So, the morning I left Port Townsend, before I got to Tacoma, I had an appointment to visit the Mothership itself, Geocaching HQ. I had conversed textually with a number of folks from HQ about various things related to my written pieces and interviews. They knew I would be in the area (I was going to speak at the 20th Anniversary, so they had an inkling) and invited me to tour the place. I, of course, refused on principle.
I’m kidding! I did no such thing! Of course, I was happy to accept! How could I do otherwise? I would be touring the various counties for the rest of the week, so Monday morning was a perfect time to go. All arrangements were made and confirmed, and I boarded a ferry (running on time because it didn’t break down) and headed into Seattle.
The exterior itself is relatively nondescript, a downtown office building like any other. Except for the clown statue outside. Every place has their own beloved local celebrities. There also happened to be a Virtual there. (Shocking, right?) Since I was early, I took some time to claim it with help from another waiting (Swiss?) cacher who pointed me toward something needed to log the claim that would have taken a bit to find unless someone kindly pointed to it. When the moment approached, I began my date with destiny.
The first part was the standard HQ tour. The tour group was greeted and had our hands stamped. Then we went up to the third floor to the entrance. At this point, I have to mention that I was a doofus. I brought many masks on the trip because we’re still living in a global pandemic. I even knew that the HQ tour would require masks. Yet somehow, in my excitement, I managed to leave all of them back in the car. Luckily, they are foresighted and prepared for doofuses such as me. I donned a provided mask and entered through the glass doors.
There was history! There were trackables! There was a photo booth! In my case, it provided blurry photos, which is both funny and fitting, considering how I usually avoid being photographed (everyone else’s photos were fine, though). There was even a cache! Ode to the Golgafrinchans was waiting within, and I couldn’t not take a moment with it! We all ogled at things and stuff! We talked with Lackeys! We saw both a microcosm and the beating heart of our chosen avocation! But all good things come to an end. The next tour group would be through soon, so we all had to make an exit. And so we did. We all drifted back through the doors, returning to the mundane world. But suddenly, I was shanghaied! A couple of Lackeys whisked me away and showed me the reality behind the beating heart! I got to see the true belly of the beast!
Of course, I couldn’t take any photographs back there because blah blah blah intellectual property, blah blah trade secrets, blah blah blah internal policy blah blah. I will tell you a truth, though: as much as I might have liked to imagine it would be some kind of Willie Wonka–type deal, it wasn’t. What it was, however, was an office like so many others, with smart, dedicated, and loyal people doing the grunt work, unseen and uncelebrated, so that you and I can go out and do this thing we love. There were marketing folks, accountants, artists, customer service associates, developers, and all the other positions that make a company run, but not that many of them at the moment. Most of them were off doing things in preparation for the Big Show in less than a week. I even met the man himself: Bryan Roth. He was in his office on a treadmill, taking a conference call. He paused them both and came out to say hello. We even talked for a few moments, though it was short because he was on a conference call. But the fact that he even did that says a lot about the esteem in which he holds those of us who share our common passion. He even gave me one of his personal coins. I didn’t even have words for that. As you all have probably noticed, I’m rarely at a loss for words. I got one photo in the company café. Coffee and snacks do not fall into the category of intellectual property. Soon enough, my handlers had another thought on their minds: lunch! Shanghaied again, we slipped through a secret back door out of the building. Since we had a little time to kill before lunch and we were so close to them, we passed by a couple of caches!
As you know, the HQ GeoTour attracts people from around the world to see various caches downtown. We ended up passing under the Aurora Bridge and then climbing an interminable number of steps to go visit the Fremont Troll. As you can no doubt imagine, the bohemian Fremont neighborhood was lousy with Adventure Labs devoted to the art and tastes of the area.
For lunch we ended up, oddly enough, at a taco bar, of all places. I had avoided Mexican food the whole trip. I’m from Texas. Why would I eat Mexican food in Washington? Those tacos were pretty good, though—as good as you can get from somewhere that isn’t on wheels (food-truck tacos tend to rule, folks). We talked about their preparations for the Big Show and some things going on in our personal lives. I told a couple of stories and talked about the itinerary for the rest of the week. Grilled salmon later in the week was mentioned, but that never materialized, so I guess I’ll have to go back to Seattle for that sometime (consider yourselves warned!). Even more importantly, I got to spend some lovely time with some lovely people who were kind and wonderful hosts.
But all good things, as mentioned before, must come to an end. I would have to be in Kelso late that evening, so I had to run. And all the Lackeys had jobs and duties and all that work stuff. We parted in good spirits, knowing several of us would see each other again at the end of the week. As you can tell, I had a wonderful time. They say that you never really want to see the inner workings of something you care about, to see how the proverbial sausage is made. Well, sometimes “they” are wrong. I’m a pretty blasé dude, but I have to admit that I was pretty bowled over. I couldn’t have imagined a more wonderful morning. And just as importantly …
… I signed my name in that log, another of so many who have successfully made this pilgrimage. And at the risk of burying the lede here, Geocaching Headquarters was officially Cache Five Thousand for me!
You may also be asking why I waited until now for this? I mean, narratively, it should have come between Port Townsend and Tacoma. True. But, besides my natural sense of drama, I wrote about this here and now for another reason. This post is my one thousandth entry. Yes, that is a one followed by three zeroes (well, that’s actually “one” followed by a bunch of letters, but you get my point). When I started all this, I didn’t think too far into the future. The prospect of covering the 254 counties of Texas was daunting enough for me. I didn’t even know if I would finish that. But I wrote. And when I started reaching out to other states, I didn’t know how long I would continue. I figured I would shoot for a new crazy goal (Texas had once been crazy to me) and go until I couldn’t do it anymore. And I wrote some more. I never imagined Mingo. Or Gorilla Stash. Or Tarryall. I never imagined Vegas. Or Memphis. Or Phoenix. But now, I imagine so many other places: Los Angeles, Boston, Birmingham, Chicago, Miami. And I’m gonna keep writing. I can’t say for sure if I’ll make it to two thousand, but I made it this far, so maybe it’ll happen. Regardless of whether it does, I thank you all for coming along with me. There are days when I don’t feel like writing this for myself. But I can’t bring myself to let you down, at least not if I can avoid it. You’ve all made this possible, and I thank you again for being here with me (metaphorically) on my adventures. And let’s toast to adventures to come! Such plans I have! But those plans are going to have to wait for now, because first I have to get to…
11 thoughts on “Geocaching Headquarters”
I will get to HQ, probably next year. I look forward to all of your adventures!
I thoroughly enjoy your blogs, your posts, and the few interludes we have had at various events. Be Blessed, Be Safe, and CACHE ON! “DE_Cryptoman”
Love you visit to HQ!!!
Oh I want to go!! Someday I will. Thank you for sharing your visit. Love your blog.
(Pscwmoms in geocaching)
5000 caches, nice, but 1000 posts…wow. Most impressive. You deserve some grilled salmon!
TIL: Burying the lede (not lead)