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

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Kingdom Plantae" Quest

We worked on this in conjunction with several others (still trying to catch up).  These quests are certainly providing lots of fun for us this summer!

Watch one of two documentaries:
King Corn. Directed by Aaron Woolf.
What Plants Talk About from PBS. Directed by Erna Buffie.

not done yet

For this objective you'll be writing free verse poetry inspired by a plant of your choice. Chicago's Poetry Foundation describes free verse poetry as "nonrhyming lines that closely follow the rhythms of speech." Check out some examples of free verse poems to get a feel for what we're looking for.
Unlike our Micro Quests, you should commit about an hour to get this one right. Feel free to go through several revisions before posting your final draft.
If you're not familiar with free verse poetry, check out this 5 step guide from Power Poetry. You can also find examples of free verse poems from The Poetry Foundation.
Find your plant. Go for a walk (or look out a window) to find your subject. Choosing a specific plant to write about will make your narrative stronger.  Then write a free verse poem about, or inspired by, your plant. Make sure to take the time to do your best work. Feel free to come back to it over a few days to make sure you've got it just right. Post your poem and a photo of your plant.

not done yet

The book for this quest was "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.

Martini Man: I generally liked the book, although I found it a little preachy at times. I did learn a lot about how gardening is done and how the rotation of the seasons dictates what you eat. I would like to make more of an effort to hit the farmer's market and I am interested in looking into canning.

And despite the tone, I can't deny my own suspicions about big business and its intentions to play fair. I still think about Milton Friedman and his seminal works about externalities. If we properly placed a value on the things we consume, the behaviors we see would drastically change. But we don't ..........

Wisconsin Hiker: Just finished the book and I enjoyed it. I liked how the main story by BK was supplemented with articles by her husband and older daughter. It was interesting to read about the whole year-long cycle of their experiment and how much they were able to get locally. It is making me consider what we could do in our own area to get more local products and to rethink an emphasis on "deals" vs quality. We gave up on growing vegetables when we moved to this house 24 years ago - too many local critters devoured what we planted, regardless of fences. However we do have several nearby farmer's markets that sell not only produce, but some meats. I will now be doing a bit more thinking when I purchase food. (P.S. I found the turkey story informative and hilarious!)

Objective: Instead of going directly to the source of our food, lets meet it half-way.  Visit a farmer's market and purchase at least one fruit or vegetable from the market. If you're feeling adventurous, consider something you've never eaten before. Take a photo of your raw ingredients, then cook a meal that incorporates what you bought from the market. Post a photo of the finished product.

Wisconsin Hiker:

Martini Man: Earlier this month we visited a farmer's market in our hometown so I could purchase some fresh vegetables and make a meal out of it in support of one of the badge requirements for Kingdom Plantae. We bought fresh Brussel Sprouts and a nice sized squash to roast up and combine with quinoa and Parmesan cheese. it turned out quite well.

Objective: Visit a public garden or arboretum.

Martini Man: Spent quite a bit of time at the Robert O. Cook Arboretum in Janesville, WI. Very rustic and much more about trees than anything else. Nevertheless we learned a few useful facts about these tallest of flora while we hiked around on the trails. Nice time.....

Wisconsin Hiker: We made a return visit to an arboretum in Janesville, WI. It is used as an educational area for school children and the emphasis is on the many varieties of trees in the area. And it just so happens that there are a few letterboxes also .... (including one that we planted a few years ago). We read the info signs which gave descriptions of the tree's bark, flowers, leaves and uses.

For this research objective we'll be using plant identification guides. You can find guides in paper form and online, and either are great resources. Make sure to keep geography in mind when choosing your guide.

1) Find a plant which you cannot identify from memory.
2) Photograph the plant.
3) Use a plant identification guide to identify the plant.
4) Post the photo of your plant along with its name to Twitter or Instagram.

not done

Pressed flowers are a form of delayed gratification, but they're worth the wait. They can also be used to embellish a variety of objects and look great framed.

1) Build a flower press. You can choose to build any style of press, but construction is required to fulfill this objective. Completing this objective requires you to measure, cut, drill and/or glue your way to the finish line.

Flower Press Building Guides:
7x8" Flower Press from Lee's Wood Projects
Pocket sized flower press from Instructables
7x7" Press from Lowes

2) Share a photo of your completed press on Twitter or Instagram with the tag #QuestScouts.
3) Gather your flowers. Remember that flowers with bulkier centers will be more difficult to press.
4) Sandwich your flowers between layers of printer paper and place them in your press.
5) Tighten your press! You're done. (Collect your points.)
6) (Optional) Wait a month (some say more, some say less) and open your press. Your flowers should be flat and dry.
7) (Optional) Share a photo of your pressed flowers on Twitter or Instagram.

not done yet

For this component, we had to choose a tree that we find visually appealing and then take a high quality photo of it.  We were also asked to comment on any tree photo posted by another Quest Scout. 

Wisconsin Hiker: I took this photo of the catalpa tree in our yard. It is a very tall tree, but what I love most about it is its pretty flowers. It is unusual to have such a large tree that produces flowers and that's why we chose to plant it! 

Martini Man:  not done yet

This objective asked us to plant something you've never grown before. We didn't get around to doing this until almost the end of August, so I had to do some research to find something that we could start from seed this late in the season.  Luckily there were two that seemed like possibilities and amazingly there were still a few seed packets left at our local garden store for each of them!

We don't have great soil in our yard and we DO have lots of hungry critters, so we figured it would be best to just plant in pots on the patio.  That way they would be more protected and we would also be able to move them around to get the requisite sun (or to protect them from frost if necessary). 

Wisconsin Hiker planted Rocket Arugula which is a good fall plant and should be ready to pick in 35 days. Martini Man planted Cherry Belle radishes which should be ready to pick in 22 days. Here they are on the day we planted them (August 25): seeds in dirt, lightly watered.

One week later:



6 weeks after planting, the radishes seemed to be doing well but it looked like the arugula was popular with something that ate the leaves.



8 weeks later we were somewhat disappointed in our harvest.

One tiny radish

Yep, VERY tiny!

A few arugula leaves that sprouted after the pests left/died

I guess we should have planted something earlier in the summer, or perhaps just stuck with flowers rather than veggies.  OH WELL!

To satisfy this component, we had to find a letterbox in a public garden or arboretum.

Wisconsin Hiker: Today we found the "Slowpoke No More" letterbox in an arboretum (no spoiler names). Instead of a photo of myself, here's the lovely view we had near the box.

Martini Man: We had the privilege of finding a letterbox in a beautiful arboretum located in a town in the south of Wisconsin. Yeah, I'm being a bit obtuse here, but the box is a mystery box to some degree and we will respect that. Anyway, we walked away from the box location and stumbled across the remains of a dragonfly. This was cool to look over and you have to wonder how the body of this poor thing got this way. Fascinating....

Watch a short video about the cobra lily.

Wisconsin Hiker: Interesting video, good camera shots down the tube! The first plant DOES look like a cobra and second plant, the round-leaved sundew, is very pretty. Both plants know how to eat right to get their nutrients!

Martini Man: Pretty interesting. I was aware that there were carnivorous plants, but California? Neat! You also have to admire the symbiotic relationship that keep the cobra lily going. If you think about it, the cobra lily is really a composite creature, made up of not only the main structure of the lily but the mites and sludge worms living in the pitcher to help with digestion. The stuff of a good sci-fi tale......

For this micro quest we took a look at the work of Andy Goldsworthy in this photo heavy article from Melt. Then we had to imagine we were planning to devote an entire day to creating a piece of art inspired by Goldsworthy. What materials would you use? How would you alter/shape your materials into a natural sculpture? Where would you build it?

Wisconsin Hiker: Oh, I just love some of the ideas in the article from the Artful Parent! I also loved the snake-like leaf construction in the video. There are still some colorful autumn leaves available, so I would use them to create a piece of art. Maybe I will take some toothpicks along on my next hike. Or just spearing them on some sticks that are artfully arranged might work. I also like the idea of creating pictures from rocks. This would be a good project on a beach, but may be possible in any area where smaller rocks can be found. If I do manage to create something, I will post a photo on the QS Facebook page.

Martini Man: not done yet

MICRO QUEST 3 - Travel
 Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to slow down. This micro quest asked us to take a moment to stop and smell the roses... or tulips.... or cherry blossoms...

MICRO QUEST 4 - Research
Mission: Humankind reaches into almost every corner on the planet. Wherever we go, we mold the resources around us, changing the environment. While humans are almost everywhere, so are plants. They grow in the cracks of our parking lots, their roots shove our sidewalks out of place and they generally make homes wherever they see fit. For this micro quest, lets take a look at the ways plants reclaim man-made landscapes. Post a photo of what you find.

Wisconsin Hiker: We took a walk in Simmons Park this past week (Pewaukee, WI) and saw these wetland plants trying to reclaim the boardwalk. I wonder how long it will take...

Martini Man:  This particular picture is of small plants pushing their way up thru cracks in paving stones outside of a replica of a toll house at the Elmbrook Historical Society grounds. Kind of reminds me of my driveway.......

Without thinking about it ahead of time, we were asked to set a timer for 2 minutes and then write down as many types of flowers that we could think of.

Martini Man: I came up with 17, which is actually not bad for me as flowers are not my strong suit.

Wisconsin Hiker:  I got 23 and was starting to slow down when the timer dinged. Amazingly, Martini Man and I had only 7 flowers in common on our lists.

We needed to get at least 1,000 points to complete the quest and we both exceeded that to earn our fourth badge! This was a nice summer theme and helped us to appreciate the wonderful weather and the plant life surrounding us.
"Kingdom Plantae" badge

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Cardboard Adventure" Quest

Since we didn't find out about Quest Scouts until late May, we were playing "catch up" to try to complete 5 older quests even as new summer quests were released.  This meant we started working on several quests at the same time, doing activities as we could fit them in. Luckily the founder of Quest Scouts decided to extend the deadline for retiring the older quests, giving us until SEP or OCT to complete them.

A fun quest for us was "Cardboard Adventure" since it revolved around games and puzzles. Right up our alley!  Here is a synopsis of the possible activities to earn a minimum of 1,000 points:

MEDIA – Big Screen Games
We had our choice of 4 game-related documentaries/movies to watch.  All of them sounded good, but we chose "Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story".

Martini Man comments:
We just got thru watching Under the Boardwalk and it was fascinating. It was enjoyable learning about the history of the game and the world championship tournaments. But just as interesting were the people and watching their personalities play out. Can't say I cried much when the pompous lawyer got bounced. And while we rooted for the American, we were pleased to see the young fellow from Norway win it all. A fun, fun watch.............

Wisconsin Hiker comments:
We watched "Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story" tonight and being compatibly geeky people, we both enjoyed it! It brought many memories of playing Monopoly as a kid and teenager. I had no idea that there were championship games, not only nationally, but internationally. I liked the format of the movie, the discussion of why people preferred different tokens in the game, the fact that one tournament was played on a train and the focus on personalities of various players. Like Martini Man, I was glad the pompous lawyer was a big loser, but also not surprised there were several lawyers in the tournaments. I was very interested in all the statistics the teacher annotated on his board that he used with his students. Thanks for letting us know about this interesting movie!

LITERATURE – Choose Your Own Adventure!
This quest's literature objective was to read Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster. Reading the book is a game in itself. The story asks you to make choices and answer trivia as you navigate the familiar landscape of Jane Austen's world. Your choices and answers will affect how your story progresses.

Martini Man comments:
OK, this was not my favorite read. I think because it was in a game format it was a little more tedious than if I had more forthrightly played the game and maybe I will go back and give that a try. I was amused by the language, the utter mash-up of Jane Austin's characters into one narrative and also by the rather "interesting" ends your character could have inflicted on them if all does not go well. But, in truth, not one of my favorite read in Quest Scouts.

Wisconsin Hiker comments:
Well, I am sorry to report that I have few Accomplishments and many Failings. Although I developed a few Superior Connections and my Confidence was growing, my Fortune was small and my Intelligence was dwindling. That may explain why my first fate was quickly being attacked by a gang of gypsies who disfigured my face, so that I wasn't able to attract any sort of husband my livelong life. On my second attempt I made it a bit further before I ended up in melancholy solitude and ended my days in poverty and obscurity. Oh woe is me!! An entertaining book/game, but I'm glad I didn't need to persevere until I snagged a rich man! It might be years until I made the right choices...

VISIT – Friendly Local Game Store
For this objective we had to visit a "Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS)". This was defined as a term that tabletop gamers use to endearingly recognize the value of shops that specialize in board games. This was certainly no hardship for us and we enjoyed our time poking around!

Martini Man: We have been busy! Today we had a chance to visit Board Game Barristers in support of the Cardboard Adventure badge. It WAS overwhelming. But we managed to spot something we thought would make a nice gift.

Wisconsin Hiker: We visited "The Board Game Barrister", a FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) today. They had lots of familiar and not so familiar games and we had fun browsing around (and also made a gift purchase). A bunch of gamers were in the store and winners were being announced for an earlier game.

RESEARCH - Board Game Geek
To satisfy the requirement for this component, we were asked to familiarize ourselves with the Board Game Geek site. It is an interactive database of virtually all board games ever produced and is dedicated not only to cataloging board games, but also provides reviews, forums, and much more. Our task was to identify 3 games that we may want to play in the future and then post the titles of the games, along with the reason we thought they sounded interesting.

Martini Man: I thought using Board Game Geek was a pain. It seemed cluttered and rolling thru the categories of games is a real time sucker. Having said that, there is a TON of information here and I did run into some games that read well to me. I like strategy games like Ticket to Ride, so the following fit my tastes.

Sid Meier created a great computer game called Civilization that has gone thru many iterations over the years. So I was pleased to see there was a board game version as well. The theme is you are a leader of a nascent civilization and you race your opponents to create a dominant culture whether thru science, the arts or military.

Food Chain Magnate
Here you try and become the big "cheese" among other food chains. This attracted me more for the tongue in cheek approach to the game.
This was a game of the year in 2014. It sounded interesting. You move thru the bazaars of Istanbul, wheeling and dealing to get the most rubies before game play stops.

Wisconsin Hiker: I have to admit that although I love games, I didn't really like researching games on the BoardGameGeek website. I prefer Googling to find lists of games and places where they are reviewed. I couldn't figure out how to create good search criteria on the BGG site, but I plodded through the site to identify some games that looked interesting. Although I like a big variety of games, I tried to find some new party games for larger groups to play at a Game Night (which we like to host). We already have a TON of games, but these 3 looked like they would be good additions:

Activity 2: 3-16 players. A party game where you have to describe words verbally, by pantomiming or by drawing. Unfortunately this game is readily available and it seems there may only be a German version.

Synapse: 4-24 players. Described as a high-spirited game of teamwork and laughter. Form a sentence to get your team's Guesser to say a word. The Guesser has 60 seconds to get the answer...the faster you answer the more points you score. Sound easy? The catch is that team members must take turns adding one word to the sentence without consulting each other. Your synapses might not match your neighbor's. That's when the hilarity begins! Be ready for surprised looks, unusual sentence structure and outbursts of laughter as connections are made...or not! Unfortunately this is another game that is not readily available.

Rollick!: 6-24 players. Description: the entire team collaborates together to act out clues for one or more players to guess. It’s a hysterical, fun, fast-paced, team competition game that’s an absolute riot at parties, family gatherings, work events, holiday celebrations, with friends, and even loved by teenagers! This is a bit easier to find on-line, but the store I went to didn't have it. I bought a very similar game instead called Reverse Charades.

ART – Games Reimagined
Since tabletop game boards, cards, pawns and miscellaneous pieces are full of amazing designs and colors, for this objective we were supposed to choose a board game to inspire an original painting.
Not done

PHOTOGRAPHY – Game Component Snap
The Photography component also asked us to focus on highlighting the beauty of a tabletop game and its components by taking an artsy photo.

WIsconsin Hiker's photo of a game called Zitternix

DIY – Print & Play
This activity introduced us to Print and Play games, which area a subset of games that are born from a PDF and your own two hands. Game designers make them available for download and you then print them on your computer, cut them out, and play the game!

Wisconsin Hiker chose the game Take-Back-Toe (

It was a pretty simple game to understand and only required 40 pieces of something (we used poker chips). We played 3 rounds and started to get a good feel for the strategy. There is definitely an element of chance, due to the dice roll, but also a lot of skill to play both offensively and defensively! Wisconsin Hiker personally liked the micro game "Coin Age" (see below) a bit better than this game, but Martini Man preferred this game. 

FIND – The Cache Examiner
In order to complete this objective we had to find a mystery letterbox with a newspaper puzzle theme. Mystery boxes require that you solve some sort of "puzzle" in order to determine where the box is placed. The instructions were to find a box that required solving a crossword, sudoku, or any other typical "newspaper puzzle." We've found several of these in the past, but because Quest Scouts wants your activity to be INTENTIONAL (doing it specifically for the quest, not some prior activity), we had to determine where some new boxes might be that we hadn't already found before. I asked several of our letterboxing pals if they knew of any in their areas, but before we had to travel to find one we got a surprise. Our friend PackerBacker created a new mystery letterbox and she cleverly used Quest Scouts info in both the crossword puzzle and the clues (and the stamp). And to top it off, she very conveniently planted it in a park within 10 miles of our house!! We immediately solved the puzzle and headed out to find the"Quest Scouts" letterbox tonight. Thanks PB! (She has also started doing Quest Scout activities, as have a few of our other LB friends such as SZSrocks and HowD girls.)

Here is the crossword puzzle we had to solve:

The circled letters had to be unscrambled to determine the park name and then we had to follow additional clues to find the box.  Here is a bit of the clue that includes some QS references: 

"Today you get to be a Park Explorer! Your objective is to successfully find, and log, this awesome letterbox. If it’s a hot day, be sure to bring some H2O with you. ..... Head over to the trail sign, where All That Came Before you started their quests too.

.... Soon, choose left and listen to the sounds of balls being hit. If hit hard enough, some may soar to Such Great Heights. After crossing the bridge you will see a tree of Epic Proportions pointing you in the direction you need to go. .....

We stamp into the Quest Scouts box

GAMES – Play!
This component noted that "Games are a source of entertainment and brain stimulation that, for many, can help lead happier lives."  That is true for us!   We had the opportunity to earn up to 600 points by playing games in several categories (150 points per category). By playing a game from each category, we experienced both classic and modern games and "small" and "large" games.

CLASSIC BOARD GAMES - We chose Scrabble, a favorite of people who delight in vocabulary and strategy.

The game begins
Martini Man: As you can see, we played Scrabble and there's a lot of intensity in that picture. It was hard fought and I thought I'd squeak by. But I pulled the Q and could not figure out how to dump it. Hard fought game with Wis Hiker, as usual.

The game finally came to an end (good thing we have lights on the patio!)

Wisconsin Hiker: As usual, it was a very close game between Martini Man & I when we played Scrabble tonight. It took ~ 2 hours for the game and I emerged the victor by a measly 5 points because he had to subtract points for the "Q". 

CLASSIC CARD & SMALL GAMES - We chose Phase 10, a game that has been popular in our extended family for many years. My sister Diana and her husband Mark came over for a cookout on the 4th of July and that was the perfect opportunity to play a game to satisfy this category.

MODERN BOARD GAMES - Our friends Acorn & Golden Boy brought their "Ticket to Ride" game along with them when they visited us in August. We played it and we loved it! The box cover said it was the 2004 Game of the Year in Germany. We had the opportunity to play a couple of rounds of with them and we would gladly play it again. They left it with us for a while, so if any Quest Scouts are in the area and would like to play it with us, let us know!
Learning the rules

We used train cards & tokens to build routes between U.S.A. cities, based on our individual destination cards

CLASSIC CARD & SMALL GAMES - We borrowed Bananagrams from our niece Jessica.  The next day when our friend Joy stopped by we talked her into staying for pizza and two rounds of play. Martini Man won the first game and I emerged the victor the next time.  It was a close game between the three of us and very fast paced!

This micro quest challenged us to take a creative photo of a letterbox. We were encouraged to take some time to make the photo something special by using creative angles, highlighting an unusual perspective or relying on the scenery around the box to make our photo "pop".

Martini Man's photo of a letterbox on Alcatraz Island in WI

Wisconsin Hiker's photo of a letterbox at the Exploring the Seas event in Oregon

For this one we watched the documentary "Made for Play" about the process of producing and manufacturing games.

Martini Man: This was pretty fascinating to watch. What I liked were the ingenious machines you see at key facets of the process. Those machines have to cost millions. I also marvelled at the folks who did what I would consider mind-numbing tasks. Watching the assembly line for the games was daunting for me to watch and I am sure I would have shut down the line myself.

Wisconsin Hiker: The video reminded me of my career in the automated material handling field. One of the most interesting aspects of my job was seeing all the amazing machines and equipment created to manufacture everything from Fritos, to automobiles, to Boeing aircraft. I had fun contributing to many projects and systems at a variety of industries, but never at a game manufacturer. This video did a good job of showing the manufacturing process. The big game trade show in Germany looked very interesting, especially since the general public could attend.

MICRO QUEST 3 - Microgame
Most often tabletop games have a large number of components. However, a new trend, the "microgame", is challenging designers and players to squeeze the maximum amount of fun from as few components as possible. This micro quest asked us to choose a game to play and then comment on it.  I chose CoinAge which is played on a space the size of a credit card.  Here is the official description:

Coin Age is a microgame for two players that's played with a single card and pocket change. Players take turns placing coins on a map to control spaces, outmaneuver their opponent, and score victory points.
Coin Age uses an innovative "coin slap" mechanism to determine available actions. On a player's turn, he takes one of each of his remaining types of coins in hand (one quarter, one nickel, one penny, and one dime), shakes them up, then slaps them on the table. Based on the number of coins that match his "side", he can then either place coins on the map, move previously placed coins to an adjacent space, or remove them altogether. When placing coins, players may also place their coins on top of the opponent's coins if their size/rank is smaller, so while a quarter will give you the most victory points at the end of the game, it has the highest probability of being covered by your opponent.
Coin Age is a quick-playing area control game with lots of player interaction and a bit of push-your-luck gameplay.

Wisconsin Hiker: We played CoinAge tonight and we really liked it! It takes a while to figure out a strategy. It's pretty complex for a simple "Print & Play" game. We will definitely play this again! (I played it again with our 13-year old niece when she visited and am keeping it handy for other spur-of-the-moment game playing opportunities.)

MICRO QUEST 4 – Random Acts of Puzzle
This micro quest required us to print some type of puzzle, such as a Word Search, and then anonymously place it in a public place, along with a note that encourages community participation. After a day or so we are supposed to return to the location to see if anyone has worked on the puzzle.

Wisconsin Hiker
I thought I had a good idea by putting some dog-themed Word Search puzzles at our local dog park as a "Random Acts of Puzzle". However I was disappointed that there was very little participation.

This required us to solve a puzzle with a drop quote puzzle. Above each column was a series of scrambled letters. We had to “Drop” a letter into the correct square directly below the letter to reveal the quote. It was pretty quick to solve since Martini Man and I have done similar puzzles recently (except the other ones are harder since they have a choice of letters for both rows and columns, alternating each letter in a line). We love puzzles and have 4 different "Page-a-Day" puzzle calendars, so we do them regularly.

We needed to get at least 1,000 points to complete the quest and we both exceeded that.  We thereby earned our third badge! This was an easy badge for us because we love games & puzzles.

"Cardboard Adventure" badge