Cacher of the Month - February 2008

Skaven

Dwarf (Skaven) & The Giant
Dwarf (Skaven) & The Giant

  1. When did you start Geocaching?
  2. I first started geocaching on 6 November 2004 with my first find, East Gate, Part 2 by Great Dane.

  3. How did you find out about Geocaching?
  4. I first found out about geocaching from the Garmin website after having occasion to use a GPSr for a work project. I first used a handheld GPSr when I was responding to an airplane crash. As the leader of the hazardous material team and the environment officer, I had to map out the debris field for salvage operations and environmental remediation. I was using GIS software for environmental work and was interested in merging the two technologies. Geocaching presented me an opportunity to purchase a GPSr for personal use under the pretext of getting out from behind the computer screen and interact with the world around me.

  5. What was it about geocaching that got you hooked into the game?
  6. Geocaching combined my interest in cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with physical outdoor activity. The bonus feature was that it could be done alone, as a family, or in a group setting. I love being outdoors, whether I am walking, hiking, or biking. Geocaching provides a direction and purpose for my outings with the reward of new location visited and potentially a travel bug or trade item to swap. Combine track logs with a time synchronized digital camera, and a list of fresh coordinates provides a unique travel experience.

  7. Have you cached in any other provinces, countries?
  8. I try and take every opportunity to discover at least one cache whenever I go to a new location. I am always packing some travel bugs with me as my job takes me all over the world. Places visited and caches found include: Canada - Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan; United States – Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, US Virgin Islands; Europe – Czech Republic, England, Germany; Caribbean – Dominica. I have also attempted caching in Northern Ireland and Poland but was unsuccessful. Later this year I will be attempting England, Italy, Hungary, Northern Ireland, and Switzerland. So if any one has travel bugs wanting to travel visit the International Mobility Portal Cache. This is the launching pad for trips outside the province. It is also the port of entry for any new travel bugs returning with me from my adventures abroad.

  9. Have you ever introduced someone to geocaching? If so, who?
  10. I have introduced a few people to geocaching. Most of them are people I come in contact with at work when I am abroad. Like me, they need some sort of distraction while away from home other than bars and restaurants. Too often we find ourselves in very interesting places but the tourist attractions are either closed because of the time of year or too little time in the evening to visit. Locally, I introduced Vanilla Gorilla to geocaching. He has not been active for some time but is looking to get started again.

  11. How do you describe the sport of Geocaching to your family and friends who haven't tried it yet?
  12. The best description I have come across was provided by dani_carriere, and I use it religiously as my starting point. Sorry dani, no copyright infringement opportunities as you have put it out there in the public domain. It goes, “I use multi-billion dollar military satellite systems to find Tupperware hidden in the woods”. This either peaks their interest or writes me off as some government conspiracy nut case. Either way the resulting conversation is usually a lively one. The keeners want to know how it all works, while the others check their watches and cry “Is it that time already, I gotta go”. In the immortal words of Jaypeg, “I could tell them to go to hell, but if they don’t have a GPSr and the coordinates, they will not get there”.

  13. What are other interests or hobbies that you have (please go into detail/accomplishments)?
  14. Too many interests, too little time and money. Geocaching sucks up enough of both time and money.

  15. What are some things you don’t like about geocaching?
  16. What are your pet peeves? I don’t like to focus on the negatives. Geocaching is a fun family-friendly activity that should remain unencumbered by geo-zealots trying to remake geocaching in their own image. Number one pet peeve is the amount of time work takes out of the day thus limiting caching time. Second pet peeve is when geocachers complain about micros. The vast majority of caches placed in urban areas throughout the world are micros. Geocaching offers enough variety for everyone. Find what makes you happy and leave others to do the same. There is enough room in the sport for everyone to do their own thing.

  17. What is the most interesting/unusual place that geocaching has taken you?
  18. Geocaching has taken me to some exciting places including, The Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, Check Point Charlie, Reichstag, Fernsehturm in Berlin; Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, and the Prague Castle in Prauge; a Gentlemen’s Club in Poland that I thought was a train station (how does that happen?); the deserts of Arizona, and numerous sites and wonders throughout Manitoba. More than anything, I like the diversity of cache locations from the natural environment to the developed urban landscape.

  19. What is the most memorable cache that you have found (or tried to find)?
  20. By far the most memorable cache found has been Beer Can Island cache in Long Boat Key, Florida. The cache is gone now but others have replaced it since. What makes it special is the location. The immediate area is a secluded beach adjacent to a nice public beach and picnic area. When I visited it the first time the beach was littered with whole trees of driftwood, the sand powder white and fine like icing sugar. The sun was setting and the tide coming in. My wife found this location to be spectacular, even though I had to rouse her out of her moment of quite reflection due to a rising tide. We still talk fondly of this location and take every opportunity to come back when we are in Florida.

  21. What is your favorite Caching Story?
  22. Lizardo’s discovery of Conquista Del Mundo Iceland cache. It still brings tears to my eyes every time I see him at a MBGA event. Say no more – read the log entry.

  23. What items if any do you carry with you when you go on a hunt?
  24. Batteries, batteries, and more batteries. Other items include first aid kit, compass, digital camera, knife, bug suit, bug dope, trade goodies, and more often than not caching repair kit including canisters, duct tape, tywraps, wire, etc. I always leave with about four pencils but never seem to return with any. I usually take a cell phone but don’t always come back with that either.

  25. What kind of GPSr do you use?
  26. I started out with a Garmin Etrex Vista which was a good reliable, compact unit. However, it lacked a colour screen which made it hard to read in the dark when trying to find your hotel at 1:30 am. It also took forever to load and unload maps through the serial cable. A year ago I went to a Garmin 60CSX. The colour screen, UBS port, and better antenna make a difference. Add a 2G sd card and I can load up the maps for ¾ of North America or all of Western Europe with room to spare. Most importantly, the waypoint averaging feature has virtually eliminated complaints that my cache placement coordinates are off.

  27. What methods do you use to avoid muggle detection?
  28. The first approach is usually caching at night or in the most miserable weather imaginable. Failing that, the classic “Hey look over there” followed by a superhero leap over a banister, railing, river bank or other similar obstacle. Recently, however, I have been hit with a string of random mugglings whereby somebody comes ambling along once I have the container open and signing the log book. Usually Jaypeg is in the car laughing at me while I am stuck in a snow bank writing a log entry when the local busybody comes nosing around with his dog ready to release the hounds.

Skaven Caching Headquarters
Skaven Caching Headquarters
  1. What is the meaning of your username?
  2. The Skaven are a race of malevolent rat-men that inhabit the underground of the Warhammer world. Warhammer is a miniatures wargame, where players command vast armies of model soldiers in the struggle to outmaneuver and outfight one another on a tabletop battlefield. The aim of every person who plays Warhammer is to pit their force of miniatures against other players across fantastic battlefields. Win or lose, all fantasy battles are entertaining challenges in which you try to out-think and out-play your opponent, taking advantage of what good luck comes your way, but ultimately relying upon sound tactics to win the day. The Skaven were, are, and shall always remain my favorite of the army types. Tabletop miniature battles occupied a good portion of my youth during the cold winter months. Yup, I am just another gaming geek gone bad.

  3. What was the most memorable travel bug that you have found?
  4. MHz’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Cache”. I still bear the scars on my hand where I had to scribe the Travel Bug number in my skin using a straw. I was tooling down Route 90 south at approximately 164o hours when I thought I saw a travel bug plastered on the rear of a truck. Odd, thinks I, bugs should be on the windshield. When I pulled closer I noticed it was a travel bug. I sent Supreme Allied Commander and Dark Helmet scrambling for a writing utensil and a scrap of paper to record tracking number. Failing to find anything suitable I had to settle for using an old soda straw to etch the number into the back of my hand until I was able to transfer the number to a piece of paper before the welt disappeared. I am glad I chose the straw and not the cigarette lighter – the smell of burnt hair in the cab of a truck is hard to get out of the upholstery.

  5. Which geocachers do you respect or standout to you the most?
  6. I really admire 1Q4J as a dedicated family of cachers. Their caches were some of the first I cut my newbie teeth on. Some had me returning multiple times. I also like TurdleEggs, Lizardo and Jaypeg for their sportsmanship. I have not had these folks utter a bad word about another cacher. Most of all, I respect all cachers who take it upon themselves to repair a cache they find in need of repair rather than file a complaint. Thank you to all cachers who make this sport a fun past time.

  7. With whom do you normally go geocaching?
  8. Jaypeg. Without him I would be at about 250 caches – but probably an equal number of hides (yes a good portion would be micros). The rest of the time caching is either an opportunistic endeavour when the family piles into the car for a day trip somewhere. Otherwise, it’s me alone in foreign places hoping that I don’t get picked up by the local cops, prostitutes, druggies, or soccer hooligans. Euro-muggles are ever so much more interesting than their North American counterparts.

  9. If you could cache anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?
  10. Australia. So may caches, so far from home.

  11. Is there a challenging local cache you have in your sights right now? Which one?
  12. By far the most challenging cache is the Conquista Del Mundo Challenge. The challenging part being finishing it. Don’t worry it will be completed. All the new cache placements in the city are making it more difficult to come up with new locations.

  13. Of your placed caches, which is your favorite? Why?
  14. Eye of the Man (Cathedral Illuminations). It's my favorite for a number of reasons. First, it was placed during a day trip out as a family and the name chosen by Dark Helmet. Second, the site is an interesting Manitoba feature. Third, it is walking distance of The Forks and easily visited by out of province geocachers. Finally, because of the disruption to satellite reception and high muggle traffic, it is often a challenging find for other cachers.

  15. Are you considering any events this year that will bring cachers out?
  16. I am always planning something. I have a cache container (non-micro) that I am looking to place and tie in with GIS research project and wind up with a golfing event either at the end of the year or perhaps at an indoor driving range. Problem is, the container is SO BIG it is hard to find a location on the prairies that does not involve digging a hole or cutting a swath of destruction through the scrub bush to deposit the cache. More details to follow. This one would require the organizational skills of the MBGA membership to pull off. I would also like to organize a geocaching race event.

  17. What kind of books do you prefer to read? What was the last book you read?
  18. I am a really difficult person to find a book I like. Favorites include the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell and the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. I reread these books yearly. Lately I have taken to read travel authors like Bill Bryson. His experiences abroad are not unlike mine. Since my first trip to Germany last year was not totally unlike Euro trip the movie (but without the R rating), I have started capturing my misadventures abroad. I also have been reading Anthony Bordain’s books. I found his story telling style amusing when I first saw him on OLN’s TV series No Reservations. His travel experiences and culinary advice has saved me from eating things I should not while sampling some things I should.

  19. Can you play a musical instrument?
  20. No – I suffer from post-band traumatic syndrome. I was forced by the Winnipeg school division to take a band credit to “expand my educational horizons”. I have repressed all memories of these events and must make sure not to be in Germany during Oktoberfest least I come across an Ump-Pah-Pah band that would have me climb the nearest bell tower and thin out the local populace with a high powered rifle. Band was affecting my grade point average so I was glad when I could ditch it for advanced calculus. So no, I don’t play a musical instrument, don’t ask me to, and don’t tell me it would be fun – because it is not. If you are musically talented, great – just realize it is not part of my skill set and never will be.

  21. Besides your GPSr, what other tools (electronic or otherwise), or software do you make use of?
  22. For day to day caching I use Mapsource (various editions), GSAK and Google Earth. If I am planning caches I use GIS software (Autodesk Map 3d, Arcview, Mapinfo, Global Mapper, etc). I also use Oziexplorer and Mapedit for creating my own maps for areas that don’t have adequate coverage. Periodically I will use a PDA but I find it takes to much time to keep updating with current cache lists.

  23. Do you use your GPSr for other reasons other than Geocaching?
  24. I use my GPSr to find my way from airports, train stations, and hotels to the various worksites I need to visit. I also use it to track where I have been using the track log function extensively. I use it to waymark various points of interest including which bars sell Guinness, that really good Mexican restaurant in Berlin (with decor over the top), that Greek restaurant in the Czech Republic (order the 56 its great), or marking benchmarks discovered on walkabout. I also synchronize my digital camera with the GPSr so I can place where my pictures were taken. All this so that if I return with my wife and daughter I can share it with them.

  25. What is in your iPod/CD player right now?
  26. I have every CD I own, all of Jaypeg’s musical library, several DVDs, and a back up of my laptop files. I am looking to fill it with more stuff. Anything to make those long transatlantic flights more bearable. Traveling coach can be a drag if you stuck next to some insufferable lout who does not geocache.

  27. Your puzzles are legendary. Are you working on anything new you can talk about?
  28. First and foremost is the completion of the Conquista Del Mundo Challenge. I am currently working on a new golf ball challenge, and looking to develop a pod cast cache.

Previous Cachers of the Month