With the break of day and the opening of the main doors, we all gathered in our various panoplies.
We sequestered ourselves with our teams in preparation for the closing of the doors and the addressing of the troops. And when they closed, the moment was upon us.
From the dais, we received a rundown of the rules. As I had done the previous two years, I was prepared to do some kind of stupid human trick to entertain the crowds and to receive our coordinates. The scorecards for the teams were not in the room, so an appropriate representative had to go and get them, and that delay saved us from such comical actions (Full disclosure: I really don’t mind the stupid human tricks and was ready for almost anything). Once we team captains had the coordinates, we disseminated them to our teams, and when the doors opened, we were off. Competition caches were spread all over town, and the delay denied us a chance to study them before shooting off, so I think everyone jetted off haphazardly while our puzzle teams worked feverishly solving things. There were tree climbs and woodland hikes through marshy ground. We retrieved cables hanging from bridges and disguised containers. At one point, I and some other team members found an archived Letterbox Hybrid in a tree, thinking it was the competition cache (I still haven’t decided whether or not to log it since we signed it anyway). But everyone knows the best parts …
… are the activity caches! For this one, I had to demonstrate my skills with a riata and afterward had to do a boot toss into a grounded ring. Seeing as I have never been ranching folk, I accomplished the tasks, but it was stupid in a good way!
For a more team-related activity, we had to fill up a Connect Four board with interlaced colors, and it worked a lot better when two people did it together. I had to work with someone on another team to get it done since we were both the odd men out! Afterward, I had to choose a random flag featured on the flag memorial in the background and go learn and recite some facts about it and where it flew. I ended up with one that flew over Coahuila y Tejas, Gonzales, and the DeWitt Colony, so I already knew all about it!
This being Texas, of course there was shooting and cattle herding! Shooting over those cups was actually harder than it looked because those rubber darts had a crazy drop-off, requiring a heck of an arc to even hit anything. I wish I had gotten a better photo of the herding because it was both silly and adorable in equal measure. We had to “ride” hobby horses and use pool noodles to push inflated cows through the field. Did I mention it was a bit windy? Before I got there, some of the cattle had floated away on a strong breeze, and one had been caught in a tree.
The final activity station gave the opportunity to toss both horseshoes and hats. I learned that the dudes were not the best at horseshoes, and almost all the ringers for the day came from the “dudettes.” The hats were no better for any gender. Stetsons flew about in all directions (ok, maybe that’s a bit of poetic license, but it was windy).
Once our allotted four hours passed, we turned in our scorecards, and with that, the cachers who just moments before were vicious rivals (perhaps “vicious” is too strong a word) all became friends again.
There were a few hours of downtime before the individual competition, which I had no intention of competing in after the morning. After a quick visit from Signal the Frog and checking out some vendors, I got a holler from Razorbackgirl. She was back, and we had work to do! While the individuals were going on, we headed out to continue with…