The Run-Up To…

I have been coming to Longview and the area frequently since 2005 (or thirteen years BC [Before Caching]), and I’ve been seeing the changes over the last two decades.  It’s always felt to me like a city of fifty thousand with thirty thousand extra people stuffed into it.  That still makes it, Texas’s fifty-second largest city, bigger than Cheyenne and Olympia, and those are state capitals.  One of the most noticeable changes to downtown is the city’s attempt to portray itself (due to being home to the Great Texas Balloon Race) as a city of balloons, joining such venerable cities as Winnsboro, Marysville, Sidney, and many others.  I took part of the morning to wander around near the Gregg County Courthouse, grabbing Adventure Labs while waiting for a lunchtime Event.  I spent a bit of time checking out the ones based on the murals downtown.  I didn’t feel the need to hunt them all down obsessively because, well, I’ll be back.

I saw a few groups of cachers wandering about doing the same as me.  None of them noticed me floating around because I don’t tend to dress like a cacher.  One of them was at the same place where I found my cache for Gregg County, and I was a little saddened to see all the painted tiles were missing.  Time marches on, I guess, or some kind of crap like that.  

Soon enough, it was time for green beer! Being Saint Patrick’s Day, lunch was a green-themed affair at a brewery named Greenside on Green Street!  It was a fifth annual Event, thrown by three cachers, all having names that are variations of Patty.  I ended up having a nice sit with a buddy from Fort Worth and a Minnesota cacher who had just moved to Texas.  Shrimp and mac and cheese aren’t renowned for being Irish fare, but who’s standing on ceremony?  I didn’t feel like drinking, though.  I didn’t win any of the door prizes either, but I don’t tend toward that (usually).  While I do a little caching around Texas Challenge, I don’t normally do much because I’m there to work and make sure other people have a good time.  But I ended up grabbing a nearby Traditional with a friend before heading back to my accommodations for one of the wardrobe changes I am becoming known for.

I headed over to the main venue to help with setup.  It takes a small army of people to get a Mega to work, and this time was no different.  Registrations and vendors and mini-theater setup (there was a room showing GIFF films all evening) and all the other moving parts…  I was focused on setting up, not photographing.  Luckily, I was near fellow TXGA board member and friend of the site Carrot Killer, and he was kind enough to provide a quick video he took early on before things got too busy.  I was able to slip away at a few different moments to talk with Team CenTex members as they arrived to pick up their registrations.  I also had another duty to fulfill.

The TXGA has a Geocaching Hall of Fame, and I was honored to introduce one of the new inductees, The Outlaw.  I’ve rolled with him, watched him sign the Texas County Challenge, and (as I said to the assemblage) I hope that when I’ve cached for as long as he has, I’m still as kind and friendly and passionate about it as he still is.  Cybercat was instrumental in getting caching going in the earliest days in San Antonio and southward.  Cachers who learned from her started spreading it down to points south like Corpus and the Rio Grande Valley.  The last induction was especially bittersweet, however.  Scooterino was beloved by the entire state’s caching community.  I didn’t know him as well as others did, but he was a good guy.  He always remembered my name, even when I was brand new at this.  He was a Phone-a-Friend on a few occasions even though I barely knew him.  And his passing was a huge wake-up call for a lot of us. It’s nice to have a chance to thank people for what they’ve done to make it possible for us to do what we do.

But all good things come to an end.  Since I was there early and worked a booth all evening, I slipped out soon after things ended.  I had to get in bed for a good night’s sleep because I had to be back early in the morning.  Team CenTex was (mostly) assembled, and we would meet in a few hours, ready for…

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