Today I'd like to welcome Mary Alice Fellers, the geocacher behind the Crystal Lake 100 Years Geocoin Challenge. I did a post about the series on Monday, so go back and read about it here
if you missed it. I asked Mary if she'd answer some questions about the process of putting together all the geocaches and she kindly agreed.
The Crystal Lake 100-Years Geocoin
Challenge was created to celebrate Crystal Lake's centennial anniversary of
incorporation (1914-2014). Whose idea
was it to place the caches and extend the challenge?
I approached the City in August 2013 about the geocoin
challenge. I had just completed the
Crystal Lake (CL) Park District’s 90 Years of fun Geocoin challenge a month
earlier. That sparked my interest to
create a geocaching series that would explore CL’s history and include a
geocoin with our City’s new centennial logo.
City staff embraced the idea and granted me permission to use their
Who designed the geo coin?
The design itself already existed in a sense since the
geocoin was going to incorporate the City Seal on one side (with the exception
of adding the ‘Track at…” verbiage and a raised area for the TB number) and the
City’s new Centennial logo on the other side.
The geocoins were manufactured by CoinAndPins.com.
250 geocoins were available for the
challenge. Who paid for the
This project, including the coins, was my
gift to the City in celebrating its 100 years.
In order to not dilute the limited edition nature of the 250 trackable
geocoins intended for the Challenge, the manufacturer was given instructions to
not produce any more than the original 250 trackables. A separate die was then manufactured that
looked just like the TB geocoin but without the geocaching verbiage &
tracking numbers. 100 of these
non-trackable commemorative coins were also purchased for the City to
distribute as they wished.
This was a huge undertaking
considering that you had to scope out cache locations, make the geocaches,
design the passports, place the caches and then write up all the cache descriptions. Did you work on everything yourself or did
you have some help?
So true…it was
an 8-month labor of love researching everything geocaching and Crystal Lake, to
such things as HTML formatting. Much of
what went into this came from what others had done already and were willing to
share. CL City staff was accommodating
& supportive in so many ways throughout the entire process. CL Historical Society granted permission to
use photos and excerpts from their written materials. The CL Fire Department provided stories,
photo and their cache’s host. Rebecca
Hunter of Elgin graciously provided a list of local Sears kit homes that she
had compiled back in 2002. McHenry Co.
Historical Museum in Union even went looking for the old CLFD hose cart, found
it in the corner of one of their storage barns, took a picture & sent it to
me for use on the cache page. A local printer
was used to create the cover for the Library cache and to print the
passports. My husband, Jim, was a great
help in putting together five of the cache host boxes.
The cache descriptions are extremely
interesting and informative. Where did
you gather all your facts and history?
after reel of microfilm containing old chronologically-ordered newspapers at
the library; following trails of information gleaned from documents, maps,
books & brochures from the local historical society and library; searching
online sources; and conversing with folks who had interesting stories to share.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone
who is interested in doing something similar to highlight their town and open
it to the caching community?
approaching your town’s community development staff or Chamber of
Commerce. If there is an upcoming
milestone, festival, or other special event, it could be a great time to
introduce a geocaching series. Our City
staff was enthusiastic about this project from the beginning and even asked if
I wanted to write an article for our local newspaper featuring the geocache
series as part of their centennial celebration.
A Woodstock middle school teacher contacted me after
being inspired by the CL100Years series.
She organized a similar geocache challenge at her school last month to
teach their 260 sixth grade students about the town’s local history and give
them a fun opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom. Although these were not published caches, a
lot of people were introduced to the world of geocaching and the onsite geocaching
‘field trip’ they designed can be tweaked & reused for future classes.
Are you a Crystal Lake resident and
if so, how long have you lived there?
What was the inspiration for some of
Perusing online videos, images, & blogs
got my creative juices flowing for many of the geocache containers. For example, I love WVTim’s gadget caches and
knew immediately when I saw one of his Hatfield ‘n McCoy concepts that it would
be a perfect tie in to “Let’s Go Fishing” (GC4XK2V). Some of the write-ups were inspired by listening
to Violet & Almeda, now ages 97 & 95, over the years talk about their
life experiences in CL, or being intrigued by a pickle factory. Noticing a particular statistic being reported
on in the newspaper each year at about the same time led to
“Telephones=Prosperity” (GC4XPM5) becoming one of the themes in the series. A 1929 newspaper
ad announcing the grand opening of “El Tovar” (GC4XM0N) inspired me to explore
further the lost form of bringing sound to the theater.
Did you have any problems getting
permission to place the caches at their locations?
Not really – only a couple people declined. What helped greatly was having the geocache
series incorporated into the City’s centennial celebration. I met with each property owner/manager to
explain the geocoin challenge and the historical theme of the cache proposed
for their property. I also wanted to
make sure they understood the caches would remain in place indefinitely once
the challenge ended and that they had my name/phone number should any
Of all the caches that you’ve
created, which is your favorite and why?
Each cache in this series took me on a special journey. Maybe it was deciding a cache theme or tying
together a cache page story to its container and/or location. The “1965 Tornado” (GC4XNGQ) cache was placed
in the same spot as the cache page newspaper photo of the destroyed Standard
Oil station, and the National Weather Service story transported the reader so
well to the events of that day. The only
thing missing was getting the cache container to open like storm cellar doorsJ. There’s standing at the monument creating the field
puzzle for “Union Soldier, Revisited” (GC4XQQY) then looking down and
discovering what appears to be a misspelling of the manufacturer’s name.....
Or there’s figuring out how to feasibly bring
to life a stage curtain, ice box and Sears kit home by transferring pictures
onto wood, or how to dig a little deeper into the log when the chisel no longer
would work. So I don’t think I could
name a favorite.
How long have you been geocaching?
2½ years…started in June 2013.
What is your caching name and why
did you choose it?
Needed a name
quick – Maddie was our dog & she liked to go, so there you have
The 90 Years of Fun Geocoin
Challenge put out by the Crystal Lake Park District a couple of years ago was a
huge success. Had you done that
Yes…see answer to question #1.
What is the best cache you’ve ever
done that is not one of your own?
I’ve enjoyed so
many caches for various reasons that I don’t think I could name a best
“Out of Sight” (GC232EV) was a
marvelous adventure & learning experience.
A sense of accomplishment was felt after meeting the goals for “The
Illinois All County Challenge” (GCT663) and “The Illinois DeLorme Challenge”
(GCREG1)…not likely I’ll be doing any more of those, though – been there/done
that. “Great Kaskaskia Dragon” (GCHWFZ)
is a cool host to see at night, and “Q’s MOGA 2013 Gadget Cache” (GC44GMY) is
wonderfully clever. When I’m solo
caching, I prefer those that I can get to relatively quickly. The best caches are geocoin challenges, creative
gadget caches, caches that make me smile, and clever puzzle caches (when I can
Any plans to spearhead another
No plans for another challenge at this
time. I’m waiting for CL100Years Geocoin
Challenge to end so that I can pull some of the caches in for maintenance
hopefully over the winter…there are still about 20 geocoins remaining!
I'd like to thank Mary for her interview but more than that, I want to thank her on behalf of the whole geocaching community and the city of Crystal Lake for all her hard work. She did a wonderful job highlighting her town and bringing scores of people to Crystal Lake in a fun and intriguing way.