Tag Archives: Geocaching

Awesome iPhone App Roundup

Since I’ve owned an iPhone now for about 6 months I’ve discovered many cool and useful apps.  Here are a few of my favorites that do cool or unique things for a cell phone:

MLB At Bat 2010 – $14.99 – This app is a great companion to the MLB.TV subscription which I purchased this year.  It allows me to stream video or audio of any game that isn’t blacked out to my phone.  So far it has been mostly novelty, but did come in handy recently when out to dinner, we could watch the Twins game at our table instead of the Red Sox or Yankees who dominate most TVs at bars and restaurants here.  I can’t get over how cool it is to be able to watch baseball on my phone over 3G with crystal clear video.

Air Video – $2.99 – With Air Video you can stream videos on demand from your home computer to your iPhone without the need to convert them first and download them to the iPhone.  In order to do so, you just install a small server application on your computer and tell it where to look for video.  Then fire up the iPhone app and connect to your home PC over WiFi or 3G over the internet and you can browse any video you have shared and stream it directly to your phone.  If you spend a lot of time converting video for use on your iPhone, this app will complete eliminate this step, saving you lots of time converting and saving videos to your iPhone. How cool is that?

Geocaching – $9.99 – If you know me well, you know I enjoy geocaching.  This app gives me a direct link to the data stored on the geocaching.com servers, including cache locations on a map, cache descriptions, hints, previous logs, pretty much everything that comes in handy when geocaching.  I still use my Garmin handheld GPSr for dedicated geocaching trips, but many times I also have my iPhone out, using it to learn more about the cache to help me find it.  Also it comes in handy for impromptu geocaching, such as when we were at the mall this past weekend and I got a notification that there were two new caches at the mall, so we paused our shopping and were the first to find both of them.

Foursquare – Free – Foursquare is a unique location based app that lets you check in to places you visit and see where your friends are checked in. Also you can see tips left by other users when you check into locations, so you can know whether to try the clam pizza or not.  Also, if you check in more times than anyone else in a couple month span, you can become mayor of that location, which at participating business can provide you with special discounts or free food.  Unfortunately not many of my friends use this yet, nor do many business in New Haven provide deals for Mayors, but I’m hoping one day this will really catch fire and my mayorships will pay off.

MyTown – Free – Like Foursquare, the main idea of this game is to check into the places you visit in your town.  Once you check in, you are able to buy that place of business and add it to your “town”.  When other users visit places you own, you can collect rent from them, which allows you to upgrade and buy more venues that you visit.  It is fun building up your town and seeing which places are more popular than others, providing more rent.  This location based app feels more like a game than Foursquare, but lacks the social aspects that Foursquare provides.  Since most of my friends don’t use either of these apps, I get the most entertainment out of MyTown over Foursquare because of the emphasis on game play over the social benefits of the game.

Glympse – Free – I just recently downloaded this app and haven’t used it much, but it gives you the ability to send a friend a link that shows where you are on a map on their computer.  If you leave the application open on the iPhone, it will show your friend where you are traveling, how fast you are going, etc… I think this will be handy for me so I can let Maggie know where I go when I take off geocaching so she can find me if she ever needs to.

Golf Logix – 24hr Free Trial, $39.95 yearly membership – Since golf season has recently started, I decided to try to find some apps to help my golf game.  This one is handy because it shows you distances to the green, and various other locations (bunker, water, 150 yard layup, etc..) for each hole as you play it.  I used the free trial on my most recent golf outing, and can see how this would be a very handy and inexpensive range finder.  We’ll see if I decide to fork out for the subscription service or not.  Still I think this is a great use of the GPS technology provided by the iPhone 3GS.

Mocha VNC Lite – Free – If you’re a geek like me you’re probably familiar with what VNC is.  It basically allows you to connect to your computer from any other computer and use it like you were sitting in front of it.  This application does the same, only on the small screen of the iPhone.  It works surprisingly well, although I don’t use it very often, I still think it’s cool to be able to do such a thing from my phone.

Target – Free – If you’re a frequent Target shopper like me, this app will come in handy.  It lets you select your local store and search for a product and returns the price and aisle location so you can quickly find it.  Also, they just added a bar code scanner function, so you can scan the bar code to find the price of an item while in the store or at home.

Pandora Radio – Free – Streaming music even over 3G connections, ’nuff said!  Comes in handy while working out when I’ve tired of my MP3 library.

IMDB (Internet Movie Database) – Free – Maggie and I use this application very often, when we want to figure out who the actor is in a show or movie we’re watching, and what other shows they’ve been on.

My 1 year geocaching aniversary

Yesterday (May 31, 2009) marked my 1st anniversary of geocaching, and I almost forgot! Luckily I took some time earlier in the day to track down some new caches close to my apartment in order to mark the occasion. One year a go I decided to try and use my newly purchased GPS unit more often than just the occasional hunting or fishing trip or hike in the woods and try out this hobby I had heard about called geocaching. Over the past year I have found 243 unique geocaches in 3 states (more states to come this year!). During that time I maxed out at 38 finds in April 2009 and bottomed out at 5 finds in February 2009 (brrrr it was cold then, and it’s a short month!). For more interesting stats, check out my geocaching.com profile page.

 

More importantly than the numbers though, geocaching has allowed me to get outside and enjoy the outdoors so much more than in the past, all the while continuing to allow me to be geeky as well. I would estimate that because of the hobby of geocaching I have spent probably 3 times more time outdoors hiking and discovering new parks in the last year than I would have normally. Since I love the outdoors so much, this is a huge benefit to adding this hobby to my repitoire.  Check out my geocaching related blog posts for more stories of my geocaching adventures.

Over the past year I have encountered many interesting geocaches as well as some special milestones along the way.

Here are a few photo highlights:

The nice view from one of my first geocache finds.

The nice view from one of my first geocache finds.

Maggie with the awesome hanging monkey cache we found.

Maggie with the awesome hanging monkey cache we found.

Caching through the snow...

Caching through the snow...

Maggie and Kristen fight with the cache during the NerdHerders innagural geocache trip.

Maggie and Kristen fight with the cache during the NerdHerders innagural geocache trip.

and some more highlights of my favorite caches: 

Favorite Caches
Type Code   Cache Name Description
Virtual GCDDEE Spirit Plaza My first ever geocache and a nice area to visit.
Traditional GCNJN9 Ball Park Pond A geocache that had been around a long time and was near the ball field I hung out at a lot as a kid. I’m sad that it has been muggled.
Traditional GC17E7T Burr Oaks: Swingers Only This is the first cache I found with Maggie and she was amazed at how I was able to find it because it was well camo’d
Traditional GCWEWV Shhhhhh!!! A very interesting cache container!
Traditional GC1862T Wolfe Park 2 (or more) An unique cache location, got lucky that there were no muggles nearby, but still had to be quick and stealthily.
Traditional GCXC27 Pilot Knob A great view!
Traditional GC1A6QN Come to the Holiday ball. A very unique container, also required tons of stealth.
Traditional GC1253W The Oval Office Another unique container. Maggie and I found this one sans-GPSr based on memory while on a walk.
Traditional GC1H03A 394 and 101 S My first FTF!
Mystery GC10PZ6 The Ghost of Ytterboe the Dog Cool mystery cache on the St. Olaf Campus.
Traditional GC1D3PC UNGOWA ! Unique container and hiding spot!
Traditional GCZ36A Moonshine My 100th find!
Multi GC1FN8W Dead Mans Cache An extremely fun pirate themed mult-cache.
Traditional GC148A6 Big Willow Park 10 First find while hiking around Big Willow Park in Minnetonka in knee-deep snow in December!
Traditional GC1CMD6 Hamilton Hill Our second find on Catalina Island during our trip to California in Feb 2009. Awesome view of the island from this overlook!
Multi GC12MJA Baldwin’s Wordsmithy A fun multi with a very unique final container. We really enjoyed this one!
Traditional GC13K10 Mile 4: Lowes Creek Roundabout The first of ten finds for Maggie and I while hiking in Lowes Creek Park in Eau Claire on a beautiful spring day.
Traditional GCZ4QX Schulze Lake Beach The first find for our friends the NerdHearders who we introduced to geocaching with a bunch of finds at Lebenon Hills Regional Park in Eagan.
Traditional GC1PQ90 Riverboat down by the river My 200th find!
Traditional GCV87C Let the Walleye point the way! This one shouldn’t have been that difficult but it took me at least 4 tries to find it. Finally, with Maggie along to try to help, I made the find. What a tough one!

A nice long weekend

My Memorial Day weekend started off at about 2:30 Friday afternoon, when my boss let me leave work a few hours earlier than normal since I had spent much of the previous Saturday (my b-day) working.  After spending a couple hours geocaching, Maggie and I made dinner and then headed to the Metrodome to meet our friends Jeff and Carlene to take in the Twins vs. Brewers game.  The Twins combined for 9 runs in the first 4 innings and never looked back, crushing the Brewers 11-3.  The Twins would go on to sweep the Brew Crew in the weekend series.

On Saturday Jeff and I went golfing at Meadowbrook.  It was a perfect day to walk 18 holes and hit a tiny white ball around the green turf.  Unfortunately for me, the little white ball didn’t want to cooperate.  I shot a 48 on the front nine, and well, quit keeping score on the back nine 😦  I think Jeff finished with an 88; someday I will shoot an 88, hopefully someday soon!

Saturday evening we met up with my college friend Dave and his girlfriend Meghan who were in Minneapolis for the weekend wedding of a friend of his.  We only see them every once and a while since they live in Chicago, so it was nice to have a few drinks with them again.  Luckily he hasn’t turned into a total flat-lander quite yet!

Sunday morning we packed up the car and headed to Menomonie to meet my parents and go fishing on Lake Menomin.  Dad recently bought a nice fishing boat that we all four can fit comfortably in and is pretty fast so we can zip around from spot to spot quickly if the fish aren’t biting (they weren’t :().  Sure beats that old fishing boat my dad had when we were growing up that you never knew if it would start or not!

Fishing Trip on Lake Menomin

Fishing Trip on Lake Menomin

The four of us couldn’t get one single fish to bite the whole 4 hours we were out on the lake, but I didn’t mind too much, as it was a nice enjoyable fishing trip.  I blame the wind out of the east and the sun-tan lotion on our hands (and subsequently our bait) for our bad luck.

After our fishing trip we headed to Eau Claire to my parent’s house to hang out with Brent and Kristen and sit around a campfire in my parent’s back yard.  We of course made Maggie’s World Famous S’mores and talked late into the night before putting the fire out and calling it a night.

Sunday morning Mom made a nice pancake breakfast for all of us.  After we allowed our syrup-coma to wear off, Mom, Dad, Maggie and I went on a bike ride to Lowes Creek Park and back.  The park, which is just south of 94 in Eau Claire, has a lot of ski trails and mountain bike trails.  Maggie and I really enjoyed the mountain bike trails, but I think they were a little too intense for Mom and Dad, so we mainly stayed on the x-country ski trails.  While we were in the park we tried to find one of the MANY geocaches in the park.  This was the first time we tried to find one with Mom and Dad and I think they enjoyed it.  Dad was close to the cache the whole time but didn’t make the find until after Maggie and I had spotted it already.

After our 10 mile long bike ride we loaded our bikes up and made the 90 minute drive back to the Twin Cities to relax a bit from our busy weekend and prepare for the work week.  All in all it was a GREAT weekend, and it was nice that the weather was absolutely perfect for all of our outdoor fun!

Taking the NerdHerders Geocaching

Since I started geocaching nearly a year ago I’ve told many people about the game and how it works and how much fun it is, but my friends Justin and Kristen (mainly Kristen) were the only ones to ask us to take them with us and show them how it works.  I was excited that they wanted to check out this geeky hobby of mine, but when they asked about it, it was the dead of winter and I myself wasn’t even geocaching that much, so we mutually decided to wait for spring and nicer weather to introduce them to the hobby.  We scheduled an outing for this past Saturday and luckily the weather cooperated, in fact it probably couldn’t have been any better for geocaching!

Their first ever find was a tricky one that involved using a large stick to hoist it out of the tree trunk it was hidden in. A perfect way to start the day!

The NerdHerders first cache find!

The NerdHerders first cache find!

I circled the cache in the pic above, otherwise you’d probably never find it, since the camo is so good!

After the first cache we headed on to the next one on the map.  It turned out to be a micro, hidden in the woods.  How curel!  Amazingly the rookie NerdHerders (the name Justin and Kristen chose to log their finds under) made the find before Maggie and I were able to.  Kristen gets props for finding it first.  I was embarrased (only a little) to be the last one to find it, with a couple clues.

From there we headed down the trail to find a few other caches in Lebanon Hills Regional Park where we spent the day caching.

The geocaching crew

The geocaching crew

Justin had a little trouble finding one of them that the other three of us found quickly:

Justin's looking hard...

Justin's looking hard...

But when he finally came up with the find we all had a good laugh…

Justin with the unique cache!

Justin with the unique cache!

As it turns out, this cache and the next one we would find (see below) are a part of a special series of Halloween related caches placed by a local geocacher.  I knew this going in to the day, so I could explain this odd container to the newbies.

Sword Fight!

Sword Fight!

We finished out the hike with Maggie leading the way to a few more geocaches, including another micro that took us a while to find, bringing our total up to 7 for the day.

Maggie leading the way

Maggie leading the way

We had a great time geocaching and it was fun to show some newbies “the ropes”.  I was surprised though how many times they came up with the find before Maggie or I (experienced geocachers) did!  I guess maybe it helps not having any pre-conceived notion of what exactly you’re looking for.  I chalk it up to beginner’s luck!  Hopefully the NerdHerders had fun and will take up the hobby and log many more cache finds in the future!

New Favorite Geocache

I got into geocaching earlier this summer and have also gotten Maggie involved as well in the last few months.  She really enjoys the puzzle caches or the ones that you need to follow a couple of steps in order to find the final cache.

Today we had some time to go try to find a few caches so we went for a few in Rahn Park in Eagan.  It was a gorgeaus day, I’m afraid it might be the last one this warm, since they’re predicting flurries tomorrow 😦  Anyway, we found this one cache that has become our new favorite cache.  It involved a stuffed monkey with a container inside of him.  Maggie discovered the monkey hanging upside down from a tree on a string.  In order to get to it you had to find where the string started (on another tree) and lower the monkey down so you could access the cache and sign the log.  What a fun cache!

Maggie with the Monkey cache

Maggie with the Monkey cache

Fall College Tour Road Trip

A few months ago Maggie and I decided we needed to take a college tour roadtrip where we visit our college campuses and spend a little time in each town in order to show each other some of the landmarks referenced in the stories that have come up in the 13 months since we met each other.  Both of us relished our college years as some of the best of our lives so far, so it made sense to visit the place of so many fond memories for each of us.  We kicked around the idea during the summer, but at the recommendation of Maggie we decided that fall would be the best time to go, when students would be around and the fall colors are in full bloom.  So on Saturday we set off for Northfield, MN, home of St. Olaf College and stop one on our Fall College Tour Road Trip.

We started with a drive through campus and then on to downtown Northfield for a delicious hot hoagie at Hogan Brothers.  Then we headed back to campus for a walking tour guided by Maggie.

Maggie had told me how amazing St. Olaf looked in the fall, but I had to see for my self.  I was amazed at how many brightly color trees (mostly large Maples) adorned the campus:

St. Olaf in the Fall

St. Olaf in the Fall

It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day to visit St. Olaf, we couldn’t have asked for better weather for mid-October!

Maggie took me on the grand tour of campus, showing me all of the buildings (most from the outside since students were on fall break and many were closed for the weekend) and dormitories she had lived in during her 4 years on campus.  I was most impressed by the new science center which had some amazing views of Northfield.  Also, the original campus building “Main Hall” was an impressive sight:

Old Main Hall

Old Main Hall

We concluded the day at St. Olaf with some Geocaching (a newfound hoby of ours) and Disc golf on the campus golf course.  We found 4 geocaches in total, 2 on campus and 2 off campus in the city of Northfield.  Disc golf was fun, even though it was tricky to find where to start each hole.

Maggie aiming her disc

Maggie aiming her disc

I’m pretty sure we missed hole #4, but we made up for it by playing #9 twice (once from each direction).  The match was close with me winning by one stroke.

The afternoon ended with a visit to Dairy Queen in Cannon Falls and the continuation on to the road trip’s next location: La Crosse, WI.  We arrived in La Crosse a couple hours later and checked into our hotel and then made our way to the infamous 3rd street for dinner and drinks at Buzzard Billy’s.

Sunday morning in La Crosse started with breakfast at Perkins where patrons witnessed a poor guy fall off his bike and spill his case of beer (freshly purchased at 11 a.m. Sunday morning) in the street and rip his pants wide open.  Luckily someone came to his aid and helped him recover his beer (clearly the most important part of the outcome here).

The day continued with some geocaching at Riverside Park and then on the the UW-La Crosse campus tour, where we discovered that the football stadium was gone and a new one being built in it’s place.  Also, we found that Reuter hall had changed just a bit from what I remembered:

New Reuter Hall

New Reuter Hall

The UW-La Crosse campus wasn’t nearly as picturesque today as St. Olaf, but there were some good sights on our tour such as the gazebo that was built while I attended UW-L which is a memorial to students and staff who lost their lives while at UW-La Crosse:

UW-L Gazebo

UW-L Gazebo

The day in La Crosse concluded with a visit to Grandad’s Bluff for a beautiful view of La Crosse and campus:

Grandad's Bluff View

Grandad

After taking in the views from Grandad’s Bluff we found a few more geocaches on the bluff and finished off the visit to La Crosse with deep fried cheese curds, beer and Packer football at the Alpine Inn.  What a great way to complete the Wisconsin leg of the Fall College Tour Road Trip.

So after a great weekend in Northfield and La Crosse, we hit the road back to the Twin Cities, via the scenic drive on Hwy 61 between the bluffs and the Mississipi River through Winona, Wabasha and Red Wing.  What a great weekend!

Check out these facebook photo albums from the weekend to view many more great pictures:

St. Olaf

La Crosse