Friday, October 10, 2014

The Washknight Interrogations

Washknight, a geocacher from the United Kingdom, has been inviting geocaching bloggers to answer some questions and share their experiences with other geocachers.  This comes in the form of 20 questions.

He has been collecting the responses of everyone who has responded and keeping a record on his blog, Washknight - Geocaching Blind.  You can view all of the responses here: Washnight Interrogates.

A few days ago I was tagged to be a part of this series, and I am more than thrilled to participate.  The following are my answers.

1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?

I captured the story of how I got into geocaching in a post called Nostalgia, however the short story is as follows:

During the summer of 2008 I was in the middle of a 3 month work assignment in Belgium.  One week a co-worker from another office was also visiting the work site in Belgium.  He had asked if I had any plans for the weekend, to which I responded "not really".  He suggested we go geocaching. It sounded intriguing, so I checked with my wife (who was traveling with me), and she liked the idea as well.  That Saturday we went on our first geocaching hunt, and got our first finds, and our first DNF.

2. Do you remember your first find?

I remember it well.  It was called Le Waux Haul (GC18BX7), which is now archived.  It was located in Parc Du Waux-Hall in Mons Belgium.  It was a film can in a tree, and my wife made the actual find.

3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?

I like to geocache with a proper GPSr as my main device.  I have had several over the years, but currently my primary geocaching device is a Garmin eTrex 30.  I also keep a Garmin Montana 600 around as a back-up device.

I also use my cell phone from time to time.  The model changes about once a year, but is always Android based.  My current phone is a first generation Moto X.  I often also keep a Nexus 7(2013) in my pack. I also use the Nexus 7 for loading caches onto my GPSr.

In either case, on Android devices I mainly use Locus Pro as my main geocaching app.

4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? (density / quality / setting etc)

I live in a small town in western North Carolina, USA, nestled right against the Appalachian mountains.  The town has a large number of caches, but the general area is more sparse cache-wise.   In general the quality of caches is pretty good.

If you drive a half hour west, you end up in the mountains.  The caches there are mostly placed to highlight beautiful places (of which there are many).  An hours drive east puts you in the city of Charlotte, which has a lot of caches, many placed to be fun hides (as opposed to beautiful scenery). Some of my favourite caching grounds in the world can be found in south east Charlotte at Idlewild Park.

5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?

This is a very hard question to answer, as I have found a lot of excellent geocaches.  The one that always comes to mind when I am asked this question is the Haunted Blue Ghost Tunnel Cache (GCG481) in St. Catharines Ontario Canada.  That cache was difficult to get to - it took me all day - and the end was spectacular both in terms of spookiness, historical context, and fun.  I captured my adventure here:  Geocaching Adventures: Blue Ghost Tunnel.

6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.

A sense of adventure, a sense of humour, and a hat.  One should never leave the house without a hat.

7. Other than geocaches and their contents, What is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?

Hard to answer.  I don't think I've found anything over weird.  A lot of typical stuff one finds when in the woods - deer skeletons, discarded trash, abandoned cars.  Nothing super crazy.

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?

Probably in the middle - a 5 or so.  I love my stats, and I look at them a lot, and use them to set goals for myself, however I don't care so much about other peoples stats.  I don't see them as a competition.

I have done power runs, and set numbers based goals,  but my favourite caches remain the ones with a nice hike to an interesting location.  If I had to choose between the two types, I'd pick the long hike over a numbers run every time.  Luckily, in general, I don't have to choose.

9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.

Just one? Not fair!  The first one that comes to mind is the time I biked 30 miles on a rented bicycle that didn't quite fit me properly, to grab some caches hidden along a dirt trail for GeoWoodstock XII. 30 miles was, at the time, the farthest I've ever been on a bike.  When I got back I could barely walk, but I got 21 caches, and a story to tell.

10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?

I have cached with sprained ankles and bruised ribs - injuries I got from cycling accidents - but fortunately I don't have any interesting injury stories as a result of geocaching.  I have had my fair share of bumps, scratches, stings, and sunburns, but nothing I couldn't shake off in a few minutes. My first aid kit in my geocaching bag remains unused.

11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?

Let me start by saying that, for the most part, geocachers I have met have been wonderful people - kind, funny, adventurous, welcoming, warming.  All around good folk, in general.  For the most part I have few complaints about geocachers or geocaching,

However, since you asked, there are a wide variety of things that have annoyed me over the years while geocaching.  They can all be boiled down to a lack of respect.  Its not always intentional  - I try to never assume malice - however it happens a lot.

Also, people who take geocaching too seriously.  Its a game, people, and a rather quirky one at that. If you're not having fun and feel the need to complain about other people, please feel free to avail yourself of the many other geo-based games available to you. I hear Munzee is nice.

Also cachers who hide LPCs - that's the worst. (joke!)

12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?

Again, just one?  Not fair!

OK, I haven't told anyone this story yet - so a world exclusive.  I once hit a guard rail with the Geovan of Destiny while out hunting a cache (if you are wondering, yes it was a guard rail cache - the irony is delicious, isn't it?).  I pulled up to a space in a parking lot with a guard rail in front of me. I was doing a lot of park'n'grabs so I got in the habit of not turning off the engine. This cache I was parked 10ft from GZ.

So I parked up, and I jump out to grab the cache... that is when I realized I forgot something vital about the parking process - namely taking the car out of gear.  Fortunately the van only moved a few feet, and was in idle, when it hit the guard rail square on the front bumper.  Fortunately I just got a few scratches on the paint job. Lesson learned tho.

Another thing I learned:  guard rails work! (and have a purpose besides hiding geocaches)

13. What do your non caching family and friends think of your hobby?

Some find it weird, but most find it interesting at some level.  The only non-cacher whose opinion really matters is my wife.  Fortunately she encourages me to geocache, and even comes along from time to time. She often becomes the driver, and I navigate, when we go on geocaching road trips.

14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?

I used to tell people that I was on a high tech scavenger hunt.  However now I don't give an excuse and just tell folks that I am geocaching.  Its easier to be straight up with folks.  Being sneaky leads to mistrust, and either way I find people either get it right away, or I have to explain it, and the explanation is always the same anyway.

Just tell the truth and life goes smoother.

15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?

I tend to subscribe to the idea of keeping personal goals to yourself until you've achieved it. There is a cool TED talk about it (tl;dr version: people congratulate you for setting a goal, which removes motivation to actually achieve it).  So often the only time I mention my goals is when I need support from someone.

However most of my goals are based on filling in holes in my stats.  I'll let you all guess what those may be.

Some goals I've had in the past: Finishing a Delorme challenge, getting to a certain find count, filling in state and provinces on my map, or qualifying for certain souvenirs.

16. Do you have a nemesis cache that despite multiple attempts you have been unable to find?

Yes.  This one: Pining For You (GC13DBN). Its a simple hide.  I've looked 3 times, searched for 30 minutes at a time.  Nothing. Can't find it.  Others found it since, and said it was easy.  I just can't seem to locate it.

I suspect when I do find it, I'm gonna feel really stupid.

17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.

I prefer quotes, of which I have many, but my top three are:

"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way"-  Dr Seuss "Oh The Places You'll Go!"

"Not all who wander are lost." - J. R. R. Tolkien "Lord Of The Rings"

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost "The Road Not Taken"

18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?

My wife made me do it.

I started my blog, long before I was a geocacher, right around the time I was first dating my wife. She encouraged me to do more.  So I wrote about things that happened, trips I was on, that sort of thing.

When I started geocaching, the adventures I went on became logical topics for blog posts.  The more I cached, the more stories I had to tell.

That's really what I like best about geocaching - the stories it creates.  Geocaching got me off the couch and out of the house, and took me on many adventures.  It gave me stories to tell, and since I enjoy writing and photography, those stories come out as blog posts.

I think it makes me a more interesting person, and based on feedback on my blog, at least one other person agrees with me - which makes it a consensus, therefore a fact (science!).

My blog is the story of my life (at least the bits I'm willing to write about).  Geocaching just happens to be a large part of it.

19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of.

To quote Reverend Lovejoy: "Oh, it's all good."

Actually, I think I have more posts that make me cringe, more than make me proud, but I have a few I really like. Some that come to mind are:

On Preparing For A Geocaching Trip: Lego Minifig Edition - which I like because it combines creative writing, humour, photography, and Lego minifigs - all of which are a few of my favourite things.

Long Way Round is my favourite series. I think I hit my stride in terms of story telling and photography.  It is based on a road trip my family took on our way to GeoWoodstock.  It is normally a 10 hour drive, but we did it in 7 days.  Many of my favourite posts come from there: Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota, Tiberius being a couple, however my favourite post from that series is thefactt: The Day The Music Died. I like the mix of my story with the lyrics from the song related to the historical account.

Finally, My Cat Is Evil is another highlight from the early days.  It is one of the first forays into creative humour writing, which I like to encorporate as much as I can.

20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?
The main one is the Groundspeak blog ( I also follow Cache Crazy (, Daily Ramblings (, Snug Harbor Bay (

I tend to follow geocaching groups on Google Plus and Facebook, and get most of my geocaching content from there.

- fin -