Interview with Iowa Geocachers

One of the most loved couples in Iowa Geocaching is Hill Folk, and they are the subject of this month's Interview with Geocachers.

I met Twila at Lake Wapello when I came to bring her a paper I filled out for the event. She asked us to stay to a Pot Luck which we didn't know about. If you know Twila that is just like her, caring and giving. Twila, when do you remember meeting us for the first time? I think it was a flashmob hosted by JeePsers at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. It turns out you were at the very first event we attended at Chichaqua Bottoms near our home, but we were new and didn't know anyone.

Where did your handle come from? Gary said, " Since we love the rolling hills of southern Iowa, let's choose Hill Folk."  It had not been used yet.

How did you get into Geocaching? Gary got a gpsr from someone at work with the idea of marking graves of ancestors.  As he was reading about the gpsr, he read about geocaching.  We thought we should try it.  We found our first cache was at Quercus Park near Eddyville.  We thought it was fun.  We were also amazed that park was close to us and we didn't even know about it.

How long have you been caching? Our first find was on 5/5/05 ( weird huh?) May 5, 2005. We have hidden 311 over the years.  169 are active.  We have found 8,754.  We have attended 368 events. We have attended 9 Mega events.  We helped out with 2 MOGA's, Geocoinfest in St. Louis, and will be helping with MOGA in Manhattan, KS this April. We have cached in 23 States and have found the oldest cache in 7 of them.  We have completed the Iowa County Challenge and the Illinois County Challenge.  We hope to complete the Missouri County Challenge this year.

You have hosted quite a few events, how many have you hosted? We have hosted 9 events and helped with several others.

You both are retired, what were your occupations before you became full-time geocachers? I was a Licensed Practical Nurse for almost 50 years.  Gary worked for the Iowa Dept of Transportation in maintenance for 32.  Now that we are retired, we are trying to make up for lost time.

Is Carson the only one of your grandkids from your family who will go caching with you? Before they all grew up, we had all 10 caching with us.  One time we took country roads with a picnic lunch and 7 of the 10 piled in the back of the Escape because they all wanted to go caching.  But, Carson, to this day, still wants to go.  Grandson, Cole, from Illinois, would cache all the time with us, too, if he were closer.  Braelin and Eva still think it is fun, too.  We just have Carson with us more often.

How long did you serve on the IGO board? I think I served 6 years.  I think as VP for 2 and Secretary for 2.  I served as Land Manager Chair so we could complete the mission of eliminating the "Only 3 caches in State Parks" guide lines.  It took Gary 2 years to get that done, with the help of Starla Atwell and Tom Baskin.  We were thrilled, to say the least, when that happened.  Honey Creek Resort and Honey Creek State Park, Lake Wapello, and Lacy-Keosauqua State Park were the catalyst parks for us. 

Just a couple of things about IGO.  It has been great to be part of the organization.  I remember when Nebraska first thought of a state wide organization.  Brady Holmes and I think Coby Boring contacted me about how IGO worked.   They have a great organization GoNE.  IGO can be proud that we gave them some ideas.

Also, when a hobby is about the wonderful people you meet, the friendships that are made that will last a lifetime, you know you picked a good one.

When I look back at the beginning of our hobby, I will always remember the first event we attended.  It was in West Point, Iowa.  When we saw the event publish I asked: Can anyone attend?  The answer came from a guy named Summit Dweller.  Just walk in, show your GPS, and you will find us.  We did.  And 12 years later, the friends we made at that event are still friends, and more like family. 

And over the years, we have added so many more to our geocaching family.

I have said it more times than I can count and mean it every. single. time.   I thank God and Geocaching for you all.