Out on the Town

Yeah, sure, there are plenty of 5K run/walks raising funds for something or other, but this is a driving town. To be in motion in Houston without a steering wheel in your hands is like Hansel without Gretel, a teeter with no totter, it's all to and no fro. If you're looking to be out and about, you need a machine, Jean.

Bruce Roberson has been organizing automotive scavenger hunts since some college buddies bought a plaster-of-paris conga dancer 30 years ago and thought it might make a good trophy. What began as an excuse for friends to cruise turned into a benefit when his sister died of breast cancer nine years ago. Last year Susan's Car Rally drew around 80 vehicles to scour the town, raising over $200,000 for various cancer organizations.

Throughout the year, the interior designer scouts Houston for interesting spots, such as Howard Hughes's grave or the Light Guard Armory on Caroline. He draws up a guidebook to help participants find the spots and answer questions, say, about the number of trees on an island or the date on a plaque.

In the past, Roberson has given directions across Westheimer during a street festival and put a clue on a billboard that got taken down before the rally. Now he does several run-throughs to make sure things go smoothly. This year's hunt will visit film locations that have appeared in Space Cowboys, Robocop II, Terms of Endearment, Paris, Texas, Urban Cowboy or Arlington Road, so study up.

Roberson thought the prevalence of cell phones might become a problem, but luckily people were good enough sports to give his potential rule-breakers the wrong directions. Not that they don't still find ways to cheat. One past clue told drivers to turn right at a patch of sunflowers, but a supercompetitive driver pulled them all up.

Roberson says about 70 percent of the entrants can complete his course. You don't need to solve any clues to find the party at the end, though, since he provides the address. That's the prize everyone gets.

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Dylan Otto Krider