What does “geohash” mean? What were the hidden time stamps and number strands all about? Where in the Lone Star State was the Globe of Magellan concealed?
Overview: Twelve Mini-scavenger Hunts
The Summer 2017 Texas hunt required you to “travel” to 12 different locations in Texas. Once you arrived, you had to find a specific word that would eventually help you determine the treasure’s location. But how did you get to the right location? And, how did you find that key word? There were several types of clues in the Texas history-themed treasure hunt, including strands of seemingly random numbers, quotes at the beginning of the videos, red letter clusters in these quotes, hidden pictures, time stamps, and other clues. Here’s how they fit together:
Hidden Globes, Keys, and Other Items
Each episode contained three hidden objects that related to the overall story: a globe, a key, and something tied to that week’s bonus challenge (decoder rings, paintings, compasses, stars, seeds and butterflies). These images related symbolically to the treasure hunt, but neither the objects themselves nor their placement in the animations contained any clues to the location of the buried treasure. These images were intended to provide motivation, a diversion, and a feeling of accomplishment to participants who might otherwise have felt overwhelmed by the more intricate puzzle.
Each video began with a quote, and the first video of each week contained a few letters that were colored red. As the other letters disappeared, the red letters remained, spelling a word that would provide a general hint about how to solve the treasure hunt: geohash, 12 words, history, read, listen, and Lone Star State.
Each animated episode contained a single hidden sequence of 9 letters and numbers. As the first red letter clue suggested, running these sequences through the decoder ring would reveal critical geohash coordinates. By using an online geohash converter, these geohash strands identified the locations of 12 different museums, historical sites, or other important locations in Texas. Scavenger hunt time.
You’ve Arrived at the Right Location. Now What?
One red-letter clues was “12 words.” Each of the 12 historical locations contained a single word which, when strung together, spelled out the master riddle for finding the globe. Note – each location had a virtual tour or website from which the puzzle could be solved – students were not required to physically visit any of the locations. Here’s how the words could be located at each location’s website:
For example, the Victor Hugo quote from the second episode of Week One mentioned an echo; After the geohash from that episode led to King Ranch, the Hugo quote pointed to a link on the official King Ranch website under the “Visit Us” menu – a video entitled, “Echos In The Dust: Memories from the Cattle Trails.” Listening (another of the red words) to that video would reveal the key word. More on that shortly…
Every episode also contained at least one hidden image to further narrow the search in each location. Some of the images were pictures, like the US Navy Seal or a ladder-back chair. Others were encoded dates or words. These images functioned much like the opening quotes, identifying specific exhibits, links, or videos within each museum where the key words could be found.
Small Groups of Letters or Numbers
The final clues were small groups of letters and numbers separated by commas or colons (i.e., from the Week 4 videos: i , a , i and 0 : c i). Running these clusters through the decoder rings would reveal specific number clues (in the case of Week 4: 1, 4, 1 and 0:51).
To use the numbers separated by commas, think back to Week One’s bonus challenge. The first number represents a paragraph number, the second number identifies a line number in that paragraph, and the 3rd number tells you exactly which word to read in that line. The word you find is the key word for that episode.
The numbers separated by colons referenced the exact spot in different videos (i.e., 0 minutes and 51 seconds into a clip) when the key word must be found by listenting.
In one webisode, neither of these clues were present. Instead, a group of numbers and letters, once decoded, spelled out “17th frame.” This indicated that the 17th photo in the homepage carousel held the key.
Putting It All Together
Used together, the clues of each episode pointed to a single historical site, and a specific location on that site (or that site’s webpage) where the different keywords could be found. The red clue “12 words” was critical here – if more than one word was mentioned at 0:51 of a video, it would be necessary to select the word which best fit in the sequence. Here’s how they fit together:
The Master Riddle
Not all of the keywords were critical to finding the treasure (leaving out “a,” “in,” or “I” would still lead to the same location), but when properly identified and strung together, the following riddle materialized:
Which LIVING historical landmark, located in the Texas Panhandle, stands at a location where a river once met a trail? A simple web search revealed the answer: The Landmark Cottonwood, located in the Texas panhandle next to Lake Marvin, about 14 miles east of Canadian, Texas. That is the resting place of the Globe of Magellan.
Congratulations to our winners!
Did you solve the puzzle? There’s plenty more adventure where this came from. Register today for the next Brain Chase program, and you could be the next treasure hunter traveling around the world to claim your prize.
The Brain Chase Team