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.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Knocked Down - Again!

I was going to post about my last day in Las Cruces but I decided I don't want to write about the day.
"Boxing" Gloves
I did plant another box today but I am holding off on logging it in because I sure I will upset someone - maybe in a week or so I will post it.
When I got back to the hotel I read a post on one of the talk list that just bashed me and lots of people threw in their two cents worth. I guess I am not strong enough for the cut-throat world of letterboxing. I am thin skinned and sensitive and take criticism really personally. So I am going to take a break for a while.

Columbus, Anthony and Las Cruces

This morning I got up early so that I could drive to Columbus, NM from Las Cruces. I had two orders of business to deal with - find a box and hide a box. This was my first visit to this part of New Mexico and I have to say that it isn't my favorite. First of all it was really deserted, I think I may have only seen 4 or 5 people in the three hours I was in the area. Second, it was very dry with little vegetation and third, it was so flat - very few mountains or hills in the area. Anyways, I made my way to Pancho Villa State Park. I went to the visitors center and got a map and information of the park. Then I walked through the museum to gain a little insight to the park and area. After about an hour I headed out and decided to look for the box - Where's Pancho Villa? placed by CW Sun Seeker. It was an easy find and from the location of the box you had a great view of the entire park. After I put the box back into its hiding spot I decided to walk around the park and look for a good place to put my box. It took me a while because there aren't very many trees and not a lot of vegetation and what is there looks to be quite manicured. Eventually I found a spot that I felt would be okay - but it still may be a little iffy. But I left it there anyway. The box is Alphabetical New Mexico: P (Pancho Villa). After leaving the park I drove through the small little town of Columbus but didn't see anything that interested me so I decided to head back toward Las Cruces.

As I drove back to Las Cruces I decided to stop at a rest area just west of the city to check on one of my boxes - Alphabetical New Mexico: R (Roadrunner). I had gotten messages that it was missing and wanted to make sure whether it was there or not. And just in case it was missing I had carved a new stamp and made a new box. But the box was exactly where it should have been. So I checked the compass reading and steps and wrote them down since I didn't have the actual clues with me. When I got home I checked the clues and they were right. I think the problem may be that I stated to stand between the legs of the roadrunner and they are metal - that may throw off the compass reading. But I did get the same reading standing between the legs and five steps in front of the legs. So anyway, the box is there and the clues are right.

Once back on I10 I headed past Las Cruces to Anthony, NM. I had to go a little ways past Anthony into Texas and make a U-turn in order to get to the first rest area in the state of New Mexico. Once there I read the clues to CW Sun Seekers' Pinata box. I followed the clues and found the box easily. Once I had the box in my possession I had difficulty finding a spot to sit that wasn't sandy. So I ended up just sitting in the sand. And once I had stamped in I had to clean sand off of everything before packing my letterboxing supplies back in my bag and before putting the box back together - I think I got it all cleaned pretty good. So I walked back to my car and headed for Las Cruces.

My next stop was Old Mesilla and specifically La Posta Restaurant. The box hidden here is another CW Sun Seeker work of art. I had some difficulty finding the box because it is hidden right at the entrance. There were so many people coming in and out I had to sit on a bench and try when the coast was clear. After three tries and not finding it I waited another five minutes and then went for my last try. The box is hidden in a tall planter with a fake plant in a pot sitting in the planter. This time I lifted the plant out of the planter and was able to find the box. I took it outside to stamp in just so no one would question what I was doing if I was sitting on the bench near the entrance. After stamping in I replaced the box without a problem.

From here I headed a little ways down the road to the Masonic Cemetery to find another of CW Sun Seekers boxes. Here I had a little trouble - I followed the clues and everything fell into place and I found the tree (and it is a very large tree). But I couldn't find the box. I spent over 20 minutes looking into the tree and even parted the branches and got inside and still couldn't find the box. So then I checked the surrounding trees but still came up empty handed. So I decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel room. It turned out to be a good day until I arrived back at the hotel and read some things on one of the talk list. You can read a little about that in the next post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Boxing in Otero County

Last night I got things ready so that this morning I could head over the mountains into Otero County, more specifically Cloudcroft and Alamogordo. I had about an hour and a half to two hours of driving to reach Cloudcroft from Las Cruces. It was a pleasant and relaxing drive and I enjoyed the views.

I arrived in Cloudcroft and immediately headed to Sunspot. Sunspot is south of Cloudcroft high up in the Sacramento Mountains. I took NM130 for a short distance before turning onto NM Scenic Byway 6563 heading up into the mountains. It was about 16 miles on this beautiful winding road up to the National Solar Observatory. As I climbed higher up the temperature was dropping - by the time I reached the Visitors Center at 9200 feet the temperature was 34 degrees. I put on a jacket and hat before stepping out of the car. My first order of business was to get my Alphabetical New Mexico: N (National Solar Observatory) box planted. I walked around a little and found a nice place for this box. By the time I finished writing out the clues my hands and feet were freezing. So I decided to go into the Visitors Center and look around and see the exhibits. After about an hour up in the mountains I headed back down to Cloudcroft. Once back in Cloudcroft I made my way to Burro Street. I parked and followed the clues to find Reach for the Clouds. I found the box and went to a bench to sit and stamp in - it was a beautiful and relaxing morning in Cloudcroft. Once the box was back in place it was time to head back to Alamogordo.

As I drove NM82 I enjoyed the incredible landscape - this is such a beautiful drive. There is a tunnel you go through around High Rolls and on the west side of the tunnel is a parking area with some great views of a canyon and White Sands far in the distance. There also happens to be a letterbox there. So I took some pictures and then found the letterbox. I stamped in while in the car and then rehid the box and then continued my drive to Alamogordo.

Last night I had read through all the clues for boxes in Alamogordo and put them in a little bit of order so that I wasn't backtracking back and forth through town. I also had two boxes to plant here and do a little maintenance for Astro D. So with my plan in hand I started boxing in Alamogordo. My first stop was for The Gun. This was a quick drive by near NM82, but it was a little hard to be stealthy as the box was hidden right off the main road in Alamogordo and there were cars going by constantly. I did my best, found the box and took it back to the car to stamp in. I used my camera pretending to take pictures while retrieving and hiding the box. Next I headed up to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. This is where I had to most to do - hide two boxes, find one and do maintenance on another. I decided I wanted to get my two boxes hidden first. I walked around but it was hard to find a spot near the museum. There is an area off to the left side past all the rockets but Astro D has her box hidden there and the other box I was going to look for is almost right on top of that one. So I thought I should go away from these two boxes. I stumbled upon a wrought iron arch way that said "Indian Wells Trail" and I was elated. The two boxes I planted - Alphabetical New Mexico: X (X Prize) and Alphabetical New Mexico: H (Ham the Space Chimp) are spaced about an 1/8th of a mile apart from each other. Which means that you only have to walk a total of a half mile round trip. The trail does have some ups and downs with some stone steps here and there on the first part. All in all I would say it is a pretty easy hike with some great views. And I was glad to have found a spot away from the museum and all the people. After getting these two boxes hidden I returned to the museum and headed for Astro D's box so I could replace the logbook for her. After getting that done I read the clues for the box I wanted to find. The clues stated to start from Astro D's box and walk SW. I found this box literally ten steps away from Astro D's - I don't think that is right. I really feel that this person should move there box a little futher away. Anyway, I stamped in and rehid the box and was ready to move on.

I spent about another hour in Alamogordo finding three more boxes in town and one more box just outside of town on my way back to Las Cruces. I had a pretty enjoyable day, the weather was nice and the wind decided to take a break today. When I got back to the hotel Thomas and I went out for dinner and then back to the hotel to rest. Tomorrow - another short trip and a little more letterboxing.

Oh, and I forgot about the fire. As I was heading back into Las Cruces I could see smoke in the mountains. I stopped and took some pictures. Later I found out that this it the Abrams Fire in the Organ Mountains.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Letterboxing Along I25

Thomas has a conference in Las Cruces for three days and I decided to tag along and do a little letterboxing. The main purpose is to get some on my Alphabetical New Mexico Series planted but to also find a few letterboxes.

I left Santa Fe around 6:00am and headed south on I25. The first part of the journey was just a pleasant early morning drive since I wasn't going to stop until I reached Socorro. And thankfully I was early enough to get through Albuquerque before morning rush. I arrived in Socorro and made my way to New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. I found my way to the Macey Conference Center and parked. With letterboxing things and clue in hand I headed out. I followed the clues easily enough at first but then things went all confusing. There was a pond and I was supposed to follow it around until I reached a golf cart path that ended abruptly and then find clusters of trees. Follow the path towards the golf course but the golf course was all around. Found some trees that looked like they grew in clusters but wasn't sure, checked all of them - never found a box - things were all confused, so I gave up after about 25 minutes. Not a good way to start the day. All I could think about was that it had to get better. So I left Socorro and headed to San Antonio and the Bosque del Apache.

Not much activity at the Bosque this morning, I only saw one other vehicle the entire time I was there. After paying (and reading the signs that were all over announcing not to hike alone since there had been multiple mountain lion sightings) I headed to the Rio Viejo Trail. Thankfully the box was right at the parking area and I didn't have to hike anywhere. But I did find myself looking all around for any movement before getting out of the car. I had also read the clues and pretty much figured out exactly where the box was. So I made a quick dash, grabbed the box and stamped in while in the safety of my car. After stamping in and rehiding the box I drove around the loop to check on my Alphabetical New Mexico: S (Sandhill Crane) box. It was right where it was supposed to be but it had a number written on it (3: FWS). I guess they found it and were okay with it and just marked it for their own records. Now it was time to continue on. I made my way back to I25 and continued south.

I drove until Exit 75 at which point I headed to Williamsburg. Back in March we had taken a trip to Tucson and on the way we had stopped and looked for two boxes there. We found one but couldn't find the second one. So I decided to give it another try since I was here. I still didn't find it so I am not sure what I was doing wrong. At this point I was 1 for 3. Next stop, Veterans Memorial Park in Truth or Consequences. There were two boxes here but one has been retired so I followed the clues and found Lest We Forget. I thought it was a great hide although the park seemed desolate - all concrete and gravel - very little green or any color. It seems that they could of done something to spruce it up since it is in honor of fallen soldiers. Oh well, time to move on. Just a short way up the road I stopped near an art gallery and what should have been an ice cream shop. The sign for the building next to the art gallery was gone and I didn't see any activity in the building and couldn't tell if that had been the ice cream shop or not. But I followed the clues and found the letterbox without any problems. I walked to a bench and sat and stamped in. It was a little difficult stamping in since the wind had started to pick up. One that box was back in place I headed over to Ralph Edwards Park to find T or C. This was a quick and easy find in a very empty park. I had the place to myself which was nice - no need to be sneaky. I returned to my car to go and look for one last box before getting back on I25. I headed down Third St. to Elephant Butte near the dam. I got to the starting point and tried to follow the clues but I ended up with deja vu from this morning in Socorro. Nothing made sense, then it kind of made sense, then it didn't. I tried to make things work and looked for landmarks and checked near trees with rocks like the clue said but kept coming up empty handed. After twenty minutes I called it quits - without really feeling that I was looking in the right place. Time to leave this area and continue south.

Time to hide my first box of the trip. I took Exit 63 to NM152 and drove west for about 30 miles. When I reached Emory Pass in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness I stopped. Here you can find Alphabetical New Mexico: L (Aldo Leopold). At the Emory Pass Vista I enjoyed the views but not the wind. It was blowing so hard I had the eerie feeling that I was going to be picked up and thrown right off the cliff. After hiding the box I retraced my drive back to I25. I know this box is a little off the beaten path but the drive and views are worth it.

Okay the day is going away fast but I wanted to make one more stop before reaching Las Cruces. I took Exit 50 and drove about a mile north on NM187 to Caballo Lake State Park. I didn't have to enter the park because the box was hidden at a pullout just past the entrance. This was a quick and easy find and I was glad to be able to sit in the car and stamp in since the wind seemed to be getting worse. I got the box back in its hiding spot and then gave Thomas a call. He had attended a meeting in Roswell and was making his way to Las Cruces and I wanted to check in to see where he was. It seemed that we would probably arrive at the hotel at the same time. And surprisingly we made it within minutes of each other. Once we had checked in we headed to Lorenzo's for some Italian food. I just had spaghetti and sausage which was really good. And once we were full we returned to the hotel. Resting and planning for tomorrow. I really do hope the wind settles down so I don't have to grip my clues for dear life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This is What Letterboxing is All About!

Last week Astro D, rubberpeace and I celebrated Astro D's 1000th find and had a great time. We talked about getting together again for lunch. Astro D and rubberpeace went to find one more letterbox after I left them and they picked today to have lunch and they picked Joe's Diner. Yesterday afternoon I noticed that four new boxes had been planted in Las Vegas, NM by Hi Desert and I had printed out the clues with the thought that after lunch I might drive up there and find them. I guess great minds really do think alike because while I was doing chores around the house and getting things ready for the afternoon Astro D called me and asked if I wanted to extend lunch to an afternoon of letterboxing in Las Vegas. Of course, I was totally on board (since I had already been thinking of that).

When I arrived at Joe's Diner Astro D and rubberpeace were there already and had a table. We chatted a bit and ordered and when I reached into the sugar bowl to grab some sweetner that is all I noticed. I used to pride myself on being pretty observant but with age I am losing it. I totally missed that the two of them had placed a small pouch letterbox in with the sweetner. I was so embarrassed when Astro D took it out and put it on the table. The box is called The Locavore's Dilemma and the stamp was carved by Astro D and the logbook was made by rubberpeace. Both the stamp and logbook are terrific and I loved the first finder card they included in the bag. Thanks guys - what a great surprise and sorry I am so unobservant. rubberpeace had also brought both Astro D and I a surprise. She had made homemade chocolate bark (and it was very good). After a nice lunch and good conversation we loaded into the car and headed north to Las Vegas.

I always have loved the drive from Santa Fe to Las Vegas - it is very scenic and not nearly as much traffic as going to Albuquerque. So after about an hour we reached our first destination. We arrived at the Las Vegas Depot and began our search for our first box - All Aboard For the Other Las Vegas. We followed the clues and found the box. We sat on the steps of the old La Castaneda Hotel and stamped in. After rehiding the stamp we drove just a little ways up the road to the City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial to find Rough Rider. To find the box you had to solve a little puzzle (which we did) and we followed those clues to the hiding spot. rubberpeace retrieved the box for us and we stamped in sitting in the car. So far we were doing great with finding the boxes and had no problems and after rubberpeace replaced the box we were on our way. We parked at the corner of 8th and National and walked to the Centennial Alumni Tower on the New Mexico Highlands University campus. Once there we needed a few numbers and while Astro D and I were getting these numbers and figuring out the compass direction rubberpeace went out and checked a couple of spots and found the box without any of the numbers. So we sat on the artificial grass that covered the area. It was a beautiful day but we didn't see any students - I kind of thought that was weird. We stamped in and rehid the box. As we headed back to the car we noticed a lone turquoise shoe near a tree. Upon further investigation we found a few more shoes - they were all different and all painted turquoise. Another weird thing about the campus. This intrigued me and I made a note to myself to do some googling when I got home. I did that but didn't find anything so I sent an email to the University to see if they could give me some insight. And they did! The shoes are put all over campus to mark the Take Back the Night Event that takes place tomorrow night. You can read about the event which takes place all over the country by clicking on the picture with the shoes. On to the last box - Oh, Well! - no, that is the name of the box. So we headed through the Plaza to the Hay Springs Well (the nation's oldest surviving well along the Santa Fe Trail). We parked and I went out and retrieved the box and brought it back to the car. We stamped in and just as Astro D was putting everything back into the bag a woman walked up and asked if she could help us. Come to find out the well is on private property. rubberpeace thought quickly and said we just wanted to see the well and the woman seemed fine with that and left us. We all got out of the car and Astro D took pictures of the well while I rehid the box hoping that the woman wouldn't come out or wasn't watching us while I hid the box. Once it was back in place we got in the car and headed out.

But before leaving Las Vegas we made a stop at Charlie's Spic & Span Bakery and Cafe for some sweets. Then Astro D drove us back to Santa Fe and our cars. It was a great day with friends and a great day of letterboxing - just as it should be. Thanks Astro D and rubberpeace for all the fun and thanks Hi Desert for the boxes and tour of Las Vegas, NM.

Monday, April 11, 2011

At the Santuario

Early this morning I had a couple of errands to run and fortunately they didn't take me long to complete. So I had the rest of the day to do what I wanted. I had put my letterboxing things in the car and I had three clues with me. So I picked one and headed out for a little drive.

My drive took me up Hwy 285 to NM 503 where I ended up at El Santuario de Chimayo. It was turning out to be a nice day. The weather was beautiful and there were no other cars in the parking lot. I ended up walking around for a while taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful morning and the peace and quiet. It was a very relaxing time. After about 25 minutes I started looking for the letterbox. I found the landmarks and made my way to the hiding spot. When I got to that point I took a few pictures and looked around to make sure I was still alone. I didn't see anyone so I started to check for the box. I was looking for a flat rock behind the wall. When I got around to the back of the wall I only found one flat rock. I checked under it and I didn't see anything. So I moved the rock and realized there were a lot of dead leaves and debris around. After brushing the leaves aside I still didn't find a box. So I put my stuff down and checked all over the area but never found the box. I hope I was just not getting it and that the box is still there.

I felt I had done a pretty good search and decided to call it quits. But before leaving I did another walk around the area just enjoying the morning. Even though I didn't find the box I still had a great morning and enjoyed my little outing.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Letterboxing with Astro D and rubberpeace

Well today was the day - Astro D found her 1000th letterbox. I started working on getting this box together back in July 2010. I did a little bit at a time until I got a box planted that I thought she would like. And if you read her blog post from today - Neither rain nor snow . . . - I think I succeeded.

It was a great day of letterboxing and a great day with friends. I am glad I was able to return the favor of placing a special box for her milestone. And even if I say so myself I think the letterboxers in Santa Fe are pretty special. I think Astro D, rubberpeace and myself have planted some incredible boxes in Santa Fe and I wish more people would come and find them.

Congrats Astro D and I am really glad you enjoyed your box!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

A Special Delivery

Most of you know my letterboxing buddy Astro D. Well, back in 2008 (September to be exact) I reached my 1000th find and Astro D planted a special box for me that I still remember and love - Road Trip. Now Astro D is at 999 and ready to get to a grand. So I am returning the favor and planting a special box for her. I began working on this box back in July 2010. I first came up with a few themes and locations and kept working on things until I focused in on one that I thought would capture Astro D's interest (Mid-Century Modern) and make this box a memorable one. Placing a box of this magnitude requires a lot of work and a lot of help - so I recruited a few people to assist me. Thanks go out to Aspen, Bell Motel, rubberpeace & rbrhorno, Travelin' T's, Twinville Trekkers and Wronghat for their assistance in bringing this box to fruition. The box is now planted and all the clues written - in codes. The clues area a series of puzzles that have to be solved. I put a special booklet together to give to Astro D so she could work on the puzzles and be ready to go and find the box sometime this week. So this morning I drove in to Santa Fe and left the booklet hanging on her front door for her to find as a surprise. (I did worry a little that it might blow away as we have been having high winds here in Santa Fe.) But I didn't need to worry because I received this email from her not too long after I left it at her house.

"Hi Mark- John came in this morning and was hiding something behind his back and said in a sing song voice, "Someone left you a present at the front door!" I couldn't imagine what. Then he showed me. Woo hoo!! An Eames box!! I love it. I have so far completed puzzles 1,2 and 3. (Thanks so much for the hint on puzzle 3.) 4 looks to be easy and 5 looks to be hard! Just sat down at my desk after lunch to look at #5 some more. Love love love the Eames theme and the name of the box. Now I can't wait to go find it! -D"

And a little later I got this email.

"Hi Mark- YEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH! I got it. Ah, what a relief. Would be very embarrassing to not be able to get it.... :-) You sure did a lot of work. Very cool. Thank you. Again, it is the PERFECT theme. Well, I haven't put the jigsaw puzzle together yet but I am expecting that to go smoothly!! -D"

I think she will remember this box. So there are plans for Astro D, rubberpeace and I to get together on Thursday to go and find the box and then have lunch to celebrate. The box is called Dreams of Eames and I have it as a mystery. The puzzles, when solved will give you all you need to know to find the box. I did log the box in but the clues aren't posted yet. I want Astro D to find it first and enjoy it before I make it public. And I do have restrictions on the box. I really don't want it to go missing since it celebrates a milestone and it was quite a bit of work to put together. So don't think I am being mean but if you don't meet the restrictions I won't make any exceptions to anyone for the clues. Hopefully the box will last a long time and eventually you will get to the point that the clues will become available to you. Congratulations Astro D and I hope you enjoy your box!

Letterboxing With the Wind

March was a busy month for me. Lots of projects and two trips - one to Texas and one to Tucson. Yesterday I completed a couple of major projects which made me happy enough to jump up and down. I spent the afternoon on Saturday cleaning up my craft area and getting some things organized. So that left today pretty open for just about anything. I did have one very important thing to do - make a special delivery. I will write about that in my next post.

Yesterday while organizing things I went through some clues I had printed out for boxes recently planted in New Mexico that I haven't yet had the time to go out and find. Two of those were in Santa Fe. So I gathered all my letterboxing stuff and the clues and headed out. I think Thomas had had enough of letterboxing in Tucson that he declined to join me on my hunts.

My first stop was at Old Fort Marcy Park and the Cross of the Martyrs. When I left home the wind wasn't all that bad but by the time I parked the wind had really picked up. So I read the clues in the car and and then folded and rolled the clues so I could hold them tight enough not to have them fly away. I followed the clues to a certain spot and then had to unroll them to check the next part. Not thinking, I wasn't holding the paper tight enough and the wind decided that I needed a little chase before finding the box. Lucky for me a bush intervened and stopped the paper and I didn't have to chase it very far. Now I kept a good grip on the page and made it to the box. I grabbed the box and was going to go and sit on a bench nearby but realized that it was out in the open and unprotected from the wind. So I found another bush and sat on the side that would block me from the wind. I still had a challenging time but I got through it. And WooHoo! - I was the first finder of the Twinville Trekkers' Beatles Series #15 "Revolution" letterbox. I got the box back into place and hidden well and returned to my car.

On to the second box. This box is Hi Desert's A Slice of Life box. I made my way up Hyde Park Road to the Black Canyon Campground and parked. It was a great drive, not too many people on the road and I always love the scenery. So I parked in the parking area for people only using the campground for hiking and started following the clues. I didn't actually go into the campground but hiked into Hyde Memorial State Park which is right next to the campground. Thankfully up here the wind wasn't as bad and I had plenty of trees to help block it anyway. I found the box which is hidden right near a creek. I found a spot to sit and I stamped in. I enjoyed the box and the area - I ended up spending about 45 minutes up there. It was such a nice day.

So I had a great time finding these two boxes and I enjoyed my time in the mountains. I am just waiting for it to get a little warmer so I can get out more often.
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