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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Trip to Tucson (Part II)

Spending the Day at the Molino Basin Campground
Monday, February 15, 2010

This morning was a typical morning of waking up, getting ready and eating breakfast - nothing special. Once things were in place and the car loaded we wanted to run one quick errand before starting our letterboxing day. We drove to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to give them the information on the dog we found yesterday. We brought the collar and gave them directions to finding the dog. We also left our names and numbers if anyone had any questions. They seemed to be grateful that we brought in the information. And with that done we drove back up the mountain. Today we decided to hike some trails that started at the Molino Basin Campground. First we looked for two boxes in the campground. We found 6th @ Molino pretty easily but were stumped by the second box. We followed the clues but came up empty handed - I am not sure if I didn't understand them or if I just couldn't find the box. After about 20 minutes we decided to move on. We left the campground and crossed the Catalina Highway to the Bellota Trail/Arizona Trail. Our goal was to find Azroadie's Sonoran Desert Animals 2009 Series. I guess we hiked about a mile, maybe a mile and a half and found all five boxes. It was a great way to start the day. A beautiful morning in the Santa Catalinas and five more wonderful Azroadie boxes.

Next we crossed back over the road and walked back into the campground. We drove to the back of the campground and parked near the trail head for the Molino Basin Trail. From the trail head you walk up a short distance to a junction. We took the left turn and walked a half mile or so and found two nice letterboxes - Lame Duc Visits Arizona and 5th @ Molino. After stamping in and rehiding the boxes we made our way back to the junction. We now went the other direction. We were searching for New England Sugar Shack and after walking a little ways up the trail we found it. We stamped in and rehid the box and then talked about what to do next. We decided to hike the trail to the Prison Camp. The place where we had parked to hike the Sycamore Reservoir Trail. There were seven boxes somewhere on that trail that we wanted to find. So we had a great two mile hike. We arrived at the Prison Camp and then read the clues for the boxes and started to make our way back to Molino Basin Campground. We reached the landmark for the Stocking Stuffer Series by angel1551us. This series has six boxes - they are planted pretty close together at different places off the trail. You had to find one to find the other because the clue always started from the hiding spot of the box before it (except the first one - she had the starting point for that one in the clue). It took a little time to find all the boxes but it was worth it. One more box to go - Azroadie's Arizona National Scenic Trail. We found the first landmark and followed the rest of the clues and found the box. A nice simple stamp of the Arizona Trail logo used on the trail markers. After rehiding the box we enjoyed a leisurely walk with a cool breeze following us.

Back at the car we realized that we were tired. After hiking out in the sun for most of the day we were just plain worn out. But we were also hungry, so on the way back to the hotel we stopped for dinner. We are now showered and relaxing in the hotel room and ready for tomorrow.

All Around Tucson and Ending in Tucson Mountain Park
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Happy Mardi Gras!

Well today is my 4th letterboxing anniversary. I found my first letterbox (Santa Fe Trail Microbox by Silver Eagle) four years ago today. So I thought I would start the day by finding a box by my letterboxing buddy - Astro D. She has a box called Saguaro Sunsets in Tucson off Picture Rocks Road. The trail where the box is located is wonderful, the area is completely covered with saguaros, jumping chollas, ocotillo, prickly pear and a host of other cacti. We arrived at the trail around 8:30am and it was just a short walk to two stately saquaros that were the landmarks to find the box. I quickly located the box and found a safe place to stamp - I did mention that the area is covered in sharp, spiky things. The stamp is incredible - a three part stamp that ends up being saguaros silhouetted against a sunset thus the name of the box. We saw so many birds in the area as well. I won't pretend to know what kind of birds just that there were a lot of them. It was such a wonderful spot, a fantastic stamp and an incredible letterboxing moment -what a way to start off my 4th anniversary - thanks Astro D for another great box.

In this area there were three other boxes I wanted to look for before we headed off. We first tried to find Wee Willie Winkie but came up empty handed. I think we were in the right place but I couldn't make heads or tails once we were there. Nothing made sense, nothing matched anything in the clues so after 20 minutes we decided to move on. So we found a park and quickly located Go Fetch! Hitchhiker Hostel. I had four hitchhikers with me. So after stamping into the box's logbook I took one hitchhiker and left three in the box. So that left me with two - one of which is in a race with three other hitchhikers to see who makes it to Houston first. From here we made our way to find Larry Lizard Loves to Read and find him we did. It was a clever hide and a nice stamp. I stamped in and rehid the box and once back in the car we looked at our clues to see where to head to next. I had mapped things out so after consulting said map I decided on looking for The False Inspector Dew. Another great hide by the same person that placed Larry Lizard. And the box was hidden in the same manner as Larry Lizard. Again I loved the stamp and hiding spot.

At this point things took a turn for the worst. We headed to University Blvd. and 4th St. to look for the first box of the All Souls Procession Series. Finding somewhere to park was a challenge and we ended up parking about three blocks away from the hiding spot. Thomas stayed with the car and I walked to the area and followed the clues. I am pretty sure (but not 100%) that I was in the right spot. But all I found was a pile of rocks - no box. I did a little search of the area but found nothing. So I returned to the car and after looking at the map we decided to look for Apparition: Alfred Hitchcock. We found the hiding spot and parked then I had to wait until there were no cars or people around because the hiding spot is smack dab in the middle. Once the coast was clear I went to retrieve the box. I had to maneuver carefully because a cholla cactus was guarding the hiding spot. WooHoo I found the box, so I took it back to the car to stamp in. But it wasn't that simple, when I opened the box there was only a logbook - no stamp. I am guessing that the last finder forgot to put it back in the box and drove away with it in their car - only speculating here. Anyway, I decided to stamp in (just not to count it as a find) and leave a note that I found it and that the stamp was missing when I did find it. I replaced the box in its hiding spot and we headed off to find box 2 in the All Souls Procession Series. We got to the area and located the hiding spot and made our way to it. I found the box just where it was supposed to be. Unfortunately, the stamp and logbook were gone and in their place were slips of paper with notes on them. By this time I was a little disappointed. Once we were back in the car I decided to forgo three other boxes in the same area (it seemed to be jinxed). We headed a little ways away and went to search for MDCLXXIII. We made it to the location and found the huge landmark. Then we started looking for the rest of the clue. It took about 10 minutes to locate a couple of numbers and a word but once we did the box was there and the stamp and logbook were in it. So I stamped in and was glad to be back on track (pun intended). By this time we were hungry and we realized it was actually lunch time. So we found a little sandwich shop and enjoyed a wonderful meal out on the patio (did I mention that the weather was absolutely gorgeous the whole time we were in Tucson - sunny and in the mid '70's). After lunch I studied the map and decided on two more boxes in the near vicinity of where we had lunch. So off we went. Our first challenge was to scour S. Arizona Ave. and find the most peaceful spot. It took us two passes to located the clue but once we did all the other parts fell into place and I located the box. Then I was able to Breathe! I stamped in while sitting in the car and then replaced the box. On to the next stop. The next box we looked for was Railroad Pennies. We found a box similar to this one on day one of the trip in Las Cruces, NM. The box is hidden near some railroad tracks and pennies are placed on the track for the trains to flatten them when they pass. I didn't have a problem finding the box but I was only able to find a couple of pennies. I took one and left about eight more for the next finder. I went back to the car to stamp into the box. While I was stamping in a train passed and flattened the pennies. So I finished stamping in and went to replace the box and I also looked at all the flattened pennies that are now waiting for someone else to find them.

At this point I decided I was down with being in the city so we headed for Tucson Mountain Park. To get there we went from Ajo Way. I wanted to find another of Azroadie's Geology 101 stamps. It was on an unmarked trail off of Ajo Way. We first stopped at the wrong spot and luckily I realized it before we had gone too far. So we continued a little further and found the right area. The box was just a short way up the trail and we found it quickly. After stamping in and rehiding the box we headed back to the car. From here we drove to Kinney Rd. and more specifically to Ironwood Picnic Area. We parked at the far end and found the trail. We were searching for Azroadie's Sonoran Desert Animals 2008 Series. His clues took us all over the area and we were successful in finding all five of the boxes. We enjoyed our walk in the area except for one spot that was covered in jumping chollas. We were careful here to stay in the middle of the trail and to circumvent any in the way to finding the box. Luckily we left the area unscathed. We had a nice time and we saw some rabbits and quite a few birds and thankfully no snakes. Before leaving the picnic area we stopped to find Picnic Pause by Desert Flower which was near the area we were in. It was a quick find and a nice box. It had been a long day and we were both getting tired and hungry. But we wanted to do one more thing. We drove up Kinney Rd. to Gates Pass Rd. and made our way to the Gates Pass Lookout. We parked and made our way to the viewing area and watched the sunset. It was a great way to end our trip to Tucson. Once the sun had set we drove back into town and found a place to eat. The only thing left to do is to pack, get some rest and make our way home tomorrow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Trip to Tucson (Part I)

The Trip Begins
Saturday, February 13, 2009

About two weeks ago Thomas and I decided to take a little trip. Thomas would be finished with the legislative session and it would be nice to get away. We decided on Tucson. Not only would we leave behind the daily responsibilities we would also have a chance for some warmer weather. So early this morning we loaded up the car and headed out.

We drove for a few hours and then decided to stop for breakfast and stretch our legs. We had a nice meal in Socorro and got a break from the highway. After eating we headed out again and didn't stop until we reached Las Cruces. Once in town we found the City of Las Cruces Railroad Depot (which also houses the Las Cruces Railroad Museum). We were looking for a letterbox. The box wasn't in the museum, it wasn't even outside the museum. It is actually located a short walk away near the train tracks. So we walked along the tracks following the clues and easily found the box. After stamping in and getting the box back in its hiding spot we walked along the tracks and found flattened pennies. We knew they were there because it was written in the clues. So I took two home with me and left five regular pennies on the track to be flattened for the next finder. Fun stuff! But it was time to move along.

We made our way to I10 and headed west. There were no more boxes in New Mexico along this route for us to find so we continued driving until we reached Willcox, AZ. There were two boxes we wanted to find. We found Pink Lady Apples quickly, stamped in, rehid the box and then headed for the next box. We found the location and followed the clues but we were unable to find the box. Almost 100% sure we were in the right spot but no box - only two plastic pieces that looked like latches to close a box - that was it! We were disappointed that someone found the box, broke the latches and then made off with the rest (only speculating here). So it was back to I10 and off to see The Thing? Anyone who had driven I10 in Arizona has seen the billboards - "The Thing? Mystery of the Desert" Exti 322. Azroadie has a couple of boxes here. We found one of those boxes on a past trip so today we were looking for the other one. We followed the clues as they lead us around the building and down a dirt road. It took a little searching but we found the box. We sat near the hiding spot and stamped in and then rehid the box. On the way back to the car Thomas and I talked about whether or not we were going to go in and see 'The Thing'. We decided not to - we both agreed that the mystery of not knowing was probably way better than what the thing actually was. So off we drove. Our next stop was in Benson. We headed to the 7th Street Cemetery (also known as the Benson Pioneer Cemetery). We found the box (store bought stamp) - not much to say about that. Stamped in, rehid it and spent about 30 minutes walking around the cemetery. We found quite a few interesting gravestones. One in particular caught our eye. It was for Eddie Fox. His headstone states he was a comedian and clog dancer. Time to move along. Back on I10 we took the next exit to try and find a mystery box. We looked for it but we were unable to find it - we couldn't find a landmark so it threw us off or I solved the mystery wrong and we were not even in the right spot - oh, well we tried. Next stop - Vail. Time was getting away from us and we still had a little ways to go before reaching Tucson but I still wanted to try for a few more boxes so we chose carefully. In Vail we opted for Old Highway 80 - another great Azroadie stamp. Then we found Friendship Hex near the high school. For our last stops of the day we drove south on Houghton in Tucson to find '67 Chevelle and Kristal's Cathouse Hitchhiker Hostel. Both were nice boxes. I had a hitchhiker to leave in the hostel and I took another one with me. I was surprised to see two hitchhikers in this hostel that I had found before in some other boxes. It was a great day but we were getting tired and hungry. So we checked in to the hotel, freshened up and had dinner at a restaurant just next to the hotel. Time to get a little sleep so we can have more adventures tomorrow.

A Day Along the Sky Island Scenic Byway
Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

We were up around 7:00am, showered, dressed, had some breakfast and then loaded our gear into the car. Our destination was the Sky Island Scenic Byway that takes you up to the top of Mt. Lemmon. We began our ascent up the mountain and around every turn was a fantastic view. The landscape of the lower elevations is desert with loads of Saguaro Cactus all around. We made a stop at the Babad Do'ag Viewpoint. I took some pictures and enjoyed the view. There are so many pullouts and viewpoints that if you stopped at each one it would take you an entire day just to reach the top. So we enjoyed the views only while driving until we reached the ski area. Unfortunately, we were not able to park at the top and walk around. I guess they were having quite a few skiers and the only way you could park is if you were skiing. So we headed back down the mountain. Now it was time to letterbox.

Our first stop was the Chihuahua Pine Picnic Area to search for one of Azroadie's Geology 101 boxes. This one was Granite. We had to do a scramble since there wasn't a trail. It was a beautiful area and we enjoyed walking around - it did take a little time to find the box but we were loving the area so much it didn't matter. We did have a sad moment. While searching for the box I saw something furry curled up against a very large boulder. As I got closer I realized it was a dog. It had a collar and everything. It must have gotten lost and maybe froze to death - I'm not sure. We took the collar with us because it had a tag for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and a ID number. We are going to contact them tomorrow and let them know where we found the dog so that if they want to retrieve it they can and give it a proper burial. I know I would want to know if someone found my dog - dead or alive. I really feel bad for the owners - I can't imagine losing my two puppies. Back to happier times. We eventually found the box and stamped in, put it back in its hiding spot and moved on to our next location.

That was the Bug Springs Trailhead. But on our way down to that parking area we stopped for a moment at the Seven Cataracts Vista. What a great spot - you can see waterfalls across the canyon - it was wonderful. After a few pictures we made our way to Bug Springs. We hiked about a mile and found two boxes by Hez, Grumpy and Mona - The Rocking V and The Appaloosa Letterbox - both nice boxes. It was a good hike but the views were mostly of the road - I was ready for some great views. So onward we went.

We turned off onto Prison Camp Road and made our way into the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. This area was the site of an old Federal Prison Camp and you can see remnants of the buildings on the right as you drive in on Prison Camp Road. We made our way to the back of the campground and parked near the trailhead. We decided to hike the Sycamore Reservoir Trail and look for the boxes hidden along the way. The boxes along the way included the Sycamore Reservoir Trail Series (4 boxes) by Azroadie, AZ Trail #6 and Soldier Trail by Kristal and Ron. We started our hike and within about a half a mile we found box 1 and 2 of the Sycamore Series. We then followed the clues to box 3. Before I knew it we had passed the spots for the other two boxes by Kristal and Ron. Oh well, those could be found on the way back. The last two boxes of the Sycamore Series were a little further along the trail. We reached box 3 , stamped and then followed the clues to box 4. Well let me tell you the trail kept going and going down (and that means that to get out it is all uphill - just a thought). We made it to the reservoir and enjoyed the area - a beautiful spot. Time to head back - the clues for box 4 said to enjoy the reservoir and then head back looking for certain landmarks and that is what we did. We found that box and stamped in and prepared ourselves for the uphill climb back to a saddle. Let me tell you it was hard work or else we are really out of shape. Needless to say we made it to the saddle and found AZ Trail #6. This gave us time to rest while we stamped in. The trail back to the car was mostly downhill so that was a good thing. We reached this sign with trails and mileage on it that sits at a trail junction. We were looking for the trail to find the other box - Soldier Trail. The clues to Sycamore Series stated that the hike was about 2 miles one way and the National Forest Service link for the trail states the same. But the sign we saw says that it is 2.9 miles. I am not sure who to believe but from the workout we got I am going with the sign.
Anyway, we made our way to the Soldier Trail to find Soldier Trail. Much to our chagrin the trail was pretty much an uphill climb but doable. So we followed the clues and found the box, after stamping in we made our way back to the car. Pretty exhausted but very happy. The hike was fantastic - even though it was a lot of work we enjoyed it thoroughly - the views were beautiful, the weather gorgeous and the boxes terrific. I realized when we reached the car that there was also a box near the parking area so I quickly found it and stamped in. It was called I Want S'mores! and it made me want S'mores. All in all we had a great Valentine's Day, we hiked between 6 and 9 miles depending on who you believe and we found 10 great letterboxes. And a plus - we looked for 10 and found 10 - not a one was missing. WooHoo!!!!!

So we made our way back down the mountain and our first order of business was dinner. We had a very quick bite to eat because we were tired and sweaty and wanted to get back to the hotel to shower and rest. Because after all tomorrow is another day.

Oh, I almost forgot - I found my 1600th box today when I found the first box in the Sycamore Series.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sneakin' a Letterbox

Today I met Thomas and a friend for lunch near downtown. When he suggested we meet and told me where he wanted to have lunch I remembered I had a clue for a box in Santa Fe. So before leaving the house this morning I gathered the clue and my letterboxing bag. After we ate lunch Thomas went back to work and I went for a walk to get to this letterbox. This box was placed by artTrekker when she last visited Santa Fe in November. I haven't had time to get to it until now. I really like her boxes - the carvings are really nice, she finds great hiding spots and her clues are usually clever. The clue to this box was a photograph. So I set out looking for the spot and actually found it pretty easy. But it took me a while to retrieve the box. There were people in the area and while waiting for them to leave I realized that there windows that faced the hiding spot. And there were people sitting there and looking out. Eventually the area cleared except for the people looking out the window. I slowly made my way to the spot and took some pictures while standing right next to where the box was. When the couple turned their heads I grabbed it and moved to the side of the building where there was a table and a chair that I could use to stamp in. I enjoyed the stamp and noticed some finders that I knew and a few I had never heard of. Luckily when it was time to replace the box no one was around, not even the couple in the window. I really enjoyed the letterbox and the walk. It was a little cold but at least it wasn't snowing. Thanks artTrekker for leaving a little surprise during your visit.
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