Interview with an Iowa Geocacher - and his Alter Ego

This month's interview is with a dual geocaching personality- Mark McFate- Summitt Dweller with a few side comments from Iowa Landmark thrown in.

How did you start caching? My sister Marlene (marden2000) introduced me to caching in 2001. I was working in New York at GE, and commuting home on the weekends. I had a lot of free time in the evenings but no GPS. My geocaching started on February 20, 2002 (with a DNF no less) after moving home to the Tama-Toledo area from Kansas City.

How did you pick your handle? I live on Summitt Street, and started a little enterprise called Summitt Services, my handle comes from that.

Mark has 4800 finds, 57 hides and at least one find in each of the 9 different types. He has also attended 246 events and 3 Megas.

You were on the IGO board, a charter member? Yes, I took part in the EIGA (Eastern Iowa Geocaching Association) and became their webmaster. The EIGA eventually became IGO and I am still the webmaster today. I remember writing the original IGO by-laws while driving my pick-up and 5th wheel from a long weekend at a MOGA. I was a past member of the BOD, the first Vice-president and was President for a stint too and charter member of geocaching.com. I don't recall how many terms I served, a few years, I think. 

Your favorite caches? There are so many but the most memorable is the Covert Cache (GC3798), a classic, and I found '49 and Holding the Cache - A Gold Miner’s Delight’ (GC202RG) on my 50th birthday. Then there is Alley Cache/Ian's Cache (GC15ZBV) in Albia, that holds a special place in my heart.

So now I want to talk about about your alter ego. You mean that Iowa Landmark fellow? Back in September 2014 I received some e-mails and at least one phone call from some of the CVS (community volunteer support) team at Groundspeak. Heartland Cacher, a reviewer for Nebraska and Wyoming along with Ken-IowaAdmin (whom I meet at the 1st cache bash in des moines) both had recommended me. I was asked if I had any free time (NO) and if I was interested in helping review in Iowa since Tiki moved to Michigan. My 3rd Anniversary will be October 4, 2017.

How did Iowa Landmark come about? When I became a reviewer I remembered a couple of Colorado cachers commmenting that Summitt Dweller should belong to someone who lives in the Rockies. I coined a handle that I thought was more appropriate. Mark, I think they were envious.

What do yo do in the real world? I have degrees in Civil Engineering from ISU and KU, but retired from engineering-related IT work, and Hewlett-Packard, in August 2012. A few days later I became the Digital Library Applications Developer at Grinnell College. I enjoy creating and managing systems and software.

So what's new for Summitt Dweller and Iowa Landmark? This past winter I bought a partially completed teardrop “foamie”, a tiny 600 lb. travel trailer constructed mostly of foam insulation board. I’ve had it on-the-road once and am slowly adding features to prep for more camping. So look for me and my foamie (it’s trackable, as am I!) at an event near you soon.