A North of the Border Mega-Event Adventure

Lackey Nicole Bliss at Island Spirit 2012

Groundspeak Lackeys are traveling thousands of miles from H.Q. throughout the year to share smiles, shake hands, and make geocaching memories at nearly 20 Mega-Events worldwide. Jen Smith aka J2B2, attended the Mega-Event Island Spirit 2012 (WestCan2) (GC349MK). The Mega-Event took place outside Westholme, British Columbia. Jen has served as a Lackey since 2006 and is Web Developer. Here’s Jen’s account of her adventure.

Lackey Jen Smith, aka J2D2

Written by: Jen Smith

On the weekend of July 7th, I was excited and honored to be one of two Lackeys representing Groundspeak at the Island Spirit 2012 (WestCan2) Mega-Event. While my fellow Lackey Nicole Bliss (Louie Bliss) is a Mega-Event veteran, I had never been to a Mega-Event outside of Seattle, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had been to Canada once before, but it was so long ago that the only thing I remember from that trip is watching The Empire Strikes Back in French on the hotel TV.

Ferry to Canada

On Friday afternoon, I packed up my car and drove to the ferry terminal in Anacortes, WA. The mega was on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in the heart of the Cowichan Valley. Though it’s only about 100 miles from Seattle as the crow flies, they are separated by the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands, so unless you’re really good at swimming, taking a ferry is a must. And on a weekend of incredible sunny weather, there are few nicer ways to travel. In fact, the infamous Pacific Northwest rain was nowhere to be found. I was even able to find my first EarthCache along the way!

Saturday was the big day. Nicole spent the morning helping out at the registration tables, while I wandered around checking out the event. There were all kinds of interesting presentations and vendors to see, Trackables to discover, and of course, lots of geocachers to meet! It was amazing to hear how far many cachers had traveled just to attend – I talked to several who had come from as far away as Ontario and Quebec.

Island Spirit MILESTONE Wall

A major centerpiece of the event was the emphasis on local history and culture. From the beautiful Island Spirit logo (featuring a spyhopping orca against a backdrop of rolling evergreen hills) to the awesome performance by the Quw’utsun’ First Nations Dancers at the end of the day, the natural heritage of the Cowichan Valley was constantly on display.

Even some of the event challenges followed the theme. Cachers who successfully learned to identify Douglas fir cones, differentiate between male and female Dungeness crabs, and draw sea creature GPS art could earn pieces of a special puzzle Trackable. I really got the sense that this wasn’t just a geocaching event — it was also a celebration of a very beautiful and unique little corner of the world. Best of all, the legacy caches placed for the event will keep people coming back and rediscovering this incredible area, hopefully for years to come.

Geocachers are also welcome

The day closed out with a delicious group dinner and a comedy magic performance by featured Geocacher of the Month winner Magicman65. All in all, the event was a total blast and I can’t wait to go back to Vancouver Island for a longer visit. Major kudos and thanks go out to all the organizers and volunteers who made the day such a great success.