Being a Spontaneous Geocacher

Sometimes, I forget a person can just jump in the car and leave. At any time, I could go on a road trip. Anywhere. Of course, we all have different types of tethers – jobs, kids, appointments, but when the opportunity arises when those responsibilities are lifted, we forget we can just leave. At least, I do. I love to plan, especially when geocaching is involved, perhaps as a mother now too. I plan daily activities, grocery trips, my family’s meals, blog posts for the month, on top of writing lists for even my most basic thoughts and to-dos.

So, when my dad, a recent retiree, asked me if I’d like to travel to Utah (over 800 miles) the afternoon before he wanted to leave, I laughed. I thought he was joking. After all, he was the one who has taught me the importance of preparations and plans. Our family had itineraries for our trips. After months of research, he had bought a truck in Ogden, Utah and was wondering if I wanted to find some geocaches along the way, while keeping him company. My mom offered to babysit, taking care of my main responsibility. Why not? Time with my dad, two new state souvenirs, and a little free time as a mom made this an easy decision.

We started off at 6:00am before the sunrise, driving into Montana and making our first stop at a geocache at a rest area. The view was breathtaking, once I slid down the hill (maybe that was what caused a bit of the lack of breath). Geese chose a spot along the river as they paused during migration.

Montana took up over half of our trip, and even though the state name didn’t change, the scenery shifted from plains to mountains, prairie grass to forests. Idaho was a smooth transition. Amidst the fir trees, the “Welcome to Idaho” sign was almost lost. Around this time, I discovered my new favorite drink, Big Sky Huckleberry Soda. Sipping on this delicious treat, we quickly found ourselves near a geocache. A truck stop with a diner was perhaps not the most exciting GZ area for a new state souvenir, but it was convenient for our trip. My dad unclasped the container, so I could take a picture by this memorable cache.

The remainder of the day included more miles on the road and entering Utah. I saw multiple bald eagles, but my fingers weren’t quick enough to catch a photo. Unfortunately, no more geocaches were located at our pit stops and the sky was dark by the time we arrived at our hotel. Once we checked in, we did go for a walk, attempted another find, but DNF-ed. However, we did stumble upon a brightly lit park, which we viewed from the parking garage of the potential geocache. The walk was nice to stretch our legs and also gain a sense of the area we were staying.

In the morning, we ate breakfast at Kneader’s Bakery. The smell of fresh baked goods and breads would make you drool. I had a lemon blueberry muffin top (they didn’t have muffins – new for me!) and a coffee. Fueled for the day, my dad dropped by off at the hotel, and he headed to the dealership. I ended up having three hours to geocache!

As I’ve said, I usually plan my caches before a trip, somewhat forming a trip around geocaches. Instead, this trip chose my geocaches. Luckily, I had a great area to cache. I attempted a puzzle cache first, only feet from our room, but failed. Utah was not cooperating for my state souvenir, so I chose an easier traditional by the Ogden Raptors’ Baseball Field. I Periscoped following my find, thankful to share the moment with others. You can watch it here. This also qualified for the GeoVlogger and Cache Advance’s #GeoChallange for December 2017, finding a geocache at least 100 miles from home.

I then walked to a virtual, struggling a bit to understand the directions and where my coordinates were leading me, but I figured it out. What a unique location, quiet on a Monday morning. This was my second virtual ever!

The next cache was a Letterbox-Hybrid, where I had to find Historical Marker signs to fill in the latitude-longitude formula. The first sign was right next to this virtual – what?! The amount of caches in such a small area astounded me, a person who needs to drive miles between most finds. I was walking, so I didn’t have much say in what geocaches to go after, but for those who had this many possible choices, how do you choose?!

Anyways, this hide was superb. I loved having to race against the clock, since my dad wanted to leave right after buying the truck, and feeling like a spy, taking notes at each sign trying to uncover a secret treasure. The final location, a little free library, was adorable and earned my favorite point. I attempted to scope this hide too, but my phone died! See, if I had planned better, I would have brought my portalable charger (and perhaps looked into the Utah GeoTour more). Shucks! I had to walk back to the hotel, charge my phone, and miss out on a few geocaches. Luckily, my phone charges quickly, so I was able to book it to a LPC while my dad drove back to the hotel to pick me up.

We left as soon as my dad arrived at the hotel, making the long trek back through four states. I only scored one find on the way home, an earth cache across the street from a gas station. The cache confused me, since it was placed at a sign talking about an earthquake; however, the sign had been removed, it seemed a couple years ago, yet we were still allowed to take a picture where the sign used to be (by a restroom) and “research” the questions online. I ran across the street, took a picture, and claimed the smiley, but it didn’t seem right. Have you discovered one of these “unique” hides? My selfie showcases this geological wonder.

Arriving home past 3:00am, I went straight to bed, happy for the conversations with my dad, sharing in his adventure of buying a new truck, a 2018 Sierra Denali, one of those big diesel beauties that he will use to pull a new camper and travel the world with my mom. I introduced him to podcasts; we even listened to Geocache Talk! I earned new state souvenirs, saw new sights, and tried some delicious new soda. I need to be spontaneous more often.

When was the last time you went on a spontaneous trip or didn’t plan the geocaches for your trip? What state souvenir was most memorable to you and why?

Thanks for reading!

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