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Featured Cacher For January 2009 - Gabbytabby

Gabbytabby of Copperfield - Houston, TX.
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What got you interested in caching?
Gabbytabby: We visited Big Bend National Park in July 2007 where we attended the wedding of some great friends of ours. During the trip, I fell in love with Big Bend and started compiling a list of all the sights I hope to see and hikes within the park I want to someday do. At the top of my list was to summit Casa Grande. Armed with only the knowledge that the National Park System does not maintain a trail to the top of the mountain and yet, a path to the summit does exist, I started a broad Internet search for possible routes. Eventually, I started stumbling on all these sites mentioning coordinates, GPS tracks, and a “cache” named The Big House (GCGQXN) at the top. I had no idea what they meant by cache, so I delved a little deeper and suddenly realized I had found something huge. The more I learned about geocaching, the more I was in love with the idea. Here was a hobby that not only combined my love of the outdoors, interest in technology, and my infatuation with puzzles, but it also provided an activity that was adaptive enough to enjoy whether I was out on the trails alone or caching all together with my family. After much research on the subject, I purchased my GPSr in September 2007 and I’ve been having a blast since.

How did you decide on your caching name?
Gabbytabby: Gabbytabby is an online name I’ve used for many years. It originated in honor of my first born baby, my orange tabby cat named Moses. I adopted Moses in early 2002 and quickly learned that he was quite the talker. Eventually, the name gabbytabby emerged and it stuck.
When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)
Gabbytabby: I use a Garmin GPSMap 60CSx and love the little bugger. For my birthday in July my family gave me City Navigator NT. With the addition of the MapSource software and having turn-by-turn directions, urban caching in Houston was taken to a whole new level. I also use GSAK and have been having a lot of fun playing around with many of the available macros.

What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?
Gabbytabby: I love any cache where I can walk away with a story to tell. Some of my favorites have been “A Special Memory” (GCQ596) where we had to ask the person at the window of a drive-up wedding chapel in Las Vegas for the ammo can, “Island Fun” (GC188H7) that had me wading through a neighborhood lake in the middle of the night when I was seven months pregnant, and “Good Ole School Days” (GC1364Z) outside of the one room school house where my husband’s grandfather attended school as a child. After finding the cache, Pa actually pulled a key to the school house out of his pocket and gave us our own personal tour inside. He was able to show us which desk had been his as well as a few of his class portraits that were on display.
I’m also a sucker for a good puzzle cache and had a great time solving and finding all of the CODENAME caches.
I really enjoy caches placed in cemeteries. There’s just something I find very peaceful about caching in these quiet, tranquil places. Some of my favorite cemetery caches have been Rosehill Cemetery (GCVYYH), Old Masonic (GC1F66T), Nighty Night (GCKX6J), and R.I.P. Hoffmeister (GC17811).
I also really appreciate a clever hide like The Greenbelt Buckle (GC182Y0) and, of course, I love any cache that I can have fun finding with my husband and kids. The Grand Lakes Bayou series is a great example of this. It’s in a beautiful setting and the path has a lot of viewing platforms stationed along the way so we got to stop and watch the alligators and feed the turtles during our walk. We all had so much fun that day and the kids got to see creatures they had never seen so close before.

Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?
Gabbytabby: One of the biggest caching adventures I’ve had occurred before I had even found a single cache. For my very first day out I had decided to drag the family to George Bush Park so we could all figure out what this caching thing is all about. I had drawn up a list of caches I was hoping to get and was excited to start hunting. At the first cache, we took awhile to find a way into the woods because the tree line was covered with banana spiders (which I had never before encountered). After finally finding a small spot to sneak in, I fought off the clouds of mosquitoes and made my way to GZ only to find the ground peppered with snake holes. While I searched, I stomped around and made as much noise as I could while telling myself that the snakes were more scared of me than I was of them. The confidence that thought gave me was fleeting and diminished the second I spotted a couple beady eyes and a slithering tongue poking out of one of the holes at me. It was right about then that I discovered I was more afraid of snakes than spiders. I took off running out of the woods and right through those giant spiders webs. I was rather shaken up, but my husband calmed me down and talked me into going after Muddy Buddies Birthday Cache Replacement (GCMF8X). Having not even reached newbie status yet, we totally overcomplicated this one. This was back when I was still depending on the compass on my GPSr which was pointing me about 200 ft away from the actual cache location. After crossing a barbed wire fence (yeah, that should have been my first clue) and heading down a small stream for awhile I happened upon a field of the largest snail shells I had ever seen. Distraught and a little creeped out, I retreated back to my family where I noticed that the compass arrow was then pointing me somewhere else. As we headed off in that direction, I happened to spot a glimpse of a rattle snake in the grass only a couple feet from my husband and our then 15 month old daughter. After having dealt with gigantic spiders, spying snakes, massive snails, an indecisive GPSr, poison ivy, mosquitoes, I was reaching my breaking point. The rattle snake was the final straw for me. Once I knew we were all in the clear, I grabbed my husband and daughter and marched them back to the car, swearing off the whole caching thing before we even had even made our first find. Here I was with a brand new GPSr and I no longer wanted anything to do with it. Thankfully, my husband can be quite persuasive and he convinced me to go for one more cache. After a short search, I actually found this one and an addiction was born.

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
Gabbytabby: Unfortunately, I have quite a few to choose from. I can talk about how painfully long it took me to figure out the LPC trick or about getting stuck trying to get through the gate to get to “Ronald’s Backyard” (GCWENN) when I was considerably pregnant at the time and just didn’t quite fit through, but I think the worst one would have to have been getting “Silver Lollipop All Grown Up” (GC1ATCP). We stopped in Kansas to get this one while driving back to Houston from visiting family in Iowa. We had been driving for quite some time and still had a ways to go before stopping for the night at a hotel in Oklahoma. It was already about midnight, but I just wanted to stop and grab a quick out-of-state cache while we had the chance. Located at a rest stop along the tollway, it was listed as both easy terrain and not difficult, and it had been found recently so this one seemed like a perfect candidate. I jumped out of the car and after searching for a few minutes, I couldn’t find it. I ran back to the car and tagged my husband into the search, too. I was a little scatterbrained from driving for so long and had neglected to tell him that there were feral cats living in the bushes where I had been searching. A few minutes later my husband came up with the find, but in his haste to show me the container, he frightened one of the feral cats hiding only a few feet away. The cat quickly ran off, but not before spraying us. I’m glad we got the smiley, but the smell was horrendous by the time we got to our hotel a whole state later. To this day, I still wonder what the hotel desk clerk thought as we were checking in!

What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?
Gabbytabby: I’m always game for a good, challenging puzzle cache, but I really do enjoy any cache that gives me a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t matter if I solved a difficult puzzle, found a well camouflaged micro, or hiked a few miles for an ammo can in the woods; If I can walk away thinking “Wow, I did that”, then that’s a good cache for me.

Summer or Winter caching? Why?
Gabbytabby: Definitely winter. I’m usually pushing a double stroller or pulling a wagon full of kiddos when out caching and the oppressive summer temps can make that unbearable. I can deal with cooler temps much easier than the Texas swelter. Also, to be completely honest, to say that I really, really, really don’t like encountering snakes would be an understatement.

When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?
Gabbytabby: Absolutely! Not only is it thrilling to try to be FTF, but you never know who you’ll run into. We have so many really neat cachers in our area and I’ve met a lot of them while trying to get FTF.

Tell us about your cache mobile.
Gabbytabby: I drive a Hyundai Santa Fe. While I would also love to someday have a Jeep to play with, for now I’m testing to see exactly how much I can get away with while geocaching and still maintain my car’s warranty.
For this past Christmas one of my cousins gave me a magnetic travel bug for my car so the Hyundai is now a life sized TB. If you see us out on the trails or at an event, be sure to jot down the tracking number so you can log us as discovered.

What other hobbies do you have?
Gabbytabby: I have a two year old daughter and a nine month old son who both keep me considerably busy so I don’t get as much time as I would like to devote to my hobbies. However, when I get the chance, I love to sew and crochet and I’ve been picking up photography and digital scrapbooking lately. Also, I have a passion for animals. I volunteer at a local animal shelter, Citizens for Animal Protection, where I foster orphaned cats and dogs who are either too young or are currently ill and can’t be made available for adoption just yet.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
Gabbytabby: I still have my sights set on “The Big House” (GCGQXN) at the top of Casa Grande. That’s my ultimate goal. I also hope to find my 1000th cache within the next few months. As a long term goal, I would love to some day have cached in every state in the US and every county in Texas and my home state of Iowa.

Is it all about the numbers?
Gabbytabby: No, not for me. I’ll admit that it’s always great to see those milestones approaching, but for me caching is more about the adventures I have while on the trails, seeing interesting and out of the way places, the time spent enjoying an activity with my family and friends, and the sense of accomplishment after solving a difficult puzzle cache or finding a clever hide.

Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
Gabbytabby: I would just like to thank everyone who has taken the time to place and maintain caches for us to find. We have such a great community here and I’m so proud to be part of it. I started this hobby not knowing anyone else who cached so I had many questions and no where to direct them. Through chance meetings on the trail and at events, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of you who were welcoming and gracious enough to help a newbie out. The advice and guidance I’ve received from all of you has been so greatly appreciated. Thank you!