Sunday, March 31, 2013

When 100 Years Is Not Enough

This icon looks grainy only because
I've enlarged it so much. But next
to your name, it'll look beautiful!
I've heard your complaints about the 100-year premium memberships. "Why only 100 years?", you ask "Why not 200? Or 500? Or a THOUSAND?!"

The love for Atlas Quest shows no bounds! And at long last, I've worked up a 1000-year premium membership. It's our best deal EVER for premium membership!

For just $999, you get all the same perks as the 100 year members—the ability to list finds on unlisted boxes, listing custom locations on any traditional letterbox on Atlas Quest, access to the Premium Members Only board, eight tag options, and the list goes on! Not only that, you'll have exclusive access to wear a blue feather on your hat.

And if you order now, while supplies last, you'll receive a free bonus gift from us—an official Atlas Quest baseball cap! Absolutely free! (Not including shipping and handling.)

And a second bonus gift—an autographed copy of Mr. Tortuga's bestselling West Coast Trail book: A Tale of Two Trails. Absolutely free! (Not including shipping and handling.)

But wait! That's not all! If you order in the next 24 hours, we'll give you all this—the 1000 year premium membership, the blue feather, the AQ baseball cap, A Tale of Two Trails, and more—for just $499! That's less than 50 cents per year of premium membership—our best offer ever!

Already a premium member? No problem! We'll add your 1000 year premium membership to the end of your existing membership! You'll never have to worry about renewing again! And, at the end of the 1000 years, if you want to renew, you're guaranteed to receive the same low-low price of just $499 for another one thousand years! Considering inflation, that's practically FREE!

A deal like this may never come again! And if you act NOW, you'll also receive five—yes, FIVE!—Atlas Quest patches and another five Wassa Eye Bleach patches for free! (Not including shipping and handling.)

So act now!

Baking Your Own Carving Block!

Marjorie turned out to be NO help AT ALL....
*shaking head*
Perhaps you've noticed the devastation our community has experienced due to the poor quality of pink stuff. A pink stuff shortage--at least a shortage of the good pink stuff--is a fate I would not wish on my worst enemies!

Well, I've got good news for you. About a year ago, I happened to learn that the pink stuff can melt. I won't get into that murky little story, but it got me experimenting. I started saving the shavings from my carvings and asking Amanda to do the same. I just didn't want to waste the shavings and figured it would be great if I could somehow reuse them.

It took quite a few months to get enough shavings to have something to experiment with, though. And I'd get one test before I needed to wait a few more months before I had enough material to work another experiment.

A painstakingly slow process, to say the least!

Then came the bad pink stuff. I bought some, and continued my experiments. And the results were surprising--after baking the pink stuff and it re-hardened, it actually carved a lot better and became less brittle!

Anyhow, at long last, the tutorial for baking your own carving blocks is up and ready for your viewing pleasure! Not only will you now have something to do with all those shavings from your carves, but you can turn that bad carving stuff into some quality material!

Let us know how yours turns out on the message boards!

Friday, March 01, 2013

The Windy City!

An unusual selling point for this coffee shop--fully clothed baristas!
So, as most of the folks in the Chicago area already know, I dropped by their S.I.L.O. #7 event a couple of days ago. =) First, before I get into that.... Apparently, some folks thought my rant the other day was about this event--let me assure you, it was most certainly not. Every box I saw listed was listed absolutely correctly. Now, I'm not saying that EVERY box was listed correctly because I didn't look up the listings for every box to verify this, but of the ones I did see, they were all listed absolutely correct as far as I could tell. The Chicago folks, in my opinion, set a fine example of exactly how personal travelers and event boxes should be listed. =)

I wanted to post about the Chicago adventures of Amanda and Ryan, though, and now I'm going to. =)

Amanda and I headed out Friday morning, at about 3:00 in the morning to catch our flight to Chicago via Phoenix. Things got off to a bad start, however, when Amanda went to put some of her luggage into the car and notice she had a flat tire. "Go back to sleep," she told me.

Considering that I only went to sleep two hours earlier, I was happy to oblige and went back to sleep. =) Amanda called AAA and got them to switch out the flat for a pint-sized spare.

We missed our first flight out of Seattle and finally left for the airport a few hours later.

On our way out of town, I had Amanda stop by a coffee shop so I could take a photo of their sign on the roof. I saw it during my walk the day before, but my camera wasn't working and I couldn't get a photo of it then. I didn't know how long it would stay up there, so by golly, I took the photo while I could. =) There's a coffee shop in the Seattle area who had some baristas busted for doing more than serving up coffee--and this coffee shop put up on their message board that their coffee is full-flavored, and that their baristas were fully-clothed. It's an usual selling point and I wanted a photo of that! =)

We made it to Phoenix without any additional trouble, but our flight from Phoenix to Chicago was hit with weather delays. Apparently, the weather in Chicago had much to be desired and the air controllers weren't allowing flights to their non-fair city. So we muddled around the airport. I walked around the terminal a bit in an attempt to gather 10,000 steps on my pedometer. Since I started working on, I've been carrying a pedometer, and I've done at least 10,000 steps every day since December 1st. Now I'm feeling kind of compelled to keep up the streak. So I left my bags with Amanda and walked up and down every concourse in the terminal. =)

Riding the "L" into Chicago
Finally, our flight departed, almost three hours late, and we were on our way to the Windy City!

Our arrival, about six hours later than we originally planned for, meant it was already dark so we headed straight to a hotel for the night. And wow, was Chicago cold. Temperature gauges that we saw seemed to hover around 20-22 degrees. Not to mention the layer of snow on everything. And--get this--all of the locals seemed to think it was GREAT weather! Hahahaha! =) Our hotel was located north of the city, about six miles from the event.

I usually let Amanda plan all these trips of ours--she's a serial planner while I'm more of a go-with-the-flow kind of guy--and she booked us on a gangster tour through Chicago--so the next morning, we headed into the city. We parked at the end of the red line and took the "L" into town.

Lunch at the Weber Grill! Giant grills included. =)
It started off well enough, but things went unexpectedly haywire when the train decided not to follow the red route. I still have no idea why. Even as the train continued on to stops that clearly were part of other colored lines, it would make announcements continuing to insist that we were on the red line. It started following the brown line stops--in reverse. Then the doors would open and the announcement, "This is the red line train to XYZ...." would start. I'd shake my head at Amanda. "It's still insisting we're on the red line!"

So it didn't get us to the stop we had planned on, but it got us into town. We pulled out our map, got our bearings, and started to walk in the direction of the start of the gangster tour.

Having arrived early, we made a couple of slight detours to see the rocks of the Tribune Tower. There are rocks from historic locations throughout the world embedded into the lower level of the building--including the White House, the World Trade Center in New York, the Great Pyramid of Egypt, Westminster Abbey, etc. A total of 136 rock fragments, and Amanda and I tried to find how many we had been to.
Who can't love a statue like this one? =)

Then we stopped at the Weber Grill, where everything with cooked with giant Weber Grills. Surprisingly, Amanda had never eaten here before. I was surprised because it sounds like just the kind of thing she would have enjoyed and she's been to Chicago a heck of a lot more often than I have!

And then it was to the rock 'n' roll McDonalds where our gangster tour started. That was fun. =) They drove us around in a bus showing us where serial killers used to run amok, took us off the bus to show us bullet holes in churches from the 1920s beer wars, and--of course, no gangster tour would be complete without a visit to where John Dillenger was gunned down by the FBI and where the Saint Valentine's Day massacre occurred. (The building where that occurred , however, is no longer there.)

By the end of that tour, the sun was setting and we worked our way back to the car following the red line to its end (and this time, it stopped at all of the stops it was supposed to!) and back to the hotel.

OMG! It's the rock 'n' roll McDonalds!
Stop... tickling... me.......

The next day was the big day of the event, and Amanda found a bike path that I could walk on that would take me most of the way to the restaurant of the event. So she dropped me off a few miles away--I would have walked all the way from the hotel, but I wouldn't have made it to the event in time if I did! And I worried the several inches of snow on the ground might slow down my usual quick pace.

The entire restaurant was filled with letterboxers!
(This is just one small section of the restaurant, I might add.
There's a lot more, but I couldn't get it all in one photo!)
I can't say enough nice things about the people I met here. They all made Amanda and me feel incredibly welcome! Thanks to Beetle for organizing the event, but I didn't actually get a photo of her. (FungusWoman, however, did upload a photo of her talking to me to the event's photo album.)

Tat2bob, I have to give special credit to, since he not only broke his leg while letterboxing (at least that's the story *I* heard!), but that didn't slow him down from coming out to the event either.

You can't be too careful when you're around a group of letterboxers....

After the stamping frenzy had come to an end and our meals were finished, everyone went off in their own direction. I decided to walk back to the hotel which had me stomping through snow late into the evening. I didn't make it back to the hotel until well after dark, which wasn't always easy when you're on unfamiliar roads, in the dark and without any maps. =)

But I survived. The next day, Amanda and I headed back to the airport, our adventures at an end. We did pick up a few cemetery boxes on our way back to the airport, then we flew together to Phoenix before we parted ways. Amanda continued to Seattle while I flew out to San Luis to visit my mom and get a badly-needed haircut. =)

And finally, I'm now back in Seattle, nearly a week after I left it. Back at work, and making (and breaking!) things.... =)

Thanks again to everyone who welcome Amanda and myself to Chicago! We had a blast!