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  • Leonard Armitage

April Fools - 2021

April Fools scavenger hunts are a series of clues in the form of riddles, codes, puzzles that must be solved in order to find the next clue. Aneka and Aodhan both have wooden treasure boxes that I fill with "treasure"; which could be any or all of gifts, candy, cool tee-shirts, fossils, STEM activities, art supplies, etc etc. Traditionally I hide the treasure chests, present them with their first clue and off they go. It takes hours of work to put it all together and this year, like many others, I am up until 1:00 AM or later each night, finalizing it. I start thinking about it around February as I like to base it on a theme and usually have a light bulb moment sometime in March.

This year I changed it a little by having the treasure chests found midway thru, but I added clasps the chests and padlocked them shut.

Both kids had their own clues to start, which led them to the treasure chests, from there they worked together to the end which was the DaVinci puzzle holding the keys to their chests. This could be opened by knowing the right 6 letter word and dialing that in like a combination lock. This password was our last name. Some of the clues along the way had large block letters off to the side or in corner ... a K on one. An R on another, etc. By using the last clue and putting the letters together they could figure out the password, open the DaVinci puzzle and get their keys. Happy Day Everyone!

At around 2:00 AM I hid the treasure boxes, put all the clues in place including the first one out in the open in their bedroom (and the 2nd one hidden under their bed). Many of the clues had items that helped solve, not the clue they were on, but the following clue. I did not explain any of this to them as they are seasoned pros in figuring out such things.

Clue 1 - on their desk or night stand: I turn everything around but never move. Drop me and I crack. Smile at me and I smile back. ... breathe. This envelope also held a square of red coloured film.

This clue leads them to a mirror, in this case a mirror in their room. I researched and practiced various ways to leave invisible messages on a mirror so that when you breathe on them and steam the mirror up, the message shows. Writing the message with a q-tip and rubbing alcohol seemed to be the interwebz favored choice but I found that lightly soaped water was better. The message on the mirror said "under your bed"

Clue 2: The message under the bed was written in various colours and then obfuscated with red lines to point that made it look chaotic and illegible. By using the piece of red film and looking at the message that way it could be seen that the clue actually says "under the dining table". This envelope also had 4 squares of paper two of them with a 3x3 grid and two of them with a 2x2 grid. Each space of the grid held a letter of the alphabet. This is known as a pigeon cipher. Messages can then be written using the lines of the appropriate grid around the corresponding letter ... its looks like an alien alphabet. To solve you replace the symbol with the corresponding letter.

Clue 3: Written in the pigon cipher said "fire pit chair" and outside (it was 15 degrees out) they went

Clue 4: Plain text riddle "Opposite the wall of fame Above medicine to claim Treasure is recessed Look back 4 success". Wall of fame refers the picture wall in the short hallway between bedroom and office. Above medicine to claim referred to the cupboards above the drawers where medicine and other misc things are kept. Recessed and look back referred to being far back in the cupboard. They are deep and hold quilts and other blankets. Kids didn't want to "make a mess" at first. They figured it out but then abandoned it not wanting to pull the quilts out. They kept returning to it then and I said they were just blankets and remove them if they felt the should. This clue also came with something the same size as the other clues but with "windows" cut out of it at seemingly random places.

What was there was their treasure chests. Normally this is the end of the hunt. But this year they were locked with a padlock. There was also another clue.

Clue 5: "Unless the keys can be found Forever may the treasure be bound think & stay clear the answer is near". By placing the blank clue with the cutouts over this message certain letters were shown which when read in order left to right top to bottom spelled out "under the sink". Surprisingly Aneka had just seen something like this in a movie and quickly figured it out

Clue 6: Another riddle. "They ring my bell to say hello. Lock me up when they go". The answer being the front door. Aodhan solved it immediately but then dismissed it as we never ever ever use the front door here at 725. No one does 'cept for maybe the pizza guy and people asking me if I will sign a petition or listen to how great some political candidate is. Aneka paused then said she did think that was right and went to the front door, unlocked it and looked out. the clue was taped to the door and she went right past it. Aodhan sorta trailing behind and blocked from actually looking outside saw the clue

Clue 7: This was another clue with the pigeon cipher but this time I also included false cipher symbols in red ink. You had to use the red film again to dismiss those and see just the cipher symbols that mattered. Aodhan again figured it out almost immediately and they worked it out. What I hadn't thought of, being colour blind, is that once you knew the red symbols didn't matter you didn't have to use the red film. You could just use the symbols not red. I had brown and green in there too so for me I would have to use the film but the kids, once it was figured out, could just dismiss the red themselves. The words spelled out "washing machine"

Clue 8: this was the final clue. "The rock that states your name The final clue on which to cut your TEETH". This one was the most cryptic riddle I have ever given them. On my curio wall one of the shelves has a rock that was painted during our summer cabin week two years ago that have the family names at the cabin. Near it is this old medicine jar in which I have kept their baby teeth. I placed the DaVinci decoder cylinder under the shelf with the rock, next to the bottle with the teeth. It looks like the sort of thing that would belong there anyway. They pondered this over and over and Aneka kept glancing at the curio cabinet. She and I have commented multiple times on the bottle with teeth (mostly things like ... uh Dad, thats weird ... and me saying ... I know!) and it was the TEETH she finally figured out but couldn't figure out the rock with our name until she looked at the shelf then saw the rock too and the cylinder.

There was no clue on what to do or what pass phrase to use and this they pondered for a long time. I did eventually give the hint of "odd letters on some of the clues" .... OH they said yeah we saw those. Then it was just a matter of figuring out which letters, connecting it to the name and done.

The idea was to lead them down the trail, seemingly find success (the treasure chests), but then realizing more had to be done and eventually work backwards thru the clues given to figure out the pass phrase. Later that night at dinner I was told this was definitely the hardest one yet but very very fun.

Here is a link with more pictures:

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