I may be overly dramatic but as ProfessorZoom, Cecil and I headed out yesterday to cache for the day we had set ourselves two goals – first to complete the Back Home Again series (if you have not seen this I really recommend you give it a try- a lot of hard work went into the putting this piece of Indiana Geoart together) and a second push goal of getting 100 caches in a day. Yes, none of us had reached that milestone of 100 caches in a day. Usually it was because we had started out too late, but yesterday we figured it was time. We had started on the Back Home Again series last year over Thanksgiving, but had stopped after awhile leaving us with around 80 caches to go to finish the series and 20 more to hit 100. A pretty doable goal, that we thought would be easily completed in time for dinner. So packing up the old Roadster with snacks and drinks we were off. That would change as the day wore on.
The first 80 caches were easy, time seemed to be on our side, especially with the long summer days helping us out. We had avoided most of the storms and when we got caught in some torrential rain we stopped and hunkered down at an old abandoned mine for a snack break. As we bounced around the gravel roads we ran into another pair of cachers “I Hunt For Fun” from Georgia as they were going clockwise to our anti-clockwise route. Then as we closed on the Scott County cache it started to rain again, this time with thunder and lightning. All I could think of was that scene from Caddyshack where the Bishop is having the best game of golf in his life through a monsoon, only to be struck by lightning after missing a putt. At that point we decided to seek shelter (and another cache). The storm grew and after one lightning strike knocked out cell reception we counted how many caches we had to go and abandoned plan one and tried to beat the storm home while accomplishing our stretch goal of 100 caches in a day.
Little Known Fact: The Chamber of Commerce in Brazil, Indiana has a special signal for when out of town cachers arrive and, like the volunteer fire department, a group of people get into their minivans and take up position next to every lamp post, in every parking lot and start talking on their cell phones.
After many failed attempts at stealth we headed closer to Indianapolis hoping that those final few caches could be easily found. This lead to a triage approach to caching which was interesting and might be a staple in the Numbers Run crowd. One person would get out of the car, run to Ground Zero and do a quick search. After about a minute, the second person would come out to help. After 5 minutes the code words “Burning Daylight” would be spoken and we would pile into the car to try the next cache. Looking at our caching rate, the first 80 were quick, the next ten to fifteen were pretty slow and the last handful were painful.
When we got down to two caches left the sun was starting to set and our “done by dinner” was turning into a “done before midnight.” We decided to head back to our side of town and, as we pulled off onto Pendleton Pike, we snatched a quick park and grab (which unlike so many other attempted park and grabs was actually a park and grab) leaving us one more to make sure everything worked out. Then we hit another wall. With ProfessorZoom having twice the number of finds as Cecil- The pickings were slim in our area. So we ended up making an attempt for one that we thought would be easy… then we tried for another one we thought would be easy… Finally a third cache that we thought would be easy… noticing a pattern? By now the sun had fully set, the flashlight I thought worked I realized needed new batteries, we were hungry, we were tired, and with 99 finds we were ready to call it a day. I pulled out my phone and checked a nearby cache asking the good professor if she had found it. Then I looked at the publication date, and told her she must have, its almost 3 years old and this area used to be on her way to work. She pulled up her GPS and announced that no, she hadn’t. Hallelujah! So there we were walking through a neighborhood in the middle of the night. Finally, an easy find and our 100th cache, and off to a late celebration dinner before the pizza place closed for the night.
So what have I learned about this whole numbers run thing? It isn’t for me. It seemed like as we got closer to our goal our geo-sense didn’t work. I know many people count a good day as some large number that I’m happy to reach over an entire vacation. What I really missed was the quality. We have started to cache for quality, not quantity. We look for caches with loads of favorite points, in interesting places. Number runs, for me, make caching a chore (gotta make the donuts). If you go into the day with a mindset of “I am going to get a bazillion caches today” that’s great. At the end of the day I like to ask “What was my favorite cache?” In an infinite series of lamp posts it’s hard to pick one that stands out in your memory. With 100 caches done, the happy thought I have is I never have to do it again. What was my favorite? GC3XT1T was a nice little break from running numbers.
Any advice for people going out for a numbers run? I know I would make sure to pack snacks, and drinks. Planning out your route is important, checking before you leave how many have been DNF’d recently. This is where having a pocket query is helpful and using your phone, exclusively may not be so helpful. Basically once we ended up deviating from the plan, was when it became a lot more stressful, although we kept a good attitude throughout the day (until the last two or three caches). If you are caching with a group- Make sure the goal is known. The first time I tried to get 100 in a day- I didn’t know that was the goal until after we had stopped for lunch! Involving everyone in the plan is helpful. Although with power trails and Geoart becoming more commonplace, 100 in a day might not be that big of a deal anymore.