Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 4, Part 3: Circling the Circle City

When last we left our heroes, they were en route to Indianapolis from Cincinnati. Jonathan had prematurely cracked both of the driving puzzle Vigeneres, they had opened the cryptex, and they were starting to strategize how to tackle the next leg of the journey...

So... inside the cryptex we found four sheets of paper which we determined to be the set of clues we'd need to solve in Indianapolis.  The first page was a set of twelve photos of landmarks in Indianapolis, with a poem indicating that two of them were red herrings.  (Note: I'd love to share the fresh clues with you, but unfortunately we only had one copy of each page, and we wrote all over them before taking pictures of them.  Sorry...)

Page 1 depicting the sights and sounds of Indianapolis, without the sounds.
The next two pages were clues that we were supposed to pair up with ten of the twelve images.

Page 2 depicting the day's clues 6 through 11.
Page 3 depicting the day's clues 12 through 15.
The fact that clues 13-15 are labeled "Day 5" might have clued us in that this was going to be a serious challenge.
The fourth page was an ambiguous color acrostic that was clearly the meta, as it had spaces for us to fill in the answers for Clues 8-15.   Spaces to fill in the answers for Clues 6 and 7 were conspicuously absent from that sheet, but later we found out this was just a production error.

Page 4 depicting the Indy meta.
Also pictured is a cup of authentic Indianapolis chili from some local fast food chain called "Wendy's"

OK, so armed with all we needed to tackle Indianapolis, and still driving from Cincinnati, we decided to stop work on the initial puzzles (which we had mostly short-circuited by cracking the Vigeneres), and focus on researching where we'd find all those photos.

Progress on finding the locations of these photos was initially slow, partly because our internet connection was spotty on the road, and partly because some of these photos were hard to come by.  Eventually we determined that quite a few of the photos were in and around University Park, some were at the Indianapolis State House, and at least one was at the Crown Hill Cemetery.  One of the photos (of Ben Franklin, on the top right) had some tiny writing that we noticed and could faintly make out a question of "What glasses did I invent?"  So we were pretty sure that one of the answers would be BIFOCALS, but not yet sure of which Clue it went with.

We also found that one of the pictures (the Pro Patria statue, on the bottom right) was a statue made by Henry Hering -- a perfect candidate for one of the red herrings!  Later we'd find out that a second statue (Seated Lincoln, on the bottom left) was also made by Henry Hering, but alas that was not the other red herring.  Too bad, that just made it seemed like the first Hering statue was just a coincidence...

As we approached Indianapolis, we decided to go first toward University Park, since that seemed to be the place where most of the places we'd found were.  There were still four or five images we hadn't found yet, so I dropped everyone at the Scottish Rite Cathedral (across from University Park), which we were sure was one of the pictures and that it went with Clue 8.  After scouring the Scottish Rite Cathedral for a while, we got an unsolicited tip from Josh "not to overthink it", or something like that.  At that point, from the car, I looked up some details on the locale and found that it contained a 54-bell carillon, suggesting that simply CARILLON was our answer.  (It also suggested that there was actually no reason to visit that location at all, which was a little disappointing.)

Anyway, finally armed with our first solid answer, Dan, Wei-Hwa, and Jonathan set out to walk around the enormous University Park, while I sat in the car and did more research.   I finally struck the Mother Lode with this wikipedia page, which helped finish finding all the remaining images except for one (the one just below the top left, which looked like it *must* be in the cemetery).

The guys solved several of the other puzzles and identified what seemed to be the other red herring (The Depew Memorial, the fountain seen just to the left of the bottom right image).  We were able to solve all the puzzles we found there (and match up the Ben Franklin one we'd mostly solved on the road!), but one still eluded us.  We *knew* it was the right statue, and we *knew* it was semaphore, but couldn't quite get it to work.
Can you solve this?
RDS, DNI, NAO, TOI, NNC, ERZ, YNM, JZM
Anyway, feeling like we'd collected all the data we could, we moved on to the state house.  Here we found another answer (which I won't describe), and another one that we couldn't quite get (which I will describe).
This inscription is used with Clue 12.
Clue 12 lead us to the monument shown above.  It used a very clever self-contained mechanism in which the dates on the plaque were used to extract letters from the other lines on the plaque.  That gave us the letters IYBIDOCI, and we were looking for an eight-letter word that described Stephen Baldwin in the movie Threesome.  Needless to say, we were not certain we'd done this correctly, and that those were even the correct letters, but we had the data so we moved on.

Next we decided to tackle the image that showed a distant view of one of the buildings in University Park (the image to the right of the top left image).  We'd seen that building in University Park, and recognized the buildings shown on each side of it, so it was clear we'd have to go well south of the park to get to that vantage.  So we started driving south and looking to find the right vantage.  After a while, it became clear that due to other buildings in the way, it was going to be impossible to find that vantage.  This is when someone (I think Wei-Hwa) realized that maybe the image we had been given was reversed!  Sure enough, it was, and we actually had to go to the north end of Washington Park.  Doh!  That cost us some time.

So we head to the north end of University Park to find the right view.  There we find a plaque for a guy named GRESHAM, that goes with Clue 7.  According to the clue, "Add unto the mix an I, and with a simple anagram, you'll find a tag to try."  OK, great, so we need to anagram GRESHAMI into something.  Seems easy enough, but it had us stumped.  So we decide to press on.

At this point, we'd found all but two of the images, and still had a few clues that we think we've got the date for, but haven't finished yet.  One of the last two images we knew was in Crown Hill Cemetery (the one above the bottom left image), and the other (just above that) we felt likely would be there too.  So we head off to Crown Hill Cemetery, which we'd left for last since we'd noticed Josh has a tendency to end legs in cemeteries, and we felt that might optimize our routing for the day.

The cemetery is enormous, and as we approached it we started to worry that finding these two images was going to be next to impossible.  After driving around aimlessly at first, eventually we find some more detail on where the fountain we were looking for was to be found, and head over there.  The Clue for this one (#11) was not as straightforward as we expected, but we think the answer might be SERENITY, as that is a prominent eight-letter word on the sign.

It seems the other picture in the cemetery is up on a hill, so we start driving around and looking for a way to get to a higher ground.  Eventually we find our way up to the top of a hill to the very fancy burial plot of James Whitcomb Riley, a famous Hoosier poet.  We need to solve another Vigenere here, so we start trying out every word we see on the crypto text until one of them works, and this approach eventually gives us the solution word YOUNGEST.  In retrospect, the bolded letters in Clue 10 should have pointed us to "Poem Beast" to help us positively identify which word to use.

It is around this time that we receive a text from the other team (which remember is now both other teams working together), that they've punted on Indianapolis and started heading off to Chicago.  It is at this point, we decide to start playing strategically, but to do that, we need information from Josh.  We have visited all 12 locations, and have solved somewhere between 5 and 7 of the Clues, but aren't sure exactly how many since we don't have a way to verify our answers.

The first thing we ask is whether we can verify answers without taking any penalties.  Josh says that's fine, so we verify the answers we have, and find that we have 7 of 10 correct.  The ones we don't have yet are:
the semaphore puzzle (shown above), the IYBIDOCI anagram, and the GRESHAMI anagram.  Of course, we also don't know how far off we are on any of these either.  Plus we still have the whole meta to solve.

Unsure of the best approach, we decide to call Josh and ask him how penalties are going to be handled for this round.  For instance, we don't want to lose because the other team punted before us and we just are too stubborn to give up.  We also don't want to take a hint on a feeder puzzle if that would cost the same as a hint on the meta, especially if not solving the feeder puzzles doesn't hurt us.  So we call Josh to discuss, and he confirms that the other team skipped *a lot* of the puzzles, and that we had a pretty big cushion so should still try to solve it all.  Armed with this information, we decide to take a hint on the semaphore puzzle.  The hint just verifies it is semaphore, so we ask Josh for further hintage since we had already committed to the penalty on that one.  He tells us it is two words, the first letter is an N and the last is a T.  This provides us just enough of a crib to nail it, but I'll leave the specifics as an exercise for the reader. :)

As for IYBIDOCI, I eventually convinced myself that it was BI-IDIOCY, and that was a perfectly good word to describe Stephen Baldwin, but unabled to convince Dan to submit that, somehow I instead convince him to submit C III BODY.  Crazily that was incorrect, but eventually we do submit BI-IDIOCY, which is confirmed as correct.

As for GRESHAMI, we are so stumped by this one, we actually drive back to the park to see if we can find another word.  I don't recall exactly how, but at some point, we decide to try "HIS GAMER", which turns out to be right, and consistent with the "tag" to try, as in "gamer tag".   Hmm, not my favorite.

Anyway, of course all along we were trying to crack the meta without having every answer, but now that we do, it still proves to be difficult with the ambiguity of the colors mapping to multiple possible letters in the final output phrase, but eventually we get the message:  YOUR KEY IS WHAT CHICAG IS KNOWN AS THE BLARK [sic].  We debate as to whether the typos here were intentional or not (I argue that using CHICAG instead of CHICAGO prevented us from using CHICAGO as a crib), but nonetheless, this is enough to finish.  Using this key on the meta's Vigenere gives us a phone number which leads us to a baseball field near the Brickyard (aka the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) where we'll find our driving puzzle to Chicago.  Hooray!  This means we solved all of Indianapolis with (we think) only one charged hint, and surely made up loads of time on the other teams, who punted many of the clues, and still only left town about 90 minutes before us.

Off to the Brickyard we go.  On the way, I'm underwhelmed by what I expected to be a lot more impressive. I mean, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a world famous auto racing stadium, but from the outside it looks much more like some metal high school bleachers for a JV soccer field that just happen to extend for a mile.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway as I pictured it.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway as I saw it.
Anyway, we got to the nearby baseball field and found our driving clue, and started off towards Chicago confident that we'd finally gotten out to a lead that we would be determined not to relinquish.

video
Jonathan finds the last driving clue!


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