Puzzles

Recently, I have been mainly solving puzzles. And finding some of them.

I first looked at 1321¬†many moons ago but didn’t get anywhere with the puzzle. However, a recent conversation with the Cache Owner gave me a hint as to how it might be solved. So, here’s a hint from me, gratis. Try googling RFC1321. There you go. ūüėČ

As is often the case with me and puzzles,¬†all did not go smoothly to begin with, as I spent a long time trying to do the wrong thing. Eventually (with more hints from the CO¬†and a lot of perseverance) I was rewarded with a ‘Yes’ from geochecker.

Having offered my daughters a lift to their equine activities I was ideally placed to visit this cache. No coincidence. ¬†Skye and I were soon enjoying a longish walk through parkland to the cache location. At GZ I had a good GPS signal and soon narrowed the search¬†area down, and¬†I was working my way through the likely places when, unexpectedly, I got a phone call from Daughter.2 requesting a pickup. “Darn”, I thought, “I haven’t found the cache yet”. Just then I looked down and spotted the cache peeking out from its hiding place! Result!

Then, this Wednesday, I decided to collect a puzzle cache I’d solved the coords for in 2014. I really enjoyed solving 6 Degrees, this was a film-based puzzle featuring the ¬†well known premise that every Hollywood actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon within 6 steps. Once again I learnt some (probably useless) information as a direct result of geocaching.

The reason I’d not gone for the find after solving the puzzle was due to the long running saga of my eye problems (documented elsewhere) but, with my eyesight now back to normal, I’d started to work through my list of solved but unfound puzzles, so¬†here we are.

I’m not going to give the game away re. location, etc., but I took the precaution of running¬†¬†my coords through geochecker once again just in case the cache had been relocated in the intervening years. Thus reassured, ¬†I found a good parking spot for me and Skye to head off for an¬†enjoyable walk in the autumn sunshine. No spoilers, but this was an ingeniously created hiding place and well worth the trip.

Then, later on the same Wednesday (2nd Nov) the estimable Dr. Solly published a new cache. Now, his puzzle caches are always worth a look and I find them especially interesting as the puzzles¬†are often technology-based. This was no exception. If you look at the cache page for GC6WBNZ you’ll see he hasn’t given you a lot to go on. As I said, it’s a “techie” cache and, while I had an idea, I did do a bit of research to check I was on the right track. So, I knew what I had to do, so I employed that method and…

Nothing!

This was not what I expected. I checked with my mate Bob, who also being very techie, had arrived at the same method as me.He couldn’t get it to work either. The same day, another cacher FTF’d it. Hmm. By now I was somewhat puzzled. Maybe I had got it wrong. I decided to leave it for a while and yesterday evening, in a random moment, I gave it¬†another go. Imagine my surprise when the coords appeared on my screen.¬†The very thing which didn’t work before, worked this time,¬†and I had the coords! The only explanation I’ve got for this anomaly is that¬†either some sort of technical issue befell Dr.¬†Solly’s servers, or The Elders of the Internet were having an extended tea break.

I contacted Bob¬†who confirmed that he too had obtained the coords. Itchy geocaching feet or not, we weren’t able to go for it that same evening.¬†This afternoon we both had a free slot in our diaries so we made the trip¬†over to GZ, where we were rewarded with a typically enormous container crammed with loads of¬†Dr Solly loot. Second to Find. Happy with that!¬†ūüôā

 

 

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Valley of Gold

View - The Golden Valley panorama

As part of this summer’s Geolympix event, the team set some caches in the gorgeous ‘Golden Valley’ on the Ashridge Estate. Landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, the Golden Valley is a lovely place to walk with magnificent views of Ashridge House.

Well, I missed the Geolympix due to eye ops, and today was the first chance I’ve had to start the huge, hopefully enjoyable, task of seeking out all the geocaches set for the Geolympix. I thought I’d start small with this mini series of 5 caches. Having said that, I started with a cache which had nothing to do with the Geolympix, a cache placed recently by my mate Bob – GC6P5ZD A Fine Pair #652 – Little Gaddesden. The national ‘Fine Pair’ series is all about combining a red telephone box with a red post box (more info on the cache page). That was an easy find so then Skye and I set off the the Golden Valley.

View - back along the valley

Aiming for the first cache, GC6K9ZE – VoG1: The Valley of Green, I arrived at the waypoint to find I hadn’t. What I was expecting wasn’t there, which was a bit puzzling until I realised I was at the second stage of a different cache. I must have selected the wrong WP! Knowing I would eventually need it later, I made a note of¬†the information before plugging the correct WP for VoG1 into my GPSR and off we went again! VoG1 was itself a multi-stage and so first we had to get to its first stage. Once there I spotted an AAND which to be honest, based on the hint, was not what I was expecting. So I duly worked out the coords for the final and off we went again!

Finding the final was easy enough and I then thought, well I have part of the info I need for ¬†VoG5 so I may as well pick up the rest. I had planned to do the caches in numerical order but what the heck! The second stage of VoG5 required me to find a plaque but arriving at the general location, a substantial brick-built bridge, there wasn’t anything which ‘leapt out’ at me. Skye and I spent a while scouting all around the bridge before I finally spotted the plaque. That gave me the info I needed so it was then time to ‘do the arithmetic’ and obtain the final coords.

view of the valley from an old bridge

Off we go again! From the map it was clear that this cache was not in the general direction of the remaining caches. I didn’t have time to do all of them on this trip so I decided to complete VoG5 and return for the others another day. And so it was that I arrived at GZ for¬†GC6KA4R – The Hill of Pain. I have to say that yes, it was a steep hill but no, it wasn’t painful to climb. Maybe because I hadn’t walked the entire route. Whatever, the wet grass did make for a sometimes interesting ascent but, once we were on the flat once more, it was an easy walk to GZ. Now you know that I don’t include spoilers in my caching tales. Following the hint I homed in on the location. Low down in what I can only describe as a very bushy tree, there was the hint item and a convenient dark hollow. Which was empty! Casting my eyes around and about I spotted another likely hiding place and¬†was rewarded with a tupperware box. Yay!

So that was it for today. It’s a great location and I now have to come back to get the other three caches.

 

Chipperfield

I had to take my Freelander into my Land Rover dealer today. I needed them to fix the passenger side exterior mirror. They’d replaced the glass and motor a while back but the adjustment controls were all muddled up: moving the joystick down made the mirror go up instead of down, and vice versa. It was driving me nuts but this was the first chance I’d had to go back.

It took two of the dealer’s excellent Americanos before they’d finished¬†but it was worth the wait, as I had time to check out the local geocaches on my iPhone App. There was one cache very close by which I had been meaning to do on previous occasions (it had been temped last time I was here) so once my Land Rover visit was complete I made the short journey to GZ for a very easy find.

Funny thing was, the cache had been renewed within the last few weeks and only had one find between then and me finding it today. That last cacher had signed the cache page with a ‘no pen’ log, which I found puzzling as there was a perfectly serviceable pencil in the cache container. Then I noticed that their last find – just the day before that- had been a geocache in Zanzibar. Armchair cacher? Owner of a teleport device? Or maybe they got their dates mixed up.

Ho hum. I was just pleased to get a cache, something of a rarity for me these days.

Time to get back in the (caching) saddle

It’s been a long time since I did any geocaching (because of my eye surgery). So I thought I’d start things off by doing a bit of maintenance on some of my own caches. I figured that it would be a good test, e.g. to see if I could find some of my own caches before hunting for someone else’s!

I knew from a recent log that one of my Green Lane caches needed some TLC, so I started with that one. The container for GC5454Y (a small screw top container) was broken so I replaced that (plus a new log). The second one I wanted to look at (GC54558) was my “mystery” cache in the series, this hadn’t been found since December ’15 so I was a bit concerned. I began by checking the final. Well, I couldn’t find it. After a lengthy search I decided that it really was missing so I replaced the container (etc.). This cache is a sort of multi, except that the values you need to collect in order to calculate the final coords are “hidden” on a couple of AANDs*. If you happen to have copies of these in your possession you can work out the final without visiting the stages. This makes the geocache slightly different to a standard multi. Anyway, I digress.

I made my way to the other two stages and checked that the ANNDs were still there (they were), so job done.

Funny thing was, this AAND cache replaced the original one I set back in 2013. That one had 3 stages, using red, green and blue AANDs. I had to archive it when the green one went missing back in May ’14. Anyway, as I was walking to the final of the current cache, I spotted a footpath signpost poking out from a large bramble thicket – the very post¬†to which I had affixed the green AAND in 2013! I assume someone had found it and propped it upright (sort of) roughly where it used to be. I had a look around the post¬†and – surprise – there was my green AAND! I thought, maybe I can remove it and keep it for reuse elsewhere. Out came my trusty Leatherman and a brief tussle with the rusty nail I had used to fix the AAND in place ensued. I was just thinking, this could be tricky, I need to be careful that it doesn’t ping free unexpectedly and shoot off into the brambles, when… oh bugger. There was no way I would be able to find it now! Ah, well, I had already lost it previously¬†so I’m no worse off.

Anyway, the cache is now repaired, enabled and ready to be found. I think it’s quite a good one (it has quite a few FPs) but if it goes AWOL again I will probably archive it.

*  Aluminium Alpha Numeric Disks, originally an invention of the 2012 Geolympix.

 

So I’m not the master of timing…

In our local geocaching circles, the Geolympix 2016 has been a long time coming and has been something I have been¬†looking forward to. As it turned out, something better has taken priority in the form of the NHS. They gave me a date of Thursday 28th July for¬†my second cataract operation which, for me, was fantastic and not something I would postpone for anything. It’s so good to get my “proper” sight back but¬†it’s a pity that I can’t sensibly attend the Geolympix. The hospital’s do’s & don’ts mean it’s unadvisable to risk damage or infection by going geocaching, plus there’s the issue of regular¬†application of eye drops, etc…

So I’m reluctantly going to be missing out on this Mega Event. Once I’m “allowed out” again I fully intend to mop up all the new geocaches the Geolympix team have placed specifically for the Mega. It will be fantastic to be able to search for caches using the unbeatable “Human Eyeball Mk I” once again!

By the way, there was another special moment this evening: ¬†an excellent overhead pass by the International Space Station which I was able to see with my newly restored vision. Haven’t seen one of those for a long while. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Anyway, in case this is the first you’ve heard, here’s a last minute plug for my dear friends’ Mega Event:

Geolympix banner

If you haven’t heard and fancy going, see these links:

The GC5XXYY cache page and the official GEOLYMPIX 2016 web site

And if you know nothing about the Geolympix or Geocaching, there’s this on the BBC.

Oh, and if you are interested in reading more about the saga of my retinal surgery, etc., you are welcome to visit my eye surgery blog, see the link towards the bottom of¬†the sidebar under “Quite Interesting”.

 

 

Too busy to cache

Well I haven’t done any caching since the middle of May. Many other things occupying my time,¬†even including doing some interior decorating (still not completed!) which I was determined to get underway before my latest trip to the eye surgeon.

Then there has been my recent procedure to remove the cataract from my right eye, which now means I have to be careful (no poking my face into bushes in search of tupperware) and I can’t drive for a week, either. Hopefully once all this eye stuff is out of the way I can get on with some serious geocaching. Once I’ve finished the decorating…

 

No sign of Robin Hood…

Last weekend we stayed in a cabin in a forest.

cabin in the woods

We were right next to Sherwood Forest, ancient stamping ground of the legendary outlaw and wearer of green tights*, Robin Hood. Actually, we were located in a Forestry Commission forest a few miles from Sherwood itself.

It was a very peaceful location, surrounded as we were by pines. Lots of them.

a view of the pine trees

The main purpose of the break was relaxation rather than adventure. We went for lots of walks in the forest. I even managed a couple of caches.

Firstly, we went to Sherwood Forest and did the touristy thing. In the middle of Sherwood Forest is a tree called ‘Major Oak’. I think it’s supposed to date from the time of Robin, it’s certainly extremely old and needs help to stand up.

the major oak tree

Nearby was Major Oak (GC2024), a pretty old cache placed in October 2001. While the rest of the family took photos of the big tree, I set off into the woods to locate the cache. I knew it when I saw it Рwhat a whopper!

major oak cache

The next day, our daughters went horse riding so my OH and I drove to Cresswell Crags where there is a series of geocaches. Doing the series was never going to be on the cards but I managed to pick up CCD#2: In Memorium (GC516BW). I’m always interested in anything with an aviation connection so it was good to be able to visit this memorial to this¬†unfortunate Royal Canadian Air Force crew who died when their Wellington crashed during a training exercise. Also commemorated on the memorial is¬†a local RAF fighter pilot.

RCAF memorial

As for the cache, I even managed to get my OH to help with the search (she even spotted it before me!) but I haven’t been able to convert her and she resolutely remains a muggle. Oh well!

 

 

* I don’t believe the green tights bit is historically accurate.

FTF !

These days, I normally don’t react to the new cache alerts and one I received today was no exception. This is because our local FTF champions are usually on QRA and are hard to compete against.

However…

This evening Bob contacted me suggesting that a nearby cache was still unfound, so it was that a short while later we were in his car and heading towards Berkhamstead. This was a Bus Stop nano and at 21.30 we had the place to ourselves. After a short search I found the cache, something of a rarity when I’m out with Bob. A clean logbook – Yay!

That followed on nicely from yesterday, when I’d been out with Skye for a country walk. (we are both out of practice and need to build our walking up once again). We combined the walk (We? Who am I kidding, Skye doesn’t know anything about route planning) with a few local caches. 6 found and a nice walk to boot. So I’m hoping this is the start of me getting out caching a lot more this year.

Geocaching on Leap Day

I filled my caching grid day for the 29th of Feb last time we had a leap year but I thought it would be good to pick up the 2016 souvenirs. There was an event up near Woburn that evening so I went with Bob. After the event we drove a short loop to pick up a few caches on the way home. First off was GC5VJ1F, followed by a puzzle cache ¬†GC5X7WP. This was quite easy to solve and find. Next was¬†GC5XJW6¬†and yes, we read the cache page right to the end. If you read it you’ll see the funny side too. Lastly¬†we found¬†GC5TB99¬†before rejoining the main road and heading for home.

Including the event itself that was a pleasing 5 finds, bringing my total for the 29th Feb to 38 finds. However I’ve still only found 14 this year so¬†I’ve got a long way to go to equal my best year (as it happens that was 2012, the last leap year).

Today I actually went caching

Well, actually, I started to go caching yesterday. It was a lovely sunny day so Skye and I headed off to the park for our walk. While there, I remembered that a new cache had been published at the nearby church. There used to be a multi there but that has now been replaced by a new Church Micro (GC65YV7 – Church Micro 8651).

So off we went, Skye hunting the pesky squirrels whilst I sought out the required info.

Skye - 1

Once I had all the info, it was on to the final. However, when we got there we decided there was too much muggle activity for a proper, stealthy search. So this evening, under cover of darkness, ¬†I went back to GZ. At first I confess to being a bit misled by the clue (Hmm. I know the CO is tall but the T rating is low, so…) when I realised my mistake. After that a quick search was all it took. I think it’s all connected with my somewhat sporadic geocaching outings of late. Well that’s what I’m blaming it on anyway.

And when I went to log it I found that it filled in another day on my grid. Excellent!