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Featured Cacher For February 2011 - Lattitude_Attitude

Latitude_Attitude of Baytown, TX.
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What got you interested in caching?
Latitude_Attitude: Twitter….. Well actually I was following someone in twitter that I met at a local conference. We both are involved in educational technology and one of his tweets was about him finding a geocache with his iPhone. I didn’t have an iPhone at the time but it really looked cool. (I didn’t know about GPSr’s and geocaching at the time.) In December last year I finally purchased an iPhone and the geocaching app was one of the first things I downloaded. I did my first search and I was amazed! There were caches all over the place! I had mistakenly thought that there was just a handful in the Houston area and that they were all out in the woods or fields. I scouted out one geocache and took my sons out the next day and we ended up finding three that first day! (no DNF’s) The first cache we found was a Houston Control cache. Shortly after that Houston Control emailed me and offered to help me with any questions that I might have. I have taken him up on that offer several times.
After finding that first cache, I’ve been hooked ever since. This summer I decided to track down the geocacher who was the person that posted the tweet about geocaching. So what did I use to track him down? Well, Twitter of course, but it was harder than you think. He didn’t ever mention his geocaching name in his tweets. I finally saw in an old tweet that he had found a geocache in a cemetery in a small town in Texas. I then tracked down that cache on the geocaching map, put two and two together and discovered that the cacher was “TheGreatFinders”. I later found one of his caches and revealed to him that he was the one that got me into geocaching.
I also have looked back over the past year and wondered why I am into geocaching so much and I why have I not lost interest. I have to say that even before geocaching I have always loved exploring. I remember when my wife was working on the weekends, that I would just take off with the kids go on a long drive. Sometimes I would decide to drive on the roads as close to the coast as I could. It was a bit of an adventure. You’ll read about my daughter later, but because she is handicapped we had to stay in the car for the most part, but I loved seeing cool new places. Now that I am geocaching that itch to explore is something that generally happens at every cache. I look for some redeeming factor about the cache and usually I get it in spades. The explorer in me tells me that the fact that the spot where I am finding this cache is a unique spot where I have never been is a redeeming quality in itself.

How did you decide on your caching name?
Latitude_Attitude: I’ve posted this on the forum but for those that haven’t seen it here goes: Since I started caching with the kids, I gave them an opportunity to come up with the name. The first try was geopeeps but that name was taken and I hate names with numbers so I suggested Latitude Attitude. I was thinking about the Jimmy Buffett song ""Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes"" The kids liked it and it kind of fit with geocaching so we used it. I didn't realize that I'd be signing a lot of logs with that name so the name is a little long....but at least I now know how many t's are in latitude and attitude.

When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)
Latitude_Attitude: Well I started with my iPhone and still use it often. Sometimes I use the iPhone as my primary unit if I’m doing an urban cache and always as a paperless caching tool. I was pretty good with it, but when I took the kids camping I broke down and got a Garmin 60CSx. Someone (HC) told me that the iPhone was not very good in the deep woods. Now I would not be caught in the woods without my Garmin….honestly I usually have both devices whenever I am out. I also am using GSAK to load up my GPSr with caches. I am learning that GSAK has many other useful applications as well.

What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?
Latitude_Attitude: Wow where do I start. I’m not very critical so I have fun with just about any cache but if you twisted my arm, I would have to say that some of my favorites are:

GC16Z2C – Things that go Bump in the night
This is a must do if you are in the area. I felt like a kid finding those fire tacks. Awesome cache!

Any cache in the Baytown Nature Center – The place is awesome and Houston Control has some excellent caches out there.
Also my favorite series is (GC2HQV6 1st in the series) BB's ""The Curse of the Goatman"" Series – This series is awesome because the cache containers are all unique and because it was dedicated to my daughter “Rachel” who has Cri-Du-Chat syndrome and is chronically ill. She can’t walk, and is mentally challenged as well but she loves going for a car ride. I like to take her caching when I can, but have to look for caches that are very close to where I park the car. (can anyone say LPC) Well this series was perfect for us. Unique cache containers, interesting hides. and all hides were close to where I parked the car! I took Rachel and my youngest daughter to finish up the series several months ago and ran into Bert doing maintenance. He got to meet my girls, and I got to thank him for putting out the series.

Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?
Latitude_Attitude: This was a hard one I have had so many fantastic adventures and I try to make every caching trip an adventure but I have to say that in the past year I’ve had several geocaching adventures which involved bees. (I have adopted a bee as my icon for HGCS) The first caching adventure was with a now archived soda tube trial.
The second time was with a bumble bee attack and was actually much worse and made me physically sick.
So these were special in the sense that I will never forget those caches, and I think I’ve built up an immunity of sorts to bee stings. I was stung by a honey bee again at a cache and it really was pretty minor…especially compared to the bumble bees! I guess the most fun and non-bee related adventure was the recent trip with 8 other geocachers to grab the “One Huge Smile” series in George bush park. The place was really cool and caching with a bunch of folks was really fun.

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
Latitude_Attitude: Well I’ve had a few more than you would think but probably the most embarrassing where other folks were around to see was when I was on a very productive FTF run late one night. I had hit Baytown Bert’s Goatman series and had 8 FTF’s and met Nebulus703 for the ninth. I then decided to take Nebulus703 to grab the other caches that I had already found. I drove him to the cache and then he would jump out and make the find. We were sort of driving slow and about to turn in to grab another cache when I noticed a police car drive by. We stopped and Nebulus703 jumped out to find the cache. Just then the police car comes back and turns in about 100 or so feet behind me. Nebulus703 jumps back and I’m thinking the officer is going to pull up to us and find out what we are up to. But he doesn’t he just sits there? So I decide to leave and figured that the officer can pull me over if he wants but no harm so far. Unfortunately my wheels started spinning. Yep I was stuck. I tried the back and forth method and was inches from getting on the pavement but it was not to be. Finally I gave up and got out of the car. The officer was still just sitting in his car? Then as Nebulus and I were talking about what we should do next, another officer pulls up to where the other police car was. Then they headed our way, stopped and the questioning began. It turns out that the first officer was stuck in the mud too! From what I heard he was taking some ribbing from his fellow officers. I explained a little about what we were doing and about geocaching to the officers. One of them said that he had heard about it and that he in fact had caught some teenagers behind the Lowes that were geocaching. When the officer mentioned the cache behind the Lowes, I started to tell him that that very geocache was hidden by yours truly but I bit my tongue and held it in. I didn’t know how he would take it so I decided to let that little factoid slide. After talking about geocaching for a while and showing the officers the cache Nebulus decided to head home so he walked back to his car. I chatted with the officers for a good ten to fifteen minutes and got to hear several interesting stories about life in the Baytown PD. I told them about the series and how it was dedicated to my daughter. They were interested when I told them that the series went from Evergreen road to tri-city beach road. They said that in the future they would be aware of all the caches and wouldn’t worry as much about illegal activity. Finally a wrecker came and pulled the officer’s car out and then pulled mine out. So the result of the nights excitement: Being pulled out of the mud, $40.00! 9 FTF’s and Having a crazy geocaching story, priceless. What I didn’t say is that I was actually driving my wife’s new car!!!! So after settling up with the wrecker driver I headed to a car wash to clean the car. I finally get to bed somewhere around 3am.

What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?
Latitude_Attitude: All of them….One of the things that I like about geocaching is that there are so many aspects and creativity with all the different types of caches! I’ve got to say that ""Traditional"" are what I look for the most because of time constraints.

What is your favorite local cache?
Latitude_Attitude: I mentioned my favorite caches in the previous question but I must say that after finishing most of the Soda Tube trials, that they were really fun…err…well as in any challenge, I did feel good about finishing each cache and few, I really felt like I had really accomplished something. (Curse you Aaronbarbee!)
I also would like to give a shout out to a geocacher (MaverickMonk) that I have communicated with when he first started geocaching. He has hidden three quality caches in the Baytown area, but his Poseidon series is really excellent, especially Poseidon's Adventures #2 GC2MJE7 which was recently published.

How about your favorite out of state cache?
Latitude_Attitude: Because of my daughter I don’t get to travel too much and haven’t traveled out of state in years. Five years ago I went to a conference in Seattle. Man I wish I was geocaching at the time. I heard there were these three caches that were really special in that area. :o) One day perhaps.

Summer or Winter caching? Why?
Latitude_Attitude: Because of my circumstances I go whenever I can weather permitting. But around here my favorite is winter. It is so much better than the summer! I actually prefer the cold weather and cold temps as long as I have the right kind of clothing. Summer brings out the mossies, chiggers, snakes, PI, and the heat. Not fun stuff.

When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?
Latitude_Attitude: Absolutely! I didn’t start out that way but after reading logs of caches in other areas from FTF hounds, I kind of caught the bug. After meeting Nebulus703 on several late night FTF runs I try to team up with him if we were both planning to go for the FTF. I enjoy sharing the FTF moment and I think we push each other a bit to go for it. If anyone in the Baytown wants to join the FT party PM me. But of course expect to get a late night calls…..

Tell us about your cache mobile.
Latitude_Attitude: Well my cache mobile is my geovan and it is truly a beater. It is old, ugly, beat up 2003 Plymouth Grand Voyager. But the AC works, and it still runs. It also has lots of storage. I usually keep all my caching paraphernalia in the Van. (Boots, change of clothes, Machete, Winter gear, water, breakfast bars, geocaching bag, materials for repairing caches, and a few geocache containers.

What other hobbies do you have?
Latitude_Attitude: I don’t have much time for hobbies (besides geocaching) but love camping and at least get out once a year with the kids. I also am planning on getting a canoe soon. I did some whitewater canoeing when I was younger and would love to get the kids involved. Plus I can combine canoeing, geocaching! (CLAPS Series) I also like reading science fiction. I have also listened to a lot of the Escape Pod podcasts which is a podcast of short science fiction stories. I don’t get to read as much as I used too so I tune into an episode or two to get my SF fix.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
Latitude_Attitude: I would like to hide more caches this year. I have all these ideas in my head and I need to make them a reality. My problem is that I want to really create quality caches that are unique, which takes more time that shoving something under an LPC. I also want to hit the CLAPS series with the kids…..when I get that canoe.

Is it all about the numbers?
Latitude_Attitude: Not really, don’t get me wrong I love checking out the cool stats that you can get with the GSAK Macros. But for me it is about the experience. Because I am on the obsessive side about geocaching (ask my family), sometimes I have to remind myself that this is not a race slow down and enjoy the experience. Also, not that I always do this….but especially for some of the local caches, I try to take in the whole experience if I can. If the cache is at a museum, or interesting place, I try to visit the place where I pick up the cache and usually bring the kids along for the experience as well. There was a local cache that highlighted a famous Barbershop and I waited to grab it until I needed a haircut. I think that experience made the cache ten times better. I really have had so many neat and interesting experiences because of geocaching that when I look back over the past year those are what I remember not the numbers. Also due to my daughter’s health issues and other things going on, I know that I can’t always get out there and look for caches and certainly not spend hours and hours doing it for the most part, so I just try to do what I can. Usually I will grab a cache or two when I have time. Late night FTF’s are nice because everyone is asleep and there is a nurse to watch my daughter so I’ve been doing the FTF runs lately.

I also think geocaching it is about the people. I was amazed at all the friendly and open folks out there that are involved with geocaching. The experienced cachers seem always willing to help us newbies along and have been very accepting. I really don’t think I would enjoy geocaching as much if it were not for the people that I have met, communicated with. I really wish that I could attend more events or go on more caching trips but I’ll just have to enjoy what I am able to do.

Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
Latitude_Attitude: I guess one thing that I would like to say for someone who is new to this is don’t underestimate yourself. A year ago I would have never thought I could have found all the caches that I have today. I remember looking and many caches and saying to myself, that one is just too hard….you’ll never be able to get it. After finding some of those caches and gaining more confidence I know now not to pass by any cache without giving it a shot. But now I remember to carry bee repellant!

I created a short photo album of my kids because they are very much a part of geocaching and I take them whenever they want to go (not as much as I want them to go!) http://picasaweb.goo...ier/Geocaching#