Let's Get Started

You and I going to raise the bar for geocaching swag, without spending a lot of money. I know the journey is supposed to be the reward, but come on. If you want McToys buy a meal. Hunt micros if you need no tangible reward. I want treasure.
Now let's make some.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finneus Fishbottom Retires (Again)

The Final Act of Finneus Fishbottom was my second library cache. Here's how it worked: The posted coordinates were for the library. Once inside, the cache description directed the seeker to a locked box in plain site of the help desk. Stenciled on the box were a set of coordinates for a dog tag hidden outside. The dog tag had the call number of a hollow book in the reference section (so it couldn't be checked out). The book contained a puzzle and riddle to solve the combination on the box. So finding the cache was easy, getting it open was the challenge.

I had a blast designing the book cover. It's a play on our local reviewer Abe Froman the "Sausage King" from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I also had some fun with the puzzle. The alphabetic lock was configured to open with a particular four letter word. The puzzle was four handmade alphabet blocks with a different color and letter on each side. Matching the colors yielded six four letter words to unscramble: ring, rare, gilt, coin, loot, and rich. The riddle inside the hollow book read, "Sincerest apologies if you sought knowledge amongst these pages of delicious sausage. But a final clue to a treasure greater than seasoned meats should null displeasure. Six words do hint at a seventh most important to unlock a small box full of enjoyment." Can you guess the word?

Opening the box, Finneus left a final message, "Line your pockets with gold, but truth be told, the real treasures are books - look about and behold." All the swag was gold themed including chocolate gold coins. I think you'll agree we have an awesome library to allow such shenanigans under their roof.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mr. Dewey Retires

Paging Mr. Dewey was my first shot at a library hide. Over the course of 16 months Mr. Dewey had 31 visitors and picked up a local award nomination. That's not too shabby considering it took a good hour to solve.

Here's how Mr. Dewey worked: A commemorative plaque in the landscape was used to decode a call number for a book in the reference section. The book was actually a binder with many copies of this worksheet. A variety of really cool reference books were used to complete the worksheet and find the three digit combination for the lock on a bonafied treasure chest at the reference desk.

Benefits of a library cache: the weather inside is always perfect, no one can steal the cache, the swag tends to be great, the container doesn't have to keep out weather or animals, and it helps educate the public about geocaching. Today Mr. Dewey was replaced by Mr. Fishbottom. Wish him luck!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Geocaching Passport

Pssst...wanna earn a free custom geocoin? Visit my local park district and pick up a Geocaching Passport. Then run around town and find geocaches in parks you may have otherwise missed. Collect at least eight of the unique stamps in your passport and return it for a sweeeet Crystal Lake Park District geocoin. Details are here. Another example is here. Find treasure in parks!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Geocaching 101

I know it's hard to believe, but some people have no idea what "geocaching" means. For the clueless, here's a simple illustration.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hats Off to Caching

I think geocaching is the greatest thing since pre-sliced bread. It’s an excuse to go hiking, take pictures, be creative, be crafty, blog, journal, do some creative writing, be alone or meet people, learn history, solve puzzles, get dirty, or just add a little more adventure to life. What’s it worth to you to feel just a bit like Santa when you trade up, or walk into the woods empty-handed and return with a bag of trash? I love finding caches that take me places and show me things I would have otherwise missed. I treasure the opportunity to hide a cache while doing the things I enjoy. Chances are, someone else will enjoy those things too. Sometimes a great log entry can be a gift just waiting in your inbox. So I like hats, and I like caching, and therefore I give you the "Hats Off to Caching" puzzle. Many happy trails!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ticks Bite, Mosquitos Suck, and Soggy Logs Stink

Fact: Geocaching needs more clip art. Fact: Short statements of truth can be funny. Truths: ticks bite, mosquitos suck, and soggy logs stink. Good luck avoiding this unholy trinity of scourges. Grab these great big versions for your everyday use: ticks, mosquitos, logs.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Geocoin Holders

No wimply plastic sleaves here! These geocoins are earmarked for globetrotting so they got the bulletproof-treatment. First some wooden puzzle pieces got personal with a hole saw. Then the travel itinerary was posted on their backsides with some heavy stock paper. The geocoins got glued in and then the entire beast was slathered in clear sealer. Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue did the deed. Now these four animal ambassadors are on their way to Germany. Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

All I Need

Food. Drink. GPSr. What else do you really need? This image on a t-shirt might earn you a one-way ticket out the front door, but you can dream can't you? Wear it with pride or in confession. Get it in reverse for an iron-on here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Waterproof Log Books

I've been making my own waterproof log books for a year now. Two hundred sheets of Rite-in-the-Rain paper ran me $30. So my average 12 page 3"x5.5" log book costs 60 cents and I can publish 50 of them. Of course, all my covers are custom, but here's a generic template for the masses (i.e. all four of you who read this blog). Cover. Lines. Print, cut, fold, staple, and then reinforce the spines like this: Fold a strip of 1/2"waterproof first-aid tape over the top. If the tape's adhesive is lame on the specialty paper add some contact adhesive to beef it up. Practice on cheap paper first and stick with laser printers. Bonus: You can tell your friends you've gone into publishing.

I Cache Semaphore

Looking for a way to communicate with sailors and boy scouts? Try semaphore. Everyone else will have to ask you what this means. It says, "I cache." Put it on a t-shirt and hit the trails. Here is the reverse image for your iron-on.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I am Iron Man

Here's some ink you may actually want on your shirt. Custom geocaching iron-ons make sweeeet swag. Print up a batch (remember to reverse the image) and drop them in a ziplock with something sturdy like cardboard. Give yourself credit with this card...(back too). Renzo recommends creating a commemorative iron-on for finishing a series or attending an event. Looking for design ideas? Check your head and this site.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Birthday RCC

Renzo's Custom Cache is one year old today. Here's a quick recap:

11 custom swag items
3 travelers
3 collector cards
3 cache ideas
1 flier

Thanks for following along and dropping a note now & then. Happy trails.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pinhead Traveler

MooHaaHaaHaaa! Halloween approaches and Pinhead craves souls...or at least fabulous pins for his collection. Laminate a geocoin into the proper orifice and stuff this prickly guy in a box somewhere. Follow the exploits of Pinhead #1. and get yours here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Polymer Clay Geocoin

Go big or go home. Polymer clay geocoins are well documented here and here. My short attention span version is as follows: I rolled Super Sculpey between two paint sticks and cut circles with a 3” diameter peanut butter lid. Then I raided our Stampin’ Up stash and made my name with an alphanumeric punch set (taped together). Next was fifteen minutes in the oven at 275° followed by Testors copper enamel paint. Voila!

Monday, September 8, 2008


We have some great puzzle caches in my neck of the woods, but not too many physical challenges. Meet the Tricachelon. To complete it you will bike 20K, navagate the local lake, and climb a tree high enough to feel it sway in the wind. Grab the logo and create your own race of tricacheletes where you live. I printed up a batch of the logo in reverse on iron-on paper and left them in the final for survivors to proudly wear. Now imagine the possibility of a decachelon!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pirate Public Announcement

Avast ye scurvy dogs! Try yelling that at random. You'll find it is often quite appropriate. Submitted for your perusal: one flier to promote geocaching in your hometown.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Code Crane

This crane kicks harder than the Karate Kid, but it isn't swag. It's a three-dimensional puzzle you're welcome to use for your next mystery cache. Folded properly, the surfaces of the crane may be used to decode coordinates. Here's an example and here's the pdf.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bottle Cap Coins

Start slammin' cold ones this summer cuz bottle caps are the raw ingredient for this round of homebrew geocoins. Throw some bling-bling glitter and custom logos in the bottom of a bottle cap, then fill it with two cc's of epoxy, and cha-ching! instant personalized geocoin. Photos, bugs, sprinkles, candy, and wire are the sorts of mixed media that can be cast into the epoxy. Try googling "bottle cap art" to get more ideas and have fun collecting those caps. Extra tip: You can probably pick up a free 6CC syringe at your local pharmacy if you don't look like a heroin addict (sorry ma).

Bottle Cap: $0.03
Epoxy: $0.06
Mixed Media: $0.01
TOTAL: $0.10

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Grocery List

This isn't swag. It's a puzzle sheet you're welcome to use for the next "unknown cache" you hide. This combines two of my favorite things, food and geocaching, without breaking the no edibles in a cache rule. While wandering the aisles, complete the grocery list to find the final coordinates. Here's a link to the first cache using the list: Food Glorious Food.
Here's a blank list just for you.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Project A.P.E. - Collector's Card

What do apes and Jeeps have in common? Geocaching of course. Here's a card to commemorate an all-too-rare promotional event from way back in '01. Show us some love again corporate America; it's been too long! I want Indy Caches, and Cracker Jack Micros, and Survivor Challenge Coins, and Lance Armstrong Endurace Caches, and anything more than apes and Jeeps. Here's the front. Here's the back.
View the complete collection here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Micro Gift Card

Spankin'-new micros make great swag. Here's a card to drop along with them so that credit goes where credit is due.
The front: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/microsheetFRONT2.pdf
The back: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/microsheetBACK.pdf

Saturday, May 10, 2008

1st Geocoin - Collector's Card

Geocoins are more elusive than custom swag 'round these parts. Just to rub salt in that wound, here is a collector's card commemorating the first coin. Thanks to Moun10Bike for giving this card a big thumbs up.
Front: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/1stcoinFRONT.jpg
Back: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/1stcoinBACK.pdf
View the complete collection here.

1st Geocache - Collector's Card

Dave Ulmer got the ball rolling eight years ago this month. Celebrate by running naked through the streets, then settle down and print up a sheet of these cards. See that geocaching logo on the plaque? The folks at Groundspeak would like you to know,"The Geocaching.com logo is a Registered Trademark of Groundspeak. Used with permission." Here's the front of the card (get 4x6 prints at your local photo-hut): http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/1stcacheFRONT.jpg
Here's the back to print on your own (preferably with lasers not runny ink): http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/1stcacheBACK.pdf .
Do you have a suggestion for another card? Check the list on this site and then drop me a note if you have something to add.
View the complete collection here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rattlesnake Eggs

Clean shorts - they'll be in short supply after this swag. Put on your MacGyver hat and get aquainted with the lost art of paperclip folding. I'll show you how to turn a rubberband, a washer, and a paperclip into a favorite childhood prank . Download the detailed blueprints here: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/rattlesnake.pdf

Paperclip: $0.01
Rubber Band: $0.01
Envelope: $0.01
Total: $0.04
(new undies not included)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lincoln Travel Buddy

Lincoln slept here! Honor your next cache with a visit from the sixteenth president of the United States. Laminate a geocoin into the template and in short order there could be a trackable global army of sleepy Lincolns. Give a cache a chance to be the next Lincoln Bedroom. Download the 1.4M pdf here: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/lincolnSLEPT.pdf

Geocoin: $4.00
Laminate: $0.20
TOTAL: $4.20

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Geocache Collectors' Card

"I'll trade you a 2008 Crystal Lake for a 1952 Mickey Mantle." This idea started here: http://www.fredraab.com/cachecards/index.htm
I used the format of a baseball card including plenty of stats and the same dimensions so that the card will fit in collectors' protective sleeves. Two front images fit on a standard 4x6 print from your local photo shop and the backs are laser printed on colored paper. Glue the two together, put the finished card in a sleeve, tape it shut to resist water, and viola. Potential topics: caches, local landmarks, local history, famous geocachers...
View the complete collection here.

Card: $0.06
Sleeve: $0.10
TOTAL: $0.16

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Code Wheel

Overkill...what's that? You never know when you might need to translate from Morse Code to semaphore to sign language to ASCII to ROT13 and back again. Just in case, this is the only code wheel you'll need. Trouble cutting circles? For templates the larger circle is a 26 oz Campbell soup can and the smaller is an 11 oz'er. Download the 2M pdf here and UNIR SHA: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/codewheel.pdf
Paper fastener: $0.01
Lamination: $0.25
TOTAL: $0.26

Friday, February 1, 2008

Inkjet Magnets

What better way to start your morning than staring at a GPS receiver? Capture the thrill of a find or just frame a goofy kid with a magnetic picture frame compliments of your injet printer. Be sure to laminate the front of the magnet after printing to ensure years of enjoyment.
Click here for the 2M pdf template (sorry Magellaneers): http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/GPSmagnet.pdf

Magnet: $0.25
Laminate: $0.12
TOTAL: $0.37

Where's George

Here's a trackable swag item with space for your John Hancock. Where's George is a tracking site for dollar bills that is copasetic with geocaching. Read the rules here: http://www.wheresgeorge.com/wrapper.php?page=top10bills_dgc
No need to write/deface the actual money with this design, just fold the template around the money and put it in a snack bag ziplock for waterproofing. Get the 2M pdf template here:

cost: :$1


Here is a series of 1" buttons made with The Amazing Button Maker from NSI International. I keep a set pinned to my geocaching bag. A professional button machine will run you a couple hunred dollars, but I bet you would be willing to swallow your pride and use a purple crafting toy for the amazing low price of $15. Bonus: remove the pin from the back and glue on a magnet to share your love of geocaching with your refrigerator.

Button Maching; $15
Button Refills: $20
Cost per button: $0.35

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Book Crossing

Don't be greedy, share your favorite book with a stranger. Most of my swag creations cost pennies or dimes, but I'm willing to make an exception for literature. You might be able to find copies of your favorites at used book stores. The going rate seems to be half-price paperbacks and quarter-price hardcovers. That's about the same cost as a commercial geocoin but this trackable item has the potential to be much more rewarding. If you're onboard, here's a way to make cache books even more affordable. Go to http://www.paperbackswap.com/ and trade books you don't want for the ones you do. Now all you pay is about two bucks for media mail and there are nearly two million books available. Click here for a 2.4M pdf of custom book tracking tags: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/BOOKCROSSCUSTOM.pdf

Used book: $2.50

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Geocaching License

Whoa! Buddy, you got a license for that? This license rocks because it allows you to authorize yourself. Put a blank copy of it in a small ziplock with two sheets of unused laminating film and turn it loose in your local cache. Download the 2.7M pdf here: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/geolicense.pdf

Laminating film: $0.05

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Homebrew Geocaching Coins

Nothing says "treasure" like a gold coin, but a real Spanish doubloon will set you back several grand. Here's a personalized gold coin for 17 cents. Your local coin store will sell 10-12 unsorted foreign coins for a dollar. Pick out the big gold and copper coins with extra credit for two tone currency, odd edges, and center holes. Now take your pirate's stash home and make every coin collector groan by removing the tarnish with silver polish. They clean up real nice. Place the shiny coins in half dollar coin mounts and glue them shut with superglue. Now print heads and tails images that fit the mounts and glue them on (use a mount with the plastic removed as a template for cutting out the circles). Finally, make your freshly minted cache coin water-resistant by puting it in a crafter's mini-ziplock. Click here for a 1.5M pdf design: http://renzotobias.googlepages.com/cachecoin.pdf
Foreign Coin: $0.10
Coin Mount: $0.07
TOAL: $0.17
Seeing a child's face light up when they find a gold coin: Priceless.

Monday, January 28, 2008


You need a logo. All your custom swag becomes a signature item when you drop your logo on it. I created this one for myself and incorporate it into most designs. I also printed it at 1/4" so that I can make my own "Made in China" stickers with a standard hole punch. Essentially, this is a maker's mark small enough to fit on any product.