Web site is all about medallion

St. Paul Pioneer Press - 01-18-2003

Treasure Hunt attracts searchers in cyberspace, too


The hunt begins in 11 days.... The hunt begins in 10 days.... The hunt begins in nine days....

This message slowly ticks away on a Web site maintained by "Med Hunter" for the serious fan of the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt, held in conjunction with the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

For most of the year, Hunter goes by his real name, Jesse Anibas of White Bear Lake, but in January he becomes Med Hunter. He's been hunting the medallion — unsuccessfully — for 15 years and maintaining his Web site for five. Eleven days in advance, he activated its countdown to Sunday, when the first of up to 12daily clues will appear in the Pioneer Press.

The site contains lots of helpful hints and links to other places — such as www.coolercrew.com, also for Treasure Hunt fans — and to an online anagram solver and an online dictionary.

"Those are tools for the hunt, in case you don't understand a word or you want to see how far they've stretched a definition,'' Hunter said of the clues to finding the medallion, which can bring up to $10,000 and other prizes.

He posts information and shares it, because every year there are lots of people who look for the medallion, like a community, and in a community you share things.

Hunter said he is really looking forward to this year's hunt, because last year's was disappointing, in his opinion.

"It only lasted six days...." he said.

"Some of us had hardly got out of the house before the medallion was found.''

There was also very little snow, the same situation so far this year, and this is worrisome, Hunter said.

"Somebody just out walking a dog could find it,'' he said, implying that a true searcher, someone who puts in the effort to look, should find the medallion.

Hunter proudly pointed out that his site now has records of the weather during past hunts and a live weather display.

It also has the history of who found the medallion and other trivia.

After the carnival is over, Med Hunter morphs back into Jesse Anibas, but he really can't get away from the drive to search, look and, hopefully, find.

He recently took up a new sport called "geocaching."

People set up small caches at secret sites, put out their GPS (global positioning system) coordinates and then other people look for the sites.

"You go to them, record your find, take a token or leave a token to show you've been there,'' Hunter said, calling the activity fun.

According to www.geocaching.com, there are now caches in 157 countries and in every U.S. state.

"It's been growing by leaps and bounds. It got started when the government freed up all that GPS information from satellites for public use,'' Hunter said.