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Monday, August 17, 2015

Greg Pattinson Hunts for Geocaches Throughout Fort Thomas

Greg Pattinson, with a trackable cache he found in Fort Thomas, overlooking I-275 and the Ohio River.

Geocaching: Locating a container with a log (piece of paper) using a hand-held GPS or phone app. "Technology has made it much easier to play this game," says Greg Pattinson. "The coordinates are uploaded into your device and then you go find them. The locations are public. is free. Anyone who wants to play is welcome." 

Pattinson, a Taylor Mill-based credit manager who has found more than 1,500 caches says there are several hidden in Tower Park and Highland Hills Park. "Frankly, there are caches throughout Fort Thomas," Pattinson says. "All are hidden at least a little. Stumps and bushes are popular hiding spots. In urban areas, lamp post skirts are very common. The size of a geocache can be the size of a fingertip. The biggest I've found was the size of a car, because it was a car." 

August 9, Pattinson was looking for a cache called "Welcome to Ft. Thomas." Everything was going along splendidly, until he was stopped by Officer Emily Leising of the Fort Thomas Police Department. But not only did Leising know about geocaching, she offered to help Pattinson. "It was a great interaction with one of Fort Thomas's finest," Pattinson says.

Greg Pattinson and Mark Guttadauro, seeking caches in Tower Park. 

Pattinson signed up for a account February 2010. He logged his first find November 2011. "My best friend, Fort Thomas resident Mark Guttadauro, started geocaching in 2006 and once he got good at it, he tried to get me to join him," Pattinson says. The duo searched Cincinnati's Alms Park using a hand-held GPS unit in 2008. They found a couple caches, but not the first one they sought. "A couple years later, I actually won a hand-held GPS in a radio contest," Pattinson says. A year passed, and Pattinson's interest grew. "I can still remember finding my first geocache unassisted," Pattinson says. "I was hooked from that point." Pattinson now averages finding one cache per day.

"The Shark" cache, located in Tower Park. 
Once you find a cache, you sign a piece of paper located inside to indicate you've found it, and then leave the cache for the next person to find. "Some geocaches have trinkets you can trade," Pattinson says. "This aspect is more for kids, I think. My favorite thing to find is a trackable item, referred to as a travel bug. These items are meant to travel from cache to cache. If you find one, you log it online and when you drop it off, you log it online. The owner of the item gets to track its movement online. I personally have several traveling the world. It is fun."

Police encounters are somewhat common for geocachers. "In a strange way, it is almost a right of passage to say you've met a police officer while caching," Pattinson says. "About half have heard of it, and when you run into an officer that knows what geocaching is, the conversation is normally much less stressful."

August 9, Pattinson had just dropped his daughter off at the YMCA. He pulled up local geocaches using his phone app, and then drove down River Road to find the "Welcome to Ft. Thomas" cache. "There used to be a sign, but now there's a post," Pattinson says. "When I first got out of the car, a passerby stopped to make sure I was OK. That was nice!"

Pattinson walked across the street, found the cache and picked it up. As he was preparing to sign the log, he looked up to see Officer Leising walking toward him. "I didn't hear her pull up, so that was a little shocking," Pattinson says.  "Knowing I wasn't breaking any laws, I greeted her respectfully and, hopefully, warmly. Our conversation was awkward at first, but once she knew I was geocaching, things got better." 

Fort Thomas Police Department Officer Emily Leising and Pattinson, August 9

Officer Leising asked if any trinkets were in the cache. Pattinson showed her what was inside and then the two started talking about another geocache located about 600 feet away called "Skull Mountain." "Originally, I was not going to go for it, because it requires a lot of climbing," Pattinson says. "Emily suggested I follow the route of the rain gutter up the hill and showed me where it came down. It turns out I could not take that path all the way as there were more than a few fallen trees making it impassable. Still, she was encouraging enough that I had to try. I made it up the hill, found the cache, signed the log, put it back where I found it and started down the hill. My daughter called just as I was approaching my car. The timing was perfect." Pattinson picked up his daughter and the two stopped for a couple more caches on their way home. "It was a nice afternoon," Pattinson says.

Pattinson enjoys trackable items, but loves finding a geocache that hasn't been found for awhile—especially if others have looked and missed it. "There's something satisfying about knowing my skills permitted me to find something that isn't easy to find," he says. When weather doesn't permit geocaching, Pattinson enjoys quilting—seeking beauty and art in the formation of fabric pieces and the intricacies involved in stitching.

Interested in geocaching? Check out (Pattinson's geocaching name is "GMSkippyP" and Guttadauro's name is "The Kokopelli.") Pattinson also his hosting the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Cachers (OKIC)'s September 8 dinner at LaRosa's in Taylor Mill at the new Trifecta building. "It is an open invitation to all cachers, experienced or not," Pattinson says. "Anyone interested in learning about geocaching is welcome to join us."

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