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June 20, 2012

Geocaching, the 2012 Edition

Time for more thoughts on geocaching to be dumped to "paper", virtual as it might be, to get them out of my head.

2010 turned out to be a tipping point in my geocaching hobby as I've previously written. I hit the proverbial wall and had lost interest. I thought about it and evaluated for a long while, before deciding on my course of action. I changed my internal rules to make the activity more enjoyable: participate when it's fun, give up the goal of finding every cache, ignore many hides or hiders which follow patterns I don't enjoy, and ignore the numbers. With those thoughts in mind, I've continued on. For the most part it has meant I've been caching less, even if the stats don't always tell that tale. I wait till the weather is right, or a friend wants to go find a few caches, or things line up that I can combine the caching with a nice walk or drive in the country. Sometimes it's taken a few minutes thought to figure out if it is the best time to go find something and often it's easy to talk myself out of going for it. Probably for the best in the end most times.

In 2011, things continued along with me trying to follow my rules and not always being successful. I started noticing I was logging a larger number of DNF logs. Not so much that I couldn't find it, but that I just didn't care to find it any more as it was uncomfortable or frustrating. But I also noticed that I didn't really mind logging those "failures", in fact I almost enjoyed some of them. It didn't really sink in for a while that I was enjoying the "journey" to get to the cache and the experience of the find. For the most part that didn't really change whether I found or it not, with the "numbers" taken out of the equation, it no longer mattered. As the year continued on, the wall was looming large again, I tweaked my rules and the opportunities to find that enjoyable caching experience dried right up.

The dry streak continued into 2012, but there were bursts of caching here and there. The surprising part was how pockets of really good caches would appear somewhere and would happen to be stumbled upon. It's always been one of those ideas stuck at the back of one's mind on how to find and identify these caches. Groundspeak introduced the notion of favourites more recently to try and add ratings to cache listings and point out the more quality caches. So one of those trains of thought to tweak my rules this year has been to try and figure out how to find the quality. I've tried a few things, but nothing has been greatly successful yet. I think it may need a more complicated formula which really can't be applied yet since those favourites and related properties don't appear in a pocket query for automated processing.

Since the 2010 tipping point I've also noticed my behaviour and thoughts mirror many others I've encountered over the years in the geocaching world. Some of those I never really understood previously as I'd had a pretty unique environment based on my approach to the hobby. Even with hundreds of caches around, there aren't really any that pique my interest to a degree that I want to run out and find them. I routinely drive or walk by dozens of caches without even bothering to find them. Often I don't really remember or recall where all those unfound caches even are or realize I am going by them. I've added several caches to a list that I will never consider or bother to find for various reasons. I leave most caches for another day, I don't need to find them all.

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