72-Hour Scavenging People
The winners of our fifth annual scavenger hunt
Ashley Armstrong, the director of events at Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center, watched Alibi scavenger hunts come and go before she decided to sign up in 2010. When she finally sat down with the just-released list on the evening of Friday, Nov. 19, it looked easy. "
There are more than 100 items on the list, from easy-to-find (an Alibi box, 10 points) to almost impossible (Val Kilmer, 100 points), and three days in which to find them. "When you get into it, it becomes all-consuming," she says. And it takes a while to get out of scavenger hunt mode. "I'm still looking for the things we didn't find."
With teammate and boyfriend Carlos Garcia behind the camera, Armstrong estimates they put in close to 40 hours ferreting out their objectives. The two referred to themselves as "Team Night Rider" and "Team Dark Circles," since they were running on so very little sleep. Armstrong and Garcia work weekend days, so it had to be an after-hours hunt. "Not a whole lot of hours logged in sleep that weekend," she says. "But it was such a blast!"
They subsisted almost entirely on coffee and donuts. For the first time in their lives, they thanked their lucky stars that Dunkin' Donuts is open all hours of the night, and that Satellite will make a pumpkin spice latte with four shots of espresso. And when their energy began to flag, they kept each other motivated. "Between the two of us and enough caffeine and sugar, we finished the weekend," Armstrong says.
They had some stiff competition from the other teams, but all in all, Team Night Rider / Dark Circles won by racking up more than 1,500 points.
One of their most difficult tasks was tracking down a family name on a pickup truck (15 points). Odd, because "it's one of those things you see all the time.” They finally snapped a photo on the last day. Armstrong leapt out of her car while the truck was stopped at a red light.
Another tricky situation: Getting a baby (20 points) required approaching a complete stranger. "It's kind of weird. You don't want to scare people." Plus, Armstrong adds, there were semantic arguments about what qualified as a true baby and what was merely a small toddler.
Shooting the view from the top of the Tram (45 points) was a test on several fronts. There was 60 mph wind, ice on the cables and zero visibility that day. Making matters worse, both Armstrong and Garcia aren't crazy about heights. But they lived to snap another photo, and they might even go back ... when the weather improves. "As a native, you don't often think to go to the Tram." It's in their arsenal of things to do now.
Ditto for the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. They had just enough time to run in and take a picture of the center's B-52 bomber (35 points), but Armstrong was fascinated by what she saw. Now she says she's looking forward to spending an afternoon there. She'll also be in line for the next Albuquerque Social Club drag review, where she posed with two drag queens (40 points).
"You learn a lot about your city," Armstrong says.
One of the lessons the Alibi hopes to teach the good people of Albuquerque is how to find the Metropolitan Detention Center (35 points). Because if you live here for long enough, as sure as the sun rises over the Sandias, you will be called upon to make that long, winding journey to bail out a friend or relative. And you will become lost while doing it. If Team Night Rider / Dark Circles is any indication, plan on purchasing a GPS navigation system and spending about 30 extra minutes driving in the wrong direction.
The crowning achievement of their haul, however, was getting a smiling mug shot of the mayor (70 points). Armstrong had the foresight to call and schedule an appointment with Mayor Berry for Monday afternoon. But while driving around Downtown looking for a Segway cop (35 points), they spotted him in front of a building. They screeched to a halt, and with the motor still running, Garcia jumped out of the car to flag him down. Not only were they not killed by secret service, they got their photo with Berry.
Other run-ins with The Man included finding a DWI checkpoint (30 points). "You've never seen two people more happy to see a DWI checkpoint on a Friday night!" A word to the wise: It was lurking near a taco truck (15 points).
Developing a keen eye and a sense of urgency was key to their victory. "For three days straight, you're constantly noticing things," Armstrong says. "After it was over, I found myself at Costco pushing the cart really fast and checking out what was in other people's carts."
So, with all the mental strain, sleep deprivation and nearly getting wrestled to the ground by a mayoral assistant, would she consider doing it again next year? "If you'd asked us while we were riding up to the Tram, we would have had a different answer," she says. "But yeah. For sure!"