March 2008

Brian - Team A.I., a geocacher who now resides in Billings, began geocaching in Arizona on August 21, 2001. Before moving to Montana in 2003, he had already found 911 caches; a number symbolic of time spent with the Highway Patrol. Upon arriving in the "Magic City," and finding only 9 caches hidden, Brian went out, found and logged all them of by the end of his second day on vacation.
An influential person for the Billings Geocaching Group, Brian has provided guidance and conceptual ideas which have really helped the local geocaching community expand and grow.

Geocaching isn't the only activity that preoccupies Brian's spare time, however, as both he and his wife enjoy four-wheeling. As members of the Magic City 4-Wheelers, they both take the opportunity to go on monthly rides, usually to places like the Bighorn, Pryor, and Belt Mountains, as well as Cooke City. The club is heavily involved in conservation and trail maintenance, and is dedicated to keeping public lands open for everyone’s use.

"What got you started in geocaching?"
One night, while we were living in Phoenix, I was on the computer when my wife had me watch a news story about geocaching. A few months earlier, my Dad had given me a GPS he no longer used, a Magellan Pioneer (I've since switched solely to Garmin on all subsequent units). Immediately after the story was through, I was on the computer again, creating my account; and ten minutes after that, I was going for my first find.

"What about your geoname? What is Team A.I.?"
Team A.I. came out of one of my earlier caching adventures with a good friend who goes by the cache moniker Jake - Team A.I.. I had been using Addikt VERY early on, but revised all my logs to reflect the name change when Jake made the suggestion of Team A.I.; placing our names in front of that. An online identify I've used for years and continue to use, is Addikt. Jake uses Insomniak. Put those together and you have A.I. Even though we live in separate states, we still use that, even though at one point Jake asked if I was going to change my name living in another state. It didn't sound right to use anything else, so this is what I kept. Most people believe the "A.I." had something to do with Artificial Intelligence. We've since designed and minted one team coin, and V2 is in the discussion stages right now.

"What differences have you seen in geocaching over the years?"
Over the past couple of years, I've seen an increase in the overall number of cachers, the number of cachers with significant find totals, and newly placed caches. But, in some ways, the qualities of caches have degraded significantly because of the 'light pole' phenomenon. Too many people seem to think that anywhere you have a tall metal object which emits light in the midst of an asphalt expanse, it is worthy of a cache. But at the same time, there are several cachers in this area that have put out some outstanding finds in both creativity and difficulty. On the flipside of that, though, there are those within the geocaching community that seem to think it creative to put "e-mail for a hint" as the clue on the cache page. Personally, I feel that if there isn't going to be any information of value, there should be nothing. It's obvious that if someone needs a hint, they'll use a lifeline.

"What are your favorite types of geocaches to find, and to hide?"
My caching overall, I think, has evolved to a point where I still enjoy the urban hunt, but prefer rural caches in beautiful terrain instead. The last several caches I've placed have all been in some of my favorite outdoor places to visit in the Bighorns. I plan on putting several more new ones in the Pryor Mtns. this coming spring or summer as well.Anymore, I find more value in the journey of getting to the destination, what you see along the way and what you find at the end. Not so much interest in the cache contents as the visuals presented to the cacher once in the area of the find. I had put five new caches out along Devil's Canyon, but due to discrepancies in land-ownership at two of them, only three were ever approved. If I can ever figure out the wiring, I plan on putting out a spectacular cache this summer that will involve LEDs...and that's all I'm going to say.Also, if I can get permission from the landowner, I'm hoping to place a cache that mimics a concept I did in Arizona; placing a geocache at the geographical center of the state.

"What can you tell us about your involvement with the Billings Geocaching Group?"
While in Arizona, I was very involved in the local (geocaching) community, which was very informally organized, but was a fairly tight-knit group. When I was preparing to move, I began researching caching in this region, and the BGCG was just being formed. I joined the group and began posting. It seemed that people were excited to have me moving to the area. The hope was that I could provide some guidance and conceptual ideas related to geocaching and its desired expansion. I've taken some time off from caching in the lastyear, but have recently gotten back into it. During the past six months, geocaching has really exploded in popularity.

"Playing a large part in the design of the newly released 2008 Montana Geocoin, can you expand on your involvement?"
The Montana Geocoin was something I worked on for months, but life seemed to find a way to get in the way and the project was put on hold several times. During the period of delays, several other Montana geocachers continued to develop various other coin designs, however, they were in the very early stages of development when I finally attacked and completed my concept. I ended up incorporating elements from some of the other ideas, and in the end, my design was the one selected to representative our state.
I've been involved in the design of several coins, mostly related to Arizona caching, and heavily incorporate symbolism into the designs. Granite Peak was selected as a symbolic point of reference; as the highest peak in the state, home of a USGS benchmark, and now the highest cache in the state. Lewis and Clark are a very important part of Montana history, and much like geocaching, their discoveries of new places were sought and enjoyed by those who followed. Some of the neatest places I've seen are the result of caches bringing me there.

I'd like to thank Brian for his cooperation and enthusiasm with this interview. I’m sure there are a lot of geocachers out there anxiously awaiting his next challenge geocache!
Brian - Team