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Featured Cacher For August 2006 - ATMA

ATMA of Dickinson, TX.
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How did you learn about caching?
ATMA: Mrs. ATMA bought an eTrex Legend GPS to help navigate around town and day drives while camping. During some searches for GPS related articles we kept finding information relating to geocaching. We read a bit about it with some interest but didn’t take any action to try it until 10 months later.On 7 August 2006, we decided to give it a try with a friend of ours so we manually loaded some coordinates, printed some cache sheets and headed out to a small park about 2 miles from home. After looking for a short time, found this ammo box full of things to look at and a log book as described on the site. It took about 30 seconds to hook us. That cache is archived now but we remember it like it was yesterday. We found 4 that first day and had 1 DNF.
What kind of equipment used (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)?
ATMA: We started off with a Garmin eTrex Legend, otherwise known as ""The Blue One"" and used it for about a month before buying a second one so both of us would have one along with the mapping software. About that time we went paperless using a Palm M505 with a hardshell case. Several months later the new one was replaced with a Garmin eTrex VistaC to take advantage of the color screens, faster processor speed and larger memory. A few months later, the VistaC found a new home and was replaced with a VistaCx with 1 GB card allowing all maps of the USA to be loaded. What a nice feature. MapSource is our mapping program along with GSAK running on the computer and CacheMate on the Palm.

What are your all-time favorite cache/s and or adventure whilecaching?
ATMA: This is a difficult one to field since we have seen so many different caches. We find that hiding styles vary enough from region to region to see the difference so there are favorites in the different areas of the state we have cached. In the extreme Hill Country it might be the huge Oak that Mrs. ATMA climbed about 50' up into for a film canister or was it the high cliff we climbed on our hands and knees to get to the top? Several others include a cache in Rockwall that contains a fishing reel connected to a container way up in a tree, Barneys Toilet Seat Museum, a local puzzle that is NASA related, Crazy Containers In The Woods (our 1000th find) and we cannot forget the 10 mile Four Cache Loop where we were happy to team up with about 12 other cachers and make it a good day hike. Our 1000th find was a fond memory but we didn’t have anyone other than ourselves to celebrate it with.We will never forget an experience during Geowoodstock 4 where we teamed up with a Houston area cacher and mountain biked over 30+ finds in just a couple of hours. There was also the cache where Mrs. ATMA swears she was attacked by a cougar, and that’s her story and she’s sticking to it. She even has the other cachers that were with her sworn to her story. Another fun experience was seeing the look on our daughters face when she found her first cache. They were hooked at that point too. With some luck, we will convert our other daughter that lives in Oregon when we are there next time. She is already showing a lot of interest by asking questions and looking at receivers. One other memorable cache was a FTF on a night cache (Mardi Gras) where we slipped into a closed park. As we were coming out in the total dark, we saw a silhouette coming straight at us. Here came the next cacher OHL Hockey Guy. That was our first meeting. There have been so many good memories gained in our first year we could go on forever like the time we met some cachers at the Burger House in League City one Saturday, having a really good meeting with them and sharing a couple of hours of good conversation.The most interesting aspect of caching is that we have always liked to get out and just drive to see what we could see. This happened mostly while camping and we coined it the day drive. The day drives would always take us to very out of the way places with something unique to see so caching was a shoe in for our style. Now with caching, we go to and see many more places we would otherwise have never seen.

Do you have any other hobbies?
ATMA: Mrs. ATMA is big into scrap booking and is currently working on a never ending book that is geo-event related and has turned it into a Travel Bug that goes to events so viewers may log the bug. Mr. ATMA is into photography and takes a lot of photos as well as electronics in general and we can’t leave out charging GPS batteries and filling the gas tank up. It seems at times that we should also include buying and peeling the backs off of Band-Aids as a hobby. We go through a lot of them and if you ever cache with us, you will witness this. :o)We also like to travel both domestically and international having spent a lot of time in Europe, U.K., Turkey, Canada, a few weeks in Japan with a pending trip planned to Hawaii and one in the future to Guam. Some of our favorite US cities are Atlanta and San Antonio.We have a Pop Up camper that is taken advantage of as often as possible. We prefer Texas State Park camping and love taking the mountain bikes out for a good ride and have been using them lately to help speed up the cache finding process.

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
ATMA: Mrs. ATMA says that almost every cache ends up an embarrassing moment because she is so excited and focused on her GPS that she forgets to pay attention to where she is walking and ends up falling. Since we have started geocaching, we’ve gone through 3 big boxes of band-aids. I got her the Focus T-shirt while at GW4 but it didn’t help.

How did you decide on your caching name?
ATMA: This was a nearly immediate problem since the time between deciding to try caching and our first find happened within a few hours. We decided on the name ATMA as an acronym based on our 4 grandkids names. It has worked for us, is fast to write and fits logs pretty well.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
ATMA: We were trying to 1500 our first year but the weather got too hot to cache, the mosquitoes were eating us alive and everything in the house decided to break at the same time. We haven’t really talked about setting goals for the second year yet. We are just enjoying the interesting places and wonderful people that geocaching is introducing us to.