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Featured Cacher For December 2009 - Donde Esta

Donde Esta of Richmond, TX.
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What got you interested in caching?
Donde Esta: On Saturday, April 4, 2009 I asked a good friend of mine to go to an Astros game with me. As we sat watching the Astros play the Indians, he began telling me about this weird new hobby he had gotten involved with called geocaching. I had never heard of it. Anyone who knows lgne, understands how animated and excited he gets about all his interests, especially geocaching. His enthusiasm was contagious and I had an account set up before the end of the day.
I didn’t actually go out to try to find my first geocache until the following Thursday, April 9th. My first cache attempted was GCZH3A, The Chancellor of Hampsters, located in the parking lot of Sharpstown Center. The description included the sentence “The cache is your usual parking lot P&G.” I had no idea what any of that meant and I must have spent a good 20 minutes looking all around that area of the parking lot. I almost quit and I might never have looked for a cache again if I had. Finally, shall we say…the light dawned on me…and I made the grab. I was hooked immediately. I logged a total of five caches that first day including 3 which were owned by my buddy lgne.
How did you decide on your caching name?
Donde Esta: The only Spanish I know are the two essential phrases; 1) Uno mas cerveza por favor, and 2) donde esta el bano. With that immense command of the language, I was able to quickly decide that Donde Esta, translated “where is it” would be a pertinent caching name. After all, that’s the question we are all constantly trying to answer in this activity.

When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)
Donde Esta: I really keep things very simple. My GPSr is a Garmin Oregon. I load my caches one by one into the GPSr from the geocaching google map. I don’t use any additional software to log or track my finds. I have also used my iphone from time to time to find a cache, but the vast majority have been found with the Garmin. I use a Mac, so my options are somewhat limited anyway. I also own one of those PC things and I have purchased some caching software for it, but I don’t use it. I actually like loading the caches one at a time rather than batch loading with the software packages. It gives me a chance to plan my route and understand before I leave home where I am going and how I will get there.

What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?
Donde Esta: Mine of course! Conceit aside, I’ll attempt to answer this question without looking back at any of my logs. Some caches which stand out in my mind are:
“The A Bridge” because it was the first really tough hide that I found. It took me several trips to GZ and when I finally found it, my buddy lgne was with me.
The “House” series in Bush Park because the quality of the containers was just excellent from start to finish and because my buddy lgne was with me when I found most of them.
“A Horse Less Cavalry in Texas” because it was a tough hide and I found it all by myself after several hours of looking.
There are literally dozens of other awesome caches here in the Houston area, but these are the one’s that immediately jump to mind.

Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?
Donde Esta: Last summer, I drove to Colorado and cached the entire way up. Day one took me as far as Temple, Texas. Day two I stopped in Abilene. Day three I got all the way to Lubbock. On day four, I made it to Sante Fe, New Mexico. Day five I drove to Denver. I was alone and cached from sun up to sun down. I was exhausted each day and took just enough time to load the next day’s caches (one at a time) into the GPSr before crashing. It was a marathon run that netted me several hundred finds in just a few days. I even got a FTF in New Mexico. The cache had been published a couple of days earlier and I guess I was the first cacher to happen down that lonely road.

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
Donde Esta: I haven’t really had any super embarrassing moments that come to mind…yet. For me, embarrassment comes not from encounters with mugglers or law enforcement, not from falling or getting wet or muddy. I’ve done all those things. Embarrassment comes from my own failure to find a cache which others seem to have no problem finding. There’s one like that in Richmond called Keldar’s Paint and Body. I was the first cacher on the scene the day it published. I got a FTF on another nearby cache and then walked over to this GZ. I spent almost an hour there with no joy. I have been back several times. I have hints. I know where it is…but I don’t see it. It’s been found three times since I last logged a whiff in August. Ok, so now the publication of this admission will be my most embarrassing Geo-moment.

What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?
Donde Esta: I like to find large traditionals under a lamp skirt and hide multi faceted complex nano puzzles. Actually, I like them all. Puzzles sometimes frustrate me to no end. I always try to do them on my own and it just tears me up if I have to resort to getting some help. All too often however, I need some assistance. I really enjoy hiding caches as much as finding them. I sometimes think of puzzle ideas while trying to solve the puzzles other cachers have published. When I first started, I tried to come up with unique or clever hides, but after I gained more experience I realized it’s pretty much all been done before. So these days I express my creativity through puzzles.

What is your favorite local cache?
Donde Esta: This is a really difficult question. I think I will say GrangerFam’s Dark Star. It’s a complex puzzle and a really fun hide.

How about your favorite out of state cache?
Donde Esta: When I was making my caching odyssey to Colorado, my buddy lgne told me about a cache in Kansas called Mingo which is supposedly the oldest active cache. I decided to return to Houston through Kansas and Oklahoma so I could visit Mingo. The cache itself wasn’t particularly noteworthy but it was kinda cool to log a cache that had been around for that long.

Summer or Winter caching? Why?
Donde Esta: If I had been asked this question back in August I would have said winter but now that the cold weather has actually arrived I will have to say summer. This is mainly because it’s so wet all the time this winter. I cleared out almost all the caches in GBP during the summer and had many long hot sweaty walks through spider and snake infested woods. I really came to enjoy the exertion. One of the many benefits of caching is the exercise. I’ve never enjoyed exercising just for the sake of exercising. When I cache, the exercise is incidental. Sometimes when I cached I walked for hours at a time in near 100 degree heat without giving it a second thought.

When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?
Donde Esta: No. I’ve logged a few FTFs and have felt the adrenalin pumping but it was usually by accident. I don’t cache at night very often and most caches seem to publish at night. I’ve probably been FTF on more puzzles than traditionals because there is sometimes a lag between publication and solution. Overall though I’m not tempted to go for FTF.

Tell us about your cache mobile.
Donde Esta: I have cached from several vehicles. My favorite cachemobile is the one someone else is driving. My favorite vehicle that I own is my Electra 8 ball bicycle. It has big fat tires and a nice wide seat. I bought it after I started caching and I’ve been all over the place in it. It works pretty well both on and off road.

What other hobbies do you have?
Donde Esta: Over the years, I’ve had many hobbies and interests. I’m an instrument rated pilot. I hold the highest non-instructor scuba rating offered by PADI. I’ve done some advanced technical diving using a rebreather. I was interested in underwater photography for a while. I’m a fairly accomplished golfer and have won my club championship in the past. I’m not so good at any of these things any more but still enjoy them from time to time. I have collected ancient coins. I have read extensively in history and theology. I have managed and hunted big game. I dabble in music and art but I’m not very talented at either.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
Donde Esta: After I hit the comma club I had pretty much done what I set out to do initially. I have slowed my pace considerably since then and now I just enjoy the journey. I do have one caching goal, but I don’t think I’ll publish it because it might become more difficult to accomplish if it’s widely known.

Is it all about the numbers?
Donde Esta: Yes and no. I was really pressing hard to get that first thousand. Now I just cruise along at a more sensible pace, but I still keep an eye on the numbers. I have been hovering around the top 50 cachers in the area for a while and I hope to stay there. With so many active cachers in the area it may become harder and harder to do that. On the other hand, I don’t really think about the numbers while I’m out caching. I don’t wring my hands if I fail to get a certain number in a given day. I’ve established a good lead over lgne so I can afford to relax. : )

Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
Donde Esta: Thank you to all the local caching community, especially those out here on the West side. It has been a lot of fun to meet many of you and to interact with others I have never bumped into. This is a really good group of people. I would try to list them, but then I would probably leave someone out by mistake. You know who you are. I enjoy this hobby a lot and it’s the relaxed fun-loving attitude of the people involved that keeps me interested. Caching wouldn’t be much fun if no one found your hides. I enjoy the hunt. I enjoy the comedy. I enjoy reading the logs. I enjoy solving the puzzles and I enjoy trying to come up with the perfect evil hide or puzzle that will have everyone scratching their head even for just a few hours. Thank you especially to lgne, not just for introducing me to caching, but for always being my friend.