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Cacher of the Month - August 2011


Skoki and Geocache at Machu Picchu

I have met Skoki at several geocaching events over the last few years. The one I remember the most is a breakfast event at the Smitty's on south Pembina. I had a chance to chat with her, Swelbergen and icimondo. A great group of women! All very positive and smiles. Skoki is one of our valued educators in Winnipeg. Not only is she a school teacher, she often brings her students out to find caches. I'm sure many future generations of geocachers will come from these classrooms. Read on to find out more about this month's Cacher of the Month.

  1. When did you start Geocaching?
  2. My first find ever was Nuns on the Run on September 29, 2007. Swelbergen was looking for some supervision with this innovative club that she was starting at our elementary school. I was a bit reluctant to join as I knew nothing about a GPS or geocaching, and had to rely on the kids teaching me. That was great fun! We found two caches that day. My third find came 223 days later when the club resumed in the spring.

  3. How did you find out about Geocaching?
  4. My sister first told me about the game and said that she thought I would love it. I didn't think I had time for anything new so didn't pursue it… then along came Sandy.

  5. What was it about geocaching that got you hooked into the game?
  6. I love everything about the game: the challenge of the hide and the seek; the fact that you are outside and able to hike, run or cycle and that we visit all kinds of interesting places thanks to other cachers. I really like when people take the time to give you a bit of background about the area if there is a history there.

  7. Have you cached in any other provinces, countries?
  8. I have been lucky enough to travel to many places and always bring along my GPS. I have cached in five provinces, eleven states and nine countries. Caching in Cuba was very different as you can't bring a GPS into the country (because the GPS is seen as a "military device".) Actually, you can bring one into the country, but you do risk losing it if it is found. Not a risk I'm willing to take! The one that we found there was hidden in a rock pile loaded with lizards… fun!

  9. Have you ever introduced someone to geocaching? If so, who?
  10. My family is very involved in caching which makes for some fun family gatherings. Rekal is my mom and dad, smiles26 and diazruv (who live in California) are my aunt, uncle and cousins and geonurse is another aunt. All of my siblings cache and while each has his or her own GPS they don't log their finds. (Go figure?!) I have also introduced lots of children to the sport. I have found it to be a great activity for students… the kids are always highly motivated about their learning when geocaching. I have given them several puzzles as well - all of which fits in beautifully with several different curricula. I did a night cache at Living Prairie Museum with my class last winter. That was heaps of fun!

  11. How do you describe the sport of Geocaching to your family and friends who haven't tried it yet?
  12. Most of my family and friends now cache… teehee, but like most other people I know, I describe it as a "highly addictive, high tech treasure hunt using a GPS."

  13. What are other interests or hobbies that you have (please go into detail / accomplishments)?
  14. I love to exercise outdoors. I spend a lot of time running (OK… plodding), cycling and swimming. I have done several triathlons and road races but am moving away from the competition part of that. I also love to read and to cook. I think my greatest passion, though, is travel. I love to research about different places, plan trips and then actually visit them.

  15. What are some things you don't like about geocaching? What are your pet peeves?
  16. My least favourite part of geocaching is the logging after a long day of caching. I think that it is important to reply with a longer log as I really appreciate that someone has taken the time to put out the cache and deserves some feedback. I know that I like when people take the time to tell me something about my caches, so figure most others would appreciate the same. My pet peeve? When an owner doesn't disable a cache, or at least check on a cache, after several DNFs. Another pet peeve I have has to do with dog owners/walkers cleaning up after their pets… It just doesn't make any sense to pick up after a dog and then throw the plastic bag into the bush.

  17. What is the most interesting/unusual place that geocaching has taken you?
  18. This is a tough one because there are hundreds of them. I love the historical places that people find. One of my favourites was a puzzle cache by moonsocket, The Keewatin Pioneers (GC2MF4X) in the Kenora region. We learned a lot about the region that we had been visiting and were brought to a pretty little grave site that we didn't know existed. I love the history that some people take the time to put into their caches.

  19. What is the most memorable cache that you have found (or tried to find?)?
  20. I visited two caches on Machu Picchu in Peru… that was really cool. It was difficult, though to find someone to hike an extra mile with me after completing the Inca Trail! Fortunately, one of our hiking partners took on the challenge and we made the find. Another interesting cache we picked up was just outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. We had a two hour layover so figured we had enough time to catch a train, pick up the cache and return for our flight. There were a few tense moments, but we did it.

  21. What, currently, is your favourite, unarchived Manitoba geocache?
  22. I have several. I love the caches that make me think, and those that make me laugh. Two that stand out are Remember #16 (GCZANA) by Ztirnats and Crypsis (GC2GA8B) by Jean Déniche. They are both really clever hides that I loved.

  23. What is your favorite Caching Story?
  24. Hmmm… another tricky question. It could be the time we were kicked out of the park by the police in Lima and didn't understand a word they were saying to us. Or maybe the time icimondo and I just missed getting hit by a flying couch and were in the midst of a police raid - both on the same day of caching. Or maybe the time team rekal and I ran into a bear guarding a cache in the Falcon Lake area (actually that happened twice to us!) But in all, icimondo's recent caching story takes the prize. I'll leave that for her to share!

  25. What is your most interesting item found in a cache?
  26. In California, you have to be a bit more careful about blindly reaching into dark hidey holes. In the desert in the Palm Springs area, we found a black widow spider in one of the caches. Oddly enough, I like the little plastic lizards. I collect them (trade, of course) for games that I play at school with my students.

  27. What items if any do you carry with you when you go on a hunt?
  28. Well… let me tell you, we are usually really well prepared. In our vehicle we usually have a bucket (to use to reach those high places and to assist in climbing), a pair of boots, a large towel (we've had lots of slips on ice into water…) and some granola bars and/or fruit. In my caching bag, I carry extra pens, pencils and batteries, a logbook, tweezers, a flashlight and trade items. I get some weight training while carrying the bag…

  29. What kind of GPSr do you use?
  30. I use two. My first GPS purchase was an eTrex Legend HCx. When I reached my first 1000 mark, my husband bought me a new toy… an Oregon 200. I love the paperless caching and having all of the info handy while in the field. I do, however, find the eTrex much more accurate when in the bush or in areas where signals are a bit more sketchy.

  31. What methods do you use to avoid muggle detection?
  32. I tie and retie my shoes a lot and I take 'photos' but I have found that having kids around are the best distractions. No one questions them crawling all over and around something.

  33. What is the meaning of your username?
  34. Skoki is the name of a grizzly bear in the Calgary zoo. He was named after the Skoki range of mountains in the Lake Louise area. I love bears (am terrified of them, but love them) and love to hike the Lake Louise area so the fit was a natural one. Skoki has a really interesting story in the Lake Louise area. He was the "famous bear" who poked his nose into the Lake Louise bakery. He also tripped over a guy wire of a tent and really scared the people inside it. I can't imagine! My husband has written a song about Skoki with the help of a wildlife biologist in the Banff area. Very interesting!

  35. What was the most memorable travel bug that you have found?
  36. I'm intrigued with, and a little saddened by, the new wave of TBs and coins that are making their way around the caches. Because so many coins are going missing, people are starting to photocopy their TBs and coins and sending the laminated paper around. It sort of loses the magic. The most memorable TB I have found originated in South Africa. I picked it up shortly after returning from a trip to South Africa so was very interested in the coin and its journeys. I dropped that one off at Machu Picchu in Peru. The owners of the coin emailed me to thank me for taking the coin to such a great place.

  37. Which geocachers do you respect or standout to you the most?
  38. Well, these questions certainly make you think! I am still excited when I meet people who have cached for a long time. I have a lot to learn and I do pick up a lot of hints from fellow cachers. I wish I was able to attend more meetings as those are the best for the tips and tricks of the trade. dani_carriere, ertyu and OHMIC have been really helpful for me. I've learned a lot from them. JBrandt36, GG+J and Jean Déniche, two of my phone-a-friend buddies, have really helped me to maintain my sanity when I have a cache that is driving me nuts. There is a relatively new cacher in the Kenora area, moonsocket, who also stands out. He has put out some incredible caches and hosted a wonderful CITO event in the spring. Also in the Kenora region, is team rekal. I know that a lot of time and thought go into their caches and I love the play on words for the titles and the innovative containers that they build. I could go on with this question for ever!

  39. With whom do you normally go geocaching?
  40. My caching buddies, team rekal, icimondo and swelbergen are all my heroes. They are clever and make me laugh each and every time we go out. In fact, truth be known, I don't actually find any caches. I just hang around with very smart people and am able to count those finds as mine, too. If you need help with a SMITH cache (Stupid Micro In Tree Hide), it's mrs.rekal that you need to have with you. She is incredibly fast at getting her hands on these ones! If you ever cache with mr.rekal you need to know that he never gives up so if the cache has been found recently, he's not going to leave… All that said, the person I have cached the most with, is my husband. He isn't wild about caching but humours me and joins me when no one else can, or when we are travelling. He has found well over a thousand but doesn't log his finds.

  41. If you could cache anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?
  42. I think I would like to pick up some caches in China and in Australia. The last time we visited Australia was the summer after my first find, but I didn't have a GPS and hadn't yet been bitten by "the bug." I noticed that there is a cache near the Xi'an terra cotta warriors… hmmm… something to plan…

  43. Is there a challenging local cache you have in your sights right now? Which one?
  44. I am intrigued by The Giant's Gait TB Prison (GC2780E)… I haven't spent a lot of time on it, but keep revisiting it trying to figure out what I should do.

  45. Of your placed caches, which is your favorite? Why?
  46. My favourite is A Bump Near a Log because rekal made the container. I think they are really clever hides; not one that I dreamed up but that I do, occasionally, take credit for. :)

  47. What kind of books do you prefer to read? What was the last book you read?
  48. I prefer to read historical fiction and murder mystery stories. The last book I read was "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. It was terrific and I'd highly recommend it.

  49. Can you play a musical instrument?
  50. I played the recorder in grade two, does that count?

  51. How far from your house is the nearest unfound cache?
  52. Just over half a mile… sad, isn't it?

  53. Besides your GPSr, what other tools (electronic or otherwise), or software do you make use of?
  54. I love my MacBook for photos and making books using the photos.

  55. Do you use your GPSr for other reasons other than Geocaching?
  56. I use it for maps all the time! The City Navigator North America SD cards are fantastic!

  57. What is in your iPod/CD player right now?
  58. I don't listen to a lot of music, but when I do, it's usually my husband...

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