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The location given is NOT the actual cache location!
My radio was hijacked the other day. I was fumbling around the dial looking for NPR when suddenly Morse code erupted from the radio speaker. The signal was short-lived as if I had just driven too close to a powerful transmitter. The transmitter probably overwhelmed the poor front-end of my car stereo. The trouble was, no obvious antennas or transmitting facilities were near the industrial section that seemed to be the source. I pulled a U-turn and slowly narrowed down the location where I’d heard the signal.
The code itself is just a series of numbers, repeated endlessly over and over again in Morse code. I don't know what it all means, but maybe, just maybe, this is a "numbers station"... like the kind I used to listen to on shortwave during the 60’s and 70’s. These mysterious stations would broadcast the same numbers over and over again. Perhaps they were sending coded messages to unknown spies around the globe?
Is this a relic of the cold war? Is anyone listening to the endlessly repeated secret instructions? …or perhaps, there is a more sinister purpose. Rumors and stories about black helicopters in the Hickory area are increasingly making headlines.
The beacon might be pointing to the location of an emergency cache, where agents could retrieve supplies if they were on the run. I don't know, but if you investigate, you're on your own!
Pull your car over to the side of the road at the listed coordinates and tune your radio to 88.3 FM to see if you can pick up the transmission. The signal may be so weak that even a few feet one way or the other could mean the difference between success and failure. Modern car stereos may have trouble locking on to this weak signal by themselves. You may have to “double-click” the seek button to get it to stop on 88.3. Practice for a minute to make sure your radio can stop on an empty space. If you have a stereo/mono switch, mono will probably give you a clearer signal. A small handheld radio with a good antenna might help too. Just like a shortwave receiver, picking up weak signals can be a challenge and there’s lots of interference to boot! Even stranger still, the signal strongly resembles an FCC approved, Part 15 compliant, unlicensed FM transmitter!
You'll have to listen carefully and concentrate to copy the message. Luckily the Morse code is VERY slow so that everyone should be able to transcribe the dots and dashes. Decoding it is easy too! Very short duration beeps are the dots. Longer tones (3 times longer) are the dashes. Especially long empty spaces are between each character. Numbers in Morse code always consist of five dots and/or dashes. If the character starts with dots, the number equals the number of dots, 1 through 5. If the character starts with dashes, the number equals 5 plus the number of dashes, 6 through 0.
After you've decoded or transcribed the message, there is a City of Hickory park very nearby where you can park and figure out your next move. This park has a baseball field, picnic tables and some limited playground equipment. The baseball diamond is fenced in which makes it a good place to let dogs or kids run amok when no one is using it. During the spring and early summer there may be baseball games that could make retrieving hidden objects difficult, but generally this park is underused. Look for a wide path when you get close to the goal, no real need to bushwhack.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum