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Featured Cacher For April 2010 - FamilieRyan

FamilieRyan of Katy, TX.
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What got you interested in caching?
FamilieRyan: When we were living in upstate New York, our son’s class had an activity where parents came in and helped on a “high tech” scavenger hunt. The teacher explained the concept of geocaching and we had some fun following the GPSr around and finding a few ammo cans around campus. Our son developed an interest and did some online research on geocaching, but we let it go for a while as we were in the process of moving to Texas. After a couple of months in Houston, we went out one day with the visiting grandparents and found our first couple of caches and we were hooked!

How did you decide on your caching name?
FamilieRyan: We spent several years in Germany on an overseas assignment and our children really embraced the German language and culture and considered it their hometown. When it came to choosing a geocaching name, we decided to keep the connection to our time in Germany by choosing “Familie” for Family, so we ended up with “FamilieRyan”.

When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)
FamilieRyan: When we first started out we had a blue Garmin, yellow Garmin, and a Magellan Explorist. We have finally settled on a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx as our primary GPSr and it has worked out extremely well for us. As a backup we got a great deal on a Garmin GPSMap 60C and we still have the yellow Garmin as a backup to the backup.

What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?
FamilieRyan: There are so many to choose from! “View Carre’”(GCE02C) in New Orleans is a must do for anyone who visits the city and has the time for caching. The cache owner continues to put a lot of energy and effort into making the cache a great experience. The views of New Orleans are absolutely fantastic. Another one of our favorites is located in Switzerland and is called “Under the ""Top of Zürich"" (GCJGQW). We took a train to the top of a mountain from which there were gorgeous views of Zurich and surrounding countryside. The cache itself required a very tough hike along a steep trail where you had to use handrails and chains to keep your balance and climb down. Between the views and the hike it was a great caching trip all around.

Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?
FamilieRyan: We have had a lot of great adventures while out caching, but a couple stand out. One night we saw a new cache pop up, “Mission Impossible: Mini Niagara Falls"" (GC1B1XG), and decided to go for the FTF. We looked on the map and found a reasonable access point to start the hike. We walked along a bayou and made our way to the cache site. Finding the cache was pretty easy because it was bobbing in the rapids in the river. Retrieving it was a bit more complicated, but we made the grab and scored the FTF. On the walk back, we ran right into a cow! We had to proceed around very slowly to make sure we did not spook the cow. To this day have no idea where the cow came from as we were on the bayou side of a fence. Nonetheless, it made for a very interesting trip out in the night. What’s interesting is we ended up being the one and only cachers to find this particular cache and it ended up being archived not too much later. Another fun nighttime adventure we had recently was when we chased the FTF for “FTFC#72 - Temple of the Four Orders"" (GC23P8B). Like many others, we have been trying to grab that elusive FTF trophy for some time. So, when the puzzle for FTFC#72 came up we immediately split up the work and had the solution pretty quickly. We thought we knew the best place to park and we started the hike out to the cache in the dark. As we approached the cache, we followed the GPSr and made our way through some tough thorns, went under a barbed wire fence, into another bunch of thick trees, all to come within 30 feet of the cache and find a river blocking the way! We were not going to give up the chase at this point, so we made our way back out through all of the obstacles to try and find a better way around. Unfortunately, we still came to a point where we had to contemplate a river crossing. Neither of us was appropriately dressed, but then FamilieRyan Son slipped into the water and we were committed. We then went under another barbed wire fence but were eventually rewarded with the FTF and the FTF Trophy – it made it all worthwhile! Explaining it to Mom when we returned home on the other hand…..

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
FamilieRyan: If it were only one we would be happy! There have been a few caches where we have inadvertently lost the cache either by dropping it into a pond or by throwing the cache over a wall into someone’s yard. It turns out that we threw one of BigBender’s containers into a policeman’s yard. We found this out from someone at work who lives in the neighborhood, and the guy thought it was pretty funny. We’re not sure if he ever found the original container. It is always a bad feeling when you have to write the log explaining what happened, especially if you don’t have another container with you to replace it!

What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?
FamilieRyan: We are big fans of puzzle caches and traditional caches that entail a good hike in the woods. With puzzle caches, it is always fun when there is the “aha!” moment during the solving process. For the traditional caches, we like going on long hikes where we can grab several caches and see all sorts of wildlife and explore new areas. Sometimes you find a great combination of puzzles caches with a long hike in the woods like Donde Esta’s Soda Jerk or 100 Acre Wood series which makes the caching all the more fun, challenging and rewarding.

What is your favorite local cache?
FamilieRyan: There are a lot of great caches to choose from in the Houston area! One of our favorite series of caches is the “Brazos Bend Endurance Series” in Brazos Bend State Park. We liked this series for a number of reasons – the caches are all different containers, some are easier to find, some harder. The series also requires a long and sometimes difficult hike through the woods which is always fun! You have to really pick and choose your path to each cache to make sure you did not get stuck in thorns with no way out (unfortunately we did not do this successfully). Perhaps most importantly, we did the series with Criffree and GrangerFam and had a great time out there with friends. We love caching with other people and being able to share the experience of this series was particularly fun. We had a lot of great adventures that day and managed to finish the series in a decent time, even though by the end of it we were pretty exhausted.

How about your favorite out of state cache?
FamilieRyan: Aside from “View Carre’” mentioned above, we really like a lot of the caches located in New York City’s Central Park. One in particular, “It Begins At The Inventors' Gate” (GC1NW6D) served as the inspiration for one of our own puzzle caches. The creativity of the puzzle and how well it fits in with the monuments of the park made it a lot of fun to solve and find. There are several other great traditional and puzzle caches that are located in Central Park and if you ever get the chance we recommend that you cache there.

Summer or Winter caching? Why?
FamilieRyan: For caching out in the woods, we definitely prefer the wintertime as both the poison ivy and snakes are much less active. As many of our caching friends will tell you, snakes are not our favorite animals to find while out caching and we run into them quite a bit in George Bush Park. Also, in the winter the lower amount of vegetation makes the hiking and cache finding just a bit easier.

When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?
FamilieRyan: Being a member of the West Side FTF Committee (WSFTFC for short), we are always interested in an FTF chase. A lot of the fun is in the excitement of the chase, complete with a lot of fumbling around the house, finding the GPSr, shoes, etc. It is not uncommon for a cache to be published and within 10 minutes or so 3 or 4 other cachers will be at GZ, so you really have to be on your toes to grab it! With all of the competition out there for FTFs on the west side of Houston, it is very difficult to get a stand alone FTF. On the other hand, we like meeting up with folks on the trail so sharing FTFs is also a lot of fun for us. In any case, we like the thrill of the chase, finding that nice blank log, and then getting to chat about it later with our friends.

Tell us about your cache mobile.
FamilieRyan: The current cachemobile is a Ford F150 4x4, which was a great purchase from a caching perspective. Sometimes when you are caching you end up driving in a few places that are a bit more difficult with a car and the truck alleviates those issues. Plus, we would like to get out on Matagorda beach and grab a few caches this summer and the 4 wheel drive will come in handy.

What other hobbies do you have?
FamilieRyan: Both kids play soccer, which occupies a significant amount of time. As a family we have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit and we really enjoy exploring new areas.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
FamilieRyan: We would like to reach 3000 caches by the end of the year, but it is not a hard and fast goal. We like to go out caching and if have enough time we will make it to #3000! Our other goals are to add as many new states and countries as possible to our profile – we really enjoy caching in other places and meeting fellow cachers along the trail.

Is it all about the numbers?
FamilieRyan: When we first started geocaching, we wanted to reach a certain number of caches fairly quickly because we wanted to establish some level of competence, so we were pretty focused on the numbers. These days we are much less concerned about the numbers and are much more focused on spending time caching with our friends. That being said, we do like our geocaching stats and like to see the accumulation of different states and foreign countries on our map. For the first year or so of caching we really only went after traditional and puzzle caches, so now we are trying to “balance” out our caching by getting as many different types of caches as we can in the area. We still like grabbing lots of caches, but it is more about the camaraderie with other folks that makes it more fun and rewarding.

Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
FamilieRyan: The thing we enjoy most about geocaching is meeting lots of great people. We have had the chance to meet a lot of fellow geocachers here in Houston and around the world while on the trail. The people we meet are always nice and love to chat about geocaching adventures and other subjects. It is the camaraderie of caching that keeps us coming back for more, so thanks to all the geocachers out there in the Houston area and beyond for making this hobby so much fun.