Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Puzzle we Excel At

It's late and some of us fall asleep on the way to the lake in Olympia. We get a little lost when we hit Olympia, driving right up to the capital building. Eventually we work out the way to the lake though, and see several other vans there with teams lying in the grass.

The lake is surrounded by tiles representing the various counties in the state. We head to the end of the lake on our right looking for the puzzle. We find nothing but a good view there. So we start the long trek around the lake to the other end. We started around "Yakima" on the county tiles, and we don't find the bag containing the next puzzle until we get to the "B"s or "A"s.

When we do find the puzzle, we meander back to the van looking at the puzzle.

The title of the puzzle is "a,z b,y c,x", and it has a series of numbers. We notice some strange patterns in the numbers, but don't think much of it. We eventually get to the van, and grab some graph paper thinking we'll have to graph this somehow. As we sit down, the funniest thing happens;

The sprinklers go off. This hits several teams head on and gives us plenty of warning to move. I'd say this was a necessary thing to get our energy levels back up and working on the puzzle. We make the suggestion that we map the first numbers with the end numbers as the title suggests. The first number is the first x, the last number is the first y and so on, moving towards the middle. While one member draws this out, some of ours sleep, others converse.

The shape starts to look like a lake. "Why don't we graph this in Excel? That'd be a lot faster?" "Oh yeah" So we dash back to the van and start plotting the points in a spreadsheet and converting them to a graph. It's a picture of the lake and nearby street, showing us where to go next. We call Game Control and get confirmation.

What we don't realize, was that it meant to drive all the way down the street it showed. We stop along the way looking for potential puzzles. Eventually we get to the Olympia Farmer's Market, and one member runs in to confirm the next puzzle is in there. The most dreaded puzzle of all...


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