Travel – Where are my Gishwhes Teammates From?


I mentioned yesterday that one of the great things about gishwhes is meeting new people and making new friends. Of my teammates is a friend from high school that I’ve remained close with, but everyone else is relatively new to me. Six of the fourteen others were on my team last year so we’ve gotten to know each other quite well in some cases.

This year’s team encompasses men and women from three countries: Spain, Denmark, and the United States. In the US, we represent seven states: New York, Colorado, California, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Illinois.
Below you will find links to those states/countries bureaus of tourism. I tried to locate the official ones. It will be easy enough to find for-profit ones through Google.










New York

North Dakota




I can’t wait to get to know these new teammates!


Gishwhes is….Hmm?


What is Gishwhes?

It’s one of those things that if you can concisely explain it, you’re inevitably leaving something out. I’ve tried for two years to write a thirty-second elevator pitch and failed each time. Sharing the website is even more confusing if you have no idea what you’re looking at.

When you register for gishwhes, you’re money goes towards the grand prize (this year is a trip to Iceland with actor Misha Collins for the winning team) and to the non-profit charity, Random Acts, created by Misha in 2011.

What you’re registering for is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. You either form a team of fifteen members or you register and are assigned a team before the hunt starts. Sometimes you’ve never met these people, either in person or online. The hunt begins when the item list is released at midnight. Which time zone is often a question, but this year’s dates are July 30th through August 6th. There are over two hundred items, and more are often added during the week of the hunt. You’re expected to check the updates page daily. Sometimes items are eliminated or modified. You’re not expected to complete them all; just as many as you can.

The items are a mix of doing good deeds, random acts of kindness, tattoos, making wigs out of your own hair that you’ve shaved off, costuming, interpretive art, memorials, using unusual art supplies (Skittles, salt & pepper, condiments, etc), twitter sharing, doing an assortment of odd activities at various landmarks and filming or photographing them, but most importantly, working with people you’ve never met, figuring out how to work as a team, cooperate and compromise as well, and even more important, making new friends, and trying something new and different.

The gishwhes motto is Death 2 Normalcy. In other words, leave your comfort zone in the closet, think outside the box, put sock monkeys on your head and wonder what a Stormtrooper would do if he were laid off from the Imperial Forces.

As big in scope as the hunt is, it is also small in the everyday influences that remain with you after the hunt is over.

I often recount how many ways I did something uncomfortable (like asking strangers to let me take a photo of them hugging for the Guinness Book of World Records (2013)) or how I reused something to make something better, how I honored people that I admire (John Barrowman (2012), Leonard Nimoy (2015), my husband (2015), how I used skills I had forgotten I had (hand-sew sock monkey jewelry (2012)) or got my kids involved in ways that they complained about but ultimately loved (working at the post office (2013), having a Pasta/Jam Stand (2014), dressing as a fairy to water the garden with my son as photographer (2015).

I have resorted to collecting the cotton out of my prescription medicine containers, and popsicle sticks from our ice cream pops as well as the “swords” from the Red Robin burgers. My family knows not to throw those out now and wash them for my “Gishwhes bag”.

It’s building relationships, showing my kids that nothing is too hard or too silly, doing for others is so much better than doing for ourselves, and it’s okay to just be you.

That’s the real message of gishwhes. We’re all different, we do things differently, but we do what we can with what we have, and we’re all okay the way we are.

Gishwhes is Coming


In five short days, Gishwhes will be here. I think I’ve done all I can to prepare, collecting assorted bits of odds and ends. I have two bags and a toiletrie kit with various and sundry items. I hope I can do well for my team. I have much less money than last year but I have just as much, if not more, enthuswiasm.

Here is a peek at some of the items we did last year. They are all my personal items except for the second collage, on the bottom of the Dinomite flying. That was done by my teammates in Denmark and was featured as a cover photo on the official Gishwhes Facebook page for several weeks.


All images copyrighted to me, may be used by other Brave Little Ants teammates. Top, L-R: Turn highway rest area into paradise, Pop Vinyls at the Great Wall, Batgirl take Superman out for lunch. Center, L-R: Positive post-its on high school lockers, Team Logo, Gardent hack - watered by fairies. Bottom, L-R: National Geographic - The Padalecki, Tribute to Leonard Nimoy, Pack for trip to Mars.


All photos copyrighted to me except the third one, all may be used by Brave Little Ants teammates. Clockwise, starting at the top: Vacuum your lawn June Cleasver style, What I Fight For + Uniform, Dynomite flying, 2016 Team Logo with rainbow letters, Welsh dragon pronouncing Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Summer Travel Project



My husband wants to take the kids on a day trip to Boston – no hotel, free rental car. We’re also trying to go to Niagara Falls for a weekend before school starts up again. The map of Great Britain is there because next year we’re scattering my mother in law’s ashes at her home in and around Belfast.

I thought a good summer project for my two little ones would be to plan out the trips to Boston and Niagara Falls. They randomly got assigned a trip and are now using tour guides and maps from AAA to plan an itinerary using a budget of $500. That’s way high for the day trip but I wanted them to have the same amount to work with.

They’ll present their itineraries and suggestions on Thursday, and then trade to choose attractions and things to do for themselves at the other location. They’ll also check some things out on the internet later in the week.

My daughter really threw herself into it, spreading out all the maps, using post-it notes and highlighters. She’s found places; now she has to see if she can afford it within her budget.

We rely so much on navigator apps or GPS that they don’t really know how the maps work so this is a great skill to learn and practice. I’m not sure if it’s taught in school anymore. I know it took me a long time as a young adult to figure them out; especially finding alternate routes. But I could always re-fold a map properly.