This blog chronicles my letterboxing adventures. It includes posts that share my travels that are letterboxing related, the letterboxes I have found and planted as well as the people I have met along the way. There are also photos included to help give a complete picture of the fun I had.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Letterbox in Kenna, NM

Thomas and I like to keep a supply of pecans and peanuts in our freezer for use in cooking and baking. About three weeks ago we ran out of both. So we talked about taking a road trip to Fort Sumner (where we get our pecans) and to Portales (where we get our peanuts). And since we were going to be in the vicinity we decided we should get a letterbox that was recently placed. So this morning we left home about 7:00am and began our road trip. The morning was gloomy - overcast, cold and foggy. But we enjoyed our drive and arrived in Fort Sumner around 9:30am. We get pecans from someone who Thomas worked with quite a few years ago. We had called during the week and placed our order and this morning we picked up 30 pounds of pecans. Enough to keep us supplied for a while. We left Fort Sumner and continued on to Portales. When I looked at the map I saw a road that would take us south to US 70 and put us very close to where the letterbox is planted. So we took NM 267 which turns into NM 330 and drove until we reached US 70. From this intersection we drove southwest to Kenna, NM. We followed the clues to From Crossroads to Ghost Town by Road Junkies and arrived at the Kenna Cemetery. We parked outside the cemetery and walked in. The cemetery is small and the clues were straight forward so I found the box quickly. The temperature was 34° and it was windy which made it really cold while stamping in. Thomas decided to go back to the car while I was stamping in. By the time I finished stamping and replaced the box I was cold and my hands were hurting. I enjoyed the box and stamp but I could have done without the cold and wind. And just so you know there is nothing in Kenna except for an old gas station that has been turned into a post office and convenience store.

Anyway, we left Kenna and headed north to Portales. We arrived in Portales and drove to Hampton Farms. Here we bought 50 pounds of raw peanuts. After we got our peanuts we decided to grab a bite to eat. We ate at El Rancho and had a great lunch. By this time it was 1:30pm and we decided since we had a three and a half hour drive home that we better get back on the road. We had a great time today on our road trip - it was nice to get out explore New Mexico.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Pinto Line

On Sunday (1/7) ArnoldZiffel and Agent 86 placed a new box in Santa Fe. The box is placed near supports for an old trestle in the Rancho Viejo neighborhood. So today I was our running errands and on my way home I stopped to get this box. The parking area that the clues say to park in was locked so I parked in the Spur Trail lot and then walked to the parking area mentioned in the clues. From there I followed the clues and I easily found Pinto Line. I took the box to a spot off the trail where I could sit and stamp in. I didn't have any problems finding the box and the area was deserted (I didn't see one person on the trails) so I didn't have to worry about being seen. This box is about the New Mexico Central Railroad (formerly know as the Santa Fe Central Railroad). This line ran between Torrance and Santa Fe. It provided passenger service as well as carrying agricultural products from the Estancia Basin to market. The products included pinto beans thus earning the railroad the nickname "Pinto Line". It was a beautiful day for a walk to find a great box with lots of history - something I did not know. Thanks ArnoldZiffel and Agent 86.
New Mexico Central Railway train, southbound coal train,
vicinity of Arroyo de la Jara south of Kennedy and near Galisteo, New Mexico

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Leaving Carlsbad and Heading Home

Today we head home. We wanted to get an early start so we were up at 6:00am and on the road by 6:45am. We drove to Roswell without stopping and the first thing we did upon arriving was get some breakfast. We ended up at Martin's Captiol Cafe. After a great meal we headed out to get some things done. First, we looked for and found without any problems ArnoldZiffel's Art in the Round: Roswell. This box is hidden in Cahoon Park and thankfully no one was around so it was a quick and easy find. I stamped in and then got the box back in place and then we continued on to the next box. We drove to the Roswell Convention & Civic Center. I followed the clues for Welcome to Roswell by RIclimber. Unfortunately, we didn't find the box. Not sure if the box is missing but we didn't find it anywhere. So we moved on to one last thing to do before leaving Roswell. I wanted to update my box and logbook at the UFO Museum. It was a quick in and out visit. I just went in to the Research Library and grabbed the old box and put in the updated box. This is the same stamp and the same location - I just updated it. Now that we were done in Roswell we headed north on US285 toward home.

On our way down from Santa Fe on Friday we stopped at a rest area to replant a box that had gotten geotrashed. I couldn't find a good spot for the box so I kept it and have been thinking about where I could plant it. I remembered a pullout on US285 near Clines Corners that might work. So when we got to the pullout we stopped and started looking around. We lucked up and found a great spot to hide the box. So Aphonopelma is active again. It is the same stamp and box just a different location so if you already found it you don't need to look for it again. Now that everything I had on my to do list for this trip was completed we could just continue on home.

It was a great little trip and we had a lot of fun. I really want to get back down there because there is more for us to do.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Side Trip to Texas

Today we decided to cross the border and head to Texas to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We left Carlsbad sometime around 9:00am and made the 50 mile drive in about 45 minutes. Traffic was light and it was a good drive. Before we headed to the park we stopped for a letterbox. The clue for Love This Spot #24 by Road Junkies is just a photo with a heart marking the location of the box. Under the photo it says "(Map location is precise.)" and if you use the 'View Map' button on Atlas Quest it shows the exact location of the box - pretty neat. So we made our stop and I easily found the box. It is planted up on a hill and the area is pretty exposed. This morning in the Guadalupe Mountains it was 45° and really windy. So stamping in was kind of a challenge - it was hard keeping things from blowing away. But I finally got everything done and got the box back in place.

Now we could head to the Pine Springs Visitor Center and check out Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We arrived at the Visitor Center and I got my National Park Passport Stamps and then I looked around the gift shop and picked up some postcards, a patch and a pin. Then I talked with a Ranger about the park, got my unigrid and then asked for the Senior Ranger Booklet. I found a place to sit and looked through the booklet to see what sections I needed to fill out. First, we watched the short information video (which helped me to answer the questions in the Slideshow Sleuth section) and then we used the map on the unigrid, the exhibit in the Visitor Center, The Pinery Trail and the Rangers to answer the questions in the rest of the sections. Besides the Slideshow Sleuth section there are also the following sections in the Senior Ranger booklet . . . Map Work, Where Am I?, Just Outside the Visitor Center Doors, Critters, What is that Plant?, For Your Information,  and Completion. The booklet also includes information sections. There is Beginnings which includes Safety Always Comes First with information on how to stay safe while in the park. Then there is What's Involved which talks a little about hikes in the park and what it takes to complete the Senior Ranger Program. There is a list for Shorter Visits where you have to hike one trail, watch the 12 minute video and complete three of the sections in the booklet. Then for Longer Visits you have to complete the requirements in the Shorter Visits list plus watch the 7 minute video at McKittrick Canyon Contact Station and you can substitute  the activities with other challenges like a FYI Trivia, a GPS find in the McKittrick Canyon area, do some bird watching and recording or attend a ranger led program. Also in the booklet are some Chihuahuan Desert Fun Facts and a list of all the hikes in the park. When I completed all the activities in the booklet I returned to the Visitor Center and talked with a Ranger about the information in the booklet, the took the Senior Ranger pledge and got my Senior Ranger patch. The Ranger also gave me the Junior Ranger badge and signed my certificate. This is the second Senior Ranger program I have completed and I have also completed some Junior Ranger programs.
These are the programs I have completed . . .
Great Sand Dunes Junior Ranger Program
Centennial Junior Ranger Program
Historic Preservation Junior Ranger Program
Gila Cliff Dwellings Senior Ranger Program
Boston African American Junior Ranger Program
Boston National Historical Park Junior Ranger Program
Guadalupe Mountains Senior Ranger Program
I learned about the Junior and Senior Ranger programs from a letterboxing friend - Desert Flower. She has a blog called Junior Ranger - Senior Friendly Programs (Exploring the National Parks for all Ages). She has completed quite a few of the programs and writes about them. I found that her blog is very helpful and the Junior and Senior Ranger programs help me learn more about the parks.
While I was working on the Senior Ranger booklet I was also trying to find the signs I needed for Azroadie's Guadalupe Mountians Park Webbox. I found the signs and got the words I needed so I could enter them into the URL. So while at the main Visitor Center we watched the video, looked at the exhibits, talked with Rangers, walked the Pinery Trail, read about the Butterfield Stage and completed the Senior Ranger Program. So we headed for the car and talked about what we wanted to do next. It was almost 1:00pm and we were getting hungry but we were considering visiting the McKittrick Canyon area. In the end we decided to head back to Carlsbad to get something to eat. It has been a busy few days and we decided that getting something to eat and the going back to the hotel to rest a little.

We arrived in Carlsbad and found something for a late lunch and then we headed back to the hotel. By this time it was almost 4:00pm. We got a few things packed and I got some things ready that I wanted to get done on our way home. I logged in some things and got this post done. Now I think I will do some reading and hopefully get to bed early.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas in Carlsbad

This morning we took our time getting started. We lounged in bed, did some reading and did a little messing around on the internet. We finally got ready and left the hotel around 9:30am. We decided we wanted a better breakfast than what the hotel provides. So we went to iHop, which was just down the road from us. The place was very busy, but thankfully we only had to wait about five minutes. So we had a relaxing and delicious breakfast.

After breakfast we started our day of letterboxing. First we headed south and drove a little ways past Whites City to Rattlesnake Springs. This is a picnic area near a spring that makes a nice oasis in the desert. There was a couple at the springs when we arrived but they left shortly after we parked. The main reason we were at this place was so I could plant a letterbox. I placed La Serpiente de Cascabel near the picnic area. It should be an easy drive by find, but it is a bit of a drive from Carlsbad. After taking a few pictures we left and headed back towards Carlsbad. As we were passing Whites City I asked Thomas if he was up to doing the hike we did yesterday - the one at Carlsbad Caverns on the Juniper Ridge Trail. He said 'sure'. So we turned at Whites City and drove the seven miles to the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive entrance. At first we were a little worried that the gate would be closed since it was Christmas Day and the Caverns were closed. But the road was open so we drove to the trail head and started our hike. Yesterday we wondered if we had missed some cairns or if the trail divided. So today we were going a little slower and tracking our way keeping an eye our for any cairns leading in a different direction. With all of that we ended up in the same spot as yesterday. Since it was still early we decided to follow the cairns along the fence line just to see if we could find the landmarks that seemed to be missing. We still came up empty handed. So we headed back to the car to continue on with our day.

Once back in Carlsbad we made our way to the north side of the city. Specifically, we drove to the NMSU Carlsbad campus and parked near the trail head for the Ocotillo Nature Trail. Here we went in search of Ocotillo by Agent 86. I am not sure how far we walked along the trail, maybe a quarter to a half mile, but we met up with ten people in that short distance. The clues were easy to follow and we had no trouble finding the box. At this time we were alone on the trail and with no one around it was easy to retrieve the box. I found a spot on the trail to sit so I could stamp in. Once the box was back in place we headed back down the trail to the car. I had clues for one more box to look for today. So we headed a little ways out of Carlsbad on Illinois Camp Road to Alkali Road. This part of the drive was okay but from Alkali Road we turned onto a two track dirt road and there were spots where we were hitting bottom. We parked on this road near the letterbox/geocache hybrid location. The hybrid was just a little off to the right side of the road. I found Bombs Away! by Rock13 and Panda5 with no problem. I was surprised that the stamp was there (I am assuming it was THE stamp - it was the only stamp in the box. A store bought stamp and an image of a cowboy on a horse. Not sure what it had to do with bombs.) Anyway, after stamping in we headed back to Carlsbad and the hotel.

Back at the hotel we relaxed for a little bit and then showered and changed. At 5:15pm we left the hotel and headed for our reservation for Christmas on the Pecos. We arrived at the office, checked in and got our boarding passes. At 5:45pm we boarded our boat (Noelle) and at 6:00pm we started our ride along the Pecos. It was really cold out on the river, but thankfully we had bundled up and it was comfortable. The boat ride lasted about 45 minutes and we enjoyed all the decorated houses and yards. A nice way to spend Christmas Day night. Once back at the dock we headed to the car and decided we needed something to eat.

Riding around today we noticed that most places were closed - all the fast food restaurants and most of  the local restaurants. The only places we saw open were Denny's, iHop, Sonic and Dragon China Buffet. Since we ate at iHop this morning and Dragon China last night we headed to Denny's. We were told it would be an hour wait. We decided we were too hungry to wait that long so we headed back to Dragon China. We enjoyed it last night so we decided to give it another try.

Now we are back at the hotel and relaxing. We had a great day, spent some time outdoors in a beautiful location and got to see some wonderful Christmas decorations. We still have one more day in the area and we are planning to spend part of the day tomorrow at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Spending the day at the Caverns

Today our plan was to spend the day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We decided not to set an alarm and we would get started . . . whenever. As per our usual morning routine we were both awake around 5:30am. But instead of getting up and starting our day we chose to just stay in bed and read. Around 8:00am we got up and dressed, went down for breakfast and then got our stuff and headed our for the day. It was a little after 9:00am when we arrived at the entrance sign for the Caverns. I asked Thomas to stop here so that I could get a picture of the sign and look for a couple of letterboxes. But as fate would have it, we weren't alone at the sign. There were three other cars and everyone wanted pictures. So we nixed the letterbox finding and headed up to the Visitor Center. It is about a seven mile drive from the entrance gate to the parking area.

Once in the Visitor Center we went to the information desk and I was able to get my National Park Passport Stamps. Then we talked with a Ranger about what was happening today at the Park. There was only one guided tour for King's Palace and it was at 1:30pm. We decided to just do the self-guided tour and we opted to walk in via the Natural Entrance. So we bought our tickets and then headed outside and made our way to the entrance. But first I wanted to get some information for Azroadie's Carlsbad Caverns Park Webbox.
Note: He has a series of webboxes for some of the National Parks and since you aren't allowed to plant a letterbox on park land he has chosen to have you walk a trail and collect a couple of words from signs along the trail. Then you take the words you find and put them into a URL and if you have the right words you are taken to a web page with a picture from the park. Then you can print out that picture and glue it into your logbook as your image. I was also told that you can get an image of the National Park Passport Cancellation Stamp as well. 
The first sign we needed was just outside the Visitor Center as you exited to head to the Natural Entrance. So I stopped and got the word I needed from that sign. We continued walking toward the entrance to the caves and took a right turn to the Nature Trail. Toward the far end of the trail we found the second sign I needed and got the second word. Now that I had what I needed for this box I put my papers away and we headed to the Natural Entrance. You are greeted by a Ranger (who checks you tickets) and you get a short talk about the rules of the caves. Then you are free to enter and take your tour. By entering the cave this way we started our self-guided tour with the Natural Entrance Self-Guided Tour. Since we had the entire day we decided to take our time and really enjoy the Caverns. I took lots of pictures, we stopped along the way and sat on benches and took in all the formations. There were times where we moved off to the side of the trail and let other people pass us. We were both amazed at how little we remembered about the Caverns from our visit about 20 years ago. It was really like our first visit - it all seemed new. I lost track of time and I am not sure how long it took us to finish this part and get to the start of the Big Room Self- Guided Tour. We did the same thing in the Big Room as we did for the Natural Entrance - we took our time, took lots of pictures, sat on benches and just relaxed and enjoyed the walk. At 1:20pm we took the elevator up to the Visitor Center. The first thing we did was go to the restaurant and get something to eat. Then I got elongated pennies from the bookstore and then I picked up a patch and some postcards from the gift shop. We were now done with the Caverns and decided to take the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive and go on a short hike to look for a letterbox.

The Walnut Canyon Desert Drive (aka Scenic Loop Drive or Desert Loop Drive) starts at the edge of the Visitor Center parking lot and is a 9 mile gravel road that is well maintained and was a pretty easy drive. We enjoyed the drive and the views along the way. At about 8.8 miles we stopped at the Juniper Ridge Trailhead (there was a small pullout for one car to park at this point) to look for Kristal & Ron's Free-tailin' It Out of the Park letterbox. We hiked the trail following cairns along the way (at times the trail was hard to see) and hiked about one mile. At this point we reached a fence line (a landmark in the clue). We then looked for the next landmark in the clue but didn't find it, so we looked for the next one and didn't find that one either. So we just started looking around the area for anything that matched the clues. We came up empty handed. We started to wonder if the trail split off in another direction and somehow we missed it. But in the end we realized that we had followed the cairns and were in the right area. But it became apparent that things in the area had changed and some of the landmarks were gone (white plastic markers and a wooden post). So we ended out search and headed back to the car. By the time we reached the car it was 4:15pm, giving us just enough time to complete the loop road before they locked the gates.

On our way out of the park we stopped at the entrance sign to try and find the boxes there. Thomas parked the car and I read the clues and tried to see if I could see the hiding spot. As I read the clues for Love This Park: Carlsbad Caverns National Park by Road Junkies and Carlsbat Box by Aspen. I got out of the car and followed the clues and as it turned out the clues for both boxes lead to the same spot. The Carlsbat Box is marked as missing and the Love This Park box is a new box planted earlier this month. I found the latter and stamped in and then replaced it, making sure it was well hidden.

So we made the 20 mile drive back to Carlsbad and decided to find somewhere to eat before going back to the hotel. It was now 5:30pm and we had trouble finding a restaurant, it is Christmas Eve. We ended up settling on Dragon China Buffet. The place was packed but thankfully it had plenty of room and there was no waiting. It was a decent buffet with plenty of choices and we enjoyed it.

Once back at the hotel we showered and relaxed. I logged in my letterbox finds and wrote this post and now it is time for some sleep. Tomorrow is Chirstmas and we have a few things planned but it will be a more relaxing day than today.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Driving to Carlsbad

For a few weeks now I have been planning and working on a trip to Carlsbad. It has been about 20 years since Thomas and I have been in that area. Since Thomas has some time he needs to take off we decided on a trip for Christmas. I have carved five stamps and made boxes for those stamps to plant while on the trip and I am also going to do maintenance on a couple of my existing boxes. There are also a few boxes for me to look for while on the trip.

This morning we left Santa Fe sometime around 7:30am and headed out. It was cold and foggy but the drive was okay. We made a stop in Vaughn to have some breakfast and coffee and then continued on. My first letterboxing business was to stop at a rest area about 20 miles north of Roswell to replant a box. I had a box called Aphonopelma (the stamp was carved by Highwayman) planted at this rest area but it was geotrashed - the stamp and logbook were still there but the original box was taken and replaced with a soft sided CD case and trinkets. My logbook was damp and messy but I was glad the stamp had survived since it is the only stamp that Thomas (Highwayman) has carved. I had received notes about the box being geotrashed and on a trip a couple of years ago I stopped and took the stuff with me. I hadn't had time to make it back to the area until now. So we stopped and I walked around looking for a suitable spot for the box. Unfortunately, the place is well cared for and I couldn't find a decent spot to hide it. So I decided to hold off and think about it and see if I come up with a better place.

We continued on to Roswell and we were going to stop at the UFO Museum to update a box I have there but decided we needed the time for other things and we would stop on our way back home on Tuesday. So our next stop ended up being in Artesia. Here we looked for and found Love this Spot #11 by Road Junkies. I easily found the box and went to a bench to sit and stamp in. When I opened the box I only found the logbook - no stamp. As I looked through the logbook I noticed that there were only signature stamps up until July 2015 and after that there were only written names. So I figure that the stamp got taken by a geocacher. I wanted an image so I found a raised portion on a statue near where the box was hidden and did a sort of rubbing and then replaced the box. Now it was time to continue our trip.

Before leaving Artesia we filled the car with gas and then continued south on US285. About 12 miles north of Carlsbad we turned onto NM137. We had a few things to do on this route. First, we drove about 22 miles down NM137 until we reached the junction of CR409. We turned here and drove another seven miles to Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area. We arrived at the parking area and we were greeted with lots of wind that was frigid. There were only two other cars in the lot and a forest ranger truck close by. We saw one couple just coming back from a hike as we set out for our walk to the falls. There is a short paved trail to a viewing platform and then from there you can go down a few steps and walk around the pool of water at the base of the falls. The wind was a little better here since there were some cliff walls that protected the area. So we enjoyed the sound of the water and the views, I took some pictures and then I hid a box. I planted Sitting Bull Falls and I hope that it will get some visitors. The area is really worth the drive. We left the area and headed back toward NM137 and along the way we stopped to look for Sitting Bull Falls Letterbox placed by LazyD. There had been some attempts but we decided to stop and look since we were right there. We didn't find the box so we continued on.

When we arrived at the junction for NM137 we stopped at a picnic area so I could plant my next box. This box is called NM Scenic Byways: Guadalupe National Back Country. This didn't take long and we were soon on our way again. We continued along NM137 and made our next stop at The Flying Paperboy Memorial. For years I have talked about placing a box here and now I was finally here. So after taking a few pictures we walked around and found a great hiding spot for Frank A. Kindel (The Flying Paperboy of the Guadalupes). And once that was done we continued just a short distance to Queen, New Mexico. Not much here - an RV park, a general store and a couple of other buildings. A quarter mile or so down the road from the store we found an old chimney surrounded by a fence. At this spot I place another box - Queen, NM. By the time we finished driving NM137 and hiding these boxes it was about 4:30pm and the sun was getting lower. So we made our way back up NM137 heading back to US285. It was somewhere around 6:00pm when we arrived in Carlsbad. We were both hungry (we had only had breakfast, no lunch) so we decided to stop and eat before going to the hotel.

We stopped at Pizza Inn and had their buffet. Once we were full we headed to the hotel and checked in. Now that we are settled and I have logged in the new boxes it is time for some rest. Tomorrow we spend the day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
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