Jul. 25th, 2004

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I've been meaning to take a nice chunk of time and write about my trip to the Arnold Arboretum. Now that I have some time and am about to do so, I realize that there actually isn't a whole lot to write about. Here's what happened: We went to a park. We walked around a lot. I made a meloncholic AudBlog. I took bunches of pictures. We left.

The word arboretum comes from Latin. Literally translated, it means, "Hey, dude, there's like, lots of trees here!" And indeed there were lots of trees at the arboretum, Latin dude. Trees of all sorts. With leaves. It was very green. And . . . foliant. See, not a lot to write about.

Anyway, this was part of the NPL Convention, so we couldn't just go out there to stare at trees. (Not that staring at a whole bunch of trees wouldn't have been INCREDIBLY FASCINATING, of course). This was presented as a puzzle/orienteering event, set up by D. Ness and globe-trotting puzzler Kray. So, we arranged ourselves into teams, and I teamed up with Wombat, Atoz, Bartok, and Artistry to solve.

I wasn't completely happy with the puzzles (available online). We were given a map, a fifteen sets of photos, and set of instructions. The map marked fourteen general areas of the arboretum that we were to navigate our way to using the map and our wits. Each set of four photos identified a particular tree in one of those areas, but we had to figure out which photos went with which area. (There was one set of photos the location of which was not the map but could be inferred.) The instructions also included a fifteen bits of wordplay, each referring to one of the trees to be identified. Correctly matching trees with pictures allowed you to plug letters into blanks for a metapuzzle.

I wasn't entirely happy with the way it was designed though. For one thing, this was an orienteering event at its heart, but the map we were given didn't seem to be well-suited for the task. It did have nifty contour lines, but it was awkwardly divided across two sides of the same page. The back page had spoilery clues we were encouraged not to look at initially, but it also had other information like the map's scale and the direction of north that were rather necessary. Major Spoilers. Do Not Read if You Intend to Try This Hunt )

On the other hand, there was plenty of aid merely a call away, since Kray was wandering the park with water, cookies and a cell phone. Probably the biggest problem the hunt had was marking the trip up to Peters Hill optional. Sure it was a slight climb, but, boy, was it worth it. While I was up there, I took several pictures: of my team, of another team (Sarah and her boyfriend, [livejournal.com profile] lemurtanis, Sprout, [livejournal.com profile] wesleyjenn and QED, who appears in other pictures), of my team taking pictures of the other team, of both teams, and of faraway Boston.

And then, everyone left.

Addendum )


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