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International Geocaching Day: Brew Kids On The Block

He's the boss: Groundspeak founder Jeremy Irish signs a logbook, earning his August 17th souvenir. Photos: GLEN SILVER

He’s the boss: Groundspeak founder Jeremy Irish signs a logbook, earning his August 17th souvenir. Photos: GLEN SILVERS

For a second year, Washington’s Glen Silvers (GC handle: valleyAGs47) kindly volunteered to be our lackey at this year’s Groundspeak Block Party.

“Hello there all, VA47\,,/ here with a report from the 2013 Geocaching Block Party (GC3X684). This year, it was not just a one-day event but a multi-day geocaching extravaganza.

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X marks the boss: Even the head of Groundspeak has to sign the logbook to claim a find.

It started for me on the night of Wednesday, August 14th. A new puzzle cache was published at about 10pm; it was a little too far from home to rush out so I placed it on my watchlist and went to bed.

By the time I woke, the cache was solved and found. None of the names were familiar. These FTFers were from the mid-west; they got off the plane, rented a car and found the cache within an hour of landing. They had adjusted their new geocache notifications to MY area. The cache rush was on.

Passport

Stamp of approval: The writer’s completed HQ Geo-Tour passport.

The next day I made the trek to Seattle from my hometown of University Place (about an hour away, depending on traffic) for the start of the HQ Geo-Tour and Groundspeak’s new ‘lab caches’. The tour consists of nine caches (multis, mysteries, traditionals and even a letterbox hybrid). At every find, you stamp your passport and, once completed, you turn it in for a chance to win a Geocaching HQ geocoin (I did not win … again). All of these finds count as true smileys. 

Screenshot_2013-08-20-20-32-17I was working on a multi final with a cacher from Dallas, Texas when I looked up and saw Groundspeak head honcho Jeremy Irish. He stopped and asked if we were enjoying the caches. Of course.

He then asked if we wanted to accompany him and several other lackeys to the MicroBrew Excursion – one of the company’s new lab caches. They have been created in response to many cachers complaining that they do not get enough smileys when attending big events.

Experimental hunt: Can you spot the new Lab Cache icon?

Experimental hunt: Can you spot the new Lab Cache icon?

These lab caches can be seen in your profile just under the benchmark area – look for the little green beaker in the screenshot of my profile.

As we were walking to that GZ, Jeremy realised he did not have his daily August cache yet. As it happens there was a hide down the road. It was almost a LPC.

I tried to get a picture of the founder lifting up a lamp-post skirt but was just a second too late. What a picture that would have been. The cache was found and the log signed (as you can see in the top photos).

Cheers: A souvenir MicroBrew Excursion glass.

Cheers: A souvenir MicroBrew Excursion glass.

While walking to the brewery tour’s kickoff, we discussed families and children. Jeremy is a regular guy. I was most impressed. At the event. we were all given little 2oz Groundspeak mugs before the beer began to flow.

Blotto pad: The MicroBrew Excursion logbook.

Blotto pad: The MicroBrew Excursion logbook.

As you visited each Seattle micro-brewery involved, you logged on to GC.com’s new Lab Cache to claim a find – and, more importantly, free beer. There were five stops in total, making this a ‘geo’ pub crawl. I ended up at dinner with several local cachers, others from California, a wide array of lackeys, reviewers (including one from Germany) and moderators.

After dark: Strangers soon became friends whilst looking for a night cache. There was even a Kiwi in the group.

After dark: Strangers soon became friends whilst looking for a night cache. There was even a Kiwi in the group.

Bellies full, a small group of lackeys then decided to go on a night cache and I was invited along. My ride pulled up and said: “This is Chris (GC handle: Funky Monkey Zone), he’s from New Zealand. We just met him. Get in.” In what other community would a person jump into a car full of strangers? None, there is simply a common bond amongst cachers. We get to the cache and there are more lackeys than you could shake a stick at. A group of cachers from California came from the airport directly to this cache for the gathering. Good times.

SmileyThe day of the Block Party finally came. This year the set-up was slightly different. There were food trucks offering Thai, swarma, sushi and the fan favourite, ‘Secret Sausage’. There were more lab caches; requiring attendees to go the co-ordinates, find the code words and enter them into the app via to earn another smiley.

I was finally able to complete the HQ Geo-Tour, which included a Goblindust cache - GC32A0H HQGT: Ode to the Golgafrinchan Phone Workers – amongst its nine hides. If you are not familiar with this player’s caches, I strongly recommend looking them up. Goblindust is truly a destination cacher.

The atmosphere at the Block Party was extremely laid-back and open. I was able to meet cachers from all over the world as well as across the USA. I talked to cachers whose puzzles have driven me batty and gave hints to some local hides, including GC24H25 Double Bubble Toil & Trouble.

During a lull in the activities, I went with a small group of international cachers on a Dayspring (yet another destination cacher) run. This group consisted of an Australian, some Germans, and a handful of locals. 

Eventually I found myself at a tavern having beers with another founder, Bryan Roth. Once again a totally down-to-earth guy. Through this blog post, have I have been dropping names? Yes I have. But it shows how approachable these guys are. Many of the lackeys wore shirts that read ‘I play where I work’. That sums it up pretty well.

On a roll: Waiting for the lights to dim at the first Geocaching International Film Festival.

On a roll: Waiting for the lights to dim at the first Geocaching International Film Festival.

The night ended with the first annual Geocaching International Film Festival. I was able to meet one of the GIFF nominees, Joshua Johnson - aka mayberryman, aka thegeocachingvlogger. I’ve been avidly watching his videos on YouTube for several years. Once again, a totally cool guy.

Geo-stars: PodCacher's Sonny and Geocaching V-logger Joshua Johnson in their award-winning festival entry.

Geo-stars: PodCacher’s Sonny Portacio and Geocaching V-logger Joshua Johnson in their award-winning festival entry.

The films were five-minute vignettes from cachers around the world. I particularly enjoyed the ones about geocaching addiction, the NEED for FTFs and the NEED to find caches – themes I think we can all relate to. It was a great way to end a caching weekend.

Screenshot_2013-08-15-19-38-56The bottom line is that the Block Party was another great success. I have attended all three since this event started back in 2010 and this one was, by far, the best yet. Where else could you jump in a car of strangers and go out for a night cache? Where else could you just walk up to someone and act as if you were old friends even though you’d never met them before?

The Block Party gives an opportunity to have a couple thousand people with a common interest come together swap swag, tell war stories and share beverages. Caching is truly a community.”

561536_10151847625494680_383739908_n*How did you earn this year’s International Geocaching Day souvenir? Were you lucky enough to be at the Block Party too, or did you celebrate with friends? Tell us in the comments below …

 

 

2 comments

  1. Manville Possum Hunters

    We got the chance to log some Lab caches in the historic town of Matewan, West Virginia during the MEGA event along the Hatfield – McCoy feud trail this year. We really enjoyed them. They were theamed around the Matewan Massacre of 1920, some really great history was detailed. A local historian was there in character of Chief of Police Sid Hatfield discribing the infamous Matewan Massacre. The Lab cache we found of most interest was near a Benchmark where there are two bullet holes from the gunfight. We had a great time geocaching and Waymarking along the Hatfield – McCoy Geotrail and visiting the new legal Moonshine distillery in Williamson, West Virginia. We love the TV series “White Lighting” and got to mee more than a few stars of the show.

  2. Bryan Roth

    Hey Glen, Thanks for joining us! We hope to see you again at the next Geocaching Block Party, if not sooner. -Bryan

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