Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Geowoodstock IX

 Once a year geocachers from around the world (literally!) get together at the same place at the same time to discuss ammo can location techniques, hiking in the woods with a purpose, and satellite based technology and how it relates to tupperware geolocation in the woods.  This event is called Geowoodstock.  The place:  Warren Pennsylvania. The date: July 2nd, 2011.

This is an (un)official historical account of one family of bears journey to the event, and how it affected their lives for the better, for the worse, and for the surreal.

Join us in song (not really) and in prose (sorta)... for the retelling begins... now.

July 1st 2011 We packed up the family, including the 20 month old Tonka Tyke and Bailey the Wonder Puppy and headed north to Warren Pennsylvania at 4:30am.  We drove straight there, stopping only for food and gas.  It took 10.5 hours.  When we got there, two things happened: I said hello to Zemmy, a fellow cacher I've known from chatting online in a geocaching chat channel, and I said hello to my parents-in-law, cause we arranged it for them to be there.

Oh, now may be a good time to inform you that the event was on Saturday, and we had a family reunion of sorts on Sunday... so my family from Canada was around :) (also functioned as built in Zeke babysitters).

On Saturday we headed out at 8am to the Warren County Fairgrounds. On the way we stopped by Tim Hortons (cause  we are Canadian, and dang it Tims is *delicious*), then we continued to the fair grounds.

We have never been to a geocaching event of this magnitude before so we really had no idea what to expect.  So the following is a quick summarization of our day.  It helps to have a mental picture in your mind (where else would you have one?) of a country fair without the rides, clowns, or games (basically keeping the good parts) when you imagine the following:

  • We arrived around 9:30am to register, pick up our name tags and swag, and wandered around the fairgrounds a bit.
  • Opening Ceremonies at 10, signed the event log (which was literally a log)
  • Meet The Reviewer panel at 11.  This is also where I met up with another cacher friend from online, leftyfb, and his entourage of wife, family, and friends.  We hung out with them, and some other friends from online, off and on for the rest of the day.
  • 12(ish).  Lunch
  • 1(ish). Met another online cacher, Luuluu, and her entourage.
  • 1(slightly-later-ish)  GPS accuracy course, then off to find a cache.
  • We spent some time walking around, checking out vendors and things.
  • 3(ish): hugged by a hippie.
  • 3:30 - met a fellow Googler cacher.
  • 4(ish) recording of Cachers Of The Round Table podcast.
  • 5:30(ish) Group photo and announcement of next years Geowoodstock (in Indiana)
  • 6(ish) Headed back to the campground.
  • 6:30(ish)Tim Hortons (naturally).
  • 6:45(ish) webcam cache with some friendly Germans.
  • 7:20(ish)  Arrived back at the campground.
It is common for people to release travel bugs to caches which are carried from cache to cache by other cachers, and their location is tracked online.  At the event pretty much everything was trackable, including:  tattooed arms, babies, cars, hats, t-shirts, dogs, Signal the geocaching Mascot, my geo-bag, and even our name tags.

There were well over 5000 cachers at the event.  It is a great vibe to be around so many like-minded individuals.  Kinda like being at a sci-fi convention but fewer aliens and more ammo cans.

The next day I did some hiking and caching in the Alleghany National Forest in the morning, and hung out with my family in the afternoon.

On Monday we started our drive home, taking our time and caching as we go, stopping at Tim Hortons in Warren for fuel... :) We've driven the stretch from Pittsburgh PA to Lenoir NC many times, but never stopped to explore that world beyond the borders of the Interstate.

On Monday we saw covered bridges, dams, insane asylums and a radiation dump in Canonsburg PA (no foolin!).  The radiation dump was the result of radium extraction processes (more radium was refined there than anywhere else in the world).  This cache, an earthcache, was my 600th find.  Not to shabby :)  For those keeping track at home this was the surreal portion of our trip.

On Tuesday we drove and cached some more, exploring some of the mountains of Virginia, and the town where Andy Griffith was born, and the Andy Griffith show based on:  Mount Airy PA.  We arrived home at 4pm, and have been relaxing ever since.

... And thusly the tale ends.  Farewell.