In the morning, I was doubtful whether we would have a good time -- we're both not very adept at making instant friends with people we hardly know. Sure, when we meet geocachers out in the field, we chat a bit, and they're all friendly, but to walk a multi together? Also, the weather promised to be quite awful -- we had lots of rain on our way there.
We wanted to log the event cache anyway, and we'd stay or go back home depending on the weather and the 'social aspect'. Because if we're going to cache with just the two of us, there's little reason to pay the contribution and for lunch and dinner to go caching over there instead of near home, right?
We arrived at one of the designated areas for the event cache. It was packed with cachers, and we walked in a loosely formed cohort of fellow cachers via an easy multi with three waypoints to the ammo box. We did speak briefly with the others, but all of us did it on our own, really. We did get to spot a few coins, and a surprisingly large number of people had attached a Travel Bug tag to the collars of their dogs -- I can understand keeping some coins in a collection that you allow people to discover during events, but there is nothing special about a TB tag... So why have a TB tag that can only be logged as 'discovered' when you meet someone (or their dog) in person? The dogs were all well-behaved, though -- imagine putting a TB tag on a dog that bites strangers!
Anyway, when we got back to the parking spot, I saw someone looking at us... I had to dig deep to remember that this was someone we had met before: it was team 'Aardbei' (Dutch for 'strawberry'), half of which we had met when we were looking for 'De Tuin van Sinkel' for the second time with my parents. In the end, we found it together.
So we greeted them and met the other half of the team, but as they were just starting out with the event cache, we hopped in the car to go to the actual event location to have lunch and make our plan for the rest of the day.
We went through registration and ordered lunch. We went to sit in one of the tents that had been set up and ate our lunch (meanwhile keeping tabs on a very friendly black cat that was very interested in our sandwiches). Next to us, people were showing their coin collections to eachother, and we joined in admiring the coins after finishing our lunch. I showed my small coin collection too.
As is traditional at the GME, there is a 'who are you'-cache. Every registration badge has part of a code on it. To find the location of the cache, you have to check the badges to piece together the information -- a ploy to get people talking to eachother. Which works... kind of. Because the symbols are all you talk about, and the info is placed on the back of the badge, which means you don't see the name of the person you're talking to... So when we asked these people to see their badges, they simply gave us the coordinate of the puzzle cache. Well, that makes it that much easier, doesn't it?
We were about to set out for that cache (a few hundred meters along the water), when we spotted team Aardbei again. They asked us to see our badges, so we told them the coordinates and they joined us. Not that you needed the coordinates, really -- you could just as well follow the long row of geocachers walking in a single direction. We chatted for a bit, and then we came to the location and we were handed the logbook. ;)
We asked them about their plans for the day, but they hadn't really made much plans. And it just so happened that I spend most of last week studying the caching maps around the event terrain. There was one cache that we wanted to do: a 7km multi that started just outside of the event terrain gates, and the other team had taken notice of that one too. But I had also noticed a cache nearby called 'Concordia', which needed two cooperating teams to complete. Aardbei was up to it, so we piled into the car and went there.
The concept of the cache is very nice. Instead of two routes with one team finding the next coordinate for the other team (as was the case when we did Divide and Conquer), some of the waypoints were separate and some were together. So you meet up, search for a few clues together and then split up again. Much more social than a 'traditional' co-op cache.
Even though we didn't find two clues, we had a good time. Team Aardbei had a great sense of humor, about the same walking tempo, and we all had a lot of fun talking and joking around. We did cheat with a few waypoints, though: meeting up, calculating the other point and then determining the direction -- instead of one team waiting somewhere and the other team taking the direction. :)
Each of the two clues we didn't find had four solutions, so we ended up with sixteen possible cache locations. And the hint (that babarage was so kind to supply us via phone) didn't help much: "Near a fallen tree" -- in a piece of forest that was packed with fallen trees...!? We were near a bicycle-road and one side had been closed off with a fence. Looking at the map, some of the possible locations were behind the fence, and others were at the other side of the road, near a camping...
We spent considerable time looking at the various possible locations. In the end, we walked around the fence and went into the woods there. After a long time, we ventured far into the woods (further than I was comfortable with, really), and there we found the cache!
By then it was already past five, so we piled back into the car to the event terrain -- dinner started at 17:30, and we wanted to eat early and do the multi in the evening. We managed to be at the very start of the line for the 'soup' (it was kind of warm and had vegetables in it, but had very little taste...), and we got in the line for the buffet relatively early. So by 19:00 we had finished eating and it was time to set out (even though the person eating next to us told us where the ammo box had been hidden... but we were in for the walk!).
According to the GPS, the sun would set around 20:30, so we figured we would have enough time to finish before dark. And it was a lovely walk -- the light from the setting sun added quite a bit of atmosphere too. Unfortunately, not everyone played by the rules, but I complained about that elsewhere.
It was 21:00 when we finished logging, and the night-cache had just started. After our experiences with the night-cache last year, we decided to skip it and go home. But not before we said our goodbyes to team Aardbei. They invited us to come over and walk a cache together some time, and I mentioned one that is close to where my parents lived -- they had take note of that one before too. So we'll be doing that one together some time.
So all in all, the day was much more fun than I had thought it would be. And the weather was quite nice too -- there was only one rainshower, but that came down while we were in the car to Concordia!
Today we didn't do much, though -- sore legs and feet after walking so much!