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November 07, 2005


It was a fine Hunt -- beautiful day, great crowd. Not only did a number of terrifyingly smart people actually solve the Hunt, but the crowd did not make any serious effort to kill me or Tom Shroder. Here's the Herald story, and here's the solution to the Hunt. Andy the tropichunt.com guy was on hand and has commentary and many photos here. Thanks to everybody who came out and participated. Please use the comments section here to tell us what you thought about this year's Hunt -- your complaints, suggestions and funny stories are welcome.

UPDATE: Here's an updated Herald link with more photos from Herald staff photographer Carl Juste, who for the record is insane, but in a good way.


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My complaint is that it always has to be in Florida! Why can't you have it in the mid-west for once?! Oh... you meant valid complaints then? Oh. Never mind. (Sounds like it was fun!)

Holding the event after Nov. 1 in Florida means that the event is held in the Midwest Annex.

There is a traffic jam from Chicago to Florida as older folk drive down to a warmer climate. Most of the folk turn on their turn signal on their way out of the driveway and leave it on for the entire trip.

PS -- If you are planning to drive your parents or in-laws to Florida, remember that flying out of Orlando on New Years Day weekend to get back North means you will share half a plane with people celebrating their Bowl victory and half of a plane with people mourning their Bowl loss.

That puzzle with the trolleys was so WRONG! We didn't even give a second glance at the trolleys. When did you say to pay attention to the trolleys? My team missed that.

But really, it was great fun. A bit difficult (the rock, paper, scissors one, especially) but we got three out of five, a good workout, some sun, some blisters, and we met great people. So thanks to you and Tom Shroder and everyone involved. It was my second time participating and I had a blast.

Sasha -- Yeah, we knew the trolley puzzle was a tough one. That's why, at noon, I stressed that one of the puzzles would be in four big parts, "rolling around Coral Gables." But thanks for participating.

Yeah, the trolleys were misleading, but I thought the first one I saw with it's "Herald Hunt City" sign was a little odd. When I saw another one which said "Herald Hunt Look", I knew I was onto something.

A co-worker who has attended Hunts of the past, but couldn't attend this one, was reviewing the Hunt section. As soon as he flipped through and saw the King Tut ad, he said out loud "Ooooh...this has clues written ALL over it!" However, as I was explaining the Hunt to him, and the real final clues, and pointed him at the ad...he had no idea what to do. Same guy who figured out last year's final puzzle (again, he couldn't attend) within 5 seconds of me describing it. Go figure.

Hey, Dave, how about having a random drawing at the Hunt, where one (non-winning) team gets a chance to solve one additional puzzle (made just for them)...and if they do, they place 4th? Possibly an idea for next year.

Keep checking the site, everyone. I need to convert some video and throw it up there (because I desparately need my bandwidth to be sucked dry), which I hope to have done by Wednesday.

Thanks again for a FUN time! And the FPL bracelet! :)

Finally! A photo of the Jood-ster! Thanks, Andy!

Judi, you are cute! Why are you single? Too bad I'm married.

Just sayin'.

Did anyone catch The Weather Channel song the quartet warmed up with?

Don't forget to call Mitch Albom and tell him your quartet can beat up his quartet! Great puzzle!

Great pics, tropichunt.com guy™! Even one of Judi!

Observation 1: I notice I am not in any of the pics.
Observation 2: I notice I was unable to attend the Hunt.
Observation 3: I am extremely jealous of everyone who was able to attend!

1) i love the weather channel song, which imho is even more fun when they wear their weather channel costumes.

2) andy's hunt site is absolutely AWESOME and the photos are great, and he was nice enough to ask me if it was okay to put the pic up, so i hadda say yes even though i was disgustingly sweaty.

3) my son got to be the one who was holding the sign that said "don't be so coordinated," so he had fun watching all the people run up and then be disappointed. the perfect job for a teenage boy.

4) we had our power back when we got home!

I gave my cellphone number to someguy in a car yesterday and wound up getting arrested

I am awed by the incredible genius used to put this kind of contest together. I'm so overwhelmed, in fact, that I think I'll just go to bed and never leave.


Herald Hunt Newbies Log

StarDate 11/6/05

9:00~ a.m. Deciding that it might be better to be there early for choice parking and to avoid a buttload of traffic, I arrive in Coral Gables and brilliantly deduce that I am waaaaay early and it is crotch pot cooking HOT!

9:15 a.m.~ I begin to scan my Herald Hunt Insert hoping to gain any insight into cleverly demented minds of Dave and Tom. I conclude that they must be smoking something weird to come up with this stuff. Palmetto bugs come to mind.

9:17 a.m.~ I begin to scan the pics of Hugh Jackman that I printed while reading about past Herald Hunts on the puter last night. Talk about HOT!

9:45 a.m.~ ummmmmmmm....what was I saying? Oh,yeah, the hunt! Not too far from the picnic table that I inhabit Dave is speaking to a camera in an animated manner. I was not close enough to hear the camera's response. Perhaps they were discussing the emergency procedure for your underwear bursting into flame in this heat.

10:00 a.m.~ There is a giant blue mutant bowling shoe clevely disguised as a go cart. COOL! Weasy would love this!

11:00~ The excitement is mounting as the crowd mills about, furiously studying the hunt insert for clues and taking notes. Since I am a newbie, I decide to get into the "groove" of the hunt by standing in the shade as much as possible. I find Judi working her doodle off helping to coordinate stuff.

12:00 noon~ Dave gives the numerical coordinates and the teams haul their cookies outta there to find the clues. These people are DEVOTED to the hunt to the extent that they come year after year in color coordinated shirts with file folders and brief cases full of information, walkie talkies, hubble telescopes etc. These people don't give a rat's ass about a week in the Dominican Republic, they love it just for the hunt. If first prize was a giant doot festooned with hurricane debris these people would still be here in the heat, sweating like farm animals, going from one clue to the next in an excited manner. I went along just to observe how it's done and found myself highly amused at one man who ran back to his team mates jumping up and down only to announce that he had NO CLUE what the music meant.

1:00 p.m.~ I hook up with Judi and we go trolley hopping this was a beautiful thing because the trolleys are air conditioned. Apparently they import the ac straight from the arctic circle. You could actually see steam emanating from my body.It was highly amusing to see block after block of extremely perplexed individuals running around scruitinizing random objects that looked even remotely suspicious. Eventually, Judi forced me off of the trolley at gunpoint so we could go see her son who BTW is growing into quite the handsome young man.

1:20 p.m.~ We haul our bad selves over to the Books and Books where we run into,you're not going to believe this, Dave. Judi and I mosey on up to his table to say hello. Judi communicates to Dave in hunt code and then proceeds to introduce me. Suddenly, your friendly neighborhood extroverted Fort becomes severely inflicted with a massive bout of shyness. Dave was very sweet, he stood up to offer me his hand and gave me a big old friendly hug to boot. Everytime I meet him it amazes me how very freaking cool this man is. Next thing I know I am brushing a leaf off of his neck. Don't ask me why I did this. It was my patented dork response. Here is my big chance to say something witty and charming and all I could manage was a very weak,"you got something on your neck,bro." I am sooooo weird!

2:20 p.m.~With our pit stains visible from space we arrive back at the courthouse to await the 3:00p.m. hint for those who have somehow managed to decipher most of the clues and only need a nudge to get back on track. I believe it was here that I met and briefly conversed with tropichuntguy Andy who appeared to be the only person at the hunt not sweating.

3:00 p.m. Dave gives the nudge and off they go again. Within 15 minutes the first team had solved the hunt. Shortly thereafter the second and third place teams join Dave and Tom onstage for the traditional booing of the clues. Dave and Tom seem to get a big kick out of having their clues booed and the hunters good naturedly obliged them.

4:00 p.m. After the winners were announced, Judi and I were talking to the barbershop quartet and found ourselves exposed to the biggest honking telephoto lens I have ever seen that was not aimed towards space. He pushed a button that made it extend WAY out which I found very impressive. Evidently he was very impressed by it too. Somewhere in all of this I had Dave sign my hunt insert. I will NEVER wash my pen again. The crowd began to disperse immediately before they all became flesh puddles. I said my goodbyes and headed home for the love of my life-air conditioning.

I would like to say thank you to Judi and Dave for letting a newbie hang out with them and see what the Herald Hunt is all about. I had a fantastic time and encourage everyone to attend if they have the chance. Congrats to all of the winners.

You hung out with Judi!? You hugged Dave!? I just entered a previously undocumented state of envy. Please let me drool on you.

Hey Fort, If Dave's columns where this long I would never have read them.

I hunted for the Herald. Once.

Never did find it though.

I did find a Herald.

But, I suppose I should probably leave Tulsa next time I'm in the hunting mood.

Glad it was a great turn out and very nice pictures TropicHuntGuy!!

Hey Clem,

I am sorry reading is such a challenge for you.Alas, there are no pictures. Sorry.

Hey Clem,

I am sorry reading is such a challenge for you.

After years of hunting, I think this one was the BEST HUNT EVER!!! It wasn't too easy (like last year) where the winner is the person tean that dials the fastest/ luckiest... and it wasn't too hard where we were crying at 3:25 waiting for a hint wondering if we had solved the first 5 clues correctly. I know there are glitches every year, and that's what keeps it all interesting, but the one that boggles me this year is www.snakewalkers.com How could they list a website in the "ads" that they did not own??? That just leaves the game wide open for trickery from the early birds ;)

hmmm, I'm a veteran hunter, and found myself embarrassingly stumped by this years puzzles, I found the trolley one to be easy, and I got “deflated”. Rock, Paper, Scissors was a little vague, considering I never saw/heard the Paper Roses/4 part of the clue. I do appreciate the lack of roman numerals though  Past years I have jumped from puzzle to puzzle, able to solve them very quickly…..Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant for this one, and the baby is sapping all of the weirdness out of me!!!!

Anyhoo…..I found the puzzles to be a little…boring. Going to each location and being handed a piece of paper got a little old. I missed the big visual puzzles from past years.

Oh well, I love the Herald Hunt, and I will most certainly be traveling again from Tampa to play next year….although I think I’ll let my husband go to the auto show next year instead of being on my team. Poor guy just didn’t get it.

Fort, great narrative! Gave those of us who couldn't attend a "taste" of the fun;)
WTG and Write On!!

*also drooling with envy*

ladybug - the puzzles were boring? I'm not from Florida, but I understand the fact that Dave and Tom did an outstanding job putting together a Hunt in a state that's still partially without electrical power. Cut these guys some slack, for Pete's sake!


BTW: Fort - wonderful story! Wish I could have been there sweating with you.

Yay, Fort! Great travelogue! And I hope you saved that leaf - trace particles of Dave's sweat can bring big bucks on eBay.

Very pretty picture of Judi! Waay better than the Walter one. You can tell it wasn't taken with the crapcam.

For the record, the photo of Judi was taken by none other than...Fort! That was when she observed that I wasn't sweating. I think Fort needs glasses, as I was clearly sweating...earlier. Great narrative, Fort! I loved it!

I'm glad everyone enjoyed the videos...I'm currently trying to convert the raw MPG videos to WMV...as I don't want to chew up my site's entire bandwidth. My encoder keeps crashing...so if anyone has some neat tips...email me at tropichunt at yahoo period com. Sorry. I hate spammers. :)

Wow...I AM tired. People are enjoying videos that I haven't even put up yet! Um...that'd be pictures. This is not a clue.

This was a great Hunt! It was pretty hard at first, but after about an hour our "Hunt" brains started kicking in & we solved the first four clues pretty quickly after that. But, to add 7 to the clue numbers to get the final clue... ah, that was cruel, Dave, just cruel!! But fiendishly clever. Now, what ya gonna do next year to keep us from solving the 5th clue before you give it out??? Hmmm???

btw... I seem to remember someone who looked just like Dave at the Hunt on the Beach a couple of years ago swearing they would NEVER do black t-shirts EVER again. Ummm... dude, it's South Florida! It'll be cool enough to wear that shirt for about 30 minutes in early February. Of course I still bought it! I've got a collection to maintain. Remember, pastels were good enough for Sonny Crocket. And if you are going to do a different color for women, please remember that we are not all tiny, perfectly-shaped teenage models. PLEEEEEZ!!! Next year offer something that doesn't reveal every curve, including those that are best kept hidden from the public. Seriously, the tanks are cute, but the sizes were a joke if you were over 90 pounds &/or 16 years old.

However, despite the t-shirt debacle, it was a great Hunt in a great location. Thanks! Can't wait 'til next year!!

As I am in SoCal I could not attend the hunt. Which is probably just as well. Judging from the web site, I don't know if I could have coped with the stress. After a Hunt related meltdown, I would have had to have sued the Herald, as well as Messers Barry and Shroder, for emotional distress. Maybe next year.

Almost didn't recognize Judi without Walter near by.

Okay, first off this was, in many ways, the best Hunt that I have attended.

My little team of nitwits stood around scratching our collective noggins for about two hours and 15 minutes without solving a single puzzle. Once we sat down and began to talk about things, however, we solved four in about half an hour.

(Dave, I was the guy that, in a moment of revelation, turned to yell to a teammate at the exact same moment that you walked past and screamed "MARK!!!" into your ear. Sorry about that.)

We loved the Flap puzzle. It reminded me of the "Fourteen Cookie" from years ago. Very cool and very well done. (One note, however, our first envelope came with the letters F-L-A-P-F, which was quite confusing. We saw others with only four beads, but nobody with five. We eventually violated the "one per team" rule and got a second envelope -- then things fell into place.)

We loved the solution to Rock, Paper, Scissors. Ingenious puzzle! Difficult, but tough!

Red Car Blocks was tougher. We didn't solve this one at all. Good puzzle, however.

The Quartet puzzle was relatively easy. "Music's the key to understanding" was a lot like another Hunt clue from the past that I recognized, but even the first-timers in my group knew what to do right away.

But the Trolley puzzle ... I'm sorry Dave, but it was just lame. Finding a number on the side of a building is more like a silly Geocaching type of "puzzle."

We tried to add signifiance to the trolleys' extra words at first by recording the trolley numbers. There were trolleys 1, 3, 4 and 5, but no 2. Of course, the extra words meant nothing when arranged in this order, and there was no possible solution using these four numbers. The misspelled "Harold Hunt" was also misleading, though fortunately we didn't lose much time working that angle.

Dave, the general feel of the Hunt was that it was a low budget version of the real thing. It was fun, it was challenging, it was a total blast -- but it felt kind of "small." Another Hunt veteran I know said the same thing.

I hope that Wilma made an impact on attendance, also. It seemed like there were a lot less people there than in past Hunts I've attended.

Kudos to both you and Shroder on your brilliance. I wanted to talk to Tom and tell him how much I appreciated his work on the Hunt too -- you seem to be the guy that gets all of the public accolades (and hisses) -- but he wasn't around when I looked.

And thanks also, Dave, for being so accessible and willing to talk to people, pose for ridiculous pictures (the one of you kicking my friend's butt was priceless!), and just generally be available for your fans. That means a lot to us little people.


For those interested, I posted the few Hunt videos I took on my site. Scroll to the bottom and click the 'VIDEO' links.

Thanks to everyone that enjoyed the narrative. I was in a big hurry and never edited it properly.

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