The Hunt for the American Dream: A Scavenger Hunt for my 30th Birthday

Danielle Vincent

Posted on July 05 2015


Note: This story may or may not have been embellished for effect. Do not try this under any circumstances.

In January 2005, 25 or so of my friends agreed to come to Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate my 30th birthday. We rented out several rooms in The Stardust, a now-gone hotel on the Strip, conveniently proximate to Circus Circus (see Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

Our mission: to find The American Dream.

Our method: a great scavenger hunt containing all the elements that make up the American Dream (cultural diversity, grandmas asleep at the slots, a margarita served in the largest liquid receptacle available at a bar -- in our case, the coffee pot--,  picket fences, a wedding, fake boobs, piles of money, etc), to be collected using Polaroid cameras (which were distributed at the event, along with several cartridges of film). Our band broke into four teams, all competing against each other, and all responsible for meeting up at two designated points throughout the night to survey progress and collateral damage.

Our handicap: mentally and physically resembling Hunter S. Thompson, which opened us to a lot of interference on many levels, thus making the scavenger hunt a real challenge.

Our caveats: No weapons, no messing with rubes, no casualties, and no casual ties.

From the starting gate, it was both a resounding success and a catastrophic failure. Only two teams made it to the first checkpoint, and no teams made it to the last one. Because the photos were all in Polaroid form, all evidence of the entire excursion has been long lost… except for our memories, which are unreliable and mostly based on oral tradition of retelling between participants, becoming more embellished every time.

We found the Carousel Bar. Circus Circus security directed us there, after immediately recognizing us as Hunter S. Thompson. We were kicked out of two clubs and denied entrance to at least that many. The staff at Denny’s threw us a party.

There were no casualties.

We are all still looking for The American Dream.
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