Saturday, August 06, 2011

What did YOU do this weekend? (get your coffee...this is a looooooooooong post!)

A few weeks ago (maybe a month) I got a Groupon email offering me a $30 savings for an "Urban Scavenger Hunt."  After I read the details & checked out the website I thought, hmmmm....this could be fun.  I contacted our friends Jeff & Kath to see if they wanted to do it with us.  They were already committed to mud volleyball {gross!} but they wished us luck.  I also called Amy & Phil to see if they would do it--Phil is in OKC this weekend with Air Force stuff, so then I went to my dear husband, who loves when I schedule things that he normally wouldn't do and said, you know what, I think it would be fun and we should do it.  He agreed and I bought the Groupon: one for me and one as a "gift".  I signed us up for the race.  Here's what the Challenge Nation website has to say about the whole thing: 

"Challenge Nation is a series of urban adventure races coming soon to a city near you! Each Challenge is part 5K race, part scavenger hunt, and part urban exploration--which all adds up to 100% fun as you compete against other Challengers to quickly solve the clues and beat them to the finish line!"

And fun it was.  Ryan and I don't know a whole lot about the Denver area.  As we were driving there today I told him we might have a fighting chance because I had written a scavenger hunt for my students to participate in recently so maybe, just maybe some of that information will be helpful.  I'm going to say that it was helpful. 
Registration was between 11 AM and 12:45 PM today and the race started at 1 PM.  I wanted to leave in plenty of time, but that didn't work out (it rarely does and it's not always my fault...)  I thought I knew EXACTLY where I was going:  The Tavern Downtown.  We got there and there was NO ONE around.  Now this is a race for 475 participants to the fact that we saw no one made me double check my email.  It was at The Tavern UPtown.  It was 12:44 PM...

I thought for sure we were out $40 and they weren't going to let us participate.  I was driving as fast as I could to get there.  Ryan later told me that every time I pushed on the gas his stomach lurched and then when I slammed on the brakes everything he thought he was going to lose was forced back into his stomach--so dramatic....

Anyway, we got there, I pulled into 7-11 and told Ryan to park the car and I was going to try to get our packet and hope we could still participate.  Turns out that the emails they sent were really mean, but they were not really mean about sticking to what they said.  We were participants 372 & 373.  Ryan found me and I told him I was going to run to the restroom.  When I came out all the teams had the clues, but Ryan had no clue (literally and maybe a bit figuratively).  I asked him if he heard the directions or knew where to get the clues...Nope.  So I went and got some clues and we were off...kind of.  We sat down to read through them first to get an idea where we were going.  Oh, and the rules--we could use our fee and public transportation, which was limited to RTD, Mall Ride, and Light Rail.  

Below are our 11 of 12 stops with the clues in the order we achieved them.  (Oh, and there was a costume contest so we wore our Betty & Barney Rubble costumes from Halloween.)  

NOTE:  Clues are numbered as they were on the sheet we got, but shown in the order we finished them.

CLUE 8: Unlike the one row of purple seats at coors, THREE separate stpes on this building have been marked "one mile above sea level" over the past 100 years, as a measurement methods have become more accurate (or the sea level is falling?  Don't tell Al Gore!)  Find any of the markers, stand on its step and take a triumphant photo with it and your team spelling out "D-E-N" (teams of two will have to sue some artistic license)

I was knew this one thanks to my scavenger hunt planning: The Capital Building!  We had checked Facebook for some "hints" this morning and it said "We think 15 is accurate" so on the 15th stair we stood.  Our idea was first to form our body into "D-E-N" but then when we got there I told Ryan, "Duh, sign language!"  Then a girl from another team decided to jump in and help us finish spelling out DENVER.

 As we were leaving the Capital we saw all these people around the statue at the bottom of the stairs, but we had NO idea which clue they were referring to.  We thought about just taking the same picture as everyone else and figuring it out later.  Then we heard someone say "11" and once we read the clue we still had no clue...

CLUE 11:  On your route from clue 7 to 8 (or reverse) you'll come across either a monument that has the word "stow" on it, or a monument to a Colorado first--the photo pose is up to you.

Still clueless Ryan started to walk around.  We were looking on one side of the monument that everyone was pointing at--I was trying to find the word "stow" then all of a sudden Ryan realized the monument was for Colorado's First Calvary!  Hooray, we were on to our next clue.
 One of our clues involved finding someone from another state.  My philosophy on this was look for people with cameras around their neck!  As we crossed Lincoln Ave to head to the library for clue 9 I decided to ask this family of four if they were from out of state.  Here's how the conversation went:

Me:  Are you guys from out of state.
Lady: Yes.
Me:  Does your state start with a L, N, O, or P?
Lady: Yes, Pennsylvania. 
Me:  Great!  Um, could we take a picture with you...and your driver's license for this scavenger hunt we're in?

Lady: Uh, sure.
Me:  We also are supposed to make our arms look like the state in which you are from...what's PA look like?!?
Lady: A rectangle, with a weird cut out on the side (shows me her DL) like this!
Me:  Uh, hmm...I think my boob can make that cut out.

CLUE 4: We promise you'll interact with a few folks for this one--find a friendly stranger who hails from a state that starts with the letter L, N, O, or P.  Have them prove it by taking the picture with them and their drivers license and then all of you should (approximately) form the shape of their home state with your arms.

I would like to note that the first people we asked fulfilled this clue!  Huzzah!
 CLUE 9:  Just like last year, it's pretty warm out there by Rocky Mountain standards (the clue above not withstanding, V.P. Al just may be on to something...)  So just like last year, this clue is a MANDATORY 5 minute indoor breather.  Find the place that's cool and quiet (even though it's full of volumes) In the central lobby you'll find a clock...take one photo with your team and the clock and then another photo at least 5 minutes later acting our your team's favorite scene from any offering in this building.  Note:  Challenge teams are aLWAYS quiet, courteous and respectful while indoors--please whisper!

This was a no-brainer for me!  The LIBRARY!  We hurried over there.  We did take two pictures, though only one is here.  Seems the lady we gave our camera to for the 5 minutes later picture wasn't a great photographer--it was super blurry.  Here we were also able to get a pencil so we could cross off clues as we went.
  CLUE 7:  The Bard says "all the world's a stage" in As You Like It (we're very cultured) but sumtimes you really need an...actual find your inner actor.  So find this monumental outdoor venue constructed in 1918 that's south of the city's first standalone library (funded by none other than library fan Andre Carnegie...he built 35 here in CO alone)--if it looks pretty spiffy, that's because it just underwent a $9.5 million renovation. Hop up on stage and pick our a (reasonably) recognizable movie scene and act it out with another Challenge team or a talented passerby.  Be creative.

Again this one I was fairly certain of because it's near the library and I remembered it being under construction last summer.  So here we are with another team acting out Romeo & Juliet.  (The other team's idea, we were just happy have a team to join.)

It should be noted here that it was SUPER important to read through the ENTIRE clue...we walked from the stage area to the US Mint only to have the guard at the Mint tell us that everyone was coming there, but we needed to go to the Federal Reserve Building...
CLUE 1:  Everyone knows the 10,000 pound Big Blue Bear--he'll make his way into the convention center some day.  One you find this three-dimensional concrete giant, you'll be near a far more flat rendition of a President who fell in love with the American west, Colorado especially.  A Centennial State national forest is named for him, in fact.  When you spot him, act out his most famous quote or any scene from his life in the photo.

When we got to the Convention Center, we were getting ready to cross and we knew we were looking for Roosevelt.  Then Ryan very carefully told me to look at the building across the street from the CC, and did I think that was it?  YES!  We casually took off in that direction only to find no one to take our picture.  We ducked into a parking garage (shade) to read the clue again and figure out what we were going to do.  I Googled (we were allowed to use Smart Phones & GPS) "Famous quotes by T. Roosevelt" and found one he said about being courteous.  I told Ryan to make it look like he was letting me go in front of him.  Then a man and woman came over and thought they were in the same predicament with no one to take their picture, out we popped, switched cameras and Ta-Da!

CLUE 6:  Yes, you have a U.S. Mint here, one of only four in the country that still make our coinage (see why I thought we had to go to the Mint?)  But you have to settle for a "Denver Branch of this other entity of the federal money apparatus, (see why I should have read the whole clue?) based out of... Missouri of all places.  Once you find its main entrance, look at your feet for some noisy grates.  Locate one and listen for a little bit--have your team mimic what you hear in the photo.

When we got there we heard pig noises in the grate.  By the time we found another team to take our picture there was opera singing.  We decided that since when we got there it was piggies we were going to make piggy noses in the photo.
 Here again is where we went about a block out of our way.  As Ryan was directing us to where we thought we were going I re-read the whole clue and told him NO!  We gotta go here...

CLUE 5:  You know, it's a good ting that the chefs at Ted Turner's Montana Grill don't know about this particular herd on 16th--the customers would probably complain that their burgers were a little tough.  When you rustle up this location, your team should pose juuuuuust like the sculpture-- you won't look silly or draw attention at all! (previous statement: false)

All of a sudden it made sense to us why people were taking pics with the cows all over the 16th Mall, but I remembered that the logo for Ted's is a buffalo.
 Here we took a breather, we were down to our last clues...and we were clue-less.  We were both Googling things like mad and again, Ryan aka Super Smooth Man, turns around and says, oh, there, at the bus stop, are the chess pieces...

CLUE 3:  What's with all the larger-than-life sculptures 'round these parts?  These oversized regal chess items actually mask two vents for the subterranean space the sit atop. A stone's throw away, find the temporary megasized resting spot, which is part of a public awareness campaign--make like Forrest Gump with your team and pose on it.

Even when we got there I was still confused as to what we were doing--I was hung up on the chess pieces because I hadn't read the clue all the way through...  The team who needed a photographer sat down first and so we followed suite.  Afterwards the light came on...Forrest Gump...waiting on a bench for a bus...the chess pieces cover the bus stop.
 The whole time we were doing this we were looking for someone to fulfill this clue...

CLUE 2:  Like most Americans, we're amused that professional athletes and wealthy team owners in several pro sports have found it tough to agree just how many gazillions of dollars they'll make from teh average fan.  But for this clue, find any stranger (non-Challenger, that is) wearing any professional sprots gear from any team EAST OF THE ROCKIES.  Here's the catch:  no Denver teams adn you can't throw a hat on someone in a sports store, and this person cannot fulfill any other clue's objectives.  Snap a photo of them mimicking a play from the sport they're rocking.

I failed this one earlier--we snapped a pic with a guy in a Kansas Jayhawk shirt...ooops, not professional.  Sorry dude.  
When we saw this guy I told Ryan I was fairly certain his shirt was a St. Louis Cardinal's baseball shirt, but to be sure I asked.  Fail 2 would be that we didn't pretend we were playing baseball....doh! But he was friendly...Ryan was weirded out that he put his arms around us.

Down to 2 clues!
CLUE 12:  Denver's home to the first location of many popular restaurants that have franchised across the country...We left one off the list that has the most locations of all, more than 4,000 (although many are toast: 1,000 have closed in the last few years).  But the original is still open:  find it and have your team pose out front.

We googled and found out it was Quiznos.  We also were told the original was on 17th...wrong.  When we went there though, the lady told us it was on 13th & Grant.  Back on the mall ride and a few blocks from there...

Now all that was left was to head back to The Tavern Uptown...

We got there and took a load off.  (We had stopped at Starbucks on our way to Quiznos. 

The costume contest involved nominating yourselves.  We decided to, after all we thought we were creative.  We got 3 votes...2 were ours.  Boo.  We were up against Nintendo Characters, Smurfs, Ladies in Angel wings with devil horns and forks, three girls dressed as super heros, ZOMBIES?!?!, and Pirates.  The Smurfs won the $50.  We might still stand a chance on the FB voting.
All in all a fun day!  And we finished in 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 21 seconds.  Hopefully you were able to read this marathon post in less time that that...

If Challenge Nation is coming to your city or one near you, you should do it!!


Sarah said...

OH! Here's the 12th clue (we only had to do 11). We couldn't figure it out:

Unscramble this anagram: SPRAY ELK INK. You'll find it's not elk ink spraying in its fountains, just water. Choose from either of the water features and grab a photo to complete this clue--we suggest getting as wet as possible in the photo but that's your team's call.

Kristen said...

Sounds like fun, Sarah! I'm impressed that you guys figured it all out and made it to all those places. What a good weekend activity...especially before school starts!