I'm trying to do my first geocache and I'm having some trouble. I would appreciate if someone could provide some more hints for me (please put the answer in spoilers). The geocache is a puzzle that is based on the following story taken from the geocache page: (edit*: hints posted at bottom of story)

The title of the geocache is The Penguin Breathed. The coordinates will be found after careful reading, interpretation and translation of certain elements of the following story. Pints of Guinness are well known as good bribes for hints.

I was wandering along my favourite forest trail the other day looking for a good place to hide a cache when I heard the shuffling of feet through the dry leaves. I looked behind me and couldn't believe my eyes. There, waddling down the trail, was a penguin – not just any penguin, but THE penguin. What an opportunity! Having had my last story (River Runner Confronted by Police during Geocaching Adventure) rejected by the National Enquirer, I saw this as my chance to finally gain that ever elusive notoriety.

I stood on the trail and watched him shuffling toward me. “Excuse me,” I said as he came closer. He startled and came to a sudden halt amidst a flurry of colourful leaves. “Pardon me for frightening you, but I'm a bit surprised to see a penguin of your renown wandering these paths. May I ask what brings you here?”

“Autumn landscape,” he replied as he patted his ruffled feathers back into place. “Brings me back year after year. Don't you just love the sound of crispy leaves under your toes?”

“Um yes, I suppose I do. Now, I don't want to impose but I have a huge favour to ask. I'm an amateur writer trying to make it big and a story about you might be just what I need to launch my career.”

He looked at me quizzically. “Impromptu,” he muttered “interviews. I don't usually do those, but I suppose I can make an exception just this once.”

What luck, I thought to myself. “Thank you so much. I promise not to take too much of your time. First question then - I haven't seen much of you in the media lately. What have you been up to?”

“Aladdin. The Treasure of the Lost Lamp. I'm sure you've heard of that.”

“Isn't that an old Arabian story?”

“Scottish! It's an ancient legend, boy. It says that the lamp is hidden somewhere in the moors and if you find it, it will lead you to a treasure beyond your wildest dreams. I've been searching for it for years but so far no luck, only dead ends in peat bogs.”

“Wow, that sounds a lot like some Beagle-1 and Mystery Mole caches I've done lately. Ever consider that you may have been misdirected?”

“Be eagle one and mystery mole cash? What ARE you talking about?”

“I'm talking about Geocaching.” I waved my GPSr under his beak. “You go out and search for tupperware in the woods, among other places.”

“Tupperware in the woods?” He looked at me like I was out of my mind.

I began to worry about the direction this interview was heading. “I suppose it does sound a bit odd.”

“Cuckoo! Not odd. Cuckoo! Cuckoo! CUCKOO!” He ran circles around me, flapping his flippers in a frenzied but failed attempt to gain altitude. “I think you need some help, young man. Looking for tupperware in the woods...why I never!” He abandoned his attempt at flight and looked at me hopefully. “Does the tupperware have sardines in it by chance?”

“Well no, but it's fun anyway and you don't have to tromp through the moors. Hmmm, maybe that's not totally true. There was this one time I was looking for a cache in a swamp and neglected to take my flashlight. The only light I had was the light of the moon.”

“Moonlight? No flashlight? Doesn't seem like a very bright idea. Bright idea! Get it?” He started laughing hysterically.

“Okay, maybe I deserved that. I know it's getting late and I have a few other questions for you. Everyone is interested in celebrity romance. How's your love life?”

“Six romances,” he grinned at me, “in six weeks! Best six weeks of my life if you know what I mean!” He poked me in the ribs. “ I'm not too sure any of the six would be happy to read about the other five so let's keep that tender morsel to ourselves.”

“That seems very out of character for you. I always thought of you as a quiet, gentle and somewhat naive sort.”

“All just a role I was playing. What you're seeing is the real me.”

“Okay, just one more question for you. What projects have you got planned for the future?”

He puffed out his chest, looked down his beak at me, and pronounced in THE most horrid Shakespearean accent “Othello. My good man, I plan to put Patrick Stewart to shame,” his voice cracked, “although I'm still trying to convince Lord Attenborough to cast me in the lead role.” The penguin breathed deeply and let out a huge sigh. “He thinks I'd be much more convincing as Desdemona.”

With that, he smiled, tipped his Tilley, turned on his heel and waddled off down the trail, mightily crunching the leaves with each gleeful step.

I turned to go home and write up my story and there, right in front of me, was the perfect spot to hide a cache.

The original coordinates given were N 43° 53.529 W 079° 26.825 and hints provided:

"Puzzle - Little hint: The key is in the title - Titles are key Bigger hint: Heed well the penguin's words for they should sound as music to your ears"

Source: The original cache page can be found at geocaching.com (Geocache ID: GC1J0AH).

  • $\begingroup$ Is this from an ongoing contest? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jul 18 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor No it's from a geocache posted in 2008 that's near my house. Dozens have solved it already based on the reviews for this geocache. $\endgroup$ – Fredrick Jul 18 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Fredrick. I have added the cache page as the source at the end of your post, since as a long-time geocacher myself I know that you might sometimes glean useful hints from other cachers' 'Found' logs (it's worth reading them in case you can sniff anything out), so it's worth posting the link to the page as this may help others to help you. Also you mentioned that the hint shows the title is useful, but you hadn't actually mentioned the title of the cache page - the link fixes that issue. $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 18 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Fredrick - also a geocaching 'veteran' here. Have you by any chance tried messaging the cache owner for a hint? My personal rule is that I don't go asking friends/internet for hints unless the cache owner is unresponsive. Since they know how to solve the puzzle, they might be able to give you the smallest little push you need to get going. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Jul 19 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Hugh That is very good advice. Fredrick: Cache owners ("CO's") are normally very open to giving people a helping hand when asked - consider contacting them through their profile on the website. Re key signatures, I haven't yet spent any considerable time looking over the puzzle itself so I cannot be sure. I suggest reading it all through several times and seeing if something clicks. If not, ask the CO nicely for a hint :) I'll be interested if anyone here can crack this, but in the meantime: Good luck! :) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 19 at 8:20

Here's what I have so far:

The Penguin Breathed refers to a penguin named Opus from a comic by Breathed. Opus as in musical compositions that have that name. The first word of each penguin sentence is the name of an Opus. Here's what I got so far:

Autumn: 37

Impromptu 90 or 66

Aladin 34

Scottish 56

Be Eagle: 157 maybe

"in the woods" maybe 109

Moonlight 27

Six Romances 38

The bold ones I'm confident are correct. I still haven't gotten a coordinate out of them. I'm 100% sure the answer to the puzzle involves Opus numbers because Aladdin and Scottish and Six Romances are too obviously implying that. Help would be appreciated!

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Got it! You made an excellent breakthrough in your answer. I shall follow on from your progress to show you how this puzzle is solved and provide you with all the components for the final answer, although in the spirit of geocaching I shall not post the full coordinates explicitly here on the Internet, just give you the pieces to put together...

First, you were entirely correct to connect:

'Penguin' and 'Breathed' to the word OPUS, via the comic strip character Opus the Penguin by Berkeley Breathed.

You were then also correct to start looking for:

the names of different opuses from classical music hidden in the flavourtext.

You even found a few of the correct ones you need to find the coordinates - although not necessarily those you emphasised in bold! In fact, the way to hunt all of them out is to:

Look specifically at the first words of each line spoken by the penguin in the story. Each of these (bar a few just-for-flavour sentences in the middle of the pieces) are the names of famous classical music opuses.

The full list of answers you need is (in numerical order):

5 IMPROMPTU (Sibelius)
6 SIX ROMANCES (Tchaikovsky)
27 MOONLIGHT (Beethoven)
34 ALADDIN (Neilsen)
43 AUTUMN (Schumann)
56 SCOTTISH (Mendelssohn)
79 CUCKOO (Beethoven again)
93 OTHELLO (Dvorak)

Re-order these in the order they appear in the text and insert them into the X's in "NXX XX.XXX W0XX XX.XXX" - these are your final coordinates. Before setting out to find the physical geocache yourself, you can enter the coordinates into the cache's GeoChecker to make sure you definitely have them correct and will be looking in the right area. If it comes back with 'Success!' then you're ready to go!

Good luck!

PS One hint for puzzles of this type...

Puzzle caches (a sub-type of 'Mystery caches') tend to be hidden within a short distance of the coordinates at which they are posted on the map (in fact, as @IlmariKaronen points out in comments there is now a requirement that the physical geocache must be within a 2-mile radius of the starting coordinates). This means that in almost every case the numbers straight after the 'N' and 'W' will definitely appear, and it is quite likely that the next part of the coordinates (before the decimal point) will be either the same or different only by 1.

With this in mind, making Google searches for 'Opus ## £££' (where ## represents one of these known numbers, and £££ represents the penguin's first word in a line) turned up enough hits that I knew you were onto something. Remember: Always use the starting coordinates as a guide when looking to find suitable numbers :)

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    $\begingroup$ In particular, except for some very old caches hidden before this rule was added, the final location of a mystery geocache must be within 2 miles (= 3.2 km or 1.738 nautical miles) of the given coordinates. In effect, that means that the latitude can't be off by more than 1.738' and the longitude can't be off by more than 1.738' divided by the cosine of the latitude. (FWIW, cos 44° ≈ 0.72, so for this particular cache the longitude must be within 1.738' / 0.72 ≈ 2.414' of the starting point.) $\endgroup$ – Ilmari Karonen Jul 20 at 9:02

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