Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Such Great Heights" Quest

The eighth quest we attempted was all about heights (not our specialty, unless it is hiking up mountains!). We are still juggling several quests at once in our effort to "catch up", but I DO think we are making progress on that goal! The information below shows the requirement for each of the main quest categories and what we did to satisfy the requirement.

We had our choice of 3 documentaries to watch and we chose Beyond the Edge.

127 Hours. Directed by Danny Boyle
Pollock. Directed by Ed Harris
Beyond the Edge. Directed by Leanne Pooley
Nova Season 12 Episode 3: Ben Franklin's Balloons

Martini Man's comments: We just completed watching Beyond the Edge and talk about a nail biter! For knowing what the outcome would be, we were still on the "edge of our seats"! What a magnificent story about human courage and fortitude. Well worth watching.....

Wisconsin Hiker's comments:We just watched "Beyond the Edge" and I found it fascinating (and intense). It is inspiring to watch people persevere in such harsh conditions and ultimately succeed. We had to take a couple of short breaks to refill wine glasses during the movie because I was getting too tense, even though I knew they would be successful. I hope we are able to achieve our (much easier) goal of hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back out a month from now...

The second media objective asked us to listen to an audio program describing the an epic back and forth struggle for the glory of ruling the New York City skyline in the late 1920s.

The Chrysler Building and The Manhattan Company Building

Wisconsin Hiker's comments: It was a good story about the competitiveness of people who try to set records. I also was interested to hear that this "race" was going on JUST before the crash on Wall Street and the Great Depression. Such a quick change from the "Great Heights" to the depths of despair so many felt. I was surprised to hear that Chrysler tried to get out of paying the architect, especially since he had splurged so much on the building itself.

Even though I am a constant public radio listener it felt odd that there were no visuals. Instead of hearing this on the radio, I listened to this on the computer, where I expect photos & video. So I just kept scrolling between the few photos that accompanied the article.

Martini Man's comments: Not done yet

Read A Bucket Full of Spit by Michael Martone and comment on it.

Wisconsin Hiker: It took me a bit to sink into the rhythm of the story, but once I did, the story flowed along and had some interesting imagery. My mind went to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, or perhaps a post-apocalyptic world (such as "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy). I imagined the "beanstalk" to be a water tower. I then reread a version of the original "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy tale and was amused to find this, which has a tie-in to the "Bucket Full of Spit Story":

I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll have his bones to grind my bread.”

I'm sure I missed a lot of symbolism in the story, but thought it was amusing until the end. It seemed so inconclusive and I thought it must be continued somewhere, but apparently that was it. Hmmmm....

Martini Man: I normally do not like to read my colleagues' reviews before I write mine. Hoever, in this case, I was a bit confused by the abrupt ending and wondered if I missed something. Nope......

So not my favorite Quest Scouts reading. This seemed like a riff on the Oklahoma Dust Bowl days and perhaps an analogy about the migration of the Okies to California. But I fear I am stretching that a lot. Odd prose.

For this we had to determine the tallest building in our state and then visit it and take a photograph of ourselves in front of the building.

Martini Man: Today Wis Hiker and I visited the US Bank Center, which is the tallest building in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Hiker: It was easy for us to get to the tallest building in our state, since it is only 17 miles from our house. Here I am (sitting on a ledge way at the bottom) when we visited it today in Milwaukee, WI. The US Bank building is 42 stories tall and 601 feet in height. (Note: many of us that have been around for a while, still call it the First Wisconsin, since that was its original name when it was built by a different bank and completed in 1973).

For the art component, we had to watch a video about the work of Jackson Pollock and then create a "drip style painting" inspired by Pollock.

Wisconsin Hiker: Creating the drip painting was fun!  Since it looked like Pollock just tossed paint around, that's what I did.  I used a pre-stretched 16"x20" canvas and a variety of paint.  This included some ceiling paint, some wall paint and some acrylic paint in handy squirt bottles and some tempera paint in a tube. I got out a variety of brushes to flick the paint, but ended up just using the paint stir sticks instead for the house paint.  I flipped the sticks around to "paint" and also let some run down between the holes on the stick onto the canvas. I squeezed the bottles and tubes for the other paint. The paints were different thicknesses and the tempera was the gloppiest.  Since this was going to be a messy process, I created my "masterpiece" outdoors.

Martini Man: I had to get talked into this, but I have to admit I enjoyed myself making this. I doubt it will be the topic of a video telling the story of a long - lost masterpiece. However the strains of "When I Paint My Masterpiece" keep coming up in my head....

While laying on our back, we were supposed to photograph a subject above you in order to capture height in our photo.

Martini Man: I give you a different perspective on Holy Hill

I also wanted to share a different side of me in getting the nice picture of the steeple at Holy Hill

Wisconsin Hiker: Our friends Tiptoe & Tonto were visiting us this past weekend and after finding some letterboxes we headed over to the nearby Holy Hill Shrine because they had never been there before. We figured it was a great opportunity to take our "Looking Up" photos. (If you look carefully, you will see Martini Man at the top inside the tower. It was 178 steps up and we had some great views!)

This was a challenge that encouraged a bit of silliness - building a catapult from a mint tin.

Not done yet

This requires us to find a letterbox that requires climbing vertically/straight up. Not many options around here - the one that we know about we already found years ago. But luckily our friend PackerBacker came through for us again!

Martini Man: I was along for the find of Ski Jumper. A clever hide, in my opinion. Only issue we had was looking nonchalant off the trail. But the ruined brick grill down the slope served as a reason for being so far off the beaten path. Kudos to our pal, Packerbacker for this one as well as a lot of great boxing experiences over the years.

Wisconsin Hiker: I had to climb up a few fallen trees to put the Ski Jumper letterbox back in the correct spot. It was a gorgeous fall day for letterboxing in Beloit, WI!

We had to play a tower building game to satisfy the objective.

Not done yet, but we will be playing JENGA


This was an "index card" art project where we were supposed to fill the card with a towering city skyline.

Wisconsin Hiker's index card artwork

Martini Man: Not done yet


Here were were supposed to "raise the bar" by doing any task on our "To Do" list a little bit better than you were planning.

Wisconsin Hiker: I was vacuuming window sills and cleaning the inside of windows in the house. My "reach higher" was deciding to climb out a window onto the roof so I could also clean the skylight!

Martini Man: Not done yet


Watch a video from about 9-year old rock climber Ashima Shiraishi and comment on it.

Martini Man: OMG! Such a little cutie and such determination and focus! Not for this wimpy boy! The only thing that went creeping through my mind was if the gent doing the narration was perhaps pushing her a bit....... Ah well, always suspicious.

Wisconsin Hiker: Wow - she is a talented little monkey! Such strength & determination! However I think I would be torn as a parent - it would be great to see a child develop and excel, but scary to see them at risk of injury.


Watch the Tall Painting video by Dave Kaufman and comment on it.

Wisconsin Hiker: Very cool! It makes me want to try something similar on a smaller scale. I also wondered what part of the painting is preserved, or if it is preserved as 2 or 3 separate pieces (block tower, base and floor). I just need to figure out how to get the right viscosity of paint to try this.....

Martini Man: Fascinating use of gravity, geometry and the knowledge of colors and how to match them up. The effect was riveting to me and frankly I thought this required more skill then anything Jackson Pollock ever did. Bravo!


For this we had to do a puzzle that asked us to estimate the heights of each of the items listed without doing any research. We then added all 8 estimates together to get a total estimated height.

Wisconsin Hiker: I was off by 43,651 ft. My guess was much too low - EMBARRASSING!
I had the Tallest Man right and was very close for the basketball hoop, Willis Tower and the rollercoater. My downfall were the mountains - I don't know what I was thinking when I put down such low numbers.  I did enjoy it, but we don't need to talk about it anymore. :-)

Martini Man: Well this was interesting.

1) I was 14,597 below the actual cumulative height.
2) I'd say I was closest on Everest, although you could look at my numbers and contest that. I am speaking more in terms of scale. I was stunned to see how tall Mauna Kea is, so wondering how they calculate the tallest mountain in the world now.
3) We can do this again. I learned some things and that's OK.

We needed to get at least 1,000 points to complete the quest and we both exceeded that.  We thereby earned our eighth badge! We are also excited to know that several of our letterboxing friends have joined us in Quest Scouts.

"Such Great Heights" badge

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Micro Quest BINGO"

In an attempt to introduce more people to Quest Scouts, Dylan created a BINGO game consisting of multiple Micro Quests.  Each day a new micro quest is published and if you do the activity within two days, you can cross off the corresponding square on your Bingo card:

SEP 14: N-38 Media – Watch kite video

Wisconsin Hiker: I kept trying to figure out how it worked, how one guy could be controlling all those kites. Were there separate strings for each kite or were several connected? It was interesting to see how a few landed early, but didn't seem to affect the others that were still flying. Overall it was pretty cool and reminded me of my dad (deceased), who had some great kites that he flew on the beach.

Martini Man: It actually seemed like an animation of birdlike figures basically dive-bombing some real or imagined threat. So strange to consider this was a little over one minute video of collapsed twenty minutes of what I presume was a single kite flying. Very nice........

SEP 15: I-23 Literature – Write a book review on a 3”x3” piece of paper

Wisconsin Hiker's review

Martini Man's review

SEP 16: I-17 Game – Play GeoGuessr, a fun game in which you are "dropped" in a random place on google maps. You then navigate around and use context clues to guess where you are in the world. When you have an idea, you place a pin on the map and click "make guess" to see how well you did.
Wisconsin Hiker: Wow! What a COOL game! I'm not that good with flags and languages, but I managed to do pretty well. I played one game of 5 rounds and my score was 15,416. The total number of miles I was off for the 5 rounds was ~3,200. I was really close on one: less than 35 miles off! I was also pretty close on two others (135 miles and 210 miles). The other two I was off by over 1,000, but I still felt I had done pretty well guessing. Thanks to Quest Scouts for introducing us to a very entertaining game!

Martini Man: OK, I really sucked. Off by over 25,000 miles!!!! Score was only 3762 for 5 rounds. Not so very hot at all............

SEP 17: O-64 Art – create an abstract work of art

Wisconsin Hiker's creation

Martini Mans's creation, Title: The Shattered Mind of the Soon-to-Be Retired

SEP 18: G-57 Travel - get a bit more exercise than normal today  (Didn't do - we just did a 5-mile hike with our hiking club, but didn't do anything "extra")

SEP 19: G-45 Game - Play an arcade game (Didn't do - it was our niece Amanda's wedding day!)

SEP 20: B-11 Research - Pick out something you own to get rid of by donating or throwing away (Didn't do - we cleaned a lot out last year so didn't take the time to identify something for Bingo. But we certainly do still have a lot we can get rid of!)

SEP 21: I-16 Media - Watch a a short video/animation about the history of light.

Wisconsin Hiker: I loved the black & white images and immediately thought of carvings for letterbox stamps. The "evolution of light" story seemed to start with destructive fires, which was unsettling, but then paralleled so many important inventions. We are now so used to artificial light and "light on demand" that it is an eye-opener if we lose power. Then we are back to candle light (and our electronics, only as long as the battery lasts). I enjoyed the short, but interesting, video!

Martini Man: I thought it a tad "in yo face", but that is probably due to the fact I did not like the music much. I did think the metamorphosis of imagery was interesting and that sustained my attention.
SEP 22: O-69 Art - Draw an artistic interpretation of the word BINGO on an index card. (Didn't do. It was my mom's last day of her visit from FL and we did other things)

SEP 23: G-48  Art - Post an eye-catching pattern

Wisconsin Hiker: Mosaic on the floor at the Wisconsin Center
Martini Man:  Patio Pavers

SEP 24: B-14 Game - Complete an on-line jigsaw puzzle of the Quest Scout logo.

Martini Man finished in a bit over 17 minutes and Wisconsin Hiker require 22 minutes.

SEP 25: no call

SEP 26: I-29  Find - Find a letterbox

Martini Man:  We took a historic and FREE ferry across the Wisconsin River to find the "Teas by the Ferry" letterbox.

Wisconsin Hiker:  We enjoyed walking on a beach on a gorgeous fall day to find "The Dirty Turtle" letterbox.

SEP 27: G-53 Literature - Write an acrostic poem using the word BINGO as your base word.
Wisconsin Hiker:

Martini Man:

Basements and halls are lined with folding tables and chairs;
In anticipation of a crowd of life-weary people looking for a diversion at the local parish
Now observe the eager players as they file in to their favorite seats, hoping for good fortune.
Greens, blues, reds are some of the colors that brightly decorate the cards as the calls are made.
Oh, jubilant the winning cries when Lady Luck smiles down on the winner!

SEP 28: N-32  Travel - Take a short stroll outdoors and breathe deeply for several minutes.  Then use one word to comment on how you felt or what you were thinking about.

Wisconsin Hiker: Warmth

Martini Man: Serenity

SEP 29: B-9 Media - Watch Slomo video

Wisconsin Hiker:  The idea of "doing what you want" definitely becomes stronger the older you get. After years of working and acquiring, the prospect of just relaxing and having fun without needing so much "stuff" is very attractive. It's nice to see someone that has found his "bliss". However I'm curious about his vision problems - were they fixed? Getting worse? Obviously to skate he must be able to see well enough to avoid obstacles.

Martini Man: I must confess I found it rather moving. Not sure everyone has the financial wherewithal to perform the escape Slomo made. But he certainly gave up much to get to the place where he is and it was inspirational to watch and listen to. Find Nirvana on a pair of skates..... who knew......

SEP 30: N-39 DIY - Leave a cheerful note in a public place for a stranger to find.

Wisconsin Hiker left a note at a local grocery store
Martini Man left a note on a ledge in his office building

OCT 1: O-71 Photography - Take a photograph that captures balance or symmetry.

Wisconsin Hiker: The iconic arches!

Martini Man: Now here's some symmetry I can relate to!

OCT 2: no call

OCT 3: O-80 DIY - Design a Quest

Wisconsin Hiker:

Quest Theme: Long distance trails

Title: Hit the Trail!

Media: Watch one of the following movies and comment on it: “The Way”, “Wild!” or “Tracks”

Literature: Read Barefoot Sisters Southbound by Lucy Letcher and Susan Letcher

Research: Research the history of a trail over 200 miles long. When was it established? When completed? What type of transportation allowed? Where is it located? How many hikers typically visit the trail in a year? What are the highlights of the trail?

Travel: Take a hike or bike on a portion of a long distance trail. For this objective, the trail should be at least 25 miles in length, but you need to only travel on a portion of it. Write about your experience and include your distance traveled on the trail.

Art: Go to any trail and create a public work of art with materials along the trail. This could include rocks, feathers, pine cones, sticks or any other materials you find along the trail. Take a photo of your completed masterpiece.

Photography: Make a photo collage of a hike along a trail showing the trail name/symbol, a trail blaze/marker and a landmark or scenery along the trail. (Pic Monkey is a free & easy on-line tool for making photo collages.)

DIY: Trail magic often refers to the act of providing food or beverages for people traveling along a long distance trail. Find a spot to provide “trail magic” and report on your experience in the comments section.

Find: Find a box/cache along a long distance trail. Report the name of the box/cache below and any comments about your experience in finding it.

Game: Get outdoors on a trail and play one of the outdoor games described on these websites. Describe what you played (and post a photo if possible)

Micro Quests:
Literature: Research blogs written by people currently hiking a long distance trail. Read entries from several days of their blog.

Other MQ: TBD

Martini Man:

"Discover Your Past" - a Quest based on genealogy and family research.

Media: Watch The Human Family Tree
Literature: Read up on how to do genealogical research.
Travel: Travel to a regional ethnic resource like Bishops Hill in Illinois.
Visit: a Local genealogical research facility. It can be as simple as your local library.
Research: One family member at least two generations back. Find out more than vital statistical dates. See if you can construct a story about them
Art: Find a picture of an ancestor and make a sketch.
Photography: Arrange some old family heirlooms and make a nice artsy photo of them.
Diy: Make a shadow box of old photos and keepsakes with the theme being a cherished relative.
Find: The gravesite of an ancestor.
Games: Play the Game of Genealogy.

OCT 4: G-51 Art - Interpret the prompt "On the winning team" to make index card art. (Didn't do)

OCT 5: B-8 Travel - Think about your normal routines and make a slight change to one of them.

Wisconsin Hiker: I get three daily emails from Page-a-Day calendars with interesting information about sights to see, books to read and a trivia question. However I usually skip opening them, thinking I'll go back later to read them. Starting today, I will read them first thing in the morning to start the day with some inspirations for future trips or reading!

Martini Man: So let's see. Rather than goof around on the computer in the morning, maybe a nice short walk in the neighborhood would do me more good. Might try that tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

We had fun doing these Micro Quests and earned our special badge on October 5.

BINGO! on the diagonal

Our final comments:

Wisconsin Hiker: BINGO! We have a Digital QS membership since May 2015 and enjoyed doing the BINGO micro quests. However since we're still trying to catch up on completing some of the regular Quests, it got to be a lot of stuff to fit into a day/week, especially when my mom was visiting us. I completed 15 of the 20 Bingo Micro quests posted so far. Hard to say which ones I liked best... probably the GeoGuessr game and designing a quest. However some of the videos and art projects were also very entertaining and the BINGO poem stretched us a bit in a good way.

Martini Man: Well, the whole experience with the Bingo Microquests kept me on my toes (as well as my ever vigilant Wisconsin Hiker). Tell you what. Surely hope you liked the genealogy idea for a Quest Badge. Also liked the little walk I took to achieve that one Zen moment you asked us to find the other day.

This is now our 7th badge:
"Micro Quest Bingo" badge

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Park Explorer" Quest

The sixth quest we attempted was good one for us since we often are out exploring in parks. The information below shows the requirement for each of the main quest categories and what we did to satisfy the requirement.

We had our choice of 2 documentaries to watch: 
  • Virunga - directed by Orlando von Einsiedel.
  • The National Parks: America's Best Ideas. Produced by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan
We chose Virunga:

Martini Man's comments: We just finished watching Virunga and it is SUCH a moving tribute to the people who put their lives at risk in the Congo.. As some may know, this is a very unstable part of the world and it is especially uplifting to watch these brave people put themselves at risk. Some observations:

1) Corporate greed as exemplified by SOCO is nothing new. It's just more egregious in this case. Such arrogance and irresponsibility.
2) Emmanuel de Merode reminds me of the old class of the rich who took their fortune as a gift and thus resolved to give back to the world that gave so much to them.
3) Such heartfelt kudos I can only give to those folks like Andre who cared so much for the orphaned gorillas under this watch.

Very moving.............

Wisconsin Hiker's comments: We watched "Virunga" and it was heart-wrenching. To think that a national park is subject to such violent forces is so sad. People are at risk as are the endangered mountain gorillas. The gorillas are so endearing and the other wildlife is also impressive. It is sickening that poachers, militia and foreign companies are so oblivious to the destruction they cause. But it was inspiring to see that there were people trying to protect the wildlife and the park. I will be doing more research on this topic and watching the follow-up video to see what the current situation is for this park.

This quest asked us to read "Ranger Confidential" an interesting book described as "a 'tell all' about Andrea Lankford's life as a ranger with the US National Parks. Not all of what she has to reveal paints the USNPS in a idyllic light."

Wisconsin Hiker: I just finished the book and liked the way the author was able to present the variety of activities a ranger is involved in, from the mundane to the heart-stopping. It was interesting to get some insight into the difficulty of getting a job with benefits and surprising that extra training and skills do not result in higher pay. Like Zoma, what I didn't like was the choppy narrative. Even though there were several main people that appeared throughout the book, it seemed more like a collection of anecdotes than a cohesive story. I learned that I have more to fear than I realized when we hike to Phantom Ranch in November! I also learned that I really may not want to volunteer/live in a park when we are both retired. The living conditions and sketchy people may outweigh the pluses.

Martini Man: I enjoyed this book a lot. The tone of the book was respectful to the NPS's mission while excoriating them on their treatment of employees, which I found deplorable. I was struck by the wide variety of tasks these dedicated people had to fill at wages most would scoff at. The depictions of the travails they had to endure as well as their heroics made for riveting reading at times. A sobering account about behind-the-scenes dirt at our national parks and well worth reading.

This objective only required to travel as far as a local playground. But once there we had to level up our playground experience by taking on at least two challenges of fellow quest scouts.

Not done yet

For this objective we were asked to visit a state or national park and spend at least a couple hours at the park.  Then we had to describe our visit by answering questions such as: Where did you go? What did you do? Did you enjoy yourself?

Martini Man: Last Saturday we spent at Buckhorn State Park. Our primary goal was to kayak on Castle Rock Lake. Buckhorn afforded a good put in spot for our kayaks and we had a good time out on the water for over two hours.

Buckhorn is actually a pretty good sized park at over 8,000 acres. Camping looks good here as well as the facilities for camping, at least from what we saw. The hiking trails are not high in mileage and that could be improved. But it was a nice place to visit and it's not a park that is well - known, unlike nearby Devil's Lake.

Photos from Buckhorn State Park

Wisconsin Hiker: On SEP 27 we made a trip to Devi's Lake State Park near Baraboo, WI to do some hiking. It is a park that I have been going to since I was a little kid and is one of the busiest state parks in WI. The lake is popular for swimming, non-powered boating and scuba diving, while the bluffs surrounding the lake are great for rock climbing and hiking. We made a circuit of the lake, hiking on both the east & west bluff trails, with a short detour to visit the Devil's Doorway rock formation. And of course no visit is complete for us unless we indulge in a chocolate malt from the historic chateau on the north shore.

We had to choose a park within the borders of the city we live in (or a neighboring city, the city your grew up in, or a city you will be vacationing to in the near future) and then research the origins of the park.

Wisconsin Hiker: We recently heard about a relatively new nature preserve near us, the Badertscher Preserve in Muskego, WI. It was established in 2012 when the city purchased 104 acres adjacent to the Ridges Conservation site, creating over 130 contiguous acres of conservancy. The Borst family owned the land previously and the purchase by the city was funded by a portion of the city’s landfill settlement funds earmarked for conservation and was supplemented by a Stewardship grant from the State of Wisconsin. The Little Muskego Lake Association also generously donated $50,000 toward acquisition and development.. The park is named in commemoration of the family that farmed there for many years. The preserve covers rolling glacial topography and includes an oak savanna, wetlands, woodlands and prairies. Hiking and bow hunting is allowed on the site. We enjoyed our first hike there on OCT 25.

This one asked us to find our "inner kid" and use sidewalk chalk to create a public work of art.

Not done yet

For this one we watched a video and then tried to capture motion utilizing playground equipment.

Martini Man: Went to the playground Monday night with our niece, her two little boys aged 7 and 5 months and two other little ones (2 and 7 months) she was watching for a friend. We had a pleasant time pushing the babies in the swings while the other two ran amok on the playground equipment. But we had an ulterior motive. To satisfy the Photography requirement for the Park Explorer badge, I photographed the seven year old showing his prowess on the overhead bars. He's quite the young lad.

Wisconsin Hiker: We visited our niece Julie to take some "playground in motion" photos using her son Anthony as our model.

For this one we had to pamper ourselves by creating a FANCY picnic. We had to choose at least four of the "fancy" picnic options listed below.

1) A blanket
2) Pillows
3) Beverages from a glass bottle or mason jars
4) Food wrapped in paper and tied with string
5) Home made food
6) Cloth Napkins
7) Music
8) Candle Light
9) An outdoor game
10) Dessert!

Wisconsin Hiker: We enjoyed a "fancy picnic" today, incorporating 5 items from the list: blanket, cloth napkins, beverage from a glass bottle, homemade food and dessert. Menu: grape tomatoes, red grapes, Italian sandwich on baguette (w/Sopressato, Capocollo, provolone & homemade pesto), decadent turtle brownie bar and sparkling French lemonade. It was nice to relax with the picnic after spending so much time planting ~60 letterboxes at the park over the past 2 days. The food was great but next time we need to allocate more time for just RELAXING - with time to read, play a game and maybe sip some wine.

We were asked to visit a National Park and obtain a cancellation stamp while were there.

Wisconsin Hiker: We visited Fort Clatsop one of the Lewis and Clark National Park sites. We looked at the exhibits in the Visitor Center, watched an informative movie and toured a replica of the fort where the L&C group wintered in 1805-06. It was a nice historical park and I was once again amazed at the arduous journeys these early explorers endured.

Martini Man: We visited Fort Clatsop National Park while we were in Oregon. This was the westernmost abode of Lewis and Clark's famous expedition and it sounded like a miserable time was had by all. Lots of rain, which is something the Pacific Northwest could REALLY use right now. The park itself was quite informative and it whetted my appetite to read up on this singular feat.

For this objective we had to find a physical or "virtual" cache in a National Park.

Not done

This was an easy one - play an outdoor game at a park with friends!

Martini Man: All right, we took in a game of lawn croquet at Lake Park, done the genteel way in pursuit of the Park Explorer badge. Rules are very different from what I learned as a kid and it apparently is meant to encourage sociability. So once one of two competing teams gets their ball through the wicket, that's a mark for them and EVERYONE to move on to the next wicket. So it's not so much a race as it is a game of points. Very enjoyable.

Wisconsin Hiker: We had fun with friends while learning to play 6-wicket croquet at Lake Park in Milwaukee, WI.

Watch a video that explains what happened when wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park.

Martini Man: This is amazing to watch and listen to! I've long thought that the absence of predators in Wisconsin was an issue with the deer population and this just re-enforced my opinion. But changing the course of rivers? It makes sense but it's so bizarre how one change in the ecosystem can have such a far ranging effect and so fast as well. Simply amazing.....

Wisconsin Hiker: Wow! I found this very interesting. It was a very well constructed video, I was amazed how much information they packed into 4 1/2 minutes. It is good to remember that a balance is needed in nature and that every creature plays a role. Stunning photography of the animals and the scenery!

MICRO QUEST 2 - Literature
For this MQ we read the article "One Woman's Journey Brings Physical Geocaches to National Parks" by Eric Schudiske. The topic was based on the fact that in many US National Parks, geocaching is either banned or severely limited. Some people are working to come to a more cache friendly agreement with the National Parks.

Martini Man: Common sense approach by hydnsek. I do agree that it's an educational endeavor and I also absolutely agree that allowing letterboxes and geocaches brings traffic the parks would never have had otherwise.

The issue I see is some geocachers and letterboxers are not very bright about placement and that can create friction with the custodial staff. So I think the hobbies have to do all they can to educate folks about proper placement and how to hide something without destroying the environs around the box or cache.

Thoughtful discussions here.....

Wisconsin Hiker: It was interesting to hear that geocachers have a formal program to work with parks, but not too surprising since that hobby is definitely more regulated and structured. I know of a few letterboxers that have tried to work with both National and State Parks to allow boxes to be placed in the parks, with varying success. I personally have had experiences with some park personnel who have been rabid about not allowing any letterboxes in THEIR parks (MN and IL) and others who have enthusiastically welcomed them (CT, NH, IL and WI).

MICRO QUEST 3 - Research
For this objective we had to spend a short amount of time researching parks that met two criteria, then add this park to our "bucket list":

Wisconsin Hiker: I found a list of the 59 National Parks and discovered that I have already been to 35 of them. One that I haven't been to, but that we may be passing by in November, is Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado. I had never heard of it and recently some friends mentioned visiting it in their blog. I'm putting it on my list of places to visit since it looked spectacular. Not sure if the weather will cooperate in November, but it is a place I would like to see.

For this MQ we watched a video about slack lining and base jumping. These are illegal in US National Parks, yet there is a group of enthusiasts who do it anyway.

Wisconsin Hiker: Pretty, but nerve-wracking! Background music was nice. I wonder how long it took them to figure out when the moon would be in the right position. I was torn between wanting him to wait to be sure he was steady before starting and wanting him to hurry before the moon rose to high. I was amazed to read the caption below the video and see that the video was shot from over a mile away!

Martini Man: Incredibly beautiful to watch. But one has to wonder about the flouting of the park rules. We only see the successes, not the failures and a failure there would have been ....a mess.  But still pretty......

We had to solve a puzzle contains a string of letters, along with instructions to help you manipulate those letters. Follow the instructions, one by one, to transform the string of letters into a phrase.

Wisconsin Hiker: It was pretty quick, but I luckily interpreted the "move back" instruction correctly and then was able to recognize the phrase before completing all the steps.

Martini Man: Found the phrase, but I messed up the first set of instructions. Needed a little coaching to get this one right.

We needed to get at least 1,000 points to complete the quest and we both exceeded that.  We thereby earned our sixth badge!  Visiting parks and being outdoors is one of our favorite activities so this was a fun badge for us! 

"Park Explorer" badge

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Prism & Light" Quest

This was another quest that we worked on simultaneously with several others.  We have earned enough points for the badge, but as usual, we plan to keep earning more points by completing more of the interesting activities.  We'll update this blog post as we complete them.

We had a choice of three documentaries to watch:

Time Zero: The Last Year of Polaroid Film. Directed by Grant Hamilton.
Available through Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

The City Dark. Directed by Ian Cheney.
Available through Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Extreme Light and Dark. Directed by Manfred Christ and Udo Maurer.
Available through Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.

Martini Man: We just got thru watching Extreme Light and Dark and it was truly illuminating (hah). But it was fascinating to learn about Svalgard, Yuma and Quartzite, the Avalon Peninsula and St. Shotts and Villanella. Each locale had its own curious story although we get down to Tucson a lot and now I have a hankering to go book shopping in Quartzite (OMG). All in all, a diverting movie to watch about how people cope with extremes in light.

Wisconsin Hiker: We watched “Extreme Light and Dark” which presented the sunniest place on Earth (Yuma, AZ), the foggiest place (St. Shotts, Newfoundland, Canada), and two towns that are the darkest (Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway and Viganella, Italy). I personally do not like “cold & dark”, so it surprised me to see that many of the residents of Longyearbyen seemed so happy and vibrant even though the town is in total darkness for 2-3 months. It was nice to see how the Italian town solved their problem (high mountains block sunlight for 2-3 months) by using a mirror to reflect the sun into their valley. Both of these cities have big celebrations to welcome the return of the sun. However there didn’t seem to be much to celebrate in St. Shotts. This very foggy town is dying (probably only partly due to the fog since the fishing industry has also disappeared).

I’d much prefer to live in the sunniest place on earth in Arizona. Yuma must not be very interesting though, because the film mostly talked about the town of Quartzsite which is 80+ miles away from Yuma.

All in all, I enjoyed the documentary. It was interesting to see the lifestyle of people in these places, how they have adapted to the extreme conditions and the role that technology plays in these areas.

Objective: Read "Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man Made World" by Mark Miodownik and then comment on it.

Martini Man: I loved this book! I discovered so much about materials and the science behind them I never knew about. Reading about substances like graphene and aerogel was a bit sci-fi. I also knew about the use of 3-D printers to create replacement body parts, but knew nothing about the science behind it. A very understandable and yet enlightening book and I encourage all Questscouts and others, to read it.

Wisconsin Hiker: An interesting book (but I am an engineer)! I enjoyed reading just one chapter a day. Here are my comments on each chapter:

1.  Steel - interesting to read about the history of this metal, the importance of alloys and the development of stainless steel.
2. Paper - a good reminder of how often and in so many ways we use paper.
3. Concrete - Neat to read about self-healing & self cleaning concrete!
4. Chocolate - Reminded me of my visit to the “World of Chocolate Museum” in Orlando, FL last month, which also included a lot of facts & history of chocolate.
5. Aerogel - I don’t think I have ever heard of this material, so it was interesting to read about and do further research on. I found a short video about the material by the aptly named Quest Lab.
6. Plastic – Amusing presentation of the myriad roles plastic plays in our lives.
7. Glass – educational in terms of how glass is created, pertinent acknowledgement as to how important glass had been in chemistry and a bemused observation about how since glass is “invisible” it doesn’t get much attention/admiration.
8. Graphene – another material I never heard of! Interesting how simple tape was used to “discover” it.
9. Porcelain – Amazing that the Chinese held onto the secret of how to produce porcelain for so long. But it was odd that the author didn’t mention any other uses for porcelain other than the tea cup.
10. Implants – Interesting to read about materials and techniques for repairing parts of the body. Hope I won’t need to make personal use of this info for a long while yet!
11. Summary – good wrap-up and reminder that most of the “stuff” we see and use is a result of human ingenuity.

1) Identify at least six colorful walls, each with its own different dominant color.
Ideally, you will end up with a red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple wall, but other colors will work too. Make sure that you've got six distinct and vibrant colors. Solid walls will work best, but walls that feature heavily in a single color will do the trick.

2) Photograph yourself, a friend, or a group in front of each wall. Take your time to get a great shot that the individual(s) in the photo will love.

3) (Optional.) Use a photo collaging program to stitch all six photos together.

Not finished

For this objective we needed to view a sunset and then write a "short story" about our experience.

Wisconsin Hiker: We admired the sunset under the arch where our niece Amanda got married to her best friend Corey earlier in the day on SEP 19. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding and she was a gorgeous bride. After the ceremony all the guests enjoyed some drinks outdoors and then a tasty meal in a refurbished barn. A live band played after the meal, but several of us meandered outside to enjoy the sunset across the field. My own honey & I delighted in the view while others also took photos and the little kids played on a nearby tree swing. A lovely sight to end a lovely day!

Martini Man:

Color psychology studies how colors effect our behavior. We're not sure to what extent color influences our lives, but do know it's a fun idea to play around with. For this objective we will utilize theories of color psychology by embracing a color, and with it, (theoretically,) a change in mood or behavior.
1) Research color psychology. You can go as deep or surface level as you want here. There are many good infographics that come up with a quick google search to start you in the right direction. If you find any particularly good sites, we'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
2) After becoming familiar with color psychology, choose a color that matches an emotion or behavior into your life.
3) Bring that color into your life! Hang a bright orange poster, buy a bouquet of purple flowers, or paint a wall red! The choice is up to you.
4) Photograph your method of bringing your color into your life, as well as its story, on Instagram, Twitter, or any other form of social media with the tag #questscouts. If you want to go into detail about your journey, feel free to expand your thoughts in the comments below. We'd love to hear them.

Not done yet

Make a sunprint.

Wisconsin Hiker: Today we created our first sunprints. It was a quick & easy process and we were pleased with the results!

These are the steps involved in making a sunprint

Martini Man: In support of the Arts quest for the Prism and Light badge, I present to you, my fellow Quest Scouts my very own sunprint!

Build a pinhole camera.

Martini Man: Woo boy! This was not easy. Wis Hiker bought two kits from Amazon
and this was no cakewalk. After over two hours we finally completed them with no idea if they can take a photo worth talking about. We'll find out!

Wisconsin Hiker: Holy-jamoly! This was HARD! Luckily I had looked at reviews and then Googled to find more info. Everything warned us that PATIENCE and PRECISION would be required. The instructions weren't totally clear, but with two of us working on cameras together, we figured it out. Based on my research I figured we needed something strong to hold the thing together, so we used super glue and then paper clips to hold the pieces while the glue set. We did a "dry run" before gluing so we understood how everything was supposed to be folded and put together, then moved on to doing the actual construction. A few hours later (and some super-glued fingers), our cameras were finished! Now to find out if they can actually produce a photograph....

This component began with some cautionary advice: It's important to keep in mind that pinhole photography isn't easy. You'll need to carefully load your film (or in some cases photo paper,) utilize longer exposure times and use a tripod. Don't worry about getting things perfect. Have fun and show us what you produce. (The good, the bad, and the ugly... It's all good!)  Objective: Take some photos with a pinhole camera and post the results.

Not done yet

Objective: Find and log between one and six letterboxes. Each letterbox should contain one of the following colors:
1) Red
2) Orange
3) Yellow
4) Green
5) Blue or Indigo
6) Purple or Violet

We had hoped to get all 6 colors on our vacation to Oregon & Washington in July, but park maintenance folks showed up near an "orange" box so we had to abandon our quest. A park with a "red" box was closed to the public due to day camp activities and another "orange" box in a rest stop seemed to be missing. Here are the ones we found so far:

Bright Bestiary - Yellow Elephant
Bright Bestiary - Green Frog
Bright Bestiary - Blue Turtle
Purple Hawaiian Flower

We found our red and orange boxes in Wisconsin on SEP 12 & 13!

Trees: Red Oak
Orange is the New Green

In the tabletop game world, a defining a game as "light" or "casual" means that it doesn't require a lot of time or a lot of thought. While light games can be played strategically, everyone playing, regardless of age or skill, usually has a fair shot at winning.  One of the games on the list was Apples to Apples, which we already owned.  We took it over to my sister & brother-in-law's house to play with them and my mom.

The lucky winner!

This micro quest asked us to watch two Sci Show videos about how rainbows and double rainbows form, and then comment on whether we learned anything from them.

Wisconsin Hiker: Yes, I DID learn something! I never realized that the colors were reversed in a double rainbow. I have seen a few and if I am lucky enough to see another I will try to discern the colors on each arch.  I now also know why I never could find the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow - I was always at the center!

Martini Man: Well, I did learn a few things tonight.

1) The angle range for the various types of light varies from 40 to 42 degrees to create the separation of color we see. For double rainbows, the top rainbow varies from 53 to 54 degrees.
2) The color sequence on the top portion of a double rainbow is inverted from what we see in a single rainbow.
3) A rainbow is actually a full circle of refracted light; we just can see only half of it from our vantage point on the ground. Apparently skydivers have been blessed with a rare sighting of a full circular rainbow.
4) There are such things as twinned rainbows, tertiary rainbows and quadrancery rainbows.

My goodness.....................

MICRO QUEST 2 - Photography
Rainbowtastic scavenger hunt + photography. What could be better? Remember that this is a Micro Quest, emphasis on the "micro." Try to stick to the time limits for a fun 20 or so minute exercise.
1) Choose a setting. We suggest somewhere inside, such as a home or office.
2) Grab a timer. Yep, time is important in this Micro Quest.
3) Set the timer for seven minutes and press start. Scour you surroundings for small colorful items. Collect these items and place them in a central location, such as a table, desk, or the floor. Try and get items in every color of the rainbow. When your time goes off, stop collecting.
4) Set the timer for another seven minutes and press start for a second time. Arrange your items from red to purple in a rainbow pattern. Again, make sure you stick to your time limit of seven minutes or less.
5) Set the timer for seven minutes and press start one last time. Don't rush- seven minutes is plenty of time. Photograph your rainbow of objects. Try different angles and perspectives. When the timer goes off, stop!
6) Share a photograph on Twitter, Instagram or any other form of social media with the tags #questscouts and #rainbowphoto.

Not done yet

Watch two videos, both featuring progressive art, and then comment on them.

1) Tate Shots: Kusama’s Obliteration Room: Yayoi Kusama’s interactive Obliteration Room begins as an entirely white space, furnished as a monochrome living room, which people are then invited to ‘obliterate’ with multi-coloured stickers. Over the course of a few weeks the room is transformed from a blank canvas into an explosion of colour, with thousands of spots stuck over every available surface.

2) Ball of Light: This 15 minute documentary tells the story of Denis Smith. Two years ago he was in a high pressure sales job suffering with depression, debt and alcohol problems. Then he discovered light painting, and his life changed forever...

Martini Man: I was frankly bored by the Kusama piece. OK, it was interesting to watch the room evolve, but it got tedious for me. I found the Ball of Light video much more diverting. It was an uplifting tale of how a man changes his life for the better and discovers and creates fascinating art. I think the thing most interesting is how simple Denis' explanations were of how he creates these balls of light and yet how exquisite they look. Very nice.....

Wisconsin Hiker: We just watched both videos and the "Obliteration Room" just didn't interest me that much as "artwork". Reminds me of a lamppost near the Milwaukee Art Museum where people used to place their admission stickers. Some viewed it as "art", but to me it was just a bunch of random stickers.

On the other hand, I really liked the balls of light! They were supernatural looking. I especially loved his light balls on the beach and in the cliff dwellings. After watching this I'm curious to try some light painting myself.

This is the first micro quest of many to come that features "index card art." The concept is simple. Follow the art prompt and create art using a 4x6 or 5x7 index card as your canvas. Index cards were chosen for two reasons - they are cheap and the small size lends itself to silliness.

The art prompt for this quest was: Fill your index card with red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Draw dots, lines, still art, a landscape, or whatever else you'd like.

Wisconsin Hiker's creation

Martini Man's creation

This challenge was to complete a Word Search puzzle containing fifteen colorful phrases. You are provided with the color in the phrase, as well as the number of letters in its remainder. This was a fun little puzzle that we solved fairly quickly.

We needed to get at least 1,000 points to complete the quest and we both exceeded that. We thereby earned our fifth badge. This quest had some challenging components and we also had fun learning about a variety of topics. Onward to another quest!!

"Prism & Light" badge