According to Todd Snider, “64% of all the world's statistics are made up right there on the spot”
I have always found it odd that when it comes to math and numbers, I'm a little slow, but for some reason I am obsessed with stats. For instance, I could tell you how many passing yards Peyton Manning threw for last year, just a touch over 4000, but ask me to divide 4000 by 16 and I'm a deer in the headlights. How many caches did I find in February 2005? Twenty-Two. Multiply 22 by 2005, give me a second to find a calculator. Numbers without context scare me a bit.
Since becoming re-obsessed with caching earlier this year I have had one main statistical goal in mind, and that was to find 1000 caches. In March of this year I had found around 300 caches and some time in November I noticed that I was sitting at 700 cache finds, with my goal of 1000 just over the horizon. After crunching some numbers I thought if I could really buckle down I could hit 1000 before the year was up. For some, doing 300 caches in 7 weeks wouldn't be much of an issue, but up till now I was only a casual cacher, just finding a handful of caches on some weekends, and occasionally going on little marathons of 20 or 30 finds. I was so casual in fact that in one 3 ½ year period I only had 72 finds, and had a streak of 601 days without a find at all. All of that changed when I went on a caching vacation in mid November, finding 74 in one week and ending up finding 176 for the month of November putting me just 150 or so shy of my 1000 cache goal before 2010.
Meanwhile a few coincidences happened. First I read a forum post on geocaching.com about a group of people finding 416 caches in a 24 hour period. Well if someone could find 416 caches in 24 hours, maybe I could find 100 caches in twelve hours. So I started looking for somewhere to try to find 100 quickly. The most logical place for 100 caches in a day that was close by was the Indianapolis area. Then simultaneously, a caching buddy of mine noticed that there was a cache (GC21KVT Challenge of the Century – 100 Caches in a Day) published 70 miles away in Indy, challenging people to find at least 100 caches in a 24 hour period. So one day while I was plotting my 100 caches in a day route around Indianapolis, Mickey4Jes sent out an email to our local group of cachers seeing if there was anyone interested in trying to meet the cache challenge of 100 in a day. I immediately responded back with a hearty yes, and gave her my plans, which I ended up modifying slightly to include the challenge cache. Then after a couple of dozen emails passed back and forth between interested cachers, we finally came up with a car full of crazy cachers and a date and time to undergo our feat. So early on the morning of Monday, December 28th (A date which will live in infamy, in my mind anyway) five cachers, Me(djhobby), MonsterCatAmbush, Mickey4Jes, Geomafiosa, and Mouse! piled into a Durango and set off on our quest for 100.
We started out by finding a pay phone cache in Bloomington. Pay phones are the cachers friends when you're on a numbers run. Unless of course there is a police officer parked mere inches in front of the phone talking on his cell phone. Which is what happened later in the day. We tried to stare the cop off, but that didn't work, so after about 5 minutes of waiting, Geomafiosa bravely (or crazily) approached the car and tried to make him an offer he couldn't refuse, but as soon as she approached, he sped off immediately, letting us make the find.
One other thing I had to consider while planning, was what type of caches are best for a 100 cache run. My favorite caches usually involve hiking and ammo cans, but that obviously won't work. As a matter of fact we didn't see one ammo can all day, and only four caches that were even considered regular size. Of the 110 or so caches we tried, not one had a terrain over 2 and only 5 had a difficulty over 2. In other words, quick and easy wins the race. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Park and grab caches are the peanut butter and jelly for cachers, and the ammo can in the woods is steak and lobster. One way or another you have to eat.
Something we didn't plan for was the weather. When I had first started planning in November, it was still pretty warm, and snow was the farthest thing from my mind. But on Sunday night, just 12 hours before we were to leave, the temperature plummeted and it began to snow. Half the state was under a winter storm warning. By the time we left at 6am we had accumulated 3” of snow. Fortunately the road crews everywhere were very prepared (thanks road crews) and the roads were just wet, not slick at all. Unfortunately, snow literally adds a layer of difficulty to geocaching. If it hadn't snowed, I think we would have been a little quicker on our finds, and maybe found the 3 or 4 that we DNFed, but over all it wasn't as bad as I feared. But it was really cold. It never got above freezing all day, and the wind was brutal. Almost every cache we found was frozen in some way, either to the ground, or the lid was frozen shut, the log books too stiff to unroll, or the lamp skirts wouldn't come up. One lamp skirt was so frozen that I thought it was one of those rare ones that are permanently attached and I kept looking around for another hiding place even though the hint made it obvious it was a LPC. Only after a few vigorous kicks did it burst loose. On more than one occasion MonsterCatAmbush had to use his Rambo blade that he wears on his hip to pry a cache out of it's hiding place. (One time while caching he got attacked by a rabid coyote and ever since then brings protection, which luckily he had a few months later when he got attacked by a crazed rabbit) We all decided that the next time we attempt this, it should be closer to the Summer Solstice than the Winter Solstice.
After getting our first find under our belt, we drove up Highway 37 to Martinsville and made a few quick finds there. The two problems I had plotting out our route were, one, cache density, which we really don't have in the Bloomington area, and two, finding caches to do that none of us had found yet. For years, every time I would drive to Indianapolis, I would usually find a cache along the way to break up the long drive, so I had about exhausted all of the caches along 37, so instead we went straight north from Martinsville, to Brooklyn, to Mooresville, and then finally to the cache dense area of Plainfield, finding 10 or so caches along the way.
We tooled around the Plainfield/Airport area finding everything on our list but one, because of a nosy maintenance man, and then cached our way towards downtown Indy. There is a cache on Monument Circle that I have been trying to find for four years, and thought finding that cache would be the icing on the cake of a great day. But after braving near frost bite for 20 minutes we finally gave up and had lunch. We had been on the road 6 hours and we were nearly halfway to 100. Right on target.
We left the downtown area and slowly headed north, finding a couple of neat caches on our way to what I think of as the highlight of the day, Crown Hill Cemetery. This place is rich in Indiana history. At first I was a little hesitant of putting the Crown Hill caches on the list, thinking that deciphering the coordinates for all of those mystery caches would be too time consuming, but once we got rolling we actually made better time there than anywhere else in the day. We split into groups at one point to get the pertinent info from the graves at the posted coordinates and then regrouped and replotted our way through the cemetery with the solved coordinates. Well, we sort of replotted. I played typical back seat driver not knowing my north from my south regardless of the seven navigational units in sight of me telling me otherwise and tried my best to lead us the wrong way, but luckily Mouse! knew better than to listen to me and let Monstercat guide him through the gauntlet of graves. Later, when looking back at our bread crumb trail with my GPSr software, the phrase “drunken sailor” came to mind.
Something that I find amazing, before June none of us five had ever been acquainted. I had seen the screen names before, but that was it. But here we were, five people crammed elbow to elbow in a car laughing together for fifteen hours. I've been on long road trips with family and friends that I've known for years and couldn't wait for the trip to be over, but fortunately the five of us get along together great. We all first met at an event Mickey4Jes hosted in June, and since then we have gone on a few other cache adventures together, and even collaborated on a few hides, unofficially calling our selves “The Clown Crew” after a particular evil idea we are planning for a future hide in Bloomington. On the few logs that I actually put pen to ink I even signed us in as The Clown Crew 100. For the most part, we tried to avoid the time consuming part of unrolling or unfolding a log and writing our 5 names down at each cache. Mickey4Jes made little postage stamp style calling cards with our names on them that we dropped into the caches where they would fit. If it wasn't for those calling cards I don't think we could have signed a hundred logs, especially with it so cold, our fingers would have went on strike.
After Crown Hill we cached our way north again until we got to 86th street. 86th street is nothing but park and grabs all the way across the north side of Indianapolis east to Casselton. Just the way we like it. It was around this time that I started to notice that we had become unaware of muggles. We were in a caching Zen. Ignoring all who weren't part of our world. If there was someone in a parked car nearby, we just ignored them, piled out of the car leaving the doors wide open and started diving into the nearby shrubbery looking for our loot. I bet on more than one occasion we solicited the comment, “What in the world are those people looking for in that bush Ethel?” or, “Did you see that Carl? That man staring at his cell phone just vandalized that light pole!” We just didn't have the time to be very stealthy.
Somewhere around 12 hours into our adventure I realized it was definitely going to be a success. We were over 90 finds and still had 30 finds that I had targeted as being easy and available on our list if we needed them. I was never too worried, but it was nice to see that our goal was really close. Since it was almost unbearably cold, we decided to make haste of the last few and head over to the Challenge of the Century Cache as soon as we could. We grabbed a few more and made the challenge cache as our 102nd find of the day. WooHoo! We had done it. Along the way each one of us hit some sort of milestone. I hit my 1000th cache find, Mickey4Jes found her 800th, Geomafiosa and MonsterCatAmbush went over 300 , and Mouse! found his 400th We averaged finding a cache every seven minutes. We found caches hidden by 43 different cachers. We only had 4 DNFs. Mouse! made 23 U-Turns and only hit one fire hydrant. Mickey4Jes went through 4 different pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves. We ate 3 bags of chips, and drank 1 gallon of hot chocolate. Geomafiosa made 574 calls and tweets in at least two different languages. MCA told 5 inappropriate (but very funny) jokes and stabbed at least 4 caches. I slipped on the ice 4 times, and had my tongue stick to two different light poles. And all of us had a great time finding over 100 caches in a day! For me these numbers will be easily remembered.