Saturday, September 10, 2005

One Potato Two Potato....

It's dark and early in the morning. We had just seriously considered looking in a dumpster for the next clue, but decided to move forward to the Olympia Farmer's Market. One of our members peeks inside, and tells us this is the next clue.

Team Ultraviolet exits the van. One member decides to stay behind to try and get some rest, but the rest of us push forward. Inside the farmers market are three 'Potato Dealers'. One is wearing a tin foil hat. The potatoes are free, and we take one from each dealer. "Guaranteed no half-formed symbols" they tell us. One of the dealers, wearing a tin-foil hat, tells us to watch out for a shady potato dealer, and beckons to a pitch-black corner.

We of course, ignore his advise, and find the shady potato dealer. He offers us one of his potatoes, making no guarantees whatsoever. Unlike the three russell potatoes we received from the legit dealers, this potato is a small red potato.

We take our wears to a bench away from other teams and begin looking at the potatoes. All of the potatoes have strange symbols cut into them. We realize after a few minutes that all of these symbols are half-greek letters. We try to return them to the dealers, who deny that they see any symbols.

We hunker down; we're going to be on this puzzle for a while. After what must have been an hour of feeling crappy and tired, we document the greek letters we see on the potatoes. We try spelling something with the half symbols, and get nowhere. It looks like some symbols could be combined to form whole greek letters though, and didn't the dealers say "No half-formed symbols"? Not all of them match up, so we focus only on the fully formed characters.

Another hour must have passed by doing this, and we're getting nowhere. Frustrated, we start calling Game Control. "Don't combine the symbols" we find out. "Pay attention to how many times the symbols occur" we find out. We stare at the potatoes some more. Game Control suggests juggling them if we're not having fun.

Instead we return them to the dealers and politely ask that they burn the potatoes. The sun is almost rising, and right now I hate potatoes. The sun does rise, and we're still nowhere. We try sorting the greek letters based off of frequency. Eventually, either by hint or pure insanity, we use the count of the greek letters as an index into the letter name. For example, the red potato had 5 alpha's, and the fifth letter in alpha is "A"

Each potato is a word: "IT" "STOPS" "A" "TAKE"? We call up the hotline and dial "CUT", but get nothing. Rage. We call Game Control and are told "This is a hands on puzzle."

I bolt to the potato dealers begging for our potatoes back. Smiling, they return them to me. Suspecting the shady potato, I literally rip the thing in half. There's a small piece of chewing gum wrapper inside one of the etchings for a greek letter. We unwrap it, and see a small sheet of paper, telling us where to go next.

I make a point to smash one of the other potatoes out of hate. We keep the other two, hoping to give them back to Game Control when they least expect it.

I'm leaving character here for a second; I'm skipping the next puzzle, and won't go into why. None the less, it was really straight-forward and was a good time to relax after the potatoes. Finishing that puzzle gave us a map to a park near the corner of streets "Pioneer" and "Meridian." There's no city name associated with the map; just streets.

However, I lived in Puyallup for 3 years, and I know damn well that's a few blocks up from the fairgrounds. We're off!


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