6/5/2013 - THE 2013 POST HUNT REVIEW!
Good evening, everyone!
Six years and six Post Hunts are now over. The crowd has continued to grow and fill Freedom Plaza, and despite the collective brainpower between the eager masses, one person...one solitary person...beat everyone. This wasn't a wait of six years...this was a wait of 29 years. Never has one person won a Hunt.
Sean Memon is the man.
Everyone...we need to elect this man as our next President. Forget the fact that he's too young...if he can solve the Post Hunt by himself, he can easily cut through the political red tape and solve the problems that face this great country. He could get Congress to pass a law recognizing June 2nd as National Post Hunt Day in honor of his accoplishment.
Congrats, Sean. Fantastic job!
The 2013 Post Hunt continued to demonstrate just how popular this event is. Despite a rather warm sunny day where the temperature was warmer in D.C. than South Florida, the crowds came out to see how
poorly good they could do. Or they came just to boo Dave, Tom and Gene. The main puzzles were generally challenging but not insurmountable. And the endgame clearly separated the serious Hunters from the casual ones.
LET'S THANK THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HUNT!
It takes months of preparation in order to prepare a Hunt. From the original ideas for the puzzles and development of the endgame to the gathering of sponsors and volunteers, many, many hours are poured in each one. So let's give thanks to everyone at the Washington Post who put their time and hard work into this fun day, as well as all of the EXCELLENT Hunt volunteers (YOU try hula hooping/coming up with questions to ask Pirates who only answer 'Arrrr' for three hours!). Special thanks to...(in no particular order)
ALL THE HUNT VOLUNTEERS (they know who they are...YOU are what keeps the Hunt moving along each hectic Hunt day!)
AS WELL AS THE HUNT SPONSORS THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS
Hey, second and third place teams...ONE GUY BEAT YOU. You better step up your game! (Like I should talk, being 0-26...)
Now the, ON WITH THE REVIEW!
In my continuing tradition, I offer the following review/thoughts on this year's Hunt:
I like Freedom Plaza, but I'm not a D.C. native. I like looking down the street and seeing the Capitol behind all the Hunters. There's just something special about the area...and it serves the Hunt well.
Overall Hunt difficulty:
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being hardest (2011's Herald Hunt), and 1 being easiest (2004's Herald Hunt), this Hunt seemed to present a stiff challenge and ranks an 7 out of 10. The main puzzles were challenging, but not too bad. I think most people were able to solve them. The end game was tough, requiring extra clues, but that's not uncommon. I was already in the field and solving it, just not fast enough...
NOTE: In order to allow people to "play at home", I have renamed some of the puzzle titles to better conceal the nature of the puzzle. Some of the titles from the Post's article would give hints on how to solve the puzzle...hints that were not available at the Hunt itself.
The puzzle-by-puzzle analysis:
The Pirate Dating Game:Tricky one, took us the longest to solve (and was the last one we solved). We initially got the wrong answer because we didn't use what we were supposed to the way it should have been used and got the wrong answer. Probably the hardest of the main puzzles.
The Hard Candy: We missed this puzzle initially because we couldn't find the volunteers. So many people were crowded around them that we didn't see them. When we came back later, we found them easily. It took the two of us to solve the puzzle because my taste buds were off, but we understood what you needed to do with the candy after a few minutes. This was the third easiest of the Hunt.
The Performance: This was the easiest of them all, but logistically led to unfortunate long lines to see it. Puzzles should always be visible to a wide audience, but the pacing of this puzzle made that a bit trickier since the program had to be given at the end. Despite the wait, we got the answer within a couple minutes of reviewing everything.
The Gantry: This was the second easiest puzzle, but I had a problem with it, in that there should have been some reference to what the dummy represented in the magazine. Otherwise you needed Internet access if you didn't recall the details of the answer exactly.
The Weird Walkers: This one was a neat offset puzzle (and the only one of the Hunt) that once you understood what you were watching, you just understood what you needed to do next. It was just weird (and fun) to watch a (very) brave Hunt volunteer walking with a giant naked butt attached to their back.
Endgame: Holy wow! We were in on the end game and were on a path, but we didn't start where we should. Some of the references in the end game also were not entirely common knowledge (Obscure state mottos, for example.). This end game was tough, taking about 45 minutes to get winners and two additional clues. But people did solve it. And we had a volunteer still at their post at a Hunt puzzle location well after 3pm, so we thought we were on the right path. Also, SWAG was an answer in the crossword puzzle, too. That probably couldn't have been foreseen, however.
Last year I recommended the following:
1) SHRINK THE OVERALL HUNT AREA DOWN.
Result: DONE! The Hunt was contained to a smaller area.
2) CLARIFY THE CAMERA REQUIREMENT.
Result: N/A. No camera was required this year.
3) LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF 'OFFSET' PUZZLES.
Result: SUCCESS! Just one this year!
4) HAVE AN OFFICIAL WACKY TEAM NAME CONTEST.
Result: None. Owel.
My recommendations for this year are:
1) SELL HUNT T-SHIRTS: Free Hunt t-shirts were nice for those completing the survey, but they went too quickly. I literally got one of the last few they had available. Hunt t-shirts have been a staple of the Hunts for years, so limiting their distribution was a risk, and I don't think it worked well, and I believe the Washington Post should have sold them. Maybe a happy medium would be to sell them on CafePress, the way they did the first year. Anyone who didn't get one can always order one before and/or after the Hunt.
2) GET MORE COPIES OF THE HUNT MAGAZINE: There weren't enough copies of the Hunt magazine at the Hunt. I tried Saturday to find a bulldog edition of the Sunday paper and struck out everywhere I tried. Everywhere. I never had that problem before. On Sunday, we picked up two copies of the Sunday paper and got our magazines, but we wanted to grab a couple more at the Hunt. Sadly, there weren't many copies to go around, and I only got one extra copy.
3) GET MORE FOOD TRUCKS! There were good ones this year...but get a few more for some extra variety and Hunters will be all set!
WRAPPING THE REVIEW UP
The 2013 Post Hunt I think was a more successful Hunt than most others, as the main puzzles had the right mixture of challenge to solvability ratio. Given time, people solved them. For the casual Hunter, this is good, as many folks get frustrated when they only solve one or two main puzzles. Solving them all makes people feel like they're "in the game" for the main prize. The end game puzzle managed to keep the serious Hunters going, if tripping them up a bit at the beginning, but once they were on the path, the solution came fairly quickly. And ONE GUY GOT IT ALL ALONE!
Enjoy the 2013 Post Hunt wrapup, and let me know what you thought of this year's Hunt.
And thanks again for your patience and waiting for me to get the review and the Hunt information up. Y'all are the best, you know that?
6/1/2013 - TOMORROW IS THE 2013 POST HUNT! MEGA UPDATE TIME!
Good morning, everyone!
I'm in D.C. The Hunt section is out now (see below). It's time to get your game face on, time for the super-spectacular mega-update of them all. Get ready to stuff your brain full of...stuff? I've helped by breaking it down into sections...
1. GET PREPARED!
GETTING THE HUNT EDITION OF THE SUNDAY MAGAZINE EARLY
The magazine is available online here .
BUY YOUR "BULLDOG" EDITION TODAY!
Yes, you can get the Hunt magazine online, but don't forget to purchase your "Bulldog" edition (first edition) of Sunday's paper today! Your financial support of the Post helps keep the Hunt alive!
YOUR POST HUNT WEATHER UPDATE!
Hot and partly cloudy! BRING YOUR SUNBLOCK!
Your updated (un)Official Post Hunt Weather Hour-by-Hour Forecast for Sunday, June 2nd, 2013 is:
12:00pm - 83 degrees - 10% chance of rain
1:00pm - 84 degrees - 20% chance of rain
2:00pm - 85 degrees - 20% chance of rain
3:00pm - 86 degrees - 20% chance of rain
4:00pm - 86 degrees - 30% chance of rain
READ UP ON PRIOR HUNTS HERE AT THE ARCHIVES AND AT THE WAPO SITE, TOO!
There's LOTS of good information here at the Tropic/Herald/Post Hunt Archives, covering each and every Hunt that has ever been held. Click through the year links on the left and see more details on what Dave, Tom and Gene have come up with through the years.
You can also click through 'Exploring Previous Hunts' links on the Washington Post's Post Hunt page to get their reviews of how their Hunts worked in the past, too.
DID YOU MISS THE HUNT VIDEO CHAT YESTERDAY?
They posted it on Youtube, so go watch it, learn some stuff and laugh along the way.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AT LEAST ONE MODERN CELL PHONE
You WILL need a cell phone that can text and likely take photos too. Bring one. Or lose. (You'll likely lose anyway, but at least you're not writing youself off if you don't have at least one available among your team members.)
WHAT TO BRING
Here's our recommendations on what you should bring:
- You and your Hunt team
- Cell phone (WITH TEXTING and PHOTO CAPABILTIES)!
- A vague sense of reality (to determine which clues are real and which are out to get you)
- A clear voice to boo Dave, Tom and Gene with (bring cough drops or drink some tea with honey beforehand if needed).
- Pen and pencils and erasers
- A backpack or some type of bag to carry your stuff around in.
- A hat (sun, folks, sun!)
- Money (for getting to/parking/eating/whatever you need to buy during the Hunt...especially Post Hunt t-shirts!)
2. GETTING TO THE HUNT
The Hunt begins at noon at Freedom Plaza, on Pennsylvania Avenue NW near 14th Street NW in downtown Washington. While there IS parking available in the area, your best bet is likely taking the Metro. The Federal Triangle station is less than two blocks from Freedom Plaza and the Metro Center and McPherson Square stations are each nearby as well.
TRACK MAINTENANCE TOMORROW!!
There is track work this weekend on the Shady Grove leg of the Red Line! Plan accordingly!
3. DURING THE HUNT
Try to solve all the main puzzles and win the Hunt! And don't forget to boo Dave, Tom and Gene afterward as they explain how things worked. Also...
TWEET, TWEET, TWEET!
The Post Hunt folks should be tweeting from @posthunt, so make sure you follow them! Also follow me, too, to get other announcements and see how I'm doing. (I will not be giving answers or hints out as I solve puzzles, sorry!) Don't forget to use the #posthunt hashtag for your own tweets!
And please be careful with what you tweet, especially photos. Remember, your pic of a puzzle could save a team the trouble of having to go to a puzzle site...so consider your photos carefully!
BUY YOUR HUNT T-SHIRT!
C'mon, folks. Get a piece of Hunt history, and keep the Hunt alive at the same time. Wear your shirt proudly afterwards and explain to your confused friends what the Hunt is about. And get them to come to the next one!
THE ANNUAL HUNT MEET'N'GREET!
Want to find me at the Hunt? Please do! I will be wearing a 2008 Post Hunt t-shirt. My red hair also helps me stand out...so feel free and say 'hi' if you see me!
4. CHECK BACK HERE DURING THE WEEK NEXT WEEK
I'm flying home a few hours after the Hunt ends, and updates will be posted early next week, so keep checking back for photos, explanations and more! Including my annual review!
I WANT YOUR PHOTOS! I WANT YOUR VIDEOS! I WANT YOUR HUNT STORIES!
Got pictures? Got video? Got stories about your Hunt experience? PLEASE email me if you'd like to contribute them to the Archives! I'd be eternally grateful, as well as the other visitors to the site! Because of your help, the archives now has over 1500 items, including pictures, stories, audio AND video! Let's keep it growing!
On a related now, how else can you help the Archives? IF you are inclined, you can click the donation button on this page. Choose your own amount...it would be much appreciated!
(Doing so will not increase your chances of winning the Hunt, but may make you feel are warm and fuzzy inside like it does me!)
5. MISC. TIPS
ANNUAL FROM-TOWNER TIPS
- As someone from Miami, you can never be too prepared for the weather. Wear a rain poncho throughout the Hunt. You'll be ready at a moment's notice in case it does rain. And you DO want to be ready at a moment's notice, right?
- Need another good Hunt overview? Go here!
- Beer and wine will help your thought processes. Lots and lots of alcohol before the Hunt and during the Hunt will keep you on your toes... (Please drink responsibly!)
- The Post Hunt is actually being held at the Mall outside the Air and Space museum. Really. No, really, you know the place. Go there and wait. The silly out-of-towners won't even show up!
- The winners have already been determined for the Hunt two days ago. Weren't told you won? Sorry. You don't need to show up. Everyone will just look at you like the loser you are. (There's a grain of truth in there somewhere...)
(As usual, my teammates are forbidden from following these tips.)
That's all for now...keep checking back for more updates. And I'll see you tomorrow at the Hunt!
5/19/2013 - TWO WEEKS UNTIL MAYHEM! WHO'S RESPONSIBLE?
Good morning, everyone!
We're two weeks away from the 2013 Post Hunt! You've made your plans to get down to Freedom Plaza on June 2nd, right? After all, this is one of the most fun and life-altering events you can ever participate in. If you haven't signed up yet, WHY THE HECK NOT?!?!
What do you need, some type of incentive...a prize, perhaps...to entice you to join the festivities?
Well, SHOULD you come down and join in the foray, you'll have your chance to win one of these...
1st Place: $2000
2nd Place: $500
3rd Place: $500
So you're saying to yourself, "Okay, Andy...Mister 'tropichunt.com guy™'...you've got my interest. they're not just giving away that money easily. Can I do this by myself?"
Sure you can! However, it will be more challenging. And not as fun.
Get some other friends together...and try to get someone who hasn't been to the Hunt before, too...and plan on getting down to Freedom Plaza in two weeks.
"So, who do I have to think for all of this?"
Besides Gene Weingarten, Tom Shroder, Dave Barry and the fine folks at the Washington Post who help craft this spectacular event, you really should thank the following sponsors both before, during and after the Hunt:
National Geographic Museum
You'll notice these sponsors around the Hunt, so definitely give them your thanks at the Hunt, and give them some business afterwards.
More info coming soon! Keep checking back!
12/2/2012 - THE 2012 HERALD HUNT REVIEW!
Good evening, everyone!
What to say, what to say...well, there's lots to say about the 2012 Herald Hunt! A winning speed record was broken, but it was a challenging Hunt, partly due to some logistics. It still ranks amongst the easiest (as all the Coconut Grove Hunts tend to do...). You all were fantastic in coming out and showing your support and love for going insane for the 20th time in Miami, and it showed.
Before we get to my analysys, let me share two of my favorite tweets from yesterday with you, both from the same person, Carlos Sanchez:
Later, after Dave and Tom explained the Hunt:
So, let's get on with my analysis in my annual Herald Hunt wrap-up!
Last year, the 2011 Herald Hunt end-game dragged on for quite some time (almost an hour), making it likely the longest Hunts ever. The 2012 Herald Hunt was over much more quickly; the winning team solved the Hunt and did what they needed to do to win 15 minutes BEFORE the final clue was given!
Since I was not competing, I was able to sit back more relaxed as I worked on the puzzles, still trying to solve them, Don't get me wrong, I did attempt the end-game to an extent. My observations of the end-game come from both my participation as well as discussions with other players.
Before I get into the puzzle-by-puzzle and end-game analysis, let's do a few things first:
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS!
1st place: Fiscal Cliff Hangers
2nd place: 2008 Champs
3rd place: 3-Peaters
I need to use all capital letters here to emphasize an important point:
ALL THREE TEAMS WERE LOCALS!
ONE EVEN SOLVED IT 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE FINAL CLUE!
TAKE THAT, OUT-OF-TOWNERS!
YOU'VE BEEN DENIED FIVE YEARS IN A ROW!
(Just kidding, out-of-towners, we love you! Really!)
You all did a great job, and you had quite a few other teams on your tails as well. You had to think fast and act quickly, and you did both and beat out many other very qualified teams. Kudos to all of you!
(And if you have an extra stateroom that you'd like to share...hey, um, let me know!)
I (well, not just me, but you, too!) need to thank the following people from the Miami Herald (in no particular order):
ELAINE (Happy Birthday again, Elaine!)
AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO PUT ALL THE TIME, HARD WORK, COORDINATION AND CREATIVITY INTO THE HUNT!
AND, OF COURSE, A GREAT BIG THANK YOU, TO THE HUNT VOLUNTEERS! :)
FOOD TRUCKS! YUM!
This is the second year that we've had food trucks, and the food was spectacular! I have no problem with them becoming a regular at the Hunt...
A BIG THANK YOU HERALD HUNT SPONSORS!
A HUGE thank you to Carnival Cruise Lines! Carnival was fantastic, and I heard nothing but positive comments about their sponsorship of the Herald Hunt. From the Hunt stage to the free water to the photo booths to the wrist bands to the prizes (Wow, those were some great prizes!), they such a great job that I wish they would sponsor every year. They really made things fun for everyone, young and old, whether you had a chance in the Hunt or not.
Also a very big thank you to the other sponsors of the Herald Hunt as well!
The sponsors are the reason the Hunt is able to come back each time. Without their financial support, the Hunt can not continue. They're as loyal to the Hunt as you are each year, so show them your appreciation by giving them your business!
THAT RED HEAD GUY ON THE MAP
Thanks Otis and Barbara Sweat and the Herald enough for continuing to put me next to Tom, Dave and Elaine! Also, a very warmfelt thanks to the Herald for the wonderful story they did on me before the Hunt. You have the same passion that I do for the Hunt. Making sure that you know about it so that you can plan on going and getting friends to join you is important to me. I want you to come to the Hunt, I want you to have a chance at winning, I want you to have fun...so thank you to EVERYONE for showing your enthusiasm and excitement for the Hunt, as that's what makes me do what I do for you!
THE FIRST SATURDAY HUNT DATE AND THE WEATHER
We were a week outside of Thanksgiving, so shopping (and eating) were out of the way, and the Saturday date made the Hunt more accessible to everyone. I certainly appreciated not having to go to work the day after the Hunt so that I could decompress and write up my thoughts. The weather was picture perfect once the brief rain sprinkles before the Hunt started left. The breeze was nice as it took some of the edge off the sunny day.
HUNT NEWS STORIES
- The Miami Herald has its wrap up. More photos and a video are also available on the same page.
- Dave Barry's blog has some of his own perspectives on the Hunt
THE 2012 HUNT DETAILS ARE UP!
Your 2012 Herald Hunt details are up now!
THE HUNT PUZZLE BREAKDOWN/REVIEW
In my continuing tradition, I offer the following review/thoughts on the 2012 Herald Hunt:
- VENUE: I love Coconut Grove as the location for the Hunt. It's not too small and not too large. Peacock Park is spacious enough for not just the Hunt crowd, but also food trucks, one of the Hunt puzzles and more. The rest of the Grove offered plenty of shade, places to eat/drink, the Barnacle...it's just a perfect setting. You didn't even have to cross any streets while you were running around trying to solve the Hunt. Very accessible and friendly area for the Hunt overall.
- DIFFICULTY: Easy to slightly challenging, but mostly because of two of the main puzzles (see below) and not the end-game.
- MY PUZZLE-BY-PUZZLE ANALYSIS:
THE SIGNPOST PUZZLE: The most frustrating puzzle of the Hunt, just due to the scale of the puzzle combined with the amount of people trying to solve it at the same time. I went there early on, no one was moving at the start of the puzzle, you couldn't navigate through the maze with everyone there...so I vowed to come back later. I did, and while it was easier to get through, I'd heard that some of the signposts had been moved slightly.(not that it affected the answer, but I suppose for clarity). Even then it took a couple pass throughs to get the correct answer. I recommend that a similar type puzzle needs to be in a larger area so it can be spread out more.
THE ART BASEL PUZZLE: Second most frustrating puzzle of the Hunt. I've been reviewing discussions that others have had regarding this puzzle, and I see both sides of the argument that the answer could be 9 or 15. However, adding to the mix is that somehow...somehow...there were at least two different handouts for this puzzle that had very slightly different wording (one word difference..one had 'to' and the other had 'with' in a certain sentence). So those people who thought that they had to count EVERYTHING that appeared (trying to avoid spoilers here) were thrown off for a bit. I was able to meet up with Tom during the Hunt and tweeted about it:
The challenge here is that you had the actor (how did he keep a straight face throughout the entire day?!) talking about the "finality, termination, endings and stopping points". Taking that intrepretation, combined with "STOP." in large letters at the top of the handout, you'd get one answer. However, that didn't give you the correct answer; you needed to count ones that were not termination or stopping points. I view this puzzle answer as ambiguous and misleading. It would have been better had the obvious incorrect answer that I'm referring to (and which Dave told everyone at the Hunt was wrong, right before the final clue announcement) had NOT been a clue on the clue pages. That would have told everyone that they were wrong and they could have gotten the correct answer.
My team was prepared with both answers, so once we were told that one of them was wrong, we knew the other one was correct. But it still messed up a lot of people, and ruined the end-game for some.
THE CRUISE SHIP COMEDIANS PUZZLE: Easiest puzzle of the Hunt. And it included free punch on a nice day in the park.
DANCE LESSONS PUZZLE: One of the more fun puzzles of the Hunt. You had a very spirited Hunt volunteer dancing silly to Psy's "Gangnam Style".You followed the named moves that they provided and learned what you needed to do to solve the puzzle. Fun, easy, entertaining...
...and my team still got it wrong.
THE SHIPS PUZZLE: Second easiest puzzle at the Hunt, and not considered the easiest because you had to walk the farthest to get to it. But it was on the beautiful grounds of the Barnacle. You had everything you needed in the one spot, provided that you could see what was at the end of the dock. I did hear some complaints that people couldn't tell what was next to the dice.
THE FINAL PUZZLE: This was an easy end-game. If you had all the correct clues, the final clue told you what you needed to look at in the final clue to get your next instructions. From there, Hunters only had to go to one location and deciper the instructions and then head back to the main stage area. One team figured it out early without needing the final clue. While my hats are off to them for figuring it out, it could have been more competitive for everyone if message at the telephone number that Hunters dialed didn't go active until 3:00pm. I think that would have made for a much more interesting finale.
I'm changing the style of the recommendations this year. Here we go:
* Please bring back Tropic Magazine, even if it's only for the Hunt weekend. There are so many talented writers and people in South Florida that you have more than enough content to fill a special edition of the magazine, and make the Herald Hunt more like the Tropic Hunts of old. Your readers and Hunters alike would appreciate it...
* Please consider selling small posters of Otis Sweat's great work with the Hunt maps! People would buy 'em!
* Go back to the stylized t-shirt designs that don't feature Tom and Dave on them. Don't get me wrong, we love Tom and Dave (and Otis' drawings of them!), but the t-shirt designs that don't feature their faces are more popular with the crowd.
* Keep Carnival as a sponsor!
Last but NOT least, I continue to thank YOU, my fellow Hunt fanatics! You come here to my site, you follow me on Twitter, you join the fun on Facebook, all because of your love of the Hunt. This year I had more people than ever come up and say 'hi', let me know how they enjoyed the article about me from the other week, ask me about why I'm spying on a sunbathing alligator with binoculars and more. You are the best, and the Hunt spirit lives on because of YOU!
While I work on this site, we all need to work to ensure that we keep the Hunts going in the future! Please, do everything you can to make that a reality: write a letter to the Herald editors thanking them, tell the sponsors thank you AND give them business if you can, and buy your Hunt shirts each year! This level of strong interest contributes to making the Hunt an ongoing community event, and keeps us having fun each year after year.
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR ANOTHER FANTASTIC HUNT!