Another excellent bit of camoflage here, on what has so-far appeared to be a well-loved but well-maintained series. The geopup and I went back and forth a few times before we found the correct host, but soon had the cache in hand. TFTC.
Unfortunately, my dedicated GPSr had been left turned-on after my last geocaching/geohashing/whatever expedition, and I hadn’t realised until I was just setting off this morning. I tried to charge it in the car but it didn’t take on enough battery to make it worthwhile to bring it out, so I was working from my phone (whose GPSr is… adequate… usually), and my watch (whose GPSr is good, but whose user interface for caching is pretty pants).
But luckily for this cache at least my geosense brought me to exactly the right spot, and I quickly saw something that looked out of place. Imagine my delight when I pulled on it and the cache was in my hand. Fantastic stuff, TFTC.
The time before last that I was in Goring – the first of my now-three visits – was for a birthday/garden party on 24 June 2018. My eldest – then only four years old – was getting a little bored of the grown-up conversations going on and I provided a distraction by taking her out to find GLW5FKG9 and GLW5EFV2 (the latter of which has since been archived).
I enjoyed the camoflage on this cache, but little did I know that it would be a theme throughout many of the caches in this series! FP awarded anyway, because it delighted me at the time. TFTC.
The last time I was in Goring was on 9 June 2022, when I cycled here via Eynsham, Abingdon, and Didcot. I enjoyed a meal at at Whale Inn in Streatley, then meandered down into Goring in order to catch a tran part of the way home (I was feeling lazy). Another easy find here. TFTC.
Ignoring times that I’ve passed-through, I’ve only ever visited Goring twice before. It’s time to rectify that! This morning, the dog and I drove down from Stanton Harcourt (near Witney), parked up, and begun our attempts at the first half of the WAG trail (along with a couple of others along the way).
Starting as we mean to continue, this was a very quick first find. TFTC.
Background and hypothesis
When geocachers find a geocache, they typically “log” their find both in the cache’s paper logbook and on one of the online listing sites on which the cache’s coordinates can be found.1
I’ve been finding and hiding geocaches for… a long while, so I’ve seen lots of log entries from people who’ve found my caches (and those of others). And it feels to me like the average length of a geocaching log entry is getting shorter.
“It feels to me like…” isn’t very scientific, though. Let’s see if we can do better.
Getting the data
To test my hypothesis, I needed a decade or so of logs. I didn’t want to compare old caches to new caches (in case people are biased by the logs before them) so I used Geocaching.com’s own search to open the pages for the 500 caches closest to me that are each at least 10 years old.
I hacked together a quick userscript to save all of the logs in a way that was easier than copy-pasting each of them but still didn’t involve hitting Geocaching.com’s API or automating bulk-scraping (which would violate their terms of service). Clicking each of several hundred tabs once every few minutes in the background while I got on with other things wasn’t as much of an ordeal as you might think… but it did take a while.
I mashed that together into a CSV file and for the first time looked at the size of my sample data: ~134,000 log entries, spanning 20 years. I filtered out everything over 10 years old (because some of the caches might have no logs that old) and stripped out everything that wasn’t a “found it” or “didn’t find it” log.
That gave me a far more-reasonable ~80,000 records with which I could make Excel cry.2
It looks like my hunch is right. The wordcount of “found” logs on traditional and multi-stage caches has generally decreased over time:
“Did not find” logs, which can be really helpful for cache owners to diagnose problems with their caches, have an even more-pronounced dip:
When I first saw that deep dip on the average length of “did not find” logs, my first thought was to wonder whether the sample might not be representative because the did-not-find rate itself might have fallen over time. But no: the opposite is true:
Strangely, the only place that the trend is reversed is in “found” logs of virtual caches, which have seen a slight increase in verbosity.
Within the limitations of my research (80,000 logs from 500 caches each 10+ years old, near me), there are a handful of clear trends over the last decade:
- Geocachers are leaving increasingly concise logs when they find geocaches.
- That phenomenon is even more-pronounced when they don’t find them.
- And they’re failing-to-find caches and giving up with significantly greater frequency.
Are these trends a sign of shortening attention spans? Increased use of mobile phones for logging? Use of emoji and acronyms to pack more detail into shorter messages? I don’t know.
I’d love to see some wider research, perhaps by somebody at Geocaching.com HQ (who has database access and is thus able to easily extract enough data for a wider analysis!). I’m also very interested in whether the identity of the cache finder has an impact on log length: is it impacted by how long ago they started ‘caching? Whether or not they have hidden caches of their own? How many caches they’ve found?
But personally, I’m just pleased to have been able to have a question in the back of my mind and – through a little bit of code and a little bit of data-mashing – have a pretty good go at answering it.
Enjoyed solving this puzzle, although possibly not 100% in the way the author intended (I spotted some mathematical quirks that gave me a shortcut/cut down the number of possibilities for matching first and surnames!). Now I just need to find an excuse to get over to the GZ and find it! (No idea how soon that’ll be, though!)
Solving this puzzle cache was inspired by a conversation on the Geoleaks forum.
No luck here this morning for the geopup and I. The undergrowth has come through incredibly thick your summer, and we had to work hard to hunt in likely locations. (The hint didn’t help much, as it wasn’t entirely clear which direction it assumed we were coming from, but the GPSr good looked good so I figure we were on the right spot.) Strangely, we did find a bauble (pictured) – did somebody decorate these woods for Christmas, I wonder?
Easy find while out on a dog walk. Not been out this side of the wood before! Might have struggled to find the GZ were it not for the remnants of a “geo trail” through the dense undergrowth, which was thick enough that the pooch’s little legs couldn’t take her the last 5 metres and I had to press on alone. Soon, though, the cache was in hand and I was able to return to my four-legged furry friend and continue on our way. TFTC!
I find myself in Cropredy but once a year, at most, and for the obvious reason. The festival atmosphere, not to mention the hordes of revellers, does not in general bode well for a successful geocaching expedition! But I’ve persisted, mostly by virtue of being an early riser than most of the partygoers and inclined towards a swift morning constitutional (as mentioned here), and I’ve gradually picked off each of the local caches bar this one and a multi that’s somewhat incompatible with the festival.
This time last year I came very near to this GZ while hunting for GC9GK2V “Mr Impossible”, but it was coming close to the time I anticipated that the kids would wake up and demand breakfast, so I turned around before reaching “Leslie”. This year I’ve pressed directly on to this cache, thankful for the cool damp air through which my brisk walk took me compared to last year’s saunalike heat.
As others have noted, the cache container has seen better days but it’s still just about holding together (insert your own joke about aging folk rockers here). Regardless, a delightful morning walk before a day of music. SL, TFTC.
I managed to log most of the local geocaches during last year’s Fairport by getting up early each morning (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), while the other revellers were still nursing their hangovers, but I wasn’t able to retrieve this muddle-laden one. This year I had better luck and the kids, dog and I soon had it in hand. SL, TNLN, TFTC!
This week, Ruth and I didn’t go the Isle of Man.
It’s (approximately) our
and, struggling to find a mutually-convenient window in our complex work schedules, we’d opted to spend a few days exploring the Isle of Man. Everything was fine, until we were aboard
Once everybody was seated and ready to take off, the captain stood up at the front of the ‘plane and announced that it had been cancelled2.
The Isle of Man closes, he told us (we assume he just meant the airport) and while they’d be able to get us there before it did, there wouldn’t be sufficient air traffic control crew to allow them to get back (to, presumably, the cabin crews’ homes in London).
Back at the terminal we made our way through border control (showing my passport despite having not left the airport, never mind the country) and tried to arrange a rebooking, only to be told that they could only manage to get us onto a flight that’d be leaving 48 hours later, most of the way through our mini-break, so instead we opted for a refund and gave up.3
We resolved to try to do the same kinds of things that we’d hoped to do on the Isle of Man, but closer to home: some sightseeing, some walks, some spending-time-together. You know the drill.
A particular highlight of our trip to the North Leigh Roman Villa – one of those “on your doorstep so you never go” places – was when the audio tour advised us to beware of the snails when crossing what was once the villa’s central courtyard.
At first we thought this was an attempt at humour, but it turns out that the Romans brought with them to parts of Britain a variety of large edible snail – helix pomatia – which can still be found in concentration in parts of the country where they were widely farmed.4
There’s a nice little geocache near the ruin, too, which we were able to find on our way back.
Before you think that I didn’t get anything out of my pointless hours at the airport, though, it turns out I’d brought home a souvenier… a stinking cold! How about that for efficiency: I got all the airport-germs, but none of the actual air travel. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday I was feeling pretty rotten, and it only got worse from then on.
I’m confident that Ruth didn’t mind too much that I spent Wednesday mostly curled up in a sad little ball, because it let her get on with applying to a couple of jobs she’s interested in. Because it turns out there was a third level of disaster to this week: in addition to our ‘plane being cancelled and me getting sick, this week saw Ruth made redundant as her employer sought to dig itself out of a financial hole. A hat trick of bad luck!
As Ruth began to show symptoms (less-awful than mine, thankfully) of whatever plague had befallen me, we bundled up in bed and made not one but two abortive attempts at watching a film together:
- Spin Me Round, which looked likely to be a simple comedy that wouldn’t require much effort by my mucus-filled brain, but turned out to be… I’ve no idea what it was supposed to be. It’s not funny. It’s not dramatic. The characters are, for the most part, profoundly uncompelling. There’s the beginnings of what looks like it was supposed to be a romantic angle but it mostly comes across as a creepy abuse of power. We watched about half and gave up.
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, because we figured “how bad can a trashy MCU sequel be anyway; we know what to expect!” But we couldn’t connect to it at all. Characters behave in completely unrealistic ways and the whole thing feels like it was produced by somebody who wanted to be making one of the new Star Wars films, but with more CGI. We watched about half and gave up.
As Thursday drew on and the pain in my head and throat was replaced with an unrelenting cough, I decided I needed some fresh air.
So while Ruth collected the shopping, I found my way to the 2023-07-27 51 -1 geohashpoint. And came back wheezing and in need of a lie-down.
I find myself wondering if (despite three jabs and a previous infection) I’ve managed to contract covid again, but I haven’t found the inclination to take a test. What would I do differently if I do have it, now, anyway? I feel like we might be past that point in our lives.
All in all, probably the worst anniversary celebration we’ve ever had, and hopefully the worst we’ll ever have. But a fringe benefit of a willingness to change bases is that we can celebrate our 10th5 anniversary next year, too. Here’s to that.
Found with Ruth after coming out to explore the spectacular Roman villa. We’d supposed to have been out of the Isle of Man celebrating our anniversary, but our ‘plane got cancelled, so we’ve opted for staying at home and doing local cycling expeditions instead. SL, TFTC.
Well this was a challenge! The woods threw off my GPS, but I’d brought a backup device so I averaged between them and found a likely GZ. The dog and I did an increasingly large spiral, checking all the obvious hiding spots, to no avail. Returning to our start point we began another pass, and something caught my eye! It was the cache!
A few things had made it challenging:
- I put the coordinates 13m from where the CO does. Could be the woods, but I’m not the first to say about this distance.
- This cache is by no means a “regular”. It’s not even a “small”. It would fit inside a 35mm film canister, which in my mind makes it clearly a “micro”!
- It wasn’t in the hiding place indicated by the hint! I found in on the ground, beneath leaf litter, with thanks to my energetic leaf-kicking geohound!
Signed log and returned cache to the nearest hiding spot that fits the hint, hopefully others will find it more easily than we did! TFTC from Demmy the Dog and I!
Maintenance check while walking the dog. Cleared some overgrown plants, but watch out because the nearby nettles ate still a little fierce (cache can be retrieved without a sting though!). Cache itself intact and healthy.