February 1, 2011

Winter Carnival Heartbreak

So any of you that have ever heard of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, bravo.  125 years ago, a New York reporter came to MN and said it was like Siberia and he didn't understand why anyone would want to live here... so we hosted a huge carnival right in the middle of the coldest month of the year.  My favorite part of the Winter Carnival is the $10,000 treasure hunt.  Thousands of people dig up all the parks in St. Paul following clues that lead you to a puck shaped "medallion."  There was a new clue writer this year, but I haven't decided what I think of her...

Anyways, after 7 days of clues and 4 days of personally digging into all hours of the night and taking an entire day off work, consuming beers and running into old high school friends, the medallion was found at 2:30 AM in Battle Creek Park.  I was asleep in bed when it happened because we had been out all day and we didn't think that anyone other than possibly us would find this medallion on day 7... boy, were we wrong.  Here are the clues they put out this year and congrats to the 3 people that won.  The young man said he was thinking about donating his money to a charity that has something to do with young men and women returning from Iraq.  More power to him.  I would given a little money away, paid for part of my parent's trip to costa rica and then paid off my student loans... not that exciting, right?  I'm going for classy - haven't you figured that out yet?  My reaction to the news this morning however, was NOT classy.  I threw a temper tantrum and physically kicked and punched my bed while pouting and then immediately called Katie and blamed it on her... nobody's perfect, right?

The Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt clues and their meanings

Pioneer Press

Hanging like vultures, the icicle sculptures
Show the Vulcans to be most artistic
But forget your worries and find a park amid the flurries
You have reasons to be optimistic
As the cold wind blows through our record snows
In this land of the dammed and ice
We bid you fair welcome, whether heaven or hell come,
To hunt treasure that's sure to suffice
Invoking the Vulcans amidst an unusually cold and snowy Minnesota winter, we direct hunters to a park — a park with a body of water that, like our houses, is subject to ice dams.
Through the stormy seas, minding our Qs and Ps,
He captained a steady ship
With purpose clear he made us cheer
Or at least keep a stiff upper lip
Move with elation like folks from circulation
Each morn they stand and deliver
Take many more steps away from your doorsteps
Like carriers, hunters must shiver
A shout out to our departing editor, Thom Fladung. References to doorstep and circulation are in honor of those who deliver the PP daily; the medallion is wrapped in a clear plastic newspaper delivery bag. Upper invokes Upper Afton Road, near the park.
A chestnut gentle makes me sentimental,
For those glorious stories of yore.
Of the days in the glen, when men were men,
Och! Have I become a prodigious bore?

Chestnut gentle and glen refer to an old song called "Flow Gently Sweet Afton," based on a
poem from Robert Burns; it suggests Upper Afton and Lower Afton roads, which border Battle Creek. The Afton in the poem is a stream, just like the one that runs through the park — where the medallion is hidden, not far from its banks. For you Treasure Hunt history buffs, a similar reference was used in Clue 10 in 1970, when the medallion was hidden in Battle Creek.
Step off the math from the nearest path
The prize awaits excavation
Water to ice is a fitting price
To pay for this prime location
The prize is quite near a popular walking path, but it is buried deep. It is near the frozen creek in one of St. Paul's most beautiful park settings.
Don't give up yet, like aging Brett
Go where winter lovers meet
We hope you find those of like mind
And not da agony of da feet
A shot at our aged-out, finally retired QB; a reference to a park that is famed for its wintry beauty and privacy; and a veiled reference to both the aging QB's sore ankle and to the famed TV phrase "the agony of defeat.'' This was intoned by broadcaster Jim McKay as a ski-jumper fell in the intro to "ABC's Wide World of Sports.'' Our site is at the bottom of the old ski-jump hill in Battle Creek. The use of "da" suggests "da Bears" — or, in the case of Battle Creek, nearby White Bear Avenue.
In pants baggy with dog shaggy
Walk amongst the lonesome pine
Don't forget the clues that fit
Or you'll flub away what's mine
Fred MacMurray starred in "The Shaggy Dog," "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine," "The Absent-Minded Professor," and "Son of Flubber," while another McMurray, a tea merchant named William, helped found the park in 1925 and suggested that "Pine Coulee" be renamed "Battle Creek."
Leave your kettle and test your mettle
Out in the frigid cold
With a nip to brace and a bit of grace
You will have the item to hold
The first rhyming words of the first and third lines are "kettle" and "brace," which is an anagram for Battle Creek.
Strap on each boot and go look for the loot
Don't wait 'til you kick the bucket!
Be you girl or boy, you'll jump for joy
At the sight of the precious ducat
Strapping on boots suggests the skiing — formerly downhill and jumping and now mostly cross-country — that goes on at Battle Creek. Jump refers to the long-abandoned ski jump that once dominated the part of the park where the medallion is hidden.
Hillsides rift and provide a lift
A spot for walking beagles
197 aims toward heaven
Tim was up there with eagles
"Lift" and soared like eagles suggest the Battle Creek ski jump, where Tim Dennison once set the record by jumping 197 feet in 1971. So happens, the medallion is not far from the old stairs that went up the ski-jump hill where spectators watched the jumpers fly overhead.
Even a Norwegian will enjoy a park regional
A bridge too far for a raft
Skip your supper near Lower and Upper
Always look fore and Aft
We salute Minnesota's Northern European heritage and note that this is a "regional" park. We name the site near a bridge that couldn't handle a raft; "Lower" and "Upper" and "Aft" refer to Lower Afton Road and Upper Afton Road, which run through beautiful, snowy, iced-over Battle Creek Regional Park.
Follow the cattle and join the battle
Whether ye be women or men
Those who dare to find the end of White Bear
Jump in the direction of Ten
Refers to Battle Creek Regional Park and the end of White Bear Avenue, which leads to woods and the old ski jump site. "Jump" is a reference to the ski jump, and the direction is toward U.S. Highway 10, which runs along the Mississippi River.
What you need most is to find the last post
Where ski jumpers came to ground
It's not for the meek to be facing the creek
Eight steps to your left 'twill be found
You might be tarried, for deep it is buried
Dig till you feel cold and quivery
Before your hopes sag you'll spot a clear bag
Used for each morning's delivery
The "last post" that supported the steps of the old ski jump is near the run-out where jumpers landed. From the post, facing Battle Creek, eight steps to the left, or up creek, is the site. It was deeply buried under perhaps 18 inches of snow and ice, contained in a Pioneer Press newspaper delivery bag.

So there it is.  My heartbreak is finally passing, but I was able to enjoy the beautiful weekend without being too sore and exhausted.  Friday alone, I dug snow and ice for 6 hours... not in a row, but seriously, it got a little intense.  I had the best teammates though and I will do this every year no matter how many heartbreaks I have to live through.  Thank goodness my husband understands.  We went and checked out the ice sculptures on Sunday and tried out the Great Waters Brewery downtown.  It was wonderful.  I even got mini doughnuts.  This weekend, we are hosting some close friends here for appetizers and then we'll head downtown for the torchlight parade to watch the vulcans overthrow the king.  I love being busy in the winter time.  Also, getting my hair dyed darker tomorrow.  So excited for Trish to clean me up.  She is the BEST.  

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Thanks for reading my ramblings. It makes my heart happy.