Monday, April 6, 2015

Washknight's Interrogation: The Truth About Scrapcat

Why do I write?  A well-known podcaster once said that blogging is for people not talented enough to broadcast.  I don’t agree with that.  For me, blogging is for people who enjoy the visual as well as the written.  Although I write so others will share my journey, sometimes I’m still pleasantly surprised when my journeys are noticed.

Take the wonderful email I received last week – no April Fool’s joke.  I made it on Washknight’s geocaching blogroll 
“Geocaching adventures in the Great Lakes”Elisa a.k.a. Scrapcat lives and caches in southeast Michigan in the USA. She was introduced to caching by her brother on a visit to the Zoo one day back in 2011. She has many interesting, funny and informative stories to tell and they are all laid out beautifully on her blog. In November 2014 she celebrated her 5000th cache on the 1000th day of a caching streak and as of March 2015 it doesn’t look like she will be breaking that streak anytime soon.
I first heard about Washknight over a year ago when Sunny of Podcacher read his ‘Twas the Cache Before Christmas on air.  What a hoot!  Check it out! And then later when Chasing Smilies answered his 20 questions. And now Washknight (Paul) asked me to take my turn!

1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?

Ah, competition.  Little brother, a Scout leader, was going to show his Big Sis a thing or two about this new thing called “geocaching”.  It was May 28, 2011 – a sunny and glorious day at the Detroit Zoological Gardens.

2. Do you remember your first find?

At the front of the zoo was this ENORMOUS tree – has been there for decades. It is so large that it’s lush, drooping boughs could conceal several picnic tables. The limbs were so laden with leaves they sagged down to the ground. I was there with 3inaTree (Papa, Mama and Little Tree) and WikidKriket, looking for Knoll Central GC2VXHC.  After going around and around the trunk, Papa Tree was determined to find the cache so we could see a typical container (and I was determined to find it before him)
“What are we looking for?”“Something out of place,” he answered.“Like that?”

Yep, my first find was a green bison in a leafy tree, and I was hooked.

3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?

In the city, it’s my iPhone 5 with my trusty Geosphere app (using the official Groundspeak app as backup).  Once in the woods, I sport both a Magellan Explorist GC and my Garmin Oregon 450T.  No one device is perfect in every situation, and the more toys the better.

4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? 

I’m a proud member of the Southeastern Michigan Geocaching group and the Michigan Geocaching Organization (MiGO).  Within a 10-mile radius of my house is over 2,300 caches!  Every year on New Year’s Day, local cachers place between 300-350 brand new caches.  And two miles from home is the center of a 40-mile 210+ cache power trail, skirting the incredible city of Detroit. If it wasn’t for this talented and active group of local cachers, I wouldn’t be on my 1,131st day of streaking.

5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?

Power Island GC35 (Placed July 2000)  It was the most exciting and scariest adventure of my life.  I’m terrified of water, bridges, docks, boats. I can’t swim.  But the darn thing is in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay and there was only one way to get there!  I remember shaking so hard I could barely walk down the pier towards the charter.  Seeing the gap between the pier and the boat.  Feeling the boat dip under me as I climbed aboard.  My only other boat ride was a rowboat with my big brother, Jim, near the Huron shore, when I was 8 years old.  Thankfully Captain Mike let me sit up front with him for a calmer ride.  But the sheer enormity of the expanse of water before and under me. Arriving at the storm-mangled dock.  Climbing out of the boat on shaky legs.  And then the hike. 

TaGeez and I hadn't looked at topographical maps first.  The center of the island was too steep to be called a hill – too confined to be a mountain.  TaGeez and I hadn’t lost our winter weight, and it was a struggle.  I was determined not to cry as we ascended, fearful that after conquering all those demons to get here I didn’t have enough strength to crest the top.  We couldn’t afford to make this trip again, financially or emotionally.  This was our one shot at this oldie.

At the top we discovered we had to descend the other side – steeper, rockier, more dangerous.  Leaves covering branches concealing tenuous footholds.  Other branches jutting upright, perfect for impalement. My fear of heights is almost as overwhelming as my fear of water. I didn’t used to be afraid.  That came later, as an adult, after I’d been knocked down a few times.  Inching down the steep backside of the mound, not looking down and with no handholds or trails to rely on.  Believing that if all else fails I can land on TaGeez (happy thought!).  And then, finally, sandy beach.  The others had reached the cache first and had already signed.  They handed it off to me, and I stood there, stunned at the enormity of what I accomplished.  What I overcame. I was numb.

Power Island GC35 - July 2000 
On the ride back, I was Indiana Jones!  Lara CroftJames Bond!  Fearless!  Victorious!  Emanating the most amazing feeling of pride and satisfaction (that lasted until I had to step back onto that shaky pier again).

6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.

My camera (iPhone) to peer into dark tree holes.  My Wellies (because there is always water and muck).  My lists (can't risk missing a cemetery, a Virtual or a webcam).

7. Other than geocaches and their contents, what is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?

Technically, it’s “content” but the animal skull in the cache located in a pet cemetery was pretty memorable.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is 'I am obsessed by numbers' and 10 is 'I am all about the experience and the quality of each individual cache'. Where do you put yourself?

I’m a 5.  My blog attests to some amazing adventures (have you seen my recent Temple of Tolerance post?) but if you offer me a power trail, I’m on it before the car stops!

9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.

Oh, I think the Power Island trip above just might take the cake.  Or is the 3-year cache-a-day streak?  You choose.

10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?

Never cache in flip flops.  I’m just saying.

11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?

People who instantly reply negatively to everything.  If you can't solve a puzzle cache or use a smartphone, then don't.  You have other options. Nobody is making you. But don't give me guff because you aren't willing to try new things.  Move along.  Life is too short. 

12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?

Ok, this is a toss-up between almost getting buried alive in a cemetery or getting stuck in knee-deep muck while caching alone in a Massassauga rattlesnakes' habitat.  I’m sensing a theme here.

13. What do your non-caching family and friends think of your hobby?

3inaTree, scrapcat, TaGeez, WikidKriket and SnakeyLicks
Luckily, most of my family caches (under the team name of Free Range Lobsters).  As for the rest of them, I think they’re used to me doing my own thing.

14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?

I’m honest.  I tell them I’m on a scavenger hunt.  If they give pause, then I go into the 30-second elevator speech. I'm not going to lie in case someone calls the police.  One story and I stick to it.

15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?

I’m four caches shy of completing my JASMER grid (July, October, November, and December of 2000).  There is a chance I can grab 2 of these in June, but I would LOVE to complete my grid during the 15th anniversary year of Geocaching.

16. Do you have a nemesis cache that, despite multiple attempts, you have been unable to find?

At the moment I’m nemesis-free unless you count all the tree-climbing caches I wistfully desire. This dumpling can’t get that far off the ground!

17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." ~ Mark Twain 

Geocaching has taken me to so many wondrous places and has enriched my life with so many fabulous friends.

18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?

Long Michigan winters.  I wanted a way to look back at trips to remind myself that another adventure is just around the corner.

19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of.

Upon hitting my milestone of 1,000 days of consecutive caching, I wrote a post about Tips for Successful Streaking.  I was hoping FTF Magazine would use it, but it wasn’t even worthy of a rejection letter.  For fascinating photos, you can’t beat This is OUR Detroit! – a photo array of Detroit’s urban art scene.

20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?

As much as I enjoy the big blogs and the many podcasts, I like to read the posts shared by the local cachers in our community (like Alona Spiegal and Wilbury Travels).  It’s fun reading their take on some of the caches and locations I’m familiar with.

Bonus Question #21.  How did you choose your geocaching name?

This question fascinates me, and I seem to ask it everywhere I go.  People have the most interesting tales about it.  I'm scrapcat.  I'm a scrap quilter with two wonderful cats, Oscar and Ginger.  So, how did you get you name?


Thank you to Washknight for asking me to participate.  
If you get a chance, check out the other blogs on Washknight's blogroll.

1 comment:

  1. Elisa!!! What a wonderful post. Loved every bit of it. Never knew about the water or height phobia. When I got to the advice about never cache in flip flops I had to stop reading and laugh. Thank you! Lauri


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