26 July 2013

Mystery Photo Fun!

SleuthSayers is a Mystery Web Site. To that end, today, I’m presenting a short mystery. 
Inspired by Leigh’s fascinating photo essay on the 21st, I’m presenting my mystery with both text and photo clues intended to permit readers to exercise multiple mystery-solving techniques, so they can choose the method(s) that play to their own strengths. 

 The mystery is: 
[A] Where was Dixon Hill yesterday (Thursday), and [B] what was he doing there? 

 Perhaps you’re a techno-sleuth, for instance. Though I took most of these photos with my cell phone camera, some were captured from online sites. If you can find the origin of these particular pics, you’ll be able to easily solve at least half the mystery. 

If digital manipulation is not your bag, there are other clues and hints to help. But … what was I doing in this place yesterday (aside from taking pics on my phone camera)? 

Are you a walking UNIVAC data collection master? Have you read and compiled things about me that might give you a clue – particularly when you couple this with my location? And don’t forget to consider extraneous factors that may lead you to success, such as the season and what you know about me. 

Even if you’re not a walking computer, switch into sleuth mode, turn on those “little gray cells” and… 

Let the sleuthing begin! 

(But ... watch out for red herrings. While everything included here does exist at the site I visited yesterday, some of these photos are designed to obfuscate or confuse. ... Though I don't expect you to have too much difficulty.  After all, I designed this for morning coffee fun time!) 

Here come the clues!

I took these photos outside Scottsdale, Arizona – even though the name of the place I photographed might make the unwary believe that I’m inside the city limits. 

 Below is a photo date/time hack, taken at Entrance One of the place I visited yesterday. Maybe you’ll find it helpful. 

Yes, it was fairly cool in The Valley of the Sun, yesterday -- though not as cool as it was for most of last week, when temps hovered in the mid to high 90's and a breeze blew through while a layer of clouds blocked the sun's burning rays.  Felt almost like Christmas!

Does the photo on the right give you a hint where I was, or what I was doing there?

 Many businesses and institutions have logos or symbols that represent them. Below are two symbols that represent the place where I spent much of yesterday. 

This fellow sits out in the hot sun all summer long!

And, here is what he's guarding.  And, this is ABSOLUTELY a part of the place I was visiting ... though I never spent much time here, because I'm not good at growing more than the grass in my front yard.

     Nearby are these interesting artifacts (seen on the right). 

But, be forewarned: they have nothing to do with the sort of plants you grow in a garden.

Below is part of a sign on the ring-road around the place.  Is it really directing folks to Mr. Toad's home???

The structure in the pic below isn't really on the grounds of the place where I was yesterday (though I took this shot from the ring-road), but it runs just along the western boundary -- so I thought it might be a good clue if you used Google's satellite view (or street view) in part of your work.

The symbol seen in the vertical circle (below) is not a symbol for the place I visited, but it is the symbol for where that place resides. The reddish thing you're looking at is a sculpture sitting in the median of the road that bounds the southern edge of the property.  

This median sculpture designates entry to a certain land, which is actually (perhaps) a very good clue.  I took this shot from the ring-road.

Below is a great place to get 5-star food at 2-star prices.

People who have sat in these seats went on to create films that won accolades at the Sundance Film Festival and other venues. 

If you know women’s pro basketball, maybe you know that Ryneldi Becenti once played on this court. (Sorry it's blurry.  I was being chased off by security! LOL)

The photo below shows just a door and window in a wall.  To me, however, it's the place where I took the first step on a long, crooked road that brought me out the other end as a writer.

Below: At one time, I wrote (probably rather poor) news stories about activities at this place. In fact, before I had a computer of my own, this is where I wrote.

A few more shots, which just might tip the ballance. (The first shot is over-sized for those who love looking at the desert.  On my computer, it's possible to pan right by grabbing the little bar just below the photo.  You may need to click on the photo and open it, however, before you can pan, depending on your setup.)

 Got it figured out? Know where I was and what I was doing there (or at least feel you can take an educated stab)? Click on the “comments” link below, and tell us . And PLEASE! In your comment, tell us what tipped you off. In this manner, maybe we’ll all gain some smidgeon of fresh insight concerning contemporary sleuthing. I’ll post the answer, right in that same comments thread, later in the day so you can check your solution. 

See you in two weeks! 


  1. Dix: My best guess, based on your clues,puts your location somewhere in Arizona. Got it! Scottsdale Community College. The CNUW can only mean the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife. Why else Toad Hall? There was a time way back when I taught AP Environmental Science and took classes at Cal State San Berdoo. What a neat place for you to attend. I'm envious. That is, of course, unless I got set up by that red herring you mentioned. Yours truly, Toe.

  2. Dixon, I can't wait to see if Toe is correct. I hope he is because I like it when retired teachers get things right.

    The closest I came is that it's an educational institution, but even if Toe is correct, he didn't tell us why you were there yesterday. I

    Of course, about the only thing I know about Arizona is that my ex was from Phoenix and the Jodi Arias trial is there. What that means is that you're the only person in Arizona that I like.

    Hope Toe is right and can't wait for you to tell us.

  3. Toe, I applaud your ingenuity in using “CNUW” to find a potential answer for the location part of the mystery.

    I was interested to note what popped up when I googled CNUW, myself, just now. And, I can’t wait to discover what other clues folks find, that lead them to potential solutions through alternate routes!

    And, I assume you’re saying my motive for being there was to attend class. Is that correct? That’s the motive part of the mystery, in your book -- right?

    Later today, I’ll either confirm you’re right about one or both parts … or to let you know the color of the herring you followed.

    Only the Shadow knows for sure … eh? So be sure to tune back in, later, buddy!

    -- Dix

  4. An “educational institution” – eh, Fran?

    I can assure you, I’m not taking any classes.

    So – since you seem to be lending support to the “Toe Theory” – what theory would you advance vis-à-vis my motive in being there, yesterday?


    PS: My wife says she’s sorry to hear you don’t like her, or our kids. JK LOL

  5. I don't know what you were doing there, but it made me very happy to see old mountain friends -- the McDowells, Black Mt... I know where you were standing if not why. But given the nature of the place, it almost doesn't matter why. Standing there is motive enough.

  6. Actually, I thought about that after I posted my comment. Let me add that I like your entire family, including your dad.
    Were you there to create a photo essay?

  7. My guess is that you were doing research in the library--unless the book drop box was a red herring. Those pictures of ranks of computers in a big room reflect what I've seen many times in today's libraries.

  8. I would have guessed that it was your high school or college based on your comment about the start of your writing career.

    You were there for your reunion?
    Fun article

  9. Allow me to expand on my comment. There are only a few reasons I can think of for visiting the campus.
    Attending class

    Of these, the most likely for taking pictures would be graduation or reunion. Since this is July, graduation is unlikely. Thus--reunion! Unless, of course, you took the pictures with this column in mind.

    Now that I have dazzled you with my keen deductive powers I stand ready to be humiliated by the real reason.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Dixon,

    I ruled out reunion right after posting the comment. Wrong time of the week. Reunions usually occur on weekends.

    Faculty member retirement?
    Family member (child or grandchild) enrollment?

    None of the above?

  12. Hi, everybody! And, thank you for such interesting replies. It’s great to see which clues connected with people’s thinking, and what it led them to deduce. I won’t provide the solution yet, in order to let some more folks play – should they choose to do so. Sorry – I thought I’d set this up to be pretty easy to crack, but I think some extra clues might be in order. If you read the rest of this post, you’ll find those additional clues.

    Herschel, I think your use of my “where I began … writing” line was right on target. Great deduction. However, I think your list of reasons to visit a campus is missing at least one item. I think that, because I was there for another reason.

    Elizabeth: I wish I’d been there for research – because I miss doing research that I currently don’t have any time to perform. On the other hand, my presence there was for a happy reason.

    Fran, my wife thanks you, and is no longer considering desperate measures. lol (I hope you realize I was just kidding about my wife. I know you didn’t mean it, and what you wrote was actually a funny joke to me -- which was why I was joking back.)

    Anon: I think I know (from what you wrote) who you are. If so, I included the oversized pic just for you. I’m surprised you don’t know where I was standing. Think of my family members, their ages, etc., + the time of year and the fact that I had a credit card in my pocket, and I’m pretty sure you can deduce what I was doing there.

  13. Herschel, I think you're doing great. In fact, I think you're so hot I smell smoke pouring off ya' buddy!

    Tune back in, in a few hours, and I'll let you know for sure.


  14. OK, I will take a stab at it. I think you were enrolling your daughter in college. :-)

    But I can't tell where you were standing because there should be only desert there, not buildings. At least, that's how I remember it! LOL

  15. Hmm… At first I thought botanical gardens, but I’m thinking you visited the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife (I googled CNUW) and that ‘Toad Hall’ might refer to desert toads. Could those covered things be cacti? But the remaining shots made me think university. Oh, hell, I’m flummoxed!

  16. Scene of a new novel?

  17. The answer is: I was at Scottsdale Community College, helping (and paying for) my daughter to get registered for classes.

    And, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone for participating. I certainly learned a lot. Not the least of which is: I need to provide more clues!

    That being said, I thought it was fascinating to see how much some folks came up with. Some of you were right on top of the answer – even though I hadn’t provided enough information. Good job! I’m impressed.

    If you’d like to understand my reasoning, or the ideas behind the clues, I’ve included that info below. If you have any questions, just post them here. I promise to respond.

    I thought I’d included enough clues, but clearly I blew it. Sorry about that. I’ll try to do a better job next time.

    My hope was that readers would spot my reference that the name might lead folks to believe this place was inside the Scottsdale city limits, which I figured would tell them that “Scottsdale” was somewhere in the name of the place.

    I tried to give enough clues that readers would get the idea it was a school of some kind. (And, here I seem to have largely succeeded.)

    I figured it would be a quick step, from there, to determining that virtually the only educational institutions that would be named for a city would be either a community college or a high school. And, googling Scottsdale High School would have made it clear that the school was closed in the 1980’s – leaving probably only a community college to check.

    A reader could then google Scottsdale Community College and would easily find it – including info about the film school (where I captured that image of students at their desks), and the culinary institute (which runs the restaurant … Googling “desert oasis restaurant” brings up SCC in the first hit — or, at least, that’s what happened for me when I tested it).

    Additionally, when I googled “Ryneldi Becenti” the first return gave me the news that she had once played for SCC. Googling “Scottsdale + film school” gave me SCC in the first hit, and googling “Scottsdale + sundance film festival” set me on a trail to more than one person who’d won accolades at Sundance, and had studied at SCC.

    Additionally, I hoped folks would cross index the latter part of summer (the season we’re in) with information from some of my previous posts – that my daughter recently graduated high school – and conclude that I was helping her enroll at SCC.

    Sadly, I blew it. Now I know to include more clues in the future.

    BUT … I find it fascinating that Toe and Leigh found SCC by googling “CNUW.” I hadn’t even known what those initials stood for! LOL

    AND … Yes, the Book Return box pic was a red herring. Sorry if it caught you.

    HERSCHEL: You blew my mind with your excellent lists, buddy!

    And, yes, I spent two years at SCC, writing for the school paper, before transferring to the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State. SCC is where I made the decision to stop pursuing an Engineering degree, and become a writer instead.

    SCC – contrary to what the name might imply – resides roughly three-quarters of a mile outside the Scottsdale city limits, on land leased from the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

    I hope everyone enjoyed the game – even if there was an unfortunate dearth of clues (which was my fault; I’ll correct that next time). And, I hope there are no hard feelings. I wasn’t trying to make anyone look foolish. If anyone was foolish, it was me because I didn’t provide enough information. I apologize for that.

    See you all in two weeks!


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