GEO13Editor’s note: Geo13 is a husband/wife team from the Rockingham area. Paul is a retired minister and Dot is a retired school teacher.
As of this posting, they currently have 26,421 finds, making them the #3 geocache finding team in the WORLD! They joined the GCGC in March of 2009, and we are honored to have them join us for events and share their experiences with us. Enjoy!There are so many thoughts running through my head right now that I don’t even know where to begin. First, let me say it is a great honor to have you and your wife as part of the Greater Charlotte Geocaching Club.GCGC: When you started Geocaching in 2002, I’m sure the game was VERY different than it is today. Tell us a little about those early days.
Geo13: Most, if not all, geocaches in 2002 were regular. Many were multi. Our first find in Vereen Park by digndirt was a great multi. Also, normally the caches required hiking. We camped from Waves, NC to Louisiana and Oklahoma and on to Minnesota, finding only 750 caches in 9 months. But they were great caches. In Missouri we loved the virtuals: President Truman’s birthplace, father’s farm and retirement home; Jesse James’ birthplace, first robbed bank, hideout and house where he was killed; and many more. We loved the virtuals. Due to the long hikes, some 10 miles, I lost 25 pounds and was able to stop taking blood pressure medicine. My health is better due to geocaching! GCGC: Everyone always talks about the changes over the years, and generally they focus on the negative. Let’s take a different approach, what are some of the things that have gotten better over the years, in your eyes?
Geo13: For those who enjoy geocaching for numbers, the drive-by caches have been a positive boon. No one believes us, since we are 3rd in the world in the number of geocaches found, but we do not cache for numbers. We just love geocaching, all types: nanos, film canisters, skirt lifters, L-n-L caches, tuppeware containers, and ammo cans. We wish Jeremy Irish would bring back virtuals though, our favorite type. We love the Earth caches today that did not exist earlier. They are somewhat like the virtuals. GCGC: I see that you have 2 finds that first year (2001). In your wildest dreams, did you ever see yourself approaching 27,000 finds this many years later?
Geo13: No, we did not expect to have this number finds today. A young pre-adolescent boy asked us when we had around 5000 finds, would we stop when we reached 10,000. At that time our friend CCCooperAgency (Lynn from Pennsylvania) had over 10,000 finds. We said, probably, thinking it would be years before, if ever, we reached 10,000. Caching just got into our blood. We have enjoyed thoroughly finding DeLorme Challenges and County Challenges in such states as NC, SC, GA, FL, MO, AL, MO, MN, TN, VA, MD, DE, OH, PA, NJ, VE, and NH and getting the Found All 50 States geocache in Disney Land in CA. Doing the all-county and DeLorme Challenges enables us to have a complete understanding of each state we visit. Love it!GCGC: The average geocacher tends to burnout after only a few hundred finds, yet here is a couple that has not only bucked that trend, but has actually increased your find count each and every year! How have you managed to stay focused and not lose interest as have so many others?
Geo13: It is probably due to the fact we have always loved travel. We have visited every continent except Antartica. We lived in Europe and Africa, one year in each. We have driven across America and Canada 3 or more times each, visiting every state numbers of times and every province and territory in Canada a number of times. Now that Nunavut has been cut out of the Northwest territories, we have not gone to it. We did pull our camper up the Dempster highway from Dawson City, Yukon, into Inuvik in the Northwest territories—a 450 mile one way drive on a slick dirt road. Also, Dot loves geocaching. We enjoy geocaching together. She was a 30-year public school teacher, and I was a 40-year United Methodist minister, not seeing each other all that much. Now we are together geocaching.GCGC: Many folks might meet you at an event and say, “There’s a nice retired couple. I’m sure they have a nice time taking their RV from one parking lot to the next, lifting lamp skirts.” Little do they know, you have found no fewer than 15 - 5/5 combination geocaches! Was there ever a cache where you stopped afterward and considered your sanity?
Geo13: Well, we would like to find the Grid Challenge—we lack 7 grids, I think. We don’t have a boat and have difficulty finding caches for the remainder of the grids. I remember time climbing a steep mountain for nearly 2 miles and having to sit for 15 minutes before beginning the descent. A young man ran by us on the way down and exclaimed: “Tougher than I thought.” Amen! GCGC: In addition to the wide variety of geocaches you’ve found, I know from reputation that you and your wife are well travelled. You’ve now geocached on every possible continent (Antarctica doesn’t have any caches that I’m aware of… yet), including over 20 countries. Tell us about a few of the exotic locations you’ve been privileged to experience through Geocaching.
Geo13: We have been twice to Bora Bora, Tahiti, Wahine and other of the Society Islands. We love that area. Also, we have spent about a week on each of 5 of the Hawaiian Islands. Love Hawaii too. Our trip from Bay of Islands in New Zealand through both the South and North Islands as well as Tasmania was exciting. Of course we loved our trip to China walking on the Great Wall. We got to see the destruction in Hiroshima as well in Japan. We have visited nearly every island in the Caribbean, but they are just so commercial or tourist centered. We enjoyed the Galapagos islands, sailing on a small ship and hiking on each of the islands seeing the numerous birds and reptiles, as well as seals. GCGC: According to your stats, you have over 26,000 finds, yet have never acknowledged a “First to Find”. Obviously, there had to have been quite a few over 8+ years. Did you simply choose not to track them, or is it just not a part of the game you were interested in?
Geo13: Being FTF a cache has never concerned us. We do not have alerts on our computer to notify us when a new cache appears.GCGC: Sometimes, my wife thinks I’m crazy. I may invite you over next time she does. LOL. Does anyone else in your family geocache?
Geo13: Our son-in-law who got us interested in geocaching did geocache for awhile. He had 999 finds: shawhh is his handle. He put out one of the most difficult and challenging caches in our area: Wildlife. Also, we have two granddaughters in VA and MD who enjoy geocaching. The one in MD has a handle, but I don’t remember it.GCGC: What did you do prior to Geocaching? If your caching is any indication, I’m sure it was quite interesting.
Geo13: Work! Both my wife and I, as well as our 4 daughters and 7 grandchildren have A-type personalities. My wife was valedictorian in her high school in 1952. Our oldest daughter was valedictorian in a high school with over 750 graduating seniors. Our 2nd and 3rd daughters were in Phi Beta Kappa at UNC-CH. Our 3rd daughter was a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Our youngest grandson and his sister graduated as valedictorians in PA. He is a student at Grinell in IA, and is a National Merit Scholar. She is serving a year in Nicarauga as a volunteer before entering Warren Wilson college next year. Also, we spend 3 months each year at Caravelle in Myrtle Beach, SC.GCGC: How many Delorme challenges have you completed to date? How have you tackled them? Did you pick a state and just drive until it was finished? Or did you keep going back over and over? (OK, technically that was 4 questions, I know)
Geo13: Twelve, I think! We go back and forth across the state usually from East to West, starting at the northern most point. We try to complete it while there; however, we went back and forth to GA while we were at Myrtle Beach. Since we have daughters living in VA, MD and PA, we did those on visits to our daughters. GCGC: Most people only dream of finding a cache in all 50 States. Not only have you done it, it appears you’re now working to find a cache in every COUNTY in America! LOL. What are some of the most memorable places you’ve visited while caching in the Unites States?
Geo13: Mount Katahdin in Maine; Desert Island in Maine; White Mountains in New Hampshire; Green Mountains in Vermont; Amish country in Pennsylvania; Utah and Arizona; Independence, Missouri; the bayous in Louisiana, San Antonio in Texas and San Diego in California. We have been to Springer Mountain, the start of the Appalachian Trail, in Georgia; to the center point of the Trail in either New Jersey or Pennsylvania and to the end point at Mount Katahdin in Maine. We have hiked several sections including Clingman’s Dome in North Carolina. GCGC: What’s next for Geo13? The International Space Station? Or are you waiting on the first Martian geocache?
Geo13: Well, I have read that someone believes Mars can be inhabited in the future, but I think that will be too late for us. What we are planning is the West Virginia DeLorme Challenge in the future. We love that great state from White Sulphur Springs all the way to the western most point. Also, we have nearly finished the Ohio DeLorme, having completed the 88 Mighty County Cache of Ohio.GCGC: On a personal note, it’s an honor to have met you (Paul) and Dot in person. You guys are a true inspiration to the Geocaching community. We hope you can join us again soon at a GCGC event, and we wish you both many, many more happy years of caching!
Geo13: Since I am an extrovert, having enjoyed working with people since I was a little boy taking the Greensboro Daily News to 125 customers daily, what I have enjoyed most about geocaching is making so many friends from Maine to Washington and all points south. We have friends now in every state. We have stayed in Joe and Sharon Thompson’s home several times in Nashville, TN. We have stayed in mountain wanderer’s beach home in Maine. We have been invited to lunch by a number of geocachers. And we have friends in the Canadian provinces as well. In my estimation, outside of faith in God, there is nothing more valuable than family and friends.
Thanks for giving us this opportunity of sharing with our friends and the geocaching community!