A Mad Dash to the FinishTalk about waiting until the 11th hour. My plan wasn't to spend the waning weeks of 2011 hunting frantically for 43 geocaches sprinkled throughout the western suburbs, but that's what I did. As the clock struck noon on New Year's Eve, my mission was accomplished. Just a mere 12 hours to relish the fact that I completed my goal.
In the past, I mentioned that I enjoy geocaching. Basically, it's a glorified scavenger hunt using satellites and a hand-held GPSr. This video provides an excellent overview. Some hides are straight forward like a film canister stored under a lamp skirt in a shopping mall parking lot. Others are complex puzzles and can lead to fascinating locales. But to the point, I set a goal for myself each calendar year. By the end of the year, I need to find the next 100 milestone. This past year, 2011, was my seventh year geocaching. That meant my goal was to find my 700th geocache. While that sounds like a lot, I am still considered a casual cacher. Some people find 100 in a day. The current leader logged just shy of 61,000.
When 2011 started, I already made a significant dent in my goal. The weather during the spring 2010 was amazing. It was warm and dry, and I set a personal record of logging 47 geocaches during May. I reached the 600 mark back in early October 2010. Susan and I attended a Cleveland Indians/Chicago White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field. At the time I found 599, and I knew there was a fairly straight forward cache in Armour Square Park directly north of the ballpark. Easy find, number 600.
As December 2011 rolled along, I was well short of meeting my goal. Honestly, I considered throwing in the towel and accepting the fact that I slacked and missed my goal for the first time. No big deal. But the weather was unseasonably warm, and there wasn't even the faintest hint of snow on the ground. One day at work I decided if I searched over my lunch and took advantage of a few days off around the holidays, I could do this, or at least get very close. I found a few here and there, but I wasn't making a significant dent. But that's progress, right?
Ever since I started geocaching, I used a relatively simple GPSr called the Magellan eXplorist 100. Simple, cheap and orange, but effective. It didn't sync with my iMac, or any computer for that matter, so all waypoints required manual entering. When Christmas rolled around, Susan handed me a box. She said she had no idea if I needed this or not. I opened the box and it was a new GPSr. It was a Garmin eTrex Venture HC. The device was far more advanced than my previous model. It features a color screen, much closer zoom, and it syncs with my iMac. Then, I had a crazy thought that I just might be able to reach 700 with the new device.
With my new GPSr, I can download a maximum of 500 waypoints in the matter of seconds. With my old device, manually entering the same amount would take days of undivided attention. So I headed out. I found nine one day, then two, then none, then 12, and then 12 more. I woke up on New Year's Eve and realized the weather was slightly cooler, but decent. I only needed four more. I pulled a few that seemed reasonably easy to find. Sure enough, I did it. I even added a fifth for good measure. That made a total of 701.
Now, the quest for 800 begins. Only 99 more to go.