Our next adventure is quickly approaching in the form of a family vacation to Hawaii. Ever the planner, Kristi has been openly constructing our itinerary for weeks. Planning is her thing primarily because she never wants any of us to miss out on anything but I would also say she is somewhat of a Type A person. Shh, don’t tell her I said that! As part of her relentless planning, she posed the following question to each of us. “What is the one thing you want to do when we are in Hawaii?” The girls both have their lists made as do I.
At the top of my list is a visit to Pearl Harbor and of course the adventurer in me cannot wait to hike Diamond Head but just as exciting as those two locations will be, you guessed it, the GEOCACHING. Our family vacations always include a predetermined amount of geocaching but we have learned over the years that focused geocaching is the way to go when you are on a family trip where everyone has their own vacation agenda. We have managed to fine tune this style of focused geocaching to something of a craft over the years.
In the past, I would share what I had in mind in terms of geocaching on vacation with Kristi and the girls. This often resulted in a quick and resounding “ARE YOU CRAZY?” response from my family as they gave reason after reason as to why my expectations were unrealistic given the amount of time we would be in the area. This set up some harbored resentment on my part and often left me feeling like I had been neglected in my vacation wishes. However, I did come to realize over time that my plans were often selfish and unfair to the rest of the family. It was everyone’s vacation, not just mine, and we must share in the memories not try to take them over. We decided it best to sit down as a family and discuss each of our goals as far as vacationing so that we have a much greater chance of walking away feeling like we got everything we could out of our vacation. Yes, you read that right, we sit down and talk about vacation goals. If you haven’t figured it out yet, we are a goal oriented family. We set goals for everything, including vacations, but that in-depth discussion about goals is for another blog.
So, how do we approach vacation goals specifically related to geocaching? We now have a list of five parameters we use to develop a list of must-finds when we vacation.
Webcams – As you know, webcam caches are grandfathered so they are becoming increasingly rare therefore finding any webcam caches while on a vacation is a top priority for us. You never know when the webcam in that vacation area may be archived making it impossible to return and just get it later.
Oldest Caches in the Area – Challenge caching is a primary focus for us and what better way to work towards challenges than finding the oldest caches in a particular area. There are challenges for finding the oldest cache in each U.S. state and finding older caches greatly increases your chances of completing the Jasmer. New to challenges, never fear! I have a book for you…Geocaching Challenge: The Game Within the Game. You should check it out. I hear it is a great read. Another advantage to finding older caches is the cache itself. They are typically well-maintained containers, higher quality and in great locations just due to the sheer fact that the cache owner and the caching community have done what they can to preserve them.
One of Every Available Icon – Another caching strategy I like to employ is to find one cache from every available geocaching icon in the area. This again satisfies a challenge out there but it also allows us to experience each icon in a new area. It is often interesting to see how caches of the same icon type differ from area to area. A critical piece of achieving this goal is the event. It doesn’t often happen that a local cacher just happens to be hosting an event in the area you have chosen to vacation in; and during the same time period for which you will be there. No problem! Host your own event. We started hosting events when we travel back in 2014 when we hosted our first in the great state of Rhode Island (GC55WWZ – Super Quick TB Exchange 2). We have found this to be a great way to exchange trackables, meet local cachers and get some great tips regarding what to see and do in the area. Our first event in Rhode Island was scheduled for 30 minutes. The event turned in to a 3.5 hour conversation with about a dozen amazing, local cachers over dinner. We had a blast and vowed at that time to weave this little tidbit in to all of our future travels.
Virtual Caches – Kristi loves virtual caches especially those that take us to a location steeped in local history. This is another cache type that we tend to go for when traveling. I cannot tell you how many absolutely, really amazing places we have been taken to because of a virtual cache. An example of this is GC62C8 – Kerry Viewpoint Park. This cache is in the Seattle area. We were on a weeklong vacation to the Pacific Northwest and we needed a break from our children and our children needed a break from us. Family vacations are great but too much time together in a small space can sometimes lead to family chaos! Kristi and I decided to venture out in search of a few caches and this virtual caught our eye as it was highly favorited. Our interest was peaked as we wondered what could be so great about a park in the middle of what looked to be a subdivision. I will just leave the picture below to show you why this one was so beautiful and memorable for us.
Top Favorited Caches – The last strategy we use when defining our vacation geocaching goals is looking at favorite points. There is a reason that caches receive favorite points from finders and we use their experiences to our advantage. Kristi especially loves to employ this strategy. As soon as I mention geocaching, even in our local area, she immediately filters the list of caches in the area by favorite point. While there is a time and place for a 35 mm film container in the woods, why waste time on mediocre caches when you have limited time in an area. Go for the best the area has to offer! The best way to do this is rely on favorite points and the judgment of previous finders.
We leave for Hawaii in T minus five days and you better believe we are deep in to our cache planning at this point using the strategies mentioned above. What is on our list? Well, again, that is for another blog! Developing a plan and focusing your cache finding allows everyone in your vacation group to get the vacation they want by not spending time on average hides but going after the ones that create memories and further you along in the achievement of your caching goals. Before your next trip, take a gander at focused cache planning. I don’t think you will be disappointed!