This past weekend my two 14 year-old boys and I joined about 75 other crazy folk to participate in the Vancouver WA Cache Machine. Usually when a person goes geocaching it is either solo or with 1 or 2 other people. In a cache machine a large group starts at daylight and tries to find as many caches as possible before the end of the day (dark for some, bedtime for others). Even though 70 people may start out together, by the 3rd or 4th stop the group has dispersed as people make wrong turns, stop for coffee, skip a cache they had found previously, or just plain get lost, so that usually it is only 2 or 3 cars at a time pulling up to find any given cache.
With the group dispersed, if you do have problems finding a cache it is very likely someone else will pull up and double the manpower in the hunt. If you get behind, it you will probably come upon a group hunting for a tough one, which you get to claim quicker. And if all else fails and you really fall behind, you can always skip ahead and rejoin a larger group. By the end of the day you have usually ended up caching with a dozen different groups, meeting a dozen or more other cachers from as far as Montana. I met up again with folks I had met 5 years ago at the first cache machine. And at the end of the day, there is a group dinner where you can swap stories and meet up again with the people you met during the day. The cache page also has a photo gallery
We did pretty well for the day. A cacher from Walla Walla, IHaveCats, met us in the morning and acted as my navigator until she had to leave around 9 pm then we finished up with Shutle64 until about 11pm. In total we found 79 caches in that one day, but 2 did not count for me because I had found them in previous trips to Vancouver. But not only did we find those 79 caches, but on our way to Vancouver, traveling with Shutle64, we found 26 caches along the Interstate in Oregon and on our way home we found 32 more along Highway 14 in Washington. So, that 3 day weekend allowed me to nab 135 caches, more than I had ever found in a full month of caching before! Here are my cumulative stats.
Cache Machine History
The first cache machine I know about was in Bremberton WA five years ago. The boys and I did not participate in that one but have attended 4 others before this one in Vancouver. I found a list of 21 cache machines that have been held in the northwest and travisL, the brains and braun behind most of the cache machines, is making plans into 2010 for future cache machines:
- Yakima II, March 29, 2008
- Missoula, June 28-29, 2008
- Victoria II, September 2008
- Whidbey, January 2009
- The Palouse/Quad-Cities, March 2009
- Vancouver BC II, June 2009
- Tri-Cities II, September 2009
- Olympia II, January 2010
The boys and I will definitely be attending Yakima II, and I believe we will make a family vacation out of the cache machine in Missoula. Von would love to drop me off in Victoria — but we will have to see how that meshes with school schedules.