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Featured Cacher For July 2011 - GeoGeex

GeoGeex of Katy, TX.
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What got you interested in caching?
GeoGeex: I overheard two friends talking outside my door at work about finding cash. One was telling the other how they had planned out this family hike to find this cash. When they had arrived at GZ, they found themselves surrounded by an army of frogs or some such. But it had not deterred them and they found the cash in spite of the guardians. At this point, I didn’t know if they were talking about some book they had read, or maybe a movie or if they had just totally gone bonkers. In the interest of possibly scoring myself some of this cash, I inquired as to what they were talking about. After explaining to me that it wasn’t money they were after but a container with a piece of paper to sign in it that the entire family had embarked upon finding, I was still a little befuddled. They went on to tell me how much fun it was and how the kids really had a great time. They pointed me to geocaching.com and told me to check it out. I went to the website and did a quick search for the area I lived in. WOW! The place was loaded with hidden treasures! I bought a cheap GPS and printed out some caches that were located in a nearby soccer park. I really talked up how we were going treasure hunting to my 4 year old son and he was really keen on the idea. My wife joined us as we searched for these caches. It took us quite a bit to find our first one as we had no idea what we were looking for. But find it we did! Katy Park Bison Hunt: Tree (GC1AWT6) was our very first find. My son was jumping up and down and all excited. We went on to find several more caches in the park that day. We, as a family had a really great day but it will live in infamy as the day my wife became a caching widow. She now says that if there was a hundred dollar bill sitting on a bank across an alligator infested bayou, I would turn away, but put a piece of paper into a tube and call it a cache, now I MUST find a way to get over there!
How did you decide on your caching name?
GeoGeex: Like many others I used a normal login name to create my geocaching.com account. Suffice it to say that it didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t have the “cool” factor with a geocaching name like “kwade13”. I was really beating myself up for that so I decided to do some investigating into how I could change my name. I ended up emailing the folks at Groundspeak and they responded to let me know that they would change it, but only once. So now I had to come up with a really cool name. The hobby that had kept me busy up until I discovered geocaching was fighting malware. I had gone through online training at GeeksToGo so that I could help people rid their computers of viruses and such. I was on staff there and at several other sites. My wife had repeatedly told me as I was going through malware training to own my “geekness”, so I decided to do so. I wanted to tie “geo” with “geek” so I started looking for different combinations that were available. I discovered there were quite a few geeks into geocaching already (perhaps we all are!) but I was finally able to find a name that was available. By spelling geek with an “x”, I was able to come up with a unique name but also make it sound plural so that it would include my entire family. Thus, GeoGeex was born.

When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)
GeoGeex: When I first started, I had no idea how much I would actually cache as my attention can get turned rather quickly so I didn’t want to spend too much. I settled on a Garmin eTrex Venture HC. Having never owned anything else, it worked really well for me. I did have some trouble in the deep woods sometimes with keeping a signal and it only worked as long as you were moving. I would get near GZ and then do this huge arm flourishing movement so that it would think I was walking and point in the right direction. I found over 900 caches with that thing before it went bad. It went out two days before I was to leave for the 10 year event down in Port Aransas. I had hoped to find #1000 down in Port Aransas but it wasn’t going to happen now. The cool thing was that it was still under warranty at REI so when I took it down they let me pay the difference for a Garmin 60 CSx. I was styling now! It took me awhile to get used to it but it sure makes a difference! I’m perfectly happy with it and don’t really have any desires to upgrade although the 62 CSx is pretty tempting! The biggest tool I use though is GSAK. In my opinion, it’s a must have for any serious cacher. I also always have my Android phone loaded with cgeo on hand. This setup allows me to do paperless caching.

What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?
GeoGeex: I have a lot of favorites for various different reasons. Since I’m a huge puzzle hound, just about any puzzle put out by BigBender or FamilieRyan is a sure winner. And of course, any FTFC cache I (or we, if it’s a co-ftf) find the trophy in flies right up to the top of my list, and so far that includes FTFC #74 – Does Not Compute (GC26NNT), FTFC #79 NtN018 Training Academy (GC2FGNP), FTFC #83 A Remorseful Cache (GC2M9WF, FTFC #86 – Prolonged Mediocrity (GC2NZ6B) and primero en encontrar el número de cache (FTFC #90 - GC2YK4E) . Most of the time, my favorite caches are not about the cache itself but in sharing an adventure with some of my friends. The Project (GC22PQ8) is one such of these adventures as we tromped around in sub-freezing temperatures in the dark for quite awhile to find something that wasn’t exactly expected. Thanks to FamilieRyan son for putting us out of our misery on that one! When it comes to just the cache itself, Geogeex1000:Anatadaephobia (GC28DJY) is quite an ingenious hide with several decoys to help you along the way! The one cache that really sticks out in my mind though, and it just so happens to be the only cache that I have found outside of Texas, is VIEW CARRE’ (GCE02C) in New Orleans. The size of the stash and the huge geocoins are a nice treat but they don’t compare to the personalized tour you get from one of the highest buildings in the city. Everyone should do that one.

Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?
GeoGeex: That’s what caching is all about! The adventure and sense of camaraderie with friends! I have had many, many adventures with friends and I’ve cherished them all but the biggest one I ever embarked on was a chase for the FTFC trophy with my better half Mrs. Geex. The specific cache is FTFC #86 – Prolonged Mediocrity (GC2NZ6B). Here in lies the story:

After a long weekend of traveling around, we were relaxing in bed a bit before hitting the sack. This cache popped up and of course, all priority shifted to it. I worked on it a bit and then asked Mrs. Geex what she thought it could be. She didn't hesitate to tell me what all that mumbo jumbo was related to. Sure enough, I made the final connections but I couldn't get the green light! I rechecked my calculations and had missed a minus sign in one of my numbers and voila! I got the green! I asked a few of my fellow ninjas if they would like to go with me and grab the trophy. Fortunately, none of them were available. Fortunately? Why yes, because Mrs. Geex said, "I'll go with you...if you stop and buy me a large sonic drink." After I picked my jaw up off the floor and did the happy dance, we geared up to go. I had briefly looked at a map and thought I had a good bearing on how to get to it. For attempt #1 we pulled up to a nice parking spot and got our gear ready. Oops, we only have one flashlight! Oh well, we'll have to make do. The first thing we encounter is a small bayou. I knew we would have to cross it and it looked really shallow there. Mrs. Geex took one step and then two...and found herself up to the top of her boots in mud...more like quicksand! I grab her under the arms and try to pull her out but she is stuck! I end up stepping too close for leverage and my right leg sinks to the knee. Great. Somehow I manage to pull her free leaving both her boots in the mud. I then waller around in the mud until I get my leg free and retrieve her boots. We are covered in mud in the first 5 minutes! This is when I first noticed that she had yoga pants on. “This is a terrain 4!” I said. “Those are gonna get torn up in the thickets!” She said I didn’t tell her it was a terrain 4, but that I said we were just going to go after a little cache. I suppose I didn’t mention that part. We walk further down the bayou and find a much better place to cross and continue our trek. About .8 miles from the cache, attempt #1 ends into a crossing bayou with way too much water to cross. I figured this was the end of the line for this run. Nature call #1 visits Mrs. Geex and just when the "full moon" appeared, the coyotes cut loose across the bayou. It was kind of eery! We laughed all the way back to the van. Upon enclosing ourselves in the van, we realized that the quicksand we had been in smelled of raw sewage. We then decided we would drive east a little further and try to find another way.

The first stop had "No Trespassing" signs up so that was a no go. We circled back and went west to see if a road circled back behind somewhere. We ended up at a construction site that looked promising. So we geared up and headed out for attempt #2. After about a quarter mile walk, we ended back up at the same bayou that stalled us on attempt #1! This was beginning to suck and I had come to the conclusion that it wasn't going to happen tonight. On the way back to the van I was walking ahead of Mrs. Geex and she had the flashlight but the moon was pretty bright. My leg catches on something and down I'm going! I land flat on my back with my arms out to the side. I heard a huge CRACK! I was just hoping that wasn't my leg! Mrs. Geex, through her laughter, shined the light down to discover a two foot high fence and illuminated my treasured Belizian walking stick in two pieces! Oh man! This night was turning into a nightmare! We make our way back to the van as my wife sang the 80’s song, “I’ll Tumble For You”. I told Mrs. Geex this run was done. She said, "I did not drive all the way out here, get mud up to my back, tromped around in weeds taller than I am and shine my backside to the animal kingdom to not get that trophy!" I was amazed at her tenacity! Nature call #2 for Mrs. Geex, no coyote catcalling was heard. So we decided to head back east again and check out some other options.

We cross a railroad track and I looked over at the GPSr and it looked like it was pointing straight down the tracks, but we continued on. We saw lots of pipelines but no good entry so we turned around and headed back. We pulled over at the tracks and decided to make a go of it. The tracks basically run right through a swamp. There was water on both sides so we were hoping that a train would not show up. The cache was about a mile away and the rocks were large and hard to navigate with rubber boots on. My wife was certain that my graceful behind would fall and crack my head on the rail (I had already bitten the dust caching twice this weekend). I had forgotten my gun in the van so I headed back to get it when a law enforcement officer slowed and shined a light into my van. He didn’t see us in there so he went about his business. I got what I was after and met back up with Mrs. Geex down the tracks. Nature call #3 for Mrs. Geex, again no coyotes but a short while later we found a deceased coyote in the middle of the tracks. Mrs. Geex wanted a picture but I said we could get it on the way back. We walked for an eternity across the cross ties and rocks checking frequently behind us for train lights as my wife thought it was possible for a train to sneak up on us.

Finally the GPSr pointed directly into the woods. We would have to bushwhack .28 miles! Groan! We had come too far so in we went. It was very slow moving because we only had the one flashlight and so I had to go forward and then turn around with the light so that Mrs. Geex could follow. By the time we reached the cache, we were beat, sweating profusely and smelled of funk. Then I see the reason the terrain is rated 4! I lay my stuff down to begin the attempt at the cache. I forgot a pen! I cannot believe I forgot a pen! I'm hoping there is one in the cache. I reach the cache and open the lid to find that beautiful trophy! My wife shines the light up and takes a picture but it didn’t' turn out. I get the log out, but unfortunately there is no pen [:(]. I take some camo tape and tear a couple of tiny strips to form an "X" as my name. So all the log has is that simple camo "X", but I was not about to go to the car and come back with a pen! I dropped a cheap toy in the lightweight container to try and weight it down but I'm not sure it will serve as the trophy did. With the trophy in hand, some of the adrenaline was gone and the weariness set in. The bushwhack back to the tracks seemed easier than going in as I worked with the forest instead of brute forcing my way through. After finding the tracks, nature call #4 for Mrs. Geex, those sonic drinks sure do hydrate you.

We walked down the tracks with the bright moon shining our way, happy that we had persevered. But our adventure was not over! About a third of a mile away from the car, we turned around and spotted the light of a train coming down the tracks! With water on both sides, we couldn't get more than 10 feet away in either direction. We stayed on the tracks but picked up our pace. Mrs. Geex was afraid of getting sucked up in the train when it went by so she told me when it reached us she was going to sit down! No amount of logic was going to change her mind, so I kept her moving as fast as we could with the loose rocks. We eventually abandoned the tracks and kept going down one side but the rocks were even looser. Apparently we had spotted the train when it was a long, long way off because it was slow catching us. Trying to stay upright on the loose rocks at a fast pace was taking its toll. The bottom of our feet was beginning to feel bruised. When we were about a tenth a mile away from the road, we could hear it barreling down, no whistle, just the vibration of the tracks and the hum of the engine. At this point, we were almost sprinting trying to get out before it reached us. About the time our feet hit the pavement, the train went roaring by! I couldn't believe we had actually made it out before it got to us! We stripped off muddy boots and waited out the train.

We stopped a couple of places to get a drink but nothing was open at 3:00 in the morning. Despite all the little mishaps tonight, we had a really good time and laughed all the way home. I'm sure moving that trophy back to the west side helps the happy factor! We left home at 10:30 pm and got back at 3:30 am. 5 hours of fun! You can’t get much more entertainment for the price of a coke.

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
GeoGeex: My most embarrassing moment came early on after I had just begun caching. I was out with my young son on this particular day. We parked by a nice building and enjoyed the view of the small lake on the way to the cache which was located near a bridge with huge bushes. We went into the bushes and found the cache with no problem. There was only one way in and one way out. While placing the cache back I heard someone come up outside the bushes and they were fishing. Oh man! Now what to do? I sat for a few moments hoping they would go away but I was having trouble keeping my son quiet. After a bit, I decided there was nothing else I could do so out we went. I was holding his hand and dragging him along while I got some surprised looks. I almost wanted to shout about the cache we had just found and show everybody but instead I just skulked my way back to the car.

What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?
GeoGeex: My favorite type of cache is one that hasn’t been found! Yes, I admit it. I’m an FTF hound. That’s probably because I like the social aspects of geocaching. In Katy, chasing an FTF is considered as common as breathing! All kidding aside, it’s not really about who gets there first as much as it’s about everybody getting there. I just enjoy meeting up with my friends and chatting for awhile in a calm, relaxing atmosphere. If I were to pick a favorite cache type though, it would probably be the puzzle. As a kid, I would always beg my mother to buy me those Logic Problem magazines at the grocery store. I would sit for hours solving those things. Having said that, I like all types of caches and it just depends on the mood I’m in for what flavor I’ll have on a particular day.

Summer or Winter caching? Why?
GeoGeex: Winter cacher all the way! Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like snakes. So anytime there isn’t snakes about, that’s when I want to be out. I remember in December of 2009, it snowed and several caches were popping that night. I went out after them and grabbed quite a few with no fear of stepping on anything. It was fantastic! Now this doesn’t mean I don’t cache year around because unfortunately I have one of those addictive personalities and geocaching has got me snared. I merely invested in a nice pair of Gore-tex, snake proof boots so that I could feed my addiction even when those slithery pests are waiting on me!

When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?
GeoGeex: Did I mention that I’m an FTF hound? Yes I am! That’s what I live for! That’s why I get up every morning and check my email before even brushing my teeth to see if I need to hurry and get out the door so that I can grab that really late night publish that no one has gotten yet. I’m currently running a 9.3% FTF rate against my total finds. I have slowed down a bit lately as life has been rather hectic but chasing FTFs is definitely a big part of the game for me. Maybe it goes back to the social aspect of the game and how active the FTF community is here in Katy. And while it’s not the primary goal of the Night Time Ninjas, it does play a big part because caching at night goes hand in hand with chasing those newly published caches.

Tell us about your cache mobile.
GeoGeex: Ah, yes. I drive the coolest of man-made transportation devices. I hate to reveal it because it’s such a great vehicle for stealth. No one ever expects it. Are you ready for it? It’s a 2005 Honda Minivan! Ha! It has a nice little spot in the back behind all the seats to hold all my geocaching equipment and several ammo cans to boot! Ok, who am I kidding? Truth is, I used to have a really cool Nissan Titan pickup truck with a sprayed in bed liner, folding seats, DVD movie player, the works! When gas went up to almost $5 a gallon a few years ago, I just could not justify commuting with that gas hog so I traded it in for Nissan Versa. After my step-daughter turned 16, she got that car, momma got a new one and I got the mom-mobile! Geesh! The things you do for the ones you love. But it does have that nifty spot for hauling all my stuff and I don’t get any traffic tickets in it either!

What other hobbies do you have?
GeoGeex: There are other hobbies besides geocaching? I used to be an avid gamer but I have vowed to never go back there. It just isn’t healthy physically, mentally or spiritually. I like to spend my spare time with my family. We do just about everything together, except geocaching because for some reason they think I’m way too serious about it, go figure. We love to spend time at the beach or seeing new places which we don’t get to do often enough. I like to go deep sea fishing. I also enjoy cooking so around the holidays I do lots of cookies and cupcakes. I just got a brand new electrical smoker and have added this cool device that adds the smoke for like 8 hours so I can set it off overnight and wake up to some tasty food.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
GeoGeex: I have a few goals I’m hoping to reach soon. One is to get to 2000 caches although I’m not really pushing that at the moment. I’m sure once I get past 1900 and it seems real, then I’ll push onward. The only real goal I’m working toward right now is filling in my day matrix, which actually slows down my caching because I’m always “saving that one” for when I need one quick. I’m hoping to complete it next year on February 29th! I would like to bolster my FTF numbers and of course chase as many FTFC caches as I can. I’m very close to having placed 50 caches and I would also like to place a big series.

Is it all about the numbers?
GeoGeex: In the beginning it was. So much hoopla is made about reaching 1000 caches that in the back of your mind it’s almost inherent that you achieve that in order to gain “street cred”. I’m sure it’s not the same for everybody, but it was almost like a second job to get there. Once there, I slowed way down. Now I only do the things I want to do. If I want to grab a few caches then I go. If I want to sit on my duff, drink a beer and watch Food Network, then that’s what I do. I find that there is a definite correlation between how close you are to a milestone and how important it becomes. Having said all that, I still like to claim as many FTFs as I can. The most fun I have now is telling the story of finding the cache in my log.

Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
GeoGeex: First off, thanks for the honor of being nominated and thanks to the great people who help to make the HGCS site a great place. I’m very honored to be a part of such a tremendous community of people. Everyone I have met has been friendly and helpful and I have had some wondrous times with many of you. I have made many, many friends but I just want to say thank you to my mentors, especially FamilieRyan and Criffree who took me under their wings and helped me along the way. A special thanks to the Trinity of the Night Time Ninjas, EasyGroomer, Bografan and Criffree for honoring me with my own NTN number, NtN0013. A big shout out goes to the WSFTFC, you know who you are. And last but not least, a huge thank you to my darling wife Penny, who tolerates my crazy addiction to this game (don’t think I don’t know you kick me out the door just to get some quiet time to read)!