November 19, 2013 06:31 PM CST
The DeLorme Challenge with Team Honeybunnies
Team HoneybunniesAuthor: NL_Admin. 196 Reads
The DeLorme Challenge. One of the granddaddies of all the challenges, along with the Fizzy Challenge, The Jasmer Challenge and the County Challenge. Some have heard the call of the open road and cracked out the atlases, some have dreamed, some have shied away and a great many haven't heard of or only have a vague idea what it is about. So let's begin with some introduction.
Once, back in the deep past of geocaching, some time after virtual caches were put to pasture and locationless caches were sent to the great cache hunt in the sky, but before the advent of a challenge for every whim, the DeLorme Challenge was born. A close cousin of the County Challenge, the DeLorme requires that a cache be found for every map page of the DeLorme atlas. You know the one: The big red atlas found in just about every truck stop in the country, each state's atlas dividing the map up into dozens of pages offering detailed topographic and street information. There are few additional rules beyond that. Some states require that all caches be physical, i.e. no virtual, event or EarthCaches. Some allow one to place a cache to count if there is currently no cache on that page. That is a dying breed in the brave new world of rural power trails, but when we did North Dakota's there were multiple pages that had one isolated cache per page. The humble Little Rhody has twelve pages and is regularly completed in a day, while California's DeLorme is so big that that it was originally split into two challenges totaling a whopping 104 for the Northern challenge and 108 for the Southern. The more current combined Challenge is 135 pages. Meanwhile Michigan has more pages (at 96) than Texas (64). Connecticut's pages are 10.2 miles wide, while Montana's are 38.4.
So… Why? Why go through all that for one smiley? What's the point? The DeLorme Challenge is a challenge of curiosity. What's around the next corner? Have you ever been to Phlox? How about Clam Lake? Potosi? Mellen? Princeton? Necedah? It's not that the DeLorme requires you to visit the far corners of the state, it's that it requires you to visit every part of the state. For me, this part really sings. We are all very much wired differently. Different strokes for different folks indeed. For me, vacation is not about heading for the tourist meccas. I'm a country boy at heart still, and vacation is about whizzing through the cities to get back to the little roads, the farms, the prairies and the often fading little towns that still support the agrarian giant that feeds the world. Seeing the great plains, the high deserts, the mountain canyons and the big rivers. What could go more hand-in-hand than the DeLorme Challenge?
As for planning your own DeLorme effort, the first step is to purchase one of those shiny red tomes of wonder. After that, find out what pages you have completed. Even novice cachers have probably picked up a few when visiting relatives or on that last camping trip. Once you have started to put some big red "X"es on some of those pages it doesn't look nearly as daunting. From there, pick a direction. Any direction. Go see Amnicon Falls or take the ferry over to Washington Island. Find a cache when you stop for lunch or get gas. Do it every page along the way. Suddenly there are great big swaths of red and islands of pages yet to visit. What's interesting on those pages? A stretch of the Ice Age Trail? Devil's Lake? Watching the ships come in to the ore docks in Superior? There's something to draw you there. And then you get a couple pages by accident traveling here or there, and suddenly you are down to the few remaining. Maybe you missed one over by Port Washington, or one of the little insets along the Mississippi. Find a like-minded caching partner to share what will sometimes be long days on the road. When you lack the will they won't. Time for a road trip!
It may take years. We have done many states' DeLormes, some done over multiple years' vacations nipping off pieces while traveling to or through. Our first couple DeLormes, including Wisconsin's, were done at a breakneck pace, getting as many pages per trip as possible. Now there's a little more zen involved, and we stop at all the roadside markers, the overlooks, the waysides and the natural wonders. It doesn't hurt that there's almost always a cache there. We choose different rural highways to see different parts of a state as we travel across bound for elsewhere. We have to get there and back somehow, so we'll make it a loop and see something different on the way back.
If you find yourself stopping at the top of hills to take in the vista below, or nudging the spouse napping next to you and saying "Honey, look at that!", or feeling like living a Johnny Cash song and being able to say "I've been everywhere man!", then the DeLorme might be for you. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it is for me, and it is for Marie.
Seth - Team Honeybunnies
DeLormes Completed: Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Arkansas, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Michigan, Tennessee, South Dakota, Delaware, Mississippi and ?
A special thanks to our good friend Zuma, who has completed five of those DeLormes with us. It's been an adventure!
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Category: 2013 Winter Newsletter
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