A small padlocked wooden treasure chest. A scrawled note. A cryptic photo. Two families and two friends, ready for an adventure.
The Cast of Characters:
- Harrison. A lot of curly brown hair atop a very tall man with a voice of drums.
- Miranda (also presently known as The Narrator). A young lady who spurns public-schooled teenage girls and loves to watch dogs run.
- Bertle. Sister to all those below, she’s a good friend to me and has a pure heart.
- Myrtle. A lovely girl with a sense of style and a million-dollar smile, winning the hearts of everyone, men, women, and children.
- Churtle. A bouncy young girl who loves everyone she meets, animals included.
- Quirtle. A charming little boy with hair like spun gold.
Complete with the parents, we were all ready for an adventure. So when the treasure box magically showed up, we were more than eager to read the note, decipher the photo, and find out what was next.
Myrtle jumped up from where we were all perching nearby the picnic table and burst out with a run toward the bathhouse. Allen (or maybe it’s Steve) and Jonathon, the friends, called ahead to her and told her to slow down. She patiently waited for the rest of us to catch up and then led the way into the laundry room.
We all took another look at the photo. It was an artistically skewed picture of a washing machine. I studied it until it was permanently seared in my mind’s eye, then set off to find what was awaiting us.
Myrtle found the next clue behind a washing machine. She read it aloud, and then we all discussed where the clue might be. All in agreement, we set out to the amphitheater.
We split up and searched around the stage, looking for a short flight of green stairs, such as the one the picture showed us. Bertle found it, yelled for everyone to join her, and then read it out to us. The picture was of a flagpole, and the written clue led us to the senior center. It was quite a hike, but we made it. Churtle found that one and immediately knew that the next clue was at the horse stalls. The picture was of a grate, and while we had a little trouble finding the right grate, we finally got the clue out and read it. This one said ‘If the shoe fits, wear it/ if it’s made of metal, throw it.’ The horseshoe pit was the next place to go.
We found the right pit after locating the number 5, like the picture showed. I lifted up the tarp that was covering the sand by the stake, and Quirtle reached under and pulled the bottle out. He proudly read through the cursive on the note and announced that the archery range was the next place to go. So we hiked over there and found the tree that was in the photograph. Churtle and Myrtle found this clue at pretty much the same time. It led us to the dog park, my favorite spot in the whole park except, of course, for our little community in the campground. Allen interviewed Bertle and I as we walked, asking us how we felt, and what we were discussing while we walked. I said that I felt phantasmagorical (my dad’s word).
I didn’t really focus on the finding the clue by the dog park. I was too engaged in watching the dogs run and figuring out in my mind what breed they were. Churtle found the clue, and I read it for everyone else. It led us to the volleyball court. This proved a bit of a problem, since there were two volleyball courts. But, as luck would have it, we picked the right one first. We had to dig a bit to find this one. There was a bottle and picture, like the ones before, but this one also had another thing tied to it. It was a skillfully drawn map of the park, with an ‘x’ marked on it. There was also a key tied to the bottle, and three pictures instead of just one.
Quirtle took possession of the key, and I grabbed one of the pictures. It was of an exercise structure, and I remembered passing it and wondering if my dad could still do chin-ups. I led the way back to it and we found the ‘path marked with red leather’ as the note stated. Churtle led the way, followed closely by me. There were lengths of red leather tied to bushes and trees that led the way. We both kept our eyes peeled for them as we made out way farther back down the path. We finally came to a clear spot, where there were two sticks tied together to form an ‘x’.
We waited until everyone was around us, and then all the kids started to dig. We hit chain early on, and once the very top of the box was uncovered, I was able to plant my feet and pull it out. I was very proud of myself; the box was buried quite deep.
Quirtle put in the key, and the Churtle started handing out everything that was inside. There were gifts for everyone, even the parents. We each got a book box - like the cover of a book that opened up into a box - with a gift inside. I got some bamboo knitting needles and some funky chunky yarn. All the kids got something that suited their interests.
As we started heading back, I waited until the last of the group came, Allen and Jonathon.
“Thank you, Jonathon,” I said. “This was a lot of fun!”
“You’re welcome,” he replied. “I had a lot of fun designing it.”