Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Break From The Norm

A series of seven caches that are in the 'break from the norm' theme on a walk that's just over 1½ miles near Flyford Flavell.

We had considered leaving these caches for a Christmassy walk on Christmas day but as we were out setting some caches of our own not far away (more about that in a minute) we decided to do them on our way home, as it looked like we'd just have enough daylight to complete the walk.

The terrain was flat and there was only one stile to negotiate which was dog friendly, in fact the whole walk was dog friendly and the only livestock we encountered were sheep.

All the caches were cleverly Christmas themed, we really enjoyed finding them and each time tried to imagine what we'd be searching for before we arrived at GZ.  I've not included any photos so as not to spoil it for anyone that's not done them yet.  Our favourite was #7, certainly got quite a surprise with that one .   A thoroughly enjoyable mini-series which really put us in the Christmas spirit........


Right, about those new caches.... 
Mark: Some time ago I had the idea of having several Wherigo caches in one cartridge. My original idea was to have nine caches which had to be found in order to unlock a final cache. The idea was to pick up nine pieces of a treasure map. In order to allow for the fact that cachers might find these map sections in any order, I had to have 512 different images to cover all possible combinations. This worked fine in the emulator but when I tried it in the Oregon it worked but was soooo slow to respond that it was a no-goer.
Back to the drawing board. @-)

I did away with the 512 map pieces and tried to think of a new theme to  connect a group of caches together. While flicking through the Schotts Miscellany looking for inspiration I saw a list of Santa's eight reindeer!
Perfect! But hang on, in that case I'd need to get it done in time for Christmas.
In order to test the logic, I took some waypoints along our usual evening dog walk. Poo bin, letter box, telephone box etc and the next few nights tweaked the prototype. Added bits here, removed bits there until I had something which worked reliably. Now to find somewhere to place the actual caches.

I'd spotted a nice little cache-free circular walk near Stratford and submitted a cache with ten final location waypoints on it for Geohatter to check that there were no show-stopping problems with the route.
There was!. Half of the waypoints were within a local nature reserve and another was too close to  the final location of the only puzzle cache in the area that we hadn't actually found yet.

After more pouring over the map, I spotted a potential location and we went out and placed the caches. After adding all the new co-ords into the prototype we returned the next day to try it for real.

The Oregon worked fine of course. The Mio failed to detect one of the zones. A bit of wandering backwards and forwards would have probably worked but we were pressed for time and had to abort the Mio test.  Donna tested it on the iPhone and it sort of worked but it didn't unlock the bonus zone so I'll have to try and work out what the problem is there.
About the Wherigo.

After arriving at the parking co-ordinates, you will see that there are eight locations.

These are all logable caches with a physical box etc.  When you get to within 50 feet of each location a cache and a reindeer will show up in the 'You See' screen.  If you click on the reindeer you get an action - 'catch'. This will add the reindeer to your inventory. You need to 'catch' all eight reindeer in order to unlock the location for bonus 1 'Santa's Grotto'.

The 'cache' item has two actions - 'View Hint' and 'Mark as Found'.  Marking it as found simply hides the zone from the list of locations.

Each physical cache has a laminated card in it with a letter/number pair on it. You need to make a note of all of these in order to calculate the final location of the second bonus cache.  The bonus numbers were chosen so that if one cache goes missing it should be possible to guess what the missing number is and still find the bonus cache.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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