Saturday, April 5, 2008

Capture the Flag

The past two days have been a welcome change of scenery for me. Friday, I was able to get out again and hike up in the foothills. Not much mileage, less than a mile total, but I took along my new cache and hid it up there. I came back home, submitted the cache page and it was approved by the powers that be in less than fifteen minutes. That has to be a record for me. The Window of the Soul is now live. No one’s made a find yet on it, but that will come eventually.

Today, I went caching with my friend Chaosmanor from Camarillo which is out in Ventura County to the west of where I live. He was kind enough to come out this way and we went caching in my neck of the wood, picking up some stray caches here and there, getting a couple of those bugaboo caches off of my list that I had been having trouble finding by myself. We also played a new GPS game today (well, new for me anyway), called GeoVexilla. It’s basically a virtual “Capture the Flag” kind of game.

“GeoVexilla is a GPS game that uses the globe for a playing field. At random times, in random places, random virtual flags appear on a map of the world. The challenge is to visit a flag’s waypoint before the flag disappears. Each time you succeed, you collect that flag, increasing your score.” Any number of people can capture the flag, as each individual can score points for themselves. Every time you capture a flag, the website generates a set of flags that you need to complete. The first flag is worth 1 point, the next 2, the third 4, the fourth 8 and the fifth is worth 16 points. Each completed set can get you 31 points.

The first flag I captured today, the flag of Canada, happened to be in a residential neighborhood about 12 miles from my home. According to the rules, you have to be within 100 meters (328 feet) in order to claim a capture. According to the coordinates listed, the flag (remember that it’s virtual) was on the rooftop of a garage on this one street. One of the criteria for logging a capture is to provide enough detail to “prove” that I was there. This might include sights, sounds and perhaps even smells that cannot be learned from maps or aerial photos that you can readily find on sites such as Google maps. So I noted things like how many trees were in the front yard, what the front of the house looked like, etc.

After finding that first flag, chaosmanor and I started working our way back to my house by finding some caches. I found 11 caches today, including several excellently camouflaged containers, one being a very large ammo can that both of us looked at several times before realizing that it was a cache. It was sitting on the ground under a bush, but the person who hid it had done an excellent job of matching the texture of the camo with the type of bush it was next to. It was in plain site, yet very difficult to see.

We worked our way back beyond my house caching and then we decided to find another flag in the GeoVexilla game. This second flag, representing the Caymen Islands, was in Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park. When I looked to see approximately where it was using Google Maps, I realized that it was in an RV campground within the park. So we drove over there and got within 14 feet of the flag, thus capturing it as well.

So now, I am the proud owner of two virtual flags and have two points in the game. Why not three points since the second flag should be worth two points? Well, when I logged the Canada flag into the system, the set was generated and I ended up with Canada, Bermuda, Madagascar, Bangladesh and Bahamas in the first set. No Cayman Islands, so when I logged that one into the system under my account, a second set was generated with Cayman Islands, Cuba, Guernsey, Gambia and Syria. None of the other flags are near me at this point in time, but over the course of the next couple of weeks, flags will disappear and others will take their places in different areas near me, so I’ll need to monitor the site. I can see where this can easily become a new diversion for me.

There are other games that you can play using your GPSr at the GPS games site. They include Geo golf, Minute War, Geo Poker, Shutterspot and Geodashing. Check out the site. You might find something that just might click with you. Right now, I’m reliving my Boy Scout days of capturing the flag.

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Hick@Heart said...

I glanced at the puzzle, nothing jumped out at me. I didn't have enough time to completely obsess over it like I would like to! Looks interesting.

Also, someone from Illinois logged a find and a first to find at that?

Geocaching With Team Hick@Heart

Webfoot said...

He's joking around and pulling people's chains out here. The log's not there anymore.