It is a great pleasure to introduce Melli Lantz - OhMelli in our March 2013 Spotlight. Melli has been an active cacher in Southern Maryland over the past few years, and recently hosted the 12-12-12 Calvert County event (GC41B6X). She is an awesome person and it is a delight to have her featured in our Spotlight. Interview Date: January 2013
Caching Name: OhMelli
Real Name: Melli Lantz1. How did you become involved in geocaching. When did you start?
This makes me so sad… I actually heard about geocaching about 10 years ago and thought at the time that it sounded like something I would really enjoy doing… and that my kids would enjoy too. But I didn’t have a GPS… and we didn’t have two nickels to rub together… and the kids were involved in soooo many sports and things… well… it just never happened. Then about 2 years ago my good friends from church (Suedunkirkduo), started talking about this new activity they had gotten involved in! They kept talking and eventually I just decided this was always something I had wanted to try, and so our phone renewals were coming up and I decided to take the jump to a smart phone JUST so I could go geocaching! I found my very first cache on St. Patrick’s Day last year… and I’ve been hooked ever since! 2. How did you choose your caching name?
Oddly enough, “Melli” was already taken… and I did what I so often do, I heaved a deep sigh and said to myself “Oh Melli… what now?” Turned out to be a great choice, because when I’m caching I spend a LOT of time saying “Oh Melli… OPEN your EYES!” or “Oh Melli… turn on your geosense!”… or my favorite… “Oh Melli! Why didn’t you stick to the trail???” 3. How many caches have you found so far?
As I type this (1-18-13) I have found 741 caches. I expect to make it more by the end of the day!4. What brand/type of GPS do you use?
Well, it didn’t take long for me to decide that a smart phone was NOT going to be enough! About the minute I decided I wanted to hide my own caches I knew I needed something that was going to gather more accurate coords for me. I didn’t know many other geocachers, but I asked everyone I ran into what GPS they used! I think it was SpikeP who sold me on the Magellan Explorist GC. It’s not fancy and doesn’t do a lot… but that works for me! It is really REALLY user friendly! I also have a Garmin E-Treks unit that I won from the MGS Summer/Fall picnics… but thus far I’ve had no luck figuring it out! (this is why simple is best for me!)5. What programs/software or hardware (PDA/laptop/phone) do you use to make caching easier?
I use my phone to get me to the area, and then usually switch to the Magellan to make the find. I LOVE that my Droid can pull up caches any time, any place without having to decide where I’m going and download a pocket query. It makes caching on the fly SO easy! But if I’m planning a day out in a certain area, then I do the query and make sure I have plenty to find in my GPS! But I don’t have any special programs… just the premium membership on Geocaching.com. 6. What type of cache do you prefer seeking – traditional, multi, puzzle, virtual?
I definitely prefer traditional caches! And I prefer them to be larger than a micro! Ammo cans are nice! But mostly I prefer to find “creative” caches. Series caches can be fun if they’re well done! I like EASY puzzles… but most puzzles just muddle my brain. I like “physical” field puzzles… those are really fun! You know… where finding the cache isn’t really the hard part - it’s figuring out how to get to the log! I also like SOME virtual caches… I really like being taken to neat places. And I LOVE Earth caches! But I don’t often claim them… I like to go to them… they rarely disappoint me… I just don’t want to take the time to answer all the bloomin’ questions! (sorry)7. Which caches were the most challenging – physically/mentally? Why?
Well… the MOST challenging are my DNFs! And that would be because I didn’t find them!
And some of them I have had a BLAST not finding!!! (Jusef’s Cache comes to mind!) I’m first to admit I don’t TAKE the mental challenge (too often)… so it’s the physical challenge … and because I’m out of shape it doesn’t take much to physically challenge me!!! 8. Do you have a favorite or favorites among the Maryland caches that you’ve found?
(Feel free to list a favorite for each type of cache) Do you have a favorite in a nearby state?
LOL! I went looking back at all the caches I’ve “favorited” and found that the very first LPC I found got a favorite! I thought that was SO clever!!! (I never knew those things lifted!) So… um… we won’t talk about THAT one!
And my favorite in a nearby state… was a DNF. LOL! (but it’s a GREAT cache!) I just didn’t find it! It’s in Pennsylvania, it’s called Stand By Me (GC3XRFB) -- somebody go FIND it for me!!! (better yet, take me with you so I can claim it!)
Okay… real favorites…
Traditional - GCKC97 - Canyon Overlook Cache
Multi - GC2EDZN - The Old Sugar House
Puzzle - GC3CFGN - The Namekian Dragon Ball series! (oh my gosh! Dbzdude has kept me SO entertained with his DB series -both! Can’t wait for the next one to come out!)
Puzzle #2 - GC3TQB0 - Zombie Horde - Bring a Snickers Mr. B! (LOVED this cache!)
Nearby State - GC3GQXK - West Virginia - Terabithia Returns. 9. What’s the most unusual thing that you’ve ever found in a cache?
The most unusual thing I found was too gross to mention! 10. What are your current caching goals? Is there a certain cache that you can’t wait to do?
I know EVERYbody says this, but I’m really hoping to do 1000 Steps for my 1000th cache. And other than that, I am really really hoping to do CAM this year! I didn’t think I would be able to, but my situation has recently changed, and now I am hoping I can partner up with someone and get that job DONE! And I’m currently working on the MML Trail!11. How many caches have you placed? Do you have a current hiding goal?
I have placed 17 caches, but I had to archive one, so I have 16 out there. I don’t have any hiding “goals”… but I have two that I’ve had ready to place for foreeeeeeever and just have not found the “perfect” spot for them yet. One of them really NEEDS that “perfect” spot. The other I just haven’t found a place I like that isn’t already swamped with caches! But I will!12. What advice would you give someone that wants to place a cache? What steps do YOU take when placing a cache?
1. Don’t just place a cache to place a cache.
2. Offer SOMEthing of interest! Either a room with a view, OR something unusual. I have actually come across EVEN a guardrail hide or two that have been… interesting! Something cute, something clever… scare the crap out of me! SOMEthing!
I have always got my eye out for things that “could be” a cache! Out of my 17 caches, I only have 3 that would be considered normal everyday caches. I really like to make every cache something worth going after … even if it’s just in a tree in a parking lot! I HOPE to make every finder go “oh!” or “awww” or “WOW!” (sadly, some just go “tftc”… LOL!)13. How often do you go caching?
Every chance I get! When I first started, I was going out almost every day! I’ve been caretaker to my mother-in-law for the past 5 years. She had Alzheimer’s and was wheelchair bound, so her entertainment was to go for long rides in the car. She LOVED to ride! We did this almost everyday! So when I discovered geocaching last year, it fit right in to my daily schedule! But… most of my finds were LPCs and guardrails! (or Compulsions!) It wasn’t very often that I got to go out after “the good stuff”! I suspect that in the coming year I may not go EVERY day… but when I go I’ll probably find a lot more that interests me! 14. What advice would you give a beginning geocacher?
Start with the easy stuff! Difficulty 1 or 2. Terrain - whatever you’re comfortable with! And find a geobuddy! I do a lot of caching by myself … and I DO enjoy it… but I enjoy it SO much more when I have a friend with me! (and it’s an extra pair of eyes and hands!) And do NOT assume that because you didn’t find it, it is not there! Assume that it is WELL hidden and you were not able to find it! Also, the GPS will get you close, but it won’t put you right on top of it. When you find GZ, put the gps away and HUNT! 15. Have you completed CAM in the past? What was your favorite aspect?
I have not. Maybe THIS year! 16. Do you collect geocoins? Of the ones that you’ve collected, which is your favorite?
I have a few, but I don’t really “collect” them. I guess I collect the “prize” coins! I like earning them! I think my favorite for the moment is from last years Wicomico Geocache Dash… it’s beachy and crabby! My favorite things! I didn’t get to go to the “live” event… but completed it with friends at a later date.17. What type of gear do you carry with you on your caching trips? What’s in your geopack?
LOL! Oh golly! I am not much of a geocacher! I avoid carrying my geopack AT ALL! However, that said, it IS packed full of stuff! Bug repellant, lint rollers, wipies, extra baggies in all kinds of sizes, swag galore, gloves, extra sleeves, water, pens… I’ve GOT stuff! I just don’t take it with me on the trail! I usually stuff a couple of path tags and wooden nickels in my pocket, make sure I have a writing utensil and sometimes I even remember a tweezer… and off I go!Caching In The Rain!18. What is your most memorable caching experience?
I have several “most memorable” experiences… don’t we all??? But one of the most memorable has GOT to be the day ZippyFinn and I set out for a day of caching in deep southern Maryland having not one clue between the two of us that we were under severe thunderstorm WARNINGS and tornado watches!!! We’d gone to get “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” (GC24VTB) and about the time we got halfway between the parking lot and the cache the sky opened up! Fortunately there was an ALL METAL hut there for us to stand under with lightening flashing all around us, and water creeping closer and closer to our feet! We found ourselves standing on a partially wooden picnic table, praying the metal parts didn’t count if our feet were only touching wood! Every now and then the rain would let up a little bit and one or the other of us would dash out to look for the cache! We ended up having to PAF, run back to the car, get a tarp, run back to GZ and ultimately we DID find the cache! (Zippy did!) By the time we left “soaked” and “muddy” don’t even begin to describe us! And that was our FIRST cache of the day… LOL!19. What is your best caching story?
You mean Question 18 doesn’t count??? Okay then… my BEST caching story is probably Jusef’s Cache… but it ended in a DNF… so the story’s not really over yet! (if you want to read my log it’s GC1FD)20. What do you like about geocaching? What keeps you going?
Well… I do LOVE being outside… if it’s between 45 and 65 degrees, sunny, with winds at 5 mph. Okay, it’s probably not that! And it’s probably NOT that I love getting dirty… although that seems to happen a LOT! (my geo-friends think I produce the rain!) Soooooo… I guess it must just be an everlasting Easter Egg Hunt!!! I think I just like finding stuff! And if it’s memorable in some way - BONUS! I do LOVE the places it takes me sometimes! Little nooks in this world that I would have NEVER seen otherwise! I LOVE that!Teaching geocaching to her church group.21. Besides geocaching, what other things do you like to do?
I’m a Lego-maniac! (my grandkids got me into that!) And I love studying the Bible. I’m very crafty, and I love home decorating. Oh, and let’s not forget Words With Friends! I’ve been a scrabble player for years and years! And I desperately WANT to travel… even more since I’ve discovered geocaching! So, I’m making plans for a little of that.22. What question did you expect us to ask but didn’t. What is the answer?
Are you from Ohio? (because of the Oh in front of Melli, I’ve been asked that a few times!) The answer is no… as I explained in question 2!