The OpenCaching North America Geocaching blog is the blog for an alternative Geocaching website of course, but it’s no secret that other than guest content, it has always had one Author, known on most Geocaching websites as Mr.Yuck, pictured here with stylish army coat, sweatpants and backpack. We’d tell you more about him, and let you see his face, but all you have to do is read on, as this weeks post is him doing the Washknight interrogation. What exactly is that? Washknight is a Geocaching blogger from the UK, who in late September sent out 20 questions to a few fellow Geocaching bloggers to “interrogate” them. This then went sort of viral world wide, at least by the standards of the small Geocaching blogging community, and has become sort of a challenge. As of the date of this post, 18 other bloggers have taken the challenge, with a few more working on it. We ourselves first heard about it via Dabaere’s Only Googlebot reads this blog, and decided to give it a try.
1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?
I actually stumbled on references to it twice while surfing the web. The first time I’m going to estimate was in May 2003, when someone mentioned hiding something called a Geocache at the site of an abandoned drive-in movie theatre on a site that catalogued drive-in’s, either open or closed. I did follow the link to his cache, but never went any further. Then in early August 2003, I stumbled on a link “find all Geocaches in this municipality” on epodunk.com, which is a website that has all all sorts of worthless demographic information on any municipality in the United States. I figured if this Geocaching thing came up twice in 4 months, I’d best check it out.
2. Do you remember your first find?
Absolutely! Lehigh Valley Treasure Box, which was 3.1 miles from my home coordinates. That link is to my actual find log, and you see I was already a know it all, telling the guy he named his cache after the wrong abandoned railroad line. I also used the word Muggle in my log. This is because I spent a few weeks researching Geocaching, and didn’t create the account until after I got home to log the cache that day. Also of note, is that several years later, I did a Terracaching.com locationless cache that required you to revisit your first find, or the site of it if it was archived, (as was this cache, which only lasted a few months). That is also why I have a few pics of the general area and what was the hiding spot, from doing that locationless. I’d link to it, but not everyone has a Terracaching.com account, and can see the listing.
3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?
I’ve owned two Garmin units over the years, but they are mothballed in a drawer. My primary unit is a Magellan Explorist GC, which I received as a surprise Christmas gift from my non-Geocaching wife in 2012. She was sold on the “100% dedicated to Geocaching” marketing slogan on the box. I have a Magellan Roadmate automotive GPS, which I’ll occasionally use to navigate to parking locations while Geocaching. I’ll also occasionally use c:geo on my android phone, especially since that app is fully compatible with our website, OpenCaching.us, since April 2014.
4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? (density / quality / setting etc)
I live in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York area. The two Cities are about 15 miles apart, and I live smack dab in the middle of them in the suburbs. The terrain, once you get out of the Cities and Suburbs is mostly flat northern woodlands. We do have a couple of escarpments running through the area that have many parks along them for caching opportunities, so we do have some moderately rigorous hiking. I’d say the general cache quality is better than many urban/suburban areas I’ve been to elsewhere in the United States (no names, of course). As far as density, I feel upstate New York (i.e. anywhere north of Long Island and New York City) has a lower than average cache density versus most of the United States. There are certainly many caches to find though. I also live 7 miles from Canada, and have about 450 finds in the Province of Ontario.
5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?
GC39, The Spot. The 6th oldest existing cache in the world (57th ever placed), and conveniently located only about 100 miles from my house! Found with another Geocacher from my same Town, Rayman, and the then 7 year old Yuck Jr. shown here with the container (he’s now 15). This cache is located in a beautiful general area, and the cache location itself is perfect. It is truly “The Spot”. It definitely lives up to the hype it gets, it’s no ordinary cache that just happens to have been placed in 2000. Also of note, it was memorable because I got a speeding ticket in Stafford, New York on Interstate 90 on the way to the cache. Tickets from New York State Troopers are not cheap, it was $200. Then a week later, I get a letter in the mail from a local Lawyer who says it’s public record that I received a speeding ticket in Stafford, and he can get it reduced to a parking ticket (non moving violation) for $200. I didn’t want the speeding on my record, and have it probably raise my insurance rates, so I took him up on it. We found 10+ caches that day, and caching wasn’t even the only reason for the trip, but it basically cost me $400 to find The Spot.
6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.
I wish I had some clever answers like some of the ones I’ve seen other interogatees give, but I’ll say cache repair supplies, bug spray (in season) and plenty of fluids, such as water or beer. And I’m not kidding, I’ve cracked beers on the trail several times. Yes, of course I carry out the can(s).
7. Other than geocaches and their contents, What is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?
Nothing too crazy. I guess I’ll say Women’s lingerie hanging in trees in the woods (at least twice), and a couple homeless person campsites (also at least twice).
8. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is I am obsessed by numbers and 10 is I am all about the experience and the quality of each individual cache. Where do you put yourself?
I’m going to say a 9! Not to be snobbish, but I ignore over 600 caches in my 50 mile notification radius. These are mostly “urban micros”, although there are puzzles I’ll never solve, and Challenge caches I’ll never qualify for on there too. I wouldn’t give myself a 10, because I will pop into a small park for a micro on occasion, for example. I have “only”, as of the day of this post, 2,754 finds in well over 11 years of Geocaching.
9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.
The two times I’ve been to Disney World in Florida (only one as a Geocacher), I was shuttled to and from the airport, and used Disney buses and the monorail to get around the property. During my 2004 trip, one night when the family was hanging around the hotel swimming pool, I took a Disney bus about 4 miles, and got off at a stop about .75 miles from a cache at the All-Star resort. I then hiked the rest of the way to the cache,GC1B87, Lake Todo Estrella. After I found it, I found a bus stop about 500 feet away! I think the whole excursion took about 3 1/2 hours. If I had a car, I probably could have done the whole thing in 20 minutes. By the way, all physical caches (and there were probably 15 when I was there) were removed from Disney World in 2005 after a cache caused a bomb scare. They allowed I believe 6 virtual caches to stay.
10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?
You know, nothing very serious. A few bumps and scrapes. About a month into my Geocaching career in the Summer of 2003, I had a small unexplained rash on my hand, but it went away pretty quickly. I’ve been pretty lucky, really.
11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?
If you mean by that my biggest pet peeve, that’s easy; lame logs. Although you can find evidence of a few of them from 2009 and earlier, they pretty much came out of nowhere en masse, and hit us cache owners like a 2 x 4 to the back of the head with the advent of the smartphone Geocaching apps. I have nothing against new users who use smartphones for Geocaching, but rather their near universal tendency to thumb out 3 word or less logs from them in the field. Most often manifested by “Tftc”, but it takes other other forms such as “found”, “found it”, “got it”, “good one”, etc… Very few of them go on to become regular Geocachers, and the ones that do almost always eventually figure out that most established Geocachers don’t log like that. I will never accept logging Geocache finds as becoming a lost art.
12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?
Nothing stands out. Probably a few incidents with some nasty bushwacking, and later finding out I didn’t have to. And I suppose fiddling with the GPS while driving. See also the $400 speeding ticket on the way to GC39, The Spot.
13. What do your non caching family and friends think of your hobby?
That would be the entire family (wife, daughter and son), as well as several friends and relatives. I have never once, in over 11 years, “converted” anyone to a Geocacher! Some of the friends and relatives think it sounds moderately interesting, but that’s about it. The family thinks I’m an obsessed kook, but I think they also all realize my numbers have gone done substantially over the years. My cache finds per year peaked in 2005. When you consider that was at least 3 years before “power trails” were allowed, and I could match my 2006 total (478 caches) in one day, you see how much I’ve tailed off.
14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?
No excuse, I tell them what I’m doing. If they seem really trustworthy, I’ll actually show them the cache if and when I find it. I’ve probably shown muggles whom I deemed trustworthy the cache 3 or 4 times, and never got one muggled. Yet, that is.
15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?
To one day find 200 caches in a year again. Haven’t done it since 2010, and I seriously doubt it’s going to happen in 2014.
16. Do you have a nemesis cache that despite multiple attempts you have been unable to find?
I tend to give up pretty easily. No current nemesis. I can’t think of a single cache I made more than 3 or 4 attempts at. If it really ticks me off, I’ll put it on the ignore list after that! I did make 3 attempts at one in late 2013/early 2014, but it was in a cool area (on the grounds of a long closed mental hospital that is said to haunted, and the grounds have been converted to a City Park). The issue was bad coordinates, and the wrong size selected by a first time hider (it’s a micro, but listed as a small). That’s probably the only cache I’ve made 3 attempts at in years.
17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.
How about exercise, scenery and fun? I suppose scenery (and new places) is the most important to me, followed by the exercise. And I suppose I wouldn’t have stuck with it if it wasn’t usually fun.
18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?
That’s an easy one for me. One of the admins was stepping down at OpenCaching North America, and when the opening was advertised (in early 2014), a blog was one of my ideas for promoting ourselves and the website, whilst applying for the position. Which I obviously got. Not a big deal, there was only one other serious applicant, and he had to drop out for family issues. But I had always, even as a regular user of the site for 3 years before that, thought that they needed a blog.
19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of?
I’d say the tribute to the late Geocaching Vlogging pioneer Sven, which had the full blessing of his Mother. She provided a couple of pictures for the post, and she and some family members had kind words about the post in the comment section.
20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?
Pretty much most of them, at least the ones that come up on the first several pages of a Google search in North America. And I won’t name any personal blogs, because I’ll leave someone out. And if you don’t believe me I’ve seen most of them, keep in mind I search Google, Yahoo and Bing for them I’ll say at least once a week, to see where we fare in the search results. Never have been able to get on the first page of a search for Geocaching blogs on Google, but not for a lack of trying various SEO techniques. I will say that our blog’s main inspiration is the New Zealand based Not About The Numbers blog, as it was pretty much the only third party general interest news and interview type Geocaching blog out there, while most of them are personal blogs.