>The time has come, my friends, to announce some ScavenTour winners!

First, I must say– I received many fabulous contest entries. So many, in fact, that I decided to pick more than one winner in each city. Many were attempted, few were completed, for various reasons, which you’ll soon read. But, do remember that effort counts. If I attempted it, you win, capisce?

Okay, as you’ll recall, to enter the contest, contestants were to submit activities they’d like to see me doing in each city on my itinerary of Chicago, Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans, an undisclosed rural Louisiana location, DFW and Oklahoma City, and then I allowed for one wildcard selection. I ended up with nearly 150 contest entries!

There are a lot of photographs to gather, so I’ll be announcing winners for each city over the next several days. Today, it’s all about the wildcard category and the six people who get to share the spotlight of the winner’s circle.

First, at the suggestion of blogger Miss Quoted, I made a darn good effort at a Cracker Barrel (after a very delicious meal of sides, cornbread and iced tea) of convincing the waitstaff and kitchen staff to join me out front of the rocking chairs. Apparently, employees can’t sit in the rocking chairs in front of the stores, and the photograph didn’t come together. Really, there is, apparently, a policy prohibiting this very thing. Who knew? But, my heart was in it, and the effort was there, so let’s show Miss Quoted some shared-winner love.

Then, at the suggestion of Chad Henderson of Elmocast, I made, along with my friends at the New Orleans Public Library Foundation, quite an effort to photograph myself appearing to cash the giant check from Pilcrow Lit Fest at a bank. You’d think bankers would have a better sense of humor…. sheesh! Again, no photograph to speak of, but you can bet the heart and soul were there, so let’s show him some shared-winner spotlight love, too!

Next, comedian Mike Doe and Keep On Running Andrew thought it might be swell to see me photograph myself in front of a few Welcome To state signs, with Keep On Running Andrew’s additional request to hold a teddy bear while doing so. I don’t own a bear. Many state lines on this trip were on bridges (read: no place to pull over). Cops were camped out at the Texas and Oklahoma signs. It seemed to be the simple yet impossible goal!

But, I can offer Mississippi (and very curly hair). Mississippi, by the way, has a kick-ass welcome center, complete with smiling motherly-types pushing sodas over ice, wifi, antebellum living room areas and, really, let’s just go ahead and say it: the best rest stop restrooms are in Mississippi. Even better than Massachusettes and Iowa, and I’ve held them in high regard for some time. Gotta pee? Pee in Mississippi.

Anyway, back to the task at hand, we love us some Mike Doe and Keep On Running Andrew, so we welcome them into the ScavenTour winner’s circle, too.

Last but not least, Rayne Devivo writes a great blog, Central Illinois Life: Beyond The Big Box, about activities to do in central Illinois that support mom and pop businesses, which I think is a great idea. She offered up the wildcard activity of heading to Flesor’s Candy Store in Tuscola, IL and treating mysef to one of their chocolates.

Fine by me. I arrived in Tuscola, found the store, shared my plan and was welcomed with open arms! The cashier ushered me to the back kitchen, where I met and spoked with the delightful owners Ann and Devon– granddaughters of the original owner, who now is said to haunt the place— then asked for The One Best Chocolate In The Store. I was given a honey-caramel, coated in milk chocolate, and sprinkled with sea salt. Holy cow. I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate, or sweets, generally, but, hello delicious. The sea salt was perfect with the sweetness, and the the flavors combined and balanced perfectly for make a delicious treat.

Lastly, HellaSound.com’s John Frenette had the interesting suggestion of stepping up onto a bench or low wall or soapbox and announcing to a crowd of passers-by something I’d never in a million years share otherwise. I did this, and I did this on a barstool. But I’ll be flipped if I was going to document it, and I’ll be flipped again if I’ll admit what I said here. That’s between me and the ears in the area. In any case, let’s welcome him into the winner’s circle, even if only on my word.

Okay, that does it for the wildcard category winners. Stay tuned for the rest of the individual destination winners, the contest recap and the overall, grand-prize, holla holla woot woot winner. Or winners? Could there really be a tie? And, if so, just imagine the tie-breaker!

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