Dipsea Stairs & Tourist Club - Troupe 001

Mill Valley proved to be a bit of challenging starting point for our explorers expedition this month. The first challenge was that our meeting spot was turned into an art festival! Luckily Explorers think on their toes and were able to adjust accordingly. We met up outside of the library on a small traffic circle. As we all gathered to hear about the challenges of the day ahead, we unknowingly fell into our first trap. The traffic circle was in fact an Explorb. Luckily this one was relatively easy to escape, as it was used for our Line in the Sand ritual. After we were able to all properly escape and set off, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the redwoods of Mill Valley. A sign indicating a detour in the opposite direction we were headed, assured us that if we were de-detouring, it must mean we are simply touring and thus on the right trail. Our local guide, Double, confirmed this then pointed out her favorite house which we all were convinced must be where a witch lives as it seemed optimal for making gingerbread people.

Before we came to the first flight of stairs, we were once again greeted by another Explorb (EXPLORB!). As we tried to find answers on how best to escape this one, we eventually realized if all the road dots encircling it were touched at the same time, we'd be able to exit. We activated the exit path, and can still boast that we haven't lost an Explorer yet! 

The first flight of the Dipsea Stairs proved to be a mighty foe. We weren't certain that the stair count was real so we set about a couple explorers to independently make their own count along with another who would guess at the top how many they thought it was, this person served as a control factor. After 315 steps (or was it 310...?) we had made it to the top of the first set. Unfortunately, we found that the next set of steps were closed due to a renovation! We took the long way around, and honestly it was probably for the best as it was full of treasures. We found a free german gym cycling wheel (that we verified worked!) along with a bucket of apples and a nice mossy branch. Everything was coming up roses for the team. We made it up the third and final set of stairs with little concern and that's when we started seeing the incredible views of the Mill Valley area. Unfortunately, this is also when we encountered our thirdExplorb! We couldn't stop those that had already gone in, so we decided to all join in an effort to properly get out. For this Explorb, we had to jump and land at the same time. It took a few tries but we we finally able to make it out. **Let this serve as a caution to all explorers, if you encounter an Explorb, be ready to figure out how to get out if you accidentally find your way inside.**

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By the time we made it to the Sun Trail, the Explorers could feel the festivities close by. Wisp and Turtle-ish found us and together we made our way through the sprawling vistas and to the Tourist Club. The path was less than a mile and along it we made friends with a couple who agreed to join us at the club. When we got there we hopped in line and met Paul, this expedition's Steven Clarke. As the photo was taken, the doors opened and we were heading inside!

Live music, tons of friendly faces and a plethora of smells and drinks were abound. Binary scouted us a hidden table section, and we made base camp. Over the next couple hours, we caroused with one another, played games, loudly toasted and explored the chalet. Polka and waltz dancing was had while everyone ate and drank to their fill. Our new friends, the couple on the trail, ended up giving one of our explorers a ride home early, while in the banquet hall we also made friends with the table next to us. The people at this table were a group bonded over exploring with their airstream trailers. One of the gentlemen there sketched out our group, making him a Stephen Qulark Stellar Cartographer.

Some housekeeping notes, on this expedition we recognize the accomplishment of Binary who completed and received their Culinarian's Badge. Additionally we maintained a dog log of all the four legged companions we came across. Illustrations can be found in the Stellar Cartography book, but 19 dogs were spotted in total.

As the day wore on and our fill was had, we finally said goodby to the chalet on the hill. Many new friends were made, and smiles were abound. Whereas the hike in was mostly uphill, the way home was a nice hike down the mountain to our original meet up spot. During this hike back, there were many stories being exchanged about the dynamics of our group interacting with others. As an example, we brought the flag but didn't bring the pole as the act of planting a flag at their event seemed like a poor symbol of our intent. We were graciously accepted by our hosts as guests and it seems as though there is no reason to believe we wouldn't return.

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Justin Oliphant