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Featured Cacher For October 2010 - Zoothornrollo

Zoothornrollo of Houston (Clear Lake), TX.
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What got you interested in caching?
Zoothornrollo: A few years ago, we received a Christmas letter from a friend that mentioned Geocaching and thought it sounded like something interesting to do someday. Then a few weeks later, we went with our son and his friend (lazerpuppynerdsammich) and watched them find one in Sylvan Rodriguez Park. None of us had a GPSr, just a satellite picture.
Mrs. Z's school has a Fun February Teacher Trivia quiz. Teachers submit a little known fact about themselves, and others have to guess who it is. Having run out of ideas for the quiz, she said that her new hobby was Geocaching. We borrowed a GPSr and found one on our own so she wouldn't be lying about the hobby. Of course we have been at it ever since.

How did you decide on your caching name?
Zoothornrollo: A few years ago, we received a Christmas letter from a friend that mentioned Geocaching and thought it sounded like That is ENTIRELY Mr. Z's fault. When he was looking for some caches to find, he was creating the account and needed to come up with a name. He chose a band member from a very obscure band from his teenage days. Ever heard of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band? I didn't think so! He didn't know that we would be signing that long name so often. Mrs. Z. reminds him all the time.

When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)
Zoothornrollo: We both use Garmin E-trex units. Mrs. Z still uses our original 'old Yeller', and Mr. uses a Hcx. We use the iPhone to locate caches, and get information about them while 'in the field', but not for locating GZ. It is pretty useless most of the time for zeroing in.

What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?
Zoothornrollo: GCFA7D – South Kaibab to Bright Angel is our new favorite (details in the caching adventures question). Up until this summer, it was GCAE2C- Tunnel Vision. We were the last to log a find for it and it has since been archived. We were in New Mexico soon after starting our geocaching adventures, and came upon it. It was rated 3/ 4.5 and was 350 feet down a very steep, rocky slope. We had to abandon hiking sticks and work our way down going backwards on all fours most of the way. We searched for quite a long time because the signals weren't very good in the canyon, but after the effort of getting down there, we weren't going to give up. Then, we had to scramble UP the slope. All without benefit of a trail.

Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?
Zoothornrollo: This summer, we hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We had to make our reservations at the Phantom Ranch 13 months in advance, but we were determined to cross the hike off of our 'bucket list'. We saw that there were a few virtuals in and around the canyon, and then spotted a multi! It turns out that the trail we planned on taking had a multi-stage virtual. We had to take pictures at various places on the trail, and describe some features near the waypoints.
The seven mile hike down the South Kaibab Trail to the river was tough on us 'flatlanders', but we had been hiking at higher altitude for a few weeks, and that helped. We spent two nights in the bunkhouse at the river, and headed back up.
It is nine miles up the less steep Bright Angel Trail to the rim, but it still took us ten hours. Another highlight of the hike was signing that trail log that counts as a traditional cache. We like caches that combine our love of hiking and Geocaching, but don't think we'll plan very many more three-days-to-finish multi-caches.
Of course, completing the Texas County Challenge was an adventure in and of itself!

Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!
Zoothornrollo: Just after purchasing our standard transmission cache mobile, we stopped at a cache in Tomball. We got out of the car, and started looking for the cache. Mr. Z hadn't put the parking brake on, and the surface wasn't as level as it looked. The cache mobile started rolling backward toward the street. He scrambled to try to stop it, but it just kept on going. It rolled across the street and into a ditch. Luckily we were able to get it out of the ditch without a tow truck, but we still have a big dent in the bumper to remind us!

What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?
Zoothornrollo: Traditionals that involve hiking and getting away from the city. When we see caches that haven't been found for a while, they get our attention, too. It is fun to find 'lonely caches' that don't get many hits. There have been two times when we've found containers that survived controlled burns, and the container was melted, but the log was able to be signed. We also try to do virtuals and Earthcaches while on our road trips.

What is your favorite local cache?
Zoothornrollo: No one cache comes to mind, but Bubbles the Bayou Monster is a fun one.

How about your favorite out of state cache?
Zoothornrollo: Other than the ones mentioned earlier, GCGB2Q -Top of Thousand Steps(Bear Paw Trail), comes to mind. It is another hike up a steep trail that we discovered in Pennsylvania. It isn't far from Williamsport, and the site of next summer's Geowoodstock. We really like seeing the names of cachers we know when we are out of state. This summer, we found a cache in Utah, and the last people to sign it were Rich & Lola. We also ran into ellisbe at a cache in Pensacola, on Spring Break. He was coming to the cache as we were leaving it.

Summer or Winter caching? Why?
Zoothornrollo: While in Houston, definitely Winter, but sleet and snow in Missouri didn't stop us! When we are on our longer summer trips to other states, Summer caching is the way to go- even in the desert of Nevada among the Joshua trees.

When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?
Zoothornrollo: Not as much any more. There are too many FTF hounds in the area. We do have FTFs in five other states, though (AR, AZ, NY, KY, and NM). We got them courtesy of the Geocaching App on the iPhone. We don't have 'alarms' that come up when a new one is published, so usually they are found before we know about them. The ones we just happen to come across while on trips are much more satisfying. We attended a geocaching session being held at a New York state park on an island in the St. Lawrence River last summer and met a local cacher who was planning on publishing an earthcache in a few days. He invited us along on a hike to check his coordinates and to verify the directions on the cache description. We were happy to help him out and got the FTF when the cache was published.

Tell us about your cache mobile.
Zoothornrollo: It is a Jeep Patriot that is just the right size to carry us and our camping gear. It is manual transmission, but not 4WD, but that hasn't kept us from going most places. We like it because we can go just about anywhere we want to go. It is small enough to turn around in tight places...you know, the remote dirt roads we seem to spend a lot of time traveling on.

What other hobbies do you have?
Zoothornrollo: Camping, hiking (especially state and national parks). We are avid readers, and are active volunteers at our local public library. Mr. Z plays basketball every week, and throws darts at a local pub.

Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?
Zoothornrollo: We have 19 more states to cache in, and lots of Earthcaches are still out there. We also want to do the virtual at Guadalupe Peak (GC4EEF). We can't claim the virtual there, because we made the hike the summer before we started Geocaching. We don't want to follow the suggestion that others have made to Photoshop our GPSr into the picture and claim it. We also still need to do the Four Cache Loop.

Is it all about the numbers?
Zoothornrollo: Yes and no. We look at the numbers, just because, but we really just enjoy the traveling and seeing new places and things. When we are close to a milestone, we do look for high concentration areas. We enjoy back-road series that help 'boost the numbers”. We were relatively close to the E.T. Series in Nevada this summer, but weren't even tempted to try.

Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
Zoothornrollo: Thank YOU for the opportunity. One really frustrating story... This summer we did as many Earthcaches as we could. We knew about the Earthcache challenge, but weren't keeping track of the different types. When we got home and started to log them, we found out that the last type we need was one we looked at, but decided not to do, because it had been a long day. It was only about 3 miles off of our route, but we skipped it. Wouldn't you know that it is one of only 40 in the US? We have enjoyed the comraderie of the local cachers, and the chance to get out of the house to see new and different things. We are a team, and really appreciate having something that we both enjoy doing together. Probably more than 98% of our finds have been found together.The hobby has taken us to places we wouldn't have gone otherwise. We've both lived in Texas 40+ years, and neither of us had been to the Rio Grande valley until we started the County Challenge. We've come to appreciate small-town America even more than we had before (and we've found some GREAT mom and pop diners!). One final word from Mr. Z. I had PE with Mr. ATMA in high school. He was a photographer back then (he used FILM!). I hope he doesn't drag out any of the candid photos that he has of me for this feature!