JULY 2017 – Cacher of the Month

Caching Name: Drrichardh
Real Name: Richard Sutor, Ph.D.

1. How did you become involved in geocaching?
Back in 2005 my wife and I had driven west to Pacifica California to visit with our oldest son, his wife, and our only grandchild. A few years earlier I had survived two heart attacks and had retired at age 63. In addition my wife had some severe spinal problems. Although we had always been active folks these health issues were causing us to feel physically restricted. Our son told us about a new hobby/sport he had started doing called geocaching. After hearing the description we agreed to try it. One of the introductory geocaches was a multi at the San Francisco Bart (Bay Area Rail Transit) Terminal. It was designed for folks with mobility problems. Each stage of this multi brought us to a nearby bench. We also did a multi placed by a man and wife where the last stage was in a park where you needed to find specific trees. (They had numbers on them.) The final hide suggested the finder look over at the nearby houses, pick a specific one, and wave. It went on to explain that was the home of the geocachers who had placed this one and they were probably looking out the window to see who was out there making the find. We found this geocaching thing to be great fun but we also thought it might be some kind of unusual California activity. Our son, who had formerly been a surveyor when he lived in Delaware, told us it was an international activity and, when we were back in his home, he figured out the coordinates for our home, fired up his computer, logged into geocaching.com and showed us there was a hide about 500 feet from our back yard. At that point we registered as a geocaching team. While looking at what was in the New Castle area we spotted one called “They Don’t Make House Calls Anymore” and another referencing Davy Crockett and his unusual and brief stop in New Castle Delaware. We knew where each of those had to be and made plans to seek them once we were back in Delaware. On the drive back east every time we topped my wife and I would wonder if, perhaps, a geocache might be hidden there. When we got home we ordered a Garmin GPS but couldn’t wait for it to arrive before we successfully found the two geocaches mentioned above. Once the gps arrived we began hitting the geocaching trail on a regular basis. One other thing I did was to seek out a local geocaching group. We discovered there was one and Mike Ott seemed to be in charge and they were planning an event that would happen in a few weeks. We attended, met a lot of geocachers and began a friendship with Mike. I mentioned I ran my own web-service and volunteered to create a website for the Delaware Geocachers. Working together Mike and I developed the original site. Since I owned the service and the servers there was no cost to Delaware Geocaching for this. I eventually turned the operation over to someone else but they were good enough to keep the original banner I designed for the site. If you look carefully at the banner you can spot me. I am the white-haired guy in the brown jacket seeking and finding a geocache.

I promise all my other answers will be shorter.

2. How did you choose your caching name?
This was something that was given little thought. Our son had used the first initials of all his family members for his geocaching name so they were SP& Z. Since we under a bit of pressure to come up with a name in order to be able to log our first several finds my wife and I agreed on using a variation of my name. At that point she was not sure she’d be able to continue geocaching on a regular basis.

3. What type of cache do you prefer seeking – traditional, multi, and puzzle, virtual?
Having geocached since 2005 my wife and I have seen the sport change quite a bit over the years. We really liked finding the traditional geocaches since they usually contained a great variety of trading items. We also really enjoyed finding virtual geocache since these took us to places we’d probably never have visited if it weren’t for geocaching.

4. Which caches were the most challenging, either physically/mentally?
Physically there are two that stand out. Here in Delaware there was one called “Getting Around To It. located at Churchman’s Marsh. It required a very long bushwhack around the marsh to a little spit of land within sight of I-95. At times the trail was a dirt path with deep water on both sides and a foot path allowing only single file passage. Additionally the marsh is tidal. You had to get out there, make the find, and get back before the tides changed. The other was in South Dakota – Skyline Wilderness. This one required driving to the top of a mountain where there was a parking lot then finding a footpath down the face of the mountain which would lead you to the hide zone. The mountain was somewhere about 2000 feet high. The mountain face was sloped rather than vertical but you still had to watch every step to keep from losing your balance. After climbing down about 1000 feet the find was made. Then the issue was climbing back up those 1000 feet to get back to the car. It was rough going but my goodness what a view. As for the most mentally difficult it has to be M4 a California based puzzle. Its description is a story which involves breaking a code created on the Enigma machine used by the Germans in World War II. This hide went up in August 2005. My son and I started working on it and initially got nowhere. Each time we’d visit we would work on it again. After 10 years of work we found the solution! Won’t give it away but it was almost on the grounds of a major computer corporation in Silicon Valley. We were in high spirits as we drove there but when we arrived it the hide zone our spirits plummeted because the shrub line in which it HAD to have been placed had been chopped down. Fortunately no one had yet removed all the cut down branches. We searched them and – FOUND IT still attached to a now dead branch. We replaced the container (a bison tube) in a spot where it should be safe and later contacted the CO who was quite happy we had saved his hide.

5. What are your current geocaching goals?
My wife and I continue to have health issues and she has curtailed her geocaching quite a bit still the two of us hope to do two things. 1. Make finds in the 18 states we have missed in previous travels. 2. Get to 4000 finds somewhere around the same time.

6. Where have you always wanted to go caching but haven’t?
For our 50th wedding anniversary my wife and I along with our son and his family had planned a cruise up the inner passage to Alaska. Curiously our and his wife were marking the 25th anniversary that same year. Unfortunately my wife suffered a fall that did additional damage to her spine about 3 months before the trip. We had to cancel but still hop to get up there some day.

7. What is your most memorable caching experience?
While we were still learning about geocaching back in 2005, we learned of a new hide just activated very near the San Francisco Airport. It was a travel bug hotel and our son wanted us to see what this was all about Turned out the hide was in a small park close to the an active runway. When the jets departed there was quite a roar. We made the find quickly and discovered one of the items was an 8 inch tall Charley Brown doll with movable arms and legs and hands and head. It wanted to visit his creator Charles Schulz’s studio in Santa Rosa which was 70 miles north of us. Well we had already driven more than 3000 miles to get here and didn’t see another 70 miles as being that much of a drive. Won’t go into all the details of what we discovered but it was far more than we expected including visiting the hockey rink Schulz built for his the folks in his community to use and Schulz’s grave. This was the find that confirmed my wife and I were going to be geocaching for a long time to come.

8. What do you like about geocaching?
Two things stand out. The first is the creativity of the hiders. This is demonstrated on two levels. First there is the hide itself. Finding just the right spot to conceal a container is a challenge but very often the hider also created an imaginative type container that sometimes can be left in plain sight. I love that kind as it always makes we wonder just how many people have looked right at the container but never saw it for what it really is. The second is where geocacher choose to put their hides. Since the rules say you have to live close enough to a hide to be able to provide maintenance for it, this makes all geocaches items that are local to the hider. As a result, even here in the state my wife and I have lived in for over 7 decades, we are led to places the general public has no idea exists. On out travels we have found that if you really want to get to see the country, geocaching will give you that chance.

9. Do you have some favorite caches in the area?
The short answers to this is – far too many to list. Delaware is loaded with great hides. Instead of listing specific hides I would suggest seeking anything hidden by shorttripp, SpookyDame, Oliver’s Outing, and Mike Ott.

10. Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
Building – Reading – Music – Movies.
I have done most of the alterations to our present home including adding a large deck. I’ve been a reader since age 3 when some kind neighbors taught me to read in German. My media room features a self-made floor to ceiling wall-to-wall bookcase filled with volumes some published this year other dating back to the 1880’s. As for music I play piano, organ, guitar and banjo and in my teens led my own rock band. I’m also a record collector. My taste is music goes all over the place. My feeling is that there is good to be found in every genre. The key is an outstanding performance. My collection ranges from opera to heavy metal with folk, jazz, country mixed in. The collection, like the books, includes items old and new. There are 78rpms 45rpms, lps, cassette tapes, and digital files. Then there are the movies. I started out collecting films when I was in my late teens. These were 16mm films. When VHS tape came along I moved into that media. Over the years I have replaced most of the tape with DVDs in both standard definition and blu ray. That collection is now close to 1200 titles. To help keep the movie information straight I’ve also written a 7 volume listing of information about each title.

Now, if I may, I’d like to add one thing you didn’t ask about. Some thoughts on how geocaching has changed and needs to continue to evolve.

When my wife and I first started geocaching owning a hand-held gps device was a requirement. To get coordinates into it you had to connect it to a computer and download the data from geocaching.com. Once out in the field all you had for assistance was the gps telling you if you were headed in the right direction and approximately how close you were to the hide zone. When we made our first coast to coast geocaching trip we printed up the full description of over 150 geocaches along the way. They were put into a small filing cabinet in our van and sorted by state. That was a real logistics challenge.

Eventually hand held phones arrived on the scene and it wasn’t long before these devices made it possible to use an app to get all that data that formerly had to be downloaded. Chances are good this electronic evolution will continue and 10 years from now even the hand-held device will look as outdated as the old gps.

When we stated the “regular” container was an ammo can filled with tradable trinkets. In today’s geocaching the ammo can is now a rare item and for good reason. Being observed placing or finding an ammo can in a “secret” location could lead to trouble with authorities. The bison tube now prevails but there are also a large number of creative geocachers making their own specialty containers.
The point of all this is that the game/sport of geocaching will to continue to evolve. The most important reason is the game must continue to attract new players. They will join the game using newer technologies and have had a different set of life experiences from the “pioneers”. Where the game goes from here will be in their hands.
Bottom line – geocaching will continue to exist as long as it provides a rewarding experience for the players.

Thank you for asking me to be your geocacher of the month.


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