The Hunt Year was...


The American Red Cross

1997 Tropic Hunt

Your online guide to the zaniness of the 1997 Tropic Hunt!

Dell Business Weekly Promo

1997 Tropic Hunt Cover Image

When:  11/9/1997

Where: Downtown Miami

Hey, Downtown Miami has been such a hit, why not have the Hunt there again, right? And Miami still needs more money, right? (just kidding again)

\nThe puzzles this year varied in complexity…and variety. We had the Tropic Hunt Language Lessons, the tatoo, the plastic swords (if you knew where to go to find them!)…a giant clock…wow!

\nEssentially the same team assembled to tackle this Hunt as the previous year…with pretty much the same results. Sheesh! You\'d expect more from software engineers, doncha think?

\nOh..this year\'s Hunt had the BEST t-shirts! The tie-dye shirts were great! Bring them back!!!

The Initial Puzzles
NOTE: The puzzle answers are hidden! In order to see them, you must highlight them with your mouse to reverse the text!

1. Bob is a Miami City official. One day, when he is exactly halfway on his drive to work, he realizes that he has forgotten to wear his hidden recording device, so he must return home. If Bob's house is 10 miles from work, and if he goes directly home after work, what will his total commuting mileage be for that day?
T - 30 miles
U - 150 miles
V - 5 to 10, minimum mandatory

Answer: T

2. Arnold, Fred and Stuart, all Caucasian males 18 years or older, live downwind of an atomic-testing site and have a combined total  of 17 nostrils. If Arnold has twice as many nostrils as Fred, and Fred has one fewer nostril than Stuart, how many people are we talking about here?
Q - Two
R - Three
S - Six

Answer: R

3. If the average South Florida palmetto bug weighs one pound at birth and grows at the rate of one pound a month, how much will Luther, a palmetto bug born on March 1, weigh on August 1?
A - 2 pounds
P - 6 pounds
Z - The weight can't be calculated in pounds, but it's enough to feed a family of four

Answer: P

4. Mr. X wishes to make a donation to a presidential campaign, and for perfectly legitimate reasons, he wishes to make his donation via Buddhist nuns. If each nun can make a maximum contribution of $50,000, and Mr. X wishes to donate a total of $350,000, how many nuns will Mr. X need?
H - 5
N - 7
W - nun (rim shot!)

Answer: N

5. Assume that the average annual ridership of the Metrorail system is 6 people. How many years will the Metrorail have to operate before its total ridership equals the number of people required to play a regulation baseball game?
D - 2
F - 3
K - 4

Answer: F

6. Two South Florida motorists start out 30 miles apart and drive towards each other in a straight line. If one motorist drives at a constant speed of 20 miles per hour and other motorist drives at a constant speed of 10 miles per hour, when they smash into each other, what will be the chance that both of them will have insurance?
R - Zero
R - None
R - Nada

Answer: R (Duh!)

Main Puzzles (i.e. the puzzle sites)
NOTE: Puzzle answers and their descriptions are hidden! In order to see them, you must highlight them with your mouse to reverse the text!

Puzzle: The Electric Sign
Location: Outside AT&T Amphitheater
The AT&T Amphitheater electronic sign along Biscayne Boulevard was flashing some non-sensical stuff:
"OMO" (with a picture of a tomato)
"RANULA" (with a picture of a spider)
"the solution is"
"ODY'S DAE" (no picture)
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 1109
How to get the answer:
Hunters had to realize that all the weird sayings were missing what was beneath them: AT&T. If you added these letters, you got "tomato", "tarantula" and "today's date". The answer was 1109 for November 9th.

Puzzle: The Plastic Swords
Location: All over MetroMover in downtown Miami
In the small plaza on the corner of Miami Avenue and Northeast Third Street, Hunt volunteers dressed in pirate bandannas handed out a red plastic cocktail sword (the kind you stick in maraschino cherries) and a short riddle:
To take the first step
on this pirate trail
find the snowflake in the snake-wolf.
"Enter big gal" points to grail.

Hunters had to realize that "snowflake" is an anagram of "snake-wolf" -- the two words contain the same letters in a different order. We were telling them to find an anagram for "enter big gal." Bengal tiger fit the bill. On the lavishly decorated map of downtown Miami printed in Tropic magazine, a Bengal tiger was sitting on a street corner just a block away. There, Hunters found more volunteers handing out more cocktail swords and more anagram riddles, which led to other locations and more riddles and swords. Ultimately, Hunters had two yellow swords, one blue sword, one red sword and this riddle:
Ready for a famous date?
Connect dot to dot.
One last point:
use what you got.
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 1492
How to get the answer:
The Hunt map did indeed have dots, seemingly randomly placed around the map and of varying colors. The trick was to "use what you got" to connect the dots -- the cocktail swords. There were only two red dots on the map exactly the length of a cocktail sword apart. Ditto for the blue dots. The two yellow swords fit exactly between three yellow dots. When all the swords were connecting the dots, they made a big arrow pointing directly south to a statue on the bay. When Hunters showed up there, they discovered the statue was Christopher Columbus. The "famous date" was, of course, 1492 -- the answer to this puzzle.

Puzzle: The Balloon/Paper
Location: Atrium at 200 South Biscayne
At the breezy plaza at 200 South Biscayne, Hunt volunteers were handing out deflated yellow balloons. Alert Hunters noticed that the balloons contained a slip of paper with three words printed on it: "Blow it up." If they followed the instruction and blew up the balloon, they discovered that a message -- too small to be read when the balloon was deflated -- became visible when it was fully inflated. The message read: "Get it wet."
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 82
How to get the answer:
Since the slip of paper was referring to the balloon, it was logical to assume the balloon was referring to the slip of paper. Also correct. When dunked in water, invisible writing on the slip of paper emerged: 82, which was the answer.

Puzzle: Tropic Hunt Language Lesson
Location: AT&T Amphitheater
At the AT&T Amphitheater, a bizarre "language class" was in progress. Language instructors (played by local comedians Buzz and Cathy Fleischman) were speaking in some unknown language, but making it known through gestures that they wanted the audience of Hunters to repeat words for three strange objects on the stage. They pointed to the middle object -- a twice-life-size replica of a human arm and hand dressed in a football jersey -- and insisted the audience repeat: "Dred-for!" Then they pointed at a giant, fake plastic Greek column on the right and made the audience repeat: "Tee-Too!" Then they pointed to the object on the left -- a life-size dummy with brown mop hair -- and made the audience repeat: "Ahun!"
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 142
How to get the answer:
The clever Hunters put those words in the order of the objects on the stage and came up with: Ahun Dredfor Tee-too. Or a hundred forty-two. The answer.

Puzzle: Tatoo
Location: Bayfront Park, on the stage near the Challenger Memorial
On the covered stage near the Challenger Memorial in Bayfront Park, Hunt volunteers handed out do-it-yourself temporary tattoos. The only instructions were given on a large sign on the stage -- an arrow pointing to the underside of a human hand with the legend: "Apply tattoo here." The tattoo was a luscious-looking ice cream sundae.
Related puzzle photos and materials...
Puzzle Answer: 45
How to get the answer:
Hunters had to look at their sundae-bedecked hand and make this connection: Palm. Sundae. Palm Sunday.
Tucked into Tropic magazine was a page labeled: The 1998 Ecclesiastic Calendar. Listed there, among Lent, Ascension and Trinity Sunday, was Palm Sunday, which will come April 5 next year. The answer was the date: 4/5, or 45.

Puzzle: The Fountain
Location: Claude Pepper Fountain
In the circular basin of the spectacular fountain in the heart of Bayfront Park, Hunters found what appeared to be a giant clock, with a big hand and a (relatively) little hand. There were also 12 hash marks encircling the basin -- one for each number on the clock face.

Only there were no numbers. To figure out what time the "clock" was indicating -- the obvious solution -- Hunters first had to figure out which end of the clock was up. There was one hint: a sign posted at the fountain that read "Midday comes where Freedom is obscured by water."
Puzzle Answer: 1025
How to get the answer:
Hunters had to circle the perimeter of the fountain basin until they discovered the one spot in which the vertical jet of water roaring from the fountain blocked out the Freedom Tower on the horizon to the northwest. The hash mark placed at precisely that point was "midday, " or 12. With that as a reference, it was easy to determine the time -- 10:25. The answer to this puzzle was 1025.

The Clues
45. It's not the words you're after, it's the words thereafter.
82. Those going are equal with those coming. Minus the noise.
119. Happy BERTHday to you.
142. I've gotta be bee! And I'm stung that you don't understand that.
1025. This here tee is poking a hole in my pocket. And it's hell on my black lace panties.
1492. I expect that shortly 2 will be 4 and 3 will be something else entirely.

The Final Puzzle
NOTE: The final puzzle description is hidden! In order to see them, you must highlight them with your mouse to reverse the text!

The Final Puzzle:
Shortly after 4pm, Dave Barry announced the final clue to the crowd: "The final clue is going to be here shortly."
Final puzzle photos and materials...
Solving the Hunt:
To find the final answer to the hunt, Hunters had to take the six numbers they got by solving the Hunt puzzles and match them with corresponding numbered clues in the magazine. They meant absolutely nothing, until you used the Hunt's final clue to decode them.

Hunters had been told to gather at the amphitheater at 4 p.m., when the final clue would be announced. At several minutes after 4, Dave Barry (Tropic humorist and co-designer of the Hunt with Tropic Executive Editor Tom Shroder and former Tropic Editor Gene Weingarten) announced it.
Most did not realize that Dave meant, but some did: "The final clue is: GOING TO BE HERE SHORTLY."
By applying the first clue ("It's not the words you're after, it's the words thereafter."), they could then decode the next five clues. Each of the five clues had one of the following words: going, to, be, here, shortly. The important word in each clue was the word AFTER those words. In the second clue, for instance, the word after GOING is "are." In the third clue, the word after TO is "you, " and so forth until you get these five words: are, you, bee, tee and 2. Phonetically, that gives you this: R-U-B-T-2.
The first to figure out that we were telling Hunters to go up on stage and "rub" the column that the language teachers had been calling "tee-too" won.

Who won (Congratulations!):
Stephen Roberts, 28, a computer programmer, and Michael Ling, 29, an environmental scientist, both of Chapel Hill; and Kathryn McDonnell, 31, a graduate student in classical archaeology, from Carrboro.

Photos & related materials for the winners...


Photos, articles, stories and other multimedia related to the hunt...



Copyright ©1998-2019  VW Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer

Page last updated: Sunday, July 14, 2024  12:38:28 AM