November 2007 Member Spotlight: Banshee Reeks

Tell us about your caching name.

I took my caching name from a beautiful wildlife preserve in Loudoun County that I have visited as a birder for years and where I volunteer from time to time.

Here is a description of the names Origin:

In the early part of the 19th Century, the owner of the farm now called Banshee Reeks was said to be of Irish/Scottish descent. In the Gaelic language, banshee is a female spirit and reeks refers to hills and dales.
The story goes that one night the farmer went into the town of Leesburg to attend to personal business and also paid a visit to the local saloon.
Upon arriving back at his farm very late at night, with the wind howling and the night animals making their noises, the farmer was in such a state of mind, that he claimed he heard a banshee on the reeks.

The phrase was altered over the years and the area became known as Banshee Reeks.

I already had a shirt and a lanyard for my GPSr and a hat with the name on it so it was a natural choice and a way to honor a place I really love.

Tell us how you started caching/how were you introduced to caching.

I have had a few GPSrs over the years and last fall decided it was time to upgrade to a nice color unit with added capabilities. In searching the web I came across references to Geocaching and thought, “Wow, that would give me an added incentive to upgrade!” I bought the unit and started looking for local caches. I found the event cache “Habanero Hullabalo” or whatever it was called, attended and that started the obsession.

Tell us about your GPS receiver.

I have had a few GPSrs starting with a simple three channel Garmin. About eight years ago I bought a Lowrance GlobalMap 100 considered by some as state of the art at the time. Last fall I bought a Garmin 60 Cx. I thought I had ordered the 60CSx but when it came decided to keep the 60Cx. After several months the off button failed so it went for some RnR to Garmin and they decided to replace it with a new unit.

Tell us about any software/hardware or other gadgets that help you cache

After spending some time carrying paper around and putting a strain on my printer I became a Premium member and then bought GSAK and Cachemate. About this time my old Palm Pilot was not working well so I upgraded that to a simple palm for caching. I like the routing capability of the 60Cx with the Garmin mapping software which helps me get to the starting point for the caches The GPSr also has other practical uses for regular traveling.

What essential items are in your cache bag?

I use a medium size shoulder bag originally designed for a birders. In it I carry a little swag, a camera, a compass, a simple first aid kit and whatever else I might need for a relative short hike. The bag has a nice water bottle carrier. For longer hikes I have other bags. I also carry a large trash bag, which can serve as emergency rain protection and is handy when you have to get down on your knees in a muddy area. Though not part of my cache bag. I don’t go anywhere far from the car in the woods on other than flat terrain without my Wal-mart special walking stick. It provides stability, spider web protection and is good for checking places I would rather not put my hands.

What is your favorite thing about caching?

It has to be the great places caching takes me to and the surprises it gives. I like going to historical or natural areas, some of them quite close to home, that I would never have experienced. The interesting new things I learn about history or geology are very enjoyable. In addition it allows me to meet a lot of nice people who do this hobby. I think the computer aspects add so much to caching because it allows you to keep track of how everyone is doing as they visit some of the same caches or go to ones I would like to do someday. Some caches like “A Child Not Forgotten” also give one a pause for thought and are much more important than the actual find.

Tell us about your favorite cache or type of cache.

I am not much for puzzles, as some of them make no sense to me. I do like some of the simpler ones like the Landmark puzzles Kylvag has put out. Though I will do urban caches and even an occasional lamppost, I really prefer caches that show me something new or give me a nice natural experience. I like caches that I will definitely find after I have put in the effort to get there. I can’t see hiking a long way just to find a micro in the woods that has no other significance than its presence. I don’t have favorite cache but there are many that I have really enjoyed.

Tell us about a memorable caching experience.

Eagles Watch was interesting for me. I drive a minivan so I parked a bit of a distance from the cache site. I walked to the area and realized I needed the clue so walked a considerable distance back to the car to get the Palm for the cache page. Having walked the route I decided that I could get to the cache with my minivan. I continued my search and after a PAF finally found the cache.

Now the fun began. When I returned to the car I noticed that I had a flat tire, my first with this car. I had to get out the manual and determine how to change a tire in high grass on a very hot day. I logged a “FTF” “First to Flat” for this cache. Looking at the GPSr I noticed I could do three more Disaster and Mayhem caches on the way to the tire repair shop so, of course, I risked another flat to get a few more caches.
When the tire was repaired there was no item present in the tire so I may just have run over something.

How many states or countries have you cached in and how is it different from the NoVA area?

I have cached VA, W.VA, and, on a 9-hour trip to the Philadelphia area to visit my mother, I cached MD, DE, PA and hopped over into NJ to pick up two virtuals to log that state. Most of these areas were familiar to me from birding over the years. Delaware is so nice to cache, no rocks or hills. But then again don’t do it in summer; the flies and mosquitoes would turn a 1/1 into a 5/5. I think our caches tend to be more challenging but of course in the interest of time I did mostly easy to get to caches on my travel route.

I have cached a few places in Texas while visiting my daughter. Two of the sites I visited were places where endangered bird species are found relatively easily, (Sadly, not by me). I also logged a virtual for a dinosaur park I visited on a 100 Degree-day. The park is known for dinosaur tracks visible along the local stream. If I cache more in Texas I plan to take a local guide who knows which rocks the Rattlesnakes and Scorpions are under.

Are you trying to meet any geocaching goals right now? (a milestone #, DeLorme Challenge, clear off your first 10 pages, etc.?)

I have no specific goals. Though “It’s not about the numbers” it is fun to log the number of caches found. The memorable experiences are far more important. Birders also debate the listing mentality but most keep a life list and other list every thing they can think of, like birds seen on TV. Others concentrate on the beauty of the experience. Like caching, you can play it the way you like to.

Tell us about your other interests or areas of expertise.

As is obvious, I am also an avid birder. I typically log about 225 to 250 bird species in this area on a regular basis. I would typically bird most weekends. Well, this year, spent mostly geocaching, my bird list for the year hovers around 100 and I have only birded 4 or 5 times. If I would slow down I could do both and might even find promising birding spots that other birders never been to.

I have sung in an interracial interfaith gospel choir for 15 years. Thought not particularly religious, it lets me sing music I enjoy, associate on a regular basis with good friends and it takes me to interesting places. I have sung for Bill Clinton at the White House and traveled to Europe for a 9 day tour to Germany, Austria and Slovenia. We lived with the people in Slovenia and did a total of five concerts. That trip gave me an intense interest in Slovenia. At last count it has about 70 geocaches.

I recently saw that a new cache was released and the owners had placed American-Slovenian lapel pins in the cache. I hunted the cache and contacted the owners. This has resulted in a new friendship with a family assigned to the Slovenian Embassy. I have further introduced them to some of their countrymen in the area. A new friendship for nine people including a new baby has resulted just because I found a plastic box in a tree.

I also have a long time interest as an amateur photographer and someday may prepare a slide show of the Rocks and Tree Stumps of the Middle Atlantic States.

Tell us what keeps you caching. What do you love about this sport?

I think all of the above pretty much sums it up. It has been such an enriching activity with satisfaction offered on many levels. There are social aspects, the thrill of exploration and the sharpening of navigation and observation skills. It is an activity that keeps one active both physically and mentally and has so many rewards. I like the fact that it is a great social leveler bringing people from many walks of life and social levels and ages. When we are together we are not that concerned with differences since the basis of our relationships is the common joys we share geocaching. Rather than being highly competitive everyone seems to enjoy sharing everyone else’s experienced and in actuality “It is not about the Numbers.”

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