Cacher of the Month - May 2006
MHz & Gord from Morris
- How did you find out about Geocaching?
- What was it about geocaching that got you hooked into the game?
- Do you prefer finding or hiding? Why?
- Have you ever introduced someone to geocaching? If so, who?
- How do you describe the sport of Geocaching to your family and friends who haven't tried it yet?
- What are other interests or hobbies that you have (please go into detail / accomplishments)?
Another geocacher, Razzputen, who is also a family friend, asked Gord to check out geocaching.com as he knew we had GPS units which we use for our amateur (ham) radio hobby. Gord told me about it and well we tried to find two different caches the very next weekend. That was on February 14, 2004. We didn’t succeed as we were little prepared for the mounds of snow and cold temps that day. The next time we went out, we were far more prepared and succeeded on every cache we tried to find and even met another cacher, Crooked Toe, at the cache sites of our first and second finds. It also seems fitting that the first cache we found, The Munsen Park Cache, was owned (now archived) by Razzputen.
There are lots of reasons that I love geocaching but the main one is that it gets a computer geek like me outside to play with my other geeky toys and allows me to spend some time with Gord when he’s not busy farming and other great people I’ve met along the way.
I prefer finding as a new find usual takes me to an area that I’ve never been to before and usually something interesting or beautiful to see on the way there and/or at the cache site. I hide a few caches because I think I should give something back to the cachers whose caches I have found. The sport wouldn't exist without hiders.
Oh yes, many! Some of which have gotten geocaching.com cacher names like charioteer, darwol, TLC – Totally Lost and Confused and perhaps I can claim grnbrg too. Also a few like Myrna and other friends and family members who either don’t have a GPS or who hunt with me when I take them out. There is also my brother Ken (THz) in Calgary who since I introduced him to geocaching went out and bought his own GPS (better then mine of course) and seems to be enjoying geocaching as much as I do.
I describe it as a modern version of treasure hunting. People hide a container of trade items and publish the exact latitude and longitude on the internet so others can come and find it. This usually is followed by a flurry of questions to help clarify the matter which is all to the good!
I’ve several crafts which I enjoy like cross-stitch, beadwork and hand-stitched stuffed animals but my other main hobby is amateur (ham) radio and I have been a ham operator for almost 13 years now. A lot of you know that I have a second GPS wired into an amateur radio in my truck so that other’s can track my movements. This is one form of digital communications I can do via amateur radio and it’s called APRS (Automatic Packet/Position Reporting System). There are many other forms of digital and analog ways to communicate using amateur radios. The hobby is almost endless with its applications.
Some of my personal achievements in the amateur radio hobby are:
- Past President of the University of Manitoba Amateur Radio Society
- Treasurer of the Manitoba Repeater Society (an amateur club of which I shall be retiring from the executive this year after 5 years of being on the Board of Executives. I need more time for geocaching!)
- A proud member of South Eastern/South Central ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service). With ARES, I along with Gord, have helped provide emergency communications for the town of Morris, MB to Emergency Measures in Winnipeg, MB during a two week period at the height of the Red River flood of 1997, aka Flood of the Century. With ARES, we’ve also participated in many events where we provide a communication service as a way to train ARES members in emergency communications. Some of these events include various dog sled races including St. Malo, Morris and Festival Du Voyageur, St. Malo Triathalon, Pan-Am Games Marathon and each and every year the Manitoba Marathon.
Although the few caches I've found inside buildings are kind of unusual, there are two regular caches I found very interesting. One is Hulda Ostman (R.I.P.) near Sundown, MB, where you need to wind your way into this very out of the way place to find one very well kept grave in an incredibly beautiful spot. I won't call it lonely as there were lots of beavers to keep you company there.
The other is called Below the TP Trail in Medicine Hat, AB. Over the years, I've driven past the big concrete teepee here many, many times. This cache finally made me stop to visit it. Not only is the teepee not made of concrete but metal but there is a history and reason it was erected here. The trail to the cache took us under the teepee and down into the park far below it. From the cache site you can look up and see the teepee tower over you. Nice cache.
This would have to be the FTF contest on the multi-cache now called Brains, Brawn and Beauty. It was all of those. Brains because of the puzzles you needed to solve along the way. Brawn because Gord and I hiked over 14 km that day on one ATV track alone through the mosquitoes, mud, water and rain and we still have not completed this cache! And Beauty because of the place this cache leads you to. Gord and I had never been to Nopiming Provincial Park before and it was gorgeous. We are use to seeing areas like this in the Whiteshell but up there, it was less populated and more pure wilderness! We saw lots of deer and birds of all flavors and lots of evidence of bear and wolf but did not spot one as Geargeek did. Only one team finished this multi-cache that day, Markhamovitch with Geargeek only needing to solve one more puzzle and find the final. We came in 3rd with just one more puzzle to find and then the final cache. One of these days we will make the long trek back up there to finish this one off.
That would be the adventure Myrna and I had finding Cache and Carry in Little Mountain Park. We of course entered this dog walking park with no dog but we came out with one. On our circle tour of the trails to find the closest one to the cache, we first ran into a couple with a fairly large happy dog. As we continued we ran into the man again only this time he was alone and looking for his other dog, a brindle bull terrier named Ed. We hadn't seen him so he continued and we took a fork in a different direction. We found the cache easy enough but as we were looking through it, Ed found us. Myrna could not hold the dog or put the cache back as she has problems with her hands and hip. So I had to let Ed go and quickly signed the log and put the cache back without trading anything. Luckily he responds to his name and stayed around us. As we came out of the bush I tried to grab Ed's collar again but as I bent down he jumped up and nearly head-butted me. A near miss, as I'm sure he would have knocked me cold had our skulls actually connected. I gave up and let him run around us as we lead him back to the parking lot where both his owners were very happy to see him. I still haven't added a dog leash to my geocaching kit but I really should as I seem to end up in dog parks more often than not!
There have been lots of interesting items but the one that sticks in my head, for some reason, was a container of gold fish sinking pellets. Gord, I and a friend found it in Go Ask Alice near Pinawa, MB. Most cachers know not to put food in a cache but fish food? I took the fish food and a pez dispenser that was having a major melt down and replaced them with a couple of regular trade items. The fish food was in good shape with the seal unbroken so I took it home. My 12 inch pleco I call Worf is still enjoying the pellets as a supplement to his diet.
For lunchtime caching, I usually only have a couple of trade items with me and some poker chips calling cards. For longer hunts where I plan to find many caches or one cache in a very out of the way place, I have a knapsack full of goodies. It includes a PocketPC with cache pages loaded, digital camera, amateur radio hand-held (when I hunt by myself), LED flashlight, LED head lamp, my own paper log book, extra rechargeable batteries, extra alkaline batteries, extra zip lock bags of various sizes, lots of trade items of every size including my poker chips, extra pencils, extra paper, water in a water bottle, Swiss-army knife, compass, tape measure, cable ties etc. Sometimes in the winter, this also includes a small shovel and snow shoes. I never leave home without my GPS!
I presently use a Garmin GPS V and Gord uses a Garmin Etrex Venture. When I started geocaching, I used my Garmin GPS III Plus which is now permanently mounted in my truck and only used for amateur radio.
I must admit, I’m not that stealthy or observant about people around me. Ask Gumpy or the Stuntman who both completed some covert surveillance on me at a cache site. I have tried a few times though. Most effective for me is just to pass the spot and find a bench or log close by and wait them out. I’ve also pretended to watch a rather convenient hot air balloon float over once. Also when hunting with someone else, I’ve often switched our conversation from caching to "What type of tree is this?" or "Are those Canada Geese?" We also got caught in the middle of a forest in SW Calgary, where we had the cache and were just beginning to get it open and two muggles walked by from no where! Muggles: "Nice place for a bit of lunch, isn’t it?" Gord and I: "Uh, yes it is. Not too many bugs either!" Sometimes, you just need to go with the flow!
I will attempt just about anything but I know my limits. If I can assume I can get into a cache site and out again during a reasonable time and usually before dark, I will try it. I’m not much of a camper so staying out in the woods over night is not for me.
I expect the committee members to be good representatives of the sport and the association to the general public, media and other organizations. You’re our voice!
MHz is part of my amateur radio callsign VE4MHZ. VE4 stands for Manitoba and the rest I got to choose when I passed my amateur radio qualification tests. MHz seemed appropriate at the time as pretty much all our frequencies we can use can be expressed in those units. When I’m talking to a ham operator I haven’t talked to before, they always seem to have trouble remembering my callsign so I usually say "Victor Echo 4 Mike Hotel Zulu or just call me MegaHertz". They always seem to remember it better that way and well it stuck!
As for Gord, right from our first find I always logged Gord as "Gord from Morris" in our log entries. I did this for two reasons. First, I know he would never be bothered to enter his own log entries online and second was to let Razzputen know what cacher name we were using.
My most memorable TB was the very short lived Lil' Book Mark owned by 3T’s&aG because through this TB, I met Tobey who has become one of my regular geocaching partners and a good friend.
I’m very fond of puzzle and game themed caches. I think they add an extra appeal to geocaching for me. So I greatly respect all cachers who come up with these ingenious and sometimes mind-numbing puzzles or games. Cachers like 1queenand4jokers, The_Stuntman, Peter and Gloria, ertyu, TurdleEggs and Dragonfreys to name a very few.
As many of you know, I will go caching with just about anyone who asks or who I can convince to go with me. My main partner is Gord but for lunchtime caching and a nice break from work, 3T’s&aG is the best! My friend Myrna will come quite often as well but she is a non-winter fair-weather cacher only.
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