walkin’ at night

I have been geocaching off and on for almost seven years now. To be honest, it’s more off than on over the past few. On Saturday, I found cache number 401, which happened to be a nighttime cache. As in, you can only find it after dark.

My friend and fellow cacher tiabih talked me into going by her enthusiasm alone, so with plans made, we met up early in the evening and set off to the Powhatan Wildlife Management Area to find the Powhatan Witch Project cache, about 30 miles west of Richmond. Flashlights in hand, and thankful for the three-quarter moon, we set off down the path.

Tiabih had found a nighttime cache before, so she had an idea of what to look for. On the other hand, I had only heard of them, so I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect. We arrived in a clearing at the first waypoint and began looking for something reflective in the trees. Once we found the marker, it took us a bit to figure out where to go next, as it wasn’t quite what tiabih was expecting. But, soon we headed off in the right direction down the path.

About a half a mile or so of markers led us to a decon box with copies of the instructions for the next stages. Tiabih plugged them into her GPS and off we went. A few turns and coordinates later, we rounded a bend and spotted a tent next to a small fire not 50′ away from the cache location. I think the campers were as surprised to see us as we were to see them. Once we established that neither were serial killers, we found the cache, signed the log and headed back to the car.

The fall night air was cool and crisp, and it wasn’t long into our hike that I took off my fleece jacket and wrapped it around my waist. Although we were under the trees most of the way, we came across a few grassy clearings that opened up a sky full of stars. It was so peaceful and calm in the woods that night – makes me want to get out and do more nighttime hiking!

using my PDA

I have found a use for my Toshiba e355 beyond games of Solitare and a portable digital calendar.

Despite having my Toshiba e355 for over five months, I haven’t found many uses for it beyond the portable digital calendar that syncs with my desktop calendar. I have occasionally used AvantGo to download driving directions, and I’ve played many rounds of Solitaire, but neither of these things was enhanced by the electronic experience.

Recently, I began playing with my new Magellan SporTrack GPSr (thanks Anna!). It didn’t take long for me to become a geocaching addict. Now I’m spending the precious minutes after work on sunny days hunting around the area for hidden treasures. When I first started geocaching, I printed out the cache information on the backs of scrap paper. Then I read about different ways to go paperless. I was excited! Finally, I had found a use for my Toshiba that actually enhanced my experience. I downloaded GPXSonar to my Toshiba, grabbed some gpx files of local geocaches, and off I went.

Last Saturday, I started my day of cache hunting by picking one from the list I had downloaded and going from there. Everything I needed to find the cache was right there in my Toshiba — no wasting paper printing out a stack of cache details. I found three out of the four I went looking for and returned home satisfied with my hunt. I was able to use the program to make field notes right when I found the cache, which came in handy later when I went online to log my finds.

I still haven’t found many library-related uses for my PDA, but I suspect that they will emerge with time. Probably, I will get more use out of my Toshiba when I get a Bluetooth card and/or additional memory storage.