When the Treasure Hunt Goes Awry

I don't think I'm a Grinch. At least not in the sense that I want to steal anyone's Christmas joy or gifts. That claim being made, I do like to hide the gifts from my kids and leave a trail of cryptic clues for them to decode, decipher, and solve to find said presents.

This year it was the newlyweds' turn. When I say newlyweds, I mean my youngest-daughter-and-her-husband-who-have-been-married-for-seven-days newlyweds. And they took to it like hounds on a scent.

Each year I try to “level up” the difficulty rating, which is a challenge for me as well as for the kids. This year's model took about three hours and spanned something like forty-two miles. I think that's not too bad. Eventually I hope to get to the international travel level.

Anyway, back to the story.

In the middle of the hunt, one of the online clues malfunctioned. Actually, I botched it. It seems that in my caution to keep said clue invisible from random browsers, I inadvertently obscured it from everyone else in the world. Maybe the FBI or IRS could have found it with their special cyber-sleuthing stuff. But not so for my kids who were futilely trying to decipher a blank web page.

After they had exhausted every trick they knew or could invent, they finally called for a dad lifeline. Now in our world, the dad lifeline is not permissible. My reason is, they have all the resources in the world at their disposal, so I expect my kids to use them. From the kids' perspective: they want to win the game, so they don't call for help. Thus far they always have won. So that's how I knew something was awry.

The cure was simple enough. I clicked a few things that said stuff like “POST” and “MAKE VISIBLE,” then they reloaded their clue and voilà! An hour and a half later … they returned in victory!

The moral of the story is, always check those tech clues on someone else's computer to make sure they show up properly.

I think the kids enjoyed the challenge. They certainly can process multiple types of codes and cryptic messages. That's a good thing. Otherwise, their Christmas presents would still be out there somewhere awaiting discovery.