Cacher of the Month - July 2007
- How did you find out about Geocaching?
- What was it about geocaching that got you hooked into the game?
- 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?)?
- How do you describe the sport of Geocaching to your family and friends who haven't tried it yet?
- What kind of GPSr do you use?
- What is the meaning of your username?
- What was the most memorable travel bug that you have found?
- Of your placed caches, which is your favorite? Why?
- 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?
- What is in your iPod/CD player right now?
- How do you come up with your hides?
I've known about geocaching for a number of years, going back to (probably) the beginning of the sport. I have a vague recollection of trying to find (sans GPSr) a cache at one point, but I was unsuccessful, and do not remember what the name was, or where it was in the city. The concept seemed entertaining, but there were few caches to find, and I didn't have the cash to blow on an expensive toy anyway, so I shelved the idea. When I started working for Information Services and Technology at the University of Manitoba, one of my co-workers was (and still is) MHz. I knew she was a cacher, and that brought the hobby back to my mind, but GPSrs were still fairly expensive, and I was content to let it lie for some more time. Then finally, in August of 2005, I was browsing the web, and found that a local retailer was having a sale, and I could pick up a GPSr for $150, plus tax. A birthday present for myself was declared, and I had my first find that day at By The Riverside Two by The Old Bat and Junglehair.
A few things. Foremost, as many have mentioned, is that caching has taken me to a number of places (even within the city) that I have never seen, and would never have seen. I've been to urban parks and historic sites that thousands of people per day are within few hundred metres, yet precious few know of. After that is the people. The 'core group' of the MBGA consists of a truly amazing group of talented, intelligent people who are all interested in sharing a good time. Going out to events or chatting online with these people is very satisfying. And last, the art of hiding plays a major part in keeping my interest. Going out and finding caches that others have hidden is interesting, but pitting your creativity against others, in creating a difficult or unique hide is particularly enjoyable.
I enjoy hiking and canoeing, and I also SCUBA dive (and even have a SCUBA-themed travel bug), so watch out for an underwater cache somewhere in the future. I also enjoy tinkering with computers, and host the MBGA's chat room on a server running in my basement. I've also found that I enjoy graphic design, and have created quite a few of the items that the MBGA sells. I fully admit to having no particular artistic talents, and couldn't design a logo to save my life, but I can arrange and lay out pre-existing artwork fairly well.
Heh. This one is going to get me in trouble. I have been well known for my dislike of micros, and I got a *lot* of static for placing The Bus Stops Here which is a micro. Oh well. If I had to pick one "pet peeve" for caching it would be hides that no thought or effort has gone into. A small or micro cache tucked into or under a tree in an uninteresting location, with half a line of text (and no html) in the description that amounts to "I put a cache here!". There's nothing wrong with such caches of course, but they make me wonder why the hider even bothered... I enjoy the hiding of caches as much or more than finding them, and try to spend as much (or more!) time working on a cache as finding it. Time spent creating a container, researching a location, preparing custom log pages, creating an averaged waypoint. I don't think it's unreasonable to spend 5 or 6 hours preparing a cache. And I'll point out that of the 18 caches I have hidden to date, the only one that has been muggled and archived was Don't take this one for Granted!, which I put out on a whim, and pretty much zero planning involved. A second, minor peeve is that Groundspeak does not allow hides to be reviewed by a reviewer without making them public. I prefer to scout out a location, and have the location approved before I go through the effort of laying out a cache, in case there is a conflict. Because of this, I've had two caches published with "Not placed yet" in the title... The first because the cache was published two weeks before I could get out to it, the second because I forgot to edit the title once the cache was live.
PS 210 Rouleau. This find took me to the set of the TV show "Corner Gas". I would not have had the opportunity to visit here without having heard about it through caching.
Probably "Heart Halting Horror in BHP". This is a night-time only cache, and I first found with my brother. The night we chose to try it had no moon, and we were stumbling around in the dark in Birds Hill Park for more than an hour before we found the cache. Loads of fun. Then, a few weeks later, I was able to 'prep' this cache for a group outing involving Lizardo and TurdleEggs. One of the best group outings I've had as well.
I like to explain it as an internet scavenger hunt -- I look up a description and co-ordinates on a web site, then try to find the cache that has been hidden. Plus side explanation of the various types of caches -- puzzle, traditional, virtual, event, etc. I dislike the description of geocaching as a "treasure hunt", as I think it gives a visual image of digging up the "treasure" as well as there being items of value to be found. I feel this leads to a similar reaction in people to the Sun's "Search for Gold" contest.
While I started out with a Garmin Geko 201, I now cache with a Lowrance iFinder M+M -- "Map plus Music", with the Canadian topo maps loaded. I am currently lusting after an iFinder H2OC -- aside from the colour, which is marginally cool, it uses the same SiRF III chipset as the Garmin Cx line. I just can't justify the $300 price tag. The M+M can be spooky accurate. I also learned a lesson (yet again, unfortunately) with this one... When buying electronics, don't go for the coolest gadget, go for the most common one. The M+M has been discontinued by Lowrance, while the iFinder H2O (the same unit without the MP3 playing capability) has not. No firmware updates in my future. And I've found that I don't use the MP3 function. It works, but isn't worth the pain. PS: Magellen sux!
A simple answer -- my last name, sans vowels, which I've used as a user name since my BBSing days. I've been 'grnbrg' pretty constantly since 1992 or so, at one email domain or another. I've had the grnbrg.org domain since 2005, and expect to keep it indefinitely.
Two TBs stand out for me. The first is the legendary DNF-Unlucky, an 8 pound monster I found in Washington while on vacation and brought home. It's been slowly working it's way back West ever since, causing havoc and mayhem all the way. The other bug of interest is the "Bolton, Canada" Unite for Diabetes Travel Bug. I received this diabetes travel bug in the mail, having requested one of them when the distribution was announced. As it turned out, I had a vacation to Toronto planned for the early spring, and I was able to place it in River Path in Bolton, Ontario myself a few weeks later. Other Diabetes bugs have gotten home faster than this one, but this is the only one I'm aware of that has been placed at their destination by the first person to grab it.
A fairly simple choice -- the Winnipeg GPS Validation Network. This was my third hide, put out a little over two months after I started caching, and is a five stage multi that requires about a 200km drive to complete. The multi takes you to each of the five Canadian Spatial Reference System geodetic survey markers that make up the (Duh!) Winnipeg GPS Validation Network. I've done the circuit four times now, and will probably do it again soon. I find it fascinating to compare the GPS readings from a consumer grade GPSr with the survey markers which are accurate to the centimetre or millimetre. I also find it immensely satisfying that others are reporting 3 or 4 (or more) metre accuracy, where I can consistently get 1-2 metre accuracy. It's also an absolutely stunningly beautiful drive. Like a Troubled Bridge over Water gets an honourable mention, as it's an incredible weekend canoe trip. Only one find, so far, though.
The closest for me is "SUDOKU - Churchill Drive Park" by MuStash, which is a puzzle. The closet traditional cache for me is " Eat'em Up Tree Splash" by FoodNinja. There are currently 77 caches in my Dani Radius.
I usually cache with my Lowrance and a Palm IIIxe (4M of memory, 4 level grey display). Prepping the GPSr and Palm for an outing involves a session with GPSbabel, which is the software that GSAK uses internally. GPSbabel allows me to combine a collection of Pocket Query files, and convert them to files to upload to both the GPSr and Palm. Because the Palm I use is quite old, and underpowered, I use CSpotRun, a simple text reader, rather than an html reader of some sort. I miss out if there are important images in a cache, but this is rare. This combination allows me to keep ~1,800 caches loaded at any given time for quick and easy access, wherever I happen to be... If I know I'm going to hit a specific area for a day of caching, I'll usually use GPSbabel to dump an HTML printout of all the caches in that area, and will use GPS Visualizer to create a map, which allows me to optimize my trip. I also try to cache without my car as much as possible, as I believe I am cursed when caching with it. I have been stuck, slid into the ditch, flat tires, and more when out with it. I am the founding member of the $1000 Find Club, having spent more money than I care to think about repairing damage caused in pursuit of a cache.
My tastes in music vary pretty widely... Currently, I've got Les Mis, Beethoven, Meatloaf, Twisted Sister, Queen, REM, and the Fellowship of the Ring and Shrek soundtracks. I've also got Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne in ebook format. But for all that, I'm usually listening to CBC Radio One. Or CITI FM.
A post office box in Schenectady. You send in two dollars and a self-addressed stamped envelope and they send you back an idea. (You have no idea how long I've wanted to use that line. Bonus points if you recognize it. No fair Googling!) I usually start with a goal, and try to work out a cache that will meet that goal. For example, I am currently trying to come up with a cache that will require two people to retrieve. There are lots of ways to make a cache that is easiest for two (strings and pulleys come to mind), but most of these could be circumvented. I'm thinking something with laser pointers, maybe. Blitzing this one? Better bring a bucket! is an example of what results from having an idea for a goal. The other way I come up with ideas is to find (or think of) a container that I think would work well for a cache, and then work out a hide for it. Blitz the Quarterback is an example.