This article is part four of a series of articles I am writing to share the story of my adventure to Seattle, WA to attend GeoWoodstock VIII and several other key geocaching locations. In this part I talk about the big Luau event and GeoWoodstock VIII.
When we last left off, I had headed back to my hotel to crash for a few hours to recover from the APE event and hike. I think it was more just part of the jetlag that I was now recovering from then the actual hike. A 4 hour time difference is a lot to swallow and by the second day, I was feeling it. But, I eventually did wake up and decided it was time to go check out the COWWS Meet & Greet Luau.
One of the biggest draws to going to this event was the fact that it was a sort of pre-GW8 event. You could pick up your registration for GW8, shirt, coin, meal ticket, and drop off your travel bugs ahead of time. See for large events like this, they give you a ticket per TB you drop, and then each ticket is used to claim a TB at GW8. Makes it more fair to people who actually drop bugs.
I really had no idea what to expect but as I drove up to the parking lot, I saw a state trooper parked nearby and then I saw the sea of cars. Wow. There was a lot of people there. In fact, it was the largest non-mega event I had ever been to. This place had a TON of people.
There were a pile of booths set up selling coins and other trackable stuff. Delorme was there showing off their new PN-60 GPS units, and a couple of big BBQ pits where free hot dogs were given out to all who were in attendance. If you wanted to, you could participate in a sort of passport-style find where you found 4 temporary caches, stamped your sheet, and when you returned the sheet fully stamped, you got a special Tiki tyackable tag for free. Wish I had known that before I bought one. Very cool none the less.
A huge crowd made it pretty interesting, but I was more focused on getting my stuff for GW8 because that was tomorrow and I was getting psyched. I picked up everything I needed, dropped my TBs, got my tickets, spent some time checking out all of the vendors, played the little game, and then went out caching. I finished my day hitting around 20 or so caches which included the two events, plus the APE cache. Not a bad day’s haul.
Day 3 was going to be a pretty big day. GW8 started at 10am and my plan was to not be there any later than noon, because I also wanted to hit the original stash plaque the same day. Knowing that it would be a four hour drive there and four hour drive back, I wanted to maximize my time. I got up early, got my stuff ready, and hit the car on the road to GW8.
I spent about 30 minutes waiting just to get into the parking lot. The line of cars was VERY long and moving very slow but eventually I found myself in the parking area, snagged a decent spot (near the exit), and wandered into what would make the Rendez-vous Quebec mega seem pretty lame. I did not expect it to be as big as it was but knowing that it was the biggest event for geocachers, I was not disappointed.
There were a LOT of people there. It basically broke down into several large areas with groups of tents. In one area you had the “official” tents which were for general information, registration, trackables, and a tent showing various tutorial sessions. Then you had the wall of vendor tents which basically ran side by side along the trees. One after another you had vendors of every kind pitching their wares. Whether it be coins, containers, GPS units, t-shirts, bolts and sprinklers (as cache containers), or stickers, you pretty much had access to anything you could want.
For me, my main goal for the vendors was to try and find “cool” camo containers. I wanted a few containers that would serve for good urban micros and be a bit harder to find than nanos and 35mm cannisters. Although I didn’t see very many types that I hadn’t seen before, I did pick up a few cool things and was generally happy with what I walked away with. I also had been asked by a local cacher to see if I could find a 3000 and 4000 finds milestone coins. I found (and bought so you owe me $14 USD Paul) a 3000 finds achievement coin but no luck on the 4000. There were a LOT of coin vendors but mostly new coins and coins specific for GW8.
Some of the more interesting things I saw were a gigantic ammo can that was bigger than several people combined. They also had a world map where you could place a pin on where you were from. There were folks from all over the US, Europe, Africa, and even Australia that were there for the event. It was pretty cool to see the international scale of it all.
However I think I have to say that the most memorable thing I saw at GW8 was a guy standing in line in front of me. I didn’t think much of him until I happen to look down and notice he was wearing shorts. On his right leg, he had the TB bar code and trackable ID
tattooed onto his leg. This was no temporary tattoo either. This was a full blown real one and let me tell you, it was some cool to see. Now THAT is someone who’s into caching.
I had purchased a meal ticket with my registration but the food area was not going to be open until noon. I needed some time to kill so I looked around at what I could do. There was a VERY large and long line up to get to the official Groundspeak table to purchase their stuff. I figured if I stood in that line, I could kill some time and pick up some neat stuff. Turns out it worked quite well as I probably waited in line about 45 minutes and then got in there, picked up a coin, another special trackable, and a couple of other things and then I was ready to go get some food. Or so I thought.
As I walked towards the food area, I saw a lineup that was longer than the one I had just come out of. It would likely be another hour before I would even get into the food service area if I stood in line. Knowing that I had a 4 hour drive ahead of me, I didn’t want to waste anytime so I decided to forgo my meal, and head for the car. I then unloaded what I had purchased, logged the event as attended, and loaded up my GPS’s with the necessary caches for my trip to the original stash. The homeland would be four hours away.