowed on in the backcountry can collapse your tent, soak your gear, and can cause a number of risks and dangers.

2. Watch what you’re packing. Keep in mind that warmer clothing is going to mean added weight which means more stress on your body (if you’re backpacking or hiking.) Don’t go crazy packing for every emergency, but be prepared for what nature has to offer and cut back on how far you can travel in a day. Always bring a space blanket no matter the weather! You should keep one in each car, in your backpack, in your RV… They don’t weigh much, take up much room, or are very expensive, but they can save your life.

3. Don’t get left shivering. Make sure that your sleeping bag is temperature appropriate for the conditions — it should be written on the tag. And, don’t think that you’re close to town is any excuse! We typically go fall camping at Pine Grove Campground near Flagstaff, Arizona and are literally just half an hour from town. But, trying to make that drive in poor conditions, or suffering from hypothermia, is NOT my idea of a good time.

I'll be bringing sleeping bags AND flannel liners just in case.

If you don’t have a mummy style sleeping bag sleep with a hat on, 50% of body heat is lost through your head. Use a closed-cell foam sleeping pad under your sleeping bag — foam based pads will provide better insulation than an air mattress.

4. Cooking time! Try to keep your meals simple. You already know that elevation adds time to cooking, but also remember that colder temperatures mean longer cooking times. You’re going to consume more fuel trying to get a pot of water to boil or cooking meals. Keep a lid on the pots when you are cooking to maximize heat retention.

Oh, and pick up a good recipe book that is specifically for camp cooking. I recommend “Camp Cooking from the Pitch Your Tent/Set Your Hook Newsletter”

5. Look out for bears. Bears can spend as much as 20 hours a day foraging for food during the last weeks of fall. Keeping a clean campsite is critical this time of the year. And, if you don’t know if there are bears in your area, assume there are! Call the local Forest Service office for recommendations about safe camping in bear country where you are.

6. Be ready for the wind. Fall brings strong cold fronts across the United States which can mean cold temperatures, crystal clear skies, and a lot of wind. Your tent might be great in the summer, but could have a hard time in the wind. Make sure you stake your tent securely; they have been known to blow away even with gear and people inside of them! And, take a tip from Barry B. — check the weather. If it’s going to be windy, you might want to stay home rather than have a lousy trip!

7. Stay dry. Don’t underestimate the power of hypothermia. With daytime highs reaching only into the 50s and 60s in the fall, treat getting wet as an emergency. In air, most heat is lost through the head so hypothermia can thus be most effectively prevented by covering the head. Having appropriate clothing for the environment is another important prevention. For outdoor exercise on a cold day, it is advisable to wear fabrics which can “wick” away sweat moisture.

8. Don’t end up in the dark. Remember that not only will the weather get cooler and more unpredictable, the days are getting shorter as summer ends and we’re heading into winter. Give yourself enough time to arrive at your campsite during daylight hours so you don’t end up hiking (or setting up!) in the dark.

9. Other fall camping considerations

  • After Labor Day, many campgrounds reduce their fees, so one fall camping advantage is reduced costs. Some campgrounds are also free, but that usually means that there are no amenities like water, toilets, and garbage service. Be sure to call ahead and make sure that the campground is open!
  • Make campground reservations. Popular campgrounds will still fill up on weekends, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Most campgrounds don’t require reservations in the fall, but even if you should call and find that you don’t need a reservation, you’ve at least saved yourself the worry.
  • Plan to arrive early. At Pine Grove, they close entire loops of the campground so reservations wouldn’t be a help (they’re only accepted on the areas that are closed in the fall!) so you want to arrive early in the day to get the spot you want.

I’ve already started making my camping lists for my trip. The friend I’m taking has only been camping once before (EVER!) so I’m doing everything I can to make sure this is a fun experience. To that end, I decided to go to the more developed Pine Grove Campground (my old standby) rather than a more primitive area. Trust me, when you’re new to camping, real flush toilets make a huge difference!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your favorite fall outdoor adventures?
  • At what point do you pack away your camping gear for the winter?
  • What would you do to make sure a net-to-camping friend has a great experience?

Find Your Geocache

Muggle Avoidance Tips

We all know that muggles (non-geocachers) are just part of the game. Unfortunately, muggles can cause geocachers some serious problems either by harassing a cacher OR by stealing a geocache. Here are some tips to help you avoid muggles altogether.

(Next week will be an article about what to do when you are actually confronted with a muggle!)

1. Think Before You Cache

Most geocaches hidden in high traffic areas will warn cachers to watch out for muggles. My ‘5 is Prime’ geocache is hidden in a more urban area of my home town. There are a lot of people walking dogs, playing ball in the park, and just hanging out at any hour of the day. To make matters worse, the cache has to be RIGHT THERE to be well-hidden from casual glances.

I recommend before everybody leaps out of the car with their GPS, walking sticks, and backpacks, to just look around and see if anybody is observing you. If there are too many people around, come back later.

2. Wear Camouflage

I’ve read many accounts of an orange vest, hard hat, and a clip board making a geocacher “invisible” to muggles. I’ve never tried it personally but I could see how it might work. My favorite type of camouflage is actually just holding the GPS at my side as much as possible. If anybody is looking at me, I just bring it to my ear and pretend it’s a phone.

Of course, the problem with the whole GPS-as-phone type of camouflage is that a GPS is a LOT bigger than a cell phone!

Is he a geocacher or a road worker? You be the judge!

My hands-down favorite camouflage? A camera! Yep, I’ve been known to sneak up to ground zero with the GPS but then whip out the camera and start snapping photos and poking around. Everyone just assumes I’m either a wacky artist or a wacky tourist and ignores me.

3. Ignore Them

Most people will ignore you back! It seems to be ingrained in American society that watching somebody is rude. So if you can easily retrieve the cache, sign the log and replace it, ignoring bystanders will usually work. However, if they ARE watching you, come back later!

4. Be So Outrageous Nobody Would Dare Do What You’re Doing

Case in point: going after the ‘Summer Lovin” cache in Lake Mary. It was a busy Saturday, there were muggles in boats, muggles fishing, muggles walking their dogs! There I was with a tiara and a camera crew.

I'm only a little bit nuts. Promise!

As soon as I started wading into the water, people might have been watching me, but they were also thinking to themselves “No WAY would I do that!” (Trust me, I could practically SEE the little thought bubbles appearing above their heads!)

5. Create A Diversion

Hand-in-hand with Tip #4, comes Create A Diversion. That’s where one member of your geocaching party is being outrageous (not obnoxious, just outrageous!) over THERE while you retrieve the cache HERE.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What tips do you have to avoid the attention of muggles?

And, don’t forget, next week’s article will be about what to do when you simply HAVE to talk to a muggle!

Mystery Mondays: The Art of “Introducing”

Seems like I am the designated “introducer” in my circle of friends. It doesn’t really mean that I’m necessarily the expert at anything, just that I’m the go-to person when somebody want to try something new. For example, my friend Greg was visiting me from Mesa this past weekend. Greg had never been kayaking (something I love) so I invited him to try it out. (It helps that since ESP Boss bought a new kayak, I can borrow his anytime I want!)

So whenever somebody wants to try kayaking, or tent camping, or geocaching, or metal detecting, I’m their go-to Princess. (Figures, since it’s in the name, right!?)

Greg was an absolute good sport about it all. From helping me load the kayaks the night before, to watching as I assembled the paddles, to letting me help him adjust his life vest. When we were unloading the kayaks from the back of my truck, he told me he was both nervous and excited. I thought that his honesty in the face of being a beginner was fantastic!

Greg learning to kayak.

Ah, being a beginner! When was the last time you tried something new? How did it go?

Here are my tips for anytime you are sharing your “expertise” with somebody who is just trying out something you’ve done for a while:

1. Remember what it was like to be new at it.

The first time I went kayaking, I had NO idea how to paddle without slamming my elbows into the seat. Or how to keep myself mostly dry. Or how to launch. Or get out. Or even which way was “up” on the paddle!

Remember all YOUR frustrations as a beginner. Then gently share your knowledge.

2. Gently share your knowledge.

If you’re anything like me, you want to KNOW but sometimes ASKING can be embarrassing. Especially when the person you’re out with seems to have loads more experience!

When you’re “instructing” somebody in something new, try forming your instructions as suggestions. Like: I found it works better if I put one foot into the kayak and then sit down right away. That way, the newbie gets the advantage of your “been there, done that, feel in” experience without feeling like they’re being lectured.

The caveat to that, of course, is for any must-know safety tips. In that case, lecture away!

3. Don’t take it for granted that it is “easy”.

Nothing is more frustrating to me, as a beginner in Fill-In-The-Blank, than having my friend assume some level of knowledge. With many of my friends who I introduced to kayaking, they didn’t know how to snap the paddles together. Yes, it is just a compression button and the two halves of a paddle snap together, but don’t assume they know how. Just kindly demonstrate how it’s done and move on.

4. Don’t hover.

Sure, the first time I taught somebody how to use my metal detector I was absolutely panicked at letting an expensive piece of equipment out of my sight. And then I got over it.


By realizing that it’s much better to damage a piece of equipment through USE rather than just letting it collect dust until I was obsolete. And frankly, your friend probably won’t hurt your equipment at all. Isn’t it better to be able to share your excitement with somebody than always going out alone?

5. Assume that they want to take care of your gear.

Sure it can be never wracking letting somebody borrow or use your gear. As on only child “share” wasn’t really part of my vocabulary growing up! But, make the assumption that your friend will take good care of your stuff. After all, they care for YOU so it’ll naturally extend to your gear.

ESP Boss teaching Grandma Alice how to fish.

6. Reassure them it’s okay they use your stuff.

Hand-in-hand with #5, be sure to tell your buddy that you’re glad to have them along and excited to show them what you’ve been up to.

In the case of the kayaks, I always make sure to tell my friend that the kayaks are pretty much indestructible. With my metal detector, I just show them the bits that they need to be gentle with.

7. Don’t wait to “introduce” somebody to what you like to do.

I had barely started geocaching before I started dragging my friends along. I figured I knew more than them (how to use a GPS) so I could teach them what I knew.

Same with kayaking: I had done my research and gone out once. ESP Boss saw how much fun I was having so decided to try it too. (At the time, we only owned one ‘yak so he had to buy his own.) I gladly shared the little I knew and we learned together on the rest.

8. Enjoy yourself!

Your friend is more likely to relax and enjoy herself if you’re doing the same. When I’m “introducing” somebody to kayaking, I always go to Watson Lake. Why? Because the boat launch doesn’t stress me out, the lake is gorgeous any time of year, and I know it well enough to show off my favorite rock formations and islands.

9. Let them do as much as possible.

Sometimes I’m so busy trying to show off my knowledge, I forget to let my friend participate! I had to remind myself to let Nicole hold the GPS (and not lead the way to where I knew the cache was!) Or let somebody take the lead on a hike or kayak.

I could see the cache from the road, but I let Raven have the thrill of the find.

There’s a fine like between giving them knowledge and not letting them learn anything on their own. Sometimes, falling in the lake IS the best way to teach somebody how NOT to get out of a kayak!

10. Ask if they’re having a good time.

It’s usually pretty obvious, but asking if your friend likes it is okay too. I try to keep an eye on facial expressions and body language as well.

I took the gang from Up With People kayaking. Look at how much fun they're having!

When I was in college, I liked to ride the bus across town to go ice skating on Friday afternoons. Since I liked it, I had a stream of friends that I took along. Some liked it, some didn’t. But when I took my friend Elise, I made the mistake of not paying attention to HER. I was busy skating around and I didn’t realize that she was taking fall after fall. After about thirty minutes she begged me to go home. If I had been paying more attention, I would have realized that she wasn’t having a good time and cut the trip short.

11. Don’t expect everybody to love it.

Just like with Elise, I have plenty of friends that never want to go Fill-In-The-Blank with me again. It just wasn’t their cup of tea. But for every person who said “Thanks. I’d always wanted to try it and now I have. Bye!” there is somebody else who’s asked me: How do I register to find geocaches? Where should I buy a kayak? Or Can we go again?

Remember, your goal is to INTRODUCE somebody to what interests you. It’s up to them after that!

Pitch Your Tent: Checklist

After Camping Checklist

An Internet search will turn up a million and one checklists about what to take with you when you GO camping. What I’ve found, however, is that people have little problem bringing everything they need with them, but where they fall apart is knowing what to do with it all when they get home!

Who hasn’t just left a suitcase full of unworn clothes, dirty clothes, and toiletries languishing in the corner for a few days (or longer) after a trip? NOT a good idea for your camping gear, since there’s been considerable expense over the years to gather all your equipment. Unpacking later, rather than sooner, can ruin many different items.

When I got back from my camping trip with Nicole last weekend, I was hot, tired, and dirty. But I knew I shouldn’t leave the gear just sitting there (especially in the back of my truck!) So after a quick lunch, I got right to the business of unpacking all my gear.

Unpacking Checklist

Do you RV? The very first thing you need to do is dump your holding tanks of grey and black water. If you can, dump the tanks at the campground, since many provide RV dumps. If you camp a lot, and if it’s feasible at your house, consider having a sewer connection near where you park your RV.

We usually dump at the campground and then make sure the holding tanks are really clean when we get home.

The “Royal” Family (okay, so it was all ESP Boss!) had a level concrete pad poured where we park the RV. Right there we have a sewer dump, fresh water connection, and power.

Return any leftover foods to the refrigerator or pantry, as necessary, and discard any foods that may have spoiled. Do this sooner rather than later. Some items on the put-away checklist can be done the next day, but food needs to be unpacked and returned to the refrigerator or pantry right away.

Rinse the ice chest and allow to dry. Sprinkle some baking soda in the ice chest to keep it odor-free and fresh until the next time you use it. This is a great time to make sure the valve to let out water is still working and that there are no cracks or bows in the chest. If anything is damaged, replace the ice chest.

Gather up and dispose of any remaining trash.

As you unpack, take inventory of your gear. Did you leave anything behind? Identify any items that are damaged, broken, or consumed (like matches). Be sure to count your tent stakes to make sure you’ll have enough for the next trip. Then, make a list of what needs repair or replacement. Pay special attention to items in your first aid kit.

When we get home from a camping trip, we also make sure to restock on any paper products we’ve used: toilet paper, paper plates, paper towels, plastic silverware, and make sure that the replacements get back into the trailer or camping box.

Separate all clothes and bedding items that may need laundering. Don’t wait to start doing the laundry; wash whatever you can, as soon as you can, to remove outdoor smells that can come from campfires, or from lakes, streams, and beaches, or from dirt, mud, and sand, etc.

Set up your tent to air it out, especially if it got wet while camping, and give it a good sweeping before stowing it. Be sure to air out any other camping gear, which may have gotten wet on the trip, to avoid possible mold and mildew. If your RV has slide-outs or anything tent-like (awnings, tent trailer sides, fold out beds, etc.) be sure to open all of these when you get home and make sure they are dry.

The dew had fallen the last morning in camp so I had to set up the tent at home too!

(If you are in an area that gets morning dew, make sure that all the gear is stowed before the dew falls, or you’ll have to wait for everything to dry out again!)

Clean all kitchen utensils, cookware, dishes, glasses, and silverware – if you can, run everything through the dishwasher. Return kitchen items to where they belong, and store all camping specific cooking items together.

Open your camping stove and wipe off any grease or food particles. You also might need to wash any cooking surfaces.

I wiped my stove down before I packed it up in camp. It WAS greasy!

Make sure that any camping stoves and lanterns are turned off and that all fuel containers are properly stored.

My new lantern is battery powered: I removed the batteries when I got home. It can't turn on in storage AND the batteries can't leak.

Empty any water containers and allow to dry. You’ll want to keep a close eye on it however, so as soon as the inside is dry, you put the lid on tightly. There is nothing worse that filling up your potable water container and having a big dead spider looking up at you from the bottom! Or peering inside to see dust, cat hairs, dead bugs, LIVE bugs… You get the picture!

Take good care of your camping gear since it was an investment and you will want to use it for many years to come.

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you have other items on YOUR unpacking checklist?

Find Your Geocache

Geocaching Supplies Checklist

Two weeks ago, I posted about my geocaching tool kit; these are tools that I take with me to actually FIND and RETRIEVE the cache. I got so many comments on that post about what people have in their kits, I though I’d better do a follow-up article!

To Retrieve The Cache

  • Walking stick. This is a must for Arizona where all manner of creatures (usually that bite, sting, are poisonous or all three!) like to live around caches. So a walking stick is perfect for jamming into a likely crevasse or flipping over rocks.
  • Gloves. My garden gloves do double duty in my caching kit. This is nice when I’ve got my fingernails painted a la filming for The Outdoor Princess Productions. Or when locating the cache requires me to move plants with thorns.
  • Small mirror. I finally got tired of sticking my head under cattle guards looking for micros! Now, I just angle the mirror under so I can see BEFORE I stick my head into anything!
  • Needle nose pliers. For when you can SEE the cache, but you can’t get your fingers in there! Pliers are tough and portable!
  • Forceps. Yep, I carry BOTH. Sometimes the pliers are too big to extract the log sheet from a nano. And the forceps can be too delicate for leveraging a good-sized cache container out of the hiding spot.
  • Flashlight. Sometimes shining a light into a likely spot will show the cache reflecting back at you. And sometimes it shows the eyes of whatever critter is living in the hole!
  • Magnet on a string. Sometimes, you can fish a cache out with that! Just make sure the magnet is tied on tight! (Thanks to GC Addicted)

You might also want to consider:

  • A metal coat hanger with a hook bent into the end.
  • A fishing hook on a string. (Not sure I recommend this because of how easy it is to get caught on the barb, but it was suggested several time!)

This is just a sample of what I carry with me.

Safety Gear

  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Sun Glasses
  • Safety glasses were suggested by james.bednar. He pointed out that trees (branches, thorns, and leaves) can REALLY damage and eye when you run into it. I never would have thought of this since I’m ALWAYS wearing glasses.
  • Extra batteries for the GPS
  • Quality road atlas (make sure it is a GOOD one that shows back roads, not just the main highways!)
  • First aid kit
  • Poison oak/ivy spray (suggested by Garrett.) Neither is much of a problem in Arizona so I’d never even THOUGHT about it!
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plenty of water and snacks
  • Hiking boots or good shoes

Kim Scornavacco posted such a good comment that I think it needs to be repeated in its entirety:

I always carry a bandana with me. I can cover my head to ward off the heat, I dunk it in cold water and tie it around my neck to keep cool, I wrap it around my mouth and nose in cold weather, I have used it as a band-aid, used it to clean off mud and in an emergency, you can use it as a sling.

Here are some other items that I typically carry in my car:

  • Emergency poncho
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Whistle
  • Matches
  • LOTS of paper towel
  • Cell phone charger

Several people commented on also bringing extra log sheets and plastic baggies to caches. I LOVE the idea of people doing impromptu cache maintenance and just helping out the owner. I have several caches that are hours away from my house so it isn’t really feasible for me to trot over there after work to replace a log book!

Other items suggested were:

  • GPS
  • Swag
  • Pen AND a pencil
  • Duct tape (always handy)

One of the biggest issues I’ve always had with a list like this is that if I carried EVERYTHING my pack would be so heavy I could hardly walk! I recommend that you take notes (mental or otherwise) about what YOU decide YOU can’t live without.

On my “Can’t Go Caching Without It” list?

My camera and tripod!

Readers Weigh In:

  • I’ve been thinking about making up a printable .pdf checklist of supplies. Do you think that would help ne w cachers get started on the right foot?

Mystery Mondays: Tips For Camping

Ah camping! One thing I discovered is that each family has their own way of getting ready for camping; their own must-take lists, their own way of packing, cooking, and traveling. Since this weekend I’ll be going camping with my friend Nicole, I wanted to share some tips with you about how to plan for a trip when you’re NOT going camping with your family.

We’ll be heading out Friday morning and will be back on Sunday. Look for an article next week telling all about the trip!

1. Decide on dispersed camping or in a campground.

Nicole & I decided to go to a campground since she hasn’t camped much in Arizona. I just feel that two women probably shouldn’t camp out in the boonies by themselves. We’ll be heading to White Horse Lake Campground near Williams, AZ.

2. How to pay for things.

Camping fees, food, propane, gas: decide before you head out how you want to handle the expenses of the trip. A lot of public campgrounds ONLY take cash so make sure that somebody is in charge of bringing it!

3. The menu.

I don’t know about you, but I have my favorite camping foods: eggs & bacon, white donuts, Ritz crackers with strawberry cream cheese, ham sandwiches, shrimp on the barbeque. Most people have foods that just work for camping. And when you’re traveling with somebody who doesn’t know your favorite foods, be sure to talk about it. Nothing is worse than getting to the campsite when each person thinks the OTHER person brought dinner!

4. Who’s bringing what equipment?

Who will be in charge of the tent? The stove? Sleeping bags and pads? In the case of Nicole and I, I’ll be bringing most of the gear since hers is in storage. But be sure that whoever is in charge of bringing the tent is trustworthy!

5. Don’t forget the little stuff!

Tent?                              Check!

Stove?                            Check!

Bowls?                           Um… What bowls?

ESP Boss left on Saturday for a scouting trip with our friend Bob. ESP Boss was in charge of bringing most of the food and gear since we have it all. Of course, The Queen Mother was in charge of packing the kitchen. She was a bit dismayed when she realized that she forgot to send bowls for Albóndiga soup AND the shrimp for dinner #2!

6. Tell people where you’ll be and when you’ll be back!

Nicole & I are taking my truck. So, when I see her on Thursday (we leave on Friday) I’ll give her a paper that has the make, model, and color of my truck, the license plate number. where we’ll be going, my cell number and the contact numbers for my folks. She’ll be able to leave that at home so her mother knows the plan.

If anything were to happen (truck breaks down, run over by a charging elk, abducted by aliens, you name it!) then two families will have our plans and can come looking for us!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Have you ever been camping with a friend and left something really important at home?

PS: Nicole has a website of her own: Herman & Lily’s

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