That’s what the winner shouted when she spotted the key to the “Treasure Hunt car” hidden in a park.
If we'ed tried, we probably couldn’t have come up with a better winner. First we’ll tell you about this couple’s background, then tell you how they found the key.
Dave Putirskis and Sara Sass have a love affair with Wisconsin parks...so much so that they have visited every state park, and 90% of the county parks as well.
“Wisconsin is such a beautiful state,” says Sara, “and John Muir and others had the vision to reserve some of the prettiest parts of it through the park system.
“These parks are all freely accessible. We love to check them out, hike and picnic in each of them. This has sort of become our ‘hobby’.”
Since they live in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee, visiting parks in the upper parts of the state have mounted up miles. Their 2000 Dodge Intrepid had 228,000 miles on it. They were eager to trade it...but due to the cost kept putting it off.
Aunt Steered Them to Contest
Then they learned about our “Treasure Hunt” from Sara’s aunt, Sue Mielke, a charter subscriber from Kenosha.
“If anyone can ﬁnd that key, for sure you two can,” Sue told them. “You’re going to those parks anyway, so you might as well start looking.”
With that, Sara and Dave not only subscribed, they purchased all the past issues so they could carefully study the progressive “clues” in each copy. When they got to the latest clue in our Aug/Sept issue, “lt’s sittin’ pretty”, they looked at each other and just knew where it was.
They had visited Wyalusing State Park near Prairie du Chien just 2 weeks prior and had enjoyed the incredible view at the overlook there. “Suddenly it was like some ‘other power’ was sending us this message,” says Dave. “We both had the exact spot in mind—we could just picture that key hidden at that overlook.”
Another Trip to the River
So the very next day, they hopped in that old Dodge~“We weren’t sure it would make it there!”—and drove 3-l/2 hours back to that park near the Mississippi River.
They hurried to the overlook, and in less than 20 minutes they found the hidden key! It was attached to the bottom of a low bench.
Sara screamed, “That is it, Dave.’ I found the key! ” They hugged and hollered and jumped up and down. “Fortunately we were alone,” Dave says, “or people might have thought We Were a little crazy. Well, we were!”
The contest prize offered by the Russ Darrow Group Was “a new Kia Soul, or $15,000 off the price of any car” offered at their 17 dealerships. So with their budget still in mind, and wanting a SUV equipped for continued park visits, they chose a used car, a 2011 Ford Edge.
“We still can’t believe all this happened,” Sara says. “We Were treated so well by the Darrow people, and we so much appreciate Our Wisconsin starting this fun contest for its readers.
“For us, it was more than fun. We really needed a better car, and we found one’ !”
*Reprint from Our Wisconsin Magazine, December/January 2015