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.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

It's Event Day!

Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer

Today is the event - the 4th Annual Kick Off the Holidays: Mystery Carols event hosted by The Woodshed. Astro D and I decided to meet for breakfast around 7:45am and then we would head out for a couple of boxes before heading to the event. When we left the hotel it was pretty cold and cloudy. It seemed like we were in for a day of winter letterboxing. We first stopped at Riva Ridge Park and took the Sulfur Gulch Trail to look for Gone With the Wind. Walking the short distance to the box was rather chilling and unfortunately we found the logs where the box was hidden but there was no box. So we turned around and headed back to the car. Along the way we came across four deer just lying off to the right of the trail - they were beautiful. Once back at the car we continued on to the next box. This one was off of Tallman Court. We parked on the side of the road and walked a few feet to the box. We found Horse of Another Carver: Cheval Volant quickly and we stamped in standing at a wall that we used as a surface to stamp on. After replacing the box it was time to head to the event.
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
We drove up and parked and before we entered the house we looked for three boxes hidden in the yard. We found Practice Makes Perfect, Slippin' & Sliden' to the Woodshed and This Is My Life. Since it was a little chilly we were invited to bring the boxes inside to do our stamping. Once that was done we replaced the boxes and officially started the event. First we got the event stamp and while we were stamping in we were given name tags and a clue booklet. After getting the event stamp and visiting for a while we decide it was time to find some boxes. About a week ago we received a list of eight questions about the song The Twelve Days of Christmas - we were told we needed those answers to find some of the boxes. The clue booklets had five sheets of paper . . . gold, pink, green, red and blue. The first four were the clues which were at four different locations in Parker and Castle Rock. The last page (the blue one) was a list of Christmas carols.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
There were 66 boxes planted for the event and also nine bonus boxes. A few of the regular boxes held the clues for the bonus boxes - so we needed to write those down for later. Each of the regular boxes contained only a stamp which represented a Christmas carol. Once you had the stamp you were suppose to name the carol it represented - at the end of the event we went over the answers and the six people with the most correct answers won prizes. I was only able to get 59 of 66 correct. And I have to say that even though I now know the answers I still don't get some of them - they make absolutely no sense to me. But others were very clever and I loved seeing the way the carvers interpreted the carols. Astro D and I started at the event headquarters looking for boxes. We found most of the ones hidden inside and then we decided to head out and hit the locations in Castle Rock. At each of the location there were these three wire boxes that looked like gifts. A red, blue and purple one - these were the ones we need the answers to the Twelve Days of Christmas questions. The answers were numbers and we needed a three digit number to open the locks to the boxes to get the three stamps inside. Then there were camo bags with other stamps hidden around the location. Each stamp was numbered so that you could put down which carol the stamp represented. There were nine stamps at the gold location, 18 at the pink location, 18 at the green location and 21 at the red location (which was the event headquarters) - the nine bonus boxes where at the red location also. I was glad to have the cheat sheet list of carols to help name the stamps, otherwise I probably would have only gotten about 10 correct. We found all the boxes in Castle Rock and then returned to Parker and found the boxes at one location and then returned to event headquarters to finish finding the ones there.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Once all the boxes were found I grabbed some snacks and then got a few exchanges. Also we worked on one of the bonus box clues where you had to look at a picture of the Twelve Days of Christmas and count all the legs and once you had the answer you could get the box. Then there was a gift exchange at the end of the event if you wanted to participate. And that concluded a marathon of boxing and visiting. We found a total of 80 boxes today and got some really incredible stamps. Astro D and I left the event and returned to the hotel to rest a bit and get cleaned up. Then we met in the lobby to go and get some dinner. It was a wonderful event and a great day even though it was cold and cloudy. I now need to get packed so I can get up early and hit the road. I would like to be back in Santa Fe by mid afternoon. Thanks to The Woodshed for being incredible hosts and for a fantastic event.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Castle Pines, Franktown and Parker

This morning I slept in - I had a long day yesterday and I was exhausted by the time I got to sleep last night. So I decided that I wouldn't set the alarm and I would just get started when I woke up. And since the mornings have been freezing I wasn't in a hurry to get out in the cold to letterbox. I was awake by 7:30am and after getting dressed and gathering my things I headed down to breakfast. I ended up leaving the hotel around 8:15am. My plan was to head to Castle Pines and letterbox at Daniels Park. I had clues for nine boxes and they were hidden at different parking areas in the park. The parking areas weren't far apart but I decided to start at the first lot and work my way down the road. I parked at the first lot and wondered what I was doing. There was a lot of snow all over I wasn't sure I could find any of the boxes. So while I was sitting in the car I read the clues for the boxes at this parking area. The clues all started with a bird house.
View of the Front Range from Daniels Park
So I looked around but didn't see a bird house. So I got out of the car and walked around looking for it - I did find one bird house. It was laying on the ground at the edge of the parking area. So I read the clues looking for other landmarks but no matter where I walked I couldn't find anything. I decided to go to the next parking area and try there. I drove over and parked and again read the clues for two boxes here. This time I found the first landmark and headed there. I then followed the rest of the clues and thankfully I found both boxes here - Bank of Gringotts and Hippo Plays the Harp. So after stamping in to these boxes and hiding them again I felt more confident. So I moved on the the next parking area. At this spot there were three boxes hidden. By this time it had warmed up a bit so I got out of the car and headed down a trail on the right side of the parking area. After some serious searching I had found two of the boxes - I missed the third one but I am sure I was in the right spot - it was just that the area was covered in snow and there was ice on the ground so I couldn't move some things and I eventually gave up on that box. So here I found Live, Love, Music! and Swirling Clefs. On to the next and last parking area. The lot is blocked by large rocks so you have to park in a pullout across the road. I get out of my car and checked both directions and saw a car coming from the right but it was pretty far away and the speed limit was only 25mph so I knew I could I make it across before the car even got close to me. So I headed across . . .  I had no sooner got to the other side and the car flew past me going about 60mph. I swear that when he saw me crossing he deliberately sped up. I'm not saying he was trying to run me over but it sure felt that way. When I first looked he didn't seem to be  going fast but when he flew past me I was scared - I had just gotten to the other side. So I stood there in the lot with my heart pounding for a few minutes before looking for the one box at this area. Eventually I started looking for the box and I found it quickly and without a problem. I stamped in to Tom & Jerry and then replaced the box and then carefully returned to my car. I looked at the time and decided I still had plenty of time so I returned to the first parking area. I took the clues for the three boxes and started walking around. I wasn't even following the clues I was just kind of looking for any landmark from the clues. A couple of the clues mentioned evergreens and I happen to be standing in front of three tall pine trees - so I walked over to them and started looking around and I accidentally found Kokopelli - Spirit of Music. I sat on a rock nearby to stamp in and after replacing the box I went back to the rock and sat and read the clues for the other two boxes. One of the other two boxes talked about an evergreen so I looked around and went to the closest one and looked but found no box. I then looked around all the evergreens I could see but didn't find either of the boxes. After another 15 minutes I decided to call it quits and leave the park and go to another area.

From Daniels Park I made my way to I25 and headed south a few miles to Castle Rock. I took Founder's Parkway which eventually becomes CO86. I was going to see if the mud situation at Gateway Mesa Open Space was any better. It wasn't - so I continued east on CO86 and then turned onto Castlewood Canyon Road and made my way to the parking area for Castlewood Canyon Homestead Trail. I was here yesterday and found two boxes but I missed the third one. So I was here to remedy that. I parked and headed for the trail and I immediately knew what I had done wrong. Well not exactly wrong - it was just that the trail I needed was covered completely with snow that I didn't even know there was a trail there. Today however, the trail was more visible. Still covered in snow but at least I could make it out. So I followed the trail and quickly found Celtic Z. I stamped in standing up since there was no where to sit with all the snow and then replaced the box. I returned to the car and then back to CO86. I drove to the corner of CO86 and CO83 in Franktown. At this corner is the Franktown Cemetery. The clues stated you could open the gate and drive in or park at the entrance and walk in. There was quite a bit of mud on the road so I decided walking wouldn't be good. So I opened the gate, drove in a short ways and stopped, then shut the gate and then drove up to the cemetery. I found a place to park out of the way and started looking for boxes. I first found Grams Bear and sat on a nearby bench to stamp in. When I was done there I walked a little further into the cemetery and found Lion Plays the Violin. Thankfully there was another bench nearby that I could use. So I sat there to stamp in. This area of the cemetery has a lot of trees and is a little secluded. It was nice and peaceful - so after stamping in I just sat there for a few minutes before replacing the box and returning to the car. From here I headed north on CO83 towards Parker. I stopped about a mile north of Franktown at Whispering Pines Park. Here I looked for and found Douglas County Open Space: Box 2 Foxy Fox box. I took it to some nearby picnic tables to stamp in. After stamping in and getting my things put away I returned the box to its hiding spot and then walked back to the car. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do so while I drove back to Parker I thought about what other clues I had. I noticed a street sign for North Pinery Parkway. I had clues for boxes here so I turned there and made my way to a parking area for some Open Space. I started on the trail following the clues but I had trouble finding boxes - there was just a lot of snow and the boxes were buried and I couldn't find them. I tried for 5 boxes but didn't find any, so I returned to the car and headed into Parker. I then made my way to Cottonwood Park. I followed the clues for one box and when I got to the area I tried to look for the box. This time it wasn't snow that hindered me, it was people. The trail here is busy, busy, busy. I eventually gave up and returned to the car. I then decided to head to the hotel and wait for Astro D to call. She was driving up from Santa Fe today and we had talked about doing a little boxing when she got here. So as I was driving back to the hotel I got a call from her and she had checked in to the hotel and was ready to get out and box. So when I got to the hotel I called her and we met in the lobby.

We decided to head to Preservation Park to look for a few boxes.
Preservation Park
I think we had clues for around 12 boxes. We parked in the lot and tried for the first box. Unfortunately when they cleared the lot of snow they pushed the pile right on top of the box. We tried to see if we could get to it but it was like a block of ice and we couldn't get through. So we started on the trail and tried for the next box. We had better luck here - we found Hood House. We sat on the trail and stamped in and then rehid the box. Then we headed down the trail to the next box. We got a little confused and stopped to soon and we couldn't find the box so we continued and finally got to the actual place where the box was hidden. We easily found J. Hadyn and took it to some nearby rocks to sit and stamp in. After replacing the box we continued on to the next box. Here we had more problems - there was snow and we couldn't find the little trail we needed and we called it quits. We returned to the main trail and looked for a box right at the intersection. We had better luck and found Keep Calm and Soak. After stamping in and replacing the box we continued on. It was getting a little colder as the sun started to set so we got our gloves and went in search of the next box. We were actually following the clues for two boxes but one of them we couldn't figure out the landmarks so we gave up on that one and then continued to the other box. We had good luck and quickly found the box - G.F. Handel. We stamped in at a nearby picnic table. Then we replaced the box and headed back the way we came. Next we tried for a series of four boxes but didn't have any luck with finding the correct location and by this time it was getting darker so we returned to the car. We went back to the hotel and got cleaned up a bit and then we headed out for dinner. We ended up eating at Casa Mariachi.  I really enjoyed this place - the food was great and the staff was excellent.

It was another long day of letterboxing and it was a good day of letterboxing. I am sufficiently tired and ready for a good night's sleep. Tomorrow is the event and there are a lot of boxes to be had so I need my rest.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Heading to Another Event

Well I am off on another road trip to another event. This time I am heading north to Colorado. This trip is to attend the 4th Annual Kick Off the Holidays - Mystery Carols hosted by The Woodshed in Parker, Colorado. As per my usual M.O. I was up and on the road early this morning - I left Santa Fe just before 5:00am while it was still dark and a freezing 28° - I really love getting started early. There is no traffic and it is kind of peaceful. While driving I listened to an audio book - Janet Evanovich's Eleven on Top.
View of Trinidad Lake from Carpios Ridge
This made the trip go by quickly. I was also privy to a beautiful sunrise over Wagon Mound. A little after 7:30am I arrived at Trinidad Lake State Park for my first stop and letterbox. I made my way to the Carpios Ridge Campground and parked at the picnic area. I bundled up with a fleece, jacket, scarf, cap and gloves since here in Trinidad, Colorado it was only 26° and I was cold. I was really hoping this would be a quick and easy find so I wouldn't be out for too long. Thankfully the box was only a short distance from the parking lot and it was hidden near some junipers and there wasn't any snow covering the box. Oh, I forgot to mention that there was snow on the ground - nothing too deep but enough that I would have to dig for boxes if they weren't sheltered by trees or bushes. I found it quickly and there was a bench nearby that I used to stamp in. The bench faces the lake and there was a great view from where I sat. I was the first finder on Trinidad Lake Bunny placed by Aunt Sparky. After stamping in I replaced the box making sure it was covered well and then I took pictures before returning to the car. When I arrived back at I25 I decided to fill the car with gas before continuing on.

Once back on the interstate I drove to Colorado Springs (secretly hoping that I wouldn't get caught in any morning traffic).
View from Lake Gulch Trail in Castlewood Canyon State Park
Luckily it was later than rush hour when I arrived and I had no problems going through the town. At the northern end of town I exited onto Interquest Parkway and headed east. This road changes into CO83 and turns north. My next stop was Castlewood Canyon State Park. As I got close to the entrance of the park I began wondering if I would be able to letterbox because there was snow everywhere. So when I arrived at the pay window I talked with the Ranger and he said that the trails were pretty good and that there wasn't any deep snow. He cautioned me about the Inner Canyon Trail since you have to either descend by a set of stairs or take another trail down into the canyon and he said that since the canyon is shaded and there was still snow and ice it could make it a difficult descent. I decided to at least try the upper trails and see what I could get done. So I paid my fee and made my way to the Canyon Point Parking Area. I first took the Canyon View Nature Trail to look for Moose Plays the Marimba. I followed the clues and made my way to the landmark I needed. I then started to search for the box but unfortunately there was a lot of snow in the area and it was deep in places. I had a hard time finding the spot where the box was hidden and I got tired of digging in the snow. So I called it quits on this box and made my way back to the parking area and then continued on the Lake Gulch Trail. This time I had more luck. This trail is more in the open and the snow wasn't as bad. A short distance up the trail I found my landmark and with no problem I found the box. Thankfully there was a rock clear of any snow or ice where I could sit and stamp into Mushu Protects His "Castle". As I was stamping in I looked up and was rewarded with a spectacular view. After getting the box hidden again I took a few pictures, gathered my things and went back to the main trail. I decided to continue on the Lake Gulch Trail which goes down into the canyon and connects with the Inner Canyon Trail. The ranger I talked with earlier was right - the trail became more icy as I went down and I decided not to chance it and turned around and made my way back to the car. I left the park and continued north on CO83 to the intersection with CO86. I turned west on CO86 and drive a few miles to Gateway Mesa Open Space. I turned onto the short dirt road that lead to the parking lot. Halfway up the road the dirt turned to mud. There were deep ruts filled with water so I stopped and looked ahead to the parking lot and noticed that it was also muddy with ruts and water all over. I decided I didn't want to get stuck in all that mud so I backed out and got onto CO86 heading back toward the intersection I had come from. A little before the intersection I turned onto Castlewood Canyon Road. This is the West entrance to Castlewood Canyon State Park. I parked at the Homestead Trailhead. While in the car I read the three clues I had with me just to be familiar with them. I followed the clues and found Dolphins by The Woodshed. I had noticed a picnic table nearby so I took the box there and put it with my letterboxing stuff on the table and then found Origami Glider also by The Woodshed. Now I had two boxes and I stamped while comfortably sitting at the table. After stamping in I replaced both boxes and then returned to the parking area and tried to orient myself with the clues for a third box. For some reason I wasn't able to do that.

So I decided to leave and head for Parker. It had been a long day of driving and I was done with digging in the snow. Once I arrived in Parker I headed to the library to find some indoor boxes. The library was pretty busy so I was skeptical if I would be able to find the boxes. I casually went to one area and sat on the floor in front of the shelves and took a book off the shelf - as I absently thumbed through the book I glanced around to make sure no one was around and then I reached in and grabbed the box. I put the book back and made my way to the next area. This was a little easier to get even with someone around because it looked like I was taking a book off the shelf. Now that I had both boxes (Cephalopod - Inkfish and A Cappella No Longer both by The Woodshed) I found a study desk with sides that blocked what I was doing. It was nice to stamp in a warm place and on a flat surface. After replacing the boxes I left the library and punched the hotel address into the Garmin. I hadn't had any meals all day (just snacks in the car) so I was hungry. I stopped and grabbed a quick bite on the way to the hotel. Now that I had something substantial in my stomach I made my way to the hotel.

It was a good day (just really cold) and I enjoyed myself. I have all day tomorrow to letterbox in the area and then the event is on Saturday. I think I will sleep in and wake up whenever and not worry about setting an alarm.
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