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Geocaching Log Sheets

This is the seventh article in a ongoing series titled, “TWiG – This Week in Geocaching”. With each article I hope to highlight my personal geocaching treks and comment on anything that I find of interest that’s going on in the world of geocaching (i.e. geocaching related websites, forum posts, blogs, podcasts, etc.).

Membership Has Its Privileges

I recently became a Geocaching.com Premium Member, and after doing so I keep asking myself why I didn’t do it sooner. It seems like a no-brainer now.

This is actually something that I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time now. I kept telling myself that I would become a Premium Member on my one year anniversary of joining Geocaching.com. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to just go ahead and do it.

I got to thinking about the money that I’ve already invented in this hobby (a few hundred dollars on a new GPSr, some new gear, fuel, etc.) and thought why not become a Premium Member and get some added benefits and at the same time support the people who help make geocaching possible.

Becoming a Premium Member has some really nice benefits. You can find a list of all the benefits at http://www.geocaching.com/subscribe/ so I’m not going to regurgitate them here. But here are few that I really like so far.

– Pocket Queries

Downloading bulk cache waypoints from Geocaching.com is easy enough with a regular membership. However they are in .loc format, you can only download 10 at a time, and they contain only basic cache info. With a premium membership pocket query you can download up to 500 geocache waypoints in .gpx format, which contains additional cache info such as the last five logs and even the cache hint. This additional cache info leads to another great benefit, paperless caching.

– Paperless Caching

No more clipboard with tons of printed cache logs! The money that I will save from ink alone will probably pay for a premium membership.

With the pocket query .gpx file you can easily send the data to a Pocket PC or a Palm hand held device and have all the cache info at your fingertips. I use a couple different programs on my Pocket PC to view the .gpx files.

One is GpxView (free) and it does exactly what its name says, it lets you view .gpx files. The biggest plus for this program, other than being free, is that it’s fast. The downside is that you can’t make notes for a cache and you have to install it using Microsoft ActiveSync.

Another program I use is CacheMate ($8). CacheMate imports .gpx files into its own database and allows note taking, travel bug tracking, cache hints, and more. The biggest plus for CacheMate is that it’s actively developed and upgrades are free. Also, this program does not require a PC to install it. Just copy the setup file to your device and install it from there. CacheMate is available for both Pocket PC and Palm hand held devices.

I’m not totally paperless however. I still like to print out a map with the caches I plan to find, and I usually write down the waypoint number on a little notebook for easy logging on the website later.

– Caches along a Route

I haven’t used this feature yet, but it sounds like it has a lot of potential. I can’t wait for my next road trip so I can cache along a route.

PodCacher Plug

The PodCacher Podcast is a family friendly podcast all about geocaching for both beginners and veterans. Each week show hosts Sonny and Sandy bring you news, tips and tricks, tools of the trade, equipment reviews, prize giveaways, and much more! The show has professional sound and is often updated more than once a week. Checkout the PodCacher Podcast today.

TFTC

One of my goals with this series of articles is to help keep me in the caching spirit and to remind me how much fun is involved with geocaching. I always appreciate comments and suggestions, so feel free to leave them here or send me an email. Have a great week and happy caching!