Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wow Factor

Over a year ago, I wrote about virtuals and why I thought they had been discontinued by Geocaching.com. The powers that be at Geocaching tried to come up with some type criteria for virtual caches that they could live with in order to keep approving virtual caches. Unfortunately, they couldn't come up with a standard criteria for virtuals, so they were grandfathered and no new ones have been approved for several years. Now you can experience something similar to virtual caches on Waymarking.com, but it's really not the same thing at all.

Virtuals are caches that aren't really there, if that makes sense. You go to a specific spot, take a picture and/or gather some information for the "hider" and you get credit for a cache find. I like virtuals because they allow me to find "caches" in spots where I can't find a physical cache, like in a national park, such as Joshua Tree or Grand Canyon. My son and I have found virtuals in both of these parks and in other parks as well. The virtuals in Joshua Tree got us to a trail and spot that we normally wouldn't have gone on if they hadn't been there. We learned some interesting stuff while at these virtuals, including some local history.

The problem with some virtuals is they were missing the "WOW" factor. With a virtual at a national park, the obvious WOW factor is pretty much built in. Once you get to a spot, you usually say "WOW!" and you know it's all good. Many virtuals didn't do that. There have been some virtuals that I've visited that, in my opinion, have been downright dull and nonsensical. What was the purpose of taking me out to this neighborhood to show me a house that had medieval turrets? The WOW factor was definitely missing from that virtual. Geocaching.com realized this was happening and put a moratorium on the placement of virtuals. Unfortunately, it's hard to define the WOW factor and so this moratorium has become permanent.

Thursday, I posted about a Vexilla run that I was planning for the next day. It was a successful run, netting me all four of the virtual flags that I'd intended on finding, plus seven caches and one benchmark. All in all, it was a very good day. I also discovered a virtual cache that definitely has the WOW factor.

We'd planned on getting the virtual cache, Putt-Putt, Beep-Beep that morning. I wasn't sure what to expect at this cache outside that it was a museum showcasing classic cars. I tend to not read cache pages in depth very often and I hadn't read this one, so I wasn't sure what to expect when we got here. I'd never heard of the Nethercutt Museum, so I figured it was some small collection of cars. We'd get the information for the cache find and be gone. I actually said, "WOW" when we walked in the front door of the museum.

As you can see by the pictures this place was huge and had some magnificent cars in it. There was one entire row of classic Rolls Royce's. Every car, with the exception of one had been restored to pristine condition. The attention to detail was phenomenal. There was evidence that polishing and cleaning is a never ending job in this place. Once we'd found the answers to the questions on the cache page, we could have gone on our merry way. I think we left at least an hour after we'd found the answers, the place was that fun.

One of my favorite cars in the collection was the 47 Woody with real wood paneling and a beautiful yellow paint job. The only thing missing was a surfboard. Then we entered a side room and saw the pièce de résistance. In the side room was the original 1964 ½ Ford Mustang, the first Mustang to be issued a VIN. It was immaculate. I was in serious lust at this point in time.

Eventually, we had explored every nook and cranny of the place and it was time to take our leave and continue our cache run. I'm sure that some auto fanatics could spend an entire day in there. I probably could if I knew that I didn't have any kind of agenda for that particular day. Not only that, the price is right, since it's a free admission.

It's fortunate that this particular virtual was created before the moratorium happened. Hiding a small micro in the bushes outside of the museum wouldn't necessarily get people to come inside the museum. I could see many people just stopping by, logging their find and moving on. They would lose because although the cache was a physical cache, they wouldn't necessarily explore. That's too bad and that's why sometimes, virtuals do have their place in geocaching.

The pictures on this page are just some of about a dozen or so that I posted in my log for the cache. Feel free to click on that link and see the rest of the pictures there. Oh, by the way, did I mention there's a train out in back?

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
Putt-Putt, Beep-Beep - by HenryKnowsBest

Profile for Webfoot

4 comments:

Steve Natoli said...

Where is this place?

Just John said...

That place is amazing. Those are some incredible exhibits. And to think that many a young punk used to just toss a surfboard in the back of a Woody and beat it up on the local beaches. Amazing.

Great post!

Webfoot said...

It's located in Sylmar, just off Interstate 5. Roxford exit.

chaosmanor said...

We definitely need to stop there some time. Neither of us are car freaks, but I can see spending an hour or so there, as part of a longer day of other things. I certainly appreciate the write-up; knowing that someone whose opinion I trust (not necessarily always agree with, mind you, but trust) has gotten a thrill there makes it likely that we will, as well.

On the topic of virtuals, I have to be honest and say that I doubt that any of our five virts (two are labeled multis) has that true "WOW! Factor", although I like to think that "Someone Told Me..." comes close; it's the one at the Santa Barbara Zoo. The other three are just interesting local historical spots. We get nice comments about them all, so we won't complain, but they don't really WOW anyone.

I proposed a rating system (1 to 5), back when virts were still possible, but they were under the gun, that would let people vote on how much of a WOW factor they felt. Anything under a 2.5 with at least 30 votes would be archived. That idea got nowhere and it might have been unworkable, but something like it might have kept virtuals as a continuing cache type. Oh, well.