Travis P.'s Real-Life, True, CustardQuest III Adventure:

"Let's start at the beginning... I've been a fan of puzzles and treasure hunts for as long as I can remember. Awhile back, during the craze of another (ill-fated) treasure hunt, I joined the online treasure hunting community site I’m not as active as I used to be, but I check in periodically to keep up to date on new and interesting hunts. As fate would have it, Custard stopped by the forum to recruit hunters to assist with his investigations of the paranormal. Consider me recruited.

"My latest Custard Quest adventure started Friday night. After a long week at work my wife went to bed early leaving me to my own devices. I wasn’t tired so I needed something to do. For some reason my mind wandered to CQ III. I had worked on CQ I and II without much success. Frustrated, I hadn’t even bothered to look at CQ III. “Oh well, I might as well give it a try,” I thought. “If nothing else, it will put me to sleep!”

"It didn't. The latest installment was entertaining as usual. More importantly, pieces of the puzzle finally started to click. After reading through the story once, one particularly peculiar phrase stuck in my head: “dumb fries." It reminded me of an oddly named town near me. On a whim, I checked out a map of the town. It didn't look promising at first, but it happened to be near what I thought would make an excellent hiding place. With that location in mind, I re-read the notes and all the clues practically jumped off the page! A little more research led me to what I hoped would be the exact hiding place of the stone from Custard’s rockpile. Finally, I could sleep.

"Saturday morning turned out to be a beautiful day for treasure hunting. My wife and I jumped into the car and headed for a route we had taken several times before. On our previous trips, we had noticed a strangely shaped building east of the highway that never failed to catch our attention. This time, however, we had a reason to know it. It would be our destination: The National Museum of the Marine Corps.

"We took a leisurely pace to get there, but once we made it to the Museum parking lot, I was all business. If there’s such a thing as a “nonchalant beeline,” that’s the route I led to the hiding spot. After all, I didn’t want us to look suspicious! I spent several minutes on my knees searching for the hidden stone. As the designated photographer, my wife did double-duty taking pictures and watching for anyone who might wonder what the heck I was doing. Little did I know she would also be doing triple-duty as the rock finder.

"She spotted the edge of a smooth dark grey stone that looked out of place amongst the jagged trail gravel. She picked up the stone, spotted Will and the CQ logo, and tossed it in my direction. Meanwhile, I was poking around with sticks and wiping dirt off my hands. I looked up and caught the stone just in time to avoid a RKPL headache. (She claims to have said “Is this it?” but I’m skeptical.) And so ends the story of the lifelong puzzle geek who solved the mystery of Custard Quest III only to be outdone by his better half.

"We had a great time playing CQ! Not only did we get to have a fun Saturday morning adventure, but we learned about a wonderful museum to those who serve our nation. I can’t wait to work on CQ I and II in the hopes that I’ll get to find a stone of my own!"