Its 5:30am, and I’ve been up since 4:00.  My Christmas enthusiasm is out of control.

I didn’t even have to do any shopping on Christmas Eve this year (a first), which was a good thing because the “Santa Riddler” kept our whole family very busy, and very inebriated.

The Riddler came with instructions for the afternoon:  solve a series of riddles that will employ local geographical knowledge, taking you on a scavenger hunt around Bend, Oregon.  For the five of us (Jesse’s mom, brother, sister-in-law, and us), it also required knowledge about the Riddler’s sensibilities: a love of local beer and laughs.

The first riddle got off to a “ruff start” when it encouraged us to dig through a bag of dog food to discover a “golden opportunity” (also known as Jose Cuervo).  After a family round of that, we were ready for the next challenge, which was to stick a bowling ball in the river and gamble on whether it would float or sink.  Our next clue would be revealed after we could make it float.

I know.  It seems obvious right?  It should totally float.  Its only a huge ass bowling ball.

Well, the Riddler was pretty insistant that we give it a try, and wearing waiters, Joel braved the Deschutes River and gently lowered the ball…right to the river’s bottom.  We weren’t to get the next clue until it floated, but quickly realizing that the Riddler’s internet research was flawed, Joel retrieved the ball (better him than me) and we advanced to the next round anyway.  Turns out bowling balls only float when their specific density is less than that of water (which his ball was not).

The next riddle involved Jesse and I inventing a secret handshake to gain family access to a local micro-brewery, and from there our riddles had us playing darts, pool, shuffle board, and foosball at various local pubs.  Had we not ended the night out on “just one more plate” of garlic fries, I’d be asleep right now.  Those fries had over one cup of minced fresh garlic covering them…bad for so many reasons.

The Santa Riddler was a fabulous success.  On the family’s enormous couch, we snuggled up with our throw blankets while watching “Love Actually,” our collective dragon breath forming a haze along the ceiling.