I got a headache Saturday night at the Great Salt Lake Treasure Hunt II. I think that means that the treasure hunt was a success.
This is the second annual Great Salt Lake Treasure Hunt. Like the first annual hunt last June, it was a benefit for LDS Hospital's Deseret Foundation. Like the first hunt, it drew more than 250 Utahns who like their fun and games to be hard work - who like to think so hard they might even get a headache.The treasure hunt requires analytical skills, a good imagination and the ability to recognize a pun when you see one. It also doesn't hurt to know your way around Salt Lake, and maybe even know a little geometry.
The hunt started at LDS Hospital, where participants - six to a car - gathered to receive a shopping bag full of hints and their first clue. There would be 14 clues before the evening was over, taking treasure hunters back and forth over Salt Lake streets, from Research Park to the International Center.
The shopping bag was full of an odd variety of stuff: a plastic fly, a UTA bus schedule, Morse code instructions, some packets of mustard and ketchup, a phony $100 bill, a piece of plastic tubing. Some of these items would actually help us solve clues. Others were just thrown in to confuse us.
About a week before the hunt, hunt mastermind Maggie Siegel and her clue committee also sent out a sheet of "hints" - abstruse statements such as "The past tense of eating pie," "Wrap it tighter," and "He's bad but it's good" written upside down.
At the start of the hunt Saturday night, each team was given a piece of paper that said something like: `Don't look now but you have a flat tire' and `You've won the Irish Sweepstakes." At the bottom of the page were five dashes, a space, and four more dashes.
Our team enthusiastically got off on the wrong track. The dashes must be Morse code, we screamed, only to discover, upon checking the Morse code sheet, that this made no sense.
Then we remembered the hint sheet. "Our first clue will fool you this year," it said. Sure enough, the flat tire and sweepstakes remarks weren't true. They sounded, in fact, like . . . "April Fool!" But then what? All the clue answers have to be numbers. If you've come up with the right answer, the number will be on your treasure hunt map, which will then lead you to your next clue. There are about a hundred numbers on the map, most of them bogus.
So what was the number for April Fool? One? Forty-one? Should you add the numbers together? Should you pull your hair out and whine?
Wait! Here in the shopping bag, something we hadn't noticed before. A calendar. And there, on April 1, the number 10 had been written in, along with the symbol for the treasure hunt. We were brilliant! We were off!
To the wrong place, as it turned out. We had gotten the right answer, but we had read the map wrong. After wandering around 300 South and West Temple for 10 minutes - bursting into Shenanigans Restaurant, in fact, and demanding a clue - we realized that we were supposed to be at Derk's Field.
At Derk's Field, one of our team members had to run around the baseball diamond, where, if he were alert, he would notice numbers written on the baseball bats he was handed at each base.
That was one of the easy clues. And then there was the K-Mart clue. In the parking lot at K-Mart on Parley's Way, clue monitors gave each team a piece of paper with the word "up" written at the top and "down" written at the bottom. In the upper left hand corner was a Gary Larson cartoon.
We pondered that for about 20 minutes. Then we tried bribing the monitors and spying on other teams. Finally someone remembered another item in the shopping bag. It was a newspaper ad for automotive repairs, including a car tune-up. Cartoon up. Car tune up, $42.95. Sure enough, there on the map was the number 42.95.
And that's the way it went all evening. At a little taco restaurant on 1700 South, Siegel had arranged for pumpkin pies to be served to each team. The answer? Ate pie; 8 pi; 25.12.
The hunt took nearly four hours. Afterwards there was a party, where winners received an ugly trophy, and master of ceremonies Danny Kramer of KALL Radio explained the clue answers.
Now the only thing left to do is wait till next year's Great Salt Lake Treasure Hunt III. But Siegel says she doesn't know if she'll have the time to orchestrate another hunt. This year's took five hours a day for three months, and she does it all as a volunteer.
If Salt Lake City were smart, it would just hire Siegel to work on treasure hunts full time. We could have treasure hunts every month and Salt Lake would be just about the most fun city in America. Even if we all had headaches.