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Hi! I'm Owen Winkler, and I write this drivel. This blog is about my own life and my random observations thereof. Sometimes I write about technical stuff here, but mostly that's at RedAlt. Please enjoy, or if not, click on my ads. Either is fine with me.

June 2, 2008 12:00am

Pirate Quest

In case you weren’t aware, we celebrate my birthday on Wednesday this year, June 4th. My birthday is not actually on June 4th, but that’s the day I’ve chosen to celebrate it. I think I’ve finally gotten everyone on board with the idea.

This year’s event is on the Saturday after, and is a bit bigger than previous affairs. It’s the culmination of two years’ worth of home building, having moved in two years ago August. It’s the first time that Berta will be inviting work people over for anything. I’ve been inviting everyone I meet to come hang out. We’re inviting our neighbors all over, too, which is long overdue - I think they secretly think we’re weird for not having done so already. So it’s not just for my birthday, although that’s how the date was chosen, but also just a general summer party, probably the biggest one we’ll throw for a while.

As a result of such the event, we’ve arranged for some special food and events. We ordered a pig from Brandywine Picnic Park. Just today I obtained a small moonbounce for the kids to play on/in. Berta got lamp oil for use in my flaming juggling equipment. I even ordered more than a few miracle fruit for our guests to try, although I’ve not heard anything yet about their delivery, so I hope they arrive in time or I’m going to have a lot of miracle fruit to eat by myself.

But one thing that’s been occupying some significant mental time lately is the Pirate Quest.

At some point I came up with an idea to keep the various child guests entertained that involved using a treasure map to find a hidden treasure somewhere around the house. Since then, things have gone completely nuts — I think we’ve spent like $200 on supplies to fabricate the treasure and the map and clues that lead to it.

Yes, there is a good-sized treasure chest that looks like a treasure chest. Yes, the chest has real shells and starfish in it. Indeed, there are (faux) jewels and gold in the chest, along with various pirate-themes toys and candy. Oh, but what of the map and clues?

I got a tablet of the largest sized watercolor paper they had and a kit that is used to make things look deteriorated. I’ve been ripping bits off and dunking them in brewed tea to give it an old look, and then actually burning the edges. I have wax to use to seal the map to make it look more authentic.

And the clues… Well, the clues are something we’ve finally worked out at lunch today. Keep in mind that we’re dealing with kids here from the ages of 3 to 12. Few can read, much less do as complicated puzzles as I’d like to construct. So to address the age span, we’ve decided to produce a basic cryptic map, and then hide clues around our yard.

What I hope to do for the clues is have a small envelope that is printed with a specific stamp that clearly indicates a clue. There should probably be quite a few of these so that there will be plenty of chances for the little kids to find them. Think “Easter egg hunt” but with a pirate theme.

Each envelope will contain a piece of paper with a symbol and a line leading off one torn edge. These symbols will also appear on the map. Some papers may have a riddle instead that indicates one of the symbols. The paper itself will look like it was torn in half and is missing its pair, as this will be the case. When the clue paper is paired with its matching mate, the line will connect the two symbols. Hopefully someone will get the idea (or eventually be given the idea) to draw the lines on the map.

The lines on the map itself won’t be of any use. But with the help of something I’ve had the most trouble obtaining - a UV pen - the lines will indicate a location on a second map, embedded within the first. This will be revealed with the magic of a UV flashlight. The UV map will be real, and the lines will point to a place on the real map where the treasure (or one last clue!) is hidden.

This is the kind of elaborate puzzle that I secretly hope that people involve me in when I attend parties. I love that murder mystery-type stuff. Ah, this reminds me of the time Berta and I dressed up in black robes and brought a book of mature campfire/horror stories to the Halloween party across the hall in our apartment. They were not dressed up and were cordial in their acceptance of our “gift”, but then got down to the business of handing out drinks. Yes, I still have hope that at some point I will find a place to fit in, even if I have to make the opportunity for myself…

Anyway, I hope that the kids appreciate all the extra effort on their behalf. Hopefully they’re not just expecting to be handed “treasure”.