The 19th Annual Texas Challenge and Festival

Saturday morning, we all arrived, ready to go out and find our caches and do some activities! Let’s be honest here: it’s been a weird year. A lot of people who would have normally come and competed didn’t make the trip and I completely understand that. I, of course, arrived in my full caching panoply, prepared to captain the venerable powerhouse that is Team CenTex. Every team was smaller than usual, meaning that a couple of them were composed of the minimum size but the hungriest, most aggressive cachers. We were less aggressive. Our watchword was safety, so we mostly opted to spread out and not roll together so much. We made some basic plans before the captains were called to the stage to receive cache locations. As per tradition, we captains had to do something embarrassing to receive team coordinates. This year, a small pile of tiny presents was dumped out on the stage. Some of them said Golden Ticket inside. Finding one of those got you the coordinates. Others had tasks. Each one of us grabbed one at and tore it open. Some of the captains got the golden ticket right off the bat. I was not one of them. First, I had to recount the names of all of Santa’s reindeer. The second present told me to sing a song (I forget what it was now) so I regaled the assemblage with a really fast version of whatever it was. Finally, I unwrapped a golden ticket and we got to work. Coordinates were disbursed and we went from there. After some impromptu puzzle help, I got going myself. Activities are a big deal because they’re worth more points and each competitor has to accomplish a certain number of them anyway.

Some activities are pretty easy. You ever try balancing hex nuts with chopsticks? It’s not as easy as it appears.

The cow pie toss was a bit harder. Luckily, we had gloves, both as a Covid prevention measure and because they were real cow pies.

There exists photos of me throwing a lasso to rope a fake cow, but I don’t have it on hand at the moment. The town of Cisco really took us to their bosom. I mention that because I met the Chief of Police at one of the activities. The rest of the cops and fire department would have been about too, but there was a fire so they had to leave and go do fire related things. We ran around town doing stuff and things, punching books, laughing at each other. Until, of course, it was time to turn our cards in. The group competition was over. The individual competition would happen later in the day. What would happen during the time in between? I got to attend that most sacred of events, a signing of the Texas County Challenge!

There were three new signers along with a big clutch of previous signers to witness the event. As a side note, the middle signer? That’s the one and only Mondou2, the cacher with the most finds on Earth. The rightmost signer I know from here. That’s Mrs_HiDude, who happens to be the wife of HiDude_98. The leftmost signer, G&N Geocachers, I hadn’t met before, but welcome them all to the club!

As a weird little side note, this is the Texas County Challenge sitting next to the TXGA Hall of Fame. I thought it was interesting… Anyway, somewhere around this time, I remembered to log the Challenge. And this is where my other superlative came into play. When I logged it, I had officially logged my 3000th cache. I even picked up a coin from one of our nice local vendors to commemorate it. The other interesting thing was that the Keeper of the Can couldn’t stay, but there was going to be another signer in the evening, so I spent a little time helping guard the Challenge ammo can from neer-do-wells, mendicants, and the most perfidious rabble. At least for a few hours, anyway. I ended up heading off to the individual competition (after a wardrobe change), but I never made it. A minor car issue caused me to abort the competition, but luckily it wasn’t terminal, and was resolved with some zip ties. That means I made it back to Cisco in time to make it to…

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