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Geocaching Near the Top of the World – Finnish Style

This sign does not lie
This sign does not lie

Mega-Smiles at Latitude 61 in Finland

Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are  attending dozens of Mega-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching. Each person at Geocaching HQ brings their own unique talent to advancing the adventure. Some write code for the website, others design images for the apps, and some shoot videos explaining it all. Cindy or  Frau Potter works with geocaching community volunteers. This is her Mega-Event experience.

Cindy a.k.a. Frau Potter
Cindy a.k.a. Frau Potter

At Latitude 61, this time of year days are long and nights are short. With sunrise at 4:00am and sunset at 11:00pm, I found this left plenty of time for meeting geocachers at Mega Finland 2014 – Amazing Geocaching. In fact, more than 1,600 geocachers attended this event and I needed all that extra time to meet them all!

 My weekend began with a 3-hour train ride from Helsinki, Finland to the event location at Himos holiday resort near Jämsä, Finland. I arrived just in time to witness hundreds of geocachers helping to set up the geo-village, including erecting tents and preparing campfires. It was terrific to see all the collaboration. The event organizers (Gnutcha&Joorz) are veterans at hosting Mega-Events. This was the third and biggest, Mega-Event they organized. They were understandably proud of this free event. The Himos resort supplied the location, showers, toilets and water free of charge in return for the paying campers and cottage rentals. Gnutcha&Joorz said the official expenses for the event came in at about 60 Euros.

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Team Papan Poppoo
 Mega-Event Organizers Gnutcha&Joorz

Mega-Event Organizers Gnutcha&Joorz
My amazing team - Jarom, arnevela, tuulituuli and Gandal491
My amazing team – Jarom, arnevela, tuulituuli and Gandal491

The primary activity at the Mega-Event were two Adventure courses (one competitive and one leisure) and 10 fun Lab Caches. Geocachers were divided into teams to complete these courses. A highlight of my weekend was working with my team – Jarom, arnevela, tuulituuli and Gandal491 – on the course and Lab Caches. We had a lot of laughs together.

My favorite stations were “Flaming Tower, “Robin Hood” and “Bingo”. The Flaming Tower required three geocachers – one to pump water, one to aim the spray at the target and one to grab the container as it floated to the top. What a great activity for such a hot day!

Careful aim brings geocache container floating to the top
Careful aim brings geocache container floating to the top

Robin Hood looked like a modern practice for Hunger Games, except no one got hurt. And the Bingo activity was a creative Lab Cache that required you to get signatures from event volunteers who had completed certain geocaching accomplishments. The Bingo activity was a brilliant way to make sure participants talked with volunteers.

Geocachers prepping for Hunger Games
Geocachers prepping for Hunger Games
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Galdal491 signs for Bingo lab cache
Queue waiting to sign coffee event logbook
Queue waiting to sign coffee event logbook

It was terrific to see why geocaching is so popular in Finland and to meet so many new friends. To my new Finnish geocaching friends, I say “Kiitos!”. Thanks for the adventure!

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14 Km Geocaching Hike Starting after 10pm – That’s Portugal

14 Years Geocaching – Sintra | Portugal

Mega-Event in Portugal
Mega-Event in Portugal

Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are  attending dozens of Mega-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching. Each person at Geocaching HQ brings their own unique talent to advancing the adventure. Some write code for the website, others design images for the apps, and some shoot videos explaining it all. Annie or Love works as the Partners Program Manager, supporting all international distributors. This is her Mega-Event experience.

In early June, I had the pleasure to travel back to Portugal to attend 14 Years Geocaching – Sintra | Portugal. After the very warm welcome I received at Geocoinfest in Portugal two years ago, I was excited to spend some more time with the geocachers from one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  Even better, this Mega-Event would be taking place in the one of the most magical places. Sintra, a community hidden in the Sintra Mountains of the Lisbon region, is filled with unreal sites including a Moorish castle, architecturally stunning palaces and endless tiled sidewalks.

Mega-Event Attendees

The festivities spanned over five days in the Sintra region, and included a variety of geocaching walks, CITO events, a geocache lab adventure and lots of smiling faces. We walked, we cached and we blew bubbles. If you’ve ever wanted to use geocaching as your form of tourism, this Mega-Event would have been for you.

Bubble-blowing event
Bubble-Blowing Event

Some might think it’s weird to start a 14km hike at 10:30pm. Not geocachers. We thrive on adventures like that. If you can find about 35 caches on that 14km hike, even better. On the second night of the event, that’s just what we did.  When I finally returned to my hotel around 3am, I was able to reflect on a fun adventure through the mountains of Sintra with nearly 100 geocaching friends. Those are the memories that will stick with me forever.

Night Hike
Geocaching Night Hike

 

bruning portugal
“Bruning” in Portugal

Pride is one word I would use to describe Portuguese geocachers. Several times throughout the five days, I had conversations with individuals or geocaching teams about the incredible efforts they’ve put into their own geocaches. In a couple of cases, the teams had spent over a year perfecting one geocache. These are the types of geocaches that would inspire me to plan a return trip to Portugal.

New Friends
Love (center) and Geocaching Friends

If you are in search of a place where the people are friendly, the views are amazing, the culture is rich and the geocaching is pretty ‘darn’ good, Portugal has got you covered.

caching in portugal 2
Love and Geo-pup
Picnic Geocaching
Picnic Geocaching

 

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Allegany State Park Geobash IX Mega-Event

Signal, Amy and the whole ASPGB IX crew
Signal, Amy and the whole ASPGB IX crew

Geocaching is Better with Friends… Lots and Lots of Friends.

Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are  attending dozens of Mega-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching. Each person at Geocaching HQ brings their own unique talent to advancing the adventure. Some write code for the website, others design images for the apps, and some shoot videos explaining it all. Amy Faulkner is the Geocaching HQ staff member behind the Geocaching Block Party and other awesome events. She recently traveled to her home state of New York to join nearly a thousand people  in celebrating geocaching and the geocaching community at the ASPGB IX. Here’s her story. 

A Return Trip Home with Geocaching

Here at Geocaching HQ, we often hear glorious stories of geocaching taking people to places they never knew existed. And we’ve even experienced this phenomenon ourselves – stumbling upon EarthCaches that reveal large geological events that we never knew happened, or finding the Little Library around the corner that just so happens to contain a geocache.

As excited as I was to attend the ASPGB Mega-Event again this year, returning to the place where I grew up to attend an event I had previously attended seemed a bit anticlimactic. But I was wrong. Not kind of wrong, I was so wrong – out of the ballpark wrong- that I’m actually embarrassed that I had that thought in the first place.

To begin, the ASPGB was spectacular this year. It was great to see familiar faces from last year and meet all of the new attendees this year. The event was packed full of fun activities,  from Lab Caches to a creative cache contest to a raffle dripping with anticipation. I met so many great people including these lovely ladies (below) that were celebrating their 100th find. They presented me with the awesome smiley which now permanently resides at my desk.

100 finds
100 finds and a smiley

In addition to attending the event, I had the opportunity to spend a day geocaching with my mom in the town where I grew up. We found an amazing EarthCache at one of my favorite childhood spots, Rock City Park. My mother has become quite the geocacher over the last year.

 GC14E7K: Rock City Park
GC14E7K: Rock City Park
amys mom
Amy’s mom, geocaching pro.

 

A Hometown Still Full of Surprises

The biggest element of surprise happened on my drive back to the airport. About 30 minutes into my drive, I stopped at a rest area in a place called Friendship, New York. While there, I decided to peek at the Geocaching app to see if there were any nearby geocaches. To my surprise, there was one right at that rest area. I left the car and wandered to GZ and quickly made the find. As I was re-hiding the container, a car drove up behind me. From the window I hear, “Can we sign the log before you put that back?”

As I turned around, I saw a car full of geocachers. They pulled over and we shared stories, trackables and even had an impromptu photo shoot.

All in all, I realized that geocaching is so much more than finding new places. It’s about the randomness of the things that happen along the way, the people you meet, the experiences you have and the community that you belong to as a geocacher.

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Random encounters: Teamajk, theworldisfun, cheryyll, & Tiki tour

 

 

August Goes to the Mega-Events

geocaching block party blog

Are you a Mega Geocacher? 

August is awash with Geocaching Mega-Events around the world. A Mega-Event connects hundreds or even thousands of adventurers from every level of geocaching. Those who walk into a Mega-Event step into adventure, family-friendly activities and, of course, all things geocaching. Whether you’re excited about finding your first geocache or you’ve already found each of the 2.1 million caches hidden around the world*, attending a Mega-Event is sure to be fun. And there’s a Mega-Event every geocacher should plan to attend at least once: the Geocaching Block Party in Seattle.

If you’re joining thousands of your geocaching friends for the Geocaching Block Party this Saturday, August 17, log your “Will Attend” and share the news through the Geocaching Facebook Event page. This year’s Block Party weekend promises more geocaching, more fun and more events. Plus, Geocaching HQ will debut new geocaching ideas for attendees to play with. Once the sun goes down on Saturday, you’ll cozy up in front of a giant outdoor movie screen for the first annual Geocaching International Film Festival (GIFF). GIFF will showcase the best videos from geocachers around the world.

Whether you attend the Geocaching Block Party this year or in the future, we’ll be here ready to swap tales and show you the latest in geocaching tips, tricks and tech. Can’t make it to Seattle? Check here to see if there is a Mega-Event near you.

*Not humanly possible, but don’t let that stop you from trying.

Geocaching Tech Update

Update now to the latest version of the Geocaching Android App. Check out the powerful new search, maps and toggle functions: http://bit.ly/GeocachingAndroid

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13 Years Lisboa — Bryan Roth’s Trip to a Portugal Mega-Event

Bryan Roth with Signal.
Bryan Roth with Signal.

Geocaching HQ staff are joining geocachers at Mega-Events around the world to celebrate and share the adventure of geocaching. One of the founders of Geocaching.com, Bryan Roth, a.k.a. Bryan, traveled from Seattle, WA to Lisbon, Portugal last June for the 13 Years Lisboa Mega-Event (GC42FFG). He says he was inspired to go by the exciting and growing Portuguese geocaching community and by other Geocaching HQ staffers who attended a Portuguese Mega-Event and raved about their experiences.

The Seeker awards.
The Seeker awards.

After arriving in Portugal, Bryan did what any geocacher would do—look for a geocache near the hotel. There was only one problem: the geocache description was in Portuguese. However, this didn’t stop him from searching. Luckily, Boonieh&  Cllydeh, some super-friendly members of the Portuguese geocaching community showed up. They helped Bryan find his first geocache in Portugal and decided to attend the Mega-Event as well. With a geocache found, it was back to the hotel before meeting the Geocacherzone Portugal team for dinner and then a good night’s rest before the Mega-Event.

Fraldinhas, the Mega-Event's host.
Fraldinhas, the Mega-Event’s host.

The next few days brought tons of activities for geocachers from Portugal and many other countries around the world. In fact, the event gained so much popularity, there were a few stories on the local news channels about it. The Mega-Event host, Fraldinhas, with help from his parents, Xana and Nuno, and many volunteers, created an exceptional four-day event that included night caching, a Lisbon bus tour, a much-needed CITO Event (GC4BNP8), an awards ceremony, a traditional Portuguese singing group with a rendition of “Geocaching Portugal”, a number of meet-and-greets, “Bruning” with the local Geocaching Volunteer Reviewers, and (of course) plenty of geocaching. The awards, known as the “Seeker Awards”, were given out to geocachers in multiple categories, including Best Maintenance, Best Log, Best Cache and more. Bryan ended his trip with another Mega-Event Cache hosted by Fraldinhas, the Hike @ Belém, that featured a walking tour of a number of geocaches at historical places within Lisbon.

Bryan says, “It was truly an honor for me to attend this International Mega Event, spend time with so many exceptional geocachers and experience Lisbon, Portugal in such a unique way.  I would thank all of the organizers for all the work they did to plan multiple days of fun geocaching activities for everyone that showed up. I also want to thank all of the geocachers who took the time to speak with me and make me feel so welcome in Portugal.” He would also like to give a special shout-out to Fraldinhas, Xana and Nuno for all of their guidance and support during his trip.

 

 

Check out some more photos from Bryan’s trip:

Attendees of the Hike @ Belem.
Attendees of the Hike @ Belem.
"Bruning" in Lisbon. It's kind of like planking, but on your back.
“Bruning” in Lisbon. It’s kind of like planking, but on your back.
The Geocaching Choir
The Geocaching Choir
The 13 Years Lisboa pinboard. Can you find Bryan's pin?
The 13 Years Lisboa pinboard. Can you find Bryan’s pin?
Night caching in Portugal
Night caching in Portugal