Geocachers search for hidden treasure

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

January 22, 2015

WinterTexanGeocachers“Whopper & B” laughed  as they traded geocaching stories with their friends “Willie and Wilma” beneath sunny skies just north of San Benito Tuesday. The two Winter Texan couples regularly team up to trek across the Valley in search of hidden treasures using GPS devices as part of a game played around the world called geocaching.

Tuesday found them in the Resaca City taking a brief respite from the treasure hunt to admire and reflect at the Freddy Fender Grave and Memorial located at San Benito Memorial Park. They had heard about the memorial while on one of their many geocaching adventures and, fans of country music, decided to pay their respects.

“Whopper & B” and “Willie and Wilma” aren’t their real names, however. They’re pseudonyms chosen for use in geocaching. Whopper & B are really Don and Brenda Kloepper, who have traveled to the Valley from Egffingham, Kansas for the past eight years. Willie and Wilma, who are really Pat and Jan Gabris, drive just a little bit farther. When not in Texas, they call Ontario, Canada home.

The four met here in the Valley and soon discovered a shared passion for geocaching. The game is played by searching out specific GPS coordinates and deciphering clues from the geocaching website or mobile app. Once at a set of coordinates, players will find a hidden geocache, or cache, which can be anything from a container as small as a fingertip to one as large as a five gallon paint bucket, or larger. Players sign log books and check in online to prove they have found the cache. Some geocaches even contain small trinkets that are free to take and trade.

Between the four of them, they have found around 3,000 caches so far. Players don’t just look for caches, though. Many, also hide their own for other players to find. Brenda says she and her husband have hidden over 150 in their home state. They have even made a theme of it, hiding them in and around bridges.

With the weather having improved over the last couple of days, the two couples decided to tackle a laundry list of caches hidden between Mission and South Padre Island. They soon realized the Freddy Fender memorial was a quick detour off their route. “Since we were here today and  the sun was shining … we thought we better come see it,” said Brenda Kloepper. “We’ve listened to his songs since forever,” she said.

The four wandered slowly around the memorial, reading the plaques and admiring the image of Fender etched into the black stone that marks his grave. “It’s a beautiful cemetery,” Brenda said. “I think it’s fantastic that they’ve done that,” she said of the memorial. All four stood together a moment longer in front of the headstone before continuing on their trek.

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