Geocaching is the real-world treasure hunt that's happening right now, all around you. There are 2,305,260 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.Last week our Escapees Geocaching “Birds of a Feather” (BOF) Club held its fifth annual Rally in Q and, for me, it was more than just a treasure hunt. It was a jigsaw puzzle that all came together despite a few missing pieces.
I am on the Administrative Team that was responsible for putting on the rally in Quartzsite, Arizona. Our full team consists of:
- Sky Renfro, Coordinator, works with the Escapees organization and the Groundspeak/Geocaching.com services, orders our pathtags and decals, and mentors.
- Sue Pace, Membership Chair, Yahoo Group moderator and is a mentor
- Ken Pace, mentor
- Barbara Westerfield, mentor
- Wendy Hall, mentor
- Linda Molzahn, mentor
- Judy Rinehimer, mentor and Facebook moderator
- Sandy Kruty, backup Yahoo Group Moderator
- Arlo Thomas, BOF Founder (In Memoriam)
BEHIND THE SCENES
Most of our rally planning is done by email and we all have an opportunity for input. Last year after our rally, I identified a large area in the Quartzsite desert within the Scaddan Wash BLM free camping area. I took coordinates, checked the cell phone coverage, grabbed an aerial photo of the proposed site via Google Earth, and the group agreed on the site.
Geocachers may notice a few green icons at the top of the image. Those icons represent hidden “caches” along the E. Dome Rock/Frontage Road. That number changed considerably this year through the efforts of Linda Molzahn. Linda lives in Quartzsite in the winter and coordinates the Quartzsite Cachers Meet and Greets. Her Q Cachers jumped in to support our rally for the second year by placing not one, not two or three, but FOUR extensive caching challenges.
- The “Go Girls…” series consisted of 52 hidden containers along the Frontage Road and Mitchell Mine Road (out towards “Boomerville”). All of these caches were “logable” so caching counts soared this week.
- The “Boys Night Out…” series was half as long and was placed along a trail between MM99 and Rainbow Acres. It was also logable.
- “The Eyes Have It”, a night cache similar to one placed last year, had cachers out among the cacti every night with LED flashlights looking for a number of reflective “dots” to complete the designated trail for a find.
- “Cache Around Town” was a puzzle cache which required teams to visit businesses and landmarks around Q to answer questions with numbers to determine the final coordinates. Twenty-two entries had the winning answer and a prize was awarded through a drawing.
The SKP Geocachers are dedicated to promoting the geocaching hobby among RVers. Our mission statement:
GeoCache BOF provides a communication link allowing members to be in touch with other SKP geocachers. When arriving in a new location it will allow an easy way to find others who have a similar interest. It will also be a forum for sharing information about geocaching as it relates to the RV life style.The heart of our rallies is centered on learning and mentoring our “newbies”. With input from the Admin Team, I put together the schedule that had us gathering in Scaddan Wash on Sunday afternoon with the rally activities going Monday through Thursday. This year we collected a $3 per person rally fee and we were able to cover our expenses. Attendees signed in and received door prize tickets. Caching-related prizes were given at all our general sessions.
Experienced members will provide mentoring for new and prospective geocachers.
We had more than 90 individuals registered for the 2014 Rally in Q and the number of found caches among our attendees ranged from 0 to 22,755. Our mornings featured classes and our afternoons were open to caching the nearly 2,000 caches around Quartzsite. Our “buddy system” had the experienced cachers adopting our newbies for hands-on learning out in the desert and around town.
Each of the Admin Team members led discussions. Left: Linda Molzahn, myself, and Barbara Westerfield posed for a group photo the morning after. Right: Sky Renfro models a coconut shells travel bug (TB) whose mission is to be photographed around the world. Below: Linda and Barbara teach sessions on Creative Cache Containers and Placing and Maintaining Caches While Traveling.
Here is a list of the seminars we presented:
- Intro to Caching
- Beg. GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife software)
- Pocket Queries
- GPSs and Software (combined with other sessions)
- Pathtag Designs, Ordering and Tracking
- Releasing & Logging Travel Bugs and Trackables
- Fooling Muggles and Disguising Your Searches
- Day Cache Planning
- Creating and Placing Really Creative Containers
- TOTT – Tools of the Trade
- Placement Rules and Maintaining Caches While Traveling
- Connecting on the Road (Clubs, Events and Online)
- International Caching
On two evenings, Barbara and I presented more information by live internet connections about features of Geocaching.com and GSAK. We also had member slide shows on Caching Around the World, and the Three Mountain Top Challenge. Without Sue and Ken Pace’s white-sided RV known as “Pace’s Theatre”, we resorted to making a projection screen out of white poster board taped to the outside of Westerfield’s Windsor. It worked! While cool the first night and windy/dusty on Thursday, we had a number of attendees bundle up to take in the presentations.
And like any Escapee Club event there was lots of food (morning donuts, Happy Hour snacks, cakes, and a potluck) and plenty of socializing.
One of two cakes devoured by the rally participants
In the geocaching community there are opportunities to get-together around the world called EVENTS. On Wednesday our “Rally In Q 2014” was an official logable Geocaching.com Event and was open to the public.
One of the highlights of our Event was a special visit by Team 360 and the “OCB – The Original Can of Beans” from the first geocaching hide in Oregon. The exhibit is headed to this week’s Yuma Mega Event. When the exhibit reps read about our Rally in Q Event, they contacted Sky Renfro and arranged to participate in our day’s events. Put us on the map in the geocaching world. Who knew?
PLANNING RALLY IN Q 2015
During our final day of the rally we had a group discussion on future activities for the BOF. Consensus was to keep the annual rally in the Quartzsite area for 2015. Pros and cons of locations were discussed and the Admin Team will make a final decision sometime in the future. The dates will once again coincide with the closing of the “Big Tent” show and run Sunday, Jan. 25 through Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. Tune in next year for details.
The group also discussed mini-rallies that individual members can host. Possible rally sites might include the ET Highway, Route 66, Borrego Springs, or at SKP Chapter gatherings and at SKP Campgrounds. Nothing was finalized.
I will carry the Geocachers banner to the Western Area Rally for Escapees (WARE) this April in Lodi. Sue Pace has presented our Geocaching 101 seminar there in the past, so I expect we will be on the schedule. We will also have a recruitment table.
None of the Admin Team members will be able to attend the 2014 Escapade in Goshen, IN, so Tom Abernathy, a member of the BOF, will be asked to present the Geocaching 101 seminar that he has presented before. Karen and Jack Cotton volunteered to host the Geocaching BOF Social and staff the recruitment table at the “Row Open House” at Escapade. Thanks for stepping forward. The 2015 Escapade will be in Tucson, AZ March 8-13. A large turnout is expected. I suspect we will be there.
NEXT: LAKE HAVASU CITY