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. Jonathan Zbikowski aka jzbikows, attended the Mega-Events PirateMania V (GC365FT) and Geolympix Mega:Oxford 2012 (GC22T2T). They took place in Ashbourne and Oxford in the United Kingdom. Jonathan has been a Lackey since 2008 and is an API Developer. Here’s Jonathan’s account of his adventure.
Written by: Jonathan Zbikowski
Having been lucky enough to work with Groundspeak for a little over three years now, I recently was given the opportunity to travel internationally to a Mega-Event. There were many events to choose from, but Piratemania V caught my eye – a Pirate-themed Mega-Event? Count me in! I was fortunate enough to attend along with co-founder and Mega-Event veteran Bryan Roth.
Bryan and I awoke on the day of the event bright and early – excited for the day. We surely looked a little foolish walking through a nearby bus station on our way to the car – Bryan dressed in full pirate regalia (“Fancy Dress” to the locals), me with a sword, sash and bandana. However, for the hundreds of attendees at the event 30 minutes down the road, at a beautiful campsite surrounded by farms and wilderness, we fit right in.
We arrived to find many people still waking up and having breakfast at their campsites, where a multitude of makeshift flagpoles had been erected. The flagpoles were flying a motley collection of pirate-themed flags and banners to represent the different groups assembled throughout the campsite. All present were already in the pirate spirit, even the kids! ‘Arrrrrr!’ was the preferred greeting by many attendees.
After talking a quick walk around the campsite and signing the log sheet, we caught up with the organizers Mark (PopUpPirate) and Liane The Cache Hoppers and were promptly asked to choose allegiances. Bryan, ever the neutral arbitrator, chose to support both the Red and Blue team. I however (unintentionally) only supported Blue. We were then given a map with the location of 24 caches specifically placed for the event, spread out over eight miles of English countryside. After finding a few older caches in the area while following some random groups of cachers, as well as some wrong turns and dead ends, we caught up with two fast moving cachers, Karl(Doyboyz ) and Colin(Flamedodger).
They were hot on the trail of the newly placed caches. We ended up hiking, slogging through muddy public footpaths, and enjoying their company for the next 18 of the 24 caches. After making it back to the campsite very parched, we enjoyed a few drinks at the “Outside In” bar onsite. We encountered a couple who were staying at the campsite but were unaware of geocaching. By the time we finally left they were hooked and excited about getting out and finding their first cache.
Luckily, another Mega-Event Geolympix Mega: Oxford 2012 was being held much closer than we had previously thought. The opportunity to attend two Mega-Events in short proximity was too much to miss out on. So after saying goodbye Saturday night, we woke up early Sunday morning and set out for Geolympix which was held two hours south in Oxford. We signed in and happened to see a few others who also made it to two Megas in a weekend.
We stopped by our new friends Karl and Colin’s booth for their upcoming Mega (Halloween Hides and Creepy Caches Event). We also had a chance to meet Wendy (Dorsetgal & GeoDog) who had the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch while it traveled through the United Kingdom before the 2012 Summer Games. She was kind enough to let both Bryan and myself hold the torch! After talking to a few different groups of people, we ended up joining a group venturing out to find a Wherigo cache. We were lucky enough to walk around with creator of the cartridge, James (metal-bijou), who had worked on the cartridge during a Geolympix talk about Wherigo. Our band of cachers also found a few other caches including a Letterbox cache, helping me to get both a Letterbox and a Wherigo icon on the same day. After parting ways with the group, we found one more cache as we headed back to our car for the ride home.
I was exhausted after two full days experiencing two unique Megas, and am still in awe of the fact that we are lucky enough to support the community that helped make all of this possible. I have the best job!