17 States in One Day
What is the story behind this “challenge” and how it was completed?
I have always enjoyed working on challenging caches! I live in Virginia and have completed the Virginia DeLorme® Challenge (VYD4) and the Virginia City Challenge (244VZ) and am almost finished with the Virginia County Challenge (244RF). One of my favorite challenges I am working on is the Cache Across America series (12E08). Of course this requires finding a particular cache in each state and will take some time! I set a personal challenge of caching in every state as well! Another challenge I set for myself is finding a cache on all 366 days of the year. To make that challenge a little more difficult, I’m trying to do it this year; that’s right, find a cache every day this year! So far I have!
You can see that I like challenges, so I was sitting around one night wondering what kind of personal challenge I could come up with that would be unique and wouldn’t take a long period of time to complete. Find all the caches in my home county, or in my home state, or do other DeLorme® challenges, but these didn’t seem to be that unique. So I started looking at the public profiles of other cachers to see if I could get some ideas. One thing I noticed was that some cachers had cached in four or five or more states in one day! Then it hit me! How many states could I cache in in one calendar day?
So I sat down at my computer with my maps at my side and started planning. I used Street and Trips® and Google Earth® as well as paper maps to see what was feasible. I know the New England states are relatively small (not all of them) and close together so I thought that would be a good place to start. So I mapped out a route and kept refining it until I had a route from Maine to Missouri that covered 17 states. Now, could I drive it in 24 hours while finding a cache in each state and making stops for fuel (both for the car and for me) and stops for personal needs! I allotted a certain amount of time for each kind of stop and kept narrowing it down until I finally came up with 24 hours and 3 minutes! I thought with any luck, I could find some caches easier than others and maybe shave off a little time en route. But it could just as easy go the other way too with traffic jams, road construction, a breakdown (the car, not the cacher), etc.
Once I settled on a route (I ended up allotting 10 minutes for each cache hunt and 20 minutes for fuel stops), I started looking for caches along the route. I used Google Earth® along with the Geocache Google Earth Viewer® and literally searched along every mile of the route! Being as making the trip in 24 hours was difficult enough in itself, I wasn’t looking for 5/5 caches. I was looking for easy caches, preferably 1/1’s (if they were in a rest stop that was even better) that I could stop and find in the allotted time. For every state I had at least three caches that fit my criteria, just in case the cache was muggled overnight or disappeared for some other reason!
I worked on and off on this challenge for over a year, so after I decided on my caches I continually watched them to be sure they hadn’t gone missing, or archived, or had a string of recent DNF’s! I loaded them all in my GPS and printed out the description of each one as well as a view from Google Earth® of each one (I promise I’ll plant a tree for the one that fell down with all my printing) and studied them all! I did this up until the night we started the challenge and as we were driving along the way.
As you can see, I’m now talking about WE and not I! I realized that this challenge would not be feasible for one person (maybe in my younger days), so I started mentioning what I had planned around my geocaching friends to see what their response was and to see if they were interested in going along. Mostly what I got was, “Are you kidding!” or “that’s crazy!” It wasn’t until a caching friend, Altbiers, came over to drop off some travel bugs that I final got a positive response. I told him about my idea and he said that he would like to try it with me. Great! Maybe it could be done.
So now that I had a traveling partner, we started getting together and going over the plan and trying to determine a date that would work for both of us. We decided on a date and started making traveling plans. Altbiers mentioned our idea to another cacher who decided it would be fun to go along, so now we had three! Myself (NPGlenn), Altbiers, and Icefrog. I thought three would be the perfect number. One person could sleep while one drove and one helped with navigating and continually checking caches ahead! It was great to see this challenge actually coming together.
17 states in 24 hours (actually 23hrs 50mins)! What was once just an “I wonder” had actually become a reality! We got some of the finds down to two minutes and got as much as 35 minutes ahead of schedule at one point. But a few areas of only one lane due to construction and congestion in the St Louis area had us sweating a little at the end, but we made it with 10mins to spare! And best of all, after 48 hours in the car together over a period of four days, we are still great friends and would do it all over again! So if you have a personal challenge you would like to do, get out and do it! No matter how grand or how small, the satisfaction of doing it will leave you feeling great!
On a warm Thursday morning, the three left Virginia to head to Maine, where their journey would began.
At the stroke of midnight Friday night, a cache was found and signed in Kittery, Maine and the crew of three were off.
23 hours and 50 minutes later, a cache was found and signed near the base of the St. Louis Arch. A total of 17 geocaches were found in 17 states in a 24 hour period. A new geocaching record!
Read the Road Journal/Blog for the updates as the trip took place.