Sabotage!

20Jul07

While eating lunch and waiting for Scott to arrive with the RV, we received an ill-fated phone call. Hmmm… So, it appears as though someone went back to the RV, replaced our “new” tires with these 15 year old ones, in a pathetic attempt to create yet another blow out along the way and interrupt our chances of making it to Panama City on time.

But who knew where the RV was? We did, and our rescuers did: Bloodshot and Fellowship of the Van.

Where’s the Fellowship (WTF)? We suspect they were sleeping soundly, happy to regain some of the karma owed to us from the water rescue.

But Bloodshoot… oh, Bloodshot! You knew where that RV was parked, didn’t you? And you have a vehicle large enough to carry 6 RV tires, don’t you?

Ah yes, Bloodshot, we see right through your shenanigans (or is it seanacies? or seanacles?).

After getting all tires replaced and repairing the fuel lines, Scott brought the RV back to Savannah to be on our way.

But alas, it was not to be.

The RV began overheating due to a cracked head gasket between the repair shop and Savannah. It seems as though someone placed a timer-based mini-bomb in the RV, so as to disrupt us again just as we were ready to depart.

A grand conspiracy is starting to unfold. Clearly, the design and placement of such a device is beyond the shallow skills of Bloodshot, so they must have been working with someone else. Lazlo though they had us with the IED, so clearly it was not them.

Hmmm… A double-cross by the Fellowship? More secret weapons from the hidden lab of the The Millers? Could it be A2 or Lost in Place? Their teams are too small to execute such a complex maneuver.

There can be only one, so to speak.

Yes, Kilts, we are on to you. And the last laugh shall be ours.

You see, we are aware of the history of Scotland. We’ve seen Braveheart at least twice (well, the battle scenes anyway), and in case you missed it, here is a brief summary of this little story.

Scotland, aka “The Kentucky of the United Kingdom” had a few wars with the English in their quest of independence. In the end, the English won, as two key elements played in their favor: (1) they had developed the longbow, allowing them to strike at their enemies from far greater distances, and (2) the Scottish had yet to develop the concept of pants.

We consulted with a local British Pub to get anti-Scottish strategy, and they recommended buying a few t-shirt featuring the British flag, as that is sure to send the Kilts running for the hills. Fear not, we will have our revenge.

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Meanwhile, a spirited discussion ensued as to WTF. After a brief search, the Fellowship could not be found and we turned our attention back to the RV. It was decided that 3 of us would head to the airport, rent the biggest vehicle they had, and operate as a chase vehicle so we could rescue ourselves from any future attempts to destroy the RV.

We had a little trouble finding a car, but a quick call to our friends at CTU got us this sweet black SUV, not unlike what you might find Jack Bauer driving around in.

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“Jack sends his regards,” the driver said as he hopped out and tossed us the keys. “And don’t forget that torture is always an option.”

Torture, Jack Bauer, William Wallace… Hmmm… I love it when a plan comes together.

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In the morning, Scott headed off to try and repair the RV while the rest of us met up in Savannah to start today’s segment.

Today, they mixed things up a bit. Without looking at the clues, you had to choose between a set of clues similar to what he had been doing, and a set of clues that were “different”.

All the other teams, took the conservative choice and chose the clues similar to previous days. However, Enemies of the Common Good do not fear risk or change—we embrace it. We took the “different” clues and began our quest.

Less than an hour and a half later, we had completed the puzzles, and called in with the answer.

Despite the best efforts of the other teams, we remain undeterred, and came out on top for the day.

Scott was set to pick us up in a few hours, so we had the opportunity to spend the extra time actually looking around the city.

Savannah is a very cool place. The city has 22 (or 24, we’re not sure) different “squares” or little parks that you come upon every couple blocks. They are all different, with varying foliage and monuments in each.

To confuse tourists for the amusement of the locals, many of the squares, but not all, are named for monuments that are not actually in that square. For example, the Pulaski Square is named for revolutionary war hero Casmir Pulaski. Is his statue here? No. You can find the Pulaski monument in Monterey Square, a square named in honor of the capture of Monterey during the Mexican-American war.

Of course.

Despite the lack of Square Name/Monument location connection, the squares really turn Savannah into a beautiful place, with lots of stuff to check out.

To thank someone for all this, we turn to James Oglethorpe, an English General and founder of Savannah in 1732. He’s also the man who came up with the city-square layout of parks. Rather than leave design to the random chance induced by using things like surveying equipment and measuring tapes, Big James (as we like to call him) opted to actually pace things off himself. You read that right: pace. As in stepping it off with your feet. Now that’s a hands-on (or feet-on?) way of doing things.

But what is with this fascination with pacing? Ah my friends, EOTCG has unraveled this mystery for you. You see, it appears that General Oglethorpe secretly wanted to be a pirate, and as everyone knows, pirates love to pace things off.

Come on now you say, what evidence do you have that this member of the British aristocracy secretly wanted to be a pirate? Take a look at this photo and be enlightened:
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That, my friends, is Big James, and he is quite clearly dressed as a pirate. Cool hat, sword, pirate boots, a swashbuckler belt, and a sly grin that says, “Shiver me timbers!”

As we stood in awe of General Oglethorpe, we came to a realization: It was 95 degrees, yet not a drop of sweat had actually evaporated due to the 100% humidity. No one in their right mind would wear such a getup under those weather conditions for fear of drowning in their own perspiration.

That is, of course, unless that person WANTED TO BE A PIRATE!

Ah ha!

And who doesn’t want to be a pirate, doing all the things pirates love to do: living a life of adventure on the high seas, plundering cities and ships, striking fear into the hearts of men, and pacing off city parks using their own two feet.

So General, we salute you. We admire you not just because of the city you designed, but because you left a life of spoiled-rich-kid in London to come to America and pretend to be a pirate. Arrrrrrrr, Matey!


When you refuse to let the man hold you down, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. Take, for example, the righteous musical skills of Enemies of the Common Good.

Since we actually made it Savannah before every place stopped serving food (we had at least 20 minutes to spare), we were able to make it to the pub before everyone else left. Even the Kilts were still there. But be warned, Kilts, we have taken note of this pattern of “Race. Drive. Eat. Sleep…. Race. Drive. Eat. Sleep….” Oh yes, we’ve noticed.

It will be your undoing.

It turned out to be open mic night at the bar. Since some of our team members have skills that fall somewhere between, “drunken karaoke night at the American Legion” and, “megastar rock band,” they decided to partake in a couple of songs.

Phil even headed up for a solo after the main group finished. Notice my ability to snag a natural lens flare using just a camera phone. We gots the skillz.

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It has been brought to our attention that, perhaps, the clue involving the “Oh Suzanna” song was actually correct. We want to be honest here, and we can honestly tell you that we did not get the clue wrong.

No.

In fact, we had one of our satellite teams launch an investigation, and there is evidence that Team Lost in Place was actually spotted with a can of spray paint, altering the “i” in “Seanachie” to an “L”. Danger: Will Robinson? I think Danger: Nashville Police. Lost in Place are nothing but a couple of common vandals, willing to deface the sights of your fine city for their own advantage, including precious ones like the advertisement for a defunct Irish pub.

Have they no shame?

But don’t worry. If we find that we’ve actually made a mistake, we’ll be the first to admit it. You can trust us.


In November, 1864, General Sherman began his infamous “March to the Sea” from Atlanta to Savannah, destroying everything in his path by burning it to the ground. From wikipedia:

Sherman’s March to the Sea followed his successful Atlanta Campaign of May to September 1864. He and U.S. Army commander Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant believed that the Civil War would end only if the Confederacy’s strategic, economic, and psychological capacity for warfare were decisively broken. Sherman therefore applied the principles of scorched earth, ordering his troops to burn crops, kill livestock, consume supplies, and destroy civilian infrastructure along their path. This policy is often also referred to as total war.

Certainly, there is nothing that is less beneficial to the “Common Good” than a fiery blaze. By using this tactic, Sherman helped force his enemy’s surrender–and if it worked for Sherman during the Civil War, it will work for us now.

The plan was to get ahead of the other teams, and then begin to set the countryside ablaze in order to force our opponents’ surrender. As we rocketed past Team Bloodshot on the highway, we gave them a friendly honk, as if to say “enjoy the lush greenery while it lasts… only flames and destruction wait ahead.” I’m pretty sure they got all that from the honk anyway.

However, our plan was foiled by Team Lazlo, who had duped us into believing they were but an innocent, three person team, with only the best intentions. Just as we were getting ready to commence with the burning, about 45 miles outside of Savannah as planned, we realized the devious tricks Team Lazlo Hollyfeld was up to.

As they say: Somebody set us up the bomb.

Through the use of some sort of invisible, improvised explosive device, they were able to destroy our left-inside rear tire, sever our fuel hose, and rip the gas cap off of the filler tube. Location of the IED explosion is noted here:

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Impressive, Lazlo. Most impressive.

In times like these, we must turn to the immortal words of our own President Bush:

“Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again!”

Well said, George.

Pictures of the damage below.
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Clearly, it was Team Lazlo that was behind the flat tire earlier in the week, ensuring that we would not have a spare with which to repair this latest damage. We pulled off the highway to call for help, and were promptly greeted with the most impressive army of gnats and other insects we have ever encountered. Lazlo has obviously been training these gnats in their evil laboratory, undoubtedly in cahoots with The Millers, despite whatever charade they play out on their blog.

Fortunately, two teams behind us remained unaware of our destructive plans, and we called upon the Goddesh of Richmond to cash in the positive karma we had built up.

Our prayers were answered, and the powers of the Goddesh forced Bloodshot to repay the karma for us having saved them from dehydration in Atlanta, and forced the Fellowship to repay the karma from the certain-death river rescue.

The RV was abandoned until the morning, and we headed into Savannah, for once with enough time to make it to the pub and hang out with the other teams. We even made it before the mandatory Kilt Kerfew ™ at 9pm.

Tomorrow is another day, and we will not let these silly little bombs or road-side rescues slow us down. Onward and upward. For great justice.


Day 5: Atlanta

20Jul07

We made it into Atlanta in our usual late fashion and were unable to hook up with any of the other teams. Upon our arrival, we searched for some food around the hotel, and couldn’t find much, but we did find what was allegedly a “diner” down the way. It turned out to be some kind of dance club/karaoke bar that had marginal diner type food upstairs. We were starving, though, so it was good enough.

In the morning, we gathered for the next leg of the race, and set off exploring Olympic Park and the surrounding landmarks and monuments in downtown Atlanta. The clues seemed to go smoothly for the most part. We started with a hunt for a particular brick along one of those walk-of-fame things where you buy a brick and they stick it in the road.

Using our uncommon power of superior intuition (aka: visitor center database), we quickly found the brick and moved on. We would surely gain the upper hand on this day!

There were a lot of teams starting with this clue, and so as not to reveal its position, here is a photo I snapped of some random bricks, just before shouting “I got it!” in a very cunning and convincing diversion. Or something. Thank you Michelle Lynn Venable-Foster-Longname-of-Unusual-Size, of Atlanta.

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More clues were gathered, we took one penalty due to being stuck, and deciphered a message which read, “examine nearby radioactive vessels.”

Ah ha! Surely it would be obvious; it was nearby, was it not? A quick search revealed nothing, and more teams started piling up at the same point. Our earlier time advantages had quickly disappeared.

We started asking locals who all seemed to think we were out of our gourds. Could it be a war monument? A naval ship? (the Atlanta navy? Hmmmm) A bomb shelter? The street lamps? The SunTrust building across the street? Some modern art?

Ah HA! We knew exactly who would know – the old guys that work at the Army Navy Surplus Center we spotted the night before, and it was just down the road. In there, we engaged in a very slow moving conversation for 15 valuable minutes, which ended with something like “Well, if you boys do find that radioactive stuff, I’d stay far away.”

Thank you for the advice, kind sirs.

Frustrated, we opted to head down to where the X was on the original treasure map. It wasn’t that close, but maybe we’d spot something along the way. As we got near, we spotted the Hard Rock Café which features the neon sign: “No Nuclear Weapons Inside.”

Ah HA HA HA!

Now we had it for sure. We went in and started to look around when the hostess came over and asked how many for lunch. We told her that we were meeting someone here and explained a bit about what we were doing. She told us that couldn’t happen, because if the entire party wasn’t there already, she would not seat them.

Apparently, our ability to accurately describe an imagined, optical-illusion triggered, near-death experience via Internet blog GREATLY exceeds our ability to verbally explain, in person, why someone might meet another person during a treasure hunt.

(On the other hand, the odds that you could even follow that last sentence are pretty slim… it all makes sense now.)

After getting another staff member involved, we were finally able to communicate what we were doing, and had permission to look around the restaurant. However, the hostess was absolutely positive that there were no nuclear or radioactive references anywhere in the restaurant.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a Hard Rock Café, but let me tell you, there is an absolute ton of stuff all over the walls, with many different references to just about anything. Since this nice young lady didn’t even know what a treasure hunt was, we weren’t about to trust her ability to memorize a thousand different items and their meanings.

In hindsight, perhaps we should have.

We found nothing, went back outside, and started again with the “Ask the Locals” strategy (which, by the way, is patent pending, and we will sue any other teams which infringe upon our proprietary methods).

It should be said that there are two things guaranteed to create a 5 minute conversation. One: Explaining what Ravenchase is and why anyone would venture 2000 miles over 8 days to chase pretend treasure. Two: “Is that an iPhone?”

The correct answer is “No, it’s a Geiger counter and we are looking for radioactive vessels. Step away, or take us to them.”

We finally gave up, but before calling in for the answer, we wanted to walk back to where we found the clue, just in case the next one was near there was well. On the way back, I spotted a bright yellow newspaper box with a radioactive logo plastered right on the side of it. 20 feet from where we started. Out in the open, although its view was obstructed when standing on that start point.

Clearly, this 300 pound newspaper box was NOT there when we were looking for it before. A clear case of foul play is involved. We suspect Fellowship of the Van. Where’s the Fellowship (WTF) you ask? Running down the street carrying 300 pounds of bulky, bright yellow steel. Unnoticed. That’s where.

We have clearly underestimated their stealth abilities.

With the new clue in hand, it was off to a revolving restaurant, 70 stories up and across the street (of course) from the Hard Rock Café.
The clue said to tell the person we were staying at the hotel or else we’d have to pay for the elevator.

We did as instructed.

They were not amused.

$5 each was the fare, so we decided to send 3 guys up while Phil and I waited.

While waiting, I offered some other players (aka, cheapskates) from Bloodshot a bottled water. Their response of “Really? We can have some?” led me to believe that we somehow weren’t playing the game correctly, with our friendly ways and all.

First rescuing Fellowship from a watery grave, and then saving Bloodshot from death by dehydration? Are we TRYING to lose?

The other bloodshot members came down the elevator about that time and, snatching a bottled water, they departed by saying, “May the Blessings of the Goddesh of Richmond be Upon You.”

Sounds great. Unfortunately this was nothing but a ruse, as Bloodshot clearly sabotaged the elevators so we could not follow their tracks. Shortly thereafter, when Scott got in the elevator to come back down with the answer, the elevator stopped working.

With Scott in the elevator. Stuck between two floors somewhere between ground level and the top. With all the clues. For serious.

You just can’t make stuff like this up.

Half an hour later, our team was reunited on the ground floor and we were done with Atlanta. Back into the RV and off to Savannah we go!


I totally forgot to add this story yesterday, but it’s a classic. While fueling up the RV, everyone had hopped out except for Mike and I (jeff). I was diligently working on the blog, when a truck towing a long flatbed trailer rolled up along side us and slowly started making it’s way from our front to back to line up with the pump.

Mike, who was in the back with me looks up in shock, realizing that it wasn’t a truck rolling along side us, but that WE are the ones rolling forward, toward another truck parked right in front of us, and a certain T-Bone collision involving a ton of time and several thousand dollars.

Springing into action, Mike quickly thrusts himself over the back of the drivers seat, smashing his shins into the steering wheel, in order to jam on the brakes and prevent the impending disaster.

But of course, it *WAS* the other truck that was moving, not us. All an optical illusion. I looked up from the blog and thought, “Man, it doesn’t feel like we’re moving, but HOLY CRAP WE’RE GOING TO HIT THAT TRUCK!”

No sooner does Mike pretend to risk life and limb so as to gloriously step on the brakes and save us all, then Scott saunters over with the windshield squeegee and begins cleaning the windows, completely unaware of the near-death experience we imagined to have inside the RV.

I think Mike needs a little more sleep. This Ravenchase thing is getting to him. 😉