Cacher of the Month - August 2007
- When did you start Geocaching?
- What was it about geocaching that got you hooked into the game?
- 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 is your favorite Caching Story?
- 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?
- Which geocachers do you respect or standout to you the most?
- If you could cache anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?
- Of your placed caches, which is your favorite? Why?
- Can you play a musical instrument?
- How far from your house is the nearest unfound cache?
- Do you use your GPSr for other reasons other than Geocaching?
- What is in your iPod/CD player right now?
I started geocaching in early August of 2006. For several months prior to that, I had heard little snippets about geocaching here and there... typically from my brother and sister (and respective significant others) who were already geocachers. For the longest while though, they never gave me any really thorough information on it, and I usually had too much on-the-go to consider investigating into it myself. When they gave me more detailed information on it, I became quite interested in learning more. On August 12th, I found my first cache ("I Won't Be Seeing You Any More", formerly "I'll Be Seeing You Blitz"), which I located without the use of a GPSr (which I only obtained on August 24th or so). It was close to work, and proved to be relatively easy to find. For the first 11 caches, I used only the coordinates, google maps, and a low-quality printer that only had red ink left (a sample of what I had to work with can be seen here). Soon after, I got my GPSr, and the rest as they say is history.
That would have to be the 'treasure-hunter' side of me. I love the fact that geocaching takes me places I've never been before, and quite likely would have never visited otherwise. Some people are into geocaching for the numbers (and I must admit... I DO take some pride in currently being the third wordiest cacher on itsnotaboutthenumbers.com... and will likely take second place shortly), some are in it for the hiding of geocaches, and others still are in it for the trading. Those mean significantly less to me than the hunt itself. It all starts once you park the car (if it's too far to bike) and begin the trek towards the coordinates. I even moreso enjoy it when you have to go off the beaten path and come up with your own method of getting to the cache itself. Leaving a trail and having to bushwhack your way through a half-kilometer or more of dense forest... THAT'S what I'm talkin' about. But even if it's not in the middle of a forest or swamp... the searching for and (hopefully) eventual finding of the cache is the most fun for me, and what truly got me, and kept me hooked. Even those finds that are a nice walk through the park, or in the middle of downtown... trying to come up with a way of not looking suspicious while poking around here and there, looking for the cache. This of course can have it's downsides as well (see the pet-peeves question below). But for the most part... like playing hide-and-seek with an inanimate object, I take my pleasure in the hunt.
I've attempted to introduce several people to geocaching actually. Mainly just friends and coworkers who have taken an interest when I've begun my usual "Hey, there's a geocache over there" pointing out the car window while traveling. My first attempt was a coworker who has said multiple times that they would want to go geocaching with me to see what it's all about. Coincidentally at the time, there was a geocache about a block from where we worked. After giving him somewhat directions on where it was, he ended up wandering over to it one lunch break and was able to find it (trading a ping-pong ball for a pin, if memory serves me correctly). So in this case, I actually got them to find their very first geocache (which was coincidentally my own first geocache as well). He has yet to go geocaching again, but still states that when he gets a chance, wants to try going caching with me. Unfortunately... this is about the most successful I've been in creating brand new geocachers (that I'm aware of). Several other friends... well... let's just say that them and the outdoors don't get along all that well. I've dragged them geocaching with me, but they're usually pretty hesitant. My roommate though has come with me several times, but hasn't actually ever tried geocaching on his own yet.
I DID however get someone who had geocached and quit years ago to get back into the game and go hunting for them again. Not quite introducing someone to geocaching, but re-introducing them. Unfortunately, I can't recall their name offhand... but I assure you... I'm not making this up :P.
Typically, when a non-geocacher (I'm not fond of the word "muggle" to specify one who doesn't geocache. Not a big Harry Potter fan :P) such as a family member, friend, or even those just curious when they overhear me mention it ask... I give a somewhat vague, yet somewhat specific explanation. My most common description of it typically runs as "It's sort of like a giant treasure hunt, scavenger hunt type thing. Y'see, all over the world pretty much, there's little containers hidden everywhere. Usually a tupperware container, or metal box, or anything watertight, really. Inside there's a logbook for you to sign, and generally little trinkets that you can trade out for something else (I always emphasize "trade". Don't want to create swag-stealing geocachers :P), and then you can log the fact that you found it online. And there's like... hundreds of them in the city alone!" If they wish to know more, I usually give them the web address geocaching.com. If I should happen to be chatting with them online, or on the phone while I'm near a computer, I'll typically get their postal/zip code, toss it into geocaching.com's find-a-cache page, and tell them approximately how close they are to the nearest cache. That typically surprises them... as it's typically a few hundred meters away from their zip/postal-code's coordinates are when they're in a city... or maybe about a kilometer or two away if they're rural.
Well now you're getting me started on the dozen other random hobbies I have. Prepare to be entertained, and you may want to have a browser open to get more information. Well... I suppose I'll just start with my most prominent of other hobbies... making the online webcomic called "Planet Zebeth". Updated three times a week, it's made with nothing more than Kolourpaint (the Linux equivalent to MSPaint), and is a storyline-driven sprite comic based around the Nintendo game "Metroid". As of answering this, I'm sitting at about 860 strips made, and have been running it for just over 5 years now (without missing a single update! Late perhaps... but never missed :P). This is directly correlated with my nigh-obsession with the game Metroid. I tend to collect random Metroid memorabilia, or even design and make various Metroid-based things (magnets, stamps, the comic strip, beaded place mats, door curtains, etc).
Second to that, would have to be my love of chainmailling. I started that with nothing more than coat hangers and pliers, and it evolved into hand coiling, cutting, and weaving a full chainmail shirt, a coif, at least 50 different weave samples, and various other assorted items. Most recognizably by other geocachers however would be my Tetra Orbs, listed as 'chainmail balls' in any log or notation (as I doubt very much that if I were to say "Tetra Orb" in a log, anyone would know what I'm talking about). Unlike the above-mentioned beads, who's production have since dropped to nil, the chainmail continues to be made to this day. Sleeves are slowly in the works, as are gloves, more sample weaves, and of course... more chainmail balls.
Otherwise... I'm sure I could continue on for pages on my other hobbies... but I can sum up the various collections of things in a few sentences. I collect knives, swords, and other such things on display in my apartment (including an antique scythe mounted on my wall), DVD's (over 200 and counting), and other minor collections which generally aren't worth mentioning, but still get added to on rare occasion. What can I say... I'm a pack-rat :P.
Probably my biggest pet peeve of geocaching would have to be the proverbial "micro in a forest" (well... it's proverbial to me, anyway :P). Nothing frustrates and disappoints me more than searching for what seems like an eternity looking in at least 7.3 trillion possible locations for a film canister (or thereabouts) in the middle of a foresty area that could have easily held something a dozen times that size. Although, I've heard that many people don't enjoy the "lamp-post caches"... but that's a sentiment not shared by me. I actually kinda like those :P. But the micro... the forest... one being inside of the other (I'll let you decide which goes where)... just... no. Although... it IS possible to do these types of hides properly (ie: in the style of Windchill Willy or Quick Drop Cache come to mind)... but the ones that typically use a film canister, seemingly tossed in a random location... bleh.
That somewhat goes along with my other pet peeve... that being caches with little to no thought put into them. Often (but not always), the cache description is all of one sentence, and it's typically some random container put in a location you can't possibly fathom why they chose. Thankfully again, there's not too many of these... but they're out there. It's been quite some time since I've seen any though... so hopefully my luck will hold out.
I haven't cached outside of Manitoba yet (yes, I know... this is unforgivable, and must be rectified. Unfortunately, the opportunity has not yet arisen), but of the caches that I've found, I HAVE discovered some interesting locations which I definitely plan to revisit in the future. The first that comes to mind is located at the cache "Poe". A small park in a seemingly unremarkable location in the city... except that it has one aspect which I have never seen elsewhere, wish I have, and will some day return to this location for. The outdoor, permanent chess boards! Man, you wouldn't believe how many times I've dreamed of spending a day sitting out in a park, playing chess on a public chess board table. Either playing with someone else, or else just practicing on my own, hoping that some random person will wander forward and take me up on a game. So as far as most interesting/unusual... that particular location wins hands-down. For best location however...
No doubt about it... "Splashing Through The Willows", found just prior to typing these responses. I've always been a fan of the messy, boggy caches (such as fadeaway), and this one has by FAR topped any other one I've done at least a thousand times over! It starts out with a bit of a hike away from civilization, leading up to an ominous looking entrance to a dense willow patch. From that point, it just keeps getting wetter and wetter. Near-total shade, zero visibility past ten feet in any direction (except the path you're following I suppose... unless there's a turn), and the feeling like you're in a tropical rain forest. Although I somehow doubt tropical rain forests are full of willows... I've never been in one regardless... so this is how I imagine it feels like :P. Basically... the feeling of being completely detached from society, in an environment the exact opposite of the normal world.
At the end of a journey that I wish could go on for hours (what are the odds a several-mile-wide willow patch is anywhere in Manitoba?), you find yourself at the wettest, deepest, boggiest possible location inside of there. I've said in my log (in the text for one of the attached photos) that I would want to build a fort inside of there, potentially becoming one of those weird hermits living in the middle of what most would assume to be an uninhabitable location. And I still stand by that. Maybe it's because I grew up in the country, or because I like it warmer out than many... but I just loved the atmosphere inside of that willow patch. I can only hope and pray that I will some day find another cache that can come close to the enjoyment I felt at this one :) .
The tale of this is probably more comical than anything else... but given the chance, I'd do it again the same way :P. It started out when my roommate and I planning to go after the cache "Where Rivers Still Collide... And Blitz". To start with... this was in the dead of winter, after many a snowfall, and I still have yet to purchase either winter boots or snowshoes or... well... anything other than my loose-fitting work shoes. This was also prior to me coming up with tying a safeway bag around my feet (yay for safeway-brand instant snow boots) to keep the snow out. Also, I didn't think to tie up my shoes tightly to keep the snow out, or my shoes on. Trudging through the icy cold, my feet got soaked minutes after leaving the car. Instead of doing something smart like walking along the river where there are no snow drifts, we plowed a straight line from the car, through all possible drifts and snowbanks, across the river, up the snowy incline, and to the cache's first stage. To say the least, my shoes needed to be taken off and dumped of snow at least 10 times by this point. Not that it mattered all that much, my feet up to my knees were utterly drenched and freezing. It took us a good several minutes of scrounging around in the snow to finally locate stage 1.
Did that stop us? Did that even slow us down? Never! Onwards we trudged, my hands so cold I could barely type in the coordinates to the second stage. Of course, with my wonderful navigational skills, we ended up going down a very snowy hill, only to realize that we went the wrong way and had to climb back up it. It took several attempts to boot. All in all, we found the cache, and quickly signed it up (seeing as my feet were starting to get kinda numb by this point). On the way BACK to the car however, we came up with the plan to walk along the river instead of fight through the hardest possible path. All in all, it was fun with a good friend, and an adventure I'll never forget.
I suppose now is as good a time as any to go through my 'geocaching bag' and see what all of the contents are that follow me to every cache I visit. Aside from my GPS itself, I have a digital camera, two sets of spare batteries (all rechargeable), notepad, pressurized pen, pencil, spare ziplock bags, flashlight, chapstick, multi-tool (pliers, knife, scissors, file, etc), sack of chainmail balls of various sizes, emergency whistle, compass, gloves, 2 spare mini pencils, sharpener, 2 mini logbooks (able to fit in a film-canister), spare logbook, camouflage tape (note: the above several items are for geocache repairs if needed on the go), emergency medical kit, emergency blanket (those silvery things), and a palm pilot.
Sometimes I also take a walking stick with me, but that's typically for if I'm planning to specifically go for a long hike. However, if that's the case, a backpack containing several bottles of water, some oatmeal bar or other instant-food type snacks, sunscreen, and anything else I may happen to need while geocaching. For one geocache in particular (Blitzing this one? Better bring a bucket!), I had wire, twine, tape, rubber bands, magnets, pliers (several types), knives (again, several types), bottles, paper, and various other things I threw into my backpack on the slight chance that it could be even mildly useful. I ended up not needing about 98% of what I brought :P
My first and only GPSr is the Garmin GPSMap 60Cx. I had done quite a bit of research on GPSr's prior to picking one out, and had a list of about 7 specifications it had to meet for me to even consider purchasing it. I can't remember all of them off the top of my head... but the primary ones were expandable memory and IPX7 waterproofing. I had actually written my list of specs down, and went to S.I.R. To see what types of GPSr's met my requirements. As I read off my list to the person working at the GPS counter, he kept on narrowing down my selection after every item I read off. It ended up coming down to Garmin, between the 60's and 70's series models. I chose the 60Cx for it's design, feel, and the fact that it had everything that I wanted, really. I momentarily contemplated the 60CSx, but wasn't fond of the idea of having to recalibrate the compass and altimeter repeatedly. Given I didn't particularly care if I knew my exact altitude, and was planning on having a backup compass on me when geocaching regardless... the choice was easy.
At this time however, I asked my sister living in Calgary to pick it up from the actual GPS Central store there, since it was both cheaper, and I wouldn't have to pay for the shipping through the online site. One shipment later, and I was happy as a clam.
Lately, I've been geocaching most often while biking. This in itself can avoid detection if used properly. Hopefully... I've been using said techniques properly... but since I have yet to be questioned by anyone while caching while biking, I'm guessing that I am. Generally, when I'm near a cache site, and need to either wait for random pedestrians to leave the area, or at least no longer pay attention to me long enough for me to make a quick grab, I'll just get off my bike and relax back against it. I'll pull out my water bottle, and basically have a nice drink, looking like I'm taking a rest for the moment. And given it's summer (since I'm not one of those types who will bike in the dead of winter), it's not uncommon to sit back and rest from biking for upwards of 10 minutes, 20, or whatever is needed.
If I don't have a bike however, and am just walking... it can get a bit tricker. However... I've found that my palm pilot comes in quite handy while geocaching around people. When I come across a situation in which some people are lingering a little bit to close to a cache site for comfort, I'll pull out the palm pilot and look like I'm concentrating or generally puzzling over what I'm looking at. I'll often combine that with looking up in certain directions, kinda point at things as if recognizing them specifically, and generally just look like I have lots on my mind. My theory is that if it looks like I'm busy, people will tend to leave you alone. It's worked for the most part... and I'll always have some "explanation" to what I'm doing prepared in my head should the situation arise that someone asks what I'm doing. It's only come up a few times, but if I know what I'm saying right there, instead of trying to come up with something off the top of my head, it should theoretically look more believable.
This could actually be a reeeeeally long story if I wanted it to. One spanning far back into my early childhood... stemming from a scant few memories existing from prior to even kindergarten. Things built from there slowly but surely until I had a name that I typically use everywhere online, or in any video game which lets me choose my character's name. Normally in games however, I'll just use "Thunk", since "Kabuthunk" is typically too long :P.
But I digress. The short version of the story is a simple one. "Kabu" is a reference to my favourite Pokemon (from the game of the same name, of which I'm quite a large fan of), Kabutops. "Thunk"... is a loud, dull, sound :P. That pretty much sums it up.
Probably BBrown94. I'm not even entirely sure why he stands out as prominently as he does to me... but that's how it is. He started geocaching at approximately the same time as myself, and for a short time I even pseudo-raced with him for cache finds (generally just seeing if I could keep ahead of him. He has obviously since won this "race" :P). Here and there, we would help each other with caches that were particularly difficult for either one of us. When the friend feature became available on geocaching.com, he was one of the first people that came to mind to add (aside of course from my family members who geocache :P).
Still today, he stands out, and we still help each other out here and there with those sticky situations. In fact... the day that I typed this response to this question, he had emailed me back some assistance on a geocache I had been having a problem with.
I couldn't really answer this question with many specific, exact locations, but more like any location that fits a certain description. I'm quite fond of forest caches... so I could see any geocaching in the forested mountains of British Columbia to be amazing. Given I'm arguably even MORE fond of the wet, messy, bog-like caches (as mentioned above), I would love to cache in or around any rain forest that might contain a geocache, or perhaps in the swamplands of Louisiana. I'm not particularly good with my world geography... but any type of location fitting the style of Splashing Through The Willows would be first on my list of geocaches to visit should I become unbelievably rich, and could travel anywhere. For specific locations though, several come to mind that I've noticed that geocaches are located on. Interestingly, these all to be in rather "extreme" locations... but if I'm stupid-rich, the cost of equipment or travel wouldn't be an issue :P. I have heard that there is a geocache about three-quarters the way up Mt. Everest that I would love to try to tackle. Other locations of note would have to be the geocache located on Antarctica, and perhaps one of the caches located in the arctic circle. I'm always looking for a bigger challenge, a harder-to-get-to forest cache, or something that pushes you more and more to access.
I'm sure there's several caches that do that to an extent in Manitoba's provincial parks, but I haven't gotten any spare time enough to go and look for them. There were several of them in Birds Hill that took quite a bit to get to, which was nice... but nothing that really beat the heck out of you to go after :P.
I've only placed three geocaches thus far, but my favourite of them would have to be "Brinstar's Revenge". This is mainly because I made this cache in a style of cache I particularly love doing... forest caches. I've always loved the caches that you have to "fight" for. I mean sure, the forest caches that are along or close to a well-beaten path are still fun, and amongst my favourite to go after... but the ones that are placed in the middle of nowhere, with no visible path leading to it, are more fun to me. Having to bushwhack your own path through thick and thin (mostly seeming to be the former of the two) is just... fun. Hence... Brinstar's Revenge was going along those same lines, placing it in the densest spot of a dense patch of foresty bushiness (or bushy forestiness... I'm not sure which :P). I also picked that specific location since it's fairly close to where I grew up, and I'm quite familiar with it in general. As well... when you're out in field-country, where trees are far and few between... it's pretty amazing that there's still very dense patches of forest hiding out there where you could otherwise watch your dog run away for three days :P.
Does the triangle count as an instrument? If not... then not really. However... I HAVE been quite wanting to take up the bagpipes at one point or another in my life. For some reason... I really quite enjoy the sound of them, and would love to be able to play them. Then again, no one's ever accused me of being too normal, to say the least :P. Throughout junior high and high school, I was in choir... but given we grew up in the small, small town of Landmark, our school never offered the option to learn a musical instrument when I was there. Had I been given the opportunity to take up an instrument of some sort, it's quite likely that said instrument would be yet another one of my hobbies. As it turns out, all I can do is watch others play, and one day hope to take up the 'pipes myself.
As of typing this, my nearest unfound cache is 2.5 km's away, at "Dani's Sunset Splash, mainly due to the fact that the latter portion of the multi is a bit further away. I will be going after it in due time, but it'll likely wait until I have the opportunity to go to that area of town. Currently it is as well the only cache remaining in my "Dani Radius". It's almost unfortunate that I've cleared out most of the geocaches close to home though. As my brother once put it... it's often a good idea to leave a good number of geocaches fairly close to home, in case you're really hankering for a quick geocache, but don't have a lot of time to spare. As it stands, it takes a fair bit of time to reach geocaches these days. On the plus side however... most of my impulse-caching tends to take place while in mid-travel from one place to another. As of late as well, there seem to be more and more caches being placed closer to home... which is always a good thing.
It actually was bought for both geocaching, and being able to navigate around other cities while on vacation, or any trip to somewhere we're not familiar with (me or my fiancee... or anyone who's with us, really). Unfortunately, we haven't had the chance to use it for vacation, as various layoffs or other unpleasantries have hindered our vacationing. However, when the time comes, I'm sure it'll be used quite heavily while traveling. I had actually been wanting to buy a GPSr for years for the purposes of vacation travel... but just couldn't justify the cost. Geocaching however has made that possible. Although, it HAS come in handy every now and then for getting around the city, even in places we're fairly familiar with. Since the direction-finding feature will take any road to get somewhere in the shortest way, it's shown us how to bypass busy roads we otherwise would have waited on.
Also, I like to play the "Beast Hunt" game that comes on it every now and then. The rest of the games not so much... but that Beast Hunt is really entertaining to kill some time (and some battery life... but since they're rechargeable, that's an acceptable loss :P)
In my CD player specifically at the moment... is a death-metal mix that I made a while ago. A well-rounded assortment of Kalopsia, Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Nile, and several others dwell on there. As for electronic music-playing devices... I tend to hate iPods (no drag and drop mp3's = Kabuthunk no want :P). However, on my generic mp3 player, I've got a wiiiiide variety of music. My musical tastes actually reach a large many genres (pretty much anything except boy bands and most country... although there's even a few exceptions to those), and I tend to have about 4 or so genres worth of music on the mp3 player to suite whatever I'm wanting to listen to at the moment. Currently, in the classical section, I have some Rachmaninoff (if you're not familiar with Piano Concerto 3 by him... you MUST listen to it sometime), some Tchaikovsky, and a smattering of Grieg and Wagner. In the industrial section, we have Covenant, Flesh Field, Rammstein, Suicide Commando, and several others. The death metal section is filled with mainly what was listed on the CD above, and a few other bands such as Cattle Decapitation, Cannibal Corpse, Zao, and several 'Funeral Doom' genre songs by Catacombs, Ahab, and Funeral.
And then there's the unusual section that I've been listening to a lot lately. This section is mainly gregorian chant (done by the Münsterschwarzach Benedictine Abbey Choir), tibetan chant (Lhama Tashi is awesome. Search for tibetan chant and his name and listen. Do it now!), and East Indian music (musical collection by Akbar Khan, Jan Ul Hassan & Tafu). So yes... as you can see, my genres tend to run pretty much all over the board. The other primary genres I listen to are techno, video game music, heavy metal, and gothic rock. I'm a man of many flavours :P.