Around this time every year, a clever man named Jayson Wechter organizes the San Francisco Treasure Hunt. And every time around this year, a much less clever man named Jeremy Toeman smacks himself in the head for missing out on the fabled event. But 2007 saw a collision of fate so grand it was impossible to avoid. The alignment of my birthday and the hunt on the exact same day!
The first, and possibly most important, task was to come up with a name. I went gunning to win:
The Jayson Wechter “I Never-Met-a-Pun-I Didn’t Like Award” is given to the teams with the cleverest names, which are often related to the year of the Chinese zodiac (2007 is the Year of the Boar).
And thus… Boarat: Treasureful Huntings of San Francisco for Make Benefit Glorious New Years of China. Didn’t win.
Next up, the hunt itself. Not sure when it went up (then down), but there was a Web page with some clues prior to the hunt. To the right is a sample clue. That was about the most obvious moment of the event (all my other photos of the event are online here).
We met up at Justin Herman plaza, ready to psych up for the hunting, and amidst the 900-or-so people (here’s one account and another one here) became determined to finish in the top 5 percentile (for those of you who find that ambitious, keep in mind this means we really just didn’t want to be in the bottom 5). A glance around at cleverly costumed teams and we felt a little, well, woozy.
Upon the beginnings of the hunt, we saw most teams grab a sitting place in the plaza or on a nearby table. We naturally immediately set out for a nearby bar and ordered a couple of pitchers. We did a little divide and conquer, and about 45 minutes later had all 19 of the clues “mostly solved” and a mapped out plan to find our answers. Our first clue went off without a hitch, as did our second. By number three, we hit the Chinatown Parade. Luckily, we dashed under Market street to avoid the chaos, although got stuck a few more times (although the detour/pee break at the Westin was a nice moment).
Everything was going great through the first 7 or 8 clues. We’d arrive in a location, quickly narrow down the specific target, jot down an answer, and be off like the wind within moments. We’d play little games with other teams, making oddball references to nonexistent clues and other forms of misdirection, and our spirits were high.
Then we got stuck on one clue in North Beach. Then, disaster struck as we made the ever-so-costly mistake of misinterpreting another clue and walking all the way up to Coit Tower. Yes, all the way up. We were tired. Not enough hamantaschen to go around. One of our flashlights was dying. But we rallied nonetheless!
We headed down the steps, toward the water and our next clue. Within moments we were back on track, but were perilously low on time. We did a little walk-jogging. Two, three, then four more clues nailed within minutes. Team Boarat was back on a roll, we were the virtual kings of our castles.
With less than 10 minutes left to go, we made the ambitious move of going for two final clues. One we got, the other we didn’t (we later found out we were less than a block away), and we ran back to Justin Herman plaza to submit our entries. And with that, we knew we were winners.
Not because we were fastest (The winning team was done 40 minutes earlier. Jerks.)
Not because we had kick-ass red buttons that said we we finished.
Because… Well… Unlike some other teams, I get a clock radio, they cannot afford. Great success!