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Hunting for the Post, or Something Like That

Jun 08, 2011 10:40PM ● Published by Anonymous

You may not know this, but I love Dave Barry. If Dave had a groupie, I would be it. Nope, it’s not his chiseled abs or his bowl cut hair; it’s the fact that I want to be a humor columnist. I get way overexcited every year when my idol comes to DC for the Washington Post Post Hunt; excited enough to plug another publication on my blog. This Hunt, of sorts, consists of running around about six blocks of downtown D.C. trying to solve a set of five clues that straddle the border between stupidly easy and completely impossible. When me and my team arrived at the Hunt this year, we were told right away that this one would be harder than in previous years. Since we had lost in the three previous years, we were not too excited about this. But then, we figured, maybe the clues were just too easy for our superior intellects to comprehend. Yes, let’s run with this.

At the start of the event, we were told to get a goodie bag. This bag contained a coupon for Papa John’s pizza, a ping pong ball, a yellow pipe cleaner, a piece of paper that looked like an unfinished Wheel of Fortune puzzle, and a grid with a bunch of numbers on it. I was wondering what exciting shape we would have to sculpt with the pipe cleaner (I’m pretty good at making snails) when we were told the coordinates we would need to go to using our handy Washington Post Magazine.

The first puzzle we got to made absolutely no sense. This would soon become a theme. There were presenters on stage that were from different government agencies. We were invited to ask them questions. It was pretty obvious which agencies they were from due to their answers. For example, when asked what is your perfect first date? the first answered the day after she files her tax returns, the next said spending the day in a government provided trailer, and the final said hanging out in a hay pile. Obviously, they represented the IRS, FEMA and the USDA. Put these acronyms into the Wheel of Fortune puzzle and you get FIRST FEMALE PLUS DATE. So, okay, the first female had a number on her shirt. But what date are you supposed to use? We tried 6/5, which would equal 11. Then 6+5+2011. No go. Moving on.

For the second puzzle, we got a scratch off card. It had a bunch of letters and pound signs on it. I figured out, since I’m awesome, that if you read the letters vertically you got a bunch of words, which were separated by said pound signs. They included such works of prose as “uniforms” and “switches.” The instructions on the paper said “Scratch ONLY where needed.” One of my teammates immediately decided that meant he should scratch all the Os, Ns, Ls and Ys. He got a serious of numbers and dialed them on his cell phone. He was greeted with a 9 cent per minute charge for making an international call. Moving on.

Third puzzle: we got to a lovely display of an antique vase, vanity, book and some other random stuff. It matched up with a feature in the magazine that day. Yea, okay. So what is the point? No idea. Moving on.

Fourth, we came upon a contortionist. There were so many people there (in the thousands total) that we couldn’t see to figure out what she was doing. Instead, we decided what she was doing couldn’t be super important. Instead, we focused on what she said. She told us to put on our thinking caps and text “lemons” to 98999. When you did that, you got the answer “sorry, it’s not that easy.” Then I texted the word “caps” and got subscribed to Washington Capitals ice hockey updates. Super. Finally, I realized she was standing on her head when she said that, so you needed to text the word lemons upside down (snow37). I got the answer “we” back. We decided it was time to get lunch.

After an awesome hummus wrap from Cosi, the Hunt was back on. I figured out we had to go to 3M on the map and we made the hike to discover a 61, which, of course, was 19 upside down. First correct answer of the day.

Bolstered by not being complete morons, we headed to the final clue site. It was a bunch of black what Dave Barry calls monoliths. They were way tall, so I told my 6’ 4” teammate to tell me what it looked like from above. He replied back that he wasn’t THAT tall. After much hemming and hawing, I convinced him to draw a grid. He drew two straight rows of squares. I insisted that the squares weren’t in two straight rows but were in fact staggered. He tried to convince me otherwise. I don’t convince easily. I told him to look again. He goes “oh, yea, and actually there are three rows. I missed one.” Ha! I win. With the correct drawing, I figured out that the monoliths represented a computer keyboard. Some were marked with numbers, and if you typed those keys in the particular order it spelled out “fifteen.” Awesome.

We had 10 minutes to get back to the start for the final clue. We didn’t know three of the answers to fill in our grid yet. Whoops. However, with the answers we did have, we were able to fudge what the picture was supposed to be: an outhouse.

Dave read the clue, which was four Beatles songs. One was “two for tea and tea for two.” My other teammate and I headed for T2 on the map, looking for some random outhouse sitting on the street corner. On the way up there, we saw disappointed teams slowly walking back to the start. We just figured we were smarter than they were. We weren’t. The cell phone call came shortly telling us someone had already finished the Hunt. Cheaters.

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