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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lions, Lions and More Lions

On our recent trip Thomas and I got to do a lot and you can read about that trip by going to Chicago. We walked around the city and visited museums and historic buildings. And of course we did some letterboxing. During all of this we encountered quite a few lions. I have always been fascinated with lions and have used lionsmane as my email address for quite a while. And when I started letterboxing it just felt natural to continue with the name as my trail name. So anyway, I took some pictures of lions and decided to put them in a slide show and post it here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tarzan in Oak Park

Thomas and I made plans to visit Oak Park while in Chicago. Oak Park is where Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked while in Illinois. There were other notable people who lived in this area - Ernest Hemingway for one and Edgar Rice Burroughs for another. There was a letterbox listed in Oak Park but its location was not given. You had to answer a series of questions about Burroughs and Tarzan to find the exact location. Before we left New Mexico I had figured out the location and now that we were in the area we decided to look for the box. The box is in an urban location and we had to be a little sneaky. We arrived at the location and followed each part of the clue. We found a little plaque and note about Burroughs and then searched for a couple of minutes before we found the box. I thought it was hidden in a good location and I liked the stamp - at least this one was hand carved. We really enjoyed learning a little more about Burroughs and Tarzan during this letterbox hunt.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Bad Day and A Good Day

On Tuesday Thomas and I made our way to Lincoln Park to find a couple of letterboxes. We didn't have a good day of letterboxing. We started our search at the Chicago Historical Society at the southwest edge of the park. The clues were pretty straight forward so we followed them to a statue of lincoln, through a tunnel, down a path to a stone marker, along a pond and under another tunnel - and then here is where it all fell apart. We walked past some stairs and we were suppose to look under the sixth bush. It was hard to tell where we were suppose to look so we looked everywhere. But it was hard, we were on the edge of a parking lot and cars and people kept coming around so we ended up abandoning our search. The second box we looked for had us looking for a historical marker (well really only a post since the sign was reported missing). After walking for a while we never found the post and decided to give it up and move on with the rest of the day. Very disappointing! I'm not sure if we were just not paying attention or if the clues were just bad - whichever it was it was a bad day for letterboxing.

Today however was just the opposite. We were in the Hyde Park area of Chicago and made plans to look for two boxes. Our first box was located along a trail behind the Museum of Science and Industry. We followed the clues and made our way around the museum and down the trail. We walked around a lagoon and then past the Osaka Garden. We were suppose to spot a statue through the trees but never did see it. And we were suppose to spot a natural pedestal which we found - it turned out to be a large stump with a hole in the middle. We took the box to a nearby bench and stamped in and we were happy we found the box considering our last outing. We rehid the box and returned to the museum. We sat on a bench at the museum and read the clues for the second box. Once we figured out where we needed to be we started walking. This box was hidden on the campus of the University of Chicago. We walked about a mile to get to where the clues started. From there we followed each part of the clue and ended up getting a nice little tour of the campus. At first we didn't think we would find the box because there is some construction around the hiding spot. But with a little persistance we found it. The construction actually gave us some cover from the students. So I stamped in and then rehid the box. During our walk back to the museum to get a bus back to the hotel we talked about our good day of letterboxing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not Happy With Da Bears!

Today Thomas and I visited Museum Campus in Chicago which includes Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquaruim and The Field Museum of Natural History. This is all next door to Soldier Field. I had clues to a letterbox that starts you at Soldier Field. The letterbox is called Da Bears. So after lunch we headed to 'The Mistake Beside the Lake'. It took us a while to find the starting point since we had never been to the stadium before and because it is huge. Anyway, the clues were a little cryptic so once at the starting point we followed each clue (they were numbered 1 -23). We went this way following a color, we counted lamp post, we counted squares and yelled Da Bears!, we went under bridges, we went up a ramp then down and around, we squared numbers and added lampposts, turned corners and found old railroad tracks. By this time I am pretty sure we had walked at least a mile and we were no where near Soldier Field (although you could see the field from where we were). So we followed the last three clues and found the box. Once I opened the box I couldn't hide my disappointment. We ended up at a nice little neighborhood park with a walking trail and a playground. From there we went through a hole cut into a chain link fence into an overgrown area with old railroad tracks. It wasn't the most appealing place. The stamp was store bought and so was the journal. There was really nothing special about the box and the only bright spot of the journey was seeing Soldier Field. I really hate to bad mouth someone who plants a box but if you are going to send people on a long journey through the city at least provide pleasant or historical areas and reward them with a hand carved stamp. I would much rather find an absolutely crappy hand carved stamp than a store bought one. There aren't many letterboxes in the area I am staying and I don't have a car to get to the ones on the outskirts of Chicago so I guess I should be grateful for this one. So now I have found two boxes in Chicago.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Letterboxing in the Windy City

Thomas and I are in Chicago for vacation. We visited some family and are doing some sightseeing. I have clues for a few letterboxes in and around the city but this trip is more about seeing Chicago than letterboxing. With that being said we are doing a little letterboxing when we are in areas that have a letterbox. So today we were going to be in the neighborhood of the HI-Chicago Hostel. There is a box there that was placed by altchar with a stamp carved by Kirbert. So after visiting one of the sites we headed for this box. At first we headed in the wrong direction (I got turned around and read the map wrong; and with all the tall building my Garmin GPS wasn't receiving any signal), so we turned around and walked the five or six blocks to the area. We ended up walking right by the place because we were being tourist and looking at all the neat buildings and art work around Chicago. So we asked this guy walking by and he pointed just across the street - we were close now. So we followed the clues and walked up to the second floor information desk. The guy at the desk didn't know what we were talking about but I quickly spotted a tupperware container in the corner of a shelf behind the desk. So I directed him to it and WooHoo! it was the box. It is a very nice carving and since this was indoors I sat and took my time stamping in. I also left a hitchhiker in the box for the next finder. When I finished stamping in and went to return the box no one was around - so I walked behind the desk and left it where I first saw it. This makes 19 states that I have letterboxed in and brings my total finds to 1350. Hopefully we will be able to find one or two more while we are here - I will keep you posted.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Hiking the Watchtower

Today I hiked the Atalaya Mountain Trail. It is one of my favorites hikes in Santa Fe. My plan was to find Retro Ribbit (a box hidden by HighDesertGlider back in August) and to plant a series of four boxes. It turned out to be a beautiful morning. A nice sunny day with a few clouds in the sky, perfect temperatures (it was 64º when I started hiking and it was 75º when I finished), and a gentle breeze that made me linger on the mountain for hours.

Usually I park at St. John's College when I take this hike but today I decided to try the other route. So I parked in the parking area on Camino de Cruz Blanca and started my hike. The first thing I wanted to do was to hide my letterboxes - Asian Seasons. It was only a short hike to the junction with Trail 174 that starts at St. John's. From there I continued up to the junction of the trail where you can choose whether to take a steeper route or an easy route. My plan was to use this junction as a landmark for the first box. So I made my way a little ways up the trail and rather quickly found a spot I liked for Lidong (Winter). I found the spot quickly but it took me a while to actually hide it. I had to wait for about five people to hike through first. From there I decided to continue on the easy route until I made it to the next junction. I used this as the next landmark for the next box and this time it took me a little time before I found the right spot for Lichun (Spring). For the next two boxes I headed up to the top of the mountain. When you get close to the top there is a trail sign and the trail continues to the left. I went right and found a place to hide Lixia (Summer). This was pretty easy since it isn't a busy area. Then I went to the top and used another trail sign as a landmark and found a place for my final box - Liqiu (Autumn). It felt good to get this series planted, I really like the way it turned out. I realize that not many people will get these boxes since it is such a big hike but that is okay - I really wanted this series on this trail.

Now that all my boxes were planted I was ready to search for Retro Ribbit. I read the clues and started looking around. But I was having a little trouble - there were quite a few people walking around and it was hard to be discreet. So I decided to go and sit looking at the view of Santa Fe and have some snacks and water. After a little while most of the people left and I resumed my search. About 10 minutes later I found the box. It is a nice box and worth the climb to get it. I stamped in and got it back into its hiding spot without anyone seeing me. After that I spent a little more time taking pictures and enjoying the views before heading back to the car. It was a really enjoyable hike and I saw quite a few birds, some squirrels and a couple of lizards.
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