While getting lost typically is something people avoid, Reno resident Stacey Perez is turning it into a game with her new business, X-marks the Spot Adventure Quests.
The idea for this business began early last year when Perez, a fan of the TV show “The Amazing Race,” participated in an urban adventure in Southern California. She came home and told her son, Mason, about it and he asked his mom to create a similar game for his 10th birthday in July.
“I really like to do scavenger hunts,” Mason said. “They’re my favorite thing so I thought, ‘Wow, a scavenger hunt with all my friends would be great.’ ”
They worked together to assemble puzzles and clues that would guide teams of participants around downtown Reno, making the game applicable to a wide range of ages. They completed the game in June and Mason, along with his father Eric, tested the course, which kind of blew it as a surprise for his birthday.
“We went swimming instead,” Perez said about Mason’s birthday party this year.
But now Mason gets to help his mother create more of these races as she works to expand her adventure quests into a small business. It took them about three months to complete the race for downtown Sparks, mapping the course, thinking of games and getting businesses to participate. Last weekend, Perez tested the Sparks course on three teams.
The race started at about 11 a.m., though times might vary depending on how many quests are scheduled for a given day. The wind was blowing and it was chilly out, demonstrating why the quests are best enjoyed on warm summer days. Perez started the adventure with a brief rundown of the rules before she handed out the first clues and said, “Ready, set, go!” The Sparks quest begins in front of the Century movie theater and then sends teams in all directions with “clues that aren’t obvious but aren’t super hard,” Perez said.
“There are different levels so kids can solve one puzzle while the adults solve another puzzle,” she said.
Whether in downtown Reno or Sparks, the adventure quest is a walking tour of the area that will educate as well as entertain. The Reno course incorporates a historic drinking fountain and the Sparks course teaches participants about the history of the city’s fire department and explores seldom-noticed landmarks. There are fill-in-the-blank puzzles and some mind-benders involving signs at a bus station.
Depending on how serious a team is about finishing the course as quickly as possible, the quest can be a way for mom and dad to tire out the kids on a Saturday afternoon, a romantic date or a slow stagger for adventurers who add their own stops at bars along the course.
“It’s a really great activity for us to do as a family,” said Robin Nyberg, a friend of Perez’s who has run both the Reno and Sparks adventures with her children, ages 12 and 9.
Mason Perez, whose birthday request started the whole adventure, said he liked his mom’s Reno quest a little better and that the Sparks one was a bit on the difficult side. While he gets to be the guinea pig for the various quests, Mason credits his mom with being the creative force behind the undertaking.
“She thought of everything,” he said.
Perez is running a special right now for $5 off, which means adults cost $20 and children age 8 to 12 cost $15. Quests are available on Saturdays and Sundays. To book a quest or for more information, visit www.x-marksthespot.net.