Monday, September 2, 2013

Weekend Down South: Geocaching

Cap'n John and HH6 came to visit me in Virginia in 2009, and before they left for the States I sent him the gift of a (now discontinued) Garmin eTrex H. The intent was to help them on their trip, but I'm pretty sure he didn't even turn the thing on, and when I went down to visit in April, he was keen to ask me how the thing worked. Cap'n John's not a total luddite, but he's definitely an immigrant to the world of modern technology. So, what did we do? What else: we went geocaching.

In my waning hours with the Cap'n and HH6, the Cap'n and I hopped in the car and drove to the approximate location of the caches. I had my eTrex Vista, but we tried to rely on his eTrex H to get him into the habit of using it. The great thing about the lower end models of Garmin's product line is that their user interfaces are really, really simple - if you give it a couple of hours of practice, you can figure out the interface, and you're on your way. The eTrex Vista has a more sophisticated user interface, and USB connectivity, so I've come to rely much more on my eTrex H than my original eTrex (the latter of which is closer to the unit I gave to Cap'n John). As I've noted before, I've been thrilled to be able to combine Wikimapia coordinates with my basic knowledge of HTML/XML to put coordinates, tracks, and routes into my eTrex H.

On that day in April, I helped to program coordinates into the Cap'n's handset, and then we were off. During the course of about a couple of hours, we found and logged two caches: Beattocks Eloquently Engineered Past, and Between both Roads. That first cache was really neat to go find with Cap'n John, because he was familiar with the building and told me some things about the history of both the building and the surrounding area. Apparently this building used to be a hotel when the village of Moffat was on a rail line running north to Edinburgh and Glasgow, but now sits derelict since the rail lines have moved and the highway has been replaced with a bona fide motorway. That's one of the great things about geocaching: you learn a lot of really cool stuff while you're doing it.

And with that, my trip to visit Cap'n John and HH6 was nearly at an end. A couple of hours later, Cap'n John drove me back to Lockerbie's tiny train station, we said our goodbyes, and I boarded the train to get back to Aberdeen to continue with my studies. Hopefully, I'll run into the Cap'n and HH6 at least once more before I leave Scotland, but I'm glad we were able to hit Hadrian's Wall and the Lockerbie Memorial, enjoy some great meals and some great drams, and remember previous adventures together.

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