Something To Do Until Spring

By Don Jordan

posted 2/14/08


Unless you are an ice fishing fan, the weeks between now and the end of March don’t have much in store for traditional outdoor sporting fans, but if you’re willing to make a venture into new technology and get a GPS device, you will have plenty to do for the next three months and beyond.

The Global Positioning Satellite system consists of a score or more stationary satellites that orbit with the revolving Earth.  Since they are stationary and their exact positions are known, these orbiting packages can serve the exact function as three visible and stationary landmarks, such as lighthouses.

GPS receivers are a lot more accurate than the old seafaring methods of triangulation; however, and if you get a good fix on five or more satellites, you can mark or find any position to within three meters, sometimes less.

Granted, it isn’t likely you are going to need a GPS unit to navigate cross country here in Indiana or Illinois, but the GPS does turn out to be excellent for some other uses:

*Marking a fishing hole.  You can mark the position of a good crappie brush pile or a set of deep bluegill beds and navigate right back to it without ever having to toss out a marker buoy and announce the location to every other fisherman in sight.

*Finding places away from home.  I had to attend a couple of memorial services over the holidays in little towns I never knew existed.  GPS computer software that comes with most units these days knew about both little towns and drew routes to them for me to follow.

*Navigating highways in your vehicle.  A trip computer keeps track of every stop, speed, average speed and many other statistics that make driving long distances more interesting.

*Fun.  If you get into something called “geocaching” you can include your family and joing the entire GPS community by geocaching with tens of thousands of geocaching fans.

Geocaching has become a good new outdoor sport that can lead you to new places and off-beat adventures.  Here’s how it works:  Someone hides a small container with objects and a pencil and paper.  That person marks the spot, a “waypoint” in GPS lingo, and reports the location on the internet at

There are hundreds of such geocaches located within a few miles of downtown Sullivan, for example, and you can look them up by entering the zip code, then downloading the location information directly into your GPS unit.  You then find the cache, take whatever action is specified there and then report your find back on the internet site.

This is great fun, especially if you want to get off the beaten path and see new places.  Check for some caches in Florida and take a drive.

BUYING TIP:  Get a unit with the largest color screen you can afford, and remember you that a handheld hiking unit will work in a car but doesn’t have a big enough screen to read comfortably as you drive.

You can email Don Jordan by clicking the email link at

Copyright 2008. Jordan Communications