Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hodgepodge 295/365 - Puzzled

Corvallis, perhaps because it's a college town, is full of smarties. It also seems to have a healthy population of geocachers. Who like to create puzzle caches. We started solving some that are in the area of town where we're staying. So far, we've found half a dozen of them.

Today I decided to take on a new one. It turned out to be not so much diabolical (4.5 stars difficulty out of 5), as tedious. But once I get started on a puzzle—especially if it merely involves brute force, and not so much intelligence—I need to follow through.

This one involved assembling a jigsaw puzzle—on my computer screen. I used the trackpad for this. The trackpad! Yep, tedious.

But finally I got the solution:

and fortunately David suggested that it might be ASCII—which I would never have arrived at on my own, believe me.

But that worked, and led to . . . another jigsaw puzzle! This one was fully assembled.

With this one, somehow I stumbled on a jigsaw puzzle cipher that I could, perhaps, use to translate each piece into a letter. Who knew such a thing existed? And yet when I tried solving the first line, I ended up with gibberish: ABEGUSBEGL. Hmmmm.

Rather than trying to figure it out further, I sent a desperate note to the cache owner, beseeching him for help. I used the trump card that I'm leaving town tomorrow. And I'd just spent hours solving the original jigsaw. And . . . I was tired of the whole puzzle-solving thing (though I didn't tell him that). But still, I wanted to get the darn cache, after that much time invested. So I hoped the CO would be sympathetic. Which he was, and he suggested what ABEGUSBEGL might translate to.

Which led to another hour-plus-long bout of solving. Toward the end I was impatient and rushing. And when I checked the answer: it didn't work. I tried again, just in case I'd typed it wrong. Still: nope.

David came along just then. (Just before I threw my laptop against the wall, fortunately.) And he studied the puzzle, from the bottom up. And saw that I'd missed a line—and a crucial word.

This time, the solution checked out. Yippee! In case you're interested, it's N 44 35.107 W 123 15.499. Yes indeed.

And now I am done with puzzles for a while. Short of actually going to pick up this cache in the morning (after the eclipse). I didn't realize when I started that this puzzle would be such a time sink.

But I think I'll just count it as brain exercise. Can't get too much of that, right?

Postscript 8/21: When we went to locate the final cache, it wasn't there! At least, we're pretty sure it wasn't there, and not just that we failed to find it. It's a good size; there's a detailed picture pointing to "HERE" in an ivy-covered tree; but it hadn't been found since June of 2016, and who knows what's happened since then? I posted a DNF (did not find), and the CO wrote and said that once he gets around to checking on it, if indeed it's missing, we can still claim credit. Because he knows that puzzle is a bear and a half!

Sigh. I hate DNF's.

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