Even if you have never heard of Geocaching, you’ll find the following network link an interesting way to explore the Earth. What is Geocaching? It’s a recreational byproduct of the GPS and the Internet. From the Geocaching FAQ:
The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache.
Back in early July, I read a posting at the GE Community by Andy Fowler who had written his first network link. He did a better posting with details on his blog. Bascially, his network link (like the Flickr50 link I wrote about earlier) when turned on will automatically pull in nearby Geocaching locations based on where you are looking. It checks the coordinates and pulls in the data from the Geocaching web site. Then, you can click on the placemark and find a link to “View @ Geocaching.com”. [EDIT: Link no longer provided because it’s not working anymore. See “Geocaching.com Officially Supports Google Earth“.]
Once you’ve found a geocache, and clicked on the “View @ Geocaching.com”, the Geocaching web site shows all kinds of details for each Geocache including its coordinates, a description of the cache, and maybe even hints on how to find the cache once you get there. It also contains the log entries of other people who have found (or not found) the cache. The log entries may include photos of that spot and details of interesting things nearby. This is an interesting way to see what other people think about a location.
If you are going on a vacation, and own a GPS, you owe it to yourself to use this network link. Plan to visit a few interesting geocaches, or at least use this to find even more interesting places (that you probably won’t find in a guidebook). If you are a geocacher, you will find this a much easier tool for finding interesting geocaches than anything I’ve seen to date.
By the way, my hat is off to Andy Fowler. Great job! This is one of my favorite network links.