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Featured Cacher For March 2010 - MuddyWaterGirl

MuddyWaterGirl of Humble, TX.
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What got you interested in caching?
MuddyWaterGirl: It had been quite a while since I'd seen anyone from high school and this time, when the Reunion invitation came, I decided it was time to go take a peek on the Classmates site first. That's where I saw the term GeoCaching for the very first time. It was listed as a hobby for someone I had gone to school with. All I needed to hear was about the outdoors, and the little adventures, and just the tiniest hint of mystery and stealth and I was ready to go! I wrote to BW and he helped me decide on a name and made some helpful suggestions on GPS hardware and what to stock in the geomobile. I went online and to my disbelief, found out that there was a cache at the end of my street (Blue Bayou – GCH1DJ since 2003) where the road dead ends into a flood control ditch! All those years we had been wondering why people kept parking there and jogging into the woods for 10 minutes then out again … now I knew! They were cachers! Guys, I do apologize for all those times we called the police on you! I just had to go find this cache! I had yet to purchase anything but with help from my new caching buds, one in Dallas and one in California – I grabbed one son and 3 grandkids and headed out to find our first cache – no GPS, no prior experience! Between my new geobuds BW and RF, I was sent a satellite image of where the cache was and some distances to work with. BW stayed on the phone with me for much of the hunt. As we parked at the end of the road - like all those other suspicious looking people before us - I started getting a little rush. The Mission Impossible theme started playing in my head and soon, with my slightly bewildered entourage trying to keep up with me, we were nearing what looked like GZ. We searched and searched – not knowing what we were looking for since we'd never done this before… And after 30 minutes and several phone calls to our landline assist, no luck! But, that's when I knew I HAD to get a GPS'r and Find That Cache!!
How did you decide on your caching name?
MuddyWaterGirl: The name was one of many that I made up for one reason or another. I had to call my new geobud again and run ‘em past him since I wasn't quite sure what a caching name was supposed to sound like. Glad I did ‘cus some would have been really stoo-pid if not downright embarrassing or at least very forgettable. Once I got the jist of what the name was about, it was pretty easy to fashion one. I've learned that cachers, for the most part, are pretty open people – kinda ‘what you see is what you get'. That's pretty much what I am – a girl from a small town in South Texas. I grew up fishing at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico with my Dad Joel, skinny-dippin' with **** (that's confidential) in the Guadalupe River on hot sunny days, splashing in the salty waves at Indianola ‘til I was the color of a dark roasted coffee bean. Get the picture? I'm MuddyWaterGirl.

When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)
MuddyWaterGirl: Well, I started out caching with just a stick and a lot of enthusiasm but as you read previously, that didn't yield much. So, with the first extra $ I put together, we bought the little blue Garmin etrex Legend. We were so excited; we could actually hunt for a cache using the coords! It didn't take long to start learning how to read it, how to navigate, how to judge distance and decide which side of the river we should park on. (Although we still get that one wrong – pretty often too, I might add). Then, as the kids became interested (especially since gramma was willing to take the grandkids out for the day) we gave that one to the kids and bought ourselves a Garmin etrex Summit HC with the bundled stuff, CD, etc. Nice… started downloading caches instead of doing all that single entry work. I got my brother interested in caching and ended up gifting a Legend to him and his family. I started getting a little gps envy listening to fellow cachers talking about their Colorados and was on the verge of making another investment til I ran into Swampthing at Pancho & Lefty's in Dallas who wowed me with his iPhone/Geocaching App! I needed a new phone anyway, so I just waited til I got my iPhone and that and the Summit together compliment each other just fine. I use the search feature anywhere I am and can enter the coords by hand into the Summit and together they give me some good directions. I love being able to enter my field notes and submit them directly to the .com. I love being able to use the Route Maker on the .com for trips, sometimes it's the caches that actually determine the trip route. I've been to some interesting places like that.

What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?
MuddyWaterGirl: Cherokee Little People GCM7VJ – see below, McNeill Bats GC1B25M – clouds of bats, Conductors Point GCE5A3 – resolved some things here, Bubbles the Bayou Monster GCNWHV – my grandkids were mesmerized, Half Moon Reef Lighthouse GC84D1 – took me home, First Into the Fire Memorial GCG54W – made me thankful for our firefighters and their selfless work, The Men in the Gray Flannel Suits GC755B – I was 16 again, Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying GC1T13C – very unusual location, Pancho & Lefty GCJ835 – met some really nice cachers here, Why Eggs-actly Are You Here GCVD92 – creative contents, Squirrel Elevator GC1XGE6 – my kinda rig, Cleveland Water Works GC232QX – cool retrieval, Big Black One, Too GC22N71 – loved the misdirection, Telerifico Micro GCV31D – cute …just a few that stand out in my mind. I'm rarin' to get some 5/5's under my belt!!!

Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?
MuddyWaterGirl: Hmmm, that's a hard one. Honestly, I have enjoyed so many of the caches I've done – and that really isn't as many as a lot of you out there! I can imagine some of the stories you must have to tell. That was my only regret at our Event in Humble – I was so looking forward to hearing all the ‘war stories' from some of the veteran cachers that came last year but didn't get to hardly hear a one before I realized that the night was over and it was time to ‘turn out the lights'. I guess I could say that the ones in the State Parks are favorites because I get to stay overnight and relax and ride my mountain bike, etc. One of the most exciting times was the quest for ‘Cherokee Little People' gcm7vj. The day was magical because of the way the sun came filtering through the trees and shone down on the huge span of ferns in the shaded marsh. I had read the story of the ‘little people' on the cache page and my mind had embellished it with all kinds of imaginings as I walked, quietly and alone on the dirt path to GZ. The majestically crowned pileated woodpecker and snakes large and small, seemingly disinterested armadillos and skittish frogs, egrets - alligators – the scent of deer that had just crossed the path ahead all added to the treasure of that memory. As I neared GZ, I slipped my backpack onto a nearby bench and looked at my notes and just as I turned to get a bearing on the cache – my batteries died!! Arrgghhh! (I'm ashamed to admit I didn't have spares) Well I wasn't gonna leave without that cache. I had already decided that ‘the little people' probably had something to do with my failed batteries … (being alone in the woods is plenty license to fantasize) and I was ready to beat them at their game. I surveyed a grid in the general location, about 1000sq ft. and stepped off into the knee high ferns thinking that if I happened to step on any of the little people, it was their own fault. Wading through the ferns I smelled the sweet dampness mixed with the occasional hot, dusty breeze that made its way through the canopy. The nearby grunts of wild hogs was disturbing but I couldn't let it distract me from keeping a sharp eye out for the cottonmouth that I smelled nearby (they smell something like a skunk). I did eventually find the tethered ammo can – in square ft. #999! Lots of really neat stuff/ well stocked and previous cachers had done a good job of keeping it in good shape. I TNLNSL and replaced it. Hah! I'd prevailed over the little people…. So I thought. I emerged from the ferns triumphant and …. covered in mites!! chiggers!!! something.. I don't know what!! But they itched like the dickens! I sprayed mosquito repellant on myself but found out later I should have also put it UNDER my clothes too! Yes, they did go there! I got to the RV, made it 15 miles down the road, the rear seal blew out, and I pulled over by a bait house, called a wrecker, while I was waiting - a tornado shows up (Yes! A real, honest to goodness tornado!) rocks the RV and rains in the windows, breaks several pecan trees down, peels the roof off the bait house!!! … I could hear the little people… they were laughing wildly and prancing through the ferns. Some were riding armadillos and herding the wild hogs. I will always remember that cache. Yeah I will.

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
MuddyWaterGirl: Let's see…. Security guards in Dallas who jumped out and intercepted our threesome as we headed for Hitch Cemetery cache. I stopped to quote chapter and verse from the Book of Complete Rules and Precepts (C.R.A.P) by BW on GeoCaching while the others searched; police officers who stopped to offer aid and assistance to a lady they thought was in trouble – boy is that embarrassing; Airport security who write nice emails explaining why I should immediately remove a cache hide because it's causing security issues; homeowners who surprise you from the top of their fence and try to get a good description for when the police show up; falling in the mud – and you jump up looking like a chocolate bunny and say ‘I'm OK!' ; stepping into really deep holes and hopping up on one leg with a twisted ankle and say – ‘I'm OK!'; falling out of bushes and pulling sticks and leaves out of your hair saying ‘I'm OK!' ; getting caught coming out of the bushes and two tourists give you a strange look and say – ‘Would you mind taking our picture?' How fun …

What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?
MuddyWaterGirl: Honestly, I'd have to say, straight forward, instant gratification, traditional caches. I really like the larger ones, the ammo cans and there's even one nearby in a 5 gallon bucket! That's nice, even if you don't take anything. The TB hotels are fun. I hope to have mine reinstalled soon. We had to ‘remove' it for airport security even though it was not on the airport property. (that was an interesting 24 hours) I love ones that you have to hike to; those in interesting places or that take you out into the middle of nowhere. You know – ‘where no one has gone before!' – at least not for a coffee can filled with a damp log and some McDonald's kids meal toys.

What is your favorite local cache?
MuddyWaterGirl: Wow, that's hard to say. So many caches have their own personalities and little things that make ‘em memorable. I think that the most recent would have to be ‘Big Black One, Too'- GC22N71 because of the way it fooled us. We circled and walked and regrouped and took readings. We recalibrated the gps'r with new batteries in it. The ‘Ahaa' moment was one of those where you shake your head in amazement that it took you so long to ‘get it' and it was right there all the time! Those are the ones that you talk about the rest of the day. The ones that you compare the next one to and start thinking how you can hide one similar.Yep, liked that one...

How about your favorite out of state cache?
MuddyWaterGirl: I haven't done that many out of state. (Hoping to change that in July. WooHoo) Uhhh – maybe one in Arkansas. Nix Creek Series – Old Memories GCRVB4. I had decided to add another State to my list of places I'd cached, and Arkansas was the next nearest - just a few hundred miles. Anyway, thought this little series would do the trick very nicely. Loaded up the truck and tied down the bike. After a little nap at the roadside park and a tap on the Tom Tom, it was time to find those babies. I first rode past this one but GPS finally settled down and brought me back. I was definitely getting 'back to nature' on this series. This tree was gigantic, and old and all hollowed out like the ""Keebler Cookie' tree. I ended up knee high in PI, got ambushed by ants all over my sneakers, they also stowed away in my backpack (which I discovered later as I was peddling down the path and had to make a hasty stop to do the 'ants in my pants' dance) - swarms of mosquitoes came out to greet me as I removed the log and a giant fuzzy yellow jacket looking 'thing' about 2"" long got very curious. I found the swag scattered about on the ground and the log was tucked away but not protected. Didn't have any bags with me except my perforated bag with grapes in it, but emptied it and used it to collect everything and tucked it away in the most likely hiding place, then tiptoed through the PI back to my bike. It's nice to know that there are those who can understand that someone would find this entertaining.

Summer or Winter caching? Why?
MuddyWaterGirl: I wrote a whole paragraph about how I enjoyed both and then deleted it all when I realized that a mild winter time is what I really enjoy. The weeds are down, many trees have dropped leaves and tree caches are a little easier to spot. The snakes are sleeping – mostly, there are fewer mosquitos, and you can wear pants and sleeves to fend off the thorns without sweating to death. If the rains haven't been too bad, you can make your way through most woods without too much trouble too. If you're in a State Park, you won't have as many muggles during that time of year either. Hmmm, I need to get busy before it begins to heat up again! Need to get close to that #999 for July.

When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?
MuddyWaterGirl: Tempted yes, but don't run to ‘em like I used to! I used to break my neck to get the FTF's when I first started caching. I'm not sure why I don't do that anymore. One just came up yesterday just 2 miles from the house. It was already dark but it was an area that I'm familiar with. I remember thinking that I would most likely be able to beat anyone there, but I didn't try. Maybe if I'd had a geobuddy with me – that would have made it fun. Like I've said before, it's not so much just numbers but the people and the adventures that make it fun for me.

Tell us about your cache mobile.
MuddyWaterGirl: Well, I alternate between a Town Car, an S10 pickup and my husbands work van. I also cache out of the RV with my mountain bike as the backup vehicle. They all have their advantages. The easiest to cache out of is the van or the truck. It is so easy to become invisible in plain sight when you put on a yellow vest, pop that amber light on the roof and walk over to a public place with a clipboard in your hands. I love it!! Nah nah, nah, nah nah! You don't know what I'm up to! Hee hee! I've been threatening for the longest to get a TB decal and finally ordered 2 for my (hopefully) upcoming trip to GeoWoodstock. I got really excited when I saw the latest Jeep commercial for the Wrangler for only $229 a month! Then my husband pointed out the fine print where they also want $2700.+ttl at signing, oh well. My Town Car is only 1 year from becoming a Classic, gonna put some vanity plates on her – I wonder if ‘MuddyWaterGirl' will fit?

What other hobbies do you have?
MuddyWaterGirl: Well, I like to work in my yard – everything I grow has to be hardy and willing to survive outdoor Texas weather. I'm not in to wimpy plants. I work in my shed – almost obsessive about having things organized and in place. I do tile work – my last project was converting an antique dresser into a bathroom vanity. I paint with different media oil/water/pastels/photoshop – I'm ½ way through an oil series of 3 canvases of the ‘Woman In White'. I like to sculpt – small pieces and primitive type jewelry. I write for my own pleasure (and to leave all my wonderful wisdom to my kids who can pore over it after my funeral someday), read whatever seems interesting – I usually have 7 or 8 books with bookmarks in them and read them randomly. I dig for antique bottles – right now I've found a secret stash in my old hometown near what used to be the city dump and it is teeming with artifacts. I've found about 30 complete bottles in 2 trips. I also have a tile project planned for the broken pieces too. I absolutely love to walk/jog – am up to 3 miles 3 times a week. I ride my mountain bike whenever I can. I go rv'ing/ camping as much as time and finances will allow…. and a bunch o' other stuff like collecting, selling on ebay, etc.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
MuddyWaterGirl: Yes, the very nearest one is a trip to GeoWoodstock beginning with NM and AZ then to CA for some mountain trail caching. Then up to Oregon for the Original Cache Stash, WA for GeoWoodstock, then back home through (maybe BC) Idaho, Montana, Utah, CO, etc. I think I will need to take about 2 weeks to get that done. That will let me color in a few more states huh? I also want to start working on some 5/5 caches! Especially some in those hard to reach locations. Anyone game? I think that would be soooooo cool.

Is it all about the numbers?
MuddyWaterGirl: No and yes. When I think about the numbers it's only because I think about all the opportunities to go caching; the people and places that are out there. Instead of ‘a number', it's more like ‘a nother' adventure waiting to happen, a day out with friends, and a chance to see something I've never seen before. It's not so much –‘Gee, look at all the caches I've found' … but more like – ‘Look at all the fun we've been having'. Would I like to have 1000+? Sure. But only because I'd have so many more stories to tell. I was thinking that it would be really cool to have the Original Cache as my 1000th cache. It might not be hard for some cachers to get 615 more caches in by July. (Which is what I'd need to make that goal) But is ‘that' number what it's all about for me? Nah! (MuddyWater)Girls just wanna have fu-un!
Something else too – I think I have more fun hiding caches than I do finding them. I love getting the notifications when someone finds a cache and reading the logs they leave. Especially if they had some little adventure or a really nice time out with friends or a loved one. Anyone else feel that way?

Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
MuddyWaterGirl: I just would like to say thank you to all the cachers that have added to this sport, including Groundspeak and all its supporting groups. I know it takes time and energy to participate. Hiding takes planning and good caches mean good containers and maintenance. Having to go out and take care of muggled caches or reports of wet logs, etc. is a big part of keeping it enjoyable for everyone. If no one hid anything, there'd be nothing to find! That takes some dedication. Also thank you to those of you who have found my caches. You eager FTF'rs make my day when I read your excited logs about jumping in the car (there goes that Mission Impossible theme in my head again) and racing to a newly published cache in the middle of the night or in a rain storm! I will always remember the logs left by GS and G up in Mesquite at THNX SBK&Q and P&L CREW who went in the middle of the night through the cold and rain to be FTF and G proposed marriage to GS right there. They thought it appropriate since they had met while caching. And all the ‘old timers' that take the time to write nice comments on the quality or originality of a hide, how they really enjoyed it or were impressed with some aspect of it. That means a lot to me. And last but certainly not least to all the sweet folks that I've run across since getting involved in caching! You have all been so down to earth and caring and willing to help and share your fun and your tips and expertise. I can truly say I've never met a cacher I didn't like.