It’s been a little more than a week since GeoWoodstock ended and I think I finally have my thoughts all together from that whirlwind weekend to do a post about the overall weekend.
And what a weekend it was.
Every person in life has events they will remember. There are vivid memories of births, deaths, accomplishments, goals attained, first cars and everything else. But those memories stick with those people forever. I have a lot of those memories, too. Now, I can add GeoWoodstock to that memory base.
Though some might find geocaching silly or something along those lines, for those of us who participate in the game, it’s a fun hobby. I’ve always thought it was a bit heartless the way some non-geocachers talk about the game. Everyone has hobbies. Some have silly ones. Some have serious ones. It’s what makes this world so fun. Not everyone is the same.
But I digress.
Last weekend was my first GeoWoodstock. I plan on attending more in the future, but I’m quite sure they won’t compare to this one, if not just because it was my first trip to one. The event, which was in its ninth year, was originally created by a small group of cachers who hosted the original event with 75 people in Louisville. Since then, the event has continued to grow and grow. This year, more than 5,000 people ascended on Pittsfield, Pennsylvania to the Warren County Fairgrounds for GeoWoodstock 9.
Coming in to the weekend, I knew it wasn’t an ordinary geocaching event. What was in store, I couldn’t have expected.
For those of you who are geocachers and have attended events, you know that the social aspect is quite a draw for most. You get to hang and chat with fellow cachers, placing faces to names you have seen online or in logbooks. But this event was so much more.
Vendors. Food. Games. Workshops. Presentations.
It was basically a fair, for geocachers.
There was even fair food (and yes, the funnel cake was outstanding!)
There were event shirts (trackable!) and so many people discovering one another’s shirts or their other trackables.
This was a caching event unlike any I had ever been to.
Arriving late Thursday night, a few hours of sleep was in order before beginning Friday. We went on a caching run for the day, hitting three events (a breakfast, in a park for a train ride, and the official pre-event meet-and-greet, where we got to pick up registration materials early). For the day, we earned a coin for the Allegheny GeoTrail (Forest County).
The day was a success overall as I had the chance to meet a bunch of new people — and the event hadn’t even started yet. There were four of us for much of the day (me, Brent and Heather and Jim of the Ferreteers) going after a bunch of caches. We had a late dinner where we ran into Gary (JonesPosse) and Wes (AThrillofthehunt). A lengthy chat ensued about Pathtags and caching. I had traded Pathtags, several times, with Gary, so it was really cool to put a face to the name.
The thing about chance meetups like this at a geocaching event?
You make friends you’ll have for a long time. We ended up meeting up with Gary and Wes several times over the course of the weekend, including at a couple of the events Saturday, a few caches after and for dinner. There we also met up with Steve and his girlfriend Kathie (we3jeepers). Steve would be part of our massive group Sunday in hunting down many caches and it was a good time having a local involved!
Anyway, back to the weekend.
After a short night’s sleep Friday, the reason we made the trip came to fruition. GeoWoodstock! I had to arrive early as I was volunteering for the bird banding exhibition. It took a while for me to find the spot, but eventually I did. However, the bird banding people (who were geocachers) didn’t know that the GW committee had sent them a volunteer, so for a few moments, there was nothing to do. Then, I had the idea of photos — and they seemed happy to have photos taken of the event!
I learned a bit at this spot. It was pretty cool overall.
With volunteering out of the way, it was time to check things out. And there was a lot to check out! I couldn’t believe how many vendors were there. From major companies such as Garmin and DeLorme, to the many geocoin companies, Pathtags, geocaching clothing and more. It was something else to take the time to look through all the wares that people offered.
GeoWoodstock was an all-day affair with some of the items. They had a roundtable with geocaching reviewers, live podcasts
all day and so much more. I tool part in one of the podcasts, Cache-A-Maniacs. As a former guest of the
show, Darryl and Drie were looking to catch up with a few former guests and I was one of the ones brought on stage. Pretty cool to visit with them again, but definitely a different feeling getting up on the stage and doing it live!
I didn’t check out many of the workshops because the buildings they were being held in were roasting hot. It was already hot enough, but I found that standing
outside in the shade was the coolest way to go. I ever spent a few minutes back at my car in the AC to try and cool down!
The event was, by far, the most fun I’ve ever had at a geocaching event. For those cachers in the Northeast who didn’t get the chance to go, I feel for you as it was worth the car ride. Who knows when it will be back in the Northeast again, but if you get the chance to go — I’d highly encourage it.
Also, a fun part of the day included hanging with Chuck — a cacher who goes by the name of Sparticus06. For those of you who read FTF Geocacher Magazine, you already likely know Sparticus. For those that don’t read the magazine, well, Chuck had the idea of finding his way into each edition of the magazine. So the magazine puts his head in a photo somewhere each month. People find it, submit their names and have a chance to win a special pathtag. I’ve known Chuck for several years through caching and events, so it’s always fun to hang with him. But with this whole thing, he’s a celebrity. Put him in an area with a lot of people who know about this and it’s a constant yell of “I found Sparticus.” Too funny.
The following day, there were two more events and a lot of caching in the plans.
This also included a 5/5 geocache — my second 5/5.
I wasn’t originally going to do this one. Alas, we met up with Gary, Wes and Steve, who were going to do it. See, this cache required a canoe or kayak. However, the water wasn’t high.
You probably see where I am going with this.
Anyway, I ended up switching shorts and wearing my sandals and with the aid of Gary’s walking stick, I went with those three, Brent and Jim of the Ferreteers in crossing this river. The water actually felt awesome (it was so hot that day) and it wasn’t a bad walk over. The cache was eventually in hand and we had the 5/5. It was the first 5/5 for Gary and Brent. I think it might have been for the Ferreteers and Wes as well.
The funniest part of it was when Wes took a dive the way back and got soaked. Good times. Brent and Jim, who had waded across with bare feet, each flagged a canoe to bring them back across the river to avoid the rocks.
We ended the day with a cool series near Jamestown, had a fantastic dinner and parted ways.
The final tally?
Sixty-four caches, eight events, countless memories, several new friends and an experience that I’ll never forget. Though I don’t know where I’ll be job-wise next year, I’ve made my hotel reservations for next year’s GeoWoodstock, which is in southern Indiana over Memorial Day weekend. I can’t wait and hope it all works out so I can go. I traded for more than 40 Pathtags, walked away with about a dozen new geocoins. I also finally got to meet many people I’ve known through the game, whether it be caching logs, pathtags, coins, twitter or something else. Way too cool.
This was one for the memory bank, that’s for sure. And one I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend.
I can’t wait until next year!
For more photos from the GW weekend, visit my Flickr set here.
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com.