Like many remarkable journeys, this boy’s adventure began with a chance discovery: he stumbled upon what appeared to be a section of a map. And little did he know he was about to embark on an epic treasure hunt. What’s more, it was be one that would lead to a stunning prize.
His journey took place in April 2017. And the boy’s dad, who goes by the online name of “thiswayandthatway,” documented its entire unfolding on the image-sharing website imgur. One day, when the boy grows up, he’ll be able to look back and know how lucky he was.
As well as a strange map, the boy had also found a spiral-shaped object and two scraps of paper. One of them was etched with the instructions, “FIND THE WORDS.” The other, meanwhile, was daubed with weird symbols. But when the boy’s dad folded it up, the symbols formed a message…
The message read, “UNDER STEPS,” so the boy went to look under the steps of his house. And there he found a box containing another piece of a treasure map and two torn sheets of paper with a helter-skelter array of apparently random letters on them.
However, the letters were not as random as they seemed. Indeed, on the scrap of paper that read, “FIND THE WORDS,” there was an arrow. And when that arrow was transposed onto one of the sheets to create the radius of a circle, its circumference appeared to spell out another message.
That message stated, “FRONT BUSH,” and so the boy went to investigate the bushes in his front yard. There he discovered an array of new clues, even more intriguing and puzzling than the last. And, fortunately, his dad was on hand to help him decipher them.
Firstly, there was a torn scrap of parchment paper with two piratical swords and a cryptic sentence. It read, “The treasure is shining through the two swords.” Intriguing as it was, though, it appeared to have little bearing on the other clues. Perhaps its meaning would become clearer later?
In the same bush, they also found a dramatic rendering of several old ships, apparently wrecked on some rocks. What’s more, a multitude of squares had been cut out of the image, like windows onto something hidden. So was there another message buried somewhere in all this?
Puzzled, they turned the picture over. “On the back was this weird mark,” wrote thiswayandthatway. “That’s when it dawned on us… We needed to use two of the other clues we got to find the message.” Indeed, those earlier scraps of paper did seem to be related.
“Once we put the paper with letters on the back of the boat picture with holes, the swirly key told us what the correct alignment should look like,” wrote thiswayandthatway. Well spotted – who would have guessed that the strange spiral-shaped object was a key?!
But more to the point, what did it open? The boy’s dad tried to put the clues together, but soon discovered that they required some shifting about. Importantly, the scraps of paper needed to be properly aligned to create a fully formed swirl.
“When we aligned the letters with the picture with the holes cut out using the key,” wrote thiswayandthatway, “we found the location of the next set of clues.” Good job – second time’s a charm. And where was this mysterious location?
Through the little square windows, the letters spelled it out: U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-S-T-A-I-R-S… under… the… stairs. And there, the boy found yet more clues, including the final fragments of the map. Finally pieced together, they seemed to depict a far-off and exotic land filled sand dunes, camels and glittering oceans.
On closer inspection, however, the map seemed to portray a place much nearer to home. The building in the corner resembled the boy’s house. The “ocean” resembled the lake down the street. And the rolling sand dunes of the “desert” were an imaginative rendition of the sandbox in the boy’s backyard.
Moreover, the boy now seemed to be close to discovering the buried treasure. “The scrap of paper said, ‘The treasure is shining through the two swords,’” wrote thiswayandthatway. “Which meant placing the swords over the sun. Once we over-laid the key on top of the map … We found the location of the treasure!!!”
Great journeys often lead back to the place where they first began, and this boy’s was one such example. Placing the parchment over the map, the location of the treasure chest was revealed at the west side of the house.
Time to get digging, although that shovel does look incredibly oversized for such a small lad! Dad took over, of course, while the young boy watched. And before long, just as the map had promised, they struck something solid: a little wooden box.
So, this was it. The big moment had come. All that hard work and sleuthing had finally paid off. They’d diligently followed the clues and recovered a treasure chest from their yard. Dusting the earth off the lid, the boy’s dad set it before them. And then he opened it.
Gold! Silver! Success! “Okay so one of my hobbies is planning treasure hunts,” thiswayandthatway confessed. “As a User Experience Designer, planning out wonderful experiences is what I get into most. I planned this one for my children and it was a huge success.”
What a fantastic dad – is anyone else slightly envious? Indeed, for those of us with young children, this awesome treasure hunt is a reminder that we can – and should – take every opportunity to do something incredible for them. After all, we’re only young once, and our childhood memories last a lifetime.