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May 17, 2005

Scav Hunt road trip diary

Every year a portion of the Scav Hunt list items can only be completed by undertaking a road trip. I was part of this year's Max Palevsky's road trip team and kept a running diary. Here's the scoop.

Tuesday, 1:15 A.M.—I get an instant message from my friend Gerbil, a Scav Hunt wunderkind. His message is something along the lines of, "Dude, I know you're done with your B.A. I know you're not taking classes. I know you sit on your ass and eat Cheez-its all day. We need people to go on the road trip, and you're going to be one of them." His logic is impeccable. I agree to go.

Wednesday, 11:58 P.M.—I walk into Palevsky East's lounge, headquarters of the Palevsky team, for the list reading. In four days this room will smell worse than the seven levels of sweaty ass that Dante forgot.

Thursday, 9:30 A.M.—The road trip teams gather behind the Reynolds Club for a big send-off. The teams are dressed in Pinocchio costumes. Even the cars have been transformed into various interpretations of Monstro the whale. I, a little Asian guy, am wearing small red shorts, a tight yellow shirt, and suspenders as part of my Pinocchio costume. We have to complete items at UW-Madison. I suddenly realize that I am going to get beaten up as part of this road trip.

10:27 A.M.—We're on our way to Milwaukee. My teammates are Clara, a third-year road trip veteran, Dorothy from Kansas (I kid you not), and Loranne, an eager first year. Our road trip will take us up through Wisconsin, across the upper peninsula of Michigan, into Canada, and down through the lower peninsula of Michigan.

10:30 A.M.—I discover that the aforementioned Gerbil is our road trip coordinator. Now, I love Gerbil. But, besides asking to be called Gerbil, he's the kind of the guy who would repeatedly hit himself over the head with a baseball bat to ascertain how many hits are required to knock himself out. Then he would do it again later to try to beat his previous mark. And he would be determining the next 90 hours of my life while I drive 1600 miles with three strangers in a car that none of us own. I suddenly remember that I do not have health insurance, since I am no longer a registered student.

12:42 P.M.—The entire city of Milwaukee smells like yeast.

3:37 P.M.—We are now in Madison. One item requires us to drive down State Street. Seems easy enough.

3:38 P.M.—Nope. There's a reason it's worth 31 points. Large signs lining State Street tell us, "No driving on State Street. Buses only."

This prompts the following exchange in our car:

Me: "How the hell are we supposed to hijack a bus?"

(Pause)

Loranne: "Um, I think the judges want us to drive on the street illegally."

(Extended pause)

Me: "Oh…"

PS: Madison girls, despite popular belief, are not hotter than U of C girls. They are only taller, blonder, tanner, and have bigger breasts.

5:57 P,M.—Our repeated efforts to dress up the car in order to complete items have resulted in the creation of a new word: "monstro" (verb) - to frustratingly attempt to attach a cardboard tail and pectoral fins onto something in order to take a picture of it next to something stupid; ex: "God I'd love to monstro that Madison girl."

Friday, 12:04 A.M.—The remainder of the day passes uneventfully and we check into a Super 8 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, famous for having absolutely nothing except a surplus of large people and guns.

6:01 A.M.—We check out of the Super 8. I ask the rotund clerk where we can get some fast food breakfast at this hour. He directs me to the local Burger King or McDonald's adding, "I'm sure they're open. That's where I always go after my shift." I don't doubt his candor for a minute.

8:22 A.M.—We're in the upper peninsula of Michigan. It's everything I expected it to be… boring.

11:51 A.M.—Our next item requires us to go to a bar in the town of Gay, Michigan. Gay bar… how clever. Unfortunately, we can't find it and must ask where it is. This is an exercise in awkwardness: being a small Asian guy in little red shorts and a tight yellow shirt asking four burly, bearded construction workers in the upper peninsula of Michigan for directions to the Gay bar.

2:38 P.M.—Pulled over for going 50 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.

2:59 P.M.—Going 85 mph in a 50 mph zone.

3:27 P.M. - I remember the lack of health insurance. Now going 35 mph in a 45 mph zone.

5:45 P.M. - We just passed a 100 ft tall gold statue of a monk standing on freakin' spider legs! Why isn't that thing an item?

5:51 P.M. - Blast. It is an item. Going back to the golden spider monk to be baptized under its gaze.

8:10 P.M. - In Marquette, MI, not to be confused with Calumet, Copper Harbor, or Eagle River which are also completely inconsequential towns that will only become noteworthy by producing a unabomber or two.

8:36 P.M. - We encounter a drunken man who asks me, "Do you speak English? You better not use any of that Fu Manchu shit on me. I can't handle that right now." Unfortunately I was not witty enough to think of a snappy comeback. I can only take solace in knowing that one day my kids will totally destroy his grandkids on the SAT.

11:14 P.M. - After locking our keys in the car, I have a new goal in life - to become the guy that unlocks locked cars. The guy who unlocked ours used a snake light, a glorified coat hanger, and some cross between a blood pressure pump and an air mattress to do the trick. In addition, he was able to consult his carjacking bible which described how to unlock every single model of every single car without using the keys. His job just reeks of an Ocean's 13 appearance.

Saturday, 12:31 A.M. - We check into a roadside motel. Day over.

6:12 A.M. - Our goal is to find something called "Toter" which is somewhere in Michigan.

9:25 A.M. - It turns out a toter is a trash can. I'm across the river from Canada in order to get a picture of a trash can. Thanks, judges.

2:33 P.M. - The winner for "phrase only heard during Scav Hunt," courtesy of Clara: "How many points would we get if all four of us packed fudge into her box?"

4:50 P.M. - We just spent two hours locating a turtle named "Myrtle" which resides in a backyard pond of some guy who lives in a nature preserve. I am really tempted to steal Myrtle, drive back to Canada, and throw it in a toter.

8:11 P.M. - While looking for an item I stumble upon a Scav Hunt-unrelated microfilm canister lodged into the trunk of a gnarled tree on the grounds of an abandoned insane asylum. Inside the canister are detailed latitude and longitude coordinates. Gerbil, showing his mastery of Google satellite imaging, informs us that the coordinates point to a ditch surrounded by four abandoned buildings outside of the town we were in.

8:20 P.M. - More than anything else ever in the entire world I want to go in that sketchy ditch surrounded by abandoned buildings which we found while reading the contents of a microfilm canister lodged in a gnarled tree on the grounds of an abandoned insane asylum. My teammates do not. Three to one, I lose.

11:03 P.M. - We suffer our first casualty. A raccoon takes on our front bumper. Our front bumper scores an unequivocal victory. Quoth Dorothy, "Do we get extra points for raccoon parts?"

Sunday, 3:02 A.M. - Back at headquarters. Total hours of sleep since Wednesday: 15. Fast food calories consumed: ~8000. Items completed: 75 out of 77.