June 4, 2009

The Jamestown 400: Phase One

This is a faithful history of our adventures during the Jamestown 400: Our National Treasure Hunt.  I’ve included as much as I can remember of the hunt, the main highlights (for me at least), and a few of my journal entries during that time.  Anything in my journal entries that are in parethesis are comments from me now, they were not in my journal.

We first became interested in the treasure hunt, when Aubrey, who had been working on it for about a week, told Alex about it.  He emailed the details to Alex, and soon we had joined the thousands of families across the United States, searching through the 2007 Vision Forum catalog for clues.  The clues in the catalog included an anagram, hieroglyphics, and colored letters.

Once we’d found the secret website ( I can’t tell you what it was – it’s a secret;), learned a bit about Elias Boudinot, the forgotten President, there was no way we were going to not continue with the hunt.

- Elias Boudinot -

The first few clues were pretty easy.  Our fictional…“boss”, I guess you could say, was a man named Jack Bradford.   Jack ran a detective agency called the Boudinot Agency, named after Elias Boudinot, of which we were “members”.   He remained rather mysterious throughout the entire treasure hunt, showing up to give us clues, and tips along the way. 

During Phase One, we learned all about George Washington’s spy ring, the Culper Ring, which I found fascinating.  Then we had a few questions where we had to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar (or was it the other way around?) in order to figure out the exact date of…something.  I can’t remember what:)  And then, they hit us with a doozy.  At least, at the time I thought it was a doozy.  If I had only known what they had in store for us later on…  They gave us an unidentified map fragment, and we not only had to find the rest of it, but find out who commissioned it to be made!  Oh, I remember thinking in disbelief, “They want us to do what?!”  However, we persevered, and eventually found it.  The next three questions involved finding map fragments.  I must confess, I was getting a bit tired of those map fragments.

And then, we got stuck on a clue for 5 days.  Yes, five, FIVE, 5 days!  Oh, I will never forget the agony we went through, trying to figure out that clue!!!  It was horrible!  We thought it was the end for us, and had decided that if by the end of the week we hadn’t figured it out, we weren’t going to waste any more time on the hunt.  We knew we were looking for another secret website (thanks to a tip from the F family, who were a bit further along than us), but we couldn’t figure out the correct web address.  We continued to search, trying every combination of the words in our clue, “find message from christian almanac man”, to try and find the website.

We finally found it.  It turns out that we had the correct answer on the first day, but because we didn’t have Apple QuickTime installed, nothing had popped up when we were on the correct website:{  I believe that’s when my intense dislike of anything Apple began…;)

Yes, we found Mr. Big, whom Jack had alluded to, but I can’t tell you who he is.  Classified information;)   He told us, “Know Boudinot”, which was the answer to our clue.  Some members of the family thought it was “No Boudinot”, but the answer came back as incorrect.  I thought to try out “know” instead.  I’m so clever;)

From my journal – April 12th, 2007
“We finally made it past the clue we were stuck on in the Jamestown 400.  We figured out ten more clues tonight in just under 4 hours.  That’s pretty exciting!”
We continued on with the hunt, learning about the lost colony of Roanoke, Virginia Dare, the Dare Stones, and much more.   Ahh, it was here, on question #20, that I had my moment of glory.  I knew the answer to the question right away:)  We didn’t even have to spend hours looking for the correct answer=)  It was one of Shakespeare’s plays, The Tempest.  I was very pleased with myself.  Still am, actually=)  Yep, I felt like I was really cut out for this detective business…until we got the next clue, of course:)

The last few questions of Phase One (P1) were our introductions to codes and ciphers.  We used Aubrey’s cryptography site, which he created for the hunt, to decode many messages.  There were two substitution ciphers (I think), and one using Masonic code (aka a Pigpen Cipher).   Mom’s moment of glory came with the last question.  She decoded the message completely by hand, although the rest of us had been struggling in vain to decode it.  Even our code expert, Alex, didn’t get it.

The messages mom decoded was a quote from George Washington:
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

From my journal – April 14th, 2007
“Well, we did it!  We figured out the last clue this afternoon.  Mom actually deciphered two of the code words and we all helped with the rest.  Unless they (Vision Forum) release another message before Monday, then we have made it through Phase One.  If we were one of the first 1,000 people to complete Phase One, then we get to go on to Phase Two.  The first 100 people to complete Phase Two get to actually go to Jamestown and search for buried treasure.  That would be really fun!”

We solved 24 clues in all, in P1.  We had been in pretty constant contact throughout P1 with the F family, sharing tips, and ideas.  After a rest of a few days, we received our first clue for Phase Two (P2)...
To be continued...

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