Let us address the elephant in the room (or rather, the photo) first… I found a cache on a metal casket yesterday outside of a bar devoted to music icons who have died. I opted not to feature the murals dedicated to Austin legends Randy “Biscuit” Turner and Roky Erickson because I know the musical rabbit hole that would have started. Besides, I’m still kicking myself for not visiting the grave of Woody Guthrie while I had the chance, but that’s neither here nor there.
I have ruminated on death before, but this is not about fear of becoming “metabolically challenged.” It’s a reminder that the future is not set in stone. Consequently, while part of life is riding the wave that is “The Future”, attempting to build the future is just as important. My point here (and I do have one) is that, with the beginning of a new year, it’s a good time to look to the future and attempt to plan accordingly. I’ve been meaning to write this for a week, but I kept getting sidetracked.
There are certain things for which I am contractually obligated, namely Texas Challenge 2023 in Longview and Texas Roundup here in Austin in October. I have at least a few more events on my radar, mainly GeoWoodstock in Owensboro, Kentucky (partially because I want to get that Webcam I had to miss in Evansville), and Worldwide CacheFest in Memphis (because I missed it last year). I’ve had the unfortunate realization that I’m not going to be able to truly get out on the road until late spring or early summer. Contrary to popular belief, I am not independently wealthy, and there are things I should have done last year that I can’t put off any longer. Actually, I probably could, but I can no longer reasonably justify road trips while those things sit undone. I’ve been told that there is no shame in resting and preserving your strength for the future. I don’t think the axiom entirely holds, but the root idea is sound. I comfort myself by knowing that if I make it to the Mega-Events in Kentucky and Tennessee, I will be picking up some new counties. Once I’m truly off the leash to travel, I have some other things to consider. The time of year will obviously dictate some things. As you can imagine, neither Michigan in the winter nor Alabama in the summer are especially appealing. Other time considerations are in play as well. Connecticut is being pushed to 2024 because the county changeover isn’t official with the Census Bureau until then. Yes, the maps are well documented, and I could do it now if I’m careful, but it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m weird that way. Travel times are becoming a concern as well. I can realistically drive about ten hours to get to a starting point, and I’m running out of starting places (that aren’t Mississippi or Alabama). All that said, I have one somewhat unexpected place that I think I need to hit this year. I think I have to go to Utah for the strangest reason. I’ve been reading articles talking about how the Great Salt Lake may no longer be here in five years. I want to see it with my own eyes before it’s gone. I’ve got some time, but five years may be as short as three. And if I see it later, it may no longer be “Great.” The good part of this is that a lot of the western county seats are along or relatively near I-15, which means a straight shot up from Las Vegas might be a good avenue of attack. The bad part is that the eastern county seats are spread all around. It may be better to wrap them into a trip to western Colorado. But the bad part isn’t as important right now. All I need to do is get to Salt Lake City. That looks like a fall trip (possibly between CacheFest and Roundup). That leaves the possibility of an early winter trip. I may have to bite the bullet and begin Mississippi in earnest. The thing is, if I do that, I’m going to start with the Gulf-bordering counties east of New Orleans, go ahead to Alabama and Pensacola (possibly dipping a toe in Georgia), and then come back to Mississippi. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll have to change my caching methods somewhat because I don’t want to be doing late-night driving in the Deep South. It may not be as bad as I imagine, but I am not going to take that chance. I may end up using Hattiesburg as a base for a few days, radiating outward each day and returning to hunker down. I considered Jackson, but their water troubles make that less attractive. I may even use Mobile or Pensacola instead and branch a little farther afield. I have some time to think about this, though.
I think that is my preliminary plan for 2023. Of course, things are all subject to change. Who knows what opportunities might arise or problems crop up? There are two schools of thought when it comes to plans: it’s a list of things that will go wrong, and also if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I know not what the future holds. All I can do is route around whatever goes wrong because I have no intention of failing.