Sunday, April 5, 2009

Crazy People with Sticks: My weekend hunting the elusive Gold Ticket

I have never participated in the Twins/Star Tribune Gold Ticket hunt before.  But this year, I decided I should play along.  You can't win if you don't play, right?  I like to win.  Also, I assumed--correctly--that it'd probably give me something to write about.  And it's a good way to support a little revenue boost for the newspaper.

Since I live a decent drive from the Metro area, and work during the week limits my ability to make treks to the Twin Cities willy-nilly, my plan was to follow along with the clues during the week, then if it hadn't been found yet, I would just swoop in on Saturday and close the deal.  Seemed like a piece of cake.  I'm awesome at trivia and cryptic puzzles.  Although, I did sort of forget about the fact that I am decidedly unawesome at finding things.  I don't want to know what percentage of my life has been spent searching for shoes, hair brushes, car keys, cell phones, etc...because it would be depressing.  When I was little, my mom had to play the "Hot or Cold" game with me to help me find my Easter baskets.  It usually went something like this:  "Warm. Warmer. Warmer. Hot. HOT.  HOTTER! Oh for Pete's sake! If it actually WERE hot, we'd have to take you to the Emergency Room for 2nd degree burns. Use your eyes!"  

Whatever.  An insignificant detail.  I felt fairly confident in my ability to win.

So, when nobody had found the ticket ticket by 5am on I headed to the undisclosed location to commence hunting for something tiny and inconspicuous.  As I scraped frost off my windshield at 5:30am, I recall thinking "Anything that makes me scrape frost off of my windshield at 5:30 on a Saturday is probably crazy."  

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  

My favorite part of Saturday was watching everybody else.  People were just roaming around glassy eyed.  Most everyone had a stick, and they would just randomly poke at things.  No one would really talk to anyone else...everyone was trying to be sneaky, I think.  Apparently we were suposed to pretend that we all just coincidentally wound up in the same place because we all thought it might be fun to randomly poke at the ground with sticks on a Saturday morning.  

I bet it was a confusing sight for someone who had no idea what was going on.  I imagine it looked like we were filming some sort of super low-budget zombie flick.  At one point, an older gentleman approached me and whispered "Are you looking for the Twins ticket?"  As loud as I could without yelling, I responded "You're in the right place.  I'm pretty sure everyone here is looking for the Twins ticket."  I think this broke some sort of unwritten rule.  People glared.  It was funny.

I initially refused to become one of the stick-weilding undead.  My motto: "I don't need a stick.  Sticks are for babies."  Until I found a black garbage bag that had something inside of it.  I wanted to look...but not touch.  So I got myself a stick.  I poked at the bag, and did a little "please-don't-be-body-parts-please-don't-be-body-parts" chant for luck.  It was just dirt.  whew.

I also used my new stick to poke around in holes that looked like good hiding places for a ticket.  Because, if you think about it, holes that are good hiding places for tickets could also be good hiding places for snakes.  Or rabid badgers.  And badgers are f-ing scary.  

After 8 hours of hunting (and by "hunting," I mostly mean "wandering in concentric circles, poking at random things with my new found stick") on Saturday, I decided to go home.  I hate quitting.  But I came up with a new plan.  If no one had found the ticket by this morning at 3:30am...I would go back to the undisclosed location with the last clue, and give it another go.  

So, at 3:30 this morning, I was brushing 3 inches of wet snow off my car.  I once again had the fleeting thought that anything that required me to brush 3 inches of wet snow off my car at 3:30am could not possibly be a sane idea.  And yet.  Off I went, driving on crappy, slippery roads, to search for something that would probably be a bazillion times harder to find in the snow.  

Unfortunately, by this point, my competitive drive had already been set on cruise-control.  My participation somehow seemed compulsory.

So, there I was, pre-dawn.  Poking at things with sticks again, but with a renewed sense of determination.  Since I was one of the first people around, I tried to be super stealthy and quiet.  Like a ninja.  In fact, at one point I was so stealthy, that two deer walked up about 3 feet away from me.  Although, I suppose they were actually more stealthy than I was because I didn't notice them right away, and when I did I freaked out a little.  Deer shouldn't just sneak up on you like that.  It's weird.

My mittens got so wet and cold that they really became counter-productive. My shoes got soaked and my mud-to-human ration was way out of whack.  It was cold and miserable.    I kept imagining little fantasy scenarios wherein a pair of dry socks were hiding in my car somewhere..."maybe when I had luggage in the trunk, it opened and a pair of socks rolled out! Or maybe I had a change of clothes in the back-seat for something, but I didn't need the socks, so they're still there!"  Ah...if only.  But, there were no dry socks, and I was miserable and yucky for the entirety of the day.

Even so, today was way more fun, because people were actually chatty today.  I think it was because fewer people were around, and the weather sort of limited the crowd to only the truly hardcare.  Whatever the reason, I met a lot of cool folks.  

I love Twins fans.  Seriously.  At one point in a conversation with another searcher, I suggested the idea that "maybe some A-hole found it yesterday and just isn't calling it in, so he can laugh at the rest of us out here poking around with sticks," which was greeted with a sincere "Twins fans wouldn't do that, would they?"

No.  Twins fans would not do that.  Twins fans are awesome and fun, and apparently they don't mind rooting around in the mud and snow and muck all day for just the teeniest possibility of finding that elusive Gold Twins Ticket because they love their team.  

We rock.

There were lots of families out too, searching together-- littlest Twins fans in tow...learning valuable life lessons about hard work, perserverance, futility, disappointment, inevitable failure and, if they stumbled upon as many gross and disgusting things as I did, a good deal more about sex education than their parents probably had in mind when they strapped them into their booster seats this morning.

I'm sad to say that I gave up after 5 and half hours today.  I was wet and muddy and gross.  I found something super disgusting and just called it quits.  I believe my exact quote was "OK...that is frickin' gross.  Seacrest OUT!!"  (I was a little loopy from sleep deprivation.)

As of the time I'm writing this, the Gold Ticket Hotline hasn't indicated that the ticket has been found yet.  Maybe someone from the Strib could go out there and play the "Hot or Cold" game with me?  


Things I Found (I kept track via Twitter):
Dead deer, deer skull (different deer), giant butcher knife (CREEPY!....and makes me thankful I had the lucky "please-don't-be-body-parts" chant to ward off dismembered body parts.), lots of shiny gold and yellow garbage, animal poop, blue marble, mud, a really big bone (which looked terrifyingly like a human femur...but I am calling it "deer bone" instead so that I can sleep at night, and a variety of super gross non-family friendly items of an adult nature.

Things I did NOT find:
Stupid Gold Ticket, my sanity.


Mh said...

next year you can sleep in my spare room in Mpls. That way you can sleep and be obsessed. Oh and tagging this WTF was right on.

Doug said...

A very enjoyable (and unfortunately relatable) read. What park(s) did you search? Over the course of a week I checked out Harriet Island, Lilydale, Battle Creek, Marydale, Prospect, Douglas, etc. etc. etc.

Hopefully the Strib will be in business next year to sponsor another wild goose chase (but hire a new clue writer). fyi - this blog was fun to keep up with during the chase (and will hopefully be around next year as well):

Katie said...

I hit Lilydale and Marydale. Mostly Lilydale because I assumed that the clue writer probably wasn't clever enough to factor in that Tomlin was born "Mary Jean." Also, Marydale was too far north.