Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Hunting (with illustrations)

I like to figure things out. Like anyone, I want to know the answers. I want to know WHY. But, unlike others (most notably, the boy,) it's not always about the knowing for me. Sometimes it's more about the finding out. It's about the searching. So I like to find random information by what I call scavenger hunts. Let me explain...

The rules are pretty dependent on the situation, but I like to ask people (friends, relatives, strangers on the street) whatever question we are discussing, and see if they have the answer. Sort of like a "shout out" on Cash Cab. I generally don't like to consult any type of reference text or the internet. I like to poll the general public.

For example, the boy and I were driving somewhere once and for fun decided to take the Friends challenge and name all 50 states. When we were successful (and pretty full of ourselves) we attempted all 50 state capitals. We got stuck on South Carolina. I had an atlas in the back (that I didn't mention to the boy) but we started calling friends and acquaintances at my suggestion. The first three calls yielded nothing, but it was still fun to call random friends, ask them a random question, and then see where the conversation led. I was enjoying myself. I didn't notice the boy getting antsy. The next call was to the boy's parents. When they didn't know the answer, I heard him ask his mom to get a map. I got upset. He ruined the game! I wanted to know the answer, of course, but I also enjoyed calling friends and family and having brief conversations about what people thought and how embarrassed we were about not really knowing. I didn't really care if I found out the answer right then. (I also got several emails the following Monday from everyone who had either looked it up or remembered in their sleep that night...) I couldn't really explain why the map was cheating, but I knew that it was. The boy thought I was crazy. After several other such "scavenger hunts" he's more resigned to my antics, but he still doesn't always like it.

I call my scavenger hunting another adorable quirk. Others might call it "one more reason why Emily is still single." I'm sure zlionsfan will use it as more proof that I am an extrovert (and not an introvert in extrovert's clothing as I am fond of claiming.) Whatever. I just think it's more about the journey than the destination sometimes.

Since the move, I've been exploring the neighborhood more and more on my walks with the dogs. With the beautiful weather lately, our walks have gotten longer and longer. Luckily, I live within walking distance to both my alma mater and Crown Hill Cemetery,. (come find me stalkers!!) Both great places to walk dogs.

I was introduced to Crown Hill when I was in college. My then-roommate took a field trip to the highest point in Indianapolis.
When I asked where it was, she wouldn't tell me, so I set out to find it for myself. Turns out, it's the tomb of James Whitcomb Riley and it's got a GREAT view of the Indianapolis skyline. I've since returned to his grave several times with random friends and family in tow. Not only are the grounds of the cemetery beautiful, but with this view, I think it's a neat little trip to take. Now that I'm within walking distance, it's a trek that the dogs and I take regularly. The hill makes me feel like I'm actually getting a workout - Bonus! I used to always drive when I would take friends and family. Now that I'm walking more, I've stumbled upon the grave of Benjamin Harrison as well, so I was curious about the other famous people who are buried in Crown Hill. When I printed off the list, both the boy and I were most intrigued with finding the grave of John Dillinger. Originally I thought we could just search for it on our own. The boy humored me at first. I think he knew this would be short lived. Um, I'm not so good with spatial relationships. After walking though just one part of the cemetery, and then rounding a bend in the road to see yet another huge area stretching before us, I got an idea of just how large the third largest non-government cemetery (and 555 acres) really is. So I set about finding a "clue."

After rollerblading one night (I thought we could cover more ground that way) we ran into the evening security man. I struck up a conversation and asked him about Dillinger's grave. He named the road it was near. Sweet! The next day the boy and I went back with the dogs and combed the area near that road. No dice. I still thouroughly enjoyed myself - after all, it was a warm summer night, the dogs were getting exercised, we were taking what amounted to a very nice stroll.... Nothing lost, right? The boy, however, was frustrated. He wanted to find the grave NOW. We hadn't reached our goal! The horror!! On our way out that night, we saw the security guy again, and at the boy's request, I stopped to get more information as to where the grave was specifically located. The security man thought for a second and then offered to meet us the next night at 7:00 pm to take us there himself.

The boy was excited. Me? Well... I still wanted to do it myself. I mused to the boy that if only I could find a picture of the grave with some background included, maybe that would be enough. The boy was already impatient after a fruitless night of searching and said that my idea probably wouldn't work anyway.

Undeterred, I searched the next afternoon and found this:

BINGO! That was EXACTLY what I wanted. The building in the back? White with big windows? Surely I could find that. I left work at 5:00 and had the dogs with me at Crown Hill by 5:30. At first I walked along the road where I had been with the boy, but in the opposite direction. Nothing. And of course, this was one of those beastly hot days. Luckily, there are plenty of spigots for the dogs to drink from. At 6:10, I figured I was in the wrong place, and we turned back. By the time we got back to the car, I was ready to admit defeat and just meet our guide to find the grave. I hadn't really lost anything, right? I had just had a nice walk and I was pretty much ensured a peaceful evening with tired dogs. I didn't really care that I hadn't found anything...I still knew that eventually we would find the grave. But then, at the last minute, when I realized that I had a bit more time to kill, I decided to drive back along the ground that the boy and I had already covered. At that point, I saw this:

SWEET!! Since the boy and I had already covered the ground closest to the road, I took a path a bit further back and while driving past, suddenly spotted this:

I believe my exact words were, "Holy shit, I found it!" I could NOT believe it and I was ridiculously pleased with myself. The dogs didn't seem to understand the magnitude of my achievement. After several attempts to take Casey's picture with Dillinger's grave, (she was more interested in the squirrel that was tormenting Blue) I finally contented myself with the grave itself and took off to meet the boy.

When I met the boy, we waited to meet the security man amidst more cars than we had ever seen at the funeral home. I'm not sure whose funeral was in progress, but he sure had a lot of friends. In that chaos, we waited until 7:10 and never saw our guide. The boy was dejected. I debated telling him what I had done, and then rationalized that he would be happier if he actually got to see the grave, right? So I pulled out my camera and showed him the picture. He didn't understand at first and then said, "You found it?"

"Damn right I did!!" I couldn't even contain my glee at this point. Surprisingly, he wasn't upset. Maybe he figured that even if the journey is what's important to me, that's okay - as long as he gets to the destination also. We'll see if that happens. For now, he was happy to find Dillinger's grave.


Candace said...

I think I am like your boy...I just like finding the answer...not necessarily the hunt.

Jac said...

I don't think I've ever fully appreciated Crown Hill. Maybe sometime when I'm in town you can give me a tour. :)

ems said...

My tour involves a lot of walking. If you're up for it, we'll go :-)

AnnD said...

I will be back later to read this!!! I skimmed it but want to read it more in depth. But, I guess I'm somewhere in between you and the boy. I think your way would be fun to some extent but after while I simply MUST know the answer or I will go completely insane.

AnnD said...

I would like to walk through that cemetary! I'm happy to see the boy on your blog! I also like how you found it using freakin YouTube! How cool is that?!

BSJ said...

So looking at a map would be cheating when trying to find a state capital, but you can look at a video of someone showing you where Dillinger's grave is, and that still counts? And why are you inviting stalkers to stalk you?

P.S. I knew the answer to the question.

Farmerspice said...

You know it always kind of creeped me out a bit to live so close to Crown Hill and could never understand why people took tours, but now that I've read this...I'm seeing a tour in my future with you as my guide. :)