Ha ha, well not tapes exactly but an interrogation nonetheless.
This chap I know, who caches under the pseudonym Washknight, has been
pestering inviting the blogging cachers (or should that be caching bloggers?) he knows to post a response to a set of 20 questions. So I have, finally, managed to sit down in front of my Mac, roll my sleeves up in a purely figurative way, open a bottle of my favourite “thinking mixture” and, cracking my finger joints in the manner of the best piano virtuoso, peck out this missive on my keyboard.
1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?
A few years ago at work, the topic of geocaching came up a couple of times; finally one of my geocaching friends (you know who you are!) pulled up the map and it turned out there was a cache very close to my house. I went and had a look but didn’t do anything about it. Some weeks later another friend (The Bongtwashes) arranged an off-roading day in Berkshire. We stopped for lunch on our way to the off-road site and it “just so happened” that there was a cache nearby, so we set off to look for it. What I didn’t realise at the time (but subsequently discovered) was that it is standard practice to arrange routes, lunch stops etc. so that they pass near to geocaches! Anyway after that I went back to find that local one near my home and that, as they say, was that.
So, David and Bob, I blame you for infecting me with this bug for which there appears to be no cure. :D
2. Do you remember your first find?
Certainly do! It was the one I found with The Bongtwashes. It was “A Different Approach to Recycling” . What was extra special was that when Bob read out the hint I immediately knew where to look and I found the cache before he did! I think that is the last time that has happened (LOL)
3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?
When I started out I used my iPhone running the Groundspeak App but, being a clumsy sort of fellow, I quickly became concerned that I would drop it into a puddle (or worse). At this point I bought a Garmin Dakota which is still my main device. This is backed up by my iPhone which I use mainly for mapping (more screen real estate so I can see the map and caches in a wider context) and for interrogating the web while I’m out and about. The GPS on the newer models of iPhone is generally excellent and I sometimes use it solo for urban caching, the ocassional ad hoc cache or the increasingly rare FTF attempt. Oh, and I always put my iPhone in an “All Terrain” case.
4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? (density / quality / setting etc)
I live in Hertfordshire, and the borders with Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire are only a few miles away; there are thousands of geocaches as far as the eye can see. The nearest (my second find) was less that 0.1 mile from my house. There’s a good mixture of easy trads, naughty nanos and tricky puzzles plus some really good rings.
5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?
This has to be the Virtual cache “The Empire Strikes Back”. A cache in New York. What’s not to like? It also scores as my “Farthest from Home” and “Farthest West”.
We visited the ESB on the night of September 11th, 2012. To say the views were spectacular would be putting it midly. To top an amazing evening we were able to see the memorial twin towers of light which were beamed up from the site of the World Trade Centre towers on every anniversary night. Stunning and moving. Just wish we didn’t have to see it.
6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.
Just 3? Hmmm. Leatherman. Torch(es). Hat.
7. Other than geocaches and their contents, What is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?
Other geocachers. :P
Seriously, and perhaps a little disappointingly, I haven’t found anything really weird. I have however found some unexpected things, some beautiful countryside and spectacular views. The strangest thing I can recall finding was an old-fashioned “Tanoy” loudspeaker high up in a tree, in a wood miles from any building of any sort. Very puzzling.
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 not a number, I’m a free man!” :)
If you look at my yearly stats you’d realise it isn’t all about the numbers for me. I have always enjoyed walking and so being out in the countryside, (preferrably with Skye our West Highland Terrier) is something I really do enjoy, so I guess it’s about the journey as well as the geocaching.
9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.
That’s difficult to answer because I’m not obsessed. There was a time when I would dash out for a FTF and I did get extremely wet completing a series of FTFs with The Bongtwashes in the pouring rain once. Note emphasis on the “once”.
10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?
Only the usual scratches and dents from thorns, brambles and barbed wire. Usually on my head, which is why nowadays I always put my hat on when I have to burrow into anywhere and I always carry a simple first aid kit.
11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?
Hmmm. I don’t want to offend anyone. Some of them seem to take it a bit too seriously.
12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?
Trying to walk on something slippery such as sheet ice. That always ends badly in my experience.
13. What do your non caching family and friends think of your hobby?
In my house it’s called “Nerding”. They think I’m slightly mad. I’m not sure I have any non-caching friends…
14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?
My favourite is “I lost my dog” or variations of that. This excuse works even when I don’t actually have Skye with me.
15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?
To complete the Chiltern Hundreds. Because it is there.
16. Do you have a nemesis cache that despite multiple attempts you have been unable to find?
There’s a micro in Pinner which I’ve never been able to find, mainly because of the muggle traffic. It has recently had a spate of found logs so maybe I’ll go back for another go soon.
17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.
Challenging. Outdoor fun. Mud!
18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?
I started my first blog in October 2005 as an evolution from MySpace (remember that one?). On my blog I write about whatever interests or (sometimes) annoys me, not just about geocaching.
After I found my first cache I posted a short item about it, it’s only recently that I have been writing about my geocaching adventures on a more frequent basis.
19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of.
I’m not sure I’m proud of any of my writing but I quite like this one because it describes my best caching day (for numbers) and combines geocaching with another of my favourite pastimes – Green Laning.
20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?
To be honest I’m only just discovering the geocaching blogs, with two exceptions.
Washknight’s Geocaching Blind which I’ve been following for a while now. His posts are entertaining and I like the fact that he is happy to take the p*ss out of the fact that he can’t see jack. Yes, I know he triggered this post but no, that’s not why I’ve singled him out for a mention in dispatches.
The other blog of note has to be Dr Solly’s. It’s not just about caching, his technical tales appeal to my techie side. I’m not going to elaborate here, as he says; you either know him or you don’t.
Well, that’s the 20 questions answered, Paul. That was an interesting challenge which gave me pause to think, and travel back in time in order to research a response to some of the questions. I hope you (and anyone else daft enough to read to the end) enjoys reading my answers. :D