14 July 2018 (Saturday) - Mega Road Trip (Day Two)
I crawled into bed this morning at three o’clock. I’d set the alarm for half past six… we had a busy day planned. We got up, had some rather strong coffee (much needed) and then set off on a rather extreme geocaching bash.
We were on the road by half past seven.
For all that I take great delight in hunting Tupperware, I tend to gloss over the finer details for my loyal readers (as most of them wouldn’t take a road trip round Europe hunting film pots under rocks), but today was rather special if you are that way inclined. Today was a mega-meet-up of geocachers. Our plan was to take a rather circuitous drive from GC40 up to the event (in Dunkirk) to arrive at the meet-up in the early afternoon. We’d driven down to Charleroi to be within striking distance of GC40. GC40 is the oldest geocache in continental Europe (there is one a few days older in Ireland), and a hunter of Tupperware going to GC40 is akin to a Roman Catholic visiting the Vatican – it really is that big a deal. After an hour’s drive fomr the hotel we found it, did the secret geo-ritual, posed for photos, all felt rather pleased with ourselves… and cracked on. Time was against us.
After an hour or so we stopped at a lay-by somewhere in Belgium. Our second target of the day proved to be a challenge. I mistakenly thought it was in some bushes. There was a little trail leading into the bushes where I found copious amounts of used condoms and human turds in equal amount. How delightful.
Our third target was in a filling station and was an easy find. As we were doing the secret geo-ritual we saw another hunter of Tupperware rummaging behind the tree from which we had extracted the cache. We wasted a few minutes of his time before handing it to him. He didn’t so much laugh as smile sweetly and mumble incoherently.
As we drove on there was a minor hiccup which we turned to our advantage. Google told us the road ahead had delays because of an accident, and it suggested a different route. Looking at the map we realised that it wouldn’t be *that* much of a detour to go into Holland to find a geocache in yet another country. So we did. That was a result. An easy find, another souvenir, but time was slipping away from us.
As well as the mega-event and GC40, another “must-do” for the weekend was the webcam-cache in Zeebrugge. Webcam-caches are rather obscure. There are only eight in all of England, and in over ten thousand finds, this webcam in Zeebrugge was only my sixth one. We went to where our sat-navs said, called up the web-cam feed on our phones, and waited for the web-cam feed to catch up with reality. As we posed for the web-cam all the locals watched us wondering what was going on. Clearly they had no idea there was a web-cam there.
Eventually we were able to take a screen shot and hurry on.
We found a Belgian supermarket, got supplies, and narrowly avoiding running over a cyclist (she wasn’t happy!) we made our way to a virtual geocache at a war memorial. We took a photo, read the information boards, and tried to imagine what it must have been like during the wars.
I was at this point that we took a few minutes out for bread and cheese, some ham and tomatoes, and some wrap-thingies (I can eat continental!).
The plan had been to then visit a war cemetery but time was running away with us, so we drove straight to the mega-event…
I’ve been to five other mega-events. They are meetings of hundreds of hunters of Tupperware, there are activities, there are walks, there are talks, there are all sorts of things to see and do. Or that was what I’d been expecting. We found half a dozen stalls run by rather bored-looking shopkeepers. There were some lab-caches (lab caches are rather unique special things you only ever see at a mega-event) but by the time we got there, those lab caches which weren’t broken were being shut down. By judicious geo-skill (!) we managed to do what was required with the lab caches, but another thing I didn’t like about them was the time frame they allowed for us to do what was required. Usually mega-events allow you to get home and do it all from your living room via the Internet. Not this time – the deadline was mid-day tomorrow. So we sat outside and got busy on our phones.
By now we were worn out. We drove to our hotel in Dunkirk, I put on a clean shirt, and we went for a little walk.
As we walked we wandered past a few geocaches (obviously!). We met some fellow hunters of Tupperware from Finland; one of whom had a trackable tattoo. She was amazed to see mine; she thought she had the only one. I didn’t have the heart to tell her there was a Facebook group for people like us (!)
But time was pushing on, and we were hungry. “Les 3 Brasseurs” looked reasonably priced and had a brewery on site as well. They did a little taster-thingy where you could get a small glass of four different beers, so I kicked off with some wheat beer, a light ale, a ruby ale, and some stout.
And then dinner… apologies to my vegetarian friends, but I had the “butcher’s platter”. Three different steaks with more chips than sense. I washed it down with a litre (none of this pint rubbish!) of the ruby ale and rounded it all off with a caramel sundae. As we scoffed we saw so many other people who had been to today’s mega-event. Despite the language barrier, we chatted with loads of people. It was rather funny watching the staff and the non-geocachers in the restaurant; they all knew that there was some connection we all shared, but they had no idea what it was.
Pausing only briefly to collect an Earthcache (blah blah blah sandstone) we wandered back toward the hotel. Sarah wanted an early night… but I fancied a nightcap. "er indoors TM", Nick and I walked fifty yards down the road to a quiet little bar where we drank amaretto and Bailey’s (once we’d explained what it was) and watched the French normal people doing whatever it is that French normal people do.
To bed just before eleven o’clock… there’s photos of the day here.