Sunday, October 26, 2014

Going Caching: Cachius Experimentus

The Going Caching Mega Event in Rome GA was home to some excellent geocaches placed specifically for the event.

This years lab caches were a shining example of that.

If you are not aware, lab caches are special caches placed around Mega events.  These caches are temporary, lasting only a few days, and are intended to give geocachers the flexibility and freedom to experiment with new hide styles.

To claim a lab cache one needs to enter a code into the cache listing for the website. i.e. there is no log book.  So this opens the door to a lot of possibilities.

Also, because lab caches are temporary, I can tell you all about them without giving away spoilers. 

The first lab cache I did was on a walking bridge over one of the rivers that runs through town. This bridge is also a place where people have placed love locks.  The code is finding two locks that spell a common geocaching phrase: TFTC.
Another lab cache required the finders to tune into a specific radio station to get the code word.

Rome Georgia is a town situated on 5 hills and three rivers. Several of the lab caches were used to bring cachers to some of these picturesque hills and rivers, like Myrtle Hill, pictured below.
Another pretty spot was this cemetery, which was located up a series of awesome stone stairs.  Pictured is the backs of FailedApparatus and HoosierSunshine, cacher friends who I ended up finding the majority of these caches with.  Most of these labs were solved simply by finding a word on a sign at GZ. Of the 10 lab caches, 6 were caches like this.

The remaining two caches were a different sort all together, and in my experience, utterly unique.
The first led us to a bench at the tourist bureau in town, and indicated one could see the code from the seat.
So we sat and looked.  We saw some words on signs etc, but nothing seemed to work as the code. Then we lifted the seat lid, and inside we found an ammo can.  Inside the ammo can where two boxes containing ViewMasters.  When I looked at the pictures, I saw that each picture was a landmark from the town, with the name spelled out, all in capital letters, except one letter per word.
We wrote out the small letters, and we came up with a word: tourist. Sure enough, that was the code.

The last lab cache was something truly remarkable. The coordinates lead you to the back of a building at a museum where you find a fenced off sandbox, about 8ft square. Hidden in the sand were shards of pottery. We started gathering up the shards, and ended up with bits from 4 different vases.
Some of the shards had some letters written on them. We theorized that the code word could be obtained by re-assembling the pottery shards, then reading the word from the completed pot.  It took us a long time to get this sorted out.  The word ended up being 'potitor', which according to Google Translate means "obtained."
The pottery lab cache is one of the most involved field puzzles I have ever seen, and I think it highlights the spirit of the lab caches:  experimenting with new caches or new cache ideas.  They definitely set a new high bar for lab caches at future Megas.  These are definitely the sort of caches that one walks away from with an overwhelming sense that they just experienced true genius at work. Very well done, indeed.

So, this ends the geocaching stories from Going Caching. There are a few more posts coming about the collectables from the event, of which there are quite a few, including an absolutely stunning geocoin.

Stay tuned!