Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Our Seven Souvenirs of August

A little while back I wrote a blog talking about last years "31 Days of August" challenge that was met with very mixed reviews by the geocaching community at large.  Also I wrote about this year's challenge "The Seven Souvenirs of August", and how I felt it was a big and welcomed compromise to the what happened the year before.  If you haven't had a chance to read that entry yet, be sure to check it out HERE.

As I mentioned in the above blog, I went into this new challenge with open arms and an unclouded mind.  Originally I had a plan on how I was going to accomplish this mission, but on a survey of our area I found a major flaw...  We had no August events in our area!!!  This was easily remedied by just hosting my own on International Geocaching Day (August 16th), the same day as the Geocaching Block Party in Seattle.  A little perk of hosting an event is that it is acceptable for you to log your attendance; unlike owning a cache, where logging a find on ones you own is very taboo!  You can read the blog about our event HERE.

So now it looked like my plan was ready to go!  But yet one more snag appeared in what seemed to be a flawless strategy.  My father Postie Bear from Comox wanted to get them too.  And so because he focuses on Traditional Caches only his skills at puzzle solving, waypoint projecting, and tech in general is lacking. Please note I am not making fun of my dad in any way!  I actually enjoy teaching him new things and seeing him succeed, just like I am sure he enjoyed teaching me when I was a young boy!  It is the circle of life I suppose.  While at this time we have no children of our own to teach, sometimes the teacher becomes the student while the student becomes the teacher!
My solution was that I suggest he come down to Victoria for the event I was hosting, and that either that day or that weekend we wrap up the rest.  This was very much agreeable to him, so with a little revamping to the plan we were set!

So now on to the caches and the souvenirs themselves.  I will list them in what order and day they were completed on.  The only one that was done solo without my day was the first one, and easiest of the bunch.  And that one was called "The Explorer"!

The Explorer Souvenir:  Earned by finding a traditional cache.  I got this one on the very first day of August, and the very start of the Seven Souvenirs of August, which will be refered to as 7SofA through the rest of this blog.  It was a great way to start the month and challenge off, as it was a FTF (First to Find) on a newly published cache.  The cache was "GC5A0VA - Dog House Deux".

The Socializer:  Earned by attending an Event, Mega-Event, or The Block Party.  This is when dad and I paired up to start getting the challenge done.  We both earned this one by attending my event that was previously mentioned "GC58ZK6 - Not At The Block Party...AGAIN".

The Nature Lover: Earned by completing an Earthcache or participate in a CITO Event.  Here we were joined by my dad's friend CurlyQ42.  For this one we did and Earthcache called "GC1HW8F - Victoria EarthCache Series #4: Gabbro Rock Art"  And we had a wonderful walk along the rocky shores Fonyo Beach to do this one.  Another nice easy grab for the day.

The Puzzler:  Earned by solving and finding a Mystery Cache. After the last one we parted ways with CurlyQ42 and headed out to the Westshore Communities to wrap up the last of the caches needed.  The first one out here was "GC55Q37 - Glen Lake's Residents".  I had solved this one back in June, but had not gone for it yet.  So this provided for an easy find for us.  I later showed dad how it was solved so that he had an understanding of how it worked incase he every came up against one like it himself.

The Collector:  Earned by finding a Wherigo, Webcam, or Letterbox Hybrid Cache.  For this one we did "GC55VKQ - DRAGONFLY LETTERBOX".  This one led us on a nice walk through the trails in the area, just like Letterboxes of old used to do.  It is written in a form that makes you pay attention to your surroundings to now you are on the right track.  All in all, a very nice Letterbox Hybrid.

The Sightseer:  Earned by finding a Multi-stage Cache.  This was the last one needed by us to make the 6th souvenir needed for unlocking the special 7th.  For this one we needed to drive to the other side of Glen Lake.  The cache was a simple two stage Multi called "GC55RXR - GOOD MONNINGTON TO YOU".  After a simple on the fly projection (something to teach dad), we made the find right where the CO said it would be.  So with this final one complete it was off to my place to log our finds and unlock the final souvenir!

The Achiever:  Earned by unlocking the other 6 souvenirs in August.  All we had to do here was log our finds and check in to our Souvenir Trophy Case to unlock and lock in our achiever number.  

A hint from us to you.  If any of you our readers are experiencing difficulty in unlocking the final 7th, it is because you have to check in to your Souvenir Trophy Case to make it work.  Just click on this link HERE to get there and just log into your account.  And if you have the previous 6, the final 7th will unlock for you.

Well, I have to say I am happy to completed another of Groundspeak's August challenges.  I actually found this to be much more enjoyable than last year's "31 Days of Geocaching", as it did not feel forced and it really could be done at our leisure.  I do think that a tip of the hat is needed in Groundspeak's direction, as this was well thought out and a good compromise to the suggestions and complaints from last year.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more geocaching adventures.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

International Geocaching Day & Not At The Bock Party... AGAIN!!

This past Saturday (August 16th) was the third Saturday in August.  To geocachers this means a couple of things!  First it is what we celebrate as International Geocaching Day, and secondly it is the Block Party Weekend at Geocaching HQ in Seattle. While many geocachers head down to party it up with the hundreds of other cachers, others sadly cannot. We The GO! Team are the latter of those, and have been for the last four years. We have talked about it, we have even began to save up to travel down.  But for four years either something got in the way, or it just turned out to be a pipe dream. But this worries us not!  Just because we are not at the Block Party does not me we miss out on International Geocaching Day.  So what we did was host a geocaching event (one that was greatly needed for the Seven Souvenirs of August) and throw our own party.  So to the planning board we went.

For those that have never hosted a geocaching event before, there is not much needed to make it happen.
First you need your location, so choose one and head out to the spot and mark a waypoint with your GPSr to get the coordinates.  If it is in a park or on a beach it would also be wise to use the internet or read signs for the park rules.  Some parks and beaches don't allow for dogs during summer months, and they may have other rules that are important to know too.  
Next plan your start and end time, as new rules on geocaching.com make this important.  Ensure your event doesn't have a personal or professional agenda, as this is a geocaching.com no no too!  You are however allowed to host an event for the purpose of just getting together to celebrate and have fun.  
And then come up with what you want to suggest to your potential attendees.   For example you intend to bring snacks and drinks, you may want to suggest that if any of them would like to contribute by bringing something to share that is would be greatly appreciated!  Lastly make your event listing (just like creating a cache page on geocaching.com) and submit it. 

Through this process ""Not At The Block Party... AGAIN!" Event - GC58ZK6" was born.  Not our first event ever, and certainly not our first event on International Geocaching Day!  But what turned out to be one of our most successful events to date!

In the few weeks leading up to the event, I planned out some some food and drink.  But something was missing!  And then my father Postie Bear from Comox suggested "Why not a cake"!  I told him he was brilliant, because people have brought cake in the past to my International Geocaching Day events before.  So why not ensure one is there by getting it ourselves.  And with that, my dad took it upon himself to arrange the cake for the event. So all of you readers that were at the event and enjoyed that tasty treat, you can thank Postie Bear for making that happen.

Finally the day of the event arrived.  And with all of the treats and drinks loaded up, we headed out to Mount Douglas Park where the event was to take place.  While we were early; in true geocacher form, so were many of our attendees.  And with that we got the party started.

A big shout out goes to the many geocachers that travelled down to the south island from Cowichan/Duncan, Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Comox/Courtenay, Campbell River.  Also to those vacationing on the island from various locations in Canada and the US.  To our sole visitor from the Gulf Islands (Salt Spring), we welcome you as well.  And if I missed anymore of you from any other location, we welcome you too.
Also a big thanks to JRAV owner and administrator for VIGPS.com for also popping into the event.  We don't get to see you often, so it was a pleasure to have you there.  Also a big thanks for the gift of that Vancouver Island Geocacher  tee-shirt!  I will have to take some pics of it on and post it on our Facebook page!

As we setup the table with treats, beverages, and trackables, more people arrived with even more to contribute.  And so constant resetting of the table was needed, but I have to say we had an impressive spread.  We let the time pass and mingled with our many guests, trying to talk with old friends and meet new ones too.  This can prove to be difficult sometimes; so if we didn't make our way over to you, I extend an apology!   I know my father was trying to keep up with a head count, but eventually even he could not keep up anymore.

After the one hour mark I announced that we were going to cut the cake, and that anyone interested wanted any to just head over at their leisure.

Shortly after cake cutting my dad and his friend CurlyQ42 had left the scene and went for a couple of caches deeper into the park.  During that time more people came as others left; and slowly the clock ticked down to the two hour mark.  This signalled the end of the event, and as people began to leave I begged them to take the many foods that were left over home.  Luckily my begging was not really needed, and that food disappeared fast.

As I cleaned up I noticed dad and CurlyQ42 were not back yet, so I gave them a call and asked for their return.  And once they were back we headed out for our adventure of the day, which is an entirely different blog all together.

Thank you everyone who attended the event, you made it a smashing success.  There was over 60 people in total in attendance through out the day!!  And a big thanks to all our readers for taking the time and reading about our adventures!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Long Road

As many of you may have noticed, recently we added a widget to the blog page that shows our cache find statistics on geocaching.com.  We also noted in a recent blog that we added this feature when we announced the launch of our new Facebook page.  You can read this story HERE.

So looking at it now you will notice we are finally getting close to 5000 geocaching finds.  A very long road that some reach very quickly, others moderately, and many more at a very leisurely pace.  While getting there in 4 years is decently quick, we have had help.
Finding the many caches on Vancouver Island accounts for nearly 3000 of those finds, but we couldn't have got here on Island caches alone.  We have cached through British Columbia, Alberta, Washington State, California, and Mexico.
We even cached in Nevada on the Las Vegas Strip and the famous E.T. Highway; which accounted to many of our finds, and lead to us being attacked by some former local cachers who believed that the process of doing the Highway is cheating.  This actually lead to a bout of  anxiety about sharing our stories, and almost lead to me shutting this blog down.  But thanks to the support of some awesome cacher and non-cacher friends I kept with the blog and sharing my stories.  But sadly I still feel like everything I am doing is being scrutinised in some way; it sucks to be damaged by it, but I get by!

Anyway back to the story at hand.  It has been a fun road to travel getting from there to here, and this past weekend was no exception.  What we did as travel up to the Comox area to visit with my parents, and for dad (Postie Bear on geocaching.com) and I to finish up the rest of the DBM cache series for him.  Personally I still have 001 ~ 110 left to do since we had already done 111 to 155 before, but my father is now fully complete.

The DBM or Duncan Bay Main is a logging road the stretches from Courtenay/Comox all the way to Campbell River.  Originally it only had a certain amount of caches on it, but was expanded by J05_T2_LCH the original CO (Cache Owner) to 155.  But then was expanded upon further by Team Jacobbi to be 216 caches long.

Dad only needed the last 61 and we had a great time doing the last caches on the trail.  We had to work hard, as we did not want to be working at it all day. So with very minimal breaks we drove this fairly well groomed logging road, working like a well oiled machine and cached our way to the end.
We met a few other cachers along the way who were caching the series in reverse.  I can't remember their names, but it was a pleasure to meet them.

But this wasn't the end of our weekend.  The following day dad and I headed out to Seal Bay Nature Park to grab a few more.  We had a fun time walking the trails and discovering some fun caches while in park.  I believe we did 7 more caches that day, making our weekend find total a very nice 68 finds.

Thanks dad for a fun caching weekend!  And thanks to you my readers for stopping by and reading the blog. 
Make sure you stay tuned for more geocaching stories here at The GO! Team Adventures.