Saturday, September 10, 2011

QR Code Caper

Birthdays are occasions not to be minimized (even if we want to minimize our age). My mom taught me that. She always made "events" out of birthdays. They weren't shrinking violet days. Oh no, they were big, boisterous days that started with a bang, full of singing, breakfast in bed, champagne, or whatever else you wanted . . . except for excessive sleeping because she abhors the concept of "sleeping your life away," even on birthdays. She went out of her way to make birthdays special, memorable and personal. So when my friend Karen's birthday rolled around in late July, we were looking for a way to celebrate that embodied my mom's approach.

We thought it would be fun to do Santa Barbara's Urban Wine Trail, but wanted to kick it up a notch. We devised a sort of scavenger hunt on bikes [drinking and biking, oh my!] with clues for each stop. But Meredith had the brilliant idea to use Quick Response (QR) Codes to direct Karen to each spot. What's a QR code, you might ask?
It's these little guys you see popping up more and more on ads, posters, and displays. You scan the barcode with a smart phone and it provides information, coupons, maps, URLs, etc.

Karen is a massive Beatles fan, so we themed the celebration Karen's Magical Birthday Tour and Meredith designed this "updated" album cover with our faces as the "new" Beatles to set the tone.

Each clue was provided on the CD label, along with the critical QR code which revealed the next destination.

Some clues were pretty easy, but some clues did stump Karen so the QR code was really helpful in getting us to the next stop in the Tour. I took video of Karen opening up each clue and some (OK, 418 to be exact) photos at each place. The plan was to load them on the appropriate CD as a memento, which I still have yet to do.

We picked up our transportation for the day (little Samantha was very disappointed she couldn't join the big girls on the outing) . . . .

. . . and then headed out to get some food to fuel our tour.

Once we had our provisions in hand, we formally began the Urban Wine Trail at La Tour, a very unique, hidden spot (which has since moved to bigger digs but still has Graham at the helm so life is good). We gave Karen a celebratory wine glass to use all day and kicked things off with a lovely rosé champagne.

We really challenged Graham by asking him to find a wine pairing for my BBQ potato chips, but he rocked it.

Next we stopped off at Carr and Kunin to soak up the sunshine and samples. It was a blast.

Then we landed at Oreana where we had cupcakes waiting for us. It wouldn't be a birthday without a vehicle to blow out a candle!

As the afternoon started fading into evening (and the cupcakes were gone), we decided it was time for some more food! We deferred to the birthday girl for her choice of cuisine. She surprised us all by asking to make a tour stop for burgers with a side trip to the batting cage! So we biked along the waterfront . . .

. . . and made our way here, and then grabbed a beer and a bat and started swinging. It was a hilarious sight to behold, no doubt. And this time, Samantha was able to join us.

Taking the queue from the setting sun, we figured it was time for us to bike back home and bring the QR Code Caper to a close.