Geocaching Update

Wow! What an amazing past two months we have had with our Geocaching Project. The students in Ms. Smith’s class have created a special page for their Dragon. Other bugs are headed to New Zealand (Trev’s Tag), Texas (Ramenstein), Australia (Kallista Jake), Illinois (Zion Mystery Sphere), and our latest release is bound for Kansas (John Brown’s Secret). You can keep track of all of our bugs on Mr. Miller’s Bug Tracker Page.

Here are a few statistics for you:

  • Number of bugs released – 6
  • Number of bugs awaiting release – 1 (bound for Mr. Webb’s class in NZ)
  • Number of kilometers covered by all bugs to date – 22,351
  • Number of miles covered to date – 13,888
  • Number of kilometers covered by busiest bug – 15,851 (Kallista Jake)
  • Number of students involved in our project – 200+

Frank flies these type of plane.
Frank flies this type of plane.

Kallista Jake is currently in the hands of a pilot! He has written to us asking if he can take Jake on some more adventures with him . . .

Whoa, ToTo, we’re not in Kansas anymore! How did I get here!?

Hi, all. Let me introduce myself. Currently I am the keeper of the Kallista Jake Travel Bug. I call him KJ. My user name is RangerG/75. I live in Southern California and fly for a U.S. freight company. I got interested in geocaching last year when my oldest son, Erik, introduced me to it. I’ve had a lot of fun caching and having the opportunity to do it all over the world. It’s been my pleasure to drag your bug around for the past month or so. I’ve asked Mr. Miller if I can hold on to him for a little bit longer and see if maybe we can’t add some miles and introduce him, and you, to some new and interesting places.

So, if any of you have questions or comments, fire away! Just remember that I’m old and that you need to use small words and short sentences. And, yes, I do speak Australian! I’ve had the pleasure to visit that great country many times.

G’day, Mates!

Frank

He is an instructor and has agreed to answer any questions that you might have. So how about it? Post your questions in the comment section.

35 comments

  1. RangerG/75

    Good morning,

    I thought that I’d post a quick update on KJ’s progress. He and I just got home from another trip, this one domestic. He visited Dallas, TX and Phoenix, AZ. With these additional cities KJ has now traveled 35,440 miles or 57,035 kilometers. That TB is a traveling fool! Or maybe he’s a fool to travel with me.

    Have a good one.

    Frank

    • John Miller

      Thanks for the update Ranger! We are getting back into blogging after cleaning up the mess. Well, I’m still cleaning up my mess! We are excited that KJ has now travelled a greater distance than the world is round. We never anticipated that he would make it this far.

      If you have time to answer, another question came up the other day that I thought would be perfect for you. We’ve read that many planes today are so sophisticated that can actually fly themselves. We know about auto pilots and sort of how they work, but do you think there will come a day where planes fly passengers without the need for human pilots?

      Thanks!

      • RangerG/75

        Hi everybody!

        Autopilots are both a wonderful thing and also a necessity. They make my job soooo much easier and safer. In the MD-11 I can engage the autoflight (that’s the autopilot plus the computers) at 500 feet and not turn it off until the airplane comes to a stop on the destination airport’s landing runway. In this instance I become basically a computer programmer. I either type in the commands or move knobs to make the airplane do what I want it to do. It’s all good but I’m an old guy who likes the old way. I love to turn it all off and hand fly it just like I’ve done in every airplane that I’ve ever flown.

        Remotely flown airplanes are here and they’re already flying. Many of you have probably seen one in the news or on the internet that’s called The Predator. There are many others that are also operational. There are also experimental airplanes that will move the commercial flying business toward allowing remotely flown airliners. As you might guess, it’s not my favorite idea. Here’s why. It’ll take the human out of the actual cockpit. So first, a lot of good jobs go away. That won’t impact me directly because I’m close to retiring. But it will impact a lot of people that I care about. Second, there is no substitute for the human eye and brain on the scene of the event. No one can convince me that computers will be able to make the same level of evaluation, response and adjustment to an emergency situation as well as a human can. At least not where we are today. Ask yourself this. Would you want a 600,000 airplane with 5,000 gallons of fuel in it experiencing a problem over your house without pilots in the cockpit? Or would you want to be a passenger on that same airplane? That’s what the airline industry is going to be asking all of you in a few years. I already know what my answer will be and it’s based only on safety. I want those humans in there doing what we do best.

        KJ will be on his way to Honolulu in a day or so where I will finally be dropping him off. My hope is that an Australian cacher will grab him and move him down under. If any of our Aussie friends know a flight crewmember who both caches and flies to Honolulu it would be great to let them know where KJ is and ask them to grab him and take him to Australia. I’m still behind in my logs and pictures for KJ but I will catch up in the next couple of days. I’ll write more in the next day or so.

        Cheers!

        Frank

  2. RangerG/75

    Hi everybody!

    First, to Mr. Miller and his class, I’m very sorry to hear about your break-in during the Thanksgiving vacation. It always amazes me that there are people in this world who feel perfectly fine about damaging or stealing other people’s property. I have a very short temper with that mentality. Anyway, I hope that it all works out well for your class.

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. There is a reason for that. Airline pilots in the U.S. are required to go through training twice a year. That training typically involves some ground school (classroom stuff), written exams, oral questions from an instructor and then one or two 4 hour sessions in a flight simulator. The flight simulators that we use are pretty much exact replicas of the different airplanes that we fly. The big difference is if we make a mistake and crash the simulator (not a good thing) then we can simply recover it and try again. We don’t die in the crash. So a couple of days after Thanksgiving I went to training. When I go to training I pretty much ignore everything else around me unless it’s a matter or life or death. It drives my wife nuts. So I survived another training cycle and I’m ready to head out for more caching and fun.

    I need to catch you all up on what Jake did at the end of the international trip that we flew together. I think that I left you all off in Hong Kong. After Hong Kong we went back to Tokyo and spent another day. And we were successful in our caching efforts during this stay. Our next stop was Anchorage, Alaska. Yep, not too far from where Santa lives! Since we’re into the late fall it was COLD. Especially for a California cold weather sissy. I hate being cold. But Jake and I managed to brave the well below freezing weather to find some caches. Then we continued our journey on to Dallas, Texas. That was nothing but a very quick stop and then we continued on as passsengers to Los Angeles. The very next day we headed back out to the river for some maintenance on our trailer and some quad riding. We have a lot of desert behind us and there are many, many good trails to tear around on. I did find out that Jake likes to go fast!

    I have some pictures that I’ll post on Jake’s page on the Geocaching webpage when I catch up on my logs. And we’re not quite done yet. This weekend we’re heading out to Palm Springs to spend time with friends. I’ve already identified a couple of caches that we might be able to sneak away and find. And in the middle of the month Jake and I are going back to Honolulu where we’ll finally be parting company.

    Have a great weekend, everybody.

    Frank

  3. Pingback: Chatting about Global Projects | On an e-journey with generation Y
  4. Janis

    Hi Frank.
    This is Janis from Ms. Nichols’ class. First of all, what is “geocatching”? I think from what you said its about catching bugs, but I don’t really know. From what you said, it sounds like you’re carrying a bug across the country in a helicopter. Sounds fun.

    • RangerG/75

      Janis!

      No!! Not geoCATCHING. GeoCACHING. Geocaching is described a couple of different ways. It can be thought of as either a sport or a game. The first thing that is needed is a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver. A GPS is a device that connects to an array of satellites that establish a position on the earth’s surface. Now that you have the GPS you can hide what is called a CACHE. Caches are usually small to medium containers that contain at least a log sheet. When the person hiding the cache actually positions it he/she uses the GPS to determine the exact position on the earth’s surface where the cache is hidden. Then that person can can go to the Geocaching website and enter the cache there. Then people like me download the cache information and then go out and try to find it. If I do find it I return to the Geocaching website and log the find.

      The bugs that you’re talking about are called Travel Bugs. They are coded tags that a person can attach to pretty much anything. Take a look at Kallista Jake’s TB and you might get a better understanding of what I’m talking about. I have a series of Travel Bugs all over the world that are called Goofie Cartoon Characters. I attached to tags to each of the plastic characters and released them in various caches. I called them that because they are Japanese cartoon charactes and to me they look goofie! If you want to find out more go to http://www.geocaching.com and check it out.

      Have I totally confused you?

      Frank

  5. connor

    Hello. I’m Connor from Mrs. Braidwood’s class. I went geocaching before actually. I’ve gone more than once and I think it’s very fun! I’ve never found a travel bug though. Is it hard to learn to fly a plane? I’ve heard it’s easy but I can’t bring myself to believe it.

    • RangerG/75

      Hi Connor,

      One of life’s weird experiences is finding out that some things that you think will be hard aren’t hard at all if you really want to do them. In fact, it turns out that they are fun as well as challenging. That’s why I would recommend that you never step away from a challenge. Whether the challenge is mental (hey, school can be tough, can’t it?) or physical. A 2 mile run seems like a long way to go. But you’ll never finish it if you don’t take the first step. Life is a whole series of challenges. The better you deal with them, the more fun you’ll have. And the more successful you’ll be. I’ve always loved a good challenge and have conquered most that have been put in front of me. I hope that you do the same.

      Frank

  6. RangerG/75

    Hong Kong! It’s one of my 2 or 3 favorite cities in the world. If you go to Hong Kong and are bored it’s your own fault. There is always something to do or to see. I’ve done many things several times and it still doesn’t get old. I’ve hiked to the top of Victoria Peak a bunch of times and I can’t wait to do it again. Unfortunately, this is a very short layover. We got in late in the evening and we leave early in the afternoon. But hey, we’re here. Hong Kong is a very large city with lots and lots of people living in it. Since it’s so crowded it’s a vertical city. In other words, there are few buildings that aren’t tall. They have apartment buildings and condominiums that are many stories high so that there is room for all of the people that want to live here. The food is fantastic! I love good Chinese food but my favorite German restaurant in the world is here, too. German food in China? It works for me.

  7. kyle

    Dear Frank,
    My name is Kyle and I’m from Mrs.Braidwood’s class.
    My comment is saying(Wow you fly a plane for a U.S. freight company? That is awsome!).

    • RangerG/75

      Hi Kyle,

      Thanks for your comment. Please don’t be TOO impressed. I’m just a guy who lucked out and found something that he loves to do that he happens to be good at. I really hope that you’re lucky enough to experience the same thing. Life is good when you manage to do it.

      Frank

  8. Ryan

    Hey Mr. Miller and Class. I’ve gone geocaching once but I haven’t found anything. It is very hard! Apparently there was something under a dock near the ocean, but we couldn’t do that one because it was in a 5 foot high blackberry bush. A lot of them are in weird places, like one that was near the ocean but it was in 5 feet of water. It was pretty funny, though.

  9. rangerg75

    Back in Japan and Tokyo. Today we borrowed a bike from the hotel since the caches that we were going to look for were spread out all over the place. Luckily, the weather was great for both riding a bike and for caching. We took off at about 10 AM and returned to the hotel at about 3 PM. Later tonight we’ll have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Narita, Papa’s. Roasted garlic, spinach with chili peppers, gyoza, rice and spicey chicken. Good stuff! KJ will be moving on tomorrow to one of my favorite cities in the world.

  10. rangerg75

    Hi, Guys

    KJ has moved on. We spent one day in Tokyo and did a short caching day. But don’t worry, we’re going back to Tokyo and there are more caches there that I want to go out and find. After we left Tokyo we did a short 1:15 minute flight to Osaka, Japan. During the stop in Osaka we took some freight off of the airplane, put some new stuff onboard, fueled up and then took off again. We are now in Shanghai, China. KJ and I did go out yesterday and try to find a cache near our hotel but there were so many people in the park where the cache is hidden that I never really got the chance to look very well. Maybe some time today we’ll go back and try again. Shanghai is a very nice city. It’s way too crowded for my tastes but it has all of the good things that cities offer. Plus some bad things like smog and traffic! But I do enjoy visiting Shanghai and eating good Chinese foods. Hey, good Chinese food in China. Who woulda thunk it?

  11. Dusty Miller

    I think its cool that you found the bug. I hope you will respond and answer some questions.Is it cool being a pilot? Is it hard being a pilot if so why? What job does a pilot like you have?

    • rangerg75

      Dusty!

      It’s interesting that you asked me if being a pilot is cool. The short answer is YES! It’s very cool. But, for me at least, it goes way beyond being just a cool thing to do. It’s one of the first things in my young adult life that I found to be self-motivating. In other words, nobody had to encourage me to want to do it or to want to learn as much about it as I could. It seemed natural for me to do those things. I always wanted to be either flying or learning more about flying. I still feel that way. When a person is lucky enough to reach the level of flying that I am at they realize that the learning never stops. I have to go to training twice a year. That means that I’m always studying something about what I do. I also have other instructor pilots fly with me, watch me do my job and then tell me what I could do better. And I have to take two physicals every year. So it’s not just learning to fly and then going out and doing it. The learning really never stops.

      I’ve been really lucky. I found something in my life that I would do for nothing. Even if I wasn’t a professional pilot I would still want to fly. But I got the best of both worlds. Not only am I doing exactly what I want to do at a high level but somebody is PAYING me to do it! Now that is cool.

      Frank

  12. Madison

    Hey my name is Madison. I’m in Mr.Millers class and I had a question for you. My question is about how you become a pilot. It seems like it would be really hard. How long did it take you to train to for a pilot?

    • rangerg75

      Hi Madison,

      Flying is not a very hard thing to do. If you have average intelligence and you have a good level of physical abilty there’s no reason why you couldn’t learn to fly. It takes both your body (actually making the airplane do what you want it to do) and your brain. There are a whole new set of rules and procedures that every pilot has to learn and then follow. One of the positive things about flying that has occured over the past 25 years or so is that women have joined the profession in large numbers. I fly with many women where I work. Women also are a major force in military flying. The opportunities are out there. You just have to figure out how you want to reach your goals. I mentioned to one of your classmates that the one thing that is definite is the need for an education. If you decide that you want to fly professionally, whether it be in the military or as a civilian, you need to finish college.

      Thanks for the question!

  13. Laina

    Hi Mr.Miller,

    We got the travel bug! We went out to the cache yesterday and got The Huzzahnian Dragon. It was quite fun, except Mrs.Smith took us the long way because she knew we would be really excited so she did that to wear us out. We thought it was going to be bigger than it is, but its so cute and fearsome too!

  14. rangerg75

    And away we go! KJ and I left on a long trip today. This was an easy day. We boarded an American Airlines B-777 in Los Angeles at about 1100. One of the good parts of my job is that when I travel on passenger airlines I usually sit in first class. This trip was no exception. We left Los Angeles at about 1200 and 12 1/2 hours later we landed at the Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan. KJ just piled on a whole lot of miles. I hope he likes sushi and ramen. Tomorrow morning I plan of heading out with him and trying to find a couple of local caches. Right now I need to grab some sleep.

    • John Miller

      Hi Ranger!

      What an adventure KJ keeps having! First class accommodations? Wow :-)

      My students have a question for you. There has been a lot of news about the Quantas plane that had a major engine problem on a flight recently and it got several of my students to wondering. Have you ever been at the controls of a plane when something has gone wrong with an engine, or other system onboard?

      Domo arigato,
      Mr. Miller’s class

      • rangerg75

        Kumba Wah (Good evening),

        I’ve been very lucky in my flying career. In 32 years of flying experience and over 19,000 hours I’ve had only 2 engine failures. One was on the ground (the perfect place to have an engine quit!) and the other was inflight. Having an engine fail inflight sounds scarey and it definitely gets your attention but it really isn’t a big deal. First, we are extensively trained to handle these kind of things. We use flight simulators that are amazingly similar to the actual airplane. Second, we have mulitple engines on the airplanes. Big jets are certified to fly on less than all engines. When I had my inflight failure I was flying a 4 engine jet. It performed quite nicely on the 3 remaining engines. It really doesn’t matter whether the airplane is carrying passengers or freight. Pilots are trained in the same general manner. And we all have the same attitude. First, we do not want to be the first people to reach the scene of an accident. (Think about that one.) And second, we have no desire to make our wives/husbands/kids rich because they got our life insurance.

        A quick side note here about QANTAS’ incident. QANTAS is one of the premier airlines in the world with a wonderful safety record. The fact that they experienced an inflight engine failure is not unusual nor is it a big deal. It happens frequently but we just don’t hear about it. The big deal with this incident is that the failure was uncontained. When jet engines are certified the manufacturer has to demonstrate that the engine is capable of suffering a major failure without pieces of it punching through the engine cowling. The cowling is the container that surrounds the engine when it’s mounted on the wing of the airplane. If chunks of the motor start flying around they could do further damage to the wing structure or even enter and destroy another adjacent engine resulting in a multiple engine failure. That IS NOT a good thing.

        KJ will be moving frequently over the next 10 days or so. Stay tuned!

  15. rangerg75

    KJ did another long caching day on 07NOV10. We, along with several other local cachers, went after a cache that hadn’t been found in about 3 years. The reason it hadn’t been found isn’t that it’s hard to find. It’s very hard to get to. It was about a 5 mile hike, round trip. The cache sits on top of a mountain in the California desert near Daggett, CA. I’ve posted pictures and comments on the Geocaching website. More miles and more interesting places for KJ!

  16. msbee

    We are loving watching this and learning about caching as we go… Because of this project, we have managed to convince our principal to let us purchase 6 GPS units for camp and mathematical activities. We also think it is time to try to send a travel bug to Mr Miller’s Class… Ms Bee is doing the best she can to learn all this but wondered if you had some experts in your class that could skype and coach some Year 5 kids???

  17. Ian

    Hi my names Ian I’m from Mr. Millers room I want to be a pilot when I grow up just like you are right now. I want to fly to all fifty states and then every continent. I have a few questions. how many places have you flown to? When you were a kid did you dream of being a pilot. Was pilot school hard? Finally Is it hard to fly a plane? Thanks

    • rangerg75

      Hi Ian,

      Good for you, buddy! It’s important that anyone follow their dreams and do their best to get to where they want to be. The first thing that you need to know is that you can’t be a professional pilot without an education. It doesn’t matter whether you want to fly for the air force or for Delta Airlines it all starts with education. So you need to plan on getting a college degree. Once that is done then you can decide how you want to approach your flying education.

      Yes, I thought about being a pilot as a kid. But I didn’t have the slightest idea what it would take to get to that final objective. I kinda forgot about it until I went into the Unites States Army as a young man. It was there that I made the decision to become a pilot. Why? Because what our pilots were doing looked like a lot more fun than what I was doing. It turns out that I was right! So after I got out of the army I went back to college and started flying. I worked very hard and was lucky enough to end up with one of the 2 or 3 best flying jobs in the whole world. And, no, learning to fly wasn’t hard. At least not for me. Both of my sons are pilots and they agree with me on that point.

      Ian, I fly all over the world. I’ve touched every continent except Antarctica and I’ve flown over that one. The teacher of the class from Australia, Sam, asked me the same question as you have. I need to drag out my logbooks and a map of the world and count how many different cities I have visited over the last 32 years. So let me get back to you on that one.

      I hope that I’ve answered your questions. Stay tuned because KJ is about to launch on a trip that’ll be a lot of fun.

      Frank

      • rangerg75

        Okay Ian, I had the time to review my logbooks and get some numbers for you. I’ve flown into 21 different countires, 55 foreign (outside of the U.S.) cities and 148 different U.S. cities. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

  18. RangerG/75

    I have exciting news! I just found out that KJ and I will be going to some exciting places starting this coming Monday. So standby and grab your maps!

  19. Sam Graunke

    Gday Frank! Sam here from Monbulk, Australia – the teacher of the class KJ is headed for.

    You must lead a very exciting life being a pilot.
    I have a few questions for you, and I’ll try not to speak(type) too quicly for you.
    I am sure my students will also have questions, but here are a couple to get you started.
    How many countries have you visited around the world? Have you always been a domestic pilot, or are you also allowed to fly planes in other countries?
    What is your most memorable geocaching experience?

    Looking forward to your replies,
    Cheers, Sam G

    • rangerg75

      Hi to Sam and all of her students!

      Sam, being a pilot beats working for a living. I’ve flown for a living for 32 years. I tell people all the time that I haven’t had a job for 32 years. It’s more fun than most anything that I can think of. And they pay me to do it!

      Gosh, I’ve never done a country count. Let me think about that one and I’ll get back to you. I just have to find my logbooks and a map of the world.

      The way the airline business works, at least here in the states, is that what you get to do is all based on your seniority. The longer that you’ve worked for your company the more of the fun stuff you get to do. I’ve been with my company for 21 years so I get to do some pretty good trips but the one that I don’t have the seniority to fly is Sydney. We serve Sydney 5 days a week. When I was a co-pilot I flew that trip, it actually works between Honolulu and Sydney, pretty much every month, 10 months out of the year for quite a long time. I’ve been to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns in your beautiful country. Right now I fly a mixed bag. I fly some domestic and some international. My preference is international since flying trips in the states is like watching paint dry. There’s no real challenge.

      By far, my most memorable geocaching experience was going after “Semidome Loft, Yeah”, GC9614. It’s located on the top of Half Dome in our Yosemite National Park. It’s a 22 mile round trip hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The distressing part is that you get to do 10 1/2 miles to reach the hard part which is at the very end. At the base of Half Dome is another, smaller rock called Semidome. They’ve cut and laid rocks that form stairs up the side of the rock. It’s pretty much straight up. When you finish that you’re looking at the side of Half Dome. I’d like you all to take a look at the Geocaching webpage so that you can see what you have to do to get up Half Dome. When my son, Erik, and I got there I told him no way! I didn’t think that I wanted to do it physically and mentally I was whipped. As I laid (sp?) there feeling sorry for myself I looked up and there were 6 Menonite girls that were in their early 20′s heading up the Dome. What could I do? Gosh, if 6 girls in dresses (they had pants on under their dresses!) could make that climb then fat, lazy me had to do it. As it turned out, I was glad that I made it. But the best part is that I’ll never have to do it again!

      I’ll get back to you on a country count. In the meantime, enjoy your summer down under. I’d love to be walking the beaches in Manly enjoying the sun!

      Frank

      • rangerg75

        Hi Sam and her class,

        I had the time to take a look at my logbooks so that I can naswer your question. I’ve flown to 21 different countries, 55 foreign (outside of the U.S.) cities and 148 different U.S.cities. Those numbers make me realize that I’m old.

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