Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 2, Part 6: The Walking Dead

Okay.  We're driving around in Allegheny Cemetry, trying to make sense of the first clue:
The first line does not refer to the breast sizes
of the female statues.  We checked.
This seems like it's trying to lead us around a small chase in the cemetery.  While the rest of us look out the window for ideas, Dan is searching on the cemetery's website for the names in the riddle.  If I wasn't already three days behind this blog I would show you the details, but I'll skip to the end and say that the mini-hunt ends at this creepy ring of gravestones of the Ewart family.
He's holding a compass in his right hand.  Really.

The starts of the lines are cardinal directions that point to specific stones (fortunately Josh had given us not one, but two compasses in our kit) and the numbers index into the stone names.  The code decodes to "WE WERE KNOWN FOR", and fortunately someone online actually cares about stuff like this.  The word "GROCERS" decodes the Vigenere, and gives us a message about looking for an Ent.
Found it!  Oh, you meant in the cemetery.

We drive around and find this:
It must have taken years to grow the concrete tree to precisely those
angles and branch count.
This matches the diagram on our clue page quite well:
Either that or this is a very badly-designed golf course.
This gets us some vague instructions for how to get to the location of Clue #7:
The picture is of Ollivander's.  This is a reference to the
fact that the statue appears to be holding a wand.
Unfortunately, the wand was casting LUMOS at the time,
so we couldn't actually see it.
This marks the first time we've actually tried using the Hint messaging system.  Some awkward snafus later, we figure out which of the three "Mary"s to put into the system.
We were instructed to swear at GC.  I swear.
This is a reference to the grave of Alexander Hays:
And his family.  And his little dog too.
At first we thought that Clue 8 had something to do with playing
cards, but then we couldn't find the "Z" in our deck.
We count the letters in quotes, and solve Clue #8 by matching frequencies to letters.  For example, there are 10 "E"s in the quote, so 10 corresponds to "E".  Yes, there are significant ambiguities with numbers smaller than 10 and we have to make educated guesses.  The decode tells us to look for a Medal of Honor recipient nearby, and we find the grave in question, which belongs to A. L. Pearson:
That's a really big penny.
This last clue (#9) stumps us for longer than it feels like it should be.  We find the quote on the plaque and it's clearly "A WORTHY FRIEND OR FOE".  The text seems to say that we should align this with the alphabet, so that A encodes to A, B encodes to W, C encodes to O, and so on.  Of course some letters appear multiple times so there's a lot of ambiguity.  We'd really like the message to start with "LOOK", but if that's the case than "KL" would encode to the "IE" in "FRIEND" -- but the 11th and 12th letter of the phrase are the "EN" in "FRIEND".  We play around with trying lots of different offsets of the phrase, and hunt around for other phrases, and even consider other encodings.  Eventually we decide to ask for help.  The automated hint just confirms the quote, which is of not much help.   After some more back and forth, Josh shares a screenshot of his spreadsheet with us:
We put the "spread" in "spreadsheet".
This sheet confirms that our initial approach had been the right thing all along... so why wasn't our decoding working?  This is left as an exercise for the reader.

Anyway, the message decodes to "LOOK IN WOOD FAMILY CIRCLE".  We're hoping to find more clues here because with that sheet consumed, we're fresh out again.
Don't stick your hand there!  You don't know
where it's been!
Inside we find a CD and these two sheets in a box:
It was upside-down in the box, too.

I don't think Will Shortz is going to be approving
this any time soon.
Also on the box is the message "ONE HOUR BONUS FOR A TEAM PIC FEEDING A DEER".  We don't have any deer food with us, but we attempt the bonus quest anyway.  In any case, we're told to start driving to Columbus and solve this clue in the car, so we embark on a 3-hour drive!  Hope this one CD clue is meaty enough to last us the trip.


  1. Somehwere in the "unpublished blog posts of GAR 3" series would be "Dan Reviews Cemetery Web Sites".

    Practically every city's hunt ended in a cemetery visit. Getting to the cemetery became kind of exciting for me because it meant we were near the end of the chase and ready to hit the road. There's some potent symbolism there -- like life, the city hunt ends in the earth of a cemetery -- but lo, a disc appears in the soil, guiding us on our voyage to a new city and a new hunt! The traveling clue CD is like the wheel of reincarnation ...

    Anyway, Allegheny Cemetery ( has a _great_ web site. Okay, so the design and layout is very late-90's -- lots of rollover button images with drop-down menus -- but you can search for any internment by first or last name, and the results include full name, dates, and a detailed Google map of the cemetery with the grave's GPS coordinates marked.

    By comparison, many other cemeteries' web sites were glossy, empty sales brochures. Green Lawn Cemetery ( is especially bad with a potent mixture of slick, pushy and creepy. "Save money by planning your burial now!"

    Fortunately other services (, etc) document burial records, but at best they will list the cemetery section (not exact records), so a little but of hunting is required to find the actual grave.

  2. I'm glad the typo was on the spreadsheet and not the plaque. I can't imagine having a typo on a plaque haunt a family for decades or centuries...