Earlier this month, my friend Evelyn and I did our first urban scavenger hunt developed by Challenge Nation. We donned our Wizard of Oz costumes that we put together from stuff we got at a thrift shop and headed to Downtown LA to meet up with the hundreds of other teams that were participating. In order to finish the challenge, each team was supposed to accomplish eleven out of twelve tasks all over Los Angeles and race back to the starting point as fast as they could.
Here are the tasks we accomplished (NOT in the order we completed them, but in the order that they were presented on the clue list) with the corresponding photos in their unedited glory:
1. Normally practiced for about 90 minutes at 105 degrees and 40% humidity, we’ll give you a break today when you find this downtown “hot spot”, as you’ll be grabbing a spot on a mat with your team just outside…and for a lot less time! Follow the instructor’s directions on site to complete this clue…be sure to take a photo to document the moment!
I had no idea what this could be, but Evelyn was able to figure out that this was Bikram Yoga on the corner of Hope and 1st. We just had to do one of the positions and we were off! What’s great about this station was that you could bring your bib back for a discount yoga session.
2. To complete this clue, take a ride on either of the two “extreme rails” downtown — snap a pic of your team inside the railcar of either the world’s shortest railway…or the world’s most expensive ($330 million per mile!) subway. (P.S. A smart team will find a way to work this clue into their route in a helpful manner!)
This one was really easy since I knew that the shortest railway was Angels Flight. I’ve written about that a couple times on this blog already! We ran to the bottom level of Angels Flight since it was on the way between other clues, but there were a bunch of other teams trying to get on. I checked out the other clue and realized that it would be much more beneficial (and faster) to get on the Red Line, the most expensive subway, take our picture, and ride it to our #4 destination.
3. Find the downtown landmark that handed out its “JRW” award to Trey Burke on Friday. [Paraphrasing the rest, it was either play charades hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Greater LA or join the National Bone Marrow Donor Program.]
One of the hints about the clues that Challenge Nation put on their Facebook before the race simply said “It’s not LA Air Conditioning” and Evelyn and I were trying to figure out what that meant. While we were walking to the start before the race, we passed by the LA Athletics CLub and Evelyn figured out that it might be what the hint was referring to. Turns out it was and Trey Burke received the John R Wooden award there. This was the first picture we got and we chose to do the charades since there was a large team of people signing up for the bone marrow program.
4. This newly unveiled urban park really lives up to its name — bu there should you head?!…it spans a full 4 city blocks! Your aim is the large green expanse that lise in the shadow of the building that stood as the tallest in all of LA from its completion in 1928 until 1964. There should be hula hoops waiting for you — have your team do your best hula in the photo with all 454 feet of the building visible in the background!
Yes! I knew the Grand Park would probably be one of the destinations. After hitching a ride on the Red Line from Clue #2, we got off the Civic Center station and headed to the grassy area near City Hall. I actually read about how City Hall used to be the tallest building in LA the night before! We ran to the hula hoops and got our picture (we do have a picture with the whole 454 feet of the building in the background, but I just like how I look in this one better!).
5. [This is the clue we didn’t do. It involved going to the #artshare exhibit in the Arts District and doing something there.]
6. Can you read backwards? Find a museum that was founded in a former Buddhist Temple that dates to 1925, before moving into its new pavilion when it opened in 1999. On the new wing’s glass walls, you’ll find donor names…but they’re backwards! To complete this clue, have your team find a name that matches the first or last name of any U.S. President or First Lady. Surround it and act out a scene from that person’s life!
So this one was another clue I knew since I visited the Japanese American National Museum a week or two before the race. I definitely wrote about that on this blog too! At the museum, there was a glass wall of donor names that was backwards if read from the outside. Evelyn and I found the name George and took a picture pretending to reach some kind of agreement.
7. Find someone from a state that borders the Atlantic Ocean, Great Lakes, or Gulf of Mexico and take a picture with them making the shape of their state with your team’s arms. Take a photo with the top half of their license to prove you found them…it’s best to cover up their name/address etc.
THIS WAS ONE OF THE HARDEST ONES TO FIND. It was seriously the last picture we got and I didn’t expect it to be that difficult. First of all, we couldn’t find anybody from out of state. Downtown LA is not where tourists go when they visit Los Angeles! They go to Hollywood! Second, the tourists we did find didn’t match the ones we needed. We found maybe three different groups of people from Australia. We finally found a guy from Pennsylvania. Oh, we totally butchered what the shape is supposed to look like. This was such a strange picture!
8. Take a photo with anyone with a badge. Easy enough right? But you’ve got to convince them to act out the Charlie’s Angels pose with your team or it doesn’t count.
Not too hard. We found a security guard at Grand Park who was willing to do Charlie’s Angels with us.
9. Fill in the blanks to find a downtown intersection: J.Q.A. was the __th POTUS and a famous English Benny’s last name is ____. Once there, grab a piece of chalk and snap a pic of your team drawing your single favoritest thing about Los Angeles on the sidewalk!
This clue led us to the corner of Pershing Square on 6th and Hill. It was the second picture we took and Evelyn drew a train from Union Station.
10. Take a photo with any ONE of the following: a clown, a traditional barber shop pole, a live horse, a person wearing overalls, any pet animal other than a dog, or a LAFD firefighter or firetruck.
We found a barber shop pole, of all things, on the way to the Japanese American Museum so we got lucky with this one.
11. Find any theater in LA and act out a scene from any Oscar winning film or Tony winning play — but here’s the catch — you have to do it with another Challenge team!
After hitting up Bikram Yoga in Clue #1, we found another team to take this picture with in front of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It’s not a movie theater, but it is a theater. We acted out that one scene with Jack and Rose from Titanic. You know what I mean.
12. March Madness is allllmost over. Celebrate college sports by finding any NON-CALIFORNIA LOCATED COLLEGE sports fan wearing a hat, jersey, shirt, etc and take a photo with them mimicking the sport their gear is from.
For some reason, this one was also really difficult. The teams we kept spotting were wither California colleges or professional non-college teams from out-of-state. We found a team taking a picture with a guy wearing an Ohio State hoodie so we asked to take a picture with him too. Evelyn did football and I did basketball because I have no idea was Ohio State is famous for.
When we got back to the starting point at the LA Brewing Company, we found out that our team, Not In Kansas, was the 34th to arrive and that we had a time of 1 hour, 57 minutes, and 46 seconds. We did get bumped up to 33rd place once all the penalties were tallied and the final list went up on the website. Unfortunately, since we weren’t in the Top 25, we didn’t qualify for the national championships in Las Vegas. The first place team completed everything in 1 hour and 18 minutes flat while the team in 25th place finished in 1 hour, 48 minutes, and 35 seconds, less then ten minutes from us! Ugh, if only we didn’t choose to find someone out of state, we would have definitely been in that group. Alas, we still did very well considering that there were 189 teams that finished and many others that didn’t even reach the finish line.
I loved that I got to put my Los Angeles knowledge to the test and I am so ready to do much better next year. It’s on like Donkey Kong!