Zoo-phistic Puzzle Drives Us Nuts

This was a strange puzzle that sent us in many different (incorrect) directions over the course of several weeks. As usual, you realize it’s relatively simple once you’ve figured it out, but there are so many rabbit holes to fall down along the way (especially when you have experience with more complicated puzzles!) that it can end up being harder than was probably intended.

I tend to like elegant puzzles that have layers of meaning for the solvers to discover along the way. In this case, our initial idea would have fit the bill perfectly. Alas, it was not correct, nor were any of the other dozen or so ideas we came up with as we researched the people and animals in the clues, tried every cryptographic variation under the sun, and even tried brute-forcing the numbers just to get anything that would make some sense and end up in Shannen Park, as specified in the cache description.

We were searching for any tidbits of meaning anywhere on the cache page. We still have no idea what the geocacher’s pseudonym for this puzzle (“Brewer Fan Club”) refers to. We got excited one day when we noticed that he had changed the cache title from “Zoophistic Music Men” to “Zoophillistic Music Men.” Was there some hidden meaning there that would help us figure out what to focus on? (Spoiler: no.)

(As an aside, The Quest for the Golden Hare by Bamber Gascoigne is, among other things, a fascinating exposition on how thoroughly convinced people can be of their solutions to puzzles based on their own philosophies, experiences, and expertise, and how personally invested they become—to the point of still believing and insisting they are correct even when given the true solution intended by the creator. Expand this to other aspects of life as you wish.)

We were already aware, from having solved several of this geocacher’s other puzzles, of the types of “keys” he likes to use to obtain the coordinates. Even with this knowledge and experience, we were still unable to find anything appropriate until I stumbled across something last night that we had not yet tried, and that seemed more in line with the types of puzzles this geocacher seems to prefer. Wouldn’t you know it, it worked, and was ultimately very simple. Anticlimactic, really!

Today's Geocache

    Rich logged this geocache for both of us.

    Howdy, Brewer Fan Club! (Wish we knew what, if any, the inference here is.)

    Once again you’ve kept us chasing our tails on-and-off for several weeks, with many red herrings to lead us astray and byzantine rabbit holes down which to get lost! Then Zhanna came across a resource that sparked an idea. A similar type of solution that we actually did attempt, but not with the correct arrangement. This one did the trick, however, and gave us the green, finally. As is the case regarding your other puzzle caches around the Middletown area, we don’t get out this way very often, but if and when we do, we have added this to our growing list of intended geo-hunts. Thanks for yet another fun mystery challenge!

    ~Rich in NEPA~ and Zhanna

Leave a reply