The purr of his motorcycle engine, the crunch of a long-neglected gravel road, his GPS device flickering a reading ever closer to a remote geocache; geocacher Jeff Hower, ADVTraveler, lives for these moments. He’s combined his love for adventure motorcycling with the GPS-powered treasure hunt of geocaching.
Jeff says his motorcycling journeys preceded the creation of geocaching by about three decades, “I started riding dirt bikes back in the 1970s. Trips into the mountains in Colorado, deserts in the west and Baja, and in 1988 a trip deep into the Copper Canyon region of Mexico pretty much set my urge to travel to other regions. Back then there was no GPS or geocaching. It was all travel using maps and compass.”
His little brother introduced Jeff to geocaching in 2005, but it wasn’t until Jeff retired four years later that the hunt for geocaches kicked into high gear. He says, “For me, geocaching and motorcycling are a natural pair. Riding the bike is fun in itself, but geocaching gives you a destination and purpose. The motorcycle allows you to quickly pull up and get to areas that sometimes are not accessible by other means. Geocaching also is an incentive to get off the beaten path and explore areas that you would never experience.”
Jeff has taken his love of exploration to different continents. He’s traveled from his home in Missouri, USA to the southern tips of South America and Africa. He geocached along the way, finding new vistas and unimaginable new locations. But Jeff hasn’t geocached without DNF (did not find) regrets for caches that eluded him – especially one particular geocache in Africa.
He says, “One of my disappointing DNFs was in Swaziland. The cache was hidden somewhere on the bank of a small river with the notes cautioning to watch out for crocodiles. I never did find a cache in that country.”
If you’re tempted to climb on a motorcycle and start a geocaching adventure, Jeff has some advice. “My advice to someone caching via motorcycle is “Be Careful.” Don’t focus on the GPS. Get a good idea about where you are going and how to get there while you are stopped. Beyond that it’s just an awesome reason to go riding and exploring.” He adds, “I’m still in awe at the creative methods people come up with to hide caches.”
Jeff says one the best part of motorcycle geocaching is when you step of the bike, “…whenever you stop, people will stop and talk to you. There is always someone interested in where you’re from and where you’re going.” And with geocaching you’ll always have stories.