Moleskine GPS

I recently wrote a piece for moleskinerie. It has been published today. It's reproduced below.

I like gadgets. It's a weakness. If it has buttons, or even better, lights - then I'm hooked.

Travelbug on moleskine

I've wanted a GPS for some time, mostly for the geek value - it's true. So, I began to look for ways to justify the cost, and I discovered Geocaching. Geocaching started just a few years ago (when Bill Clinton switched off the 'Selective Availability' which meant that GPS systems had accuracy of a few hundred metres), and has since grown into a worldwide sport. With a good GPS signal, your location on Earth can be known to within a few metres.

In the simplest form, someone hides a geocache. Someone else finds them. The caches could be hidden out in the countryside, or hidden (discretely) in a city centre. Just the other day I went into London and found 13 caches, some in very well trafficked areas.

Caches can be more complex, in a multistage cache a series of clues need to be solved to discover the final location - and in a mystery cache research may be needed before you even walk out of the door!


Simple Cache
GCGBGB : Last Delivery
GCVKR6 The Elvetham Heath Reserve
'X' marks the spot

When a cache is found, the finder writes in the log to claim a visit, replaces the cache and moves on. As caches are often (but not always) placed in interesting spots, I\'ve found that since starting to cache I've discovered places locally that I never knew existed. Geocaching provides me with a 'purpose' to a walk - a definite target, and it helps to keep each walk unique.

Where do the moleskines come in? When I started I decided to keep a personal log. In the log I record the cache name, coordinates, and any other piece of information. This may be a hint to the location, so that I can help anyone who gets stuck that follows, it might be a note about the weather. When I get home I log my finds on the geocaching website.

Geocaching website:

Another feature of geocaching is the gift. Many caches contain 'goodies' - these are usually small items. The rule of thumb is that for everything taken out, something else goes in. One common type of item is the travelbug. A travelbug is a trackable item with a unique serial number. When at a computer, the item can be logged independently and it can be tracked in it's travels. The number should not be revealed online, as it is evidence that the bug has been found. Travelbugs should be placed in a new cache within 2 weeks, and not taken unless this can be done.

Of course, if I take anything from a cache, this is recorded in my notes. I make special care to record the ID number on a travelbug, so that I can put it into a new cache the same day if I wish. (The danger here is that someone else may find it and log it before I do - this messes up the chronology of the bug, if late in the day, I don't worry about this. If early in the day I attach a note to say I'll be logging >the find by the end of (date), and for the finder not to log themselves until after that time  )

I wanted to launch a travelbug (I now have seven out in the wilds) - and my first travelbug? A moleskine, my own 'wandering art project'.

I launched it by putting it in a newly placed local cache, after preparing it well. Inside the cover are instructions about what the travelbug is, and about it's mission.

The Silent Sentry 1 Geocache

The bug itself can be tracked here:
Track the bug

The idea is that each finder makes their own piece of art in the book, and scans it, before placing it in a new cache (hopefully well protected from moisture!)

The future? I've found 65 caches in total, and am heading for 100. I'm currently looking into paperless caching (so there is less printing out before I head off on a walk, I could take the gps and pda, and off I go). Even if I do make the leap to paperless caching, my moleskine log will stay with me to record the results of my finds.

Related links:
Link for 'Geocaching'
Geocaching in the UK

Geocaching in London

Yesterday I went into London and had a go at some geocaching. By the end of the day I must have walked some 18km (when I finished caching I turned off the GPS, but still had some walking to do). I got 13 geocaches, with a couple of 'did not finds'. That brings me up to 65 caches overall.

Caching in London is a whole new thing, a lot of the caches have to be really well hidden so they're not discovered by people not hunting for them - there are some really ingenious hiding spots (e.g. one of the main bridges near Waterloo station has a cache right in the centre of it (the centre of river, not the centre of road).

A few times I thought 'If anyone sees me, I'm going to get reported as a KGB agent!' - as to find a cache involved retrieving a hidden item, writing something in it, and then rehiding the item. This is something like a 'dead letter drop'.

On my rounds, I popped into the Novello theatre to get tickets to see 'Footloose', and also the Royal Opera House - we're off to see the Bolshoi ballet. Add to this Avenue Q, which I'm really excited about, Stomp and Guilfest - it'll be a packed summer.

When I finished caching, I met up with Monica at the British Museum, I'm a friend of the museum and so it didn't cost us anything extra to get into the Michelangelo exhibition, the exhibition will remain until the 25th June.

Before I sign off, here are some Avenue Q links, the music used in these links is a song from the show. The Avenue Q soundtrack, and other goodies, are available in the UK from Amazon.