|Villages couples complete geocaching odyssey, taking them through all 50 states |
By AZIA LI FORREST, DAILY SUN
Sunday, September 13, 2009 9:39 AM EDT
THE VILLAGES — Jim and Sally Smith traveled all over the country for about six weeks, seeking “Cache Across America” treasures.
Of course, the trip wasn’t primarily about the caches of small, inexpensive tokens, it was more about the excursion itself and the sights the Smiths saw along the way.
“It’s the journey,” Sally said.
The couple started out in Florida in May, eventually arriving in Anchorage, Alaska.
They then flew to Seattle and on to Nevada, looking for a specific geocache in all 50 states they visited.
Each cache contained a three-digit code; when they had all 50 codes, Jim and Sally could use a formula to determine the latitude and longitude of the final cache in Washington, D.C.
The couple will head to the nation’s capital at the end of September to
complete their odyssey.
Each state’s cache highlighted a clue of significance to that state.
“It’s very well thought out,” Sally said.
The Smiths didn’t drive or fly just anywhere, they said.
“We made a specific trip and made it our own,” Jim said.
The couple visited the 50 states in four trips — stopping to spend time with family and friends along the way.
In Hawaii, for example, they spent a week visiting friends while locating the cache in Honolulu.
No trip, including this one, is without a few bumps in the road.
In fact, they drove all the way to Texas only to be unable to locate the cache in the Lone Star State.
“We talked to the cache owner, describing where we were,” Jim said. “He said that’s where it was supposed to be.”
Wildlife preserves, Walt Disney’s childhood home in Missouri, and Natchitoches, La., where the 1989 film “Steel Magnolias” was filmed, were only a few of the sights they saw.
“Our daughter taught school there, so it was the perfect ending to our trip,” Jim said.
And the Village of Woodbury couple were not the only Villages residents daring enough to undertake the adventure.
Villagers Roger and Felicia Kuehne of the Village of Santo Domingo, finished the challenge just ahead of their friends the Smiths.
Like the Smiths, it took the Kuehnes about six weeks — and about 16,000 miles — to make it to Washington, D.C. but each had his or her favorite stops. Felicia loved South Dakota for its Terry Redlin Museum.
“His paintings are amazing,” she said.
For Roger, it was Montana — where hiking opportunities abound.
“It had a beautiful canyon and the Missouri River,” he said.
Although each couple knew the other was undertaking the challenge, there was no rivalry involved — even of a friendly nature. And even though the final “prize” may be only a smiley face on Geocaching.com or a token, both couples say the trip was worth it.
Another highlight, Jim said, was bonding with Sally.
“Sometimes, in The Villages, you get so busy,” he said. “It’s nice to spend a few weeks just spending time with your wife.”
For more information on geocaching, visit Geocaching.com.
Azia Li Forrest is a reporter with the Daily Sun. She can be reached at 753-1119, ext. 9069, or firstname.lastname@example.org.