Sunday, April 18, 2021

Family Ties (Masquerade Tribute) - Solution

The title of the hunt I created for the Masquerade Tribute was "Family Ties." In the text I shared a short summary of my great x46 grandfather, St. Arnulf of Metz.

As indicated in the instructions, the hunt itself was a Grand Rapids Riddler hunt and was focused on the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

The four phrases found around the border contain red letters. Those letters were an anagram for "Original Boundary."

The red border contains seemingly random letters which had to be deciphered. There were four sets of encoded phrases - one on each side of the border. You could either use software, a script or a website to crack the code or you could do it the way I intended. I borrowed a bit, in a general sense, from the original Masquerade hunt. To find the key for each set of encrypted text, in each paragraph that contains the word "I," you need to draw a line through the "I" and the word in the same paragraph that is related to a finger. For the top and bottom, you would also have to draw a line through St. Arnulf's eyes and the respective longest finger. Those lines would lead you to the letters that would create the key to the Vigenere cipher.

Left side key: SNFAL
Left side decrypted text: An actor leads you to a business and a street

Top side key: OON
Top side decrypted text: in the city of grand rapids

Right side key: REAHL
Right side decrypted text: on the corner with the fifth is a pedestrian light

Bottom side key: STY
Bottom side decrypted text: below the button is the medallion

So the riddle that would lead you to the location is:

An actor leads you to a business and a street in the city of Grand Rapids. On the corner with the fifth is a pedestrian light. Below the button is the medallion.

Now let's look at the rabbits. Notice how they travel around the border and end up going into a rabbit hole? The rabbit hole leads you to the coat of arms for Lay-Saint-Christophe. In this case, don't follow the white rabbit! The only rabbit that would point you in the correct direction is the one in the bottom left corner. The "rabbit ears" feature prominently. These indicate a TV antenna, which also indicate that you should be looking for TVs/movies to find the actor's name.

Left side phrase: The Starting Of It All
TV show: Big Bang Theory (also hinted at by the image of the galaxy at the top)

Top side phrase: Life Is Wonderful
Movie: It's a Wonderful Life

Right side phrase: Buried In A Hillside
Answer (not a TV or movie): The cemetery where the actor is buried is Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

Bottom side phrase: A Saintly Bond
TV Show: The Saint (played by Roger Moore who also played James Bond). However, Roger Moore is not the actor you're looking for. The Saint was also a radio show. 

By cobbling these together, you could find an actor who was common to all of them: Sheldon Leonard. 

Big Bang Theory: the modern TV show had characters "Sheldon" and "Leonard" who were named after Sheldon Leonard because the writers were fans of his.

It's a Wonderful Life: Sheldon Leonard was the bartender "Nick." 

Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery: Sheldon Leonard's burial site.

The Saint (or The Adventures of The Saint): In the radio series, Sheldon Leonard played various gangsters and heavies.

To help you out, I actually added Sheldon Leonard's name across St. Arnulf's vestments. If you compared the original image of St. Arnulf to the one I used in my hunt, you'd notice the runes were an addition. But how would you decipher the runes? If you searched for St. Arnulf and read his story from other sources, you'd notice that his mentor is commonly spelled Gondulf. I changed the spelling to match Gandalf to match Tolkien's character from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf would lead you to the correct runes.

Finally, the name of the hunt "Family Ties" was the title of an episode of the Danny Thomas show that was directed by Sheldon Leonard. I figured no one would identify this clue, but thought it was a nice easter egg after I had created the hunt and needed to come up with a name.

Now about the riddle... Where in Grand Rapids would Sheldon Leonard lead you? This could be tricky because there's a street called Sheldon and a street called Leonard. Only one of them is the correct street. To help identify the correct one, and if you weren't familiar with the business, I gave you a little bit of guidance with the "fifth," which indicates the fifth president - Monroe. Monroe intersects with Leonard (and not Sheldon). Once you found Leonard and Monroe, you should see Sheldon Cleaners. Bazinga!

The street sign also includes the phrase "original city boundary" (calling to mind the anagram for "original boundary") as it was the original northern boundary for the city of Grand Rapids.

I placed the medallion on the pole of the pedestrian light, just below the button. It stayed there for a good month, right in plain sight, until I retrieved it after Mo and Bill submitted the armchair solution.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Masquerade Tribute Hunts for Charity - SOLVED

On the Spring Equinox (3/20/21), The First Annual Masquerade Tribute launched! It consists of NINE hunts with NINE Treasures to claim. All for Charity. 

UPDATE: My contribution to the Masquerade Tribute has been solved!

Minimum donation to register for the hunt is $19.79. (The Year Masquerade was published) Larger donations are accepted (Special prize drawings from top ten donors). To see what hunts are still active and for more info visit And be sure to visit the MW Forum as well!

The Treasure Hunt contributors for 2021 are:
Martin Smith – Grand Rapids Riddler & Read and Seek

The Masquerade Tribute Hunt is a Charity Event. All proceeds are going to be donated to worthwhile charities. It was a difficult task to choose just one charity, so we decided to pick three. 

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital is a popular charity to donate to among the treasure hunting community. Several groups have chosen to donate to St. Jude’s in the past, and we decided that we would continue with that tradition.

It seems that almost everyone knows someone with Autism. In fact, there are many fellow treasure hunters in our community who have children with Autism. We decided to show them our support, and include the Organization for Autism Research as one of the charities for this event.

When word spread that we were creating a charity treasure hunt, several people approached us and specifically requested an animal charity. And the timing couldn’t be better, because COVID-19 has adversely affected animals too. With owners out of work, pets can no longer be cared for. Shelters are over-crowded. Donations to animal organizations are needed now, more than ever. And the Humane Society of the United States doesn’t just help pets, but all animals.

The Grand Rapids Riddler

I'm super excited to be participating in this adventure by contributing a hunt as the Grand Rapids Riddler. This means that the hunt is taking place in the greater Grand Rapids area! While there is now a medallion out there waiting to be found, this hunt has a slight twist: it can be solved as an armchair treasure hunt. That means it's open to everyone, everywhere. 

Name of treasure hunt: Family Ties

Where do I find the hunt? The hunt is being hosted by Mysterious Writings. Donate $19.79 or more by going here and you'll gain access to all NINE treasure hunts, including mine.

Prize: Minimum $100 Amazon gift card. Value will increase over time.

Deadline: 12/31/2021. If not found by the end of the year, the prize value will roll over into my next hunt.

Is this a Boots on the Ground (BOTG) hunt or an armchair hunt? Both! If solved via armchair, the prize is a minimum $100 in Amazon gift cards. If solved via BOTG there will be a special bonus prize.

How does the solver/finder contact me for the prize? Send an email to readandseekadventures (a) gmail. Use the subject: Masquerade Tribute Solution (so I can easily identify the email).

Are there any special instructions? Once solved completely, the clues will lead you to a very specific spot in the Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area. The spot is approximately 18 inches x 18 inches and no more than 3 feet above the ground. 

A valid armchair solution will have a Google Street View screenshot of the location. The solver must circle the location, which will be precise, in the screenshot.

In the spirit of the Grand Rapids Riddler, a BOTG solve will result in the solver retrieving the Riddler’s medallion (samples of the medallion can be seen at Once the medallion is retrieved, contact me to arrange an exchange of the medallion for the bonus prize.

What is the bonus prize? Retrieve the medallion and you'll earn this custom engraved glass stein from Germany. I had it engrave with:

 "From man's sweat 
and God's love 
beer came 
into the world." 
- St. Arnulf of Metz

Thursday, January 7, 2021

GRRiddler 2021 - SOLVED

 Congratulations to Justin K. - winner of The GRRiddler 2021 treasure hunt! He solved the riddle, deciphered the clues (though it sounds like his friend Casey may have been integral in narrowing down the precise location!) and retrieved the medallion!! My family and I met up with him at Baker Books and did the exchange. The hunt is officially over! Well done Justin! 

And now for the answer...

Additional insights...
I mentioned that the theme of this year's hunt was "history recycled." What did I recycle?
This line: "Perhaps riding a bicycle, perhaps not." It was taken from Joe Cramer's (the Wyoming Riddler) last riddle.
This line: "Some trees are ever white." It was taken from my first treasure hunt - Seek and Ye Shall Find. The book is still available for purchase but the hunt is over (the prize was claimed by Larry G.)
The medallion: I used the same medallion from the 2020 hunt for the 2021 hunt. 
The double omega: Used by Forrest Fenn. Nobody really knows what it meant for him. He just passed away in September 2020.
The location of the solution: The area was once the racetrack known as the Speedrome. My dad raced there in the early 1960s. If you had sound on and watched the full videos for the riddle and clues, you may have noticed the sound of racecar starting. Didn't catch it? Go listen again!