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Post Hunt!

5/18/09

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The Washington Post Hunt is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever participated in and probably the closest I’ll ever get to being on CBS’s The Amazing Race.  Created by Dave Barry, Gene Weingarten and Tom Shroder, the Hunt is an afternoon adventure in downtown DC that challenges your mind to think outside of the box in order to solve puzzles and win $2000! It’s sort of long and complicated to explain, but I’m going to attempt to try, of course with the use of photos I took to document our journey along the way.  Make sure you read the captions that go with all of the photos, otherwise you’ll be completely lost as to why I’m posting a photo of a concrete ghost (don’t worry, you’ll see why!)

So Sunday at noon, over 5000 people gathered at Freedom Plaza with a copy of the Washington Post Magazine in tow, ready to stretch their minds to crazy places.  Thanks to my sister, Stephanie, who organized our group, we were among them.  My parents were in the town for the weekend so they endulged us young ‘uns and joined in on the fun.  A few quick pics of the team and the family.

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The Hunt started at exactly noon with Dave, Gene and Tom getting on stage to announce the starting “clue.”  They gave us 5 numbers, which went along with 5 letters that we had already pre-determined by answering questions in our copy of the Washington Post Magazine.  By combining our letters with their numbers, we now had 5 coordinates for our map.  Our goal for the next 3 hours was to visit these locations and solve a different puzzle at each place.  The puzzles could be anything, as long as it was weird and outside of the box.  Our answers HAD TO BE A NUMBER.  So off we went…

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PUZZLE #1: AIRPORT SECURITY

When we arrive to the spot, we were ushered through a single file line where a man in white gloves handed us a clue.  It said “Find the missing letters in what I said.” We solved this one pretty quick, thanks to my smarty-pants sis.  The guy never said anything to us, BUT, on closer inspection of the Washington Post Magazine, the guy who handed us the clue was the EXACT SAME GUY who was featured in the “First Person Singular.”  So by writing down all of the letters of the alphabet and crossing off any letters that appeared in his article, we were left with the following letters:

“S”  “I”  “X”   =  six, so our answer was the number 6.

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Puzzle #2: Human Statues

At the second spot, we’re handed another clue.  This one was mighty strange and confounded us for some time.  It read:

“According to ancient Native American Legend, the Earth was originally pooped out of an eagle.

PLUS

It is believed to be the world’s largest freestanding polyp.

MINUS

Little Alice loved hanging out with Uncle Henry, but she kept a sledge hammer ready in case he got frisky”

What the hell, right?  Oh, and to add to the confusion, there were two people painted completely white who were frozen in statuesque poses.  Well, it turned out that on our trusty map, there were 9 different statues.  At each of the 9 statues, there was a person holding a number.  The key to the puzzle was to figure out which statues went with the clue and add and subtract those numbers to get your final answer.  It took us some time, but we finally got it.

According to ancient Native American Legend, the Earth was originally pooped out of an eagle._dsc3188

It is believed to be the world’s largest freestanding polyp     AND       Little Alice loved hanging out with Uncle Henry but she kept a sledge hammer ready in case he got friskyuntitled-1

Puzzle #3:  The Failed Monuments

This one was pretty easy and only took us minutes to get.  At the 3rd location, there was a set of 3 concrete figures set up near the Washington Monument.  While the figures appeared to be rather random, we quickly noticed that they each were a phonetic representation of one of the Presidents.

Can you figure out what they are? (hint the first top two photos go together as one)

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The first one is Buchanan (boo + canon).  Second is Hoover (a vacumn).  Third is Eisenhower (eyes + hour)

But our final answer had to be a number, so there was one more step.  We had to figure out what number President they each were (in order) and when we strung the 3 numbers together, we got our final answer of 153134.

Puzzle #4: The Debate

When we arrived at the 4th spot, there was a fake Congressional Debate taking place on Bill 98999.  The “candidates” kept repeating certain words/phrases, such as “it’s in the text.”  “The key word is accountability.”  When we texted the word “accountability” to number 98999, we got an instant reply!  The response was “The solution is a simple majority.”  Well, seeing as how we were at a Congressional Debate, we figured the answer was the majority votes for a bill to pass through legislation – 218 was our final answer.

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Puzzle #5: The Bailout

At the final spot, two Uncle Sams were throwing fake $100 bills into the air shouting “Post Hunt Stimulus Package!  Take the money!  It’s Yours!”  Next to them was a poster with different commodities and their price listed (i.e. Corn, Steel, Oil).  After WAY too long and looking for the answer in the completely wrong direction, our team member Chris noticed something strange about the fake dollar bill.  Instead of “In God We Trust,” it said “In GOLD we Trust.”  Gold was in fact one of the commodities listed on the board.  Our final answer was the price for Gold, or 893.

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The EndGame: Let’s win $2000!

So we had solved all 5 puzzles.  We now had 5 numbers that corresponded to 5 additional clues (don’t worry, we’re getting close to the end!) located in our Washington Post Magazine.  They were:

6 – At 3 p.m. we will give you the end”

“218 – It starts five-three.”

“580 – For cinematic realism, madam, you will be tied to a four-poster bed and compelled to squeal as we tickle your feet with an emu feather.”

“893 – “Do not foreclose on this home, Snidely!” “Indeed i shall not – for two thousand dollars, your daughter’s virginity and 24 toy poodles!”

“153,134 – Let it bee”

So at 3pm, we gather back at the main stage.  Our final clue was going to be given to us.  Dave, Gene and Tom got on stage with a guitar and started playing Old MacDonald.  They stopped mid-sentence, the crowd shouted out “EIEIO”  Dave then said, “Now turn that over in your mind.”

confused yet?  This is where thinking outside the box is key.  If you turn EIEIO upside down, you get the numbers 01313.  One of our clues said that at 3pm, they would give us the end.  The other clue said that it started five – three.  So we had the following numbers: 5301313.  Add a 202 to it and you have a DC phone number.  We called that phone number and got a recording saying “Look for an important message immediately after four.”

If you go back and look at the rest of our remaining clues, you’ll see that some form of the “four”, appears throughout the clues.

“580 – For cinematic realism, madam, you will be tied to a fourposter bed and compelled to squeal as we tickle your feet with an emu feather.”

“893 – “Do not foreclose on this home, Snidely!” “Indeed i shall not – for two thousand dollars, your daughter’s virginity and 24 toy poodles!”

“153,134 – Let it bee”

Taking the words directly after all of these instances of “four,” we came up with the following statement: “Cinematic Poster Close To Toilet”

On our map was a toilet.  When we went to that spot, there were three posters.  One of the Eiffel tower, one of a soccer player, and one of R2D2 and 3CPO from Star Wars.  Well, Star Wars was the only cinematic reference so we went with that poster.  Taking R2D2 and 3CPO, we again found ourselves with coordinates on our map.  Located on the map in those spots were the following:

A Hand.  A Jail Cell. #2.  A Boxer.

String them together and you have “Hand Cell to a Boxer.”  This is as far as we got.  From here, we didn’t know where to go or what to do.  Turns out you were suppose to travel to the spot of the Boxer on the map where someone was walking a Boxer Dog.  You were suppose to hand your cell number to this person to win.

So in the end, we were close, but no cigar!  We figure 18 more of these hunts and we can finally win the Grand Prize!  Either way though, win or lose, it was a great afternoon.  If you want more information about the Washington Post Hunt, you can read about it and watch videos of the actual contest here.  And if you made it all the way through this post, I congratulate you!

Lots to post this week, including Irene’s and Sameh’s wedding so make sure to check back soon!  Ciao!

  1. Kelly

    May 19th, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Your pictures are great from it! It sounds like so much fun, I definitely want to participate next year.

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