Snow or Sand? Australia Day in North Dakota

Bundling up my daughter, we traveled across the vast town of Williston, ND to a coffee shop, housing sweet smells and comfy chairs. The 2018 Australia Day weekend finally arrived for geocachers internationally to celebrate Signal the Frog’s travels. This Geocaching, HQ mascot succeeded again in tempting souvenir seekers to log “will attend” and “attended” logs, as well as teach us about a country and holiday. I’d like to share my event’s proceedings, the quiz I prepared and my thoughts in this blog post.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

Preparing for an event is always the trickiest part in my mind. Where do you want to hold it? What do you want to do? Should there be prizes? I knew we had to meet indoors, since the weather around these parts is too unpredictable – 30 minutes in negative temperatures just doesn’t sound extremely fun, especially if people are driving a ways in their vehicles only to be standing out in the freezing tundra. So I chose the only location that really made sense, Mega-a-Latte, a brick and mortar coffee shop that has a large area where we could rearrange chairs to fit our group size, plus I didn’t have to call for reservations.

Next, I wanted to bring a little “Australian” treat to the gathering, which led me to many Amazon searches. Kangaroo jerky? Boomerangs? Keychains? Thongs (aka flip flops to us American folk)? Finally, I landed on Australian-style licorice, cherry and huckleberry. If no one ate it, it’s my mom’s favorite candy. I also bought a kangaroo to use as a hitchhiker for one of my new trackables I received over Christmas. “Hop to Australia” will hopefully make its way to Australia, bouncing along to a cache in the bush.

Lastly, a prize. I knew I wanted to have a quiz about Australia (you can find this quiz and the answers following this post). That’s the awesome part about the whole event weekend – learning about a new holiday and country, and a quick multiple-question quiz would require me to research information and perhaps start a conversation about this holiday’s history at the event. And with any geo-pop quiz, a geocoin and pathtag make the surprise test so much more enjoyable, right? During the holiday deals, I bought a few geocoins that caught my eye, including the one I gave away at this event – a quarter geocoin bought at GeoSwag.com. I almost bought an official Australia Day coin on geocaching.com, but I figured if a person really wanted to collect it, they would buy it for themselves. Hopefully everyone got one that wanted one; the dog tag version seemed to sell quickly!

Iced vanilla Chai teas are my favorite, while my sister went for a red bull zinger. What’s your favorite coffee shop drink? @GeoJangie Patron Club Members were able to discover this TB before I sent it into the wild!

The Coffee and Chat

Gratefully, on the day of the event, my sister was in town and said she’d come and help with my little cacher, since the J was gone coaching basketball. She made it explicitly clear that she did not want to talk, but she’d be more than willing to play with my squish on the indoor playground equipment, even more so when I said I’d pay for her drink. I’m not sure why she didn’t want to hang out with us cachers. I thought maybe she could learn a thing or two from us and our hobby, but she didn’t want to chance it I guess haha!

I arrived a few minutes early, organized tables, set up my sign, and soon the other cachers began to arrive. In all, we had 7 people from Montana, plus me from North Dakota at the event. These Montana cachers came from Scobey, MT and Sidney, MT; they joked that it may have been more fitting to host an Australia event in Sidney, but at least we had a bit of Sidney at the event. We chatted for about an hour and took the quiz, before dispersing back into the snowy landscape. I had made an announcement on the page that I thought it would be fun to take a picture of us all wearing thongs in the snow (instead of the sandy, warm beaches currently found in Australia), but no one else shared my views – I don’t blame them, it was cold! – so I was alone in my flip-flop photo. I’m still gathering the nerve to ask to take a group picture at events, but hey, we gathered and left our virtual signatures online, and that’s what’s important.

As a bonus, one of the cachers from Sidney kindly brought me a 3D printed container to hide here in town. He has begun hiding the sturdy puzzle boxes there, owning 4 3D printers and fiddling with them in his free time. The week after the event, I made sure to have all my family members attempt to open the contraption, and then I hid it at my favorite park.

Following the Event

Overall, I’d say the event was a success. We met, geo-chatted, swapped trackables, earned a souvenir, learned about Australia, and tried some new licorice (p.s. I had a lot left over for my mom). Plus, I received a new geocache container, a pretty awesome gift!

Do you want to learn more about Australia Day from 3 Australian geocachers? Well, lucky you! I’m super excited to announce that I’m the new blog manager over at Geocache Talk, and on the first Friday of every month I will be publishing a new post. This Friday’s article will be about the interviews I had with these 3 cachers and their perspectives’ on this holiday. If you’re interested, keep an eye on the Geocache Talk blog. Read my first post, “Dear Geocache Talk Blog Reader,” to learn more about how you can share your story there too.

How did your Australia Day weekend go? What is your favorite part about Signal traveling the world?

I wish you all a HOPPY weekend!

Answers to Australia Quiz: 1. A; 2. C; 3. C; 4. A; 5. B; 6. C; 7. C; 8. D; 9. B; 10. B (Canada, Germany, Australia)

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