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Photo Scavenger Hunt / Road Rally Wrap Up

Donna and I read the rally instructions when they were first posted on the website. We then read them again the night before when I printed out a copy for us to put on our clipboard. We were ready.

At the Rally start point we had 9 Miatas, seven that were going to “compete” and our Rally Masters David & Ellie Brock. There were 5 cars from the Club (Donna and I, Don & Kay Boltz, Teri & John Bozzarello, Mike & Shirley Dyer and Dennis & Karol Mason) and 3 cars from elsewhere who found out about the fun from Facebook. There was a couple from Asheville, one from the Atlanta area and a father/daughter pair from Lexington.

David asked for a volunteer that was familiar with Rallying to go first because even though they had rechecked the course just the day before, you never know something could have changed and this way the first out could call back and some adjustment for mileage might be made. Seeing as Donna and I had done most every rally John and Jackie Nichols ever put on for the Club before, had done a couple put on by the Miata Club of America back when that organization existed and had even designed one for our Club back in the 90’s, we opted to go first. We were ready.

When we have run rallies in the past, because the real pressure is all on the navigator we have been swapping responsibilities back and forth, for this one I was going to navigate and she would drive. I snapped my smart phone into the Garmin GPS mount (go figure, it fit perfectly), attached it to the windshield and started the Google Driving App. We rolled to the start line and were handed the cue sheet:
1. Set trip odometer to zero.
2. [odometer and driver] (odometer must be legible)
3. N
4. R
5. “+”
6. L (Off course clue: T)
7. “2880”
8. L
9. Horse barn
10. R (Off course clue: T)
11. [navigator and fisherman]

Donna reset the trip odometer and then we had to be reminded by Ellie that the next thing we needed to do was take a picture (that’s what the bracketed phrases meant.) This should have been our first clue we might be just a little over confident about how ready we were. There was no time component, so we gathered ourselves and because Cue #3 was N, I told Donna to turn right out of Gregs Gas Plus and we were off. Cue #4 was R, so we turned right on Gregory Lake Road.

The next one was a plus followed by an L, so I said our next instruction is to look for a cross street and turn left on to it. After our left turn we started looking for the number 2880, but the house numbers were in the 1900s. It didn’t feel like the right road either, too narrow and the map showed it looped almost right back to Gregory Lake Road. We had traveled a mile and a half and were already off course.

We get back onto Gregory Lake and look for the next cross street. There it is, turn left and the first thing we see is a “look out for tractors” sign. Tractor, that starts with a T, does that mean we are still not on course? I tell Donna to press on. Maybe we’ll see 2880. We don’t, but the next cue is L so I instruct Donna to take the next left. And I start looking for a horse barn. We don’t see a barn by the time we get to a T in the road. Nice navigating Brian.

I look a little further down the cues and see #11 and just know because of where we are and where we started the fisherman in the picture is the sign in front of Old McDonalds Fish Camp, so I tell Donna to turn right. She takes my picture in front of the sign. Alright, now we are cooking. From here I kept us on course by luck and familiarity with the area for the next couple of cues. But one too many critical words on Donna’s driving forced us to swap seats not long after we didn’t find the next required picture.

With Donna navigating we stayed on course for about the next 20 cues and gathered the next 4 photos before we started missing cues and actually hit one of the off course markers. Thankfully #39 was a set of coordinates which we knew we could type into the Garmin and find. This let us get the next picture, so we were starting feel good again. It didn’t last long though as we never found Cue #40, never saw the off course marker and drove and drove until we ended up in downtown Harlem, GA.

At this point we had now been on the road for 2 hours and had traveled around 75 miles and knew we were way off course. Reading through the rest of the cue sheet we saw numbers #52 [car and windmill] & #54 continue to the Sonic Drive In and used our area knowledge to use the GPS to take us to the Sonic on Washington Road in Evans.

We were the 4th car to arrive at the ending spot. We got 7 of the 9 required photos and drove 94.8 miles instead of the 54.2 of a clean run, so I think the number 4 is probably the order we finished in too. The couple from Asheville nailed the thing getting all nine photos and traveled less than a mile more than a perfect run taking home a nice set of engraved glasses.

But how we did was secondary to having a beautiful sunny day to drive around on nice two lane back roads of the CSRA in a Miata.

Big shout out to the Brocks for putting this thing together.

4 comments to Photo Scavenger Hunt / Road Rally Wrap Up

  • DENNIS MASON

    Great story Brian. I wish Karol and I got credit for being there, too 🙁 We had a similar adventure. We read the instructions but for some unknown reason refused to acknowledge the last rule, “ignore the roads marked Dead End” and had to call for a clue before we found Biggs Road…then it was on! Having started last to leave the starting point, we finished third from last with just under 100 miles on the odometer and 8 of the required 9 photos; only 2 other rally cars had all 9 photos. I told Karol by the time this rally was over if we’re still talking to each other it’ll only make our relationship stronger…holy crap!

  • David Brock

    Dennis and Karol Mason also participated for a total of 8 teams.

  • David Brock

    Here’s my postmortem as the rally master: It was too hot and too hard. still, I consider it a success. My top goal was for the winner to get all 9 required photos and be within a mile or so of the official mileage. Success. I also wanted everyone to see some new scenery and and enjoy their drive. Maybe, maybe not, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt on this one and calling it a success too.

    Unfortunately, my other goals were not so successful. 1) I wanted at least half of the teams to get all 9 photos. we had 3 of 8. 2) I wanted half the teams to be within 5 miles. We had 1. 3) I wanted everyone to finish the course. I think I had to tell 3 teams where to find the end point. 4) I wanted everyone to finish in less than 2.25 hours. The winners made it in 1.75 hours but I think at least 5 teams did not finish within my goal.

    I definitely threw in some curve balls but was the course really too hard? I don’t think so. Instead, I think my instructions were too long and too technical and maybe too vague as far as my expectations for Google. I think if I had spent time at the start line explaining what was important and why, most of the participants would have done much better. Instead, I merely asked if everyone had a firm grasp of the rules. When no one asked questions, I assumed all was good. I should have noticed the dazed looks and taken it upon myself to start explaining. 🙂

    Even though there were a lot of struggles, I think everyone got to experience the thrill of figuring out a strange clue and everyone had at least moments of fun. It’s always fun to come up with new, colorful names to call the rally master, right? I hope everyone will want to do it again. But next time, let’s do it in April.

  • Dennis – Fixed your omission. You can see why we did how we did… 🙂

    David – Don’t be too hard on yourself, what you produced was awesome, but I think really unfamiliarity with the style of cues was what did most of us in. The winning team and the others who did well had probably seen something like this before. Most of the previous Club Rallies were of the format – “Travel 38 seconds at an average speed of 38MPH, turn left” or “Turn right at second opportunity”.

    Donna and I thought what would have been helpful for us was say take the first 5 or 6 clues and use them as the examples.
    1. Set trip odometer to zero.
    2. [odometer and driver] (odometer must be legible) –brackets mean take a picture–
    3. N –and go North–
    4. R –and turn right–
    5. “+” –and look for a sign with a + on it–
    6. L (Off course clue: T) –and turn left–

    Either way, if you do decide to ever do this again, we’ll be there and we’ll do better because of Saturday’s experience.