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Monday, January 31, 2005

Extreme Blonde Moment

It’s taken me some time to collect enough gumption (or maybe for my fingers to thaw) to write about my severe lack of judgment that took place last Wednesday. So, here it goes.

For those of you who live in the Twin Cities you have probably heard of something called the St. Paul Winter Carnival (take note of the St. Paul part, it’ll come in handy for a good laugh later). For those of you who do not live in the area, or if you do are living in some sort of media impermeable cave, this carnival of which I speak, is a two-week long “extravaganza” of snow, ice, and “B” list celebrities, including this years Grand Marshall “Mama” from Mama’s family…I’m totally serious. There are parades, ice sculpting, kite-flying (?), snow sculpting, strange events, tours and sports on ice including hockey and softball along with the grand “Ice Castle” that sits in the center of it all.

Now, most of you are probably thinking, what could Jen have done to create drama out of this seemingly drama-less event? I have two words for you, “scavenger hunt.” This scavenger hunt is one of the most revered of its kind as people from all over the area create teams and wait by their doors for the morning paper. Each day in the St. Paul Pioneer Press they will find quirky clues that will eventually lead them to the infamous St. Paul Winter Carnival medallion. This medallion is virtually impossible to find as no one knows what it looks like and it always seems to be buried under 3 feet of snow in some obscure park. When I say people make up teams I am talking team names with matching t-shirts, hats and gloves. I have even seen people with specially designed shovels and snowshoes for their medallion hunting escapades. This is why looking back at 6:00 A.M. Wednesday morning the 26th of January only 4 days into this two week long event, the sight of me in my Victoria’s Secret yoga pajama bottoms, snow boots, chenille gloves, and blue fleece armed only with an ice scraper and a mission seems quite hilarious. (Danika, your new ice scraper is on its way…I promise)

It was 5:45 a.m., I had just dropped Danika and Ian off at the airport for their romantic getaway to Cozumel Mexico. I had missed my class at the gym and decided to go home and snuggle on the couch before I had to start the daily grind. While watching the morning news, the anchorwoman began talking about the treasure hunt and revealed the clue that would somehow convince me that I knew exactly where the medallion was. The clue was as follows:

“The siren calls, the giant falls
‘Tween field generals the poet sings
That down beyond, the once blue pond
Is treasure fit for kings.”

All that was running through my head at that moment in time was Minnehaha Falls, the giant statue of Longfellow who was a poet, and the home of John Stevens who was once a Colonel in the Army during the Civil War. Plus, the siren had to be that of the light rail that runs directly west and adjacent to the park. My mind flashed to the video footage I had recently seen of last year’s winner holding a gigantic check in the amount of Ten Thousand Dollars. Ten Thousand Dollars! What I could do with Ten Thousand Dollars! So I went to my computer and looked up the previous clue which read:

Be safe and we pledge, neither cliff nor water's edge
Figures in your hunting pursuit
What's that you hear?
Please, have no fear
It was there before we moved in.

Now I was convinced, “What’s that you hear? Please, have no fear, It was there before we moved in?” They had to have been talking about the airport, since the Stevens house was moved to that location in 1985. The reason why I knew all of this was because Josh had researched the Stevens house for a project and I vaguely remembered saying that the poet Longfellow, with his cane and top hat looked like a “big homo.” Sorry Longfellow. Unfortunately Josh was in Michigan at the time with his buddies playing in the snow, so there was no one there to talk me out of what I was about to do, or at least have given me someone to blame after I realized what I had done.

Without a blink of an eye, I grabbed my winter boots, flimsy chenille gloves, threw on a thin fleece and ran out the door. I took D’s car as I had parked it behind mine. No shovel, no scarf, no hat, no nothing. I made it to the park in record time and immediately ran to the statue of Colonel Stevens, dug around in the snow a bit, and then to the statue of the Poet Longfellow. Nothing. I walked back and forth in between the two, madly kicking at the snow and trying to dig to the bottom with my feet, convinced that it had to be there. It was now about 6:30 a.m., it was dark and I was alone. I decided to run back to the car to see if maybe D had stored a shovel in her cute BMW. No shovel, just an ice scraper which would have to do…I was on a mission. I was digging in the snow like it was my job because at that moment I was the most clever person this side of the Mississippi. I couldn’t believe that I was the only one there! Where was everyone else? After digging for another half-an hour I was getting frustrated. I looked up at the Stevens house, over the small white picket fence and there it was. I felt like Columbus discovering America! In all its glory it stood “Tween field generals” and the poet. It was the “shitter.” The outside john to the Stevens house and it couldn’t have made any more sense. It was “a treasure fit for kings” and where else do kings sit? But on the throne. Everything felt so synonymous! It was like I was putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle that managed to fit perfectly, or maybe it was the acute hypothermia that began to fester in my body.

I marched through that fence with my head held high and started to dig. I cleared an area around the outhouse that would have left any seasoned medallion hunter in awe. I was digging so hard that I had worn holes in my gloves and I could no longer feel any extremities including my face. There I was, frantically beating D’s ice-scraper against the frozen ground in my pajamas and I was damn proud. However, the pride suddenly turned to anger. I decided that I needed a shovel, so I actually drove home, grabbed a shovel and went back to continue my search. At this time people were staring to drive by and as my delusion set in I assessed each and every one of them as thieves out to steal my spot and reach the desired praise and St Paul Winter Carnival distinction that was rightfully mine. It was now 9:00, I was frozen, I could no longer feel my fingers and I had decided to go home. After all, there wasn’t anyone around and I believed my secret was safe.

During my ride home I called my mother to recruit her into my insanity. She fell for it hook, line, and sinker and was just as eager as I. We decided I should begin my search again after I had thawed and found some new gloves.

While working at my home office, I decided to take a look at the St. Paul Pioneer Press website. Maybe they would have clues as to what this mystery medallion looked like. The “Rules and Regulations” section caught my eye and lead to my imminent demise. There it was in plain print, “The Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt medallion is hidden on public land in Ramsey County.” Ramsey County? But there must be some mistake because it is clearly in Minnehaha Park, which is in Hennepin County! Either that, or I was brutally wrong! I refused to believe this newfound information. I searched the internet for maps on Ramsey County and after numerous attempts at recreating its boundaries to include the park where I had just spent my morning I decided to put my tail between my legs and admit defeat. I called my mother to break the news and had to convince her, as I did myself that the frostbite I suffered on my fingers and face was all in vain. I was no longer the smartest person this side of the Mississippi, which incidentally separates Ramsey County from Hennepin County, where Minnehaha Park, no matter how hard I tried resides.

2 comments:

Steph said...

Oh, my gosh - I wish I were there to see that!!
You crack me up! Go Jen!!

lisa said...

Now that was a great story! I may have to share this with others! A good idea for MTU's winger carnival, give all those wasted engineers and foresters something to do during the 5 day drunk fest, or maybe just the al-nighter! here's to the mid-west!