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Cacher of the Month - March 2014
Stonagal serves on the Board of Directors for the MBGA. He's listed as the "MBGA Statistician" ... so, let's see how his stats hold up. In 2013, he found an average of 5.1342 caches per day (I have to use that many decimals because we're talking statistics here ... we need to be accurate). This year, his average has fallen to 1.1915 caches per day. (Like I'm the one to talk ... my average is only 0.0638 caches per day!) I know he's an active cacher, so we'll chalk that up to the unending winter that we're experiencing this year. I also wouldn't be surprised if, by the end of the year, his average goes back up near last year's numbers. He has almost found a cache placed on each calendar day. I promise not to archive my February 29th cache for a while yet. Looking at his stats page I'm quite envious of the travelling he's done. I know he'll soon be eligible for the Earth to the Moon Challenge (GC3D00T).
Enough about the numbers... Stonagal has been a fixture at many MBGA events. Even though he has been going to college in The Pas for the last few months, he does his best to keep in touch, urging others to find caches and attend events. I find his personality very positive and exuberant, and he is very supportive. I also have to add, after years of creating these Cacher of the Month pages and over a decade's experience of writing HTML code, that for the first time, I've had to look up the code to put emoticons on a web page. I was going to skip them, but they did enhance his story. Read on, and learn more about the MBGA's Cacher of the Month: Stonagal.
- When did you start Geocaching?
- How did you find out about Geocaching?
- What was it about geocaching that got you hooked into the game?
- Have you cached in any other provinces, countries?
- 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)?
- What are some things you don't like about geocaching? What are your pet peeves?
- What is the most interesting/unusual place that geocaching has taken you?
- What is the most memorable cache that you have found (or tried to find?)?
- What, currently, is your favourite, unarchived Manitoba geocache?
- What is your favorite Caching Story?
- What is your most interesting item found in a cache?
- What items if any do you carry with you when you go on a hunt?
- What kind of GPSr do you use?
- What methods do you use to avoid muggle detection?
- What is the meaning of your username?
- What was the most memorable travel bug that you have found?
- Which geocachers do you respect or standout to you the most?
- With whom do you normally go geocaching?
- If you could cache anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?
- Is there a challenging local cache you have in your sights right now? Which one?
- Of your placed caches, which is your favorite? Why?
- What kind of books do you prefer to read? What was the last book you read?
- Can you play a musical instrument?
- How far from your house is the nearest unfound cache?
- Besides your GPSr, what other tools (electronic or otherwise), or software do you make use of?
- Do you use your GPSr for other reasons other than Geocaching?
- What is in your iPod/CD player right now?
I first made a GC.com account in October 2010, after being brought along on a boat ride to find a cache. But I didn't actually start geocaching until August 22, 2012.
I remember reading a magazine article sometime in 2005-06 that talked about how it was a great way to explore a new area. In 2007 and 2010 friends brought me along to find a cache.
I came for the thrill of winning at hide and seek or treasure hunting. I stayed for the challenge, the opportunities to explore and learn, and the community of cachers.
I've gone geocaching in Nova Scotia, Missouri, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and even Ecuador! My stats page shows a smattering of 1 or more caches in several other states and provinces I visited prior to geocaching, that had virtual or earthcaches in places I visited and knew the answers for.
I've taken a number of friends and family members along on cache hunts. The only one to take up the game for themselves is my cousin, dmdand3. He lives in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and has really thrown himself into it! He just so happened to be working in Churchill at the time of last summer's caching trip, and got to meet several members of the MBGA.
My go-to phrase is "a scavenger hunt game you play with a GPS".
It's funny; part of the reason I took up geocaching was so that I would have a hobby! I used to curl competitively. If I had more free time, I might join a recreational league one day.
I'm someone who appreciates a cache that takes you somewhere interesting or teaches you something, or is a challenge and/or thrill to open. I tend to roll my eyes when a cache is placed simply to fill a spot on the map, with little thought given to the quality of the caching experience.
There's a cache in the woods near Flin Flon that doesn't say much about the cache experience. So you're walking along like all the others in the woods when suddenly you come upon a grave, complete with a cross, a fence around the area, some flowers, and an inscription to one Mr. Fox. The story goes that he collapsed in the woods, and his dog ran a long ways to the nearest neighbour, barking until the neighbour followed him all the way back to his deceased owner, and the neighbour buried him there (thank you TXNCHK!).
Cranberry Portage Swamp Walker (GCN3EC). As the name suggests, I had to throw on chest waders, grab a long walking stick and go walk through a swamp. It took me 40 minutes to make it through the sometimes-navel-deep water and vegetation before scaling a rock face and navigating a small cliff on the other side. No one had searched for the cache in 4.5 years, and now I understood why. I put in probably 45 minutes searching, but had to concede defeat and walk all that way back.
That's a tie between Camp Hughes TCDNMB (GCVGW2), east of Shilo, and Ancient Ruins (GCPQ0C) at the old Pinawa Dam. Both are fun adventures in fascinating historical locations. One makes you walk through the trenches of a World War One staging ground; the other takes you on a tour of Manitoba's first hydroelectric dam.
I have so many fond memories of caching, but my all time favourite story actually took place in my very first week as a geocacher (in August 2012). I had just gotten back from Africa, during which time my birthday had passed. I was visiting my girlfriend and her parents in Boissevain, Manitoba. When I got there, she asked if I wanted to find a cache that was nearby. So we went to find Skirmish on the Hilltop (GC28A1X). After a brief search together I located the container. I opened it to find my birthday card placed inside! There was also a note saying my present could be found at some location further ahead. She beckoned me to go look for it myself, and I found it in another container she had placed by a fence post. She wished me happy birthday, and in the perfection of that moment I told her I loved her. She said the same. Tough to beat that ☺
Being a history buff, I have to say the packet of info in the Camp Hughes cache mentioned earlier was the most interesting. It described life in the mock World War One camp, and how the land has changed over the past century or so. Very cool to read, especially while you're standing in the midst of it!
I travel pretty light. Beyond the essentials (GPS/iPhone and writing utensil), I may have an extendable magnet, tweezers, some snacks or water, or a headlamp, depending on the nature of the hunt.
I have a Garmin eTrex 20, which I mostly use when out of cell reception or travelling internationally. Most of the time I use the Geocaching App on my iPhone 5. I find the signal works well, and the satellite imagery is extremely valuable when coordinates are off or the signal bounces. Plus I can bring up additional logs, save caches for offline use, and log caches on the fly. Some people knock it, but I highly recommend it!
I've done a lot of "pretend-texting". Or I'll admire the scenery. If it's just not happening, I move on.
I go into more detail in my namesake cache (Jonathan Stonagal - GC45DDG), but the short of it is that a character in a novel I once read had it for a last name, and I thought it had a nice ring to it in the movie adaptation. It's pronounced "STONE-a-gawl", not "stoner gal", "stone a gal", or my personal favourite, "stone angel".
I stopped at a cache near Gypsumville, Manitoba in October. It was at an old radar dish from the Cold War. Inside the cache was a collection of rocks from all over the world. My travel partner, who wasn't too interesting in caching, has a rock collection of her own and started poring (pardon the pun!) over the specimens. I think gnirips had left it there on the way to/from Churchill. Interesting cache and travel bug!
Lots, for many different reasons. A few I'll highlight: bergmannfamily and crackerjackie, for placing and maintaining well over a hundred caches each all over Winnipeg and beyond, for years. KeeGee and Bike_4_me for accumulating insane streak totals. JB., ruylopez, OHMIC, and Peter and Gloria for completing both the Jasmer and Fizzy challenges (sorry if I missed any others).
I have a dream of one day completing the Jefferson Highway Challenge (GC297QT). And also going to Oregon to pay my respects at the Original Stash Tribute Plaque (GCGV0P). I started caching a week after I was in Belgium, so I wouldn't mind going back there.
I'm one date (February 29) away from completing the OMG Bingo Challenge (GC3D7K1), and I'm closing in on the Alphanumeric Challenge (GC1MFEK). I'd also love to complete the Earth to the Moon Challenge (GC3D00T), which will require me to do some travelling.
My single favourite cache of mine would be Manitoba "Half-Century" Challenge (GC4PFQJ), where cachers must first find 50 of the 100 oldest active caches in Manitoba. It seems to have been well taken by the local community, and I enjoy trying to find ever more of the 100 oldest myself. A few months ago I was contacted by an Australian cacher, asking if I was fine with him making basically the same challenge in Queensland (GC4RMW5)!
I confess all these years of higher education have killed my desire to read for fun. Reading is something of a chore right now, unfortunately. Before that happened, I was most interested in topics like philosophy and theology. I think the last book I read through was "The Wisdom of Alexander the Great", for a Political Science course.
I played a mean trumpet in middle school, but nothing since.
The closest traditional cache is 1.3 km away, but there's a puzzle cache closer than that with a location I don't yet know.
Having a Mac as I do, I can't really use GSAK. I've used Project-GC and mygeocachingprofile.com to organize my finds, as well as iCaching from the Apple App Store. I use Google Earth and Garmin BaseCamp a lot in my Navigation course right now.
One course I'm taking requires us to use the Garmin eTrex 20 every week to navigate through the woods. Beyond that, I use it to find my way back to the vehicle if I'm out on a lake or in the backcountry.
What's a "CD player"? Just kidding; I'm not THAT young ☺ I have a diverse taste in music. The most well represented genre in my iPhone is country.