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2019 June Member Spotlight: lpaulriddle

Highlighting Maryland's finest cachers!
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Former MGS Officer
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:56 am
Location: Upper Marlboro

2019 June Member Spotlight: lpaulriddle

Post by Que3nbe3 »

Interview Date: June 1, 2019

Caching Name: lpaulriddle

Real Name : Paul Riddle

1. How did you find out about geocaching and what got you started?

A friend introduced our family to geocaching in 2009, while we were on vacation in the North Carolina Outer Banks, and our first several finds were in that area. I didn’t create a account until 2012, when I finally upgraded to a GPS-capable smartphone. We cached occasionally in 2012 and early 2013. In spring of 2013, I “caught the bug” and started caching much more frequently.

2. How and why did you choose your caching name?

In the most unimaginative way possible! When I initially created my account, I wasn’t sure how far I would go with the hobby, so I just used my real name, which I also use as my email address. I’ve considered changing it a few times over the years, but so many people now know me as lpaulriddle that it would be difficult to change it without a major P.R. campaign. Perhaps in 2020...

3. How many caches have you found so far?

I am closing in on 4800 finds.

4. What is your preferred device for searching for geocaches, i.e. smart phone or gps device? What brand?

I do most of my caching with a 6-year-old Garmin Oregon 450T. It is getting rather beat-up, so I am thinking about putting a new GPSr on my Christmas list. I occasionally use my iPhone 8 for caching as well, particularly in urban areas, but more often, I use the phone for mapping local caches (its display is easier to read than the Garmin’s) and also locating and navigating to parking waypoints.

5. What websites, programs, software or hardware (PDA/laptop/phone) do you use to make caching easier?

My favorite phone app is Cachly, which I use quite frequently. At home, I use GSAK to track my finds, generate statistics, plan trips (with the help of the Google_Map_v3 macro, among others). I often use programming languages such as Python and Perl to help solve various puzzles.

6. What type of cache do you prefer seeking – for example: traditional, multi, puzzle, virtual, letterbox, etc?

I’m not partial to any particular type over another, although I do tend to gravitate towards virtuals and EarthCaches when I am out of town. I love “traditional” letterbox hybrids, e.g. the type where you have to follow the clues to find the cache. I’ve also been known to go well out of my way for an opportunity to log a webcam cache, and it’s hard to beat the satisfaction of solving and finding a good puzzle cache. So… all of the above, I guess.

7. Which caches do you find to be the most challenging for you, both physically and mentally?

I enjoy working on “left brained” puzzles: anything involving math, logic, geometry, computer programming, etc. I usually struggle with puzzles that involve pattern recognition, cryptography, and things like that. Most of Sue-Cat’s puzzles tend to fall in that category. Whenever I’m able to solve one of Sue’s puzzles, I feel like my IQ goes up a couple of points.

Physically, I enjoy caches with higher terrain ratings. I love anything that involves a long hike, paddle, or rope.

8. Do you have any favorites among the Maryland caches that you’ve found?
(Feel free to list a favorite for each type of cache)

That is a tall order. There are so many. If I had to name one single favorite cache in Maryland, it would be “PMC - The Song of the Master Sun” (GC1BJX9). A tough puzzle for sure, but I was able to solve it thanks in part to my familiarity with the subject matter -- it’s part of the day job that funds my caching addiction. :D The hike to the cache was beautiful, and it was really fun getting to the hiding place.

When it comes to traditional caches, I love anything with a long hike that leads to a relatively straightforward find. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the “Liberty Battleship” series at the namesake reservoir. I love hiking at the reservoirs, because they give you a real taste of wilderness, which is otherwise non-existent in central Maryland.

Do you have a favorite in a nearby state?

In Virginia, I really enjoyed solving and finding the “Reverse THIS!” series (GCVH01, GCWANE, GCTM39). I was a computer science major in college, and these were right in my wheelhouse.

In Pennsylvania, I found “Dragonslayer Puzzle Cache” (GC3GTZ5) rather early on in my caching career. To date, it’s still one of the most creative puzzles I’ve ever encountered, and the final container is every bit worthy of the puzzle.

In West Virginia, there are many choices, but it’s hard to beat “Cave” (GC2MD1H). It was our first time spelunking, and the kids and I had a blast.

My favorite EarthCache is in North Carolina: “Shifting Sands” (GCM829). A great walk to Cape Point on the OBX, with the unique experience of waves crashing on the beach from two directions.

9. What’s the most unusual thing that you’ve ever found in a cache?

The first (family-friendly) thing that comes to mind is a hotel room key card. I was tempted to take it to the closest Marriott to see if it would open up any rooms.

10. What are your current caching goals? Is there a certain cache or series of caches that you can’t wait to do?

I have a multi-year goal to eventually qualify for the original California “Fizzy” challenge (GC11E8N), which requires filling my difficulty/terrain matrix with caches placed on or before 4/4/2007. Not sure if it’ll happen before I retire, but I can dream. :D

11. Have you placed many caches? What types of caches do you like to hide?

I have hidden around 40 caches, and adopted around 40 more. Among my favorite hides are several mystery caches I’ve placed in the Columbia area. Every so often, I’ll get an idea for a cache puzzle, and I enjoy taking those ideas and bringing them to fruition. That process can take anywhere from days to months. Recently, I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to place a CAM cache, as well as three caches on the Find Your Chesapeake (FYC) GeoTour. One of my goals over the next year or so is to “hide” my first EarthCache.

12. What advice would you give someone that wants to place a cache?

Look for an interesting location where there is a reason to visit other than just the cache. I often seek out locations with some kind of history, a nice view, or sometimes just places that I find personally significant. Use a high quality container, and make sure the location is one where you won’t mind returning, as every cache eventually needs to be maintained.

13. How often do you go caching?

I try to get out a couple of times a week, but it can get tough with work and family obligations, particularly now that I’ve (mostly) cleared out a large area close to home. I cache frequently with my kids on weekends. When I travel for work, I spend almost every free minute I have caching, often sacrificing sleep. It’s hard to sleep when there are so many unfound caches nearby!

14. What advice would you give a beginning geocacher?

If you have kids, take advantage of the “treasure hunting” aspect of the game while they still find it exciting. Once they get older than 9 or 10, the novelty will start to wear off. Find your niche by combining caching with other activities you already enjoy doing (hiking, biking, running, kayaking, etc). If you find yourself getting hooked, attend an event or two and meet some like-minded people.

15. Have you completed CAM in the past?

I’ve completed CAM every year since 2015. It has become a family activity that we look forward to each year. We enjoy taking day trips to new places, and we always try to do an overnight stay (or two) to find the caches that are farthest away from us. The past two years, we’ve used CAM as an excuse to take “mini vacations” to Ocean City during the kids’ spring break. It’s great that spring break always coincides with CAM.

16. Do you collect geocoins?

Not particularly actively, but I have accumulated a modest collection over the years. I enjoy bringing coins to events for discovery, and I have several that “visit” certain caches to track different types of activity. For example, I have a coin that I log through all of my FTFs; a coin that visits every cache I find in a cemetery; a coin that visits “lonely” caches; etc. Each of my CAM coins visits all of the CAM caches I found in that particular year.

17. What type of gear do you carry with you on your caching trips? Besides a pen and a device for navigating, what is your “must have” item that you bring?

I always carry water. For short hikes, I bring a small waist pack that holds a couple of water bottles. For longer hikes, I have a small backpack that holds a hydration reservoir. When I’m out of town, I bring MGS path tags to leave in noteworthy caches. Other things include: spare batteries, trash bags for CITO, bug repellent, sunscreen, and several pens (it’s not really caching unless I lose a pen).

18. Tell us about your most memorable caching experience?

One of my favorite caching memories is from September 2013, when I took both my kids out kayaking to find our first 5/5 cache: “The Love of Mars” (GC3W249). It still ranks as one of my favorite waterborne caches. There’s an initial puzzle to solve at home, and a clever field puzzle to be solved while in the boat. It was my kids’ first time kayaking, and we all enjoyed ourselves a great deal.

19. Will you share your best caching story with us?

I have a bunch of good stories, but some of my favorites are from solo road trips I took to find noteworthy caches while traveling for work. In 2016, I drove 6 hours round-trip from Denver to find “Mingo” (GC30), and almost missed my flight home. I totally underestimated how long it would take to get through security at Denver airport. When I finally got through, I had to run the entire way to my gate.

20. What do you like about geocaching? What keeps you interested?

Geocaching has really helped me to rediscover my love for adventure and the outdoors. I’m not sure I would have taken up kayaking if not for geocaching, and I almost certainly would never have tried anything involving rope or a climbing harness. I’ve hiked in places near and far from home that I never would have seen otherwise. I’ve been to every corner of my home state. When I travel for work (and vacation), geocaching gets me out of the hotel to explore new areas. On top of all that, I’ve met a ton of other like-minded people, and my circle of friends has grown by many orders of magnitude.

21. Besides geocaching, what other things do you like to do?

Before caching, I was really into home improvement. I still do the occasional project, but not nearly to the extent I used to. I’m an avid cyclist, although I seldom bike for its own sake: when I’m on my bike, I am usually either commuting or caching. I’ve also been known to occasionally pick up a guitar or sit down at a piano.

22. What question did you expect us to ask but didn’t? What is the answer?

Q: If you were to change your caching name, what would you change it to?
A: I considered a few “cute” caching names, but the sad reality is that I am just not very creative when it comes to that kind of stuff (one of the reasons I don’t have my own path tag). I am leaning towards “LPRiddle”, which is how I sign most logs, and is similar enough to my current name that people should still recognize it as me.

Followup Q: What does the ‘L’ stand for?
A: That is one of life’s great mysteries. I might tell you if you buy me enough beer. :D

23. How does your family feel about geocaching?

My wife thinks caching is a great way to rid our house of small toys and trinkets. She is always filling up my caching bag with swag to leave in caches. She enjoys hiking and kayaking with me, and often joins us on our CAM outings. Other than that, I think she thinks I am slightly insane. My kids outgrew the “treasure hunt” aspect of caching several years ago, but they enjoy getting outdoors and going on various adventures, particularly if something exciting like kayaking or rappelling is involved.

24. Tell us about one geocaching accomplishment that you are proud of.

In 2017, my kids and I found “91” (GC5DB60). It’s the first “extreme” cache that I tackled on my own, without the help of more experienced cachers. There’s nothing quite like stepping off a cliff for the first time while tethered to a rope you rigged yourself. We found the cache and all lived to tell the tale, so I guess it was a success. Just thinking about it is making me want to do it again. This is all Death Wish Dave’s fault.
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Re: 2019 June Member Spotlight: lpaulriddle

Post by joejackson »

Great write-up. Actually bookmarked a couple of caches you mentioned for my "bucket list."

But now that I know that there's a way in - MeatballMatt and I will be at Daniel's in Elkridge Friday probably around 6 or 6:30. Free? I'd love the chance to buy you enough beer to learn what the "L" stands for!
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Re: 2019 June Member Spotlight: lpaulriddle

Post by flamingo_girl »

Nice write up! I never ever wondered what the L stood for....until you mentioned it......My puzzle solving skills have prevailed - I think I have it......
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Re: 2019 June Member Spotlight: lpaulriddle

Post by portlywalker »

Think LPaulRiddle is an outstanding choice by the MDGPS. He does service work and is kind and patient with us plodding along members. Thank you
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