Monday, July 24, 2017

NECT: North Central Massachusetts Cemetery Series

Well, talk about a mystery.... Two weeks ago ShelleyJean and I wrapped up a 4-month long odyssey that ended in an amazing tour of old Massachusetts cemeteries and finding gold at the end of the tombstone.  How do you describe the experience that involved progressively harder puzzles plus many onsite twists and turns masterfully interwoven with a common theme that led to several more puzzles to find the final.... and not give anything away? Hyliston has a lot to answer for.

This is the North Central Massachusetts Cemetery Series created in 2012 by Hyliston.

I believe Shelley first discovered this small series of 9 puzzles that led to a gold coin at the final (she has a thing about geotrails with rewards).  I became fixated after seeing Slamere72 and +Mo's geocoins at a local event. With its Edward Gorey/Masterpiece Mystery feel in an antique gold, the etching of a cemetery on the horizon behind a pair of cemetery gates, the rarity of only 100 coins produced and the need to pit your brain against progressively harder puzzles, the urgency was overwhelming. Add to that the road trip itch and the finals surrounding cemeteries near my old stomping grounds, there was no question we would be going.

Near mad with theories
I've passed each test
& completed this series
so here let it rest.
(Epitaph on the geocoin)

Now, here's the rub. The series is still ongoing and there are currently 4 precious coins left. So I can't give anything away. Not the brilliance and fun of each of the first 8 published puzzles. Not the work at each final. Not the twists and turns and head-scratching and crowing as each onsite puzzle was solved. Nor the surprises at the end. Nothing. Nada. No way. 

So what can I share? Shelley was brilliant and tenacious at solving the puzzles before we left. And, once we arrived, I really feel I stepped up to the plate and owned my end. The CO (plus a few sitting angels) was generous and patient with help. And the cache containers and locations were quality. 

I can also share the wonderful things we saw after a long drive across Canada and a good night's rest. This is day #2 on our adventure: completing the NCMCS and experiencing central Massachusetts.

First stop was in Gardner aka "Chair City".  They were everywhere! On the street signs, municipal garbage cans, streetlight banners. It was Shelley's favorite little town. We took our first break there after having a minor anxiety attack at the first NCMCS puzzle of the morning and the second find.

No stop in Gardner is complete without stopping at the Gardner Museum. Yes, that's a chair in front. It matches the contemporary chair facade at the local police station. Here, Shelley and I took a break for a rather fun puzzle involving several local landmarks. Can you guess what object they all centered around?

Sit Back and Relax GCXTGX
Roadside America at its best! Typical of us, we had poured over RA, AtlasObscura and before the trip commenced. Get ready for a lot of kitsch!

Famed Bicentennial Chair
Not giving anything away, but if you can find this little guy you are near the final of the Sit Back and Relax puzzle. You can thank me later.

We headed out to Fitchburg called "Rock City". Why? They have a big rock in their town center. In fact, it is so precious to them and they were so determined to preserve it, they blew it up. Yep. And put it back together again. The Rollstone Boulder is in a cute downtown on Boulder Drive, across from Boulder Realty and Boulder Antiques.

scrapcat calculating the circumference for the Earth Cache
Glacial Erratic GC16HW9
The fascinating part of the NCMCS finals were their proximity to some fascinating cemeteries. I've toured cemeteries from Detroit to Atlanta and Boston to Colorado Springs. This is the first time I've seen black slate headstones. So thin (and hard to photograph) and yet in pristine condition. 

With the sun beating down hard it actually made photographing these tall but thinly-etched headstones difficult, but Shelley can attest I made my best attempt! I came home with over 1700 photos on this trip. You will see quite the funeral art evolution over the next few posts.

OOH! This was cool! Meet Joseph Palmer! His marker is inscribed "Persecuted for wearing the beard". Funny side note: a friend posted later this same day that he was having a "bad beard day" so I shared this picture - Chef Curt lost.

Several more roadside stops!

Tomb of Johnny Appleseed - Leominster
Mary and her lamb actually lived in Sterling and her 1st grade classmate wrote the poem. Rub the lamb's ears for luck!

Mary Had a Little Lamb - Sterling

In case you were wondering, we did still find time to do the cemetery series. Look at this view!

Ok, whatever you do, don't show this to Portah. If my Mainah friend found out I had a Lobster Roll at McDonald's she would flip! But, damn, it was good! And we greatly needed a break at this point.

Ok, I've shared some interesting photos around the NCMCS series, but I'm going to blatantly admit it.... 4/10th of a mile down this trail in one of the eight finals. The reason for my look of panic is they were coming for me! Big, bad, biting flies! One so large it looked like a broach on my chest! #leastfavoritespot

Things got a little spacey when we pulled into one cemetery and spied these metal monuments. Cool, eh? Quite different from the slate ones, right?

Did you see one of the local Keepers of the Cache?

He can't read signs. He missed this one by 100 feet.

I think he was heading here...

Many more finds, many more puzzles, and mix in one more minor panic attack... and we had the final in hand. With so many intricacies, even with the final log, we were hesitant to hoot in celebration. Was there one more stop? Another clue? We even messaged the CO.

How do you celebrate the end of an awesome day? Selfie with the Mohawk Motors Indian (Muffler Man)! SCOOK would be so proud!

ShelleyJean and scrapcat
Thank you, Hyliston, for creating this fabulous experience! And thank you for the beautiful geocoin!

#95 of 100

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely awesome! I see that Mo and I missed a couple cool things that I want to go back and see. I honestly didn't realize that Mary and her little lamb were real. I also need to go see Johnny Appleseed. Oh, and on that .4 mile hike, Mo and I got to babysit goats while the lady working with them went to her car to grab her lunch. We also got stopped by the Massachusetts PD while looking for one of the caches. We had an awesome time. Eric did an amazing job with the series.


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