Urban Challenge - Las Vegas (10/4/03)

Team Mumu (16800)


We knew 23/30 correct answers on the trivia quiz, but were released in the last group. We got CB radio, onion, aircraft carrier, Beatles, Rowling, canorous and real American town wrong, and all the others right (some by luck). Since we thought we did reasonably well we were very surprised to be held back till the last group and we asked for a recount. On Sunday, the race director informed us that by his manual recount we had 12 wrong, 7 of them in the first 20 and 5 in the last 10. Only the first 20 count toward your initial score, and the last 10 are used as a tiebreaker. Something went wrong. Either I botched the data entry (filling in ovals with #2 pencil) or another team accidentally entered our team number in the id portion of the score card.

The Start

Judging from the email datestamps, it looks like we were released around 9:13 and we crossed the line at 1:08.

On to the race:


Or Maybe Dewey Cheatum and How

What fictional characters Frank and Joe would name their office if they had decided to be lawyers. Find it within a mile south of race headquarters.

ANSWER: Hardy & Hardy

We started walking south from race HQ (Jillian's at the East end of the Fremont St. Experience, at Fremont and 4th.).

Lynn got this one by Googling for "frank joe fictional characters". The Hardy Boys came up immediately, and then it was a matter of searching the yellow pages for a Hardy & Hardy law firm. Actually, there is no Hardy & Hardy, but there are two separate law offices at the same address: Dean A. Hardy and Wayne J. Hardy at

610 South Ninth St.

DISTANCE: about .75 miles on foot.

The cameras record a datestamp on each picture. But nobody ever set the clock, so the dates recorded are are some time in 2001. It looks like one can ignore the date and make a 4h15m correction to the time to get accurate race-day splits:

TIME: 09:35


Continuing to bust out the wacky equation!
Ruben, for example


one word NBC dramedy


abbreviation for a mid western state

sounds like checkpoint 2, find it in downtown Las Vegas.

ANSWER: Sandwiched Inn, 320 S 4th St.

NBC "Drama" -> ED
State Abbr -> IN for Indiana

We were sure it must be SandwichERIA for a while but there is no such establishment in Las Vegas. And ER is pretty thin on comedy. Tom got this one at 09:40.

DISTANCE: about .66 miles on foot.

On our way at 09:48. Dictated clues 5 through 7 at this time.

TIME: 09:51


Sign me up!
Since 1982 new US one cent coins have been composed of which element
or elements?

 - if 100% copper then signage for red barn sign

 - if 97.5% copper and 2.5% zinc then signage for the flame
 - if 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper then signage for Dot's flowers

 - if 100% zinc then signage for Nevada motel

Find them all within a half mile of Fremont Street
ANSWER: Zinc & copper = Dot's Flowers

Chris found the composition of new pennies.

There was a transcription error in the email. It's "Dot's Flowers", not ".!.! Flowers". The former might have been somewhat easier to Google :-). But it didn't matter, because it turns out that Dot's Flowers doesn't exist any more, but lives on only through their signage. So searches of online yellow pages didn't work. Google found a phone number, but when I called it, I got somebody who had never heard of Dot's flowers. But we knew it had to be some neon on or near Fremont St. based on the other answers. So we headed up to Fremont St. and started asking people who work there. The "barker" at one of the slots-a-plenty places vaguely remembered seeing something like that, and then a moment later pointed straight at it.

DISTANCE: 0.3 miles on foot.

TIME: 10:01


Fill in the blanks with the letters below to discover the name of
checkpoint 4.
Find it on Maryland Parkway near UNLV.
 _ r _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _
ANSWER: Freakin Frog, 4700 Maryland Parkway

Well, we knew it was on Maryland Parkway near UNLV, so we could make progress in the general direction without knowing the final destination. We walked to Maryland Parkway to catch a bus.

Larry had a great idea that it was Artemus Hall, and Chip had been to a great concert there. Unfortunately, only two letters match those in KING OF FEAR. Oops.

Lynn got Freakin' Frog while we were waiting for the bus at 10:18.

DISTANCE: 0.9 miles on foot. 3.97 miles by bus to Maryland Pkwy and Harmon and then .24 more miles on foot to the address.

TIME: 10:48

The skip chicks were waiting at the Freakin' Frog. They also told us that clue 8 was on South Las Vegas Blvd and not North Las Vegas Blvd which was given on the official clue sheet.

I dictated clues 9-12 on the bus at 10:27. People paying careful attention will see that we skipped 8 because it was very long and I thought I could do it without assistance.


Thanks alumni.

Checkpoint 5 is the marching bands tower the sign on it says so.

ANSWER: next to the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History on UNLV campus

Solved by Dave at 10:13, placing it next to the Marjorie Barrick Museum. Luckily, we guessed there would be UNLV locations so we had a printed map of the UNLV campus in advance. We went more-or-less straight to it (winding around buildings, but no wrong turns).

Distance: 0.4 miles on foot.

TIME: 10:54



Shares its name with a colorless and odorless substance that crystallizes in the hexagonal system. Find it west of UNLV campus.

ANSWER: Ice Las Vegas 200 E Harmon

Lots of things are colorless and odorless and crystallize in a hexagonal system, but Ruby isn't one of them :-). The answer is Ice, the latest cool hotspot at 200 E. Harmon. Chris guessed water at 10:17. We were still heading toward #5 at 10:43, when Chip improved on the Ruby guess by identifying ICE at 10:46. We were heading toward it by 10:56.

Distance: 1.2 miles on foot

TIME: 11:18

This was a *long* walk. The day was starting to heat up.


Las Vegans appreciate the gesture!

According to Greek myth who caused the first winter? Substitute the number of the alphabet in the answer a=1, b=2, ... Total those numbers and divide by the number of letters in the answer.

 - if the quotient is less than 7 then the lion
 - if the quotient is between 7-9 the big coke bottle
 - if the quotient is between 9-11 statue of liberty
 - if the quotient is greater than 11 the suit of armor
Demeter caused the first winter

sum = 4 + 5 + 13 + 5 + 20 + 5 + 18 = 70 / 7 = 10
so go to the Statue of Liberty

John "did" this one on the bus heading down Maryland Parkway. Error #1 - "R" is letter 18. "T" is two letters away, so it must be 16. Error #2 - when writing 16, only the 6 was legible.

So John got 56/7 = 8. When told that the 70/7 had been independently confirmed, he realized the 6/16 error and "corrected" himself to 66/7 = 9.3. Still wrong, but it would have taken us to the right spot. Lesson -- "think on the run" only works for people who have spare oxygen to use their brains while running.

We knew that Checkpoint 8 was on the way to Checkpoint 7.

We only walked as far as the answer to checkpoint 8 and then stopped in the shade of the 3758 building. I needed a rest, and wasn't sure I could make it down and back to the Statue of Liberty. We had a long conversation at this point about whether to skip Checkpoint 7, which would have saved about .6 mile of walking.

But the consensus was that we didn't know enough of the last three answers. We were still missing answers for 10, 11(see below) and 12. I was googling on the sidekick for the fountain (10) when the NYT photographer showed up. I doubt the picture will make the paper, unless the Times wants to make a good impression on T-Mobile.

I rested for about 15 minutes and pulled myself together enough to walk slowly down to the Statue of Liberty at NY NY.

Timecheck: At 11:27 Lynn called to point out the North Las Vegas Blvd typo. We were still sitting at 3758.

Timecheck: At 11:34 we were heading to the statue of liberty.

Distance: 0.9 miles on foot - with a long pause.

TIME: 11:47


Planetary math!

Checkpoint 8 is on Las Vegas blvd S. To find it solve the word problem below. Round your answer to the nearest whole number then substitute it for A in the following equation:

(234 x A) + 14

Imagine that the planet Jupiter is a perfect sphere and that a metal band is wrapped around its equator fitting snuggly against the surface. Now imagine that we cut this band in one spot and slice in an additional 100 meters of metal bands. Further imagine that when we take up the slack perfectly by using posts to raise the bands an equal distance all the way around Jupiter how far above the surface will the bands be?

ANSWER: 3758 Las Vegas Blvd, S


I did this on the bus at the same time that I "did" Demeter. I only made one mistake (100/pi), but realized it was wrong when the answer came out in the 7000 block. Lynn confirmed 3758 and then Chris seconded it. We knew enough not to trust my answers at all at this point :-).

The actual diameter of Jupiter turns out to be irrelevant, as it falls out of the equations. The fact that Jupiter is a gas cloud, and would present engineering "difficulties" for the erection of "posts" appears not to have been relevant either.

We had already spent quite a bit of time here.

Distance: 0.3 miles

TIME: 11:53



Checkpoint 9 shares its name with a Mediterranean island and city off the coast of Spain. Find it near the strip

ANSWER: Ibiza USA 3663 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

We had passed this walking on Harmon from ICE to the strip. We backtracked up the strip.

Distance: 0.06 miles

TIME: 11:57


Galleria Pietro.

Water spouts from 4 mouths as well as 8 clam shells topped by a finial that looks very much like the head of a bishop. A replica of a famous landmark is visible when standing at or near chkpt 10. Find this fountain near the strip between Tropicana and Flamingo.

ANSWER: a fountain at the Bellagio

There are lots of fountains in this stretch of the strip. The key to this one was Galleria Pietro. Chip was first to guess Bellagio at 10:52, and found an advertising blurb at 10:56.

Tom proposed the fountain at Paris at 10:59. Chip heartily agreed and Chris liked it as well.

At 11:17 Tom figured out that the Bellagio itself is a replica of the Galleria Pietro. But he interpreted this to mean that Bellagio was visible from the fountain at the foot of the Eiffel tower across the street. SO CLOSE!

We walked to Bellagio. I thought Bellagio's fountain would be attached to the huge "dancing water" lagoon outside. If I had read Chip's blurb I would have realized that it was inside. We saw the Paris fountain across the street, and from 100 yards away it looked very promising. But on closer inspection, it just didn't match the clue. No clamshells and no Bishop's hat.

We snapped photos of another team at Ibiza and shared info on the fountains on the way to Bellagio. From Paris, they headed back down to Monte Carlo.

We decided to use the skip women for this one.

Distance: about .1 miles

time check - Chip might have seen us on a webcam at 12:01 at Paris.


Nice lid!

Checkpoint 11 shares its name with a brimless wool hat typically with a bobble in the center. Find it south of the Stardust.

ANSWER: Tam O'Shanter Motel, 3317 Las Vegas Blvd S,

Chip got this one immediately when the clues were mailed out, at 10:37. But somehow we had forgotten about it when we were analyzing the skip possibilities at 11:15 in front of 3758. I suggested Fez. Chris suggested La Concha. But eventually, Dave pointed out that Chip had answered it correctly 40 minutes earlier.

There was a convenient bus stop right in front of the wrong fountain at Paris, so we stopped there for a while. Hmmm -- why is that 302 bus passing us by? About ten minutes later, a 301 bus stopped for us.

We knew roughly where we were going, and we organized a group of tourists on the bus to be on the lookout for the Tam O'Shanter. One of them was to snap our photo as we drove by - saving us the time of waiting for another bus and allowing us to shoot straight up to Downtown for the final clue.

But there was a stop just south of the Stardust, and we didn't want to overshoot. Also, given the delay between click ...and... shoot on these cameras, there was a good chance it wouldn't work anyway. So we got off and wandered around for a few minutes. A Gondolier on break at the Venetian had never heard of it, and a security guard was sure it had been demolished. A bellman actually knew where it was and sent us straight to it.

Distance: 0.84 miles bus, about 0.1 miles on foot

TIME: 12:32


You might take one home!

Checkpoint 12 is a red mini found within a block of glitter gulch west of race headquarters.

ANSWER: A red mini car giveaway near Fremont street.

This had to be some kind of slots grand prize giveaway. Chris found a mini cooper outside the plaza at 11:51. There's also a "win this car" at Fitzgeralds, and probably a half-dozen more at the casinos along Fremont.

At 12:17, Lynn sent a picture of last week's yellow mini outside the Plaza. Everyone's in agreement by now.

Time check: still waiting for the bus at 12:34 in front of Tam O'Shanter.

There were at least three other teams on the bus. We talked to one team who were planning on skipping the final clue and heading straight back to race HQ. They had a bus map that indicated that the 302 (one of which passed us en route!) was the Express and we were on the local. The local bus was pretty slow going. Lots of tourists getting on and off at every stop - until we hit no-man's land north of the Strat.

All the teams got off at Las Vegas and Fremont. Three teams ran off at high speed. We had to make our way past a bagpipe convention at Fitzgeralds, consisting of hundreds of kilted pipers and drummers -- some warming up, some performing, some just hanging out. Many were wearing tams.

And at the west end of Fremont Street, we had to make our way through a VW Beetle convention. Several dozen vintage VWs were on display. The mini Cooper was right where predicted on the front steps of the Plaza.

DISTANCE: 3.57 miles by bus + .36 miles on foot

TIME: 01:04


Back to race headquarters:

Backtrack along Fremont St to Jillians at 450.

DISTANCE: 0.4 miles on foot

We crossed the finish line and were told that we were 10th! TENTH??!! We had to get them to confirm at least twice that we weren't misunderstanding. The team that came in right after us was equally amazed. Our total time was 4:09. First place was 3:07.

Had we avoided procedural errors on the Trivia Quiz, we should have started in the first group, 15 minutes earlier. That might have moved us up to #6. Or maybe not -- it all depends on which buses we would have caught.

One team that finished ahead of us was disqualified, so we officially finished in 9th place making us eligible to go on to the national finals in New Orleans on November 15. Mark your calendars. You'll be hearing from us. We've already registered.

TOTAL DISTANCE on foot: 6.67 miles, by bus: 8.38

Official Entrants Research Team
John Salmon
Dave Pfitzner
Lynn Salmon
Dave Fullagar
Tracey Parrish
Tom Metzger
Chip Chapman
Chris Newton
Larry Lipstone