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In the summer of 2023 we bought our first house. For the first time ever, we had a yard— and it was huge. 
As I watched our 5-year-old explore every nook and cranny of our new yard I knew I needed to send her on an epic treasure hunt. 

Since all good pirate adventure begins with a map, shortly after moving in, a map enclosed in a bottle appeared on our rocky shore. 
Using satellite images of our property I was able to build a custom map. ChatGPT provided the bones of a pirate riddle, which I then edited. 

I knew that the map needed to be both weather and child-proof so I had it printed on vinyl at my local library's maker space, and then added color with acrylics. 
Now, the original plan was to bury a chest in the middle of the lawn. This plan had a critical flaw: my husband was militantly against me digging a 3 foot hole in the center of our new lawn. He also suggested that I had wildly overestimated my 3-foot-hole-digging skills.
Frustratingly he was correct and a compromise was reached: A much smaller, decoy chest, would go in the garden, with new directions to the actual chest. 

I went back to my local library's maker space with a piece of scrap stone and was able to create a perfect treasure marker using the laser engraver. 
A decoy chest means a new quest!  Again aided by ChatGPT, this message was hand aged with watercolor, and "missing" the last 4 lines. 
Instead of proper treasure this box contained sea glass, shells and a note informing us that the treasure has been snatched from under our noses. 
While packing for our move, my husband uncovered an old unneeded compass. It was a perfect addition to the box.
The second riddle led to our shed. Unbelievably, this shed has a crawlspace hidden beneath a "secret" trapdoor. 
Behold the treasure! 
The final chest contained various bits and bobs uncovered during our move, some special pieces from a local thrift store, and about 15 dollars in pennies. 

Some of the more interesting things that found their way into the box are 
• A tiara, graciously donated from a recent bachelorette party. 
• A silver cup, won at a fencing tournament. 
• Robinson Caruso and other vintage books, found at a local garage sale. 

Aside from printing the map, the only piece purchased "new" was the bottle of rum. (Which our daughter kindly suggested we put back in the hole for the pirates.)
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