Desmond figured this one our real quick. About an hour had elapsed between the time we posted the contest and he correctly guessed the answer.
This was a very simple cipher. The letters represented their corresponding numerical place in the alphabet—A being 1, B being 2, Z being 26, etc. Below < and Below _ referred to keys on a keyboard—the comma being below the less-than symbol, and the dash being below the underscore. Dots were just that, dots (i.e. periods).
There were a couple other minor hints, but once the rest was deciphered, you had this:
Coordinates for the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The Oregon Dunes, for those who don’t know, was the inspiration—or the inspirational catalyst—for the original Dune novel, published in 1965, by Frank Herbert.
So congratulations to Desmond!
Until next time…