Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Epic Proportions" Quest

The second quest we attempted had an "epic" theme.  This not only referred to large things but also an epic poem.  Since we are trying to catch up, this was actually the February quest but we were working on it in June & July. The information below shows the requirement for each of the main quest categories and what we did to satisfy the requirement.

MEDIA – Watch The BIG Screen
We had our choice of 3 documentaries/movies with a "big" theme to watch and we chose "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" (a BBC documentary).

Martini Man's comments:
Watched "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" and was struck by the following:
1) Were the special effects ever cheesy...
2) I kind of thought there was a lot of effort made to make a cheap horror movie seem "highbrow". OK, I can buy some of the thoughts, but it seemed sort of odd.
3) Really dug watching Raymond Burr sweat out watching Godzilla tromp apart Tokyo.
4) Also almost fell off the sofa from the flying turtle.

The history of the whole thing was interesting but all in all underwhelming. I think King Kong was a movie far ahead of its time and frankly more disturbing.

Wisconsin Hiker's comments:
I watched the "Godzilla, King of the Monsters" documentary. I don't think I ever knew that Godzilla was supposedly created/formed by a nuclear explosion, nor that the movies were a Japanese allegory for nuclear weapons. But I DO remember watching some of these old black and white horror movies (Godzilla, King Kong, etc) when I was a kid. They were shown regularly on a UHF TV station back in the 1960s.

LITERATURE – Heroes, Epic Poetry and The Odyssey
For this quest we didn't actually READ something, but instead were asked to learn about "Epic
Poetry" via three videos about Homer's "The Odyssey". This was our assignment:

Great Books: HOMER‘S ODYSSEY The above video from the "Great Books" television series is an oldie but a goodie.

A Long and Difficult Journey, or The Odyssey: Crash Course Literature 201 We're huge fans of Crash Course at Quest Scouts. This video is more critical of Odysseus' and calls out character flaws the "Great Books" series glossed over.

What Makes a Hero? While this video doesn't directly discuss Epic Poetry it examines the "hero story" that originated there.

Wisconsin Hiker's comments:
I read the Odyssey in high school, but only remembered a few of the highlights. I didn't know (or didn't remember) that there was so little known about Homer. Both the first & second video made mention of this. I liked the quick format of the second video, but the first video made me curious to watch an old movie based on the story. The third video was a good synopsis of adventure story structure and fun that they used relatively current books as examples.

Martini Man's comments:
Last night we watched the three videos on the Odyssey and they were MUCH better than the one on Godzilla. While I liked all three of them a lot, I found the short one on the hero's story pretty interesting. I also liked the Crash Course short as these are ALWAYS hilarious. Nice bunch of videos.

TRAVEL- World's Largest
For the Travel component we had to travel to something that claimed to be the "World's Largest". We couldn't find anything near us in Wisconsin, but luckily we took a vacation trip in July. While driving down the Washington coast from Seattle to Astoria, OR we passed the "World's Largest Oyster" and of course we had to stop for photos to fulfill our quest!

RESEARCH & VISIT - American Giants
For these components we had to watch the first episode of American Giants by Stone Baker to learn about the history of "Muffler Men". They are large molded fiberglass sculptures that are placed as advertising icons, roadside attractions or for decorative purposes. Standing approximately 18–25 feet tall, the first figure was a Paul Bunyan character designed to hold an ax. Other versions of the figure were used to hold full-sized car mufflers, tires, or other items promoting various roadside businesses. Then we had to look at the Muffler Men Map compiled by Roadside America and figure out which Muffler Man/Men we could feasibly visit and visit one if possible.

We discovered that Crystal Lake, IL is home to THREE Muffler Men! Since we were down in that area for a letterboxing event in June, we swung through town to take some photos and fulfill the VISIT component of the quest. My favorite was the lumberjack at the firewood business.

Later in June we spent the weekend "Getting Our Kicks on Route 66" with friends in IL. Along the way we found another Muffler Man! This one was called the "Gemini Giant" and was an astronaut outside a defunct drive-in restaurant called the Launching Pad.

ART – Shrunken Mural
For this objective we had to visit a large mural, photograph it and then create a smaller piece of art inspired by the mural. We saw (and photographed) many different murals when we visited Pontiac, IL on June 27 and we also came across one in the Third Ward area of Milwaukee, WI when we were looking for hand-painted signs.  I chose to recreate the one from the Third Ward.  It was on the alley side of the Colectivo Coffee building, so it was hard to get a photograph of the whole thing in the narrow space.  I had to take a photo from each end.

Wisconsin Hiker's interpretation

PHOTOGRAPHY – The Bigger Picture
Our photography challenge was to learn about "forced perspective photography" and then experiment by using forced perspective photography to make a person appear either very large or very small. We Took some photos when we hiked around Devil's Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Hiker: Martini Man holding up the top of the Devil's Doorway
so it didn't fall on the people climbing through the door

Martini Man: What force! What power! What focus!
That last superlative seems apropos as 
Wis Hiker shows how forced perspective works at Devil's Lake

DIY – A Big Help
This is a philanthropic component. It challenges us to do something BIG to help people by collecting money and/or food for those in need by hosting or attending a "food drive party".
Not done.

FIND – Cache Big or Go Home
This required us to find a "super-sized" letterbox, so we found "The Macrobox" letterbox created by TJMich. It made its second appearance at a letterboxing event in Oregon, IL on June 13, 2015. We originally found it back in 2008 when it made its initial appearance at the event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the first letterbox in Wisconsin. (We are substituting letterboxes for geocaches since that is our preferred hobby.)

GAMES – Gamin' Large
Play a giant board or card game! The game should be at least 2x the size of its normal sized counterpart, but the bigger the better! We went to a brew pub in Oconomowoc and played a giant game of Jenga while we waited for our food to arrive.

Getting a bit harder...

Happy that it is still standing!

MICRO QUEST 1 – Photography
This micro quest asked us to take some photos through a magnifying glass. This sounded interesting, but it was hard to get a good image.  The camera would usually focus on the background rather than what was showing in the magnifying glass.

This is the best image Wisconsin Hiker could capture

This micro quest instructed us to divide a photo into six sections, then choose one of the sections to draw a larger scale drawing. This is the opposite of the main photography objective which asked us to create a smaller version of a large mural.  I chose a fairly simple photograph of a water lily that I had taken on one of our kayaking trips.

Wisconsin Hiker's colored pencil interpretation of top middle section

MICRO QUEST 3 - Literature
This micro quest is thought-provoking. It asks us to spend a full 15 minutes responding to the following prompt: "Where would I like to be six months from now? How would my "self" six months from now be different from my current self?" It then instructs us to spend a few minutes looking over what we wrote and the identify a major theme (or themes) running through what we wrote. We then had to share a single word that came to us while doing the exercise.

Wisconsin Hiker:  EXPLORING

Martini Man: EXPLORE

We don't look at each other's responses before posting our own, so it was interesting that we each independently came up with the same word!

This micro quest requires us to find a MICRO box, just the opposite of the MACRO box we found as part of the main Find objective.  We kicked ourselves because there was a super-micro letterbox at the event we attended in June and we didn't log into it!  However we lucked out just a few days before this quest ended and found the "Barking at the Moon" letterbox housed in a film canister.  

We each completed a quiz about some BIG things to garner 50 more points toward our goal.

We needed to get at least 1,000 points to complete the quest and we both exceeded that. We thereby earned our second badge! We once again had a lot of fun doing some different activities and look forward to the next quest.

"Epic Proportions" badge

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Quest Scout Get-together

We had planned to travel to the Pacific Northwest for a letterbox gathering, so when we discovered that the founder of Quest Scouts lived in Portland, I emailed him to see if we could get together w/him.  Although he was a confirmed geocacher, he was open to the idea of letterboxing, especially since several different letterboxers had begun to participate in Quest Scouts.  He said he would come to the "Exploring the Seas" letterboxing event and hoped to spend some time with us.

I contacted our friend Baqash, a Washington state letterboxer and Quest Scout, to ask if she knew of any other people that would be attending the event that were also interested in Quest Scouts.  I also posted some info on the Quest Scouts Facebook page.  As a result, we ended up with a small group of people that were interested in meeting on Friday evening, July 10.  

This being a bunch of letterboxers getting together, of course I carved a stamp (Quest Scouts logo) for the mini-meet.  We were all happy to meet Dylan (aka "Mannard", his letterboxing trail name) and discuss Quest Scouts with him.  He began the venture with a Kickstarter campaign and interest has been slowly growing.  I personally think the prime audience/market is active baby boomers, but it seems some younger people w/o kids are also a good fit.

Our Quest Scouts mini-meet at Fort Stevens State Park in Warrenton, OR on 10-JUL-15

After the get-together, Martini Man and I showed him around the event and campsites and then went night-boxing with him and Magical Music Man from Pennsylvania.  It was a great series and we didn't finish until midnight.  Unfortunately we weren't supposed to be parked in the day-use area past 10 pm.  UH-OH!!!  A ranger was waiting for us, but somehow we escaped getting a ticket. However Dylan was not so lucky.  I think he had a different sort of pass on his car and received a $120 ticket - NOT a good way to introduce him to letterboxing!

Luckily he was able to shrug it off and returned again the next day to do some more letterboxing with us.  We did a series along the lake with Magical Music Man in the morning and then took a break for lunch.  In the afternoon Martini Man & I & Dylan headed to the beach to try an "X Marks the Spot" series.  We were able to decode the first clue, but the weather was getting a bit fierce - very gusty winds and a misty rain.  Martini Man took a stab at looking for the next clue/box, but returned to a sheltered area.  Dylan/Manard then headed out to give it a try and was successful!! He tried texting us, but we didn't realize it was him, so he ended up trekking all the way back to get us.  We then joined him and returned to the clue. Luckily the rain stopped and we proceeded to find all the boxes in the series.  He did a great job and we were impressed with his doggedness!

Saturday letterboxing with "Mr. Quest Scouts"