Cacher of the Month - July 2008
HoggerJeff & the Piglets
- 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 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?
- Are you considering any more events this year that will bring cachers out to your area?
- 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?
- Does living out of the Winnipeg area offer you any specific advantages or disadvantages with respect to caching?
- Do you use your GPSr for other reasons other than Geocaching?
- What is in your iPod/CD player right now?
- You are the WestMan representative of the MBGA for 2008. What do you see as growth opportunities for the game in that area of the province?
I started on my own in early 2005 when I discovered the GC.com site while surfing the net. I thought that the idea of searching for treasure using GPS was probably the coolest thing I had ever heard of. The first find was Smokey's Birthday Cache on Jan 28 that year. It wasn't long before the kids started accompanying me on a regular basis on my outings. It was then that I changed the user name from just "HoggerJeff" to "HoggerJeff & the Piglets". It was shortly after the family moved to Brandon that my wife, Karen, started getting really involved with us. We didn't change the name of the group, but she did become known as "Boss Hogg".
As mentioned in the first question, I stumbled upon the GC.com site accidentally while surfing the web.
At first, it was the thrill of the hunt! The idea that these little treasure chests could be hidden ANYWHERE and only those "in the know" could find them appealed to the conspiratorial side of me. Once the rest of the family became involved, caching became a great way to spend time together outdoors as a family. Lately, it's been the thrill of the hide that has been driving us. It seems to bring out Karen's sadistic side, but it's all fun!
We have cached in every province from Ontario to BC as well as in North Dakota and New York.
Aside from the immediate family living in Brandon, my older son and his girlfriend in Winnipeg are now avid cachers (Sean and Widget). I've also introduced my parents to the hobby and recently a close friend (Tracker 70) has taken to the pursuit of cache. I suppose that, in a roundabout way, we can take some credit for all the new cachers that have started hunting in the Brandon area since the WWFM III event we hosted here.
I guess that the old catch phrase "High-tech treasure hunt" is the first thing that comes to mind. I make sure to explain about hunting and hiding, the friendly competition for the most finds and, most importantly, the fresh air and exercise you can get if you get really serious about it. I also like to explain how we've been able to find some great places while on vacation thanks to Geocaching. It really is the ultimate activity for someone who travels a lot.
You mean there are other interests besides Geocaching?!?!? I do have other hobbies that dovetail in nicely with this sport, such as bike riding, photography and a typically male fascination with technology and electronics.
To quote Karen as she sits here beside me, "Bugs, bugs and more bugs!!!" Personally, I get rather annoyed at those who don't take the time to learn or observe the "niceties" of caching. I've had several travel bugs just vanish and even had a whole key element of a puzzle cache stolen. Also, cachers should remember to CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) more often.
I would have to say (with consultation with Karen, of course) that the most interesting place would be the International Peace Gardens. I'm not sure if we would have really taken time to visit there if there had not been a virtual cache there (GCGFV3).
That would have to be the virtual that the oldest Piglet found in New York (GC4D7F) while on a whirlwind weekend trip to Manhattan with his uncle. I'll leave it up to the readers of this interview to find out where he went!
We like to tell people about the time we were on a vacation in BC early in our caching career. We had gone on a hunt for a cache and were following a winding, twisting dirt road through the bush and up a hill. When we finally parked and walked to ground zero, we found ourselves at the top of a mountain looking out over an incredibly scenic vista that included the city of Kelowna, Lake Okanogan, Summerland, the causeway over the lake and acres and acres of vineyards. To say the view was breathtaking is an understatement. We would have never found ourselves there if it wasn't for Geocaching.
We can't really think of anything that REALLY stands out. Of course there have been a huge variety of geocoins and travelbugs, but other than some firecrackers (?!?!) in one cache, there has been nothing that makes you go "Wow!".
We have a shoulder pack that we use as a caching bag. It contains a cache repair kit that we bought online, some extra pens, batteries, tweezers, trade items, any coins or TB's that need a new home, bug spray, suntan lotion, water, etc. We also make sure we have some bags so we can "Trash Out".
I started out using a Dell Axim X50V PocketPC with a Bluetooth GPSr. Next came a Magellan Explorist 210. We now use a Garmin Vista Hcx. I just recently got a HTC Advantage x7501 which is a PocketPC, cell phone and GPSr all in one. With Cachemate on it and GSAK on my PC, it's the ultimate in paperless caching. The problem is, it's big!
Our favorite method is to just pretend that you belong where you are. Most muggles, even if they look at you as they pass by in their cars or on the sidewalk, will forget all about you within 5 minutes if you aren't acting TOO suspiciously. For those occasions when the cache is in the middle of a pack of muggles (say, in a park), patience is the best tool. For the times that we are confronted, we have a "Muggle Card" that we hand out which explains the basics of Geocaching.
The username comes from my job. I'm a locomotive engineer - I drive trains. In the trade, an engineer is commonly known as a Hogger - thus, HoggerJeff. Engineer trainees are known in the industry as Piglets. So, my caching trainees, the kids, are the Piglets.
The most memorable was our first - Barney 5-0 (TBH1C6). We found this guy in BC in 2005 and dropped him in Winnipeg.
There are two that really stand out for us. The Dragonfreys have placed some excellent caches in the Westman area and have kept us hopping in the two years we have been in Brandon. Slippery_1 has become our main adversary (if you will). We challenge each other all the time and I've even been leaving comments for him in my cache listings.
Normally, it's just family. When in Winnipeg, we will go out with Sean and Widget and/or Tracker 70. We've been on one or two group event hunts and enjoyed them tremendously, but, as mentioned earlier, this is more of a family activity for us.
We are determined to get the FTF for Hanging Around Bald Hill in Riding Mountain Park. We've tried for this one already, but started out on the wrong trailhead. That was a 5km hike in terrain 4.5 territory with nothing to show for it. Now it's under our skin and we're going to plan the next attack a little more carefully! (Besides, it's worth 15 points!)
Up until recently, Four Letter Word (GC1BNTQ) was our favorite. However, an integral part of the cache went "missing" and we've had to downgrade its difficulty level. We do like Snail Mail (GC128H9) because of its location (enough said).
We've been tossing around a few ideas, such as a picnic event and a group cache event in the Brandon Hills, but there are no firm plans yet.
The whole family enjoys many types of fiction. Karen and the littlest Piglet are into horror and ghost stories. The older Piglet is reading fantasy series books and I am a best seller fiction reader currently reading Ken Follett's "World Without End".
I've dabbled with a guitar, but the Piglets are the real talents. The younger Piglet has been taking violin for the last year and is doing very well. The older one has just completed Grade 4 piano. He also plays guitar, harmonica, clarinet and saxophone (alto and tenor).
The nearest unfound is about 18km south of us, but the nearest that WE have not found is 3.6km away.
I think I've mentioned that I've always been a paperless cacher. I've got the PPC and a pen. I can cache with that!
The biggest advantage is the lack of competition for FTF's!! There are only a few of us that actively seek the FTF, although a little dog in the area has been kicking our butts lately.
The Garmin and the HTC have full mapping capabilities and I own North America maps for both. They are used for navigation in unfamiliar areas.
iPod??? What's that?? Am I the only person without one?? Anyhow, on my phone and PPC I have a lot of new, harder and progressive rock. I also listen to a lot of classic rock. If I mention that I absolutely HATE country music, will I be kicked out of Brandon???
The growth since the WWFM III event has been incredible. We are seeing many new cachers in the area and hope for a lot more. There are a lot of younger people taking up the sport and there is plenty of room for more growth. Also, there are some smaller communities that are placing caches to attract people to their towns (Rivers, MB comes to mind).