Geocaching HQ staff will attend dozens of Mega and Giga-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching! bootron is the Director of Engineering at Geocaching HQ. He recently traveled to Georgia to attend the Going Caching 2019 Mega-Event (GC82VHK). Here is his trip recap.
“Since you said you plan to come early to Going Caching so as not to miss anything; Jim and I have a question. This year we’re having cachers register onto ships like they are the crew of that ship. We have seven different ships, all captains by pirates whose names start with “C”, hence the Seven “C”s. We would love it if you would entertain the idea of being one of the Captains! You would get to lead your ship crew in the Pirate Parade Thursday night annnd you would get to be in the Friday night show!”
When I received this message in June from Andi Beyer, the event organizer for Going Caching 2019 in Rome, Georgia, I instantly understood that my planned trip for that event was going to be off the hook.
Two months later a large “chest” of booty arrived for me at Geocaching HQ. I gathered a few fellow Lackeys to help me reveal the contents and our mouths fell agape as we peered inside the box. Andi and Jim had sent me a full-on tailored Captain Hook costume, complete with a long-tailed red jacket adorned with gold buttons and chains, a Jerry Seinfeld-esque white puffy shirt, knee-high leather boots, a black suede laced vest, baggy pantaloons, a tricorn hat adorned with doubloons and a froofy plume, and of course the signature wig with flowing jet black curls. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is not an event that is being taken lightly”, and now fully understood the responsibility that had been placed upon my shoulders. I would have to transform into my character.
And so I began mentally preparing for the role. I studied my pirate jargon. I began visualizing myself leading a faction of pirates on a raid to plunder the city. And obviously I rented the movie “Hook” to watch during my flight, although technically I’d be playing the role of Captain Claw, due to legal restrictions against using the name “Captain Hook”. I recruited a team of eight Lackeys to join my crew, including Brendan Walsh (Brendanjw), who would play my trusty sidekick Smee, and Bryan Roth (Bryan), HQ’s fearless leader who was tapped to be the Grand Marshall of the Thursday night parade through downtown Rome.
We flew into Atlanta and then drove to Rome on Wednesday evening, because as everyone familiar with the Going Caching mega well knows, this event is not a one day affair. To properly take in the full experience, you have to plan to show up early.
The Going Caching crew immediately put us to work on arrival. That evening, Brendan (Smee) and I attended a rehearsal for the Friday night play. The crew was literally constructing a pirate ship on the main stage at Ridge Ferry Park. They also worked through the night to complete the two fully-functional escape rooms that would also double as our green rooms during the play. The over-the-top energy and preparation by the crew for this event was something to behold!
The weather was expected to remain above 90 degrees throughout the week. I was concerned about possible heat exhaustion/stroke, but more concerned about heat stink. How would I make it through these three days in this multi-layered costume without smelling like a real pirate? Answer: several showers per day!
On Thursday night we would raid the city in the form of a parade down Broad Street and then attend a flash mob of professional actor-pirates fighting against each other in front of the town hall. To prepare for this event, our rowdy band of Lackey scallywags suited up in our pirate gear and dropped in on a Chick-fil-a for our pre-parade feast. We then marched on the town with our fearless faction of red Sea Devils. Smee and I worked hard to rile up our crew by waving our faction’s Jolly Roger flag, yelling a bunch of memorized pirate phrases and taking tons of selfies with the crowd. After the parade came to an end, we were then whisked around the downtown area from brewpub to brewpub in golf carts (not very pirate-like, admittedly) during the event’s sanctioned pub crawl.
It was an exhausting first day, but that didn’t stop us from jumping right back in on day two. We started by hunting down the seven captain’s gems in the greater Rome area. Jim Williamson, the event’s co-organizer and master puzzler, yet again employed his fabulous formula to set us all on a day-long quest for pirate booty. We embarked upon what would ultimately be a 72 mile journey to find the gems and Jolly Rogers that would gain us entry into the escape rooms and earn us a special commemorative geocoin. The cache quality was phenomenal and taking the trip with my fellow Lackeys was great fun.
We capped that evening by again donning our costumes and participating in the annual Going Caching play, which is put on each year by the event’s crew. Highlights included a saucy rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey” by Captain Crook (Well done, Monkeybrad), a slow-motion strobe-lit sword fight by the captains and their sidekicks, an Oscar-worthy lead performance by Captain Jack (Davy Jones’s Lookers) and a rendition of the Muppet Treasure Island movie’s “Shiver My Timbers” that would put any fifth grade drama performance to shame.
The final day of the event allowed us Lackeys to be Lackeys. We found our way to the main event and spent most of the morning distributing our tags, searching for our pin partners, trading cache cards, and generally socializing with all the other attendees. It was a great chance for us to talk to the community and try to get to know all the people we are honored to serve at Geocaching HQ.
Of course no event would be complete without a final blowout party! We headed to the Forum for yet another costume event where the “splice the mainbrace” order was issued and the rum began to flow.
Towards the end of the event, all captains were called to the stage and each runner-up in the main geocaching team-based contest was named, pageant-style, until there were two remaining captains. Shockingly, my crew of red bandits had come through for me, putting us Sea Devils in the running to win the whole thing!
I nervously grasped the hands of Captain Constance of the Soggy Bottom Crew, eagerly awaiting the final name to be called.
“I hope you win”
“No no, I hope YOU win!”
And then it happened. The Soggy Bottom Crew was named as the runner up of the overall contest, which meant that our beloved Sea Devils crew had won the entire competition. Amazing! Revelry and dancing ensued. Circles of happy red pirates danced for hours as Smee ran victoriously through the crowds waving our champion Jolly Roger flag.
This is the second time I’ve been to the Going Caching Mega Event, and both are easily the most fun Mega Events I’ve ever been to. The quality of the geocaches at the event is superb, the player participation in the theme is very high, the events are nonstop and so much fun, and the people at the event (and Georgia in general) are so friendly! I am so thankful to Andi and Jim for giving me the opportunity to play such a fun role this year. I feel great love for the Going Caching crew, thank you all for welcoming me into the group and for volunteering your time and energy to make this such a great event!