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Sorry that I have been away from my blog for a while. The truth of the matter is that I have been away from everything in my “normal” life for about a week now, and then needed a week to recover. I had mentioned here before about GISHWHES (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World has Ever Seen). This was my first year doing the hunt after hearing about it on a Nerdist podcast.

A little background. GISHWHES 2013 was the third year of the hunt. The event was created by actor, Misha Collins, from Supernatural. Misha also is involved with a great organization called Random Acts (http://www.therandomact.org) which also benefits from GISHWHES. The hunt has broken world records the past two years and as far as I know, did so again this year on multiple levels. Each team consists of 15 people.

Our little team (WaterMelephants) consisted of myself, my sister and Niece #1. Since we didn’t have a full team on our own, the fine people at GISHWHES merged us together with other partial teams. So our team ended up being WaterMelephantsLovesMilkshakesLovesdmitrikrushnicLovesTeamBitchface. We had a group of four amazing ladies from the South, a group of four kick ass Canadians and a group of four nice girls from Texas. The team was released on Friday and we had a day and a half to basically “meet” and make a game plan.

The hunt lasts one full week. On Sunday August 11 the item list was released at 1 pm, and we were sent out in the world to complete our tasks. The list consisted of 155 items that required either an image (read photo) or a video. Basically, you need a camera, video recorder, internet access and some creativity.

Our team had been talking for a day or so and trying to figure out to best divide up the list. We added a group page to the GroupMe app and got to work. The first lesson that I learned through GISHWHES was that it is difficult to divide up a huge list when the other three groups of people are not in the same area or time zone. And the list is so overwhelming. My first reaction was fear (which I had been warned about) and then overzealousness. We could definitely do it all (okay not all of it but a huge chunk).

Once we figured out what we were going to do and what we could get done immediately, Libby & I were off. One of the first tasks was to gather pictures of people hugging. Our group needed to get a minimum of 100 total pictures to get all the points for this item.
[Item 1- IMAGE: “GISHWHES Hugs the World!” We are going to break the Guinness World Record for the largest online photo album of people hugging. The current record is 69,004. **The record was broken, in case you were wondering.]

One of my favorite hug pictures!

One of my favorite hug pictures!


So we went to the skating rink to get churros for another task and start the hug pictures. (Those of you that know me, know that I spend a lot of time at the skating rink due to hockey, my nieces’ artistic skating, etc.) The other thing that we went to do was go to The Dollar Tree to buy sanitary napkins do another task.

Lesson #2- The sales people at The Dollar Tree do not seem all that fazed when you buy 10 packages of maxi pads. An addendum to this- The Dollar Tree does not do returns, instead I had to exchange the leftover unopened maxi pads for other Dollar Tree junk. YAY!

Here is the hard work of our Dollar Tree purchases

Item 60.   IMAGE: Safari time! Construct an animal you would see in the African savanna entirely from feminine hygiene products.

Item 60. IMAGE: Safari time! Construct an animal you would see in the African savanna entirely from feminine hygiene products.

And that beautiful creature sat on my kitchen table for a week.

Over the course of the nest week, we worked hard trying to complete items. Trying to coordinate with the rest of our team, as to what items had been completed and what were in progress. It was frustrating when you were working on an item and another faction of the team announces that they had completed it.

Lesson #3- Communication is difficult, especially when you are communicating via text message.

Unofficial members of our little team- Niece #3 & Nephew #2, worked so hard and had so much fun. In fact, all of them were involved in several tasks.

I love these kids

Item 65. IMAGE: Have a group of children (the more the better) collect litter from a beach or park. Then have them make a sculpture or sculptures from the trash they collect. This must be two images edited into one with the images side by side: one showing the kids collecting the trash, and the other showing their final creation (with the kids posed behind it).

Lesson #4- Your friends are awesome and can help out in ways that you never thought they would.

Item 4 IMAGE: A stormtrooper at a laundry mat folding clothes.

Item 4 IMAGE: A stormtrooper at a laundry mat folding clothes.

My friend, Eric, was awesome to offer up his time and Stromtrooper costume for the cause.

The videos were fun. My parent’s pastor offered up some of his time to make us a video condemning GISHWHES. And let me tell ya, he rocked it out fire & brimstone style. My amazing friend Critter, made a fantastic video of little known facts of our little city. And he spent a great deal of time on it. It was magnificent! My hockey buddy, Ben, took some time out of his busy pre-semester schedule to make us a video. [Item 64- VIDEO: A university professor giving a technical explanation of why the telegraph will inevitably be making a comeback.] My deskmate Kara’s adorable daughter, Mia, made us a priceless video too! [Item 44- VIDEO: Gel your child’s (under 6 years of age) hair kind of crazy and tussled like Einstein’s, then have them explain Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in his or her own words.] I loved the videos that she made, I have watched them at least 10 times since I received them.

I could recount every little detail of the week but you are all busy people. I want to share some more of our pictures and more of the lessons I learned so I will sum it up.

At the end of the week, I think that our team completed 83 of the items. Libby & I estimated that our little mini-team completed 33 of those tasks; not alone however, we had great amounts of help. We also contributed to other team items as well. It was amazing and frustrating and heart-warming and fun and amazing; all wrapped up into a little GISHWHES burrito. There were some items that our team could not do based on geography. The hunt is international after all.

There were several tasks that involved doing charitable acts. Those were my favorite.

Item 51 IMAGE:  Host a diaper drive and donate the diapers to a diaper bank or homeless shelter. Take a picture of you delivering the diapers.

Item 51 IMAGE: Host a diaper drive and donate the diapers to a diaper bank or homeless shelter. Take a picture of you delivering the diapers.

I was able to help out a homeless shelter with the diaper drive. We collected 12 packages of diapers (for both children & adults), and I can honestly thank my amazing co-workers for that! The staff at the shelter was immensely grateful for the donation. Another task was to help out a homeless person [Item 45 IMAGE: Strike up a conversation with a homeless person, talk to them until you know their first name, where they are from, and what their favorite food is. Bring them that food and, if they give you permission, take your picture with them and their meal.] I think that this was, by far, my favorite task. The sheer appreciation that the man had was immeasurable. He told me that any meal was his favorite.

Lesson #5- Charity always feels amazing!

Other things that I learned:

Lesson #6- Facebook has become mainly just a place for memes and people to send Candy Crush gifts. I was a little discouraged that of my over 600 friends, that I did not get much help to my pleas. I still love you though, Facebook friends.

Lesson #7- It is okay to be vulnerable. I had to go into two different pet shops to ask to complete some tasks. Let me tell you that asking to take a picture of a mouse in a Barbie car, sounds insane, but strangers are pretty helpful & kind. And had they told me “No,” well I would have been no worse off that I started.

Item 81-  IMAGE: A live mouse, as a passenger in Barbie’s car.

Item 81- IMAGE: A live mouse, as a passenger in Barbie’s car.

Lesson #8- The imaginary Alarm Clock Twitter account that our team created has more followers than me. Thanks to fellow GISHWHESians for that. That lesson made me a little sad.

Lesson #9- Saying “Thank You” goes a very long way. So again THANK YOU to all my amazing friends, family, co-workers & teammates that helped out. In case I did not say thank you nearly enough.

Lesson #10- Next year, I am taking at least part of the GISHWHES week off. My work week was not too productive.

Lesson #11- Cosplay is expensive and time-consuming. And ours was not great Cosplay. I give my respect to all you Cosplayers out there.

Item 92-  IMAGE: Cosplay “Gishbot” (www.twitter.com/gishbot) as realistically as possible in public.

Item 92- IMAGE: Cosplay “Gishbot” (http://www.twitter.com/gishbot) as realistically as possible in public.

Here are some more of the crazy items that we did.

Item 15- IMAGE: What would a teddy bear hostage situation look like?

Item 15- IMAGE: What would a teddy bear hostage situation look like?

My sister is now known as the Taco Cannibal.

Item 75- IMAGE: “You are what you eat.” Prove it.

Item 75- IMAGE: “You are what you eat.” Prove it.

Item 20- IMAGE: Retrofit a wheelchair and its owner to look like a powerful superhero in a “Gishmobile.”

Item 20- IMAGE: Retrofit a wheelchair and its owner to look like a powerful superhero in a “Gishmobile.”

I wish that I could share the whole experience with you. I loved every minute of this year’s GISHWHES hunt, even the not so fun parts. I loved the time I got to spend with my nieces, nephew and sister. The giant slumber party we all had at my house on the first night. I didn’t love the fact that the AC at my house went out the final weekend, but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, they say. We are still waiting on the judging, but I personally could care less who won. I loved the sense of accomplishment that this seemingly frivolous scavenger hunt gave me.

The final lesson that I learned was that there are times in your life that it is good to say “Death to Normalcy.”

Go on out there, be a little crazy, give a little to those less fortunate and choose joy my friends!

TA-DA!

PS- If you are interested in viewing the entire task list, you can find it here: http://ambiguousminions.tumblr.com/TheList

And if this has sparked you to seek out more info on GISHWHES, get yourselves on the mailing list for next year. (http://www.GISHWHES.com) You can also find GISHWHES on both Facebook and Twitter.

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