The Week-Long Birthday Scavenger Hunt

The best part about turning 29 is… well, not much. It’s a fairly nondescript age: you’re still considered ‘late twenties,’ but everyone loves reminding you that you’re “over 90% of the way to 30,” despite the fact that they’re much, much older.

I personally don’t mind turning 30: lots of people seem to think that this is that magical age where you’re suddenly filled with purpose and confidence, and they’re definitely not just saying that because they’re over 30.

I’m okay with it because after how awesome this year’s birthday was (where I learned 29 is the new 30), I expect turning 30 to be even better (no pressure, Tom).

So what happened, you ask? Well, it all started on a Monday.


It started off like any other Monday. The only notable difference was that at noon, I received an email unveiling a week-long awesome Scavenger hunt. Taking it one step further, it included an entire website to lead me through the series of riddles.

Editor’s Note: Let’s just say this was not my proudest week as I came close to breaking on a few of the challenges, particularly towards the end.

The first challenge led me towards a fake ad created on Craigslist — if you happen to (a) have a drinking problem or (b) are British, you would have quickly guessed that the opening was for a position at The Buffalo Club. (The best part was how many legitimate applications Tom (the scavenger hunt creator) received while the post was live.)

I thought perhaps the password was “CHEESE,” but it was hard to say for sure. Luckily, trying this unlocked page 2 of the website.


After a delightful lunch, I came back to find a mysterious envelope on my desk at the office. Clearly Tom had the help of co-conspirators, so no one was to be trusted.

The coordinates led to me the Pan Pacific Hotel in downtown Vancouver, where I retrieved a lumpy package.

Solving this clue was one of the low points. In my defense, I may not have been smart enough to realize the first word was the clue to unlock the picture of what I supposed to build, but I actually did a pretty decent job of building a random lego structure without any visual aid. (Needless to say, Tom was baffled/mildly impressed.)

This was me at the start:

And about two hours later:

Four hours later, I had completed the challenge and learned that this was the original image supplied to help me from the start:

Finally, page 4 was unlocked:


Once the clock finally counted down (a bit nerve-wracking), another email was triggered. Photos of a random parkade were included, leading me to the next clue.

It turned out to be a parkade in Gastown, where I found a USB taped behind an “X” of duct tape behind a Car 2 Go parking sign on the second level. Perfect timing, a security guard drove by right as I was retrieving what probably looked like a suspicious package.

The USB opened a txt. file with another clue. This one was probably the easiest one to solve, to Tom’s disappointment.

This unlocked page 6:


2 more days to go! (…how is it only Thursday?)

Late morning, a colleague (possibly one of the co-conspirators) pointed out a new addition on my work cubby (remember cubbies?).

While my knowledge of building websites is not great (so I probably don’t appreciate how much work it takes to build one), I was particularly impressed by ye olde hand-stained, wonderfully illustrated map.

Once solved (I’ll let you figure out the words), I started on one of the last (and temporarily most frustrating) clues — that is, for anyone who doesn’t know how to count from zero to a million in Tagalog.

Friday — Official Birthday!

This clue led me to pick up a sweet surprise, but it was not very well executed on behalf of Cartem’s Donuts: they had agreed to write the next password on the donuts but at the last minute, just gave me a box of donuts with no letters so Tom (who was very disappointed with them) had to give me the clue.

The password “Go Nuts” led me to the last and final page of the website:

Given how small the office is (2.5 rooms), it shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to find it.

At this point, I didn’t have the clues with me so as soon as I got home, I blacked out the bathroom to reveal the final clue.

Presents were followed by cocktails and dinner, making it one incredible birthday.

And that’s the story — I’ll finish here as I’m quite sure I can hear some of my friends going “BARF” right now.