You may not know this about me (#228), seeing as I tend to be very tight-lipped about it, but many moons ago, I completed a little something called the Texas County Challenge. It’s a relatively obscure achievement, but I and the other finishers take a certain amount of muted pride in the accomplishment. Imagine my surprise to learn that a couple from Chattanooga, Tennessee, of all places, would be arriving in Austin in a couple of days to complete and sign the log! Considering how tight-knit the cabal is, how could I not, when extended an invitation, show up to witness the ceremony? I was going to have lunch with fellow finisher Carrot Killer (#186) anyway, so I dragged him along!
The signing was at the most popular signing spot of all, the Texas State Capitol. Its pink granite loveliness was temporarily marred by scaffolding, but that’s fine. If I have learned anything from all the courthouses I’ve visited, any maintenance to these old edifices is greatly appreciated. Besides, it served another important purpose: it served as a shelter from rain for fellow finisher Razorbackgirl (#92), who beat the Carrot and me there by a few minutes. We chatted about some stuff and things for a bit until we saw, striding up the Great Walk, our newly finished initiates, Super_Nate and Called2Care. They had just arrived from getting Centex Prime to finish the Challenge off. We all chatted about their journeys, cool winter coats, the fact that Texas is their eighth completed state, and the fact that Called2Care was very pregnant! If anyone gets credit for being a hardcore caching beast, it’s her! We all continued a little longer, waiting for the last component of the ritual, carried to our assemblage by the Keeper of the Can himself, Indigo Parrish (#18). A proverbial hush fell over us all as Super_Nate took the ammo can and cracked it open.
This is hardly the first signing I’ve witnessed, but there’s something about watching other people put pen to paper and sign the book. I can never tell how long each person’s entry will be, but it’s rarely short. I myself took up a page and a half and then cut myself off lest I write an entire novel. But even the shortest ones are sincere. No “TFTC” or “+1” or “More later” for this log. When you’re writing this entry, you truly earned it. So when the two of them were done writing, they were transmuted and uplifted, members #304 and #305 of our sacred band.
Later in the evening, some of us celebrated them further with dinner. A restaurant they enjoy back home has its original location in Austin, so our latest finishers, along with Indigo Parrish, Razorbackgirl and her daughter, The Outlaw (#215), Moosiegirl (#214), and myself, finished it all off with some Tex-Mex. Super_Nate and Called2Care had to leave before the rest of us since they had a flight to catch the next morning, but I have it on good authority that if there is not a little Called2Nate yet when Texas Challenge comes around in March, we’ll see Super_Nate at the Finisher’s Reunion to sign the big board!
All hail the conquering heroes!