Friday, December 19, 2008

Iowa had largest cache % gain of any state!

Last January, I posted here about Iowa geocache statistics that were compiled from geocaching.com by my fellow reviewer, Riviouveur, who reviews caches for France. He recently provided me with an updated spreadsheet that once again shows Iowa in relation to the rest of the world, and Iowa continues to show a very high rate of growth in number of geocaches. In fact, for the period of Riviouveur's latest spreadsheet (May 2007 to early December 2008), the U.S. state with the largest percentage gain in active geocaches was -- drumroll, please -- Iowa!

Here are some details. We grew from 2,943 caches on May 30, 2007 to 6,260 caches on Dec. 7, 2008. That was a gain of 3,317 geocaches, which was a 113% increase during those 18 months. That equates to approximately 184 new active caches per month. If you clicked on the link above to my previous post, you saw that our previous rate was 155 new caches per month, so you have really picked up the pace during the past year.

According to Riviouver’s latest calculations, Iowa now has 43 caches per 1,000 square kilometers, (up from 28.7 in his previous report). That puts us 38th out of 143 regions (countries and states) worldwide in terms of cache density (up from 51st in his previous report).

In terms of population, we currently have 209.9 caches per 100,000 population, which ranks us 21st on the list of 143 worldwide regions. (Previously we were at 140.4 and in 28th place.)

Once again, the numbers included in the spreadsheet are ACTIVE cache figures. Reviewers have actually reviewed more caches than those numbers indicate. The numbers are the net of total caches submitted minus those that have been archived and minus those that were not approved for listing.

In case you're interested, the state with the most caches per 1,000 sq kilometers is Rhode Island, with 307.3. Alaska has the fewest caches per 1,000 sq kilometers with 1.6. The state with the most caches per 100,000 population is Utah with 523.5. New Jersey has the fewest caches per 100,000 population at 60.9.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Roundabouts

On my way to and from one of my office locations, there's a newly constructed roundabout that I now pass through. It's so new that occasionally drivers in front of me seem to be confused about what to do so they slow down or even stop before entering. It's all I can do to keep from yelling, "Keep moving!" But I tell myself not to get too excited. After all, it's something new to them. They'll get the hang of it...eventually.

Yesterday I reviewed a geocache that was placed in a roundabout (the first geocache in an Iowa roundabout submitted to www.geocaching.com that I can recall). Since I had not come across this before, I had to do some research to find out how other reviewers are handling roundabout caches, and to find out if there are any applicable local traffic regulations about walking inside roundabouts. Some reviewers say they use the rule of thumb that if there does not appear to be any pedestrian walkway into the center portion of the roundabout, it would appear that pedestrians are not welcome in the center portion, and therefore neither are geocaches.

Think about it -- how distracting would it be to some drivers if they saw someone poking around in the bushes or rocks inside a roundabout when they're already trying to watch for merging vehicles while trying to find their exit? And it's not just me saying this. The Iowa DOT has a web site that gives advice about roundabouts. (I orignally wrote that previous sentence as "the IDOT gives roundabout advice" but that didn't sound quite right.) The IDOT says this: "Never walk though a roundabout or cross the center island."

Bottom line, unless you seek and obtain special permission for your specific geocache from the local governing municipality, I'm not going to publish geocaches that are placed inside roundabouts .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Useless hints

As I have previously posted, useless hints are just that -- useless. I was reminded of this tonight when I read a post in the IGO forums complaining about useless hints. Bottom line: When you create a new geocache, if you're not going to give useful information in your encrypted hint, leave that field blank. If not, all you're doing is frustrating your fellow geocachers and diminishing their opinion of your cache.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Paperwork -- sometimes it works!

Success! My effort to follow-up with the internet service provider of the web site that ripped off my blog content appears to have paid off. As I mentioned in my previous post, I sent a document -- about 12 pages of explanation and samples of material copied from this blog -- to the ISP. After waiting only a few days, I checked the offending web site and found this message:
ForbiddenYou don't have permission to access / on this server.
Additionally,
a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to
handle the request.

It appears the ISP quickly realized that their customer was doing some bad things and so they took them down. I don't know if they will resurface on a different URL, but thanks to the power of Google searches, I'll be ready. :-)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ripping me off on the web

A couple of weeks ago I received a Google alert that a web site mentions IowaAdmin. (I will not mention that site by name here so as not to give them any additional visits from my site.) So I checked it out and discovered the site has duplicated several posts from my blog -- some credited to me, most not. I posted a few comments on that site politely asking that they remove all these posts because it appears I am the one who is selling geocaching goods on that site, which I am not. The site is also advertising for sale geocaching gear from Groundspeak. When I click them, it looks like lots of copyright violations and re-selling of Groundspeak stuff! So far they have not responded to me. It looks like they removed my comments and now they have added even more of my blog posts. This evening I sent a formal letter of copyright infringement to the Internet provider for that site. We'll see if this helps.

I feel like someone has broken into my house and stolen some of our stuff. Have any of you ever experienced anything similar?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A gift from the Frog



I recently received an unexpected gift from Groundspeak, the company that owns and runs geocaching.com. It's a glass award to mark my five years of being a volunteer reviewer for their web site. During those 5+ years I have published close to 6,000 geocaches, which comes to approximately 100 per month. I don't know how many others I have reviewed but not approved, but I'm guessing it would be an additional 10 percent to 25 percent. Sometimes you encounter people who just seem to have a grudge against me, geocaching.com and the world in general. But by far it's been an enjoyable "job" and it's been great to meet and/or talk to so many interesting geocachers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another kayak video

I have posted some vacation photos here in the past. Sometimes I felt a little weird about doing so because, by my own definition, this is primarily a blog about geocaching and the review process. But some of you have been kind enough to comment or e-mail that you enjoy seeing my vacation photos. Because of that, and because I haven't posted here for a number of days, here's another installment of vacation images -- this time as a video. If this bores you, well, don't watch it.:-)


video

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Technology is great... when it works

The past few evenings have been frustrating because we've been having problems with our Internet connection at home, making it tougher for me to review new geocaches and communicate with those of you who submit questions and details about your caches. I thought I had the problem fixed about two weeks ago after I replaced the cable modem, but now it's acting up again. I've been compensating by logging on at work to keep up with the review queue, [shhhh!] but it takes more time to review at work because I don't have all the reviewer reference links and files on my work computer that I have accumulated on my home computer over the years. So, thanks for your patience if you've noticed a bit of a delay this week. I'll try to get things repaired by the cable company.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A pretty amazing new geocache

Iowa Tom would be proud of this a new geocache called Captain Crunch created and hidden by geocacher linuxonthebrain. If you're in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area, you have to check this out. I don't want to give anything away but I have a feeling you won't be disappointed. I just hope it doesn't get damaged or stolen anytime soon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's in a name?

I think you can tell what kind of weather we've been having in the Midwest just by looking at the names of some of Iowa's newest caches.

Hi and Dry - 2008 Flood
River View
The Watering Hole
STOP! it'sTwister Hill
Gonna Storm
At the waters edge
Waterfront Property
IT'S CREEKY

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by the floods.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dam-age

The big weather news since the weekend is rain. Over near the Wisconsin Dells, Lake Delton is now just a bug mud hole after the wash-out of an earthen road/levee that held the lake back from the Wisconsin River. In case you missed it, here's video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0bVsSWXG-I

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Getting started

Today I received a message via geocaching.com from a geocacher who is planning to place a bunch of caches this summer. Here's his message -- with his name and location withheld in case he doesn't want to be identified.
I have been doing geocaching for about a year now, and plan on putting out my first cache. To make life easier for both of us, I thought I would ask you for any suggestions or tips on placing a cache. Our current plan is to put between 10 and 20 caches in the ______ area, mostly in the citys parks. We have received permission from their parks department already. Our goal is actually to have them in place before the end of July. We have collected a variety of containers, some magnetic, a few coffee cans, and others. We have 2 GPS units to verify the co-ordinates with. Would it be best to activate all of them at the same time, or to do one or two at a time as we get them placed? Any insight you can give us would be greatly appreciated. I have read the placing caches section on here.
Thank you for your help,

And here's my response to him:

I recommend that you activate a couple at a time as you place them. That way you'll get feedback from geocachers when they post their finds (and possibly feedback from me when I review them) that will help guide you and possibly improve your caches and cache hiding as you go along. You'll also see which containers work best over the weeks and months. In general, coffee cans have a limited weatherproof life in the outdoors, so you may want to reconsider using those. Placing a few at a time will also help you determine how many caches you want to have active at any given time -- that is, how many you can comfortably maintain on a regular basis.

As far as other advice, you may want to spend a little time reading my blog (http://iowaadmin.blogspot.com) because I mention a number of geocaching topics there that may be helpful. Here are some highlights:
- Don't hide caches that are on or that simulate electrical equipment unless you can show express permission that you have permission from the owner of the electrical equipment. (I still think these are a bad idea, but they may be approved if the cache owner has permission.)
- Check to make sure your caches are at least 528ft from existing caches and from physical cache waypoints of multicaches. Try to avoid a string of caches placed close to the minimum separation distance along a trail. This is known as a "power trail" and Groundspeak frowns on them because they tie up stretches of a trail so that other geocachers can't place caches there.
- Use the "attributes" feature to add attributes on your cache page, especially one to indicate whether or not the cache is wheelchair accessible.
- Use the "add/edit waypoints" feature to enter coordinates for all waypoints and final locations of multicaches and puzzle caches.
- If the cache is on land managed by the Iowa DNR, you'll need to first get permission from the local land manager. Some local parks departments also require permission for caches in parks.

Thanks for asking. I hope this helps. I look forward to seeing what you come up with, and so will geocachers in your area.

Ken
IowaAdmin

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Okoboji event

Thanks to everyone who attended my Waterlogged at Okoboji event! It turned out to be a very windy day this past Saturday so I didn't know whether to expect anyone to show up on the water, but three intrepid boatloads of geocachers did show up despite the cool temperatures and treacherous waves. Davy Duck, who lives closest to the event, boated the longest distance -- from East Lake Okoboji. Other floating geocachers were present from Webster City and from Minneapolis. I was the lone manually powered boater -- paddling out in my sea kayak (equipped with proper safety equipment, including PFD, spray skirt, wetsuit and dry shell). Mary had started the voyage with me but she decided to turn back because of the conditions, so I escorted her most of the way back before heading out once again. I had my GPSR mounted on the deck of my kayak in a waterpoof pouch but I couldn't read the display because of the waves that were washing across the deck, so instead of using my GPSR to navigate to the coordinates, I simply headed for the three boats that were bobbing around on the lake. When I got close enough, I shouted that it was too rough for me to try to hand out coins out there on the water and that I would meet them at the parking coordinates. I turned around and enjoyed the quick ride back to shore with the wind and waves pushing me all the way. Safely back on land, Mary and I enjoyed meeting the boating and non-boating geocachers who were waiting there.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's up with Scott County Park?


One of the most geocache-saturated pieces of land in Iowa is Scott County Park. It seems like every week someone is submitting a new geocache for that park. Just when I think another new cache couldn't be wedged in sideways, another one is submitted. So what's up with this park? What makes it a geocache magnet?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A busy day

I reviewed and published 56 new geocaches on Sunday. This must be a record for new geocaches published in Iowa in one day. It doesn't even take into account the geocaches that were reviewed that day and not yet published. Additionally, I estimate that for at least half of those caches, I posted a reviewer note asking the owner to add an attribute that indicates whether or not the geocache is wheelchair accessible. This is something that Groundspeak has encouraged us to do by highlighting caches that do not have such an attribute, so your help in remembering to use the attributes feature -- especially one to indicate whether your geocache is wheelchair accessible -- would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Iowa DNR posts geocaching rules and permit form

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has just posted a web page outlining its geocaching "rules and regulations." (I always love that term. It makes me think, "Which ones are the rules and which ones are the regulations?") Anyway, after a couple years of informal geocaching policy which instructed geocachers to obtain permission from the local DNR manager before placing a geocache on DNR-managed land, there is now a formal process. From what I can tell, there are three major changes:
1. The process now includes a permit application (available at the DNR web site linked above).
2. All permits expire annually on March 31.
3. The cache container must be clearly marked on the outside with "Geocache" in block letters no smaller than one half inch in size and the name of the geocache.

One very nice aspect of the new DNR web page is that they include a link to Staff Contact Information: Park E-Mail and Phone List -- a very helpful tool for geocachers seeking information on placing a cache.

How will these changes affect my review process for caches on DNR-managed land? For the past few years I have asked geocachers who submit such caches whether they obtained permission from the local DNR land manager, and if so, to post the name and contact information for that person in either the description or in a reviewer note on their cache page. From now on, I am going to ask if you have obtained the required DNR permit. I may also refer you to the DNR web page to make sure you're aware of the March 31 expiration date.

Once they are approved, I will not be policing these caches annually to enforce the March 31 expiration date. That's an Iowa DNR rule and not part of the geocaching.com guidelines, so the annual expiration and removal of these caches will be a matter left up to the DNR and the cache owner. I couldn't enforce that rule if I wanted to. It would simply be too much for one non-paid person to keep track of.

It will be interesting to see what effect this formal policy will have on geocache hiding on DNR-managed land. Will it encourage more caches there, or will it discourage them? And what effect will the annual March 31 expiration have? Will cache hiding tail off in the first quarter of each year and then explode with pent-up placements after March 31? I'd like to know what you think. How will this change affect you?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Caches of Madison County

Here's information about geocaching in Pammel Park in Madison County. (And for those of my readers who live outside Iowa, yes, it's THAT Madison County.) My thanks to Barheet for giving me permission to publish his email here.

Date: Mon, 5 May 2008
To: IowaAdmin
Subject: Barheet contacting IowaAdmin from Geocaching.com

Hey there. I recently submitted 3 caches for approval in Pammel Park, near Winterset. I wasn't aware that I needed the director's approval before placing caches there. I contacted the local director who said not to place anything there. Here are the reasons he gave me:

1. They don't know what people would place inside the caches and don't want any inappropriate items in the parks.

2. They want to place their own caches for educational purposes.

He said they wanted to be able to control what was in the caches. I'm not sure how they'd do that, unless they made it just a local scavenger hunt or something. He also says Pammel is not a state park anymore and is managed by the county.

Anyway, just thought I'd let you know what happened for future reference. I will remove the caches and archive the listings. Thanks!

Barheet

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Change to cache adoption

My thanks to fellow reviewer WisKid for letting me borrow his explanation. Actually, I never asked him, but it's easier to beg forgiveness after the fact. :)

There's been a slight change in Groundspeak's rules for adopting caches. First, Groundspeak will no longer process "forced" adoptions except in very unusual circumstances. They haven't really delineated what constitutes unusual, but assume that we will not be able to allow you to adopt someone's cache without permission. We can still try, but it is not likely to be approved. The only specific exception discussed involves the death of a cacher with permission of the family.

Second, we have been instructed NOT to unarchive caches to allow someone else to adopt them, even with permission. If you want someone to adopt your listings, I would suggest you post to the (IGO) forums to ask for volunteers. We can still unarchive if you archive by mistake, change your mind, etc., but not specifically for the purpose of adoption.

Of course, you can still do your own adoptions when both sides are agreeable at www.geocaching.com/adopt.


Thanks, WisKid, for letting me rip off your quote. Anyhoo, I also want to add that you can also use the above link to transfer ownership of travel bugs and trackable geocoins.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Waterlogged event cache is published

My event cache is set for May 24. (Thanks to the reviewer for approving it so quickly!)
Check it out by going to the listing on geocaching.com for GC1B6CP.
Please post your "will attend" log if you're planning to be there so I have an idea of how many to expect.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Water logged

I have an idea of hosting a 5-star terrain event cache. The event would be held in such a place (think famous NW Iowa lake) that special equipment would be required to get there (think watercraft). As incentive for geocachers to attend, I would offer special prizes -- Groundspeak's trackable 2008 Volunteer Geocoin for the first, say, six or eight geocachers who show up at the coordinates at the designated time, which would probably be mid-morning the Saturday before Memorial Day. There would also be a special FTF prize -- a Groundspeak Lackeys 2007 trackable geocoin. What do you think? Would anyone show up?

Friday, March 14, 2008

More about mobility


On a few occassions in the past I have blogged about reveiwing geocaches while "on the road" at exotic locations such as Cozumel, The Bahamas and Dyersville. I did the reviewing by packing along my notebook computer, a Dell Inspiron and finding a wifi hotspot. Sometimes I used my wife's notebook, because she has nationwide broadband coverage. While this has worked fine for the most part, my computer is not the most convenient thing to lug around. It has a large screen and, as notebooks go, is not the most trim PC you could own. Well today I tried something new. For the first time I reviewed (and approved) a geocache using a mobile phone. Recently my wife upgraded her cell phone to get one with more bells and whistles so her old phone -- a Cingular 8125 -- was going unused. Even though I don't use it for phone service, I decided to charge up her old phone to see if I could use it to access the Internet via our home wifi. I logged into geocaching.com and reviewed a new cache called Drake Bulldogs Madness (GC1A395). Now I have a pocket-sized way to access the Internet, provided I'm in a free wifi hotspot. I'm looking forward to trying this out "on the road" sometime because it means I may not be lugging around my computer or relying on borrowing time on my wife's computer. Besides, it's fun to be geeky with gadgets.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How to know if your new cache is 528 ft from others

After I couldn’t immediately approve his cache last week, a geocacher asked how he’s supposed to know if there are multicache waypoints that are too close to the new cache he just placed and submitted.

There are two ways to find out. First, you could find all the nearby multis within two miles and keep a record of the coordinates for each waypoint. The reason I say two miles is because that’s the maximum distance that waypoints of multicaches and puzzle caches are supposed to be from the original listed coordinates on the cache page. If there are a lot of geocaches in the same area as your new cache, and if a lot of those are multis or mystery caches, there’s a good chance that your geocache is closer than 528 ft. from one of the waypoints. And if those waypoints are actual physical caches, then they need to be at least 528 ft. away from your cache.

A second and easier method is to record the coordinates of your proposed new cache location and submit them on a new cache page. But be sure to write a reviewer note stating that the cache is not yet in place and that you just want to see if this location is available. That way I can easily check it against the Geocaching.com database and let you know if that spot is OK. If it’s not, I can suggest which direction you may want to move it, or if it might be better to choose a new location all together.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Family strata

This evening as I was reviewing new geocaches, I was pleasantly surprised to see a photo of a rock that I immediately recognized. (OK, I can hear you snickering out there. Yes, it's true. I recognized a rock.) It's called the Gwynne Rock and it's located on the Iowa State campus. It's actually a boulder, and it is featured in a new geocache placed by called LCC 50th--Hitaga Sand Prairie Big Rock (GC19KX7) , a cache by Linn County Conservation and jimmygps. I have several "connections" with this rock. First of all, I'm an ISU alum and I walked and rode past that rock hundreds of times. Secondly, the rock is named after the late Dr. Charles Gwynne, a former professor of geology at ISU and my great uncle. Thirdly, several years after my graduation from ISU, I lived in Marion for seven years and one of my favorite places to go hiking, biking and cross-country skiing was Squaw Creek Park, where the rock was discovered before being moved to the Iowa State campus. Read more about Dr. Gywnne and the rock here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What do Iowans think about ... that word?

Today an Iowa geocacher submitted a geocache with the word "sucks" in it. I was born and raised in Iowa, and I was taught that this word is not used by polite people in public settings. I asked the geocacher to change the name of his cache, which he did. (Thank you.)

Then I got to thinking about it and I checked to see how many other geocaches are out there with that word in their names. Turns out there are quite a few. So in the interests of fairness, I wrote to the geocacher and told him he could change the name back if he wanted to. I added this note: "But I hope you don't."

Iowans, what do you think? Is "sucks" an offensive word we want to keep out of our geocache names, or does it not bother you at all? I'd really like to know.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mystery at Gray's Lake

Over the years, I've seen several geocaches placed near Gray's Lake in Des Moines. In reading the logs for those caches, it seems as though strange things like to happen in that area. Caches disappear. Geocachers trip across the homesteads of homeless people. And now another unusual situation -- a geocache and a waymark that both lead to a hidden compartment behind a door in a tree. I first heard about it when Team Signal posted about it in their blog. You can read about in this story from the Des Moines Register.
Creative weirdness abounds.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ever heard of Crabtown?


I hadn't, but now I have because there's a geocache there (GC195FC). It's one of several submitted in the area by plumberbutt. If you're a FTF hound who feels compelled to rush out tonight, be careful out there in the snow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stats very interesting

What do New Hampshire and Iowa have in common? If you answered “first in the nation” status, you are correct. But I’m not talking about the presidential campaign process. Instead, I’m referring to the world-wide rankings of geocaching regions.

One of my fellow reviewers who goes by the user name Riviouveur and who reviews caches for France, likes to collect geocache statistics. He graciously consented to let me publish some of the data he collected from the www.geocaching.com site.

One stat that I find especially interesting is that, for the period from May 30, 2007 to January 27, 2008, of all the states in the U.S., only New Hampshire had a greater percentage increase in its number of geocaches (42.8%) than Iowa (42.2%). During those eight months, Iowa went from having 2,943 geocaches to 4,184 – an increase of 1,241 caches. That equates to approximately 155 new caches per month since last May.

According to Riviouver’s calculations, Iowa now has 28.7 caches per 1,000 square kilometers, which equates to roughly .011 per geocaches per square mile (if my math is correct). That puts us 51st out of 143 regions (countries and states) worldwide in terms of cache density. So Iowa is not a cache-barren land. In fact, we’re closer to the top of the list than the bottom.

In terms of population, we currently have 140.4 caches per 100,000 population, which ranks us 28th on the list of 143 worldwide regions. That means Iowans like to hide geocaches more than average.

Another factoid, the numbers included in the spreadsheet are ACTIVE cache figures. Reviewers have actually reviewed more caches than those numbers indicate. The numbers that appear here are the net of total caches submitted minus those that have been archived and minus those that were not approved for listing.

Some additional trivia from Riviouver:
- Five US states hit 10,000 active caches in the last two months.
- The numbers are growing substantially faster outside the U.S. than within the U.S.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Away for a bit

Just a heads-up that I'll be taking a break from reviewing for one week beginning this Saturday. During my absence, the Iowa review queue will once again be managed by my very capable fellow reviewer, Electric Mouse.

I wanted to let those of you who read this blog know in case you or someone you know sends me an email about a cache and you don't hear from me for a few days.

Ken