In years past, there have been Thursday evening events in Central Jersey before the mega event. I just haven't been going out of my way for those. This year though, I decided to go a bit east to Matawan to meet up with those folks, even though that meant I'd be late getting to the hotel. The Bacon Royal Burger at The Burger Shop wasn't really that spectacular, but the chance to meet up with a few Central Jersey geocachers, who I hadn't seen in years since I stopped going to the Central Jersey events regularly, was priceless.
On Friday, I puttered around the Budd Lake, Netcong, and Flanders area, getting some Munzees and geocaches. A big plus to only coming to this area once a year is I had a lot to choose from in the various GPS games. Well, except for Flagstack, which hardly anyone seems to play over there, but its time will come. In the evening, I headed over to the scout camp for the Pre-Metro Gathering event. It was a pot luck dinner in a rustic dining hall, featuring spooky food such as a meat corpse. Signal, the geocaching mascot, made an appearance.
Saturday was the big event: Metro Gathering in historic Waterloo Village, which had been decorated with all kinds of Halloween stuff, including a mock graveyard, the Headless Horseman, and a spider skeleton. The entrance to the village was like a fair with exhibitors and vendors, and even a pumpkin carving contest. Mostly though, I went for a hike with other geocachers through the village for the 20 special lab caches and the themed Wherigo cache, and spent a lot of time talking to the North Jersey and Long Island geocachers on various things that have happened in the area while I was away. There was a fair amount of gossip and griping, which I'm not going to detail here. Suffice to say there are two sides to every issue. (Unless you're in the Octagon Society. Then there are eight sides to every issue.)
After Metro Gathering, I went down the road to Riverside Park to meet up with a smaller group for the "Small Town Stanhope, NJ" Munzee event. We had some event munzees placed around the park and adjacent trail. Couldn't stay too long though because the event started pretty close to sundown. I found out the reason that there had to be a separate Munzee event was Space Coast Geo Store was forbidden from vending Munzee-related goods at Metro Gathering. It's a new rule imposed by Groundspeak, the company running the geocaching website. If they find any Munzee stuff at a mega event, they'll yank the "mega" status. I spoke to a number of people about this and everyone thought it was a stupid rule and would hurt geocaching in the long run. A lot of people play both Munzee and geocaching so this kind of separation makes no sense. Munzee and Flagstack, on the other hand, don't mind if we mix games and even encourage it by offering "co-exist" badges for multi-game events.