Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Great Glass Float Hunt

(photo from Block Island Chamber of Commerce website)

Two years ago, the glass artist, Eben Horton hid hand-blown glass floats all over Block Island.  He put them on hiking trails, sandy beaches;  he hid them in tree branches and under leaf piles.  There wasn't a whole lot of publicity about the floats and we never found one or heard anything about the project, but that all changed this summer.  Publicity was in high-gear this year when Eben hid another 400 floats and he held a Kickstarter campaign to finance the whole endeavor.  Our family loves Block Island and we love a good treasure hunt.  And I loved the thought that I would be able to get our kids moving and exploring the many walking trails on the island, all under the guise of searching for pretty treasure.  My plan was not to go nuts and force the children to spend our entire vacation scouring the island for a float, but to ramp up our usual amount of activity and pay more attention to our surroundings. 

We were going to be on the island for three weeks.  I figured there was no way we wouldn't find at least one float!

If you are one of the lucky 400 people who find a glass float, you get to keep it - Eben Horton only asks that you register your orb on the Block Island Chamber of Commerce website so everyone can enjoy tracking how many floats have been found and where they were hidden.

Our family stays pretty busy while on Block Island and this year was no exception.  We hiked multiple sections of the Greenway Trail.  We hiked the Clayhead trail and went into Rodman's Hollow.  We walked along countless beaches, visited the light houses, the zoo, the library, docks, jetties and fishing spots.  We found plenty of garbage and saw some amazingly gorgeous sites, but we never did find a coveted glass float.

We left Block Island empty handed and perhaps a little disappointed.

We checked the Chamber of Commerce website periodically throughout our three weeks to see how many people had been more fortunate then we were, but there wasn't much progress.  During our three weeks, I'd guess that only about 10 orbs were found and some had been hidden in places like a rubber boot on the beach or in the underbrush on a hiking trail.  We decided that the obviously hidden floats had already been found and that the rest were either extremely well-concealed or were stuck in over-grown vegetation or swept away by the ocean.

A few days after we got home, I checked the website again and saw that you could link to the artist, Eben Horton's homepage.  And that's when I discovered that I could buy a glass float directly.  I immediately hatched a plan.  I would buy a float, the children and I would hide it somewhere in our house and then tell Gordy that his last birthday present was hidden and he would have to go about his day and eventually find his gift.

It would be our very own Block Island treasure hunt. 

Gordy's float arrived in the mail and I was surprised to find it smaller and less round that the floats in all the publicity photos.  I guess if you cheat the system and order a float directly, you get the rejects.

That seemed fair, frankly.

There was much discussion about where we should hide Gordy's orb.  We thought about putting it on the driver's seat of his car, but we were worried that he might not see it, sit down and find a broken float under his rump.  Not a particularly happy idea.

We also talked about his sock drawer, the box where he throws his change each night after work, the canister of pancake mix....

Every place had a flaw.

So I came up with a master plan.  We'd have dinner, open presents and THEN have cake.  While the children brought Gordy into the family room to open presents, I would sneak the orb into our utensil drawer without Gordy seeing.

.... then we would go back into the kitchen for cake, at which time we would ask Gordy to get the forks, he'd open the drawer and VOILA!

Orb Found!

It was a perfect plan... except that it didn't really work.  We did the dinner, we did the presents, I slipped the orb into the utensil drawer, we asked Gordy to get the forks, he opened the drawer...

and took out the forks and closed the drawer.

He didn't even see the float!  And it was rattling around in there!

The children looked at each other and immediately started laughing.  I started howling.  It was hysterical.  I wish I had gotten a photo.

Eventually, Gordy reopened the drawer and found his last present.  The orb is now on our family room mantle.  We may have come upon our Block Island Glass Float a tad dishonestly, but we are proud of it nonetheless.

And maybe next year, we'll find a real glass float.  We'll certainly try.

Want to learn more?


Anonymous said...

Did you find an orb this year? My family tried so hard and came home orbless for the third year in a row :(

Martha said...

No! We haven't found an orb!!!! And trust me, we look EVERYWHERE we go on Block Island. Sigh. I guess it wasn't meant to be for us. We looked on the orb website and it seems like at least half of the orbs remain unfound… maybe next year will be both of our years!! Good luck! Please leave me another comment if you find one!

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