CacheCrazy.Com: 366 Days of Caching*

Friday, January 23, 2015

366 Days of Caching*

*Over 2 years

Act I
I found my first cache on March 8, 2011. Then a second and third cache. I found more the next day, but the 10th I took off (though I can’t remember why.) Starting on March 11th, I decided to go for a 30-day streak. That turned into 60 days, and then on to 100 days. My wife wasn’t too sold on the streak idea (especially after the night I had to go out in the driving rain at 11:00pm 15-20 minutes away to find a nano in a CVS parking lot.) Consequently I ended it after 105 days.

My First Log on Backstage at Souderton (GC1XBP1
Of course, I didn’t stop caching. Far from it! But I did stop caching every day. I set a personal goal to find 1,000 caches my first year, by March 7th, 2012. I grabbed all the caches I could, everywhere I went. On March 3rd, 2012, I found 26 caches, the last being my 1,000th cache! (Abby's Cache GC1RNH3) That included one trail where I found 11 with my caching family, RaE1O-EFam (brother) and ladyiredhat (mom) and some of our kids (aka the microcachers,) and 15 other caches around the Reading, PA area.
I hosted a World Wide Flash Mob VIII event “Singing in Souderton” (GC2WKDZ) at the site of my first cache find
After that, I paused to consider my caching experience to-date. I know some cachers who have found 10,000+ or even 50,000+ caches, but still: 1,000 is a lot! Was I having fun? Most of the time, I decided. At that moment, it hit me: all caches are not created equal! I realize this probably seems painfully obvious, and I already knew this simple fact, but what clicked was the “why.”

What I realized is, for me, lamp post and guardrail caches just don’t have the same appeal as really awesome caches. I started off caching either solo or with my kids, but realized it’s REALLY fun to go with friends. One of my most memorable caching adventures was with the CacheCrazy crew and the Trilogy of Terror, with my good friend Team Firenze and new friends Bloodhounded, Nishollow, TravelnbHappy21, and many others. My most recent exiting caching adventure was Raiders of the Lost Cache near Lebanon, PA with geobuds Team Firenze, Geo-Ben and our microcachers.
Raiders of the Lost Cache adventure
What makes these caches so awesome? Sure, the nature, the hike, the views from the top, the physical and (sometimes mental) challenge, but mostly, it’s the camaraderie. You just can’t do a lamp post cache with a group. Alright, technically you CAN, but it’s just not as much fun having a group stand around a lamp post while one person lifts the skirt to find a pill bottle and signs everyone in as climbing a 250 foot boulder wall/waterfall then climbing back down 15-20 feet into a cave with that same group. (Plus, having more eyes usually decreases the chances of DNFs!)
Trilogy of Terror: the climb up (with Dodger of DLC)
Trilogy of Terror: the climb down (with Bloodhounded and Smithie)
Trilogy of Terror: View from the top (you don’t get THAT at most guard rails)
I still go caching alone; it’s nice to be alone with nature and my thoughts, caching along the way. But it’s even more fun to go with a friend or two (or 15!)

So, now I had 1,000 caches under my belt, but I wasn't anxious to go grab another 1,000 easy finds, and I didn't have time to find 1,000 high-quality caches over the next year, so what would my next challenge be?

Act II
Pondering what to do next, I soon took a look at my statistics page. I scrolled down and noted my calendar. I had found caches on 251 unique days. In one year. Wow, I really had been caching a lot! That meant I needed to fill in 115 unique calendar days. It seemed so easy at the time...
Lots of green…but lots of white too!
If you recall, I had started with a 105-day streak a year earlier. That meant I didn't have any open calendar days to fill until June. I had still found geocaches on most days up until October, when I had contracted Lyme’s disease in 2011 (yes, most likely while geocaching; don't forget the Deet!) November picked up a little, but then bigger and bigger holes appeared in December and January. And I have no idea what I was doing in February 2012, but it definitely wasn't geocaching as it was mostly empty. Then, back to March where I only had a few days to fill.

So that was it: I settled on filling in my calendar grid as my next challenge. October and February would be a little rough, but hey, I had done 105-days-streak, so what difference were a couple most-of-a-30-day-streaks? I used a little trick I picked up from a Podcacher episode and filled in my Google Calendar with the days I had open, setting a reminder and email on each one. This means that each night I would get an email reminder and a popup on my Android phone telling me to find a cache the next day.

March, April, and May cruised by. I cached at my leisure and had fun doing it. June came, and I only had 2 days to fill in, easy peasy! Similarly, July and August were no sweat (except from the heat, of course!) September wasn’t bad, but October was pretty bare (Lyme’s disease, you’ll recall.) By November and December it was getting colder, darker, and harder to cache. On one calendar day I was sick but I still crawled out of bed to go find a cache that wasn’t too far from parking.

January had lots of holes to fill in, but somehow I managed it. February…what the heck was I doing in February 2012? I have no idea, but definitely not caching. Luckily I had grabbed some caches on February 29th since that won’t be around again for a few years. I slowly plodded away in the cold, the rain, the ice, and the snow until all of February was filled.

And then, March. Only 5 days left! I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, beckoning me! By this time, the local cache hiders had come out of hibernation (plus a few new local cachers) and the area had been re-populated with caches. This was very good news because there was a time when I had mined the entire 30-mile trip-to-work area dry (and a good radius besides.) Consequently, the last 5 were relatively easy to get. I had a little fright when a snow storm was forecast, but I had a cache or two on reserve that were (technically) within walking distance of home for extreme cases. Fortunately, I didn't have to resort to them. Then, my intended final cache yielded a DNF...but fortunately I had a GPSr full of backups on hand, and soon had my final cache: Howe Easy 4 (GC3HME1.)

And that brings us to today...one day after the end of the 366 days. I can sum up in two words how I now feel: Satisfaction and Relief (though I haven’t decided in which order.)
366 Days Completed!
So What Did I Learn?
The hardest part was rationing caches. By this, I mean passing through an area where I know caches abound and not getting them because I know I’ll need them another day. I did not like this at all, and this is my biggest relief with my 366 days behind me. It made caching seem more like a chore than a hobby or fun activity, similar to how I felt while on a streak. That was the secondary reason I ended my 100-day streak a year earlier (the first being my wife was definitely not on board.)

I also learned that this was indeed a challenge. Finding a cache every day, even an easy one, gets progressively harder over a year’s time as the easy ones get checked off. Some days are very busy with the rest of life getting in the way. Some days you are sick or just don’t feel like caching. But in the back of your mind is that drive to complete what you have started. The final five days were a relieving count up to 366.
Would I do it again? No, I don’t think so. I doubt that I would do a streak either. I’m glad to be done, but for me, what it takes away from my geocaching experience was too great for a repeat performance.

Shout Outs
I want to mention my friends in the caching community who helped make this successful. First is TAXMAN 1, who probably helped fill in a quarter of those days with his multitude of hides. Next is my mom, ladyiredhat, who was both my cheerleader and geocaching apprentice, and of course my good geo-buds, Team Firenze and Geo-Ben, who are always (well…usually) ready to get out for a caching excursion early in the morning before work or with our multitude of microcachers on the weekend. Thanks to Bloodhounded and the CacheCrazy.Com crew for giving me a place to write about my thoughts and adventures, and also to help create new adventures. And thanks to you, readers, for visiting us here at CacheCrazy.com! Here are several pictures of favorite caching excursions and friends.
Father’s Day geocaching hike with Team Firenze (left) and Geo-Ben (right) at Lehigh Canal at the LVGGP Wherigo Tour  (GC3BARN)
My first webcam cache: FDU Webcam (GCPDBZ)
Caching with ladyiredhat near Mille Bornes (GCZN72)
Caching with geoslam (who took the picture) at World Coin Cache at Washington Rock (GC209CE)
Act III
So, what’s next? I really haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning toward filling in my difficulty/terrain grid. I have 58/81 spots filled, which means I have 23 spots open. Of course, they all are a 4 difficulty and/or terrain or higher. But this time, I’m not setting any time limits or anything, so I can do it when I want, if I want, and do whatever other caching excursions I want. Or maybe something else...stay tuned here for updates!

So what challenges have YOU attempted and/or completed? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for checking out CacheCrazy.com!

4 comments:

Dave DeBaeremaeker said...

"The hardest part was rationing caches. By this, I mean passing through an area where I know caches abound and not getting them because I know I’ll need them another day. I did not like this at all, and this is my biggest relief with my 366 days behind me. It made caching seem more like a chore than a hobby or fun activity"

This is the reason why I stopped trying to do any streak based goals. I got so tired of not only hamstringing my fun by force limiting myself to save caches for other days, but also by having to go out on days when you really don't feel it - and those days end up being the LPCs and the GRCs, and not the awesome caches... you already found those. I found out I was getting burnt out, so I stopped.

Kevin Bloodhounded said...

Oh George, this is a great post brother! I'll tell you, the chaching challenge for me is to keep all my hides full, dry and listed! As a cache hider who also likes to seek, I place a higher percentage of my time on maintenance/hiding and less on finding. I'm cool with that. And, most of my recent "caching time" is doing significantly more difficult caches that takes a better part of the day to get only one or two similes. The rest of the time goes to maintaining the blog, lol!
Thanks for posting and sharing your wonderful caching history with all of us!
BH

George said...

@Dave: I concur, the last month or so I was so ready to give it up. I'm glad I completed what I set out to do, but I'm even more glad it's behind me now :)

@Kevin: I really got to get back to maintaining a few caches I've had disabled for a little longer than a few weeks :|

Jason Godshall said...

OK, I just happened to click on your site while checking out a few different caching sites and creative cache pages. As I was scrolling down I had to do a double take at the first picture in this post...I'm originally from Souderton so I know that park pretty well. I didn't quite believe that it was the same place but after reading your caption...sure enough. What are the chances? PS. I couldn't find that Back Stage Cache...granted it was one of my first attempts at geocaching all together...I'll try again on my next trip to Souderton.
-JGod

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