So I have no doubt that a lot of you, specifically those of you who live in the northerly latitudes, are going to laugh at me but Austin froze over yesterday. There was a chance of snow, but it didn’t materialize. It snowed out in the Hill Country, though. I’m sure Minnesotans, North Dakotans, Vermonters, and even many in North Texas are thinking that Austin is a city of wimps. In our defense, when the temperature hits 100 in many places, there is a gnashing of teeth and wearing of ashes and sackcloth while we, on the other hand, start making sun tea. My point here (and I do have one) is that yesterday was not the kind of day I wanted to be out, both from a safety perspective (we are not geared on an institutional or a social level to handle ice and snow) and from a personal level (I myself am not geared to handle ice and snow). But what does one do when one has a 500+ day streak to maintain?
Challenges! I’ve been collecting challenges all year. In fact, I wouldn’t even have this streak if it was not for my first challenge. Funny story: if you look at my first entry of 2019, you’ll notice I mentioned that that my planned trip had gone “ker-flump.” What had happened was that a friend and I had a planned trip down to Corpus Christi and the coast on the day after New Year’s. Unfortunately, my friend had an emergency crop up at the last minute and was unable to go. I couldn’t go on my own because, well, you remember. So it occurred to me that I could rent a car and go down. I set up a rental (thank you, Internet), jumped on a bus, and went to the only open rental location in town (New Year’s Day is a holiday, of course), the one at the airport. There I ran into a problem: that particular location rents IF you have a return ticket to wherever you flew in from. I’m local so I didn’t have a return ticket therefore no rental for me. Well, poop, I thought. Since I hadn’t had a chance to grab a cache that day, I had intended to rent the car for the trip and grab a cache near the airport on the way home. But then I realized I had a different problem. Since it was a holiday, the buses had stopped running early so I was stuck at the airport at 11PM, an hour before missing the daily cache deadline. I called a friend (a new casual cacher herself) who was willing to pick me up, but I doubted she’d make it in time. My 198-day streak, I thought, would be broken. And then inspiration dropped upon me like the proverbial ton of bricks. On my first caching trip out of town to Fredericksburg (the same trip where I acquired my umbrella), I signed a challenge to find 500 Traditionals and had just completed the challenge a week before. When I realized the implication, I pulled out my phone and claimed it with 10 minutes left in my day. The streak was preserved! And ever since I have been collecting them whenever I can as insurance for days when I cannot or wish not to grab a cache. For days that I am ill or the weather inclement, I can claim them and maintain my streak. Some cachers may think that it’s not right. They are entitled to their opinions. Is claiming a challenge to keep a streak alive invalid because it wasn’t found on that day? I don’t think so. A claim, as long as it is found and signed, is a claim. So on a frozen day such as yesterday, I was thankful for them.
And, therefore, I will continue my trips to San Antonio. I will again visit Lubbock and Abilene. I yearn to visit Houston and Galveston again. And one day I shall complete The Project in Dallas. And as I go, challenge after challenge will serve my need and fall before me. And I hope they fall before you all as well.