Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 3, Part 1 - Bustown

As evidenced by Wei-Hwa's seven part travel series, "How to Repeatedly Get Lost Along the Way from Pittsburgh to Columbus", yesterday was a long day. (If you're the kind of person who looks at datestamps, you might question my use of the word "yesterday" but that kind of pedantry will serve no useful purpose.) It was a fun day to be sure, filled with some great puzzling, but it was tiring and having arrived at the end location last because of a few (read: many) missteps (read: gross miscalculations), it was also a little deflating. So we didn't stay long; just long enough to chat with Josh and the other teams, find out how some puzzles were supposed to work and silently blame each other for missing the now so obvious clues. We then rallied our spirits, resolved to do much better and left to head straight to our hotel and get some much needed rest.

Or at least that was our intention. After we'd driven most of the way back to Pittsburgh, Rich interrupted our sparkling conversation about puzzles, cemeteries and the various merits of chili, to quietly inquire as to whether we might reach the hotel quicker if he had any idea where it was as opposed to his current strategy of just following whatever car most looked like its driver knew where he was going. I argued that we should give the red Toyota ahead of us just a couple more minutes, but the rest of my team had less faith and so Dan pulled up the hotel on GPS and directed Rich to turn around and drive back to the bar we had left as our hotel was a scant two blocks from there. I sadly waved goodbye to the Toyota and I can't help wondering what grand adventure we would have embarked on had we just stayed on course a little longer. Oh well.

Google's directions (marked in blue) versus my best recollection of the path we actually took (marked in red).
Notice most of Google's directions are actually measured in feet. That Toyota driver must have been drunk.
Or he was trying to lose us.

The start time had been pushed back to 11am but we still woke up semi-early to meet Ajit, a founding member of Blood and Bones and a local Columbusite, along with his wife, Lise, and their two children for breakfast. I thought we were just going to enjoy a friendly meal together, but before I even had a chance to pour syrup on my delicious French toast, Rich revealed his ulterior motive and started grilling his supposed friends for local knowledge and potential clue sites. Under his intense questioning and implied threats, they quickly rattled off a series of likely locations. At the time, their terrified expressions and the way they kept clutching at each other for support upset me and I thought maybe Rich had gone too far, but when later it turned out they had correctly predicted 70% of our clue locations, I realized the wisdom in his approach. It's his ability to make those hard choices that makes him so effective a leader. And some degree of Stockholm Syndrome must have set in because when we said our goodbyes, there were hugs all around and they promised to see him soon.

It was getting close to 11:00 so we made our way to the start location of Dorrian Commons Park where we had a few minutes to talk with other teams before Josh arrived and handed us our first packet consisting of 11 puzzles. The first 9 would be solved at locations relatively close by but Josh suggested that we'd want to drive to the final two locations. He also warned us that Columbus was a little spread out and advised us to make use of the city's bike share program rather than rely on just walking.

Who has two thumbs and is excited to be in Cowtown? That guy.
Not being ones to ignore the advice of GC, our first order of business was to find a nearby bike share location. Dan had installed the app on his phone and was able to locate a station with bikes available a few blocks away. At the station, we were able to check out bikes for $6/day but were required to check them in to a station every 30 minutes or be charged an additional fee. All in all, a pretty cool system and one very convenient for puzzle hunting assuming the clue locations are relatively close to bike stations.

Dan struggles to remove one of the bikes while Wei-Hwa vainly tries to explain the
checkout process to Rich. Sadly, these are problems that would persist through Chicago.
The first clue consisted of a sideways compass rose and a poem that mentioned several easily identifiable locations that seemed to be leading us along the path to an end location.

One of the later locations in the first poem was the topiary hedge garden that Ajit had told us about during breakfast. We decided to short-circuit the beginning of the poem and head straight there. When we arrived, we were treated to a lovely topiary depiction of Georges Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" but nothing that looked like a clue or an indication of where to go next.

I'm glad we saw this since Rich and I would later fail to see the original painting at the Chicago Art Museum.
So we hopped back on our bikes and started visiting earlier locations in the poem: the nearby gatehouse, the library, the statehouse, etc. Somewhere along our travels, we noticed an information map display on which Rich realized most of the poem's locations were shown and labelled with letters. We tried translating the locations to letters in the order presented in the poem but got gibberish. However, we theorized that there would be more than one information display and that the locations would be lettered differently on different displays. So we headed to the first location mentioned in the poem, the corner of North Washington and E. Broad, where we found a two-sided display. Using the side of the display with the compass rose matching the one for our clue, we got a message directing us to a nearby sculpture. Maybe we should have not been so terribly clever and actually tried solving the clue without short-circuiting it.

Notice the sideways compass rose. Tricky, Josh, tricky.
And that's it for part one. I'll post part two tomorrow night (though I'll be pretending it's last week).

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry too much about missing the original painting: it's bigger than what you see in most reproductions (though smaller than a topiary garden), but otherwise you already know what it looks like.