For a long time I have wanted to carve the coordinates for a puzzle cache into a field of corn, and then ask would-be solvers to fly over the field to read the coordinates.
Earlier this year I went so far as to hire a man named John Conway to carve a corn field for me. Unfortunately, it didn't work out very well. I don't feel like going into the details, but if you're curious you can read all about it in the description of my Conway cache.
At the time I swore off pursuing my idea any further, but after a couple of months I was itching to try again. I went to the campus of the University of Utah and hid one of those childproof medicine vials that you have to push down while turning to open. Then I went home and did a Google search. A local company called "Reclusive Ox Crop Art" caught my eye. I made a call, explained what I wanted, and arranged for a representative to meet me the next morning.
The next morning, right on time, a young woman roared up on a motorcycle. She was wearing a pair of white overalls with "Reclusive Ox" embroidered in red and her name embroidered in blue.
"I am Tomé Depain. Where is the field?"
I pointed at the north forty. She collected her tools from the motorcycle's sidecar and went to work immediately. She didn't say another word to me until late in the afternoon.
"It is complete," Tomé announced, handing me an image. "Here is what I have carved."
"What is this?" I sputtered. "How is anyone supposed to make sense of this?"
"I have encrypted the coordinates using the only unbreakable cryptosystem known to mankind," she replied proudly.
"Unbreakable?" I screamed. "But how will anyone be able to read it?"
"I did not know this was a requirement." Tomé puzzled things over for a few seconds, then smiled. "Meet me here in the morning. I will fix it."
"Where is another field?" Tomé asked when she returned the next morning.
I showed her the south forty and she went straight to work. I didn't see her again until 3:00.
"I have carved the decryption key into the south forty," Tomé announced. She handed me another image.
"Let me see if I understand. You've carved random squares into eighty acres of sweet corn, and that's supposed to help people find my cache?" I was furious.
"It is not random. People will find your cache." And then she departed. I never saw Tomé Depain or anyone else from Reclusive Ox again.
Since the field carvings were obviously of no use as a puzzle, I harvested what was left of the corn and hired my children to sell it on street corners in Salt Lake City. The cache is still hidden on the U campus, and if you'd like to try to figure out where it is, be my guest.
To be perfectly honest, I don't think there's any chance you'll be able to make sense of the mess Tomé Depain left behind. I could be wrong, though. After all, I never thought anyone would be able to make sense of John Conway's mess either.
Congratulations to kimbest for being first to find.