To Market, To Market (through the good grass)
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This letterbox hybrid is an open-air walk through Yerba Buena Gardens, a pretty patch of SoMa. Yerba Buena means good grass. The locations described here are open to the public between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM. You'll stop at seven different locations to gather information to fill in N.NNN and W.WWW in the following:
The cache is at N 37° 4N.NNN W 122° 2W.WWW.
Except for perhaps an elevator ride, if you find yourself indoors, you're not in the right spot. Difficulty is for all the steps, the following directions in red text, and the final calculations involved. The cache is not at N 37° 46.940 W 122° 24.000, the posted coordinates, but if you're coming by car, this is a good spot to look for parking and to begin the adventure. The cache is within 0.5 miles.
From the posted coordinates, cross Folsom Street and walk towards Yerba Buena Gardens. You can find an elevator (take it to the top) at around N 37° 46.961 W 122° 24.032, but there are other ways to get to your first stop.
First stop: Make your way to N 37° 46.976 W 122° 24.067, where you will find a shade structure in front of a restaurant. How many posts hold up the shade structure? The answer is A.
Second stop: Continue north and west, till you can look west and see the Children's Creativity Museum doors seen in Photo 1. The doors are near N 37° 46.991 W 122° 24.098. The two doors TO YOUR RIGHT have a large word printed toward the top (intentionally not shown in the photo). If you match each letter in this word with a number (A=1, B=2, ..., Z=26), you can then add up the numbers and get a sum for this word. This sum is B.
Third stop: As you continue north and west, you will approach an overpass that crosses Howard Street. You can enter this overpass near N 37° 47.010 W 122° 24.109. From this point, looking due north, you will see a row of flagpoles that line the front of the Moscone Center. How many flagpoles in the row? Now add three to this result and you have the value of C.
Fourth stop: As you cross Howard Street using the overpass, stop at
N 37° 47.023 W 122° 24.122 (i.e., above Howard) to take in the sights all around you. For example, if you look due south, over the carousel, you can see four lines. Three of these lines have words (see Photo 2 if you would like a reference): ICE SKATING, ______, and ______. Ignoring any spaces, how many letters are in these last two lines of words? Now take that number and cube it. The answer, easily the largest number so far, is D.
Optional stop: You can head over to N 37° 47.054 W 122° 24.156 and pick up the information for the virtual cache GCC0E7 - Whole Lot of Shakin'. (Be sure to mention that you saw it here. )
Fifth stop: Continue the stroll northwest. A crosswalk at N 37° 47.103 W 122° 24.204 is a great place at which to cross Mission Street. Once on the north side of Mission, beginning at N 37° 47.112 W 122° 24.215, there are plenty of places to stop and rest. Over the next 400 feet or so, the seats, such as this one (Photo 3), are attached in groups of how many seats to a group? The answer is E.
Sixth stop: As you continue northwest, you are getting close to Market Street, but don't worry, this tour is strictly SoMa. Notice the fountain beginning at N 37° 47.155 W 122° 24.266. As you approach it from this direction (the southeast), how tall, in bricks, is the fountain? That is, how many bricks span one point here at ground level to the top of the fountain? Photo 4 can get you started. The answer is F.
Seventh stop: You'll want to cross back over Mission to visit another fountain, at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial near N 37° 47.076 W 122° 24.139. This fountain has several large, stone pillars whose bases are in the water, such as seen in Photo 5. How many stone pillars in all? Double this result and you have the value of G.
If you have gathered the values of A-G, great job! Now to turn that into the location ...
The cache is at N 37° 4N.NNN W 122° 2W.WWW. (15-digit checksum is 46)
X = D - C
NNNN: reverse the digits of X, and add that to (A + D + G)
WWWW: D + F - (B * (E + G))
With its stamp and pad, the cache has room for microswag only. PLEASE DON'T TAKE THE STAMP AND PAD -- THEY AREN'T MEANT AS TRADE ITEMS. A recycled deuce from a retiredprof cache awaits the FTF!
9/14/16 update: Clues and the calculation have been changed, as the cache has moved to a new nearby location. Letterbox clue: directly behind the last bench, just behind the fence.
hfr fgrnygu, fjrrgurneg!
[having a compass may be helpful, especially if you're unfamiliar with the street orientation in this part of San Francisco]