Start at the End
As I said in the first cache in this series, these are intended to help BEGINNER puzzlers by covering some of the techniques I talked about in my "Puzzles 101" classes. The first one was an introduction, and talked a bit about why I think puzzle caches can be a fun addition to one's caching experience. The second talked a bit about where to start.
With this third cache, I'd like you to think about approaching puzzle caches as you would approach traditional caches.
Just like with traditional caches, you should start with the easy ones.
And you should start with the end in mind.
Well, it's true that puzzles don't work quite like that. (... and they are much easier if you already know the solution.) But it truly helps to start your thought process with what you expect to end up with. Here's what I mean by that.
Think of how you would approach a search for a traditional cache in an area like this:
There are a lot of places you can search, and you can waste a LOT of time if you try to search them all. But if you start with the end in mind, you can narrow down your search options and hopefully save some time and effort.
With a traditional cache, what is the end result you're looking for? It's a container holding a log sheet. What size of container? The cache size makes a big difference in where you search. If the cache is a micro, you might start out searching in the hole in the tree, or the birdhouse. If it's something larger, it might be a waste of time to start in those spots - you might instead start searching the log or the stump.
Same with puzzles: start with the end in mind. With puzzles, the end result is a set of coordinate numbers.
Coordinates in the Portland metro area follow a distinct pattern. They are a set of 15 numbers: 7 numbers for North which almost always start with 45 degrees, and 8 numbers for West which almost always start with 122 degrees. As you go south towards Salem they change to North 44 degrees, and as you go west towards Forest Grove they change to West 123 degrees, but for most of our metro area you want coordinates that start N 45 and W 122.
According to geocaching guidelines, puzzle caches USUALLY must be within two miles of their posted coordinates. (This might not be true with some of the older puzzles.) This can help you figure out what are the next two numbers of the north and west coordinates (the "minutes"). They will USUALLY be within one or two numbers, up or down, from the posted minutes. For example:
So now with an idea of some of the numbers you should be looking for, you can look for patterns that will give you the 4 5 and 1 2 2 that you need to start your coordinates, and maybe also the numbers for the minutes.
What can be used to generate numbers? There are any number of things. Some that I've seen include:
Using letters for numbers (A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, ... J = 10 or 0, K = 11 or 1, ... Z = 26 or 6)
Counting the letters in words
Counting the words in sentences
Letters on a telephone keypad
Symbols above numbers on a keyboard
Track numbers on music CDs
Numbers in movie titles
Birth years of celebrities
Numbers in the periodic table of elements
... and on and on.
If the solution isn't obvious, look for hints. Later in the series I'll cover some of the many places you can look for hints, but here are a couple places to start:
Read the description carefully:
How many THINGS do you have? If there are 15 THINGS (words, sentences, images, critters, items, whatever), they might represent the 15 numbers you need for your coordinates.
Look for awkward or unusual wording, spelling, fonts, spacings, and the like. Puzzle authors seldom make mistakes - if you see something that looks curious or out of place, there may be a reason for it.
Look at the cache title. Is it an acronym? Anagram? Something you can search for in an internet search?
And, of course, see if there is anything in the "Additional hints" section at the bottom of the cache description.
With all that in mind, here's the puzzle you must solve to get the coordinates for this cache. Hopefully this will help you start looking for patterns.
Bull Mountain Arboretum
Two neighbors on Bull Mountain loved trees so much that they each planted an arboretum.
Mr. North planted these trees:
Mr. West planted these trees:
With that info, now you can go visit their arboretums and maybe find a surprise!
You can park at the posted coordinates. Cache location is open daylight hours only.
Click on the box below to check your solution.
As I said, this is one of a series of "How Do I Solve..." caches. They are spread out in different neighborhoods. It might help to solve them in order, but you don't need to. I tried to make these easy to understand, but if you have any questions about them, please ask.
Here are all the caches in the series. They are also posted in a "How Do I Solve These #@&%$ Puzzle Caches?!!" bookmark list.
This series of #@&%$ Puzzles contains the following caches:
Have fun solving puzzle caches! And remember ...