April 2008 Member Spotlight: Bubba Q. Jack

Just how did Bubba Q. Jack get his nickname, will he keep his cache-a-day streak alive, and more . . .

Welcome to April’s Spotlight!

Tell us about your caching name.

There used to be a great Bar-B-Que place on the way to Shady Side Maryland called “Pig Outs” that had the best ribs. I would drive from Arlington, Virginia just for lunch or dinner but it went out of business. In a quest to replace such wonderful ribs I went from Maine to Florida stopping at as many places to sample the fare. I’ve located several restaurants (joints) that come close but never perfect. One place was named Bubba’s and I liked the idea of adding the Q and Jack which is the nickname for John. Thus Bubba Q. Jack was created.

How were you introduced to Geocaching and what was the first cache you found?

After gaining 35 pounds on my quest for the best Bar-B-Que I was looking into joining an exercise club or buy some home equipment. After realizing the dropout rate of the clubs and watching my previous “Healthrider” gather dust I considered Orienteering. Teams and running did not appeal but there was a nice alternative, Geocaching. A quick introduction at REI sales counter and I had my first GPS and cache in hand a day later. It was a cache in Arlington under a bridge in a local park.

Tell us about your receiver and any other “tools” (hardware and software) that help you cache.

A Garmin Etrex Legend was my first GPS and served me well for the first 200 or so caches. When the leaves came out I changed to a Garmin 60CSx. The first 700+ caches were printed out on paper. Realizing that I had gone through over $300+ in toner and paper in a few short months I went paperless. A Palm was my solution. Bought a laptop and loaded Cashemate, Mapsource and GSAK software which seem to work well together. Oh and upgrading the memory in the Garmin so I could run the Topographic software was a real help. After running up and down
steep hills in Scott’s Run, with the Garmin showing 30 feet East then 30 feet West without that feature, it seemed a no brainer.

What essential items do you always carry in your cache bag?

Spare batteries and a small pocket knife with tweezers (for those wonderful nanos) and a pen. Everything else is occasional like a mirror, flashlight, blacklight, camera, Ziplock bags and towel, rain jacket, and shoes and socks.

Do you trade items in and out of caches? Do you have any “signature”swag?

Not very much but do enjoy retrieving and placing the Hot Potato TB when I can be helpful. I’m happy to take a coin or TB along on a longer trip when I go to Maine or North Carolina and can really make a difference in miles. I do have three coins that were given me. I placed one several months ago in a cache to see how far it would travel. It’s still there.

What is your favorite thing about caching?

The people are the best part and seeing how creative they are with their caches. It seems like there is a cache for everyone. The pure friendship when you are able to walk up to a perfect strange, holding a GPS and looking puzzled, and say “found it yet” and receive a smile.

Are you a lone cacher or do you prefer caching partners and why?

Sailing made me self sufficient and retirement was the next big factor in being a loner. I contend that I could sail around the world alone and be perfectly happy. I’m of the belief that being content with myself, hopefully, makes me a better person around others. That said, I prefer the company of other people but there are few that can cache on weekdays. I’ve had the privilege of caching with several people over the last year and have been amazed by their caching ability and genuine kindness. Still have close friendships with cachers I met on
my second find.

Tell us about your favorite cache.

Do.C.A.R.?T. moving cache jumps to mind. It is one cache that requires the finder to place it in another location. It seems to promote more interaction than other caches.

What is your favorite type of cache (micro, multi, traditional, etc.)?

This may sound like a copout but I like them all. Nanos and micros are perfect when I have to be somewhere all dressed up and can’t run through the woods and creeks. Multis force me to explore an area I would otherwise do a hit and run on. Traditionals can take me anywhere and I never know what to expect. Puzzles help keep my brain active. Storyline style letterbox hybrids keep me from walking through the woods looking at my GPS and force me to be more observant. Virtuals and earth caches will always bring me to something interesting.

Tell us about a memorable caching experience that you have had.

While hunting a cache around a reservoir I was careful to avoid getting too close to the water where the ground was still mud under a thin layer of dried earth on the way to the cache. Full of confidence after making the find I took a slightly different route back to the car that cut across a more open area. Half way across one foot broke through the crust and sunk into the mud up to my ankle. Pulling my foot out the shoe stayed behind. No problem I thought and proceeded to reach down the hole and yank at the shoe. Pulling at the shoe caused a down force on my other foot which then broke through the crust into the mud relieving me of my other shoe. At this point I started feeling a little like the Tar-Baby in Uncle Remus had me. Save myself and not the shoes seemed a
logical option and I walked the remaining 200 feet back to the car in my socks. Getting a smiley for the cache made it all worthwhile.

Tell us about your other interests or areas of expertise.

This is a tough question to answer. The statement “Jack of all trades and
master of none” comes to mind. I’ve done a little woodworking in the form of cabinet making, rough carpentry, and wooden boat building but allergic to wood dust. Bird watching which consists of mostly ducks. I can’t tell one Warbler from another. They don’t hold still long enough. Disc Golf is a real passion and won a tournament once but I was the only player in my category of “Senior Grand Master” so I don’t think the win really counts. Sailing, kayaking, antique and classic cars are on and off hobbies. Etching, painting, model building, photography are things I’ve dabbled in from time to time. I seem to have a Lot of interests and a short attention span.

Have you converted any muggles into Geocachers?

Hard to say but I’ve met some folks that seem truly interested when they ask what I’m up to. (Guess I’m not a s stealthy as I should be) Describing Geocaching in most cases peaks their interest. I usually give them the Web Address in hopes they will follow up and learn more about this wonderful activity. Sure hope they are converts.

I heard that you once combined two loves into one trip (BBQ and caching). Tell us about that trip and what places you traveled.

Not sure which trip but it could have been any one of the ones where I will finish a great caching day at a Bar-B-Que place to celebrate. Heck, I’ll stop at one for lunch and then keep caching. If I could figure out how to combine a “Cache along a route” with the nearest Bar-B-Que joints in one query I would be in heaven. Cached from Maine to South Carolina and ate sometimes two lunches just to keep be able to sample a new place and then Q for dinner. Oh

You recently accomplished a huge goal (366). Tell us about setting the goal and
then meeting it.

Caching is a passion but it has one drawback, you can’t complete it. I’m goal or task oriented and had to resolve this problem in order to feel I was accomplishing something. Setting goals like finishing a DeLorme Challenge or a cache a day for a year seemed to resolve my mental conflict. I enjoyed the Virginia DeLorme and the MD/Del DeLorme very much. Now working on the North Carolina DeLorme and hope to finish it by mid Summer. Outer Banks will be a fun trip and finding caches will surely bring me to some beautiful areas I would otherwise leave undiscovered.

Were there any days where you thought you might not get a cache and why?

It’s easy when you’re retired. We had that bad ice storm this winter but I was still able to get up early enough to get to the cache site and make the find before the storm hit. Walking back out of the woods the ground got covered in snow. By the time I got to the car and started home several cars had slid into ditches. Still made it home but that was the closest call. I kept several, close to home, virtual caches in DC available after that as fall backs.

Wow! What next…will you keep the streak going?

As of this writing I have but it is now not a priority. It’s kind of hard to
stop caching. Next are those puzzle caches that are still close to home and have given me fits in a good way. The price of gas is likely to be the deciding factor how my caching evolves, that and having driven 30,000+ miles in one year and gone through a set of tires, brakes, and a battery to find 2,393 caches. The NC DeLorme needs to be completed and then there is West Virginia or Penn. So many caches so little time!

Anything else?

Yes, I want to thank everyone for their encouragement. Their posts in the Forum, the friendship at the events, being asked to join a team to go after the really tough caches, that I would otherwise be unable to find on my own. The calls that say I’m going after this or that cache “want to come along?” This all meant a lot and I’m very grateful for the kindness.

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