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Caching With the Pros in San Antonio

Mrs. Captain Picard and The Outlaw

Mrs. Captain Picard and The Outlaw

Today was supposed to be a big-number day,but Dana and I spoiled some of the fun. Having barely struggled out of bed in the early afternoon the previous day following our 102-cache find marathon,we still weren’t at our best as we met The Outlaw and Mrs. Captain Picard for a trip to San Antonio. Mrs. CP is one of the most prolific cachers in the world,with over 13,600 finds to her credit. She was just coming off a 177-find jag the previous two days and had hoped to post more big numbers today. We weren’t quite up to the task,though,and she and The Outlaw graciously accommodated our limitations.

Today’s activities focused around a park near Helotes,TX near San Antonio. We grabbed about 10 caches,mostly small and micro in size. The park is hilly by Texas standards,and the profusion of loose limestone made footing tricky. For the most part,we simply watched in awe as our two companions scooped up find after find. Out of 10 caches,Paul and Dana logged one find each. At times,it was as if Outlaw and Mrs. CP knew exactly were to look. We found the accuracy of their Garmin 60CCSX GPS to be superior to that of Paul’s brand new Garmin Colorado and their trail knowledge was a plus.

Our only difficulty was a hide placed high up a hill in an area that’s full of limestone rocks. We searched for a good 15 minutes before Outlaw pulled out the cell phone to call someone who had recently logged a find. Even that didn’t do much good. While we were deciding what to do next,Mrs. CP turned over a rock to find the cache concealed nearly completely. Difficulty was rated at a 1,but she estimated it was at least a 3,given the level of concealment. I can tell you that each of us set foot on that rock at least once during our initial hunt. A few inches of offset in the placement of a rock can make all the difference between an easy or a difficult hide.

Rules of the Hide

The rules of geocaching state that you can never bury a cache,but you can conceal it in all kinds of interesting ways. People hide caches inside rocks,logs,pine cones and even animal bones. Some owners will dig holes in the ground just deep enough to accommodate the cache,but with the top still being visible. Sometimes they’ll even camouflage the cap,but the point is that the cache can never be buried.

This hide presented an interesting challenge in harmonizing the description with our expectations. Concealed under a rock and set several inches into the ground,it was practically invisible. The only way anyone could find it would be by methodically overturning rocks. A cache that’s hidden that well would probably merit a 3 or 4 difficulty rating. However,it’s possible that the owner originally placed it in clearer view and that someone else later re-concealed it in a more obscure place. It’s important that cachers try to recreate the owner’s original hide as closely as possible. Sometimes that means making the container more difficult to find and sometimes less. The point it to replace the container in a manner that’s consistent with the owner’s original intentions.

A Truly Memorable Museum

The highlight of the trip was Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum,a San Antonio institution that has been profiled on TV,magazines and newspapers around the country. We have to admit we didn’t have high expectations for this landmark,given the subject matter,but after spending a little while viewing Barney’s creations and talking to him about his work,we were convinced that the man is a true artist.

Not only is the 87-year-old retired plumber a skilled illustrator,but his techniques for creating and preserving his work belie years of experience. He works only in painted wood toilet seats and his tools include a variety of fine drills,coloring agents,glues and sealants. His shop features more than 850 toilet seats decorated thematically about topics ranging from states to professions to important events in Barney’s life. Barney’s toilet seats are his diary.

If the man was working in painted wood,he would simply be an artist with a distinctive style. The fact that his palettes are shaped like toilet seats makes him a curiosity worthy of national attention. The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly budgeted money to protect his museum from attack. And well they should. Se photos below.

We called it an early night in preparation for an early flight on Monday. We have lots of great notes from our adventures (The Outlaw and Mrs. Captain Picard were full of promotional ideas today,for example) that we’ll be transcribing over the next few days. Our geocaching education was mightily improved from this week’s experience,and we are grateful to our hosts,who planned such a special adventure.

surveying the inventory

Surveying the inventory

Museum housed in converted garage

Museum housed in converted garage

1 comment to Caching With the Pros in San Antonio

  • Julie Perrine

    Hi Dana and Paul,
    It was fun to read our adventures in print. The one thing that I would like is if you spelled out my name each time you use it. Mrs. Captain Picard tells people who I am and Mrs. CP,well,there’s no fun in it.


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