Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Great America Race Treasure Hunt: Day 5

We started out waking up at 6am in order to take the MARTA (subway) into downtown Atlanta. Once arriving at the Peachtree Center Mall we obtained coffee and a quick bite to eat to fuel our adventure.

Fifteen minutes before starting time, Josh text messages everyone with the message “I am at the Peachtree MARTA entrance…oh, but which one?” Did we mention, that this was a HUGE mall (encompassing several city blocks) with numerous entrances to the MARTA. As we started to scout around the mall, we picked up other teams, forming temporary alliances in our quest for the ever-elusive Josh.

Finally, 2 blocks away and across the street, we managed to spot Josh in his oddly bright shirt. After Josh’s briefing we received our next set of clues and our map. Since we started right next to a public library, us and a few other teams, ran into the air conditioning to analyze the clues and devise a game plan.

While Mary and Corina sorted clues, Mike realized that the bonus clue was a unique one not usually seen, an Ogham cipher. Jason and Mat quick cracked the code that would later be the downfall of many teams (according to our code book, this cipher has never been solved, and our team believes that it’s inclusion in the race was absolutely… BRILLIANT).

While we were running around trying to find Josh at the start, Mike noticed the upper entrance to the mall was surrounded by country flags. Our first clue eluded to where many flags were raised , before you enter the mall… a quick run to where we started revealed the answer to our first clue of the day. We proceeded down a hill into the Centennial Olympic Park, a large green area with statues, walkways, etc, etc. We immediately found a large statue depicting runners and the clue told us to Vigenere the sculpture’s name. We did so, and quickly move along. We proceeded up the path to the statue of Baron Coubertin who revived the Olympic Games.

After locating a small plaque on the side, and a quick line-word-letter, we were on our way. The next clue instructed us to use the provided Roman Numerals to locate a large area of bricks with many words, phrases, and dedications from sponsors to the park. The numerals and the process of elimination, allowed to pinpoint our objective. Our journey continued under the blazing Atlanta sun… the next clue led us to what could have been refreshment but the waterways were dry. At the Coca-Cola bulding, the dry waterways and a bearded statue yielded an answer that filled in our blanks, but did not quench our thirst for victory.

Clue 8 led us up Bakers Street from the Olympic Park to Peachtree, where we began. At this intersection we saw the ‘arch of knowledge’ alluded to in clue 9, the last clue in our set, as well as several other teams working diligently. Knowing that we were close to our end, we searched the area for the statue of clue 8. Swiftly we found him, just past the arch of knowledge… waving at the other teams as we passed. At the statue, Corina located the tiny turtles that made up the base of the lamps surrounding the statue, which was the answer to this clue.

Now knowing this we joined the others to solve the final clue in our packet. “Sigillium first at twelve o’clock and one o’clock as well the hour of noon at emory then med school soon at twelve” was what we had to work with to solve this very tough clue. Once we oriented our paper upon the nine seals on the ground, our riddle finally started to make sense. The solution read “Examine nearby radioactive vessel” which was a yellow magazine box with a radioactive symbol on it. In this box, was a second packet of clues, I guess we weren’t s o close to the end after all.

We ducked inside an alcove and quickly began solving the second packet which led us to the Sun Dial, a revolving restaurant on top of a 72 story hotel. From this high vantage point, we needed to locate a navy blue ‘G’ and find out where it resides… which was Georgia Aquarium at Pemberton Park, our answer for the next clue. Once realizing that we didn’t actually have to circle the aquarium and that we were done in Atlanta, we hopped back on the MARTA and headed back to the car, not yet knowing where in Savannah we were headed.

On our way to Savannah, we realized that we had 3 pieces of a 4 piece puzzle. Not knowing what to do with them, we pieced them together and noticed that the map we had been using all day was the fourth and final piece only faded and enlarge several times larger than the 3.

After wrestling with these 4 images and a slew of random letters and number we decided to take a “tactical hit” and threw in the towel. On the phone we Josh, he informs us that the crazy jumble of letters and numbers that we had been working on so frantically was nothing but garbage, the classic “red herring”. The actual solution was hidden withing the 3 images we had taped together, in addition to the map.

Josh told us about the winding path through the stars on the images and how they related to numbers that were seen previously in the Sun Dial restuaraunt. Using the numbers that the path winded through, revealed a telephone number the the Molly McPherson Irish Pub (coincidently a clan with actual blood ties to Jason and Mat)

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