Do what, John?
Rather than a blog for a single day, this entry is more of an evolving diary covering Kitey’s excellent, if painful, Mission Impossible MK series. Nine caches with 3 pre-cursors. All positioned miles from where they are marked on the map and all involving a degree of puzzle solving. Each is a different type of puzzle requiring different skills. Inside each one are clues to some of the others. To find the final one you need to find a number from each of the other 8 to get the coords.
Kitey says you can solve them independently, but it might be easier to start at the beginning. Our approach was to do lots of printing and lots of reading. And lots of trying to understand what’s going on.
We solved a couple of the pre-cursors before heading out to look for any of the main caches. From there we progressed with any parts we could without actually leaving the house.
The rest of this blog is a diary of the event, in number order to reflect the fact I’ve finished them. Way-hey, I’ve finished them. Apart from the one I haven’t.
Poohsticks on Speed – It is possible to solve this using Google and one piece of schoolboy algebra. Postulate that the answer is not far away from the start. You then don’t actually need to throw sticks down the spillway. There is only one possible value. Work your way backwards to it once you have found the other values. At least, that is what I believe to be the case. And indeed we were correct. It was exactly where we believed it to be. To be honest, chucking a stick into a stream would be an unreliable way of obtaining a coordinate.
Cows, Roundabouts and…… Caches – Didn’t take long to draw up a theory on what he’s looking for, especially being a local. However, there’s a number of ways and we came up with 3 possible locations. I tried the first of these (my favourite) on the evening of July 20th, but gave up due to helicopter compass syndrome and because I was really off looking for Walter Post (see MK8 further down).
I tried again on Friday July 23rd and now believe it is not at this location. We didn’t solve this before we went on holiday. By chance we met Kitey at the Bucks/Beds/Herts event in mid-August. He verified that I was at the right place but just hadn’t found it yet. So this was bagged the following Friday on a quick car borne dash. To be honest, it was all about getting the correct tree, as it often is.
Milestone Series: The Power of Numbers – Visited the milestone and read the numbers, done the sums, located a tree and found a little plastic carton halfway up it. Cha-ching.
And so on to ….
This one looks really difficult from the description but actually it proved to be really simple. We bagged it some time ago. I can’t really say why it’s simple without giving away the location, though, so basically you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
We bagged this one on an evening jaunt through Shenley Wood with the sprogs. I can confirm it is definitely in Shenley Wood…………..
For this one you have to identify a person from a series of clues and then go to a certain location in Milton Keynes to extract a series of digits from a memorial. Wikipedia and Google were of absolutely no use for any search based on the info in the description. The whole thing was sorted when Kas asked her business networking group to help and one of them came up with a name. Ah! A name.
Once you have a name it is very easy to prove that all the other bits of the clues apply. The guy was right. The location was established, and a visit made one night on the way home from work. This yielded 12 digits and hence the final location. It was then pretty simple to bag the cache and we did it together one lunchtime. It must have been a Friday because Kas had to leave to fetch Izzy back from nursery. The location proved more public than expected and the cache involved some rummaging in the undergrowth. Don’t try this one in a suit.
Kas solved this using a free decipher website she found on ‘t interweb. The coords were there in plain text. We bagged this on the evening of Friday July 9th as part of the Pub Pootle.
In this one you have to establish a year from a group of six photos and then use this to extract four numbers from four pictures of fish. No, really! Fish. Initially this looked daunting, but then on further examination there were a couple of supplementary pictures to assist. A bit of research over a couple of nights got it sorted. Basically, I would never have made the link to the year because I only knew what 2 of the photos were. Whilst one of those pinned it to a particular year, the other could have been any year in a range of about 10. What gave it to me was the supplementary pictures. I immediately recognised one of them from an object I used to own. In fact, it is probably in the loft still.
If only I could remember who he is. Some more research was required and once established then the rest of it dropped into place very quickly. It still took a couple of visits to find the actual cache though. The first one was an evening stop-off on the way home and was done without GPS – only the hint to help. Problem was that the only location nearby meeting the hint description was well away from the published coordinates.
So I went back with Kas, Izzy and the GPS the following day at lunchtime. We had the same problem but just as we were about to give up we just switched off the GPS and went with the hint only. I had checked there the day before and didn’t find the cache. The second time around I just got a feeling and stuck in a hand, and there it was. Cool. Add that to the list.
This one is quite cryptic and based around spying. You basically have to decode a simple puzzle, then from that identify the location of a water hydrant. At that location you pick up an offset to another location nearby which contains a bunch of names of other information from which you have to dig out a set of coordinates. Mr Kitey will explain a few more bits once you are at that stage so I won’t spoil it, but I spent probably 3 hours chasing up blind alleys and trying to get hints and eventually had a flash of inspiration half way up the stairs to bed on a Thursday night.
A quick check on GoogleMaps to make sure the result looked feasible and then shot out on the bike Friday night (July 23rd) to look for it. The cache was exactly where I calculated and was easy to find once there. Check the hint. If you get the right “host” object then it doesn’t take long. This one contained a lovely Geocoin that wants to visit as many countries as possible. So far it has only been to England, so we’ll be trying to drop it off in France in the next couple of weeks so it at least makes it to the Eurozone.
As a footnote, we dropped off the coin at Mont St Michel, from where it was collected by another UK cacher who brought it straight back to the UK again.
On this one, you have to uncover a secret location hidden somewhere in the description then decode a random-looking set of numbers to make some text, which presumably tells you where the cache is. Well, I think I know where I was supposed to look, and have been there to gather the relevant material.
I have applied the only decode scheme that seems to make sense and have basically ended up with a pile of words which all make sense individually, but when placed in that particular sequence, hmmmmmm! Obviously I needed a further hint and I obtained it from Kitey at the chance meeting at the Beds/Bucks/Herts event in mid August. I had a flash of inspiration on what he meant the following morning and managed to bag the goodies over a lunchbreak.
This is a multi-stage marvel. First you have to solve a killer sudoku. This was done ages ago at home and within Kitey’s target time of 2 milli-fortnights. The second stage is to decode some coordinates from the completed sudoku grid. However the scheme for decode requires a clue from elsewhere. This should give you a location somewhere near the photo of a clock tower somewhere in MK. I know where the clock tower is. Maybe the plan is to try to reverse engineer the grid decode by assuming the answer must be near the clock tower? Anyway, once you get the first set of coords you have to find something which then offsets you to a second site nearby at which is the final cache.
The precursors all give some clues on how to get there. I obtained all the clues, read them, read them again, and then gave up. No idea. This time no chance encounters. Eventually a seed planted itself in my mind. A a couple of hours later a reasonable location was established for the first bit. Got a clue from the first bit and realised I needed to go home again to work out the answer. Which was a pain because the answer proved to be within 200 yds of the first bit. Doh! Pack a calculator in the caching bag next time.
OK, we established who the mystery person “X” was and the death year “ABCD” pretty quickly. It took a while to decipher the text and then discover what needed to be done with it. Thanks again to Kitey at the Beds/Bucks/Herts event in Calverton. A hint there revealed the coordinates for the first step, which I visited and picked up yet another offset puzzle. To my shame it took millions of hours to figure what to do with this, but it turned out to be the most simple solution possible. I still managed to take two visits to actually locate the flaming thing though…………
You have to dig out a bonus code from each of the others in this series to gather enough info to calculate some coordinates. Even with all 8 to hand I managed to take about 8 visits to the location before I eventually found it. That, and an embarrassingly large number of emails to the man himself. Even when you do get there it proves to be an offset to somewhere else, but in this case the offset was simple and the certificate was bagged. It’s a miracle!
Not so hot off the press
This is a tough series, but it was very rewarding to finish it, especially given that I was only the 7th finisher. Oh, and the owner is a very nice chap who feeds you enough information to keep you going whilst still requiring you to do some thinking yourself.
There’s now another cache in this series, which I solved ages ago but have so far been unsuccessful in finding. I’ve been 3 times and as far as I can tell it needed replacing on two of those and on the other I just didn’t find it.
No Tom Cruises were harmed in the making of this blog post. Nor in the placing of the cache series, I believe.