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, September 25, 2013

Scenic Driving and Letterboxing

Today I decided to forget about everything and just get out there and box. I had clues for 12 boxes between Santa Fe, Eagle Nest and Abuquiu. Last night I got all the clues ready and mapped out my driving so that I could maximize my time. I like starting early so I was in the car and on my way by 6:30am.

My first stop was in Pojoaque at Cities of Gold Casino. C4 hid a box on the side of the casino under a large rock near a concrete drain. I easily found Cities of Gold and stamped in while sitting in my car. I was a little worried though, since I had talked to Astro D and she said that she and rubberpeace were greeted by a security guard while they were stamping in. Fortunately I didn't see anyone although the intersection near where the box is hidden is quite busy. I replaced the box and continued on my drive and letterbox hunt. From the casino I drove to NM 503 and drove about 2 miles and then parked on the side of the road next to a large 'V' shaped tree. Here I found C4's Rock of Hope. I again stamped in while sitting in the car.
Cross near Chimayo
Once the box was back in its hiding spot I continued up NM 503 another four or so miles and again parked on the side of the road. I then walked up a hill to a cross to find two boxes. Here I found Sunny Delight's Romans 12:21 and C4's Good Friday. Both were nice stamps and I sat and stamped in with gorgeous views of mesas and bluffs all around me. It was a terrific way to spend part of the morning.
Santuario de Chimayo
After getting these boxes back in their hiding spots I continued on to Chimayo and more specifically the Santuario de Chimayo. Before I spent time looking for the box I headed to the front of the church to take some pictures. I didn't go in because it wasn't open yet but I did walk around the outside and took pictures. Then I returned to the back of the church and started following clues. First I found Bless My Family by Sunny Delight.
San Francisco de Asis
This was an easy find and I took it to a bench to stamp in. When that was done I replaced it and went in search of C4's John 3:16. Another easy find in a place where I could sit comfortably and stamp in. When I was done I had to wait a few minutes to rehide the box because there were a few people milling around. Once the coast was clear I put the box back in place and I returned to my car. Leaving the Santuario I decided to drive the High Road to Taos. I was in the mood for some scenery and a relaxing drive. This drive is one of my favorites in the state and today it was perfect. Very few people and wonderful weather - it gave me the opportunity to stop along the way and take pictures. The road ends at NM 68 very near the San Francisco de Asis Church. Along the way, before reaching NM 68 (about eight or nine miles) I turned on to FR 476 to find Viewfinder's San Francisco de Asis Church.
Eagle Nest Lake
A quick and easy find near a Smokey Bear sign and I was the first finder. I stamped in and replaced the box and then continued my drive to Taos. From Taos I took US 64 (part of the Enchanted Circle Scenic Drive) and made my way to Eagle Nest Lake. My first order of business was to find the Rodriquez Family's Trip Through the Enchanted Circle. This is hidden near the Visitor Center and I didn't have any problem finding it. I sat on a rock and stamped in and saw absolutely no one. While stamping I noticed that the lake was really low and the boat ramp had no water any where near it. When I was done and the box was in place I moved on to my next order of business. I have a box placed here and I had received notices that the box was missing. So I headed down the trail following my clues and was rather quickly confused. Things didn't look the same as when I planted it. Needless to say I couldn't find the box.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
So I went back to the beginning of the trail and started over. I stopped at the number of steps and looked around. I then noticed a faint trail that branched off of the main trail and I looked back up the main trail to the trail head and noticed that the trail seemed to have been moved. So I followed the older faint trail and now things looked much more familiar and I was able to locate the box. No one would have been able to find it since the trail had changed. I checked the box and found that the baggies were gone and the logbook was damp so I decided to just take it home and redo it. I will try and replace it soon. I then left the lake and drove back toward Angel Fire and stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to check on another one of my boxes. This one I couldn't find - I guess I will have to redo this one as well. I marked both of these boxes (Alphabetical New Mexico E and V) as unavailable and will update when I replace them. Now it was time to begin heading back to Santa Fe, with a few detours for a couple of more boxes.

I drove along US 64 and then turned onto NM 68 and made my way to Velarde.
Black Mesa Winery
I stopped at Black Mesa Winery to find ArnoldZiffel's Black Beauty. I made my way into the tasting room and asked for the box. The extremely nice woman had no clue as to what I was talking about. She looked around and couldn't find anything so then she went and asked someone else and they didn't know anything.
Rocks near Abiquiu
She even made a phone call but in the end I left empty handed. So I continued my drive along NM 68 toward Espanola and then turned onto NM 74 and headed toward Hernandez and US 84. At US 84 I turned and headed toward Abiquiu. I drove about twenty or so miles and stopped at a picnic area and parked.
Santa Rosa de Lima
From here I crossed US 84 and went into an area with some beautiful rock formations to find C4's Don't Step on Me! - this was an easy find and there was this large flat rock that I could use to stamp in. When I was done and the box was back in place I took some pictures and then returned to the car. I started back toward Hernandez and stopped at Santa Rosa de Lima. I have drivien this road quite a few times and never noticed this place. It is the ruins of an old church with a couple of crosses. Here I found Sunny Delight's A Tremendous Thing. It was so peaceful sitting there and stamping in. I then replaced the box and returned to the car. I drove alond US 84 into Espanola and then took NM 30 to the Santa Clara Puye Cliffs Welcome Center. By this time it was around 4:15pm and I noticed signs that you needed a pass to drive up the road. I decided I didn't want to deal with that at this time and decided to forego this last box. So I continued on NM 30 and then I took NM 502 back to Pojoaque. From here I returned to Santa Fe and home. I had an incredible day driving in some of the most scenic areas of New Mexico and I also found 10 letterboxes. Once I was home I showered and then had some dinner. After eating I checked my emails and found I had a note from ArnoldZiffel. Apparently Black Mesa Winery called her when they couldn't find the box and abut 15 minutes after I left they had found the box. Oh, well I guess I will just have to make another trip to get that box.
My Travels for the Day

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park

This morning we didn't set an alarm and ended up sleeping until 8:00am. After a quick breakfast at the hotel we made our way to Rocky Mountain National Park. We entered the park on US36 at the Beaver Meadows entrance. I picked up some information and a map of Bear Lake Road at the Visitor Center and got my passport stamp and then we were on our way. At the entrance station we paid our fee and then turned left onto Bear Lake Road. I had read that the road was under construction and that there were delays but we didn't have any problems. Either the construction was over or they weren't working on a Sunday but either way the drive was nice and uneventful. We didn't make any stops along this road until we reached the parking area for Bear Lake.
View of Longs Peak from Bear Lake
The lot was pretty empty so we didn't have any problem with parking. Before taking off on any hikes we talked with a ranger. Her name was Judy and she was so nice and gave us lots of good options.
Alberta Falls
We really weren't looking for a long or hard hike, we wanted something relaxing and beautiful and Judy helped us to pick a hike that turned out incredible. First we did the short ½ mile loop around Bear Lake - this is a nature trail and there are numbered sign post along the way that with a trail guide gives you some great information. There were some wonderful views of Longs Peak while walking around the lake and the mountains reflected in the lake was beautiful. Once we had completed the loop we took the trail to Alberta Falls. This trail turned out to be very active - we saw quite a few people walking here but it was worth it. The hike was a little less that a mile one way and there weren't really any major inclines so we really enjoyed this morning walk. Arriving at the falls was incredible - they aren't huge and the drop isn't long but the scene is beautiful. We spent about 30 minutes just taking pictures and enjoying the area. We were glad to have taken this walk, it was a great way to start the day. On the walk back to the trailhead we took a detour and followed a horse trail back to the parking lot which was much quieter - we didn't see any other person on this trail.

A Friend We Made on the Trail
Now that we were back at the car we headed back up Bear Lake Road and made a stop at the Moraine Visitor Center which was closed so I couldn't get my passport stamp. We made it back to the main road and turned left and decided to drive the Trail Ridge Road to the Alpine Visitor Center. This drive is beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We made some stops along the way for pictures and just to enjoy the views.
Alpine Tundra at Rock Cut
On the drive up to Alpine Visitor Center we stopped a Rainbow Curve and Rock Cut. At Rainbow Curve we stopped and just looked at views - I think we spent 15 minutes just sitting on the rock wall staring. When we got to Rock Cut we took a short walk up a kind of steep hill to some very incredible views. It was a little rough on us since the two of us are not in the best shape but it was worth it. After Rock Cut we didn't stop again until we arrived at the Visitor Center.
Gore Range
Here I got my passport stamp and bought some postcards, a book, a patch and some pins. We noticed some people climbing up some steps cut into this hill which is only a short ¼ mile hike but you gain 300 feet in that short span.
View from Forest Canyon Overlook
Our energy level at this time prevented us from attempting this climb. After looking around the gift shop and taking in the views we headed back on Trail Ridge Road to where we started. During this part of the drive we stopped at Gore Range Overlook. For me this had the best views along the part of the road that we traveled. I really enjoyed this stop. Our next stop was Forest Canyon Overlook which is also beautiful with views of a canyon with lots of trees. Our last stop was Many Parks Curve. At this stop we actually saw and heard an elk down in the valley making bugle calls. It was wonderful! We left this overlook and we made our way out of the park.

It was a little after 2:00pm and we were hungry so we stopped at the first restaurant we say which happened to be a chinese place. After a good meal we headed out to do a little letterboxing in Estes Park. We first took Mary's Lake Road to find Viewfinder's Rocky Mt High: Music Box #12, John Denver. It was an easy find and once I had stamped in we made our way to CO7 and down to the Baldpate Inn. We took a short walk on the Homer Rose Trail to find Shark Boy and Lava Girl's Dear Sweet Matthew.
Keys at Baldpate Inn
Another qucik and easy find and after I stamped in and put the box back into place we headed into the Baldpate Inn. We made our way to the library to look for TaiChi and ChaiTea's Seven Keys . . . letterbox. I thought I had the clues figured out and I thought I knew what I was looking for but when we entered I became confused. One of the clues was 'bookcase' - there were lots of book shelves but only one thing that I considered a case. So I went there first. I read the clues again and looked where they said to look but I didn't find anything. So I read the clues again and looked again but still nothing. Anyway, we spent about 15 minutes lookng for what I thought I needed but didn't find anything so we called it quits and walked through the "Key Room". It was amazing to see all the keys hanging there and they really have taken the time to label each one and have them so organized. Now it was time to leave and head back into Estes Park. As we drove to our next stop it started to drizzle but we continued on to the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead off of MacGregor Avenue. First we found Viewfinder's Moose in the Mountains and after stamping in we found the Gem Lake Trail and looked for Gem Luck by Monkey Miller. We didn't find this box so we continued a little ways up the trail but the rain was getting worse so we returned to the car. By the time we reached the car it was a heavy downpour. We decided to head back to the hotel and rest a while and wait out the rain. We spent about an hour and a half at the hotel and once the rain was done we headed out again.

Staircase in the Lobby of The Stanley Hotel
This time we made our way to The Stanley Hotel. We decided to go through the guard gate and pay $5 to park near the hotel. The parking lot in the back of the hotel was pretty empty and that is where we decided to leave the car. There were a few boxes hidden on a trail by some large boulders to the back of the employees quarters and that is were we headed. Immediately I noticed a couple of problems.
The Stanley Hotel
One - there was really no discernible trail and two - we were unable to locate a landmark we were looking for. But we continued on and looked for other boxes. We spent about an hour out there and found the following boxes . . . Sarcasmo's Stephen King: Heeere's Johnny! and Redrum and The Stanley by TeamPumpkinKing. We found other landmarks for boxes but then the clues fizzled out and the only boxes we found were the three listed above. Next we headed into the hotel. We looked for a box near one of the back entrances but came up empty handed. Then we went in and walked around the place for a little bit and took some pictures. After about 20 minutes we headed out front to look for two boxes but we only found one - Seattle Bound's Stephen King: The Overlook Hotel. I stamped in and then rehid the box and then we walked back to the car.

Leaving The Stanley we encountered about five elk walking in the road. I snapped a couple of pictures and then we headed downtown. We parked and again encountered more elk walking the streets. During our walk downtown we looked for three boxes but only found one - ona journey's Urban Box Tribute to Preboxed. It was a little tricky finding the box but I did have some ideas of where to look and one of them panned out. We stamped in and then kept walking to find some place to eat. We had a nice meal and then decided to call it a day. Back at the hotel we got things packed so that we could get an early start in the morning to make our way back home. We had a great visit and enjoyed the weekend getaway.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Estes Park

We are in Estes Park, Colorado and we had a great time today. Yesterday Thomas and I left Santa Fe after work and drove part of the way to our destination. We stopped and had dinner in Raton and then decided to stay in Colorado Springs for the night. We ended up at a Double Tree Hotel and had a nice room and some delicious cookies. This morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then drove to Littleton to meet up with Thomas' brother Chris and his wife Karla. We met at a flea market called A Paris Street Market. We spent about two hours walking around checking out all the booths and just visiting. Then we went for a coffee and visited some more. From there Thomas and I headed up to Estes Park while his brother and sister-in-law went back to their house to check on their dogs and then they drove up to Estes Park to meet us. When we arrived in Estes Park we went and checked in to our hotel and waited for Chris and Karla to arrive. We then all drove up to the Visitor Center to park and then walk around the downtown area. The town was packed - this weekend is the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival and we knew something was going on when we ran into a traffic jam trying to enter the town. We found a parking spot and then grabbed a map at the Visitor Center and asked for a recommendation for lunch.
Elk in Estes Park
Three people suggested Ed's Cantina & Grill so that is where we headed. We weren't disappointed - the food was great and we got to visit some more. After lunch we just started walking. At times we walked along the river and at times along the street. At one point we watched some Elk play in the river - there was one buck with eight cows, it was amazing to be so close to them. We did a lot of window shopping and some real shopping. And we did a lot of snacking. We stopped into a candy store and bought some old time candy (Mary Janes, Bit O Honey, BB Bats, Kits, Necco Wafers, Banana Splits, Squirrel Nut Zippers and Abba Zabba Peanut Butter Taffy) and ate as we walked. Later we stopped into a Blue Bunny Ice Cream Shop and had some ice cream and cones. Finally about 5:00pm we all returned to our hotel and then Chris and Karla left to head back to Broomfield.

Thomas and I then decided to head out and do a little letterboxing.
Birch Ruins
We ended up on Wonderview Ave. and more specifically the Birch Ruins and Knoll Willows Nature Preserve. We walked around the area and enjoyed the views from the hill, the ruins, the cabin and we had a great time finding three letterboxes - Estes Inferno, Elk Nursery and Estes Pine. I liked all the stamps and was happy to have found a few boxes. By the time we found the last letterbox it was getting dark and we decided we needed some dinner. As we drove in the direction of the hotel we looked for a place to eat and we ended up at Village Pizza and had a nice meal. We arrived back at the hotel a little after 8:00pm and now that I am showered and relaxing I am getting this post completed. Tomorrow our plan is to spend some time in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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