The two brothers had lived in the Sunnyside section of Queens, NY for pretty much their entire life. They had been reared by their mother, as their father had been lost at sea in a nautical accident while they were both toddlers. They never really learned too much about their father, as for some reason, he was not talked about a lot. They did know that both of his parents had immigrated to the US from Ireland in the early 1900’s with other family members, to the Rockaway area of New Jersey where the men had worked in the local mines. In fact, in their teen years, their mother had driven them out to visit with their grandfather who lived in Hibernia on a few occasions. Their main memory of him was that he was a wiry crusty old man, who continually chewed on the end of a filled but unlit pipe. They never met his wife.
And now, ten years later in 2008, they were back in NJ in a lawyer’s office, with their mom, for the reading of their grandfather’s last will and testament. He didn’t exactly have a lot to leave to this world. His small run down, unkempt house and some savings bonds were to be split between their mom and an elderly niece who lived outside of London, UK. For the two brothers, there was nothing but a sealed, innocuous looking yellowed envelope addressed to them.
They were barely able to contain their curiosity and resist the urge to rip open the envelope during the trip back into New York. Later that evening, they sat out on their porch in the waning heat of the late summer’s day, turned down the radio, muting Jon Miller’s post season “play by play” and opened the envelope. It contained a single sheet of paper in single space type, which read as follows:
Many families nurture secrets, and our fine family is no different. For multiple generations, this family, along with some 10 or 15 other families scattered around this world, has each been guarding a piece of a puzzle that when combined with the other pieces, will reveal the location of a long lost great treasure. This secret has been passed down from father to son, or in your case, from grandfather to grandson(s). Apparently, it has not been possible for the puzzle pieces to be retrieved until the now, the 21st century, when technological advances will allow their locations to be determined. These advances included combining personal computers and something called geochecker.
Another family secret that I'm pretty sure you are unaware of is that you both have a half brother Marc, who lives in back in the ‘ole sod in Co. Wexford and is married to Coleen. He actually has possession of the puzzle piece, but is unaware of its significance. His instructions are to hand it over to whomever presents him with the correct passphrase. It will be an added bonus for him to meet his two Irish-American half brothers!
In order to find this passphrase, you will need to research both your family history and the literature of your ancestors. The passphrase is hidden in a grey box, tucked away in a rock crevice in the mountain range overlooking the Charlotteburg Reservoir. Initially, the intent was that to determine its location, you needed to visit the two original family headstones located in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Hibernia and from the information on those headstones pertaining to one single individual, determine the nine digits that would point you directly to the box. However, while out on the hike to actually place the box, the hiders observed that the location was a somewhat popular scenic lookout overlooking the reservoir, and realized that the safety of the box might be compromised. Therefore, the box was concealed in a location close to the scenic overlook, but much less likely to be discovered accidentally. Because the data on the headstones is permanent (or shall we say “set in stone”!), the offset to the actual box location from this scenic lookout is provided, but encrypted in the following string:
Like most encrypted data, a key is essential to decrypt the message. The key itself is currently in a foreign tongue. Before applying it to the cipher you will need to rectify that. There are two ways you can acquire the key: 1) observe while taking the shortest possible walk between the two headstones, beginning at the northernmost one, or 2) examine the engraving on a piece of sandstone, inset into the base of one of the headstones, on the rear side. If you succeed by finding the grey box and tracking down the puzzle piece, you must record that fact on the geocaching.com website. Once all of the various puzzle pieces are recorded as having been retrieved, you will be contacted regarding a future meeting, in the guise of a family reunion, to collectively brainstorm to uncover the location of the long lost great treasure.
AVYYV LMVGB DOMXM UOFDC OWXVI UHBJI LUOFX LFMSP VBASX YIYTI HFCFK VTMAB AMNZV LSXWK YSYKJ YCGLL LGWWR PQINI YZIGO
Good luck in your quest.
To say that the two brothers were stunned would be an understatement. However, after the initial shock wore off, they went to work, preparing and educating themselves for the challenge that lay ahead. A few weeks later they ventured back over the Hudson River to New Jersey, out along Route 80, and then northwards into Hibernia. Upon arriving at the cemetery, they set about finding the two original family headstones, which proved to be quite difficult as the cemetery, now unused, was very overgrown and a lot of the inscriptions were difficult to read. After some time, they had located the two memorials. The first thing they did was to walk directly from one to the other, in the direction indicated, several times. Initially, the only features they noticed between the two headstones were some other headstones, a concrete survey monument, some evidence of teen partying, a few fox holes and some trees – five of them that they had to detour slightly around: a holly, a white poplar, a silver fir, a hazel and a hawthorne. Nothing else really caught their attention. Feeling that they must surely have missed something, they switched their focus to the back of each headstone, and on the first one they checked, they found the engraved piece of sandstone. Surely - much more promising. It is depicted here:
Next, they examined all of the data that was presented on the face of the headstones. There were eight people interred in total – four detailed on each. Would they be able to determine the coordinates for the Scenic Overlook location? Would they be able to unravel the key to decrypt the cipher that contained the offset information? Would they be then able to locate the grey box containing the passphrase that they would present to their half brother Marc in exchange for the puzzle piece to the long lost treasure? Would they excel, and live up to their grandfather's expectations . . . ? ? ? Will you . . . ? ? ?
Puzzle: Assume N41° and W074°. You are solving for the minutes and decimal minutes. Even though St Patrick’s Cemetery exists in Hibernia (GCMPGJ), there is no need to visit it to solve the puzzle. All of the information you need is on this cache page.
Cache: The cache is located on Newark Watershed property and technically a hiking permit is required per group of hikers, though in the past 4 years, I’ve never been asked to present mine. The $14 permit is good for a calendar year and is available at the NWCDC office at 223 Echo Lake Rd, Newfoundland, NJ 07435. 973-697-2850. Mon-Fri: 8-4; Sat: 8-12:30 (Saturday hours are seasonal) (N41° 02.840 W074° 24.609). Due to the presence of bears, I would not recommend bringing dogs out for the hike.
PMC: PUZZLE MASTER'S CHALLENGE
This puzzle is part of a series of puzzles created by the greatest Puzzle Masters of the Mid Atlantic Region. There are a number Puzzle Masters contributing to this series. Solve all of the Puzzle Masters' creations, follow the storylines, gather the clues and find the final. Will you accept the challenge?
Each puzzle is a unique work of art created and owned by each Puzzle Master/Puzzle Team. In each cache there will be a clue that you must gather and record. These clues will lead you to a final mystery cache located somewhere in the mid-Atlantic region. This series is designed to lead you on an epic adventure that will require Master puzzle-solving skills and extensive travel to unique locations. You must travel and log in at each cache in order to claim a find on the final. Due to the extensive time and effort put into this challenge, the cache can be done as a group but each member of the group must go to each cache site and sign each log. Dividing into sub groups and pooling your efforts will not be allowed.
PMC: THE PUZZLE MASTERS
Click HERE to view all of the PMC caches as they are released.
AND THE FINAL.....
The elusive cache. It has been missing for a long time. Can you find it?