My Conversation with Jim Clark (JDLC1936)

 

If you've spent any time in Eastern Iowa chasing geocaches and attending events, you may have had an opportunity to meet and chat with a man in yellow "measuring tape" suspenders, and who often totes along his favorite TOTT, a 3-tined pitchfork. Jim Clark is known to all in the geocaching world as JDLC1936. He has been chasing caches since July of 2009 and has amassed an impressive total of 15,156 finds.  He was also instrumental in establishing a series of hides in Seminole Valley (in Cedar Rapids) that cachers are still enjoying today.

I have been fortunate enough to not only meet Jim, but I spent several days out in the woods and on the trails caching with him.  We talked about anything and everything.  He has an incredible memory for caches that he found in the past and tells a story about as well as anyone I know.  Over the last few weeks he and I have participated in an email interview. I want to share with you excerpts from my time spent with Jim. Because of its length and depth, I will be publishing the interview in installments.  I hope you enjoy learning a little more about one of Cedar Rapid's geocaching stars.

Okay, Jim. Let's start with a couple questions about the days of your youth. I'm guessing that JDLC1936 means you were born in 1936, correct? Did you grow up in Cedar Rapids? How many siblings in your family?

I was born in 1936 in my maternal grandparent’s farm house, in the living room. It was located on the east side of South River in White Oak Twp. of Warren County, Ia. about 2 miles west of Indianola, Ia and 2 miles south. I had three younger brothers, I was five years older than my youngest brother so we were a tight knit group of trouble makers. With our rat terrier nothing was safe: bumble bee nests, bull snakes, ground hogs.

We moved to several different farms but I spent most of my summers at my grandmother’s. She raised chickens to butcher for sale and she also had a large flock of chickens for the eggs. One of my chores was to feed and water the hens and gather the eggs. She had an egg route and dressed chickens for customers in Des Moines, east of the capitol. She took me on her route so I saw the seat of Iowa Government at an early age.

My grandmother was an industrious person. She worked on the farm, keep a big garden and 100 years ago she hatched baby chicks in a big brooder in her bedroom. She had customers that bought the newly hatched chicks. It’s predictable when chicks are going to hatch so customers would arrive on the appointed date to get their newly hatched chicks.

I started school in a one room country school. It was called Lawrenceburg. Lawrenceburg was plotted on the county maps during the pioneer days but was never developed. A girl was my only kindergarten class mate. In March of 1941 we moved to a new place. People moved in March. Renter’s leases were up and you moved. The new school was Social Plains. I only had one classmate here too. Her name was Lucy. I saw her last summer at our 60th high school class reunion.

My teacher was Mrs. Duncan. She went to Indianola a year before we moved to town. She was the grade school principal and 6th grade home room teacher and taught math. She was a favorite and a big influence.

My grandfather bought a new threshing machine in 1936. He did the threshing for the neighborhood. But he died in 1939 and my uncle took over the threshing run. Though barely out of his teans. But threshing machines ran in the family. My grandmother’s dad and brother were thresher men.

WWII came along and soon most of the old machines wore out and young men were at war. When I was about 8 years old my uncle started taking me on the threshing runs as his helper. Machinery captured my attention. I liked everything mechanical. I have ever since.

My gt-gt-gt-gt-gt grandfather Thomas Shepherd’s mill in Shepherdstown, WV. He knew George Washington. Voting wasn’t secret back then. There is a record that Thomas Shepherd voted for George Washington to be commanding officer of their Virginia Militia.

In 1945 we moved to Indianola. I got a newspaper route (route 9) carrying the Des Moines Tribune and Sunday Register. The agency manager was A. (Alvin) C. Luckstead. He was from Clinton, Iowa. He kept me on the straight and narrow and made sure I paid for my papers before I went on a spending spree. I also got the job of getting to the paper office in the middle of the night on Sunday mornings to count out the paper routes when the truck got there from Des Moines. Then after I had delivered my papers I went back to the paper office and got to ride with AC in his new Oldsmobile when he delivered his news counter papers.

So, you moved into a new town. Was high school a bit bigger than grade school? What year did you graduate? Did you participate in any school activities/sports?
 
When we moved in 1941 to a 40 acre farm from a full time farm dad worked where he could find work. At the arsenal in Ankeny, for the Conservation Commission. We lived back to back with Lake Ahquabi State Park. Dad help plant ball and burlap pine trees across the lake. The trees were rowed across the lake and planted. He started driving a Standard Oil tank wagon delivering fuel and heating oil. This was during the war and people could only buy petroleum products they had ration stamps for. Dad liked truck driving. He started driving for local truckers. In 1952 he was hired by Eldon Miller Inc. a petroleum/acids/caustics/ heavy equipment hauler. The pipeline terminal was in Des Moines, but there was also one in Coralville and EM Inc. was headquartered in Iowa City.
 
Dad got transferred to Coralville. We moved to Coralville before school started at the end of August 1952. Coralville didn’t have a high school. We had a choice; City High in Iowa City and University High School in Iowa City. U-High was closest so we went to U-High. U-High was part of the Dept. of Education at the University of Iowa. Class size was about 40 some while Indianola’s was 60 some so not much difference. Same kind of classmates, farm kids, business, etc. so I fit right in. The big difference we were a Lab school and most of our teachers and administrators were going to the University and working on higher degrees. We many times didn’t work from a book. We reinvented math theories, etc., did a lot of push ups to see how many we could do, things like that.
I didn’t play any sports but went to all the games. Our football varsity field was the U of I’s practice field across the river, north of the stadium. I started working as a truck mechanics helper (for EM Inc.) between my Junior and Senior years. I stayed on the job working the night shift until Dec. of 1953. I graduated in 1954. Our graduation was held in Hancher Auditorium. Virgil Hancher being president of the University signed our diplomas.
BTW If you are familiar with the U Of I, U-High is at the north end of the street going by the Memorial Union, up the hill between Currier Hall and the river. It’s still there. Called North Hall and the the Kindergarten class room is Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop---Mickey Rooney.
My mother was working as the secretary for the Johnson County Breeders Co-op. Artificial cow inseminators. Her boss needed to take a vacation so he trained me and I rode along in the truck that summer and took over the job when he took his family on a vacation. We also sold farm chemicals and spray whited milking parlors. So don’t turn your back. 
After we moved to Coralville my brothers and I also worked part time for W. (Bill-Willoughby) A. Lee Jr.. a small builder, roofer, remodeler.
In the fall of 1954 I enter the U OF I as an engineering student. Signed up for 19 class hours/$68 plus books and materials. My Geocache avatar is my U of I ID picture taken the day I enrolled.
 
Wow! $68 for college courses? Amazing.You mentioned Wild Bill's Coffee shop? Isn't there a geocache placed there? It sounds familiar somehow.
So, college is happening at this point along with work. Were you able to cover the costs and continue in school or did the job start advancing for you?
When, where and how did you meet your wife? Was it during this time or later?
 
There are caches in the area along the river and campus but none at the coffee shop.
 
After school in 1955 I was “burnt out” and just wanted to work and have some money. There was a roller skating rink in Coralville. I met my wife there. I knew her brother before I met her. Her brother cruised around town and he was well known. Everybody called him “Klenk”, their last name.  Ed or Eddy was a fun guy. Smart and shrewd.
 

(Continued)

 
What year did you marry? Tell me a little about YOUR family. I'm pretty sure you mentioned children to me when we were out caching together...  
 
I married Betty Jean Klenk on June 7th, 1958 at the First Presbyterian Church, now known as “Old Brick”, the historic church and 2nd oldest building in Iowa City. This was the McCracken/Klenk family church. The McCrackens were Betty’s grandparents, originally from East Tennessee. The Klenks were one of the three first families to settle in Oxford Twp., Johnson Co., about 1852. They were from Baden-Baden Germany.

Our daughter Rebecca Sue was born in 1959 (she only answers to “Becky”) and son Scott De Loss was born in 1962. Becky lives in Colorado and Scott lives in Cedar Rapids. We have two grandsons, Chad and Kyle.
 

 
 Sorry if this seems like a bit of a jump, but... Bee keeping. It was on my "to ask" list because it is something that very few people take time to understand. How did you get involved in apiaries? Did your children ever express any interest?    
 
From the time I was about 3 years old I’ve had an interest in honeybees. My grandfather, uncle and my dad would cut down a bee tree and my grandmother would melt down the comb and then can the honey. Back in those days swarms of bees flying cross country were common. When I was in 6th grade we studied honey bees in science. I found all the information about honeybees that I could and decided to get a hive of bees. I saved every nickel and dime that winter and ordered a complete bee hive, tools and a 3# package of bees for next spring. I became a beekeeper. When we moved to Coralville I had to leave my bees in my grandmother’s back yard. After I retired in 1992 I decided to get more bees. I got 4 hives of bees After a couple of years I had about 28 hives of bees. I kept bees until just recently when I could no longer work them. The last I knew I might have one hive left. A few years ago I was producing several thousand pounds of honey.  You can still buy beehives and beekeeping equipment. As far as I know Bob Fassbinder from Elgin, Iowa still brings packages of bees from California every spring to restock Iowa bees.  And no, my kids weren’t interested in the bees. Most people aren’t. Bees sting. 
  
You built your own house from scratch?  Using hand tools?!  Is it the same house you are currently living in?  I'm thinking that the lot had to be on the distant edge of the city back then. 

 

Yes, still living in the house I built. When we bought the lot my wife wasn’t too keen about it. It was a new subdivision with only one other house on the block. Several other houses on other blocks. The lots were one acre or larger. The roads were barely gravel in good weather. There wasn’t Edgewood Road to cross the river. To get to the other side of the river you had to go downtown. That determined where I bid the building materials. The lumber yard I got my lumber also sold all the plumbing supplies including pipe that normally had to come from a licensed plumbers supply.

Your career at Collins - are we talking about Rockwell-Collins? I wasn't sure about that.  Sounds like your aptitude for all things mechanical led to a terrific career...

Collins was Collins Radio. This was before Collins/Rockwell. Art Collins was a radio genius. In the 60’s Art Collins started building large computers to digitally process all engineering designs, airline reservations, etc. As you may know computers are digital animals. They only count 1s and zeros. Before microprocessors the 1s and 0s were switched on small electro magnetic coils, individually wired. Thousands of coils and wires going every which way. Art got so wound up in developing the computer that he about broke the the company. Rockwell bought the company. I think Rockwell had “big eyes” on profiting on the Collins reputation. But Collins won out-It is still Rockwell/Collins.

At Collins job openings were posted on bulletin boards. They went by seniority in job offers. If you were next in line and qualified for the job you got it. If you weren’t qualified but could pass a test you got the job. I went from stock attendant to sheet metal helper to punch press operator. I ended up as a janitor for a while during a cut back but I kept a job. I had jobs as machine assembly operator, building maintenance (air conditioning chillers-compressors, boiler tender) sheet metal layout. In 1962 Collins was getting 3 new N/C turret punch presses, over half a million dollars worth. They needed programmers and I was offered the job. This was an “office” job. If you worked as an N/C programmer you learned all the N/C machines. As new machines were bought I learned to program them. I was sent to Milwaukee, WI, Cincinnati, OH, Edison, NJ on a milling machine, two different lathes, and Dallas, TX on a computer program.
I could program punch presses, drill presses, milling machines, jig borers, lathes and wire EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining). We went from programming on hard copy to computers. CADD-CAM. When I retired I was using a desktop, $25000 Sun Microsystems CAD computer. I sat all day at the computer converting engineering drawings to drawings on the computer. Fun-fun.
 
I retired at the end of January, 1991 as a senior N/C Programmer with 35 years and I worked one more year on contract, same desk, same computer.
About the time I retired Rockwell spun off Collins Government Avionics. I became a retiree of Boeing Aircraft. Not all that bad. Still a Rockwell retiree and my check comes from Boeing. Going from paper to computer was just adding more to my book of knowledge. The first computer use was just a numbers processor. Then we went to an in office main frame with work stations. Then we went to individual desk top machines. It’s more complicated than that but that is a basic explanation.
 

 Most cachers are fascinated to discover how others have found this amazing game.Can you tell me how you discovered geocaching?

I found Geocaching when I was benchmarking. They are both on the Geocaching web site. I was on the Linn County Democratic Party Central Committee. A guy named Gary Hart was running for my district’s state representative. His district ran clear over to the Anamosa area. He was a track supervisor for the UPRR in the area around Stanwood/Lowden. A really nice guy. You go about a mile south of where he lives north of 64, south of Center Junction, up along the ridge. N42 4.767 W91 7.117. if you are going through Wyoming. You have found caches near his place. Gary has a brother Bill that geocaches. Because Gary saw a lot of benchmarks along the railroads he was a benchmarker. They located a dislodged bench mark and got permission to place it at the end of his driveway in Madison Twp. That’s how I found out about logging them. I knew about benchmarks from years ago. There was one on the Simpson College campus at Indianola. I started using Google Earth to find them. Then I saw the connection between caches and benchmarks on the same web site. There is a prime benchmark at Morris.

7/18/2009 By JDLC1936

This could be "catching". My first cache found. Guess I need to get a GPSr. Just signed the log

I couldn't say how long I looked for benchmarks before I started finding geocaches. The first cache was along a rural road/street in Hiawatha. Now it’s a paved street with industrial buildings. There was a row of popular or similar trees along the road and a soybean field by the trees. I believe the cache was a larger PNJ and it was filled with starter cache film cans or pill bottles. You were supposed to take a container and place it for a new cache. I had the location by using Google Earth. I used Google Earth to locate other caches and I still do. I may use the coordinates and the Geo map and still use Google to locate GZ. You may think this is funny.  The 3rd cache I found was in Seminole Valley Park.  It was only a day or so after my first find that I ordered a GPSr from Amazon. It's a Garmin GPS 60 and I have it in my lap right now. I just reached over and took it off my computer desk. Almost like new. I think it has about 5000 finds on it before I got my GPSmap 62st. I'm holding it. I have 15156 finds.

 Your gps choices are inspired. You picked ones with some really nice features which allowed you to grow along with the game. Do you remember approximately how many caches were active in the Cedar Rapids area when you first began versus today? When was the first time you made contact with another geocacher? Who was it?   

I can't find any reference of meeting another cacher until 11/14/2009 at a Flash Mob turkey bowling put on by Busterbabe. All the biggies were there, even BGT. Busterbabe was my backyard neighbor's granddaughter. But I didn't know that at the time. I don't know how many caches were in the CR area. Must have been in the thousands.

Here's another meeting of a cacher. You will like this one.  The temperature was near zero, the snow was between ankle and knee deep and the cache was way back in a bend of the Wapsi on the Matsell Bridge Access side of the Wapsi about 2 miles from parking, 3 miles SE of Waubeek.  The cache was an ammo box in the crotch of a tree, about eye level.    

GC21HBE H.A.C -Horsemanship

1/3/2010 By JDLC1936
FTF 3:19:12 PM After getting "H.A.C The History of Camp Waubeek and Camp Wakonda" I headed over to try this one. I had the route plotted and knew this was going to be a trek. I parked and took my 4 tined walking stick (garden tiller). It makes a good walking stick and leaves an unique mark in the snow so I can pick my route out of the confusion when I backtrack. Most of the trail was already marked by cross country skier's tracks and they were going my way and that was a bonus. After a long hike, most of it following my plot, I arrived at GZ. Finding the cache couldn't have been easier. I used my walking stick to break the frosty grip the hide had on the cache. Another blank logbook!! I signed the log less than 2 hours after the other one, TNLN, re-hid the cache and started back toward the parking. I had only gone a little ways when I saw somebody wearing winter garb and a back pack headed toward me. You don't suppose? Yes it was-Supergoober on the trail. We meet again. LOL. We had a short talk and then had to get moving on our way as sundown wasn't long in coming. I think Supergoober beat me out of the park. I get milage for taking a longer way. The day ended with a fantastic red/rose sundown afterglow. TFTC.


I'm gonna guess that the socializing aspect of the game gained more momentum as time moved forward. Did you ever make contact with anybody to help you out as you got started in the game, or did you make your discovery of the nuances on your own? I noticed that you posted selfies earlier in your caching career.  Was that inspired by Super Goober?  What caused you to back off of that? 
Did you choose special caches for your milestone finds? Any one in particular that was memorable?

 

I never had any help with the GPSr or how to find a cache. I was always pretty good at finding how things work. I don’t remember taking a lot of selfies. I have a pretty good digital camera but it isn’t something I can stick in my pocket and lugging around my tripod is a lot of work. I took it up a near straight up bluff at Chimney Rocks. Went up a “chute” on the side of the bluff by pulling myself up the roots of a tree growing on the top of the pillar. I found the only correct way up when I went down. All the other ways were straight off sheer drops.
Usually a milestone cache was whatever came up next.

 

Your photos were a help to us newbies.  I often looked them over for a new cache to chase, but sometimes that picture was... different.  Hmm...
So, tell me about how you plan a day of caching. Do you have specific ones you select? Do you use bookmark lists? Or do you just load every unfound cache within 50 miles, turn on the unit and start driving?
Do you use a NUVI-like car gps with street maps, or just your handheld? What do you consider to be a standard number of caches to chase in a single day?
 
You couldn’t use some of my early “selfies” for a clue to what the container was. I was using a photo editor that had images of flowers, etc. that I could edit in the photo. I could edit in me holding a flower instead of a cache container.
With the GPS 60 I punched in all the coordinates by hand. With the 62 I downloaded from the computer through the USB cable. Still loaded one cache at a time. I picked the caches I wanted in an area and loaded them individually. Used Google Earth to pick routes and if there was a “street view” looked to see if I could find GZ beacon.
About a year or so ago I got a NUVI. A big help in finding the right roads but don’t trust it 100% as it isn’t perfect. It will take you across a river without a bridge and it will pick some really dumb routes when there are better ones. It works best when you pick some distant location or home. Usually gives the travel time down to the minute.
Picking the number of caches for the day is a shot in the dark. Caches spread over an area can eat up a lot of time. NE Iowa can burn up a day pretty quickly. A big difference between winter hours and summer hours. I’ve been known to extend the hours with my big Maglite and look for caches in the dark. I’ve done some wild and woolly night caches. I got lost south of Lowden one night looking for a TapeWorm cache. It had rained that day and water dripped off my jeans into my boots and they were full of water. There were fire tacks I was looking for but deer hunters had also placed tacks. I lost the trail back to parking. Finally found it. It was after 11 PM by the time I got to parking. Then I had the long drive home. Got home about 1am. My wife was having thoughts of calling the law.

 

I noticed from your profile that most of your finds are right here in Iowa. Did you ever do any travelling to find caches that involved an overnight stay? Ever have the compunction to, say.... fill your county grid? or find caches in every state?

 

The only overnight stays would be when I went to Indianola, my home town, and stay with my aunt and uncle and cousins in the house I was born in. Usually in conjunction with a school reunion. I’m too Scotch to think about paying to stay overnight in a motel. I’ve driven round trip 6 hours several times to distant places. I don’t now the exact times but I’ve gone to Rockford, IL., Lake Rathbun, Goose Island south of La Crosse.

I know I have had a few meetings with John Q Law.  How about you?  Ever have to explain yourself to the authorities?

 

Had several challenges from LEOs. I was doing “Re-Elect Earl GCT3H3” in Clinton. It’s a funny one because the first stage is down by the police station. The final was a KK stuck up under the boardwalk at the riverboat museum along the river trail at the river. I had found the cache and I was sitting in the grass signing the log. After I signed the log I went back to my car on the road and started to drive away. Then a police car pulled in behind me and turned on his lights. I stopped and this cop asked me if I was back at the riverboat. Well, I was by the boardwalk. Somebody had called the police with my license #. I showed him my GPSr and said I was Geocaching. “Oh, there is a guy in the department that does that” and he got back in the car and left.
Once, I was doing YB art SE of Williamsburg. I’d been doing them all day....
 
 

 Found it

05/29/2014

I decided today would be a good day to get these new caches. I really appreciate the way you named these as each one has a unique name that appears first on the GPS which makes it easy to keep track of the caches as I did them. It is amazing how many names and terms are used in Geocaching. If you didn’t name them all, you came very close.

I had made the find and signed the log and I was back in the GeoCruze updating the GPS and my cache sheets when I saw a large white SUV heading toward me. It looked like shabs. The vehicle pulled along side. It was a completely unmarked, civilian licensed SUV with a fully uniformed Iowa County Deputy Sheriff with a non-uniformed guy riding shot-gun. Wanted to know what I was doing. I said "Geocaching". Got that sort of deer in the headlights look-"what is that?". I showed them the GPS and explained what Geocaching is. They approved of that, thought it was "cool". They were checking out some suspicious activity in the area that was reported. Some guy in a bright blue pickup climbing in and out of ditches, looking at power poles. I said, "oh, that must be tennishoe". "Who's he?" I said "another Geocacher. I just saw him back aways." The sheriff asked me if we climb in and out of ditches. I said "yes". They looked at each other and nodded. I must have solved their suspicious activity.

I looked up tennishoe's occupation before I wrote this. Oh boy! If they catch that firefighter and EMS that should be fun to watch.

 

 A new cache came out after dark. It was in Jones Park...

 
24 Days Until Christmas – 2010 GC2JYQA

I went looking for it. I was using my big Maglite, looking up in a crab apple tree. The beam from the Maglite was like an arc light at a used car lot. I was still legal on the park hours. A pair of headlights came down the drive. A police car stopped. Could I use some help? or what was I looking for? I said I was Geocaching. He knew what that was and left.

 I don’t recall many run ins with Muggles but I did have a confrontation with the same guy that Supergoober told me about. This was before Supergoober’s. I was down at the end of Chain Lakes road, SE of Palo, near a Linn County conservation area. I was checking out the end off road barricade when the “grouch” drove up in his pick-up. Wanted to know if I was looking for a place to “take a crap?” I didn’t think he was funny, not a friendly type. I decided I wasn’t going to place a cache around there and subject cachers to this AH.

 

 So, time goes by, and somewhere along the way, you decide to hide caches as well as find them. Your first hide was at your house, correct? Tell me a little about your design...

Yes, my first cache is at my house. I won an ammo box at an event. I wanted to place it where it would be relatively safe. Too many ammo boxes get muggled, even when they are placed where they should never be found except as premium caches so that trouble makers don’t find the location on the web site.

I put it in the driveway culvert in front of the house. The culvert is public property so nobody has to go on private property. The culvert is a bit of a tight fit. I made a wooden track so a sliding carriage could track down the culvert. There is a rope attached to both ends of the carriage. The ropes allow the carriage to be pulled out of the culvert from only one way. The other way only allows the carriage to get pulled to about to the center of the culvert. So the ammo box can only be removed from one end of the culvert. Pulling it the other way only takes it half way. Thus rope a dope. Take the hint.
My wife keeps the box well stocked with kiddie things she finds at garage sales and this location makes a good TB drop. I get cachers from all over.

 Then, there's Seminole Valley park. Wow!! That thing was incredible. How did you go about creating it? Did you just walk around the park, picking out spots? Or was there advance planning using Google Earth?

Seminole Valley Park had a few caches in it. Several were puzzles so you had to know where the finals were. For such a large area it didn’t have many caches. It wasn’t getting used and not many cachers were showing much interest. I stopped at the parks dept. headquarters which was down 42nd St. from me. The parks manager wasn’t there but I left my phone number. He is Dan Gibbons. He called a day or so later. I asked if I could place Geocaches in Seminole Valley Park. Sure! No problem. No permits, rules, etc. They want the parks to be used. That’s why they are there. Seminole Valley Park and the riverside above downtown is the water field for Cedar Rapid’s water supply.

So I went to Google Earth and plotted all the placed caches and then I triangulated the whole park in .1+ mile steps. Then I went to all the locations with the GPSr and picked out cache hiding places. There are very few places in SVP that doesn’t have a hiding place. If there wasn’t an exact place I could use the GPSr to fudge the locations.
The biggest problem in SVP is it gets flooded and caches and beacons float away so I’m continuously replacing or moving caches. Whole trees disappear. I’ve gone to tethering caches or placing caches up in trees (if they weren’t there on purpose to start with). A good tether is a 12 inch galvanized spike stuck in the ground.

  Is there any one cache in Seminole that really worked well? If you're pre-picking the locations on the map before you ever walked in, then you had to make the cache fit the location, yes? I'm guessing there were a couple that "flopped" and a couple that were absolutely wonderful...

 

I can't think of a location that I couldn't create a cache. One was "The Remains of Davy Crockett." I came up with a name that fit the location or surroundings. As I approached this location that was a sand deposit along a ridge with few hiding places I found the remains of a raccoon hide. Thus the remains of Davy Crockett who wore a raccoon hide cap. I placed the hide with the cache. The hide is long gone but now I have a cemetery wooden cross at the cache. Another was A Cool Place For A Cache. I was at GZ for a cache on the flood plain in the wooded area between the river and the grassy plain near the old farmstead. There wasn't any really good unique hiding locations. I had walked by an old dehumidifier laying in the sand, not near GZ. I went back and looked at it. Looked like a "Cool Place For A Cache" if I could move it to GZ.  But the dang thing must have weighted #100.  I started moving it.  Carried it a ways and set it down.  Carried it some more and then set it down. Finally got it to GZ and placed a container in the box.  Then last summer in one of the floods there must have been a wave of logs and trash that pushed the dehumidifier down river an nowhere to be found.  Had to place a new container in a tree.

Another cache involves a little ornithology. A shrike is a bird that impales what it catches on thorns on trees for later consumption.  There was a big honey locust with lots of large thorns at GZ. Perfect for placing the cache up in the tree so that it requried some way to reach it without getting gored by a thorn. A Shrike Tree Along The Cedar.

 

  One of my favorite caches that you hid in Seminole Valley was the bison tube hidden in a small grove of dead saplings. You pounded a chunk of PVC into the ground, cut one of the saplings off, attached the bison to the base of the tree and slid it into the pipe so that it still looked like all the others in the location. The only thing that worked for us finding that one was the REALLY good coords to point us to gz. I still shake my head over that find. When BBB and I got to that spot, I couldn't imagine there was ANY place to hide a cache in that location. Outstanding! Is that cache still active? What was the name of it?

 

You Can't See The Cache For The Tree. GC38T4X

It was a length of PVC in the ground. I had to dig a hole and then drive the PVC in the ground. A smaller length of PVC was turned on a lathe for a slip fit in the buried PVC. Then I cut a sapling and shaved it down so the smaller PVC fit over it. That combination slipped in the PVC in the ground. The cache was fastened to the bottom end of the sapling.

The problem with it was when we got cold weather frost froze the two pipes together and the sapling couldn’t be pulled up. Also, that area was prone to flooding and the PVC would fill with water and the cache container would either take on water or the threads would jam. That was bad enough then a deep flood came along and wiped out the cache sapling and some of the cluster.

Had to do something different so I drilled a hole under a limb on a sapling at the joint and fit a bison liner in it. If you want to make a real evil cache find a pine tree with a limb almost at the ground and drill a hole under the limb where it joins the tree and put a Bison liner with the cap barely showing in it.

 

 Your reputation and your appearance are well known among Iowa geocachers. Part of it has to do with two signature items that are always on your person - your pitchfork, and your classic tape measure suspenders. Tell about how they became a part of your caching gear...

 

The pitchfork came about from my using a 4 tined garden tilling scratcher as a walking stick. The tilling scratcher tines couldn’t be stuck into the ground. I needed something that would stick in the ground so I could push myself up a slope or keep me from falling downhill. My wife goes to garage sales and she is always looking for “bargains”. She bought this pitchfork for 50 cents. Actually bought 3 and gave 2 to neighbors. The pitchfork is good for grabbing caches placed over head. As long as it isn’t tied to something. If it is within reach it beats climbing.
The suspenders came about after I had two lumbar laminectomies.  Suspenders don't put pressure on the back like a belt does.  At the time Menards was selling the same suspenders branded as "Liars" suspenders because they stretch.  I thought that was pretty cool. Menards stopped selling them but Ace Hardware carries them but they are no longer "Liars."

 

Both items are your trademark for sure. I have often considered adding a pitchfork to my arsenal. Seems to be a "multi-tool" all on its own. I have even read log entries from other cachers who spotted the "unusual tracks in the snow" and knew it had to be you and the pitchfork. The fact that cachers can figure out who is walking by noticing THAT --- pretty cool!
Has there ever been a time when you chased after a cache, and chased after a cache, and chased after a cache, until you finally managed to find it?
(I always called these "Great White Whale" caches because you are forever trying to find them and they keep eluding you)

 

The pitchfork is good for grabbing caches placed over head. As long as it isn’t tied to something. If it is within reach it beats climbing.
 
I guess you could call this a “Great White Whale”. I took several attempts before I found it. Actually, sunluver rode his Harley up from Clinton and helped me. You gotta do it! It's called Death Valley Revisited (GCR6WW), originally by oldtimer1, but adopted by bikefarmer. The cache is really nasty getting to the final. The valley along the creek is full of multi-flora rose, burrs, weeds and you have to cross that creek. There are places that is easy to cross. After one of my more unforgettable attempts I had to throw a pair of jersey gloves away. I think they picked up every burr along the valley.
 
 
 
 
Bikefarmer and I have become friends thanks to geocaching. Have you ever met him?
 
 
 
 
I was parked at the intersection of 36 and 61 west of Delmar. I had just found "The 42nd Parallel, aka Double Feature III (GC1CKM6)" and was writing some notes or something.  I didn't know bikefarmer from Adam but we had exchanged emails.  I was headed north on the access road.  A big John Deere tractor was headed south toward the drive-in theater.  It stopped along side me.  "Did you find it?" It was bikefarmer!!! How do we know when we meet another cacher? Bikefarmer is a good ole boy. 

 

 I know that there have been a number of caches AND events placed/held in your honor.

Would you like to talk about any or all of those?

 Congratulations JDLC1936 on your 5000th find! GC38JT4 

This was in Seminole Valley Park -- JDLC1936's 10,000 Find Tribute Cache GC4HRAX

 

JDLC1936's 10,000 Accomplishment!! GC4D0K6 in the park. 

 

All my Milestone Lane caches.

 

So, how did it make you feel to have events and caches to mark your milestones? Happy? Embarrassed? Proud? What were the event days like? Lotsa attendees? What went through your mind? Did anyone in your family attend as well?

 Not much embarrasses me anymore. My primary care doctor is a woman. The event was just a fun get-to-gather with most of the usual suspects in attendance. The logs lists them. Love them all.

Nobody in my family attended. That would be the last place you would find my wife. Her opinion of Geocaching is it borders on juvenile. But that cache in front of our house is her baby. If somebody stops for it she is out the door for hints and conversation. Had a guy stop two days ago. The snow plows had buried the end of the culvert in snow. She took him a shovel and showed him where to dig. Then they must have talked for 15 minutes.
Our neighbors with the barking dogs moved away so one of the big talking points is gone. The dogs scared some people but they were behind an electric dog fence and only barked for attention and wanted people to throw their toys so they could fetch them. They had the UPS delivery guy trained to throw their ball.

 Lets talk events in general. Were there any "never-miss" events that you always looked forward to attending? Did you go by yourself or team up with another (I'm sure there were plenty of people to chat up once you got there!)?

 I think I attended every event up to 100 or more miles away. Some I went to to fill some seats. Went to yours several times. Waterloo, Keokuk, Nevada, Coralville, Ottumwa. If I didn’t go alone I went with RonTon and Sue. I knew about everybody so could visit with them all, share war stories.

 

 

 Are Ron and Sue a source for help with caches, like tricky puzzles or caches you couldn't find? Who do you use as your phone-a-friend source? And speaking of phones, when did you FINALLY get a cell phone, because I remember hearing stories of you adventures deep into the woods with no way to contact anybody ;)

 

 Ron is a puzzle solver. So is Rlowtek and The Weasel. We trade solutions. Rlowtek is the puzzel solver extra-orden-air. He has about every puzzle solved for several hundred miles out. More than once he will solve a puzzle and send me the solution before I’m even aware that the cache has been published. Ron and Tim sometimes do the same. I usually write in my log my on-line Geocache puzzle solver sent me the answer. Larry Darling –C4!, Keekle, Sunluver, DTCBears, BBB, The Zinger and many others I either share or cache with.

I caught up with C4! NE of West Branch one afternoon. We decided to go down NE of Muscatine to get some caches. I rode with him. Larry parks every which way. He will head toward the left ditch from the wrong direction with his vehicle hanging out in the traveled portion of the road. The gravel roads northeast of Muscatine, north of 61 take a jog before they stop for 61. We stopped for a cache in the ditch and Larry parked headed the wrong way on the north side of the road. We just got stopped and I was about to get out of the car. I heard this siren that seemed to be closing fast. Larry yelled: DON”T OPEN YOUR DOOR! A red Pontiac with a sheriff's squad car in close pursuit went flying by my door. WOW! Gravel was flying. Close enough.
I got a Tracfone not long after we did those Eden Valley caches. I was back at Eden Valley doing one of the multis and needed to PAF in Davenport. Eden Valley is a black hole for cell phones. I had to drive several miles south and get up on a ridge before I could get a connection. The Heritage Trail below Sundown Mt. is another dead spot. Probably a lot of places in NE Iowa in those hills and valleys where a cell phone won’t do you any good.
Those stories about me being deep in the woods are true. I was down close to the Cedar in that large bottom around Conesville, I think. The weeds were head high and thick. I climbed over a big log that wasn’t on the ground. Dropped into the worst tangle of vines and weeds ever. I couldn’t move. Got out my pocket knife and had to cut my way out of the mess.
 
 
Are there any particular puzzles that your background and work career helped in solving?
 
Some of the puzzles using IBM cards and ASCII code I was familiar with.  I was an numerical control programmer. All our machines were controlled by paper/mylar/aluminum tapes with holes punched in them that contained the code. The tapes directed the machines to move in X, Y and Z, controlled the tool selection, spindle speed, etc. I programmed over 20 different machines: punch presses, drill presses, lathes, jig borer, wire EDM (Electrical discharge machining), and milling machines.  They were either absolute or incremental movement in their positioning.  One of the lathes was designed to turn the ball on hip replacements. It would position to .00005 accuracy. It used electrical/hydraulic servos to drive the ways. 

 

Has there ever been a caching day where everything seemed to go wrong? How about a day where everything clicked and worked out perfectly?

 Not sure about a day when every thing went wrong. I’ve been thinking about “tape worm’s” (Parabola or Travis Dooley’s) caches. He did the scouting anniversary caches. H.A.C. He usually put out ammo boxes and had then scattered over 60-70 miles. Some were easy but his big trick was to place them as far back in a woods that the boundaries would allow and in terrible terrian.

He had one in a girl scout camping timber. This place wasn’t maintained. I had to work my way through a berry thicket just to get out of the parking lot. Went clear back to the boundary fence near the NE corner. Got near GZ and heard a chain saw running. Some farmer was just beyond the fence with a tractor and cart, cutting wood. We were within eyesight of each other. The trail back to him was just over the fence. Rats! I decided to out wait him so I laid down on the ground behind a big tree. He took forever but finally got his load of wood and then moseyed past me on the other side of the fence. That didn’t make my day.

 

 I have to ask you about "the elephant in the room." Can you tell me about the days leading up to your current diagnosis and what's been going on with you healthwise?

I was thinking about this when the fire at Traer on Jan. 13th was mentioned on the news tonight. I went through Traer on the 13th. Must have been just before the fire because I went by where the fire was and it had to be before the fire. I was heading for some caches sw and west of Dike. I was feeling fine then. I started feeling weak and losing weight after that. I got bronchitis after that and as I was still feeling weak as I was getting over it. I get a checkup every 90 days for A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol plus blood tests for liver effects of the drugs I take. One of the liver readings was way out of spec. I always to the tests for signs of problems and never had anything. That’s when my doctor ordered more tests and they found what I had. I have liver cancer. It's advanced. There is a chemotherapy pill I can take that may help, but the oncologist left it up to me to decide if I want to or not. I completed my second round of it and am waiting for the test results to see if it helped or not.

 

 Jim, I know I speak for the whole caching community when I say that you are in our thoughts and prayers.  And I want to thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions for this interview, and giving us a little closer look into your life both as a geocacher and the history of who you are.

We are all thinking of you, my friend!

iowaPete