Poison Ivy Nemesis LbNA # 23059
|Placed Date||May 28 2006|
CONFIRMED IN PLACE 11/7/2013.
BACKGROUND: This microletterbox honors a common nemesis of hikers, backpackers and letterboxers. Poison ivy leaves come in sets of three jagged-edged leaves with the middle leaf having a short stem to attach to the other two leaves (for more identification tips see below). Since this letterbox is so small that it fits within a small camouflaged medical tube, the stamp is double-sided in order for you to be able to represent the entire plant (prepare for inky fingers and bring green or red ink). While you’re in town, be sure to visit the Winston Churchill Memorial on the nearby Westminster campus, and if you do your homework ahead of time, you can also pick up a few other boxes in the area. The hike is short and easy, but the clue will take some work.
From Interstate 70 at Kingdom City (exit 148) head south on Hwy 54. Take Business 54 to intersection of Hwy O and Hwy C and Second Street. Turn onto 2nd street (away from Hwy O and Hwy C). Quickly, turn left into parking lot for Stinson Creek Trail near a covered bridge.
CLUES: The following text is encoded using simple letter substitution (each letter below has been substituted for exactly one letter in the original text). To solve, you must use trial and error (and the hints below, if desired) to figure out what original letter each cipher text letter represents.
POXYY PXNKOKU WOFULK. ADBK QDNKU QDAT JZUKO WJYFZKYY GFGAR GXJO. DA EXXU GKZPK AJOZ OFLTA FZAX CKCXOFDH QDOB.
EDHB AX YAXZK PFOPHK JZUKO AOKK DZU OKDU YFLZ. ATKZ DZLHK WDPB DHXZL EXXUHFZK AX AEX HDOLK AOKKY ATDA YADZU ZKDOKYA KDPT XATKO DA EXXU’Y KULK.
GOXC ATK YKPXZU XG ATKYK AOKKY, LX XZK VKOX GFNK UKLOKKY FZAX EXXUY DWXJA AEKZAR GKKA AX HDOLK XDB. ATKZ LX XZK ATOKK VKOX UKLOKKY DWXJA AKZ GKKA AX OXPB XJAPOXQ.
ATOKK AOKKY (KDPT D UFGGKOKZA YQKPFKY) YADZU FZ AOFDZLHK LJDOU DAXQ ATFY XJAPOXQ. D YCDHH YAJCQ FY JQTFHH AX ATK OFLTA.
Once you've solved the cipher above, continue with the following clues:
Look for thin green wire around a root of the nearest of these three trees (Update 6/5/08 the wire is no longer green but it's still there). Remove small top rock. Unclip LB and move to safer location to stamp in, especially so that you don’t lose the small stamp and letterbox lid. Be sure to re-clip box and replace top rock when finished. Good luck and after you find the box, please let me know how it is faring. I would love to hear short stories about the hunt and the decoding process.
--1 The letter E is the most common letter in the English alphabet. It is often found as the second, the second-to-last, or the last letter of words.
--2 The two most common three-letter words are AND and THE.
--3 A four-letter word that begins and ends with the same letter is almost always THAT but this puzzle also showcases an exception.
--4 Common two-letter words include IS, IT, IN, TO, OF, AT (and in letterboxing GO). A common four-letter word that fits the pattern of two 2-letter words is INTO.
--5 The most common letter after an apostrophe is S.
HOW TO IDENTIFY POISON IVY
If you’re unsure what poison ivy looks like, follow this old adage: “Leaves of three, leave them be.”
Unfortunately, many other non-poisonous plants also have three sets of leaves, so here are some additional identification tips. Each leaf is shaped similar to a person’s hand, usually widest at the bottom and narrower at the pointed top. The leaves have large jagged edges. The number of jags per side is often unequal. Additionally, the middle leaf of the three has a short stem separating it from the other two.
Thus if the leaves are smooth all the way around or have lots of small serrations on the edge of the leaf (instead of large jags) it is not poison ivy. The closest look-alike is fragrant sumac, a native plant with pretty yellow flowers in the spring and aromatic scented leaves. It lacks the center stem.
To make things more confusing, poison ivy can appear as a green plant in the spring, a red plant in the fall, as a woody shrub in some places, and also as a small or large vine similar to a grapevine. The vine form may or may not have the leaves present, but, unlike the grapevine, poison ivy vine is hairy. Virginia creeper vine is often mistaken for poison ivy as it too turns red in the fall, has jagged leaves, and twines around trees and poles. However, its leaves come in groups of five and the plant is not poisonous.
The oil in the plant which causes rashes and itching can be active all year-round though it is more potent during the growing season. Use soap and cold or luke warm water to wash the oil off as soon as possible and wash infected clothes before re-wearing them. Be careful when petting dogs and other animals that have run through poison ivy as the oil can be transferred from their fur to your skin.
If you would like a cipher-lesson plan that explains how to decode many of the ciphers used in mid-Missouri letterboxing, please e-mail me using the "Contact the Placer" link.