Friday, June 1, 2012

GeoWoodstock X Report From Coachstahly

I am super excited to be sharing my first Guest Blogger from the GeoWoodstock X event - Coachstahly  AKA Brian D. Stahly

      For any of us who were not lucky enough to attend the event, we can certainly still enjoy through the eyes of Brian.  Thanks for sharing !

My GWSX Week

Having only been caching for just under a year, I wasn’t as clued into all the events that geocachers host and attend.  Last summer some of my new friends mentioned GeoWoodstock on their Facebook pages and soon I saw tons of pictures and updates about their adventures.  As soon as the announcement was made last year as to the location of this year’s GeoWoodstock I knew I wasn’t going to miss this one since it was in my own backyard (I live in Indianapolis, about two hours north of GWSX).  Almost two years into my new hobby, I was finally attending my first mega-event.

Luckily for me, my in-laws live in the same town where GWSX took place so lodging was a breeze.  I was so close that I could have walked if I so wanted to.  The hardest part was convincing the boss coach to let me go for the entire week, starting on that Monday before the main event.  Therefore, I made it a Christmas wish and to my slight surprise it was granted!  Let the planning commence.

My departure on Monday (before the first event tied into GWSX began) found me wandering the back roads of southeastern Indiana to color in counties as well as stopping at a couple of state parks in order to partially fulfill a couple of challenges.  I even snuck across the river into Ohio in order to find a cache placed in February 2001.  I arrived at the in-laws tired but satisfied with my first day of my geo-vacation.  I made certain to let them know NOT to expect me for dinner, NOT to see me at normal hours, and they might as well plan their days as if I wasn’t even there!

Day 2 found me traveling to Bernheim Arboretum and ResearchForest for the very first event tied into GWSX.  I left early in order to look for the multi in the cemetery right next to the Jim Beam Distillery (and the one placed on the grounds of the distillery as well).  For anyone interested in history, this cemetery contains the graves of veterans from 6 different wars and tied in very nicely with Memorial Day weekend.  The lunch at the Early Bird event was well-attended and the group hike afterwards wasn’t too difficult, although the heat (a frequent companion ALL WEEK LONG) made this just a little bit unpleasant.  I had loaded up all the caches at Bernheim prior to my arrival so the early finish to the hike allowed me to explore more of the forest.  I ended up leaving at 7 PM that night after arriving in the area by 8 AM.  31 caches including some that hadn’t been found in awhile made the day worth it, as did the visits with fellow cachers at lunch.  The host, turtle3863, posted some great pictures of the event as well as after the hike was over. That’s me in the group photo (first picture) standing, second from the left, next to The Wench, a new friend I first met at this event and then ran into throughout the week!

Day 3 found me tackling ARF’s Big Blue Smiley unknown series.  ARF created a smiley face of unknowns (to celebrate the University of Kentucky’s national championship in basketball) at the northwestern edge of Louisville and since there were no events scheduled for the day, this was all I had planned, well, that and any virtuals that might cross my path.  I started on the Indiana side near New Albany and worked my way west, stopping for two virtuals in town.  I ran into DLiming and his wife at about cache # 20-ish and we finished the last ones in the area together.  They took a break and I finished the last four in Indiana and then crossed the Second Street bridge to begin my assault on the Kentucky side.  I ran into DLiming and his wife yet again as they were wrapping up the Kentucky side as well.  I’m pretty sure they finished before I did!  After 56 caches and 17 clues (missed one someplace) I was ready to call it a day and do the necessary “work” in order to log the Rivals finals (Louisville, Indiana, and Kentucky).

Day 4 started with the 3 Rivals finals which, with the exception of Kentucky, went pretty fast.  Kentucky was in an area slated for development at some later date, but since I missed a number in the clues (E for those of you interested) it made the final just a bit harder than expected!  I made the find and then looked up the closest multis to where I was since I was limited in time due to the second event scheduled to start at 1 PM.  I found a very unique multi, Yellow Brick Road - - which I recommend to all future visitors.  I didn’t get to meet Jerry but still enjoyed the multi anyway.  I found my way to Churchill Downs for the event at 1 - .  They had all sorts of things being given away, but the prize I REALLY wanted was the backside tour with ChurchillChap, the chaplain of Churchill Downs.  I’ve bet the ponies there as well as had the frontside tour in previous visits, but this was something different.  The names were drawn from the ammo can and I was out of luck.  However, since the envelopes were packets of 5 tickets, I figured I’d hang out where they were gathering and see if I could score an extra ticket.  Ken, the chaplain, started counting and added me to the count.  I told him that I wasn’t part of the group but was hoping that there was an extra ticket I could manage to use.  He asked me how many were in my group and I told him it was just me.  Without hesitation he added me to the group!  I finally left the Downs 4 hours later with one of the most amazing experiences of my life!  The pictures in the gallery are great and you can see me in my yellow hat, beige shorts and white t-shirt on the third page of pictures.  We saw and learned so many things about Churchill that I could easily write 1,000 words just on that tour.  I got to meet some great new friends, Ground Fox, Derby City Searchers, cavyguy (who I ran into at EVERY event thereafter and also as I was coming out of the woods after finding Tom Sawyer, the oldest cache in KY) and ARF, just to name a few and if I missed anything that the tour guide said, his daughter, Bethany, could fill us in just as well.  It’s my guess that she could lead this tour just as well as her father!  I HAD to leave to get ready for the evening event, a bachelor/bachelorette party to celebrate the wedding of Crossmage and Phoenix Lady at GWSX - .  I went to the in-laws, showered and picked up go-purdue for the evening event.  We mingled for a few hours, offering our congratulations on the upcoming nuptials and then did some night caching in downtown Louisville before calling it a night.

Show Me the Cache leading a group to his cache on the Second Street Bridge

Day 5 was the day of events.  It started early at a breakfast event hosted by the Mama’s - .  A full belly later, I connected with a cacher I responded to on one of the GWSX forums.  Mazzy Duck wanted to cache after the Belle of Louisville cruise - - and I was the only one to respond.  We drove over together and spent most of our time together on the cruise, chatting with any cachers that wandered by.  I had already been on the Belle many times before, but never with ONLY cachers!  It was warm but quite an enjoyable experience!  Once we docked, we headed to Cave Hill Cemetery to do some caching with a friend, 3Hs.  I’m lucky because in Indianapolis we have Crown Hill Cemetery, a beautiful and historic cemetery.  Cave Hill, with regard to beauty, surpasses Crown Hill.  I highly recommend visiting if you get the opportunity.  I missed the only event of my duration here this afternoon, the birthday bash, but felt only a bit guilty since I got the opportunity to wish the birthday boy a happy birthday on the backside tour the previous day!  We left in order to make the late afternoon event, the Zombie Flash Mob - .  I’m sure the locals were wondering what a few hundred people were doing in the parking lot of a hotel!  As an added bonus, a cacher from the WV/KY border was allowing people to sign her jeep!  I went back to the in-laws to grab a quick shower and log my finds from the day so I was a bit late to the Miles of Smiles evening event - .  I got my six pathtags quickly just hanging out around the registration tent as people opened their bags.  I spent the rest of the evening wandering around and chatting with old and new friends and then hitting a few caches as I was approaching a milestone for GWSX.  At the end of the event I had the pleasure to go out onto the Second Street Bridge with Show Me the Cache in order to get his cache that was halfway over to Louisville!  The views of downtown Louisville were beautiful and the company was quite enjoyable!
Day 6 – The actual event and find #2500!  I wasn’t sure what to expect but it wasn’t disappointing.  I got to re-connect with some friends I made in FL last June as well as run into friends I had met all week long.  It was hot and humid but that didn’t really dampen my enthusiasm.  I managed to outlast the heat and quite a few of the attendees in order to hear the announcement of next year’s choice, Lakeland, FL, for GWSXI.  I made the quick commute back to the in-laws to grab a quick cool shower before returning to my friends who were hosting the evening event - .  The cooler evening event was well attended, exceeding even the expectations of the hosts!

Day 7 found me leaving for Louisville and some caching before the late morning flash mob - - at the location of the very first GWS!  I made sure to find Kentucky’s oldest cache, Tom Sawyer, as well as some challenges in the area before heading to the event.  I’m guessing that this was the last event for a majority of the people in attendance but it was pretty crowded there as well!  After saying my good-byes to new friends leaving and old friends heading home I drove to Jefferson Memorial Forest for the very last event related to GWSX, the Purple Heart Trail Mix - .  Compared to the rest of the events that surrounded GWSX, this wasn’t nearly as well attended but it was certainly more enjoyable as there were less people to meet and therefore more one on one time with each attendee.  The hike, at just over 2 miles wasn’t too bad in the heat and a couple of the caches were quite unique.  I thought this was a GREAT way to end the festivities surrounding GWSX – a hike to start the week and a hike to end the week.

Looking back just over a week later, I think the thing that struck me the most was how little I actually cached.  I had planned on being a caching machine all week long but found myself enjoying the camaraderie of old and new friends at all the events I made it to.  I had two days in seven of serious/heavy caching and for me that was enough.  Of the 12 events being offered that week, I made it to 11 and actually stayed to mingle and converse instead of signing the log and heading out for more caching.  It wasn’t planned but it was certainly more enjoyable since I got to meet so many people who love this activity just like I do.  There were certainly things that the host committee could have done better (the group picture immediately comes to mind) but all in all, it was a great event.  For future attendees of mega-events, YOU make the event as fun as it can be, but only if YOU put the effort into enjoying it.  I thought I would cache more throughout the week, but I will always look back and realize I will value the new friendships I created at all of the events this past week more than the caches I found.

Coachstahly  AKA Brian D. Stahly

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