Last weekend we had planned a trip down to Tiptree/Tolleshunt Major (Essex) to grab some puzzle caches however the snow stopped us. For ages there has been a big cluster of question marks on my geocaching map and I just couldn’t bear to see them anymore! There about are around 50 puzzle caches which are mostly part of the Rally round series scattered in a small area and about 3 months ago I attempted to solve some. I managed to solve a grand total of… FIVE! Then about a month ago I had a sudden flash of inspiration and started picking the puzzles off one by one, until I managed to solve them all. All of the puzzles were laid by the geocacher schoolfrenz so we took a trip south for a Schoolfrenz cache frenzy!!!
We picked up a couple of church micros along the way, which got us off to a good start and then followed a muddy path to our first puzzle find. The puzzles were an extra level harder as some of the puzzles had anagram hints and all of them had location hints that were also anagrams. Little old me is not very good at anagrams so I geeked it up a bit and found an electronic means of solving my anagrams. This however didn’t let me select how many letters were in each word, only the min and max numbers of letters in a word, and how many words there were. As you would expect I was left with a very long list of possible words. I then coded a quick and dirty C# program that would scan my lists of words and pick out matching combinations. What a geek! This helped me solve most of the puzzle hint anagrams, however I only managed to solve half of the location ones. We were pleased when we got to GZ without an anagram and we found the cache straight away. We knew it would be a good day 🙂
We headed up to Tiptree Heath and grabbed a couple more of the caches there. These ones were very good to find as they had taken a considerable amount of time to solve, so finding the box was extra rewarding. On the way back to the car we spotted an interesting carving in the middle of a tree. Still not sure what it is…
Just when it was going so well we headed down a single track road to another two caches. There weren’t any particular coordinates for parking, however lots of wide passing place where we could plonk the car for 5 minutes whilst we searched. We got to about 100ft of the cache and I pointed to the opposite side of the road and said “We can park there” so what did my other half do? Parked on the other side of the road which just happened to be where the road was crumbling into the ditch. A ditch that was covered in slippy mud and ice as there was still some remaining snow in the area. The car suddenly started sliding down and it wasn’t long before it was off the road and stuck in the ditch. The wheels just kept sliding on the mud. I climbed out and tried to push from the side, however it just wasn’t shifting. Very luckily for us this happened just as a very nice man came past in his car. He asked if we were stuck and offered to help push. He had obviously got stuck plenty of times before because he knew exacly what to do. He gave us instructions of the direction to try and the way to align the wheels. It was a good 15 minutes and just as we were about to totally give up he told us to give it one last go at reversing whilst we pushed from the front. At this point I gave the evil-woman death stare that said “If you don’t get us out of this ditch you are DEAD!” thankfully that last reverse was enough to get us back onto the road and free out of the ditch. Phew! It’s lovely to think that there are people out there willing to help in times of need. I had expected the man to just drive past us and expected to be stuck there for a few hours waiting for the RAC!
We parked up, obviously in a different spot and jumped out to get the cache. Thankfully it was an easy find. The next cache wasn’t far from this, we found a safe place at the side and hopped out to get it. At the opening we were quite shocked to see a big furry mound which on closer inspection was a pile of dead rabbits!!! There must have been at least 100. Some were skinned, some were half eaten, others were just still fluffy. It was quite sad to see so many just killed and dumped there. We hurried past and although the cache took a 5 minute search we eventually found it. We took a different exit, away from the bunnies. I was very glad to be away from that road. I said that we will never, ever, drive down it again! Every time we had to park up for a cache for the day I was paranoid that we were going to get stuck!
We carried on with the puzzle caches and were very successful for all apart from one… Moduko. This was a puzzle that occupied many hours of my times. It was just one of those very time consuming puzzles. We got to GZ however had no idea where we should look. I hadn’t managed to solve the location anagram and there were a lot of likely spots, however nothing we could pinpoint as the right one. Thankfully we had a very reliable phone a friend… the cache owner 🙂 After a quick call he told us where it was. We kicked ourselves. It was a location that we’d found many caches at before, but somehow this one caught us off guard. It was brilliant to actually find this one in particular as it was a 4.5 difficulty and 1.5 terrain rating which we needed. So that’s 49 out of 81 that we have found now! 🙂
We finished the day with a couple of puzzles over very muddy fields. Our feet were very heavy by the time we got to the end. Our final puzzle was one that had been around for many months, however we were only the 3rd finder. It was very satisfying to find it just as the sun was setting.
To finish our lovely day of caching (Well, all apart from the ditch incident!) we paid a visit to the cache owners for a cuppa. It was lovely to catch up with them. We found 19 of the Rally Round puzzles and 3 other caches. There are still lots of solved puzzles for another day, so I can imagine it won’t be long until we return to get the rest. Hopefully we won’t have quite so much drama next time round though!!! 😉