Team Advil's experience in " Espionage"

Team Advil is:

John Owens

Scott Pegg

Greg Yap

Yee Lee

Chris Lane

Alex Aravanis

At 8:45am, Team Advil assembled at Scott's apartment in SF. We loaded up our rental van and then fueled up on Scott's hawaiian-style french toast.

We arrived at Pier 7 for our "mission briefing" just before the 9:45 start time. All 18 of the opposing teams were here, including a few in costume. While all of the teams were away from their vans, Game Control (GCON) tied an object to each van's tailpipe.

The mission briefing was interrupted by an urgent message from GCON. The suspected terrorist had escaped and we needed to split our team up to capture him. We ran back to the van and drove down to Pier 41, where Chris and Scott jumped out to meet their GCON contact. Along the way John taunted the members of other teams (who foolishly thought they could run from Pier 7 to Pier 41) with cries of "run, Forest, run!"

At Pier 41, Chris and Scott recieved an envelope from their GCON contact. It contained a playing card with 3 simple equations on the back, and two tickets for the Sausalito ferry. On the ferry boat, there were 3 military ammuniton boxes, each one locked with a lock that could only be unlocked by unlocking the 6 combination locks attached to it. The combinations could be deciphered from the solutions to the equations on the backs of the playing cards. Teams with the same suit needed to work together to unlock a box. Being far too lazy (and somewhat criminally inclined), Scott found a way to simply slide the master lock off of the box. Inside the box was the first of the CTD (coded transmission device) CD's.

Meanwhile, John, Greg, and Alex arrived at the Palace of Fine Arts and hunted for "Frenchie". John (driving) parked right outside the Palace of Fine Arts and ran in. In the middle was "Balzac", wearing a beret. He would only answer questions or requests raised in French. A complete lack of high school French from John, Greg, and Alex led John to do his best with "Team Advil, sil vous plais", which led to a raised eyebrow from Balzac but the granting of the clue nonetheless.

In the clue was a small film canister with a piece of film. There was also a piece of carbon paper, to be used in a later clue. On the film was a rebus, which spelled out (in French) "Listen to Track 18". Only the last word was significant. Alex called a friend at Stanford who helped us decode enough of the clue to know what to do; meanwhile, John visited Balzac again, who revealed that he spoke enough English to send us over the Golden Gate Bridge to pick up Scott and Chris. We were one of the first teams to arrive there, and immediately pulled to the side of the road and listened to Track 18.

After a short wait, Scott and Chris were picked up at the Sausalito ferry terminal, and Team Advil headed for the bus stop at the entrance to San Quentin prison. While Chris searched for the puzzle, Alex got yelled at by the prison guard for trying to relieve himself too close to the prison fence.

The puzzle was a set of distorted pictures of bay area landmarks with a simple direction on the back. Arranging the pictures in north-to-south order and then following the directions on the back took us across the Richmod bridge to an unused boat fueling facility. Next to a fence we found a metal plate containing the next puzzle. At this point, we noticed a strange sound coming from the back of the van. Alex looked underneath and found the "bomb". We didn't really know what it was, and figured it didn't matter if the car was running poorly, because "hey, it's a rental." If only we'd looked closer...

Unable to completely decipher the metal slate puzzle, Greg listed to the entire CTD cd and we narrowed the possible solutions to 3 intersections. We drove to the furthest one away out of sheer pessimism. We searched the intersection of Atlas and Giant, but were unable to find a puzzle. In a fit of impatience, we made our first call to GCON. Using our "yes" or "no" questions, we learned that we were indeed at the correct intersection, but that we needed to look for the "X" and "Y". These turned out to be old 2x4's arranged in an "X" and "Y" next to a manhole. We pried up the cover and grabbed the next clue, a laminated piece of folding paper.

Scott managed to fold the clue around until we got a picture of satelite dishes, and some phrases with blank letters. Folding around some more provided more phrases with blank letters. We decided to drive northwest to the nearest decent sandwich shop and work on the puzzle over lunch while waiting for Yee to join us. Just about the time Yee showed up (and we finished our sandwiches), we figured out that the phrases were palindromes, which allowed us to fill in the letters and read the name "Lake Herman Road".

Working on the palindromes over lunch

With Yee following the team van, we drove down Lake Herman road and quickly found the pictured satellite dishes. We looked around for a while, including trespassing and looking in the cow watering trough (which was full of a strange white goo), but we found no clues. A call to GCON sent us to the next clue, most likely because GCON thought the clue had been compromised. The real clue was a concrete cylinder with a headphone jack next to a fence. Plugging in headphones provided a message to look at the drain in Lake Herman.

There was only one catch to this clue: the pipe was located IN the lake. Chris volunteered to swim out and get the clue, which was a cassette tape. The tape contained a series of overlapping gunshots and exlosions, lasting for about a minute. By counting the number of each type of sound, and keeping track of when each one started, we built a long distance phone number. At this number was An answering machine message telling us to go to "UER Headquarters", which was the old town hall in Benicia.

Chris recovers a clue from the drainpipe.

Here, Scott found the clue located in a small box housing the water meter. The clue was a sheet of music broken into three cello parts. After beating our heads against it (and even having Yee play the music), a call to GCON helped us realize that it's in trinary arithmetic. The solution led us to a "trestle outcropping visible from John Muir monument parking lot".

John, Chris, and Greg climbed up to the railroad trestle and soon found the next puzzle. This puzzle consisted of 5 concenric circular transparent pieces of plastic with small straight black lines on them. Turning them each to the correct orientation aligned the black lines to form the words "Orsorno", "Buy", "UER", "Today". On our GCON map, Orsorno was the Lafayette BART station.

Chris, Yee, and Greg succombed to their hunger and stopped at a hamburger restaurant while Scott and John proceeded to "Osorno". There we ran into another very talented team, "Men in Slacks". At this point, however, we were both ahead of GCON, who had gotten stuck in traffic, and hadn't been able to place the clue: a version of USA Today called "UER Today". After some confused searching and a call from GCON, we learned that there was a "bomb" on our car. Doh! We could've taken that sucker off hours ago!

Inside the bomb were 6 circuit diagrams and 6 resisters. John used the color guides to figure out the resistance (which was confirmed using our multimeter). By circling the resisters in the diagrams and then aligning the pieces of paper by connecting edges with the same resisters, we formed the number 41 (or 14). We figured this had to be correct, since tracks 41 and 14 of the CTD cd were identical. This track sent us to Westminster Fountain, up above the Mormon temple in Oakland.

At the top of the stairs leading to the fountain, we found a puzzle consisting of a 6x12 array of fingerprints, a set of pie charts, and 3 satellite photos that narrowed down to Jack London square. We drove to Jack London square and spent some time working on the fingerprints. Stumped, we searched the area, but found nothing because we were once again ahead of GCON. We turned our attention to the pie charts, and quickly realizing that they were semaphores, translated them into a message sending us to the Lawrence Hall of Science.

On a sculpture outside the Hall of Science, we found clue: a message with parts blacked out. We headed back to down to Jack London square, where we continued to work on the fingerprints. John finally figured out that the fingerprints can be grouped into 3x2 braille letters, which leads us to an envelope in a planter box. In the meantime, Yee flung around half a roll of fax paper.

The envelope held another correspondance, this time with underlines. There are the same number of underlines and blackouts (35, I think), so we listen to track 35, which sends us to Treasure Island. We got really lucky, since the 35 was a coincidence--we were supposed to use either the underlines or the blackouts as morse code, and then go through a Bay Bridge tollbooth and notice a "Track 17" sticker on the booth. Better lucky than good, especially since track 17 had been designed so that if you drove too quickly, you'd miss the Treasure Island exit.

On Treasure Island we spend a lot of time looking (with a few other teams) for the clue, which we eventually found in a small barrel of tomatoes and pickles. The clue has us build a series of navel flags which correspond to letters. While we were working on this puzzle, Yee tried to make a copy of the clue using our fax machine. The result of faxing a damp clue was an almost destroyed clue and a gummed up fax machine. Thanks to Greg handwriting the information, we were able to solve the puzzle, which gave us a password to log into an online chat room.

John "chatted" with GCON, trying to find the location of the next clue. After getting really frustrated by the phrase "Let's begin again", we realized that the first letter of GC's reponses spells out "Legion of Honor".

At the Palace of the Legion of Honor, we found the clues in a box next to the holocaust memorial, which was pretty creepy at 3am. The clue was contained in a bag of candy (with a K-ration meal!). The clue itself consisted of 4 fake US $100 bills, and 4 colorfull, but worthless bills from other countries. We were stumped for quite a while. Long enough, in fact, that John fell asleep. Eventually Yee gets a hint from GCON, and Scott finds microprint on one of the $100 bills that says "CTD track 5".

Track 5 instructed us to "buy drugs" from a person in a white T-shirt at a 24-hour diner in downtown SF. It was about 4:00am, and the diner had some real freaks, including a psycho-looking guy in black reading a book entitled "The Devil Speaks to Me". We opted for a woman sitting in a booth, gave her the fake $100 bills, and she gave us a capsule. The capsule contained "The Industrial City" with the "d" highlighted.

John buys "drugs" at 3:00am...

Soon we were climbing up the "South San Francisco The Industrial City" sign, just in time to get a nice sunrise and greet the zillion mosquitos. We found a foamcore cutout and an old typewriter with the keys switched. We were supposed to have brought a poem and carbon paper that we got from the Palace of Fine Arts and type the poem onto the carbon paper using the typewriter. We were too lazy to go back and get the paper, so we simply copied down the cipher and decoded by hand in the van. Most of the poem's words translated to complete gibberish, except for "head camp sawyer trail south".

Once we found the correct Trail Head, we found a plexiglass cube, black on two opposite faces, and clear on all others. "VII" was written on one of the black faces, and track 7 gave us some plot information, but nothing about what to do with the cube. John got the brilliant idea of putting it in the water of our cooler, and found that the difference in the index of refraction allows us to see the message hidden in the center of the black faces. The messages sent us to Mt. Eden Mansion in Hayward.

Behind a tower at the mansion we found a set of 25 vials of fluid, along with a bar tab paid by the "Office of the President". Scott, Chris, and Greg managed to figure out what was in most of the vials by tasting them. Yee figured out what ingredients belonged in each of the drinks, while John called GCON to get the contents of the vials that we didn't figure out. Once we had this information, we joined forces with team "Les Espions" and learned that GCON had screwed up how to make a few drinks by forgetting to include triplesec. Once this problem was solved, we took the sum of each vial number used to make a drink, mod 26, and then read down the bar tab. This sent us to Ohlone College, office of the president.

At the president's house we get a pipe with a stereogram image inside. John and Yee stared at the image until Yee found a CTD track number. The track lead us to Genencor, where we found the final clue. On the way, John jumped out at an intersection and pulled a piece of carpet off of the Team Shagadelic van.

The final clue was a set of colored triangles (one for each letter of the alphabet) that fit into the foamcore cutout. Alex noticed a correlation with the bridges we'd crossed and so we filled in the cutout with the first letter of the fictional bridges we'd crossed, in order. Using the periodic table that tells us how to read the color combinations, we quickly deciphered the location of GCON.

We were the second team to reach GCON, at 12:15pm on Sunday, just 4 minutes behind team Widow.

After eating a few BBQ ribs and talking with GCON, we headed to John's house, where we unloaded and cleaned out the van. Scott, John, and Yee went back to Hillsborough for Yee's car, with Scott and John continuing to San Francisco to return the van.

At John's house with our "Espionage" map of the Bay Area.

Then we all went to sleep.