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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Trip to Louisiana (Part I)

Santa Fe, NM to Zachary, LA
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thomas and I are headed to Lafayette, LA to visit my family for Easter and the trip started very early this morning. We were up at 3:00am (NM Time) to get ready and leave for the airport in Albuquerque. We got last minute things ready and loaded the car - we left Santa Fe by 3:40am and drove to the Sunport. After parking the car, taking the shuttle, checking in and making our way through security we were sitting at the gate at 5:05am ready for take-off. Our flight from Albuquerque to Houston was quick and uneventful. The layover in Houston was good and we even boarded the plane and took off a little early as we headed to New Orleans. We arrived at Louis Armstrong/New Orleans International Airport at 11:05am (about 15 minutes ahead of the stated arrival time), picked up our luggage and took a shuttle to the rental car place. The check in for the car was quick and easy and we were headed for our first destination by 11:30am. We drove to Springfield, LA and more specifically to Tickfaw State Park. Our mission: To plant a series of letterboxes representing some of the Louisiana state symbols. Once at the park we studied the map and decided on a trail to hide the boxes. We headed to the trailhead parking and began our walk. We tried to space out the boxes so that they weren't too close to each other and when we got to the end of the trail we had only planted five of the seven boxes. So we returned to the parking area and went down a second trail to plant the remaining two boxes. I have named this the Sportsman's Paradise Series and it is Louisiana's version of my Land of Enchantment Series. I hope the letterboxers in Louisiana enjoy this series. I am very happy with the way they turned out.

Once this was completed we left the area and headed to Baton Rouge. I had three boxes that I wanted to plant there. We made our way to the first location and found a hiding spot rather easily and I was quite happy with it - it fits with the stamp perfectly. After hiding this box we made our way to the Capitol to meet up with Blackberry Patch. We arrived there a little before her so we searched for Little Plates of Ice. I had found some of them on an earlier trip and wanted to look for the others. We had mixed results. There are five boxes in this series. We found three of the five on our last trip and on this trip we found only one of the other two. I'm not sure if the other one was missing or not - it could have been there just not where we looked. Anyway, by this time Blackberry Patch was on the front steps of the Capitol waiting for us. So we made our way there. We visited, exchanged LTC's and talked letterboxing. After a little while I looked for another box of hers and found it - we visited some more while I stamped in. Once this box was rehidden we parted ways. I still had a couple of boxes to hide before it got dark. We found hiding spots and wrote out the clues. The three boxes I hid in Baton Rouge are another series - this one called Huey P. Long (The Man, The Bridge and The Building). Now it was time to head to Zachary. It was dark and getting late but there was one more box I wanted to find before calling it a night. So we headed to the location and found the Lagniappe box. This is a letterbox hidden in a library and it has cards in it that have clues for boxes in the area. So I stamped in and copied clues for two boxes, then returned the box to its hiding spot. It was close to 9:00pm by this time and both of us were tired. Thankfully we had hotel reservations and it was a quick check in and to the room. Even though I am tired I wanted to get my finds logged in and write this blog before getting to sleep. I hope I covered everything and I hope it makes sense because it has been a long day. So off to bed now and I will report back tomorrow.

A Complete Circle
Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our day started at 7:00am with a wake up call. We got dressed, packed, loaded the car and had a little breakfast before leaving Zachary to head up to Clinton. We had planned lots of letterboxing and a meet up with Mama Cache. We arrived at the First Baptist Church and met with Mama Cache in the courtyard of the church. It was a beautiful morning and we loved the church. We exchanged LTC's and talked about letteboxing. It was a nice time and I learned that Mama Cache attended high school with one of my cousins - ain't it a small world.

After a great visit it was time for finding boxes. Mama Cache has a box called Louisiana Seasons and she has had a little trouble with the hiding spot. She is trying to find a better spot and in the meantime she has made the box unavailable. But she is nice enough to hide it when someone is in town and wants to get it. So our first stop was at the Masonic Cemetery to get the Spring stamp - Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It was a great stamp and we enjoyed the cemetery, some very old and wonderful gravestones. Leaving the cemetery we made our way to find MC's Bridge Out series. These were quick and easy and once you had both stamps they fit together to complete the bridge - I loved it. Once we had these two stamps we then went to find babadge's Squad Car. This is a cute little stamp carved by a young carver - it was pretty darn good. I stamped in and returned the box to its hiding spot. From Clinton we drove to Jackson and stopped at a cemetery just before getting to Jackson. Blackberry Patch has two boxes hidden there. Audubon Series: Yellow Throated Warbler and Duh Da Da Dum Dum? - both are nice boxes and carves and the cemetery was wonderful. We had a nice walk around the graves and enjoyed some of the beautiful head stones. By this time we were hungry and it was a good time to stop for lunch. On our way to the cemetery we passed a restaurant and noticed the parking lot was full, usually a sign that the food is good. So we left the cemetery and headed back to that place - Chef's To Go. We weren't disappointed, the food was delicious - I had Red Beans and Sausage over Rice. The only problem was that they served us way too much food. Neither of us could finish the entire meal. Now that our hunger was satiated we could focus on finding more letterboxes. The next stop on the list was the Audubon State Historic Site. Blackberry Patch has four more boxes in the series here (one at the cemetery we were at earlier). I headed out on the trail to find the boxes while Thomas took a tour of Oakley Plantation House. I found the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and sat down on a log to stamp in. I enjoyed the stamp and box and got it back into its hiding spot. I continued down the trail to the next box and easily found the Cerulean Warbler. Another great stamp and box. There was another box in the series but I wasn't sure where to find it. The clues don't tell you the exact location - you have to figure it out. Not sure if I was tired or not concentrating or what but I never did find the starting point. But it wasn't for a lack of trying. I did take a side trail (not sure if that was what it was - it was a cleared path but it wasn't gravel like the main trail) and was eventually stopped in my tracks. I saw something laying across the trail and at first thought it was a branch or something like that. But as I got closer (maybe three feet away) I jumped back. It was a thin snake about five feet long. He was just laying there and pretty much had no intention of moving. He only moved his head to look at me once and that was it. For a split second I thought about walking around his tail but then had a moment of clarity and thought he might move faster than me and turn and jump at me. At that point I decided I didn't want to find the box that bad and since I wasn't even sure this was the right place I decided to let the snake have the trail. I returned to the main trail and headed to the Oakley House to meet Thomas. We walked around the house and grounds for a bit and then headed back to the parking lot. I had one more set of clues for a box at one of the picnic areas near the parking lot. I followed the clues but never did find the box. Thomas and I sat at one of the picnic table and watched a peacock walk around. We took turns reading the clues for the two boxes we couldn't find and decided we needed to move on to our next location. From the Audubon Site we drove a short distance to the Mary Ann Brown Nature Preserve. Lucy Locket has two boxes there that we missed on our last visit. It didn't take us long to find In Search of: A Home and In Search of: A Brain. After stamping in and rehiding both boxes we left the preserve.

A little over a year ago I planted a box at the Mary Ann Brown Nature Preserve but that wasn't where I wanted it. Unfortunately at the time Hurricane Gustav had just made a mess of things in the area and the place I had planned to plant that box was closed due to down power lines. Mama Cache was kind enough to get the box from M.A.B.N.P for me and place it at Locust Grove State Historic Site for me. I had never actually seen this site since it was closed on our last visit so I wanted to make a stop there. We arrived at the site only to find a man repainting the picket fence around the graveyard. He had half the graves covered in plastic because he was using a spray gun to paint with. So we didn't get to look around and we didn't get to see the hiding spot for my box. Oh well, I know it is in good hands with Mama Cache. It was now about 4:00pm and I wanted to try and find a box at Port Hudson State Historic Site. And since it closed at 5:00pm we needed to head that way quickly. While Thomas drove I read the clues and once we arrived at the site we made our way to the parking area mentioned in the clues. The clues have you walk about a half mile down a trail to an observation tower, count the steps and then return to the parking area. Once back at the parking area things became very confusing. You were suppose to take the number you got from the steps and divide it by nine. Then you were to go to the NW side of the parking lot opposite the handicapped spot. When I did my compass reading to find the NW side it was where the handicapped spot was. So I was totally confused, but we tried anyway. So we went opposite the handicapped spot and counted the spaces using the number we got after dividing by nine. From there you had to take a compass reading that lead you to a stump 50 feet into the woods. It was all messed up so we just looked around (the area wasn't all that big). We only found two stumps and neither of them fit the bill and we didn't find a letterbox. So we left that parking area and looked for another one but nothing ever became clear so we called it quits and headed for Baton Rouge.

Before leaving for this trip I had worked (for quite a few hours) on a mystery box that Blackberry Patch had hidden in the Baton Rouge area. I had gotten confirmation from Blackberry Patch that I had figured out the right location so we made our way there. I had no problems finding the box and stamping in. While I was doing that Thomas was on the GPS looking for a hotel. After getting the box back to its hiding spot I returned to the car and we headed for the hotel. Thomas got us checked in and then we went to have a little dinner. Then it was time to call it a day. After all the letterboxing we did it was nice to have a hot shower and relax. We had a great day today and ended up making a complete circle returning to Baton Rouge for the night. Not sure what we are doing tomorrow except that we need to head to Lafayette by early afternoon. I'll be back to let you know what we do.
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