Blue Ox Bonanza Treasure Hunt — CLUES EXPLAINED
#1
INTRODUCTION
  • The first word of the introduction—"Head"—could be taken to suggest the ox head from the Blue Ox Music Festival logo, engraved on the official jewel for this hunt.
  • "Blue Ox" is meant to suggest both the light blue color of this hunt's jewel—as well as the Blue Ox Music Festival ox head logo engraved on it. It was also meant to suggest the long shot for this hunt: the Oxboro neighborhood of Bloomington—in particular its western border along the east bank of Nine Mile Creek, in Moir/Central Park.
  • "horn" is meant to suggest the Blue Ox logo—replete with pointed horns—engraved on the official hunt jewel.
  • "embark" could be taken to suggest searching for a tree—specifically a giant cottonwood near the south end of Nine Mile Creek, in Bloomington's Moir/Central Park.

CLUE #1
  • "Search history's halls for a man at the falls" is meant to suggest searching the Minnesota Historical Society's online collection for the controversial painting "Father Hennepin Discovering the Falls of Saint Anthony," which until recently hung in the Governor's reception hall of the Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul (it now hangs in an interpretive space on the third floor); "Search" ... "an area known by his name" ... "for a place to begin on the hunt" is meant to narrow the search area to Hennepin County.
  • "pin" is meant to suggest the hiding spot itself, as well as the red "TC" button that marked the pouch concealing the jewel.
  • "understand" is meant to suggest a prominent piece of graffiti found on the railing of a staircase down to Nine Mile Creek from the parking lot of the access point at 106th Street.
  • "a stone in the sand" is meant to suggest Pert' Near Sandstone—one of this hunt's prize partners—as well as the jewel itself, which was hidden in a small pile of sand at the base of a giant cottonwood tree.
  • "the crystal gaze of the bright, blue beast of burden" is meant to suggest Blue Ox Music Festival—Pert' Near Sandstone's annual hootenanny, and another prize partner for this hunt—as well as the Blue Ox logo engraved on this hunt's jewel.

CLUE #2
  • "Pert' near" is meant to suggest Pert' Near Sandstone
  • "Pert' near bridges" is meant to suggest the section of Nine Mile Creek found in Moir/Central Park, where many spans traverse the stream, and could be taken to suggest the 106th Street access point in particular—where three bridges are found in close proximity.
  • "furrowed ridges" is meant to suggest the Nine Mile Creek ravine, and could be taken to suggest an area along the creek where the topography is more "furrowed" along the edges—in particular along the bend near where the jewel was hidden.
  • "where water wends its way" is meant to suggest an area with coursing water—specifically Nine Mile Creek.
  • "Along the trail" is meant to suggest searching an area somewhere along a trail—specifically Nine Mile Creek's Lower Valley Trail System, which runs through Moir/Central Park.
  • "amid the dale" is meant to suggest the creek valley of Central Park.
  • "past places to live, learn, and play" is meant to suggest that Nine Mile Creek and its trails snake their way between homes, schools (e.g. Oak Grove Elementary and Middle Schools; Life Academy), and churches (e.g. Oak Grove Presbyterian Church; Life Church)
  • "Head high or low" is meant to suggest hunters can arrive at the spot by taking the high road (a wooded path above the western creekside) or the low road (the paved and gravel trails that more closely follow the creek's winding path); both take roughly the same amount of time and distance to travel.
  • "go with the flow" is meant to suggest following the creek downstream from 106th Street.
  • "Bend" is meant to suggest the jewel's location along a bend in Nine Mile Creek, and that hunters will need to kneel or "crouch."
  •  "unearth the pouch" is meant to suggest that the small, black pouch concealing the jewel was hidden in a small pile of loose sand.

CLUE #3
  • The capital letters in this clue—N, M, C, W, and D—stand for "Nine Mile Creek Watershed District;" this is meant to limit the search area to those portions of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Richfield found within it.
  • "Near the stony bed of the watershed in a Metropoliton [sic] region" is meant to suggest hunters search along the side of the creek, just south of a small shed for monitoring water quality. This "watershed shed" is marked with a misspelled sign that reads Nine Mile Creek Watershed Monitoring Study – Metropoliton Council Environmental Services.
  • "Close in on the bank" is meant to reinforce searching near the creekside.
  • "break from the rank" is meant to suggest searching for the jewel off of the trail.
  • "away from the peloton legion" is meant to reinforce "break[ing] from the rank," as well as to suggest searching away from bike trails, primarily along the "walkers only" trail alongside Nine Mile Creek in Central Park. It could also be taken to suggest searching north of the Minnesota River Bottoms bike and pedestrian trails that pass by south of the search area.
  • "Where the brook sweeps past" is meant to reinforce searching near Nine Mile Creek.
  • "a place to cast and hook yourself a winner" is meant to suggest finding a good place to fish—in this case a clearing along the eastern bank of Nine Mile Creek, immediately adjacent to the bridge, and just south of the hiding spot.
  • "Downstream from the grove" is meant to suggest searching downstream from Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, Oak Grove Elementary School, Oak Grove Middle School, and/or Oak Grove Elementary School Forest—all of which are located up the creek from the search area. 
  • "sparkling prize" is meant to suggest that the hunt MacGuffin was, in fact, a jewel.

CLUE #4
  • "Down in the holler" is meant to suggest the Nine Mile Creek ravine; it is also the title of the first track off of Pert' Near Sandstone's debut album "Up and Down the River;" the lyrics suggest "down in the holler by the old oak tree" is "the place to be." Although the treasure was hidden at the base of a cottonwood, much of the woods in the immediate vicinity are comprised of oak.
  • "where the trees grow taller" is meant to suggest Nine Mile Creek's many impressive trees—particularly along the southern half of the trail in Central Park, where hunters found a massive, soaring cottonwood tree marking the hiding spot.
  • "bloom again" is meant to suggest Bloomington; it is also the title of the first track off of Pert' Near Sandstone's latest album "Discovery of Honey."
  • "Bottoms up!" is meant to suggest searching upstream on Nine Mile Creek from the Minnesota River Bottoms trail that passes by along the southern end of Moir/Central Park.
  • "follow a path through the fen" is meant to suggest finding a small, marshy gap off the main trail, leading west toward the creek—at the base of the cottonwood tree that marked this hunt's hiding spot.
  • "borough" is meant to suggest Bloomington's Oxboro neighborhood—the western border of which is demarcated by Nine Mile Creek's path through Moir/Central Park.
  • "travel the distance" is meant to suggest searching on Nine Mile Creek.
  • "the distance of least resistance" is meant to suggest that some of the shortest routes to the jewel would be created by parking at the 106th Street bridge access point, and that to "examine the map by the lot" (one of several throughout Moir/Central Park) is one of the best ways to find those routes; the truly quickest route is found through Oak Grove Elementary School Forest (though no parking lot is found at that entrance).

CLUE #5
  • "After years of strife, this town sprang to life—a city on the rise; The post-war boom set the burg in bloom, to nine times its prior size" is meant to suggest hunters search a park in Bloomington—which, after myriad small-town disputes in its infancy, would to nine times its turn-of-the-century population in the years after World War II.
  • "With that spark they opened a park that, over time, would expand / To include the location and orientation of a jewel buried in the sand." is meant to suggest hunters search in an area connected to Bloomington's first dedicated parkland: Moir Park—which has since been expanded to include the Nine Mile Creek Lower Valley Trail System all the way south to the Minnesota River valley (The specific designation gets a bit tricky, as Moir Park blends into Harrison Picnic Grounds, Central Park, and the Nine Mile Creek Trail east of Morgan Avenue and south of 104th Street, which has evidently prompted Bloomington Parks and Recreation to simply dub the entire area "Moir/Central Park" and be done with it).

CLUE #6
  • "find a space" ... "For a good spot to park and disembark" is meant to suggest the Nine Mile Creek Access Point parking lot near the 106th Street bridge; at its western edge, hunters would find the words "a ... place to pause and reminisce" on a bench dedicated in memory of Bloomington resident Lisa Ann Mundahl.
  • "disembark" could also be taken to suggest searching for a tree.
  • "bliss" is meant to suggest Bliss Lane, situated just northeast of the hiding spot.
  • "In the dell" is meant to reinforce searching the creek ravine.
  • "path of gravel" is meant to suggest the crushed rock path along Nine Mile Creek, found primarily south of 106th Street (Most of the other trails in the Moir/Central Park and south Nine Mile Creek area are either paved or chipped wood).
  • "let the wood be your guide" is meant to suggest searching a wooded area, in particular at the base of one of the tallest trees in the forest: a cottonwood near a bridge, by a bend in the creek.
  • "Head through the middle" is meant to suggest following Nine Mile Creek through Central Park, and in turn its middle regions, while "Head" could be taken to reinforce the ox head logo engraved on the jewel.
  • "bend and reveal the hide" is meant to reinforce that a hunter would need to squat, crouch, or kneel in order to unearth the jewel, while "bend" is meant to reinforce searching for it near a bend in the creek.
  • "Where the creek wears away at the earthen clay" and "Erosion subsidence" are meant to suggest Nine Mile Creek's erosion of the ravine's banks, and mitigation efforts that are referenced on signs along the trail; they "won't give you much guidance" because neither the erosion itself nor the signs that refer to it pinpoint a specific area.
  • "overlook" is meant to suggest Overlook Drive, situated to the west of the Nine Mile Creek ravine near the hiding spot.
  • "thinking in circles" and "Connect the dots and narrow the spots by finding the following squad:" are meant to suggest searching an area defined by connecting five "nicknamed" cul-de-sacs with an imaginary line:
    • "The Gunpowder King" — or King James I (target of Guy Fawkes' 1605 "Gunpowder Plot"), for James Circle/James Circle south
    • "The Cowboy of Bling" — or Glen Campbell (known as "Rhinestone Cowboy" for his 1975 hit of the same name), for Glen Wilding Place/Lane Circles
    • "a couple of Voices of God" — or Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones (both nicknamed "Voice of God" for their dulcet narrative tones), for Morgan Circle and James Circle/James Circle South
CLUE #7
  • "Move stanza by stanza to claim the Bonanza" is meant as a reminder to hunters to read the entire three-stanza clue to pinpoint the exact hiding spot.
  • "running amok in the glade" is meant to suggest Glen Wilding Lane, situated just east of the Nine Mile Creek ravine near the hiding spot.
  • "'Tween trail and creek, where the beast you seek is waiting in the shade" is meant to suggest searching for the jewel in a wooded area between the gravel trail and the east bank of Nine Mile Creek.
  • "grab the bull by the horns" is a reference to the ox head logo design engraved on the jewel.
  • "between the vines and thorns" is meant to suggest the undergrowth surrounding a small gap in the fen, leading from the trail to the creek; the hiding spot was at this gap in the undergrowth.
  • "down to the decimal" is meant to suggest the trail marker signs along Nine Mile Creek, placed every tenth of a mile; hunters are instructed to "Search betwixt the five and the six," meaning between the markers reading "1.5 mi." and "1.6 mi."
  • The "watershed shed" is the "Metropoliton" Council water monitoring station referenced above in explanation of Clue #3.
  • "A bridge nearby the lucky lie" and "whether to toss it or amble across it depends on your position" is meant to suggest searching for the treasure near a bridge, but whether crossing it is necessary depends on your location within the park: if arriving at the bridge from downstream, hunters would need to cross it in order to be at the hiding spot; if arriving from upstream, hunters would need to remain on the east side, and refrain from crossing the bridge, in order to find the jewel.
  • The final two lines of the third stanza instruct hunters on the exact location of the hide: "In sand" ... "at the mossy, green root of a towering cottonwood / By the trailside hem."

LONGSHOTS
  • With nothing more than the name of this hunt, an astute noodler could surmise that the hiding spot for a treasure hunt called the "Blue Ox Bonanza" might fall within the Oxboro neighborhood of Bloomington.
  • With the foreknowledge of Pert' Near Sandstone as a prize partner for the hunt, one could also surmise a relationship to the band's music; the first song on their most recent release "Discovery of Honey" is titled "Bloom Again"—this could in turn be taken to suggest searching for the treasure in Bloomington.

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This map (in progress) shows the search area and landmarks referenced in the hunt.

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