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5 (or so) Reflections on the Summer Scavenger Hunt

The 2nd Annual NWS Summer Scavenger Hunt came to a close on Tuesday, August 27th, shortly after the following clue was published: “Kol’s Stand and the Field of the North.” This was, in retrospect, a very easy-to-decode clue.

There were five prize-winning magnets hidden this year, as opposed to last year’s twenty (in honor of our twentieth anniversary), and that meant that each location had to be more challenging than the previous year. Whether we achieved that goal is debatable—week one, the magnet (hidden nearby Observation Dog Park) was discovered within hours; and week two, the hiding spot—near the Duluth Farmer’s Market—was uncovered by Tuesday, probably due to the heavy rain on Monday.

Week three, as an act of—I don’t know—vengeance(?), the first clue posted on our social media accounts led to the beginning of an extensive and forking path of clues throughout the Spirit Valley area. Then the first clue IRL went missing, and as the week progressed, we just handed out clues leading further down the path, until the magnet was discovered on Friday—within a block of the first real-world clue.

Personally, I—the Huntmaster—enjoyed that format the best, though with the small amount of time I could dedicate to following participants’ engagement, I’m not sure it was successful. Perhaps the amount of time, resources, and effort involved in that week’s hunt outweighed the value of the prize. Nevertheless, it was eventually discovered, and I took pleasure in the challenge—I had a starting point in mind, and a vague idea of an ending point, but had to come up with clues and locations to bulk up the middle in real time. So I deem it a partial success.

Week four’s magnet was hidden exactly where our social media accounts directed participants, in Gichi-Ode’ Akiing park, on the Lakewalk. With the massive construction project happening on Superior Street, it may have been an unappealing spot to check out, or participants may have just been worn-out and jaded from the previous week. However, the popularity of the Lakewalk and the Music in the HART series brought people to the area throughout the week.

That magnet was found on the final day of clues, though the previous week’s winner formally requested the ability to “find” it days earlier, since they knew the precise location. We said no, because we have principles, and we remembered to write “one magnet per participant” in the rules and guidelines this year. This particular individual is also a friend and an understanding and tactful individual, so no feelings were hurt. (If you’re reading this, Ryan, and your feelings were indeed hurt, I apologize for misrepresenting your emotional state.)

The final week, I got to revisit the neighborhood where I grew up. The neighborhood appears vibrant and well-loved, and my childhood home had been neither burned down nor demolished. It felt good. Except for when I immediately notice that the wooded area behind my childhood home—basically Narnia to me and my friends—is for sale for commercial development. That was a feel-bad moment, but that, I suppose is the price of progress. Let me know if you’d like to contribute to my Kickstarter to purchase it, turn it into my own druid grove, and defend it tooth-and-nail from the onslaught of ceaseless development.

Wow, that was a downer! If you have any thoughts on how to improve our Scavenger Hunt next year, share in the comments, or email me at

A few bonus things:

For the sake of advertising the business-side of our business, here’s a couple of noteworthy Things™:

The best mail order sale of the year ends at 23:59:59 on Labor Day. Or perhaps at 00:00:01 on Tuesday, September 3rd. I really couldn’t say. What I can say is the discount code bluecollar gets you % off your pre-shipping cart when ordering online only.


Patricia made another awesome pizza. This week’s combination was smoked Polish sausage, caramelized onions, and basil. Yum. I’m just waiting for her to do something wrong, so I can immediately let you know that she isn’t an infallible beacon of culinary hope—but that time has not yet come. If you want to be on the pizza-cutting edge at NWS, check out our deli on Wednesdays. That is typically when the small batch of pizzas hits the shelves.

This is the last weekend to try the Lake Trout Experience. Lake Trout sandwiches are not something we are able to offer year-round, so if you’ve been waiting for us to make a Lake Trout sandwich, in an official way, and not just a heavily modified Fish Basket that you have to assemble into sandwich form yourself, get it while it’s still here. Like all the other Sandwich Lab specials before it, you earn an extra punch on your Sandwich Lover Extraordinaire card, per S.L. special ordered.

As the cartoon pig says, “That’s all, folks!”

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