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Best PQ strategy for cross-country road trip

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Me and three other geocachers are doing a road trip in September inspired by the 48-in-1-week trip that was done previously. We too are doing all 48 states in one trip but are doing it over two weeks.

Looking for any recommendations on the best way to collectively do PQs for this trip. We've got our route finalized and can do CaaR for the trip but wanted to know if anyone here has any suggestions on the best way to tackle something of this scale? All four of us are pretty seasoned cachers but I figured I'd ask here for additional suggestions.

What we've ended up doing so far is splitting the route among each of us and doing multiple CaaR PQs for our part of the route. Each PQ is 1000 caches on either side but only within 1km (we're Canadian) of the road. I've also got PQs for large population areas (NYC, Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, etc) and a few extra ones for things like virtuals we want to get and the ET highway, etc.

That seems to be covering as much as we think we need but I'm wondering if anyone here who has done large road trips has had issues missing caches via the PQs, or other unknowns we haven't heard of.

Any suggestions or info is appreciated. Thanks.

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I haven't done anything as ambitious as a 48-state tour, but for less ambitious road-trip vacations, I've tried a couple approaches for PQs. The 1000-cache PQ works, but today I'd rely on my smartphone app's API access for spur-of-the-moment caching. For intentional caching, I prefer to identify interesting caches, put them in a bookmark list, and then download a PQ of the bookmark list when I'm ready to load geocache data.

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I generally limit my selection by Fav points - depending on the state the lower limit changes (I remember a couple of years ago, Alabama was 20+ but Florida was 50+).  Of course, we rearely have a specified route, just a general we're going from here to there idea, 'distractions' along the way vary the route ("Oh, look!  Abraham Linclon's birthplace is just over there...").

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A lot of great suggestions here thanks!

We will have 4 mobile devices plus multiple GPS units but with things like limited battery power and areas with no cell coverage, we wanted to make sure we covered ALL of our basis.

I had no idea there was a GSAK macro for doing CaaR. I am definitely going to try that. 


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Trying the route macro now. Only issue I had was that all of my content was in KMZ format. I had to convert it to GPX but the GPX format wasn't compatible. I did manage to find a way to tweak the GPX manually to allow it to load into the route macro. I've got that one running now and will try the others after. 


Thanks again!

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Personally I would do an Api download of the entire US with restricted settings (Trads, Earth, Webcams, D<2, T<1.5, Sizes: Large,Regular,Small, Other, Favorites: 20+) Result: appr. 5,600 caches.
Use the CachesOnRoute macro just for filtering.


Edited by HHL
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5 minutes ago, HHL said:

The api download (5.600 caches) with my settings from the former post:


Filtered caches (498 caches) with filter from CacheOnRoute macro:


Happy Planning

What got me to start looking at options like these was that it appears in some cases the official CaaR routes and PQs skip or miss certain caches. I found it hit and miss when running the queries even with a very refined distance between my route and the surrounding area.

When I ran the macro you mentioned and compared the caches to the official listings via Google Earth, they are identical. This makes me think the API method is more reliable than the official PQ method.

Snagging most of the US with a DT filter would be fine in a lot of cases, but we're going to have situations where we'll be looking at caches beyond the smaller range so we want to include as much as we can.

I think what is going to happen is it will end up being a mix of macros like these (which are awesome btw) and official PQs and CaaR PQs.


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16 minutes ago, Zor said:

[...] I found it hit and miss when running the queries even with a very refined distance between my route and the surrounding area.[...]

Yes, that is what we have to expect. GS simplifies the CaaR route to very less route points. That makes the route (which actually are route legs that are routing like the crow flies) loosing caches near the road. The exact opposite of what you want. ;-)


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If you're going to take two weeks, please make sure you get out and smell the roses for a while.  For example, you'll have to cross across southern Utah and northern Arizona if you follow the route Hans generated.  The national parks and monuments in just that area alone are gems: Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, Navajo, Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde, just to list some.  Please take the time to hang out in them for a while.


Otherwise, you're just reinforcing the (in)famous Charles Kurault quote:  "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything."

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We are actually taking a lot of time to "smell the roses" and enjoy what we are surrounded by.

Yes, the route we are taking is one we developed which you can see here.

This whole trip started out as a way to get caches in all 48 states (despite the fact that I have almost half of them already) but now that we are getting closer, the trip is less and less about geocaching and more about 4 friends enjoying a wicked road trip. The places we will see and landscapes we will be exposed to will be amazing. It's not often the opportunity to go on a trip like this comes around so we will be absorbing as much of everything around us as we can.

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Having done a cross-country car trip, my suggestion is to first define your caching goal or goals as 2 weeks goes pretty quickly if you are trying to visit 48 states. Do you want big numbers? Do you want high favorite points caches? Do you want 4 or 5 states in one day? Do you want a cache in each state? How far off the route are you willing to go?

For my trip, I wanted at least 2 caches in each state, preferably one with high favorite points. I also wanted to eat at certain restaurants.  I figured out a map route to accommodate the eating. Then, I did several PQs for caches along a route. These, I edited down to those with high FPs and those that were really old for each state, keeping a number of alternates.  I edited these further based on accessibility from the highway. If a cache was particularly good or old, I would give it more latitude as far as accessibility. Then, but added in some caches that were at points of interest that we wanted to see.

Beware of power trails as they can eat up a lot of time.

We covered 10 states in 5 days and got around 40 caches.

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Several years ago I drove out to the west coast along I-90 for vacation. Just some things from my view point:

1) For my own personally style, I budgeted 12 hours in the car from Point A to Point B. For the most part this meant 8 hours of driving, 4 hours of caching and 500 miles covered. I was able to get 10 to 15 caches a day without feeling stressed.

2) Heading West you gain an hour as you cross time zones. This was nice as it gave me more daylight. Heading East you lose an hour, This screwed up my timing a little bit, especially if I wanted to be somewhere at a certain time.

3) There are some really neat caches along the expressways, but sometimes there are no exits nearby. I did one that chewed up about 30 minutes of time to get, even though physically it was only 1/4 mile from the expressway. I hadn't realized I'd have to take a dirt road for about 5 miles to get to the cache.

4) Wildfires and road construction are annoying.

Edited by igator210
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Do you have any other agenda besides grabbing at least one cache in each state? I've got a buddy that does these kinds of trips, but on a smaller scale, usually hitting up a region of the country in 3-5 days. The theme now has been to get the first cache placed in each state. With that goal, he loads up those specific caches, plus a few other specific caches along the route and ignores all the others in between. When done this way, it's not a numbers game. So that's one option. Just go for specific caches along your route.

Option 2:   If you don't plan to deviate along your route, just make pocket queries along the route... using route pocket queries instead of queries that radiate from a central point. The only reason you'd need a larger swath of caches is if your route is flexible. But then if you also cache by phone, then you have your phone for the rest of them.

Option 3:  Create them on the fly. If you're staying at hotels, you'll have wifi access each night. You can use this time to plan the next day's PQ's, and then you'll carry the most up-to-date data with you. Bring a laptop computer along. If you're camping, this method is less useful, but you could plan to stop at a coffee shop with internet each day.

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So for us, the trip is about getting all 48 states with a bit of vacation time in.

The biggest thing we wanted to was to define a "route" that gave us the best maximization of getting the all 48 states, while also going through a few areas that we know wanted to see vacation wise. You can see our route and website here.

We are sticking to caches we can get on our route or near to our route. We'd like to include as many virtuals per state but also want to have traditionals. The idea being we want to make sure we get at least a couple of caches per state so we know definitively that we get each state.

We're 18 days for our departure and we've basically decided to do a combination of CAAR PQs, range PQs in larger area like Vegas, Seattle, etc, and I'm also using the CAAR macro suggested above to get another view of the CAAR caches.

Plus we also know that there will be things that come up and will change what we decide to go for so we're not committed to just the route. The really commitment is to make sure we get all 48 states.

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Honestly? I'd be thinking about getting a smartphone and a good data plan so you can always go straight to the web whenever you have service. I'd be afraid that even after all the planning and PQs, there's be one state that slipped past me and leave me hanging. Indeed, even having developed a good plan, you might want to have a phone for backup.

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18 hours ago, dprovan said:

Honestly? I'd be thinking about getting a smartphone and a good data plan so you can always go straight to the web whenever you have service. I'd be afraid that even after all the planning and PQs, there's be one state that slipped past me and leave me hanging. Indeed, even having developed a good plan, you might want to have a phone for backup.

Valid point; even though I vastly prefer GPSr caching, I still have the app as a backup.

Here, I believe Zor stated they'd also have four cell phones, so they're covered.

Edited by hzoi
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