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Patrick's Treasure Hunt

My little brother is turning twelve soon, and for his birthday I made him a treasure hunt consisting of five clues hidden around our parents' house, each leading to the next, and the final one leading to a birthday gift. He solved the hunt this past Friday (a couple weeks before his birthday, because I won't be home on his actual birthday but I was there on Friday) and so now I am putting the poems/clues up here for you all to see, along with commentary.

I tried to photograph the actual clues on paper, because I took the time to coffee-soak them so they'd look old, and I printed them in a neat 19th-centuryesque font (since they were supposedly left in the house since the early 1800s despite the fact that the house was actually built in 1982). However, our camera didn't work right and the photos came out bright yellow and blurry. Oh well.

I hid the clues in their appropriate places while Patrick was out of the house, and put the first clue in my parents' mailbox. When Patrick returned home, Dad asked him to go get the mail. He retrieved it, and found the first clue in there (tied with string and addressed to him with the date 1821 written in the corner). He was duly intrigued, and opened it soon thereafter, and began to read.


Six settlers brave we started out
To settle Oregon.
One bright and sunny April morn
We got our travel on!

We filled a wagon with supplies
Like food and guns and tools.
We bought ourselves a pullin' team,
Two oxen and two mules.

We headed west into the lands
Where buffalo do roam.
We started out to make ourselves
A brand new frontier home.

We walked along the Oregon trail
And sung a happy tune.
About a kid named Patrick F.
Who was a little goon!

We made good time until one day
Our wagon took a spill:
The oxen tripped, the wagon flipped
And tumbled down a hill!

When we got up, we couldn't tell
Which way we ought to go,
And so we spun around and picked
A dirt path to follow.

We ended up in Hudson Falls
Along Vaughn Corners Road.
It wasn't Oregon, but hey,
At least the lawn was mowed!

We built a house upon that land
And built a barn there too.
We lived there long and many years
And left this note for you.

Somewhere within this house we left
A treasure for to find!
To get it, you just have to solve
The clues we left behind.


The first clue you will find below,
A riddle just for you.
And if you solve it perfectly,
You'll find the second clue!

"I'm filled with water, but I'm not
A jug inside your fridge.
It flows through me although I'm not
A river or a bridge.

I have a tank, which doesn't hold
A lizard or a fish.
Although I do have a large bowl,
It isn't quite a dish.

I'm near some rain that falls indoors
Which helps to clean your hair.
I have a seat on which you sit,
But I am not a chair.

Above me is the second clue,
Behind a door up high.
But first you'll have to find me out,
So tell me, what am I?"

"It says we, so I know it's you and mom," Patrick said to our dad. After a minute of discussion, he realised that there were supposedly six settlers involved. "But I still know it's you," he told our dad.

He read the clue again, and proudly exclaimed, "It's the cedar closet!" Well, the cedar closet is indeed next to the shower in the bathroom, but it doesn't have water flowing through it, a tank, a bowl, or a seat to sit on. Patrick is usually quite bright, but I think he was in too much of a hurry to find his present to try and actually apply logic to the problem. A few minutes later he realised that the solution was the toilet, and ran upstairs to begin searching the toilet.

A minute or two later he came back and read the clue a third time, this time noticing that the riddle said the clue is located above the toilet. He found it in the little cupboard there.


Congratulations, twelve-year-old!
You've found the second clue!
You must be smart, and sharp, and keen!
I'm quite impressed by you!

I know you must be quite eager
To locate the third clue.
To help you find it, I wrote down
The following for you.

It's stuck beneath the squishy part
Of something solid wood.
It's big and heavy, but it moves,
And it could pinch you good!

It has a back, and arms as well,
But it is not a man.
It slowly wobbles back and forth,
Just like a hand-held fan.

If you can't find its hiding place,
I'll help you find just where.
Unscramble now this final line:

Patrick barely finished reading this before leaping off the couch and snatching the third clue from beneath the rocking chair that dad was sitting on. "When you unscramble the last line," he said, "it says the old rocking chair." Close enough.


You found it! Now I'm really stunned.
You're clever and you're fair.
This third clue was hidden quite well

The fourth clue I have hid so well,
You may not find it soon.
You'll hunt and hunt, but won't succeed
Until the end of June!

It's in a book! But which? you ask.
So many are around!
Inside the book that it is in,
A MONKEY can be found!

It also has a DINOSAUR
And an AARDVARK to boot!
But not just animals inside:
It has a DRUM and FLUTE.

It's filled with XYLOPHONES and BELLS
But more than music, too:
It also has APPLES and WELLS,
Some ROCKS, a DESK, and GLUE.

It has it all, from A to Z,
And everything between.
When you hear words that you don't know,
It tells you what they mean!

When you have found the book it's in,
Turn to the TREASURE page,
Then count the pages as you turn
Until you've reached your age!

I had hidden this clue in the old Webster's dictionary that my parents owned, which looked rather old and was probably published in the 1970s. Patrick immediately ran and grabbed his 1999 Encarta off the shelf and began flipping through.

"Patrick," I said, "when was that published?"
"I got it as a gift a couple years ago," he said.
"When were the settlers here?" I asked.
"Uh... 1821," he said.
"Do you think they found the person who was going to give you that dictionary and hid the clue in it before he gave it to you?"
"Oh. No," he said, and went and got the old copy of Webster's, which had undoubtedly been around in 1821. The book fell open to the fourth clue.


Amazing! You have found the fourth
And you are doing well!
The fifth clue will be harder, but
You'll get it, I can tell.

Write down the word which means something
Upon which you must be
To get around within a house
By moving both your feet.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Now change one letter in its name
To make it into tons
Of river water rushing where
No river ever runs.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

One more letter now you should switch
To make it something red
Which always flows inside of you,
Your heart, your hands, your head.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Once more you should make just one change
To make it to a bunch
Of baby birds inside a nest
While their mom feeds them lunch.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Now one last change that you should make
To solve this clue you've found.
What is a tool that you can use
To sweep dirt off the ground?

___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Now go to where this tool is kept
And search around a bit.
You'll find the final clue in there;
I know you can do it!

"Shoes," Patrick said after reading the first stanza, and began to write it in. Mom stopped him, prompted him a little, and he guessed floor. The other words followed quickly -- even brood, which I hadn't thought he'd get without help -- and he immediately ran to the wrong one of the two closets where my parents keep brooms. He only searched there for a minute before giving up and trying the other, where the clue was hidden, and had been for over a hundred eighty years without anyone noticing, beneath the broom.


And finally a BROOM!
You've found the fifth and final clue
Within this tiny room.

Now read this well; to solve it now
Is for what you must strive.
I know you'll get the answer to
This puzzle number five.

I'll tell you now a little tale.
The clue is hid within.
Pay very close attention to
My words. Now I'll begin:

Someone somewhere
Took a trip
Over mountain's
Rocky tip
After stopping
Gone afar
Ever after
   Reaching star
   Only ever
   One can know
   Merest whisper
       Starlight glow
       And when daylight
       Fades away
       Early morn's not far away!

And now to you my tale is told.
The treasure waits, the clues are done.
Happy Birthday, twelve-year-old!
I sure hope that you had fun!

Patrick solved this one relatively quickly, even though it had taken the adults I had shown it to a bit of pondering. "Storage room," he declared and started to run to my parents' storage room.

"Wait a minute," Mom said, and sat him back down.

"Oh," he said after looking at it some more. "Storage room safe. But the safe isn't in the storage room. It's in the closet next to it."

Oops. When I was last home, the safe had been in the storage room. "Well, maybe when the settlers were here in 1821 the safe was still in the storage room," I said. Patrick ran off and searched the storage room. And searched, and searched, and searched.

"Patrick," I called. "The clue said 'storage room safe.' I think they were talking about the safe."

"No," he said, "they meant the storage room."

Minutes passed. "Why don't you check the safe," I called to him. "Okay," he said, and immediately found the package sitting next to the safe in the closet.

There was a note on the package.

Happy birthday, number four!
Here's a present just for you.
And I hope for many more!
Happy birthday, number two.

I'm the second of my parents' four children. Patrick is the fourth. Hence, the numbers. We have used numbers to refer to ourselves in past communications, so I figured he'd understand. He read it out loud, and started laughing when he got to the last line. "Eww," he said. "Number two!"

I raised an eyebrow at him.

"It's full of... number two!" he cried, gleefully.

"No, you dolt," I said. "I'm number two. You're number four."

"Oh yeah," he said, and opened the package. Inside was a miniature remote control car which he absolutely loved. So the treasure hunt was a relative success, and we all had a good time watching (and helping) Patrick solve it. Next year he may be too old for this sort of thing, so I'm glad I did it now.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2002 04:56 pm (UTC)
that is the mother coolest thing ever! i wish you were my brother. wait! you're my twin! my birthday is only.... 10 months away... !! :) love, allypops
Dec. 6th, 2002 02:07 pm (UTC)
He'll remember
That's great, Ryan. I'm so glad that it went so well... I know you put a lot of planning time into it. He'll remember this for years to come, trust me.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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