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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Leaving Carlsbad and Heading Home

Today we head home. We wanted to get an early start so we were up at 6:00am and on the road by 6:45am. We drove to Roswell without stopping and the first thing we did upon arriving was get some breakfast. We ended up at Martin's Captiol Cafe. After a great meal we headed out to get some things done. First, we looked for and found without any problems ArnoldZiffel's Art in the Round: Roswell. This box is hidden in Cahoon Park and thankfully no one was around so it was a quick and easy find. I stamped in and then got the box back in place and then we continued on to the next box. We drove to the Roswell Convention & Civic Center. I followed the clues for Welcome to Roswell by RIclimber. Unfortunately, we didn't find the box. Not sure if the box is missing but we didn't find it anywhere. So we moved on to one last thing to do before leaving Roswell. I wanted to update my box and logbook at the UFO Museum. It was a quick in and out visit. I just went in to the Research Library and grabbed the old box and put in the updated box. This is the same stamp and the same location - I just updated it. Now that we were done in Roswell we headed north on US285 toward home.

On our way down from Santa Fe on Friday we stopped at a rest area to replant a box that had gotten geotrashed. I couldn't find a good spot for the box so I kept it and have been thinking about where I could plant it. I remembered a pullout on US285 near Clines Corners that might work. So when we got to the pullout we stopped and started looking around. We lucked up and found a great spot to hide the box. So Aphonopelma is active again. It is the same stamp and box just a different location so if you already found it you don't need to look for it again. Now that everything I had on my to do list for this trip was completed we could just continue on home.

It was a great little trip and we had a lot of fun. I really want to get back down there because there is more for us to do.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Side Trip to Texas

Today we decided to cross the border and head to Texas to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We left Carlsbad sometime around 9:00am and made the 50 mile drive in about 45 minutes. Traffic was light and it was a good drive. Before we headed to the park we stopped for a letterbox. The clue for Love This Spot #24 by Road Junkies is just a photo with a heart marking the location of the box. Under the photo it says "(Map location is precise.)" and if you use the 'View Map' button on Atlas Quest it shows the exact location of the box - pretty neat. So we made our stop and I easily found the box. It is planted up on a hill and the area is pretty exposed. This morning in the Guadalupe Mountains it was 45° and really windy. So stamping in was kind of a challenge - it was hard keeping things from blowing away. But I finally got everything done and got the box back in place.

Now we could head to the Pine Springs Visitor Center and check out Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We arrived at the Visitor Center and I got my National Park Passport Stamps and then I looked around the gift shop and picked up some postcards, a patch and a pin. Then I talked with a Ranger about the park, got my unigrid and then asked for the Senior Ranger Booklet. I found a place to sit and looked through the booklet to see what sections I needed to fill out. First, we watched the short information video (which helped me to answer the questions in the Slideshow Sleuth section) and then we used the map on the unigrid, the exhibit in the Visitor Center, The Pinery Trail and the Rangers to answer the questions in the rest of the sections. Besides the Slideshow Sleuth section there are also the following sections in the Senior Ranger booklet . . . Map Work, Where Am I?, Just Outside the Visitor Center Doors, Critters, What is that Plant?, For Your Information,  and Completion. The booklet also includes information sections. There is Beginnings which includes Safety Always Comes First with information on how to stay safe while in the park. Then there is What's Involved which talks a little about hikes in the park and what it takes to complete the Senior Ranger Program. There is a list for Shorter Visits where you have to hike one trail, watch the 12 minute video and complete three of the sections in the booklet. Then for Longer Visits you have to complete the requirements in the Shorter Visits list plus watch the 7 minute video at McKittrick Canyon Contact Station and you can substitute  the activities with other challenges like a FYI Trivia, a GPS find in the McKittrick Canyon area, do some bird watching and recording or attend a ranger led program. Also in the booklet are some Chihuahuan Desert Fun Facts and a list of all the hikes in the park. When I completed all the activities in the booklet I returned to the Visitor Center and talked with a Ranger about the information in the booklet, the took the Senior Ranger pledge and got my Senior Ranger patch. The Ranger also gave me the Junior Ranger badge and signed my certificate. This is the second Senior Ranger program I have completed and I have also completed some Junior Ranger programs.
These are the programs I have completed . . .
Great Sand Dunes Junior Ranger Program
Centennial Junior Ranger Program
Historic Preservation Junior Ranger Program
Gila Cliff Dwellings Senior Ranger Program
Boston African American Junior Ranger Program
Boston National Historical Park Junior Ranger Program
Guadalupe Mountains Senior Ranger Program
I learned about the Junior and Senior Ranger programs from a letterboxing friend - Desert Flower. She has a blog called Junior Ranger - Senior Friendly Programs (Exploring the National Parks for all Ages). She has completed quite a few of the programs and writes about them. I found that her blog is very helpful and the Junior and Senior Ranger programs help me learn more about the parks.
While I was working on the Senior Ranger booklet I was also trying to find the signs I needed for Azroadie's Guadalupe Mountians Park Webbox. I found the signs and got the words I needed so I could enter them into the URL. So while at the main Visitor Center we watched the video, looked at the exhibits, talked with Rangers, walked the Pinery Trail, read about the Butterfield Stage and completed the Senior Ranger Program. So we headed for the car and talked about what we wanted to do next. It was almost 1:00pm and we were getting hungry but we were considering visiting the McKittrick Canyon area. In the end we decided to head back to Carlsbad to get something to eat. It has been a busy few days and we decided that getting something to eat and the going back to the hotel to rest a little.

We arrived in Carlsbad and found something for a late lunch and then we headed back to the hotel. By this time it was almost 4:00pm. We got a few things packed and I got some things ready that I wanted to get done on our way home. I logged in some things and got this post done. Now I think I will do some reading and hopefully get to bed early.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas in Carlsbad

This morning we took our time getting started. We lounged in bed, did some reading and did a little messing around on the internet. We finally got ready and left the hotel around 9:30am. We decided we wanted a better breakfast than what the hotel provides. So we went to iHop, which was just down the road from us. The place was very busy, but thankfully we only had to wait about five minutes. So we had a relaxing and delicious breakfast.

After breakfast we started our day of letterboxing. First we headed south and drove a little ways past Whites City to Rattlesnake Springs. This is a picnic area near a spring that makes a nice oasis in the desert. There was a couple at the springs when we arrived but they left shortly after we parked. The main reason we were at this place was so I could plant a letterbox. I placed La Serpiente de Cascabel near the picnic area. It should be an easy drive by find, but it is a bit of a drive from Carlsbad. After taking a few pictures we left and headed back towards Carlsbad. As we were passing Whites City I asked Thomas if he was up to doing the hike we did yesterday - the one at Carlsbad Caverns on the Juniper Ridge Trail. He said 'sure'. So we turned at Whites City and drove the seven miles to the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive entrance. At first we were a little worried that the gate would be closed since it was Christmas Day and the Caverns were closed. But the road was open so we drove to the trail head and started our hike. Yesterday we wondered if we had missed some cairns or if the trail divided. So today we were going a little slower and tracking our way keeping an eye our for any cairns leading in a different direction. With all of that we ended up in the same spot as yesterday. Since it was still early we decided to follow the cairns along the fence line just to see if we could find the landmarks that seemed to be missing. We still came up empty handed. So we headed back to the car to continue on with our day.

Once back in Carlsbad we made our way to the north side of the city. Specifically, we drove to the NMSU Carlsbad campus and parked near the trail head for the Ocotillo Nature Trail. Here we went in search of Ocotillo by Agent 86. I am not sure how far we walked along the trail, maybe a quarter to a half mile, but we met up with ten people in that short distance. The clues were easy to follow and we had no trouble finding the box. At this time we were alone on the trail and with no one around it was easy to retrieve the box. I found a spot on the trail to sit so I could stamp in. Once the box was back in place we headed back down the trail to the car. I had clues for one more box to look for today. So we headed a little ways out of Carlsbad on Illinois Camp Road to Alkali Road. This part of the drive was okay but from Alkali Road we turned onto a two track dirt road and there were spots where we were hitting bottom. We parked on this road near the letterbox/geocache hybrid location. The hybrid was just a little off to the right side of the road. I found Bombs Away! by Rock13 and Panda5 with no problem. I was surprised that the stamp was there (I am assuming it was THE stamp - it was the only stamp in the box. A store bought stamp and an image of a cowboy on a horse. Not sure what it had to do with bombs.) Anyway, after stamping in we headed back to Carlsbad and the hotel.

Back at the hotel we relaxed for a little bit and then showered and changed. At 5:15pm we left the hotel and headed for our reservation for Christmas on the Pecos. We arrived at the office, checked in and got our boarding passes. At 5:45pm we boarded our boat (Noelle) and at 6:00pm we started our ride along the Pecos. It was really cold out on the river, but thankfully we had bundled up and it was comfortable. The boat ride lasted about 45 minutes and we enjoyed all the decorated houses and yards. A nice way to spend Christmas Day night. Once back at the dock we headed to the car and decided we needed something to eat.

Riding around today we noticed that most places were closed - all the fast food restaurants and most of  the local restaurants. The only places we saw open were Denny's, iHop, Sonic and Dragon China Buffet. Since we ate at iHop this morning and Dragon China last night we headed to Denny's. We were told it would be an hour wait. We decided we were too hungry to wait that long so we headed back to Dragon China. We enjoyed it last night so we decided to give it another try.

Now we are back at the hotel and relaxing. We had a great day, spent some time outdoors in a beautiful location and got to see some wonderful Christmas decorations. We still have one more day in the area and we are planning to spend part of the day tomorrow at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Spending the day at the Caverns

Today our plan was to spend the day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We decided not to set an alarm and we would get started . . . whenever. As per our usual morning routine we were both awake around 5:30am. But instead of getting up and starting our day we chose to just stay in bed and read. Around 8:00am we got up and dressed, went down for breakfast and then got our stuff and headed our for the day. It was a little after 9:00am when we arrived at the entrance sign for the Caverns. I asked Thomas to stop here so that I could get a picture of the sign and look for a couple of letterboxes. But as fate would have it, we weren't alone at the sign. There were three other cars and everyone wanted pictures. So we nixed the letterbox finding and headed up to the Visitor Center. It is about a seven mile drive from the entrance gate to the parking area.

Once in the Visitor Center we went to the information desk and I was able to get my National Park Passport Stamps. Then we talked with a Ranger about what was happening today at the Park. There was only one guided tour for King's Palace and it was at 1:30pm. We decided to just do the self-guided tour and we opted to walk in via the Natural Entrance. So we bought our tickets and then headed outside and made our way to the entrance. But first I wanted to get some information for Azroadie's Carlsbad Caverns Park Webbox.
Note: He has a series of webboxes for some of the National Parks and since you aren't allowed to plant a letterbox on park land he has chosen to have you walk a trail and collect a couple of words from signs along the trail. Then you take the words you find and put them into a URL and if you have the right words you are taken to a web page with a picture from the park. Then you can print out that picture and glue it into your logbook as your image. I was also told that you can get an image of the National Park Passport Cancellation Stamp as well. 
The first sign we needed was just outside the Visitor Center as you exited to head to the Natural Entrance. So I stopped and got the word I needed from that sign. We continued walking toward the entrance to the caves and took a right turn to the Nature Trail. Toward the far end of the trail we found the second sign I needed and got the second word. Now that I had what I needed for this box I put my papers away and we headed to the Natural Entrance. You are greeted by a Ranger (who checks you tickets) and you get a short talk about the rules of the caves. Then you are free to enter and take your tour. By entering the cave this way we started our self-guided tour with the Natural Entrance Self-Guided Tour. Since we had the entire day we decided to take our time and really enjoy the Caverns. I took lots of pictures, we stopped along the way and sat on benches and took in all the formations. There were times where we moved off to the side of the trail and let other people pass us. We were both amazed at how little we remembered about the Caverns from our visit about 20 years ago. It was really like our first visit - it all seemed new. I lost track of time and I am not sure how long it took us to finish this part and get to the start of the Big Room Self- Guided Tour. We did the same thing in the Big Room as we did for the Natural Entrance - we took our time, took lots of pictures, sat on benches and just relaxed and enjoyed the walk. At 1:20pm we took the elevator up to the Visitor Center. The first thing we did was go to the restaurant and get something to eat. Then I got elongated pennies from the bookstore and then I picked up a patch and some postcards from the gift shop. We were now done with the Caverns and decided to take the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive and go on a short hike to look for a letterbox.

The Walnut Canyon Desert Drive (aka Scenic Loop Drive or Desert Loop Drive) starts at the edge of the Visitor Center parking lot and is a 9 mile gravel road that is well maintained and was a pretty easy drive. We enjoyed the drive and the views along the way. At about 8.8 miles we stopped at the Juniper Ridge Trailhead (there was a small pullout for one car to park at this point) to look for Kristal & Ron's Free-tailin' It Out of the Park letterbox. We hiked the trail following cairns along the way (at times the trail was hard to see) and hiked about one mile. At this point we reached a fence line (a landmark in the clue). We then looked for the next landmark in the clue but didn't find it, so we looked for the next one and didn't find that one either. So we just started looking around the area for anything that matched the clues. We came up empty handed. We started to wonder if the trail split off in another direction and somehow we missed it. But in the end we realized that we had followed the cairns and were in the right area. But it became apparent that things in the area had changed and some of the landmarks were gone (white plastic markers and a wooden post). So we ended out search and headed back to the car. By the time we reached the car it was 4:15pm, giving us just enough time to complete the loop road before they locked the gates.

On our way out of the park we stopped at the entrance sign to try and find the boxes there. Thomas parked the car and I read the clues and tried to see if I could see the hiding spot. As I read the clues for Love This Park: Carlsbad Caverns National Park by Road Junkies and Carlsbat Box by Aspen. I got out of the car and followed the clues and as it turned out the clues for both boxes lead to the same spot. The Carlsbat Box is marked as missing and the Love This Park box is a new box planted earlier this month. I found the latter and stamped in and then replaced it, making sure it was well hidden.

So we made the 20 mile drive back to Carlsbad and decided to find somewhere to eat before going back to the hotel. It was now 5:30pm and we had trouble finding a restaurant, it is Christmas Eve. We ended up settling on Dragon China Buffet. The place was packed but thankfully it had plenty of room and there was no waiting. It was a decent buffet with plenty of choices and we enjoyed it.

Once back at the hotel we showered and relaxed. I logged in my letterbox finds and wrote this post and now it is time for some sleep. Tomorrow is Chirstmas and we have a few things planned but it will be a more relaxing day than today.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Driving to Carlsbad

For a few weeks now I have been planning and working on a trip to Carlsbad. It has been about 20 years since Thomas and I have been in that area. Since Thomas has some time he needs to take off we decided on a trip for Christmas. I have carved five stamps and made boxes for those stamps to plant while on the trip and I am also going to do maintenance on a couple of my existing boxes. There are also a few boxes for me to look for while on the trip.

This morning we left Santa Fe sometime around 7:30am and headed out. It was cold and foggy but the drive was okay. We made a stop in Vaughn to have some breakfast and coffee and then continued on. My first letterboxing business was to stop at a rest area about 20 miles north of Roswell to replant a box. I had a box called Aphonopelma (the stamp was carved by Highwayman) planted at this rest area but it was geotrashed - the stamp and logbook were still there but the original box was taken and replaced with a soft sided CD case and trinkets. My logbook was damp and messy but I was glad the stamp had survived since it is the only stamp that Thomas (Highwayman) has carved. I had received notes about the box being geotrashed and on a trip a couple of years ago I stopped and took the stuff with me. I hadn't had time to make it back to the area until now. So we stopped and I walked around looking for a suitable spot for the box. Unfortunately, the place is well cared for and I couldn't find a decent spot to hide it. So I decided to hold off and think about it and see if I come up with a better place.

We continued on to Roswell and we were going to stop at the UFO Museum to update a box I have there but decided we needed the time for other things and we would stop on our way back home on Tuesday. So our next stop ended up being in Artesia. Here we looked for and found Love this Spot #11 by Road Junkies. I easily found the box and went to a bench to sit and stamp in. When I opened the box I only found the logbook - no stamp. As I looked through the logbook I noticed that there were only signature stamps up until July 2015 and after that there were only written names. So I figure that the stamp got taken by a geocacher. I wanted an image so I found a raised portion on a statue near where the box was hidden and did a sort of rubbing and then replaced the box. Now it was time to continue our trip.

Before leaving Artesia we filled the car with gas and then continued south on US285. About 12 miles north of Carlsbad we turned onto NM137. We had a few things to do on this route. First, we drove about 22 miles down NM137 until we reached the junction of CR409. We turned here and drove another seven miles to Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area. We arrived at the parking area and we were greeted with lots of wind that was frigid. There were only two other cars in the lot and a forest ranger truck close by. We saw one couple just coming back from a hike as we set out for our walk to the falls. There is a short paved trail to a viewing platform and then from there you can go down a few steps and walk around the pool of water at the base of the falls. The wind was a little better here since there were some cliff walls that protected the area. So we enjoyed the sound of the water and the views, I took some pictures and then I hid a box. I planted Sitting Bull Falls and I hope that it will get some visitors. The area is really worth the drive. We left the area and headed back toward NM137 and along the way we stopped to look for Sitting Bull Falls Letterbox placed by LazyD. There had been some attempts but we decided to stop and look since we were right there. We didn't find the box so we continued on.

When we arrived at the junction for NM137 we stopped at a picnic area so I could plant my next box. This box is called NM Scenic Byways: Guadalupe National Back Country. This didn't take long and we were soon on our way again. We continued along NM137 and made our next stop at The Flying Paperboy Memorial. For years I have talked about placing a box here and now I was finally here. So after taking a few pictures we walked around and found a great hiding spot for Frank A. Kindel (The Flying Paperboy of the Guadalupes). And once that was done we continued just a short distance to Queen, New Mexico. Not much here - an RV park, a general store and a couple of other buildings. A quarter mile or so down the road from the store we found an old chimney surrounded by a fence. At this spot I place another box - Queen, NM. By the time we finished driving NM137 and hiding these boxes it was about 4:30pm and the sun was getting lower. So we made our way back up NM137 heading back to US285. It was somewhere around 6:00pm when we arrived in Carlsbad. We were both hungry (we had only had breakfast, no lunch) so we decided to stop and eat before going to the hotel.

We stopped at Pizza Inn and had their buffet. Once we were full we headed to the hotel and checked in. Now that we are settled and I have logged in the new boxes it is time for some rest. Tomorrow we spend the day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

One More Day of Boxing in Parker

Yesterday I attended the 5th Annual Kick Off the Holidays - Gingerbread House event and Thomas and I had made plans to stay one extra day to some letterboxing in the area. So this morning we slept in and finally got moving around 8:30am.
After getting dressed and the getting some coffee and breakfast we headed out to do some letterboxing. Our first stop was to find Smiting Sprites - Tripping Trickster. I won't say where we found this box since it is a mystery, but it was a nice location and we saw two bucks and eight does in the area. It was a great way to start our morning. Once I had stamped in and replaced the box we headed to our next location.

We parked in the parking lot at Gateway Mesa Open Space in Castle Rock.  We took Chuck's Loop and walked in a clockwise direction. As we walked the 1.8 mile loop we looked for and found five boxes - Douglas County Open Space: Box 3 Wiley Coyote; Mayflower; Keys; A Mother Panda's Love, Two; and Flowers for Chanda's Panda. This was a great walk and we enjoyed looking for the boxes. After we left Gateway Mesa we headed to Parker Rd. and N. Pinery Pkwy. and parked in the lot for the Cherry Creek Trail. On this trail, we looked for six boxes but only found five.
We found Symbols of Colorado #3 (four boxes) and Scrat Gets His Nut! and we were unable to find Daisy...Bicycle Built for Two. By the time we finished this trail we were hungry and it was past lunchtime. So we headed north on Parker Rd. and ended up stopping at Takoda Tavern. We had a good lunch and a short rest before we continued on with our letterboxing.

The next and last stop of the day was at McCabe Meadows (which is part of the Cherry Creek Trail) to look for five boxes. We easily found the first box and while I was stamping in Thomas noticed that the area had gotten busy and he saw a woman heading our way. He said we may have to take the box with us to the next box and then replace it on the way back. Turned out that all the people cleared the area and the woman approaching us happened to be The Woodshed coming to check on the box I had found because she had gotten a notice that someone couldn't find it earlier that day. So it turned out we had nothing to worry about and we were able to replace the box and then move on.
We continued south on the trail and next found Symbols of Colorado #1: Colorado Blue Spruce. Once that box was back in place we headed back north on the trail where we found Old Fashioned Roller Skate Key, Musical Whimsy and Symbols of Colorado #1: Rocky Mountain Columbine. By the time we replaced the last box and made our way back to the car the temperature had dropped to 39° and the sun was starting to set.

We left McCabe Meadows and decided to fill the car with gas so that we could head out in the morning without having to worry about tomorrow. Now we are back in the hotel, showered and warm and we have packed some things for our trip home tomorrow. We both want to get an early start so we can get home and relax. We had a great time in Colorado and has some good weather. I also got to find some incredible boxes - thanks to The Woodshed for a fantastic event.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

All Things Gingerbread

Today was event day! The 5th Annual Kick Off the Holidays - Gingerbread House event in Parker, CO. As per my usual M.O. I was up early, it was still dark. I got up and dressed and somewhat organized my day. Then I went down to the breakfast room next to the hotel lobby and Thomas and I had some breakfast. After eating I returned to the room and got my things and headed out for a day of letterboxing. Thomas wasn't coming to the event with me, he was spending the day with a friend from high school.
The event didn't officially start until 10:00am at event headquarters (aka The Woodshed's House) but I had the clues for the boxes and there were some hidden outside the house and I decided I would go and start with those. So I got my letterboxing things and the clues and started searching the yard for stamps. I would find two or three stamps and take them back to a spot I used to sit and stamp and then return them to their hiding spots. While I was out there Agent 86 walked up, coming back from taking his dog for a walk. We talked for a minute or two and then he went inside and I continued my search for stamps. ArnoldZiffel came out and joined me for a while and then went inside for some breakfast. Not long later I found my last box and had now completed the Santa's Busy Elves series of 15 boxes and found In Between Box Nov 2016: Snoopy as Pilgrim Hunter. I then went inside (even though it was only around 8:30am) and checked in. I got my name tag, gift bag, registered for the door prize and had a pancake & coffee. After that I got a few of the event stamps - Gingerbread Forest (the actual event stamp); White Camellia, 1938; and Christmas Cryptex #2. I also did a couple of exchanges and got some personal travelers before deciding to head out for more boxes. The last thing we did before heading out for some letterboxing was to watch a demonstration on  image transfer using wintergreen oil. For this type of transfer, you need an image made from toner; wintergreen, tea tree, or lavender essential oil (100% pure) and a clean (washed with soap and warm water) piece of rubber. There a few steps and some waiting but this method really worked well and I will definitely try using it on my next carve.

Sometime around 9:30am I left headquarters with ArnoldZiffel, Lampwick, and HowD Girls and we headed for the Parker Library. At this location, we were searching for a series of 15 boxes called Gingerbread House Decorations. These were different candies and treats that are used to decorate a gingerbread house. We had a page where we could stamp the image on a grid and we had a page with the outline of a house that we could use the images to decorate it. At the end of the day, we were to turn in our decorated house and they would be judged and prizes would be given out. So we would find two or three stamps and then stamp them onto our sheets and then move on to other stamps. By the time we found all the stamps we had completed decorating our gingerbread houses and were ready to move on to the next location.
We all left the library and headed out to the Cherry Creek Trail. On this trail, we were looking for two series of stamps for the event and an older series that was in the vicinity. We started with Trail of the Gingerbread People (a series of 18 stamps). We would read the clue, find the stamp, stamp in (almost like an assembly line), rehide the stamp and then move on to the next stamp. While we were at stamp #2 another boxer showed up at stamp #1.
Since she was by herself we invited her to join us, so our group of four increased to five with the addition of Angel from Angel & Demon. After we found the 11th stamp in this series we took a break from gingerbread people and found the older series - Make Yourself Smart. We found three of the four boxes in this series and one of the boxes eluded us, so we moved on. We finished the Gingerbread People series and then went right on to the Trail/Story of the Gingerbread Man (this series had 12 stamps). This series took us off the main trail and onto side trail and we found all of these stamps without interruption. While looking for this series we passed another group of boxers that were already done and we asked them about the box we couldn't find. They had three adults and two children in their group and we had five adults in ours. It turned out that eight adults couldn't find the box and an eight-year-old kid could - not our finest moment. So when we finished the last series we returned to the area of the box we missed and with a hint we found the box. Now that we had found 34 stamps and completed all the series we headed back to headquarters. The remaining boxes we needed to find were all at that location.

Once we arrived back at headquarters there was one box on the outside of the house I needed so I worked on that first. I found the first box in the Gingerbread Forest series then I went inside and looked for the final three boxes for that series. I found all of those along with a bonus box for the series. Next, I moved on to the final series - Trail of the Gingerbread Houses (a series of 15 stamps).
These didn't have clues, you had to search around the main rooms of the house to find them (10 were upstairs and 5 were downstairs). These stamps were hidden in boxes that looked like gingerbread houses, a tin gingerbread man, and other 'gingerbready' type containers. It took a little time and a lot of searching to find them all but I finally finished the series. Now that I had all of the boxes for the event I still needed a few other things. There was one more event stamp that I got, a couple more exchanges, a word of mouth box and a few personal travelers. During this time I turned in my decorated gingerbread house, had some snacks and visited with other boxers. Then we all gathered for an event photo, then the drawing for the door prize, then the gingerbread house decoration awards, and finally the gift exchange. I actually won 3rd place for my gingerbread house. Once all of that was done a group of us went to El Trio for dinner.

After a long and fun day of letterboxing, I returned to the hotel around 8:30am tired and with inky fingers. Now that I had a shower and logged in things I am ready for some sleep. Tomorrow the plan is to letterbox in the area but at a much slower pace.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Off to Another Event

Tonight we are in Parker, Colorado to attend the 5th Annual Kick Off the Holiday - Gingerbread House Event in the morning. This morning we woke to overcast skies that quickly turned into snow. We got the car packed for the drive to Colorado and left the house around 8:00am. I had a dentist appointment and after that we were heading out. Thankfully, the snow stopped by the time my appointment was done and from Santa Fe to the Colorado border we only encountered a few snow flurries. But once we were in Colorado the snow picked up a bit but was still not bad. When we reached Trinidad we exited the interstate and made our way to the Carpios Ridge area of Trinidad Lake State Park. Across the road from the entrance to Carpios Ridge we stopped and found Happy Campers 2016 at Trinidad Lake placed by TeaMomOwlGirl. This was a quick and easy find and we only had to deal with light snow flurries. I did bring the box to the car to stamp in since it was only 29° at the time. After stamping in and replacing the box we made our way back to I25 and continued north.
Between Trinidad and Colorado Springs we had snow off and on the entire way.
Monument Rock
And as we entered Colorado Springs the traffic became worse and we moved through the city at a snail's pace. Finally, at the north end of Colorado Springs the traffic abated but the snow was still there. I had a clue for a box in Monument but because of the traffic and the snow I told Thomas maybe we should wait until we were heading back home to find it. But then the snow stopped and we decided to give it a go. So we exited the interstate and followed the clues. It didn't take us long to find the spot to park for the box. A few minutes later we had found CO State Flag by HowD Girls and Lampwick. There were flurries again so I brought the box back to the car to stamp in. Once I was done and had replaced the box I took a few pictures of the area. This box is hidden in Monument, Colorado near a huge rock that gave the city its name. I am glad we stopped for this box since it gave us a chance to see some beautiful views.

After we finished here we continued on to Parker. We were lucky that the traffic had eased up and we didn't have any issues for the rest of the drive. We arrived at the hotel and checked in. And once settled we headed out again to meet some other letterboxers for dinner. The original place we met at was very busy and said it would be about an hour and a half so we ended up leaving there and headed over to Hickory House. This was a perfect place. Quiet enough to enable us to talk without screaming at each other and it had some really good barbecue. There was a good group that showed up... Agent 86 & ArnoldZiffel; The Woodshed & Mr. Woodshed; Porras Posse; Lampwick; HowD Girls; Seekers Two and Thomas & I.

It was a good time but after the drive Thomas and I were both tired. Now we are resting and looking forward to the event tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Letterbox Maintenance on the Hyde Park Circle Trail

Last week I made plans with Agent 86 to go hiking today on the Hyde Park Circle Trail. We agreed to meet at the Borrego Trail parking area at around 9:00am. Yesterday I found out that we would also be joined by ArnoldZiffel and BirchMoon as well. So I parked there and Agent 86 met me and then drove us to the Hyde Memorial State Park parking. ArnoldZiffel and BirchMoon had already started hiking so Agent 86 and I headed up the trail. We met them at the first box of my Land of Enchanment Series. They had already stamped in so I did my maintenance and then got the box hidden so that it would be good for the winter. By the way, there was some snow on the trail and more snow off the trail as we got a little storm a few days ago. We continued our hike and after they stamped in to the box I did the maintenance I needed and then replaced the box. We did this up to the top of the trail and that got five boxes of the series updated. Along the way we also tried to find a PI Joe box but had trouble - hopefully it is there and we just couldn't find it with the snow. After a short rest at the top we continued our hike now heading down. When we got to the bottom I did maintenance on box number six and while I did that Agent 86 walked up to the Borrego Trail parking and got my car while ArnoldZiffel, BirchMoon and I waited at a pullout. So we only did the west side of the Hyde Park Circle Trail. I will have to get the three remaining boxes in the Spring once the snow is gone. It was a nice hike, I love this trail and I want to get up there again this Spring or Summer.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Letterboxing Along the Freedom Trail

Today Thomas had some meetings to attend at his conference so I decided to head out and visit the Boston African American National Historic Site and then walk the Freedom Trail. And along the way I would do a little letterboxing. So I left the hotel and walked down Congress Street and went back to the Boston Children's Museum to replace the stamp I found last night. After getting that done I continued along Congress Street. This route took me to Post Office Square where I looked for MSPCA-Angell by Parhelia. This box was hidden like the one I found yesterday, just the stamp on a magnet under a bench. A quick and easy find and a nice, beautiful stamp. After stamping in and replacing the stamp I continued my journey. If you want to read about the entire trip you can go to A Visit to Friends and Walking the Freedom Trail. While I was our walking Thomas called and said his meetings were done and he was going to come and meet me. So he took a taxi and met me at the African American NHS.

The next box we looked for was The Little Prince by Haptotrope. It is a bit of a mystery - you have to answer a few questions to get to the actual location. I had figured it out at home so we just headed to the location. The box is an indoor box and I was a bit leery about looking for it because the clue didn't state whether or not anyone there knew about the box. We eventually did ask because I didn't want to be digging around and look suspicious. Thankfully someone did know about the box and we ended up talking to four of the staff and had a great conversation about Boston and about letterboxing. They were extremely friendly and helpful. The clues for the box are clever and once I felt comfortable looking around I easily found the box. I took it to a table and stamped in while Thomas kept talking to a couple of the staff. After replacing the box we continued on our walk.

We looked for one last box at the end of the day (by that I mean 'as it was getting dark'). We made our way to the Old North Church to find The Patriot by Yumgirl. The box is hidden in the garden area around the church. The clues were a little vague but as I walked around they made more sense and I eventually found the box. It was getting darker and I noticed that the gardens were surrounded by fences and gates and I became concerned that I might get locked in. So Thomas went and stood near the front of the church in case anyone came around to lock up and then he could come and get me. I took the stamp to a bench and stamped in. As I was finishing stamping and putting things away a tour guide and five other people came out of a door right near where I needed to be to get the box back in place. Thankfully, they ignored me and went on with their tour and I was able to get the box back in place without a problem. Then I went and met Thomas and started heading back to the hotel.

It was a great day and I loved the letterboxes I found. There were some nice stamps and some of the clues were interesting. Thanks to all the people who placed boxes in Boston. And you can read about the entire trip at Boston, Leominster and Boston.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Tiny Stamp

Thomas and I spent yesterday and this morning with our friends in Leominster. Around 11:00am we took the train back to Boston and then went and did some sightseeing in Charlestown. Afterwards we started walking back in the direction of our hotel. Along the way we stopped for some dinner and I realized we were close to a letterbox. So after dinner we left the restaurant and walked along the Harborwalk to the Boston Children's Museum. The clues for the box said to face the entrance and then look left past the bike racks and go to the bench between the second and third light posts. So I followed the directions and sat on the bench and reached under it and I found a tiny stamp glued to a magnet stuck to the bench - no logbook and no box. the box was Boston Children's Musuem by West Dover Quidditch Team and the stamp was carved by Ariadne (and I think she did an excellent job). I think that is a perfect way to hide urban stamps. It was dark by this time and cold so I decided to take the stamp back to the hotel and then return it in the morning. It was a quick and easy find and an incredible carve. The stamp is only a half inch square and nicely detailed. Happy to find my first letterbox in Boston. If you want you can read about the entire trip at Boston, Leominster and Boston.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Letterboxing - Maintaining and Finding

I have been wanting to get out and do some hiking all summer but for different reasons I never made it. But finally this morning I had the opportunity to get out into the mountains and hike, letterbox and maintain some boxes. I was out today with Agent 86. I met him at his house at 8:00am and we each drove our cars up into the mountains. I parked at the Chamisa Trail and Agent 86 picked me up and we drove up to the Borrego/Bear Wallow Trail. Our plan was to hike down the Borrego Trail to the Winsor Trail and then down to the Chamisa Trail. Then I would bring him back to his car when we were done.
It was a bit chilly when we started on the trail. I had layered my clothes so that as it warmed up I wouldn't be too hot. When we got near the creek we stopped so I could check on my Bad, Bad Black Sheep box. I also needed to do some maintenance here as well. Once I had checked on everything and changed the baggies I made sure the box was hidden well since it will be all alone for the winter buried under snow. From here we continued on the Borrego Trail to the Winsor Trail and headed downhill. In the area of the Winsor Trail and Bear Wallow Trail junction, we stopped so I could do some maintenance on my Ribbit! box. Here I changed out the logbook and baggies and again made sure that the box was hidden well for the winter. I am glad this particular box is doing well as it is one of my favorites.  While I was maintaining this box, Agent 86 went ahead to look for Hummer by PI Joe. When I was done I went and met up with Agent 86 and we stamped into this box. Once we had this box back in place we continued along the Winsor Trail headed for the Chamisa Trail. When we arrived at the meadow just before the Chamisa Trail  junction we stopped so I could check on my Western Blue Flag box. Unfortunately, we could do that since there were two men having lunch right where the box is hidden. So we just continued on. When we got to the saddle of the Chamisa Trail I went in search of Letter Boxer by PI Joe. Agent 86 had already found this box so he just waited near the trail sign. When I finished with this box I met Agent 86 at the trail sign and we continued on to the parking lot. From here I drove Agent 86 up to his car and then I headed home.
It was a beautiful Fall day to be up in the mountains and hiking the trails. I am happy to report that the boxes out here are doing well. Being out in nature today was great. I am glad Agent 86 had the time to hike with me.
Hiking Stats:
Steps . . . . . . . . . . 17,987
Miles . . . . . . . . . . 8.26
Calories . . . . . . . . 3084
Stairs . . . . . . . . . . 72

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Aspens and an Aspen Box

October seems to be passing by quickly. It has already been a week since we got back from France. We wanted to drive up Hyde Park Road (aka The Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway) to see the aspens last weekend, but with just getting back from our trip we didn't have the time. So this morning we decided to take the drive hoping that there would still be plenty of color with the aspens. Also, I wanted to get a letterbox that had been planted up there while we were on vacation.
So we left home and headed up the mountain. We took our time as there was an inordinate amount of traffic. We didn't make any stops until we got up to the top at the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Here we got out and walked around a bit and then returned to the car and headed back down the mountain. We made our next stop at the overlook at MM15. Here we took some pictures and enjoyed the views. Continuing on our way down we drove past Aspen Vista since there was nowhere to park - the area was packed and cars were parked all along the road. We next stopped at a pull out and took more pictures. Then we passed Big Tesuque and we started watching the odometer. About a half from Big Tesuque we stopped at another pullout. This is where Mosaic Butterfly planted Quaking Aspen, the box we were looking for. We followed the clues and easily found the box. I found a nice log to sit on to stamp in. When I was done I replaced the box and walked around a bit and took some more pictures. The stamp and box were perfect for this weekend. Thanks, Mosaic Butterfly.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

D-Day Letterboxing

We are still on our Viking River Cruise and the ship is docked in Rouen. Today we took a bus from the dock to visit the beaches of Normandy. This is the site of the June 6, 1944 D-Day Invasion. When planning the trip I found a clue for a letterbox planted at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. I was hoping we would have time to look for the box and I also hoped that it wouldn't be too far away since on most of our excursions we don't have a whole lot of free time.
After attending a ceremony and walking around the cemetery we had about 30 minutes to go in search of the box. {You can read about our entire day at D-Day: June 6, 1944 [A Visit to the Beaches of Normandy].} Thankfully the letterbox was hidden outside the cemetery between the parking area and the entrance to the cemetery. It was still a large area but definitely doable in the time we had. When we had entered the area from the parking lot I noticed a couple of four foot high, white, square posts. So when I read the clues I immediately thought that we needed to start there. But you know what they say about assuming. So after some searching around we found another set of posts exactly like the ones I saw when we entered except that the second set I found wasn't in plain site. You had to go past a building and around a slight curve. The good news was that I found the box and with time to spare - except that I also wanted to plant a box. A small detail that I had forgotten until Thomas reminded me. Time now was getting short so Thomas and Dave went and hid my box while Deanne and I stamped into Normandy by AFD 13. We were the first finders of this box as it had only been planted at the beginning of September. When we completed stamping in we got the box back into its hiding spot and then Thomas and Dave returned from hiding my box. It wasn't too far from where we were so I went and looked at where it was hidden and then jotted down some clues and took pictures. So if you are in Colleville-sur-Mer, France and are visiting the American Cemetery please take time to look for Battlefield Cross. Once all of this was done we headed back to the bus with only minutes to spare. I am glad I found the box today and now I can say I letterboxed and found a box in France.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Giverny Letterboxing

Today we were in Giveny visiting Monet's House and Gardens. Before we left for our trip (Viking Cruise - Paris & the Heart of Normandy) I looked for some clues for boxes in the areas we are visiting. While looking for clues I came across two boxes in Giverny, both hidden at the local church and cemetery (Eglise Sainte-Radegonde). One of the boxes had two attempts but I felt since we were there I could look for it anyway. First, we looked for the box that was still marked as active. The clues started with us finding Monet's grave and then walking up a small hill, turning right and then searching in some box hedges. Well, Dave and I spent quite a few minutes searching every inch of the hedges and came up empty handed. As the picture shows we really did a good search. So we decided to head to the next box. We weren't hopeful about finding it but the cemetery is small so we gave it a try. We didn't find that box either. We still had a great time walking the cemetery and hopefully at one of our other stops we can find a box. I would love to find at least one box in France so I will keep my fingers crossed that this will happen. You can read about the rest of the day at Giverny, Claude Monet and Vernon.
I think we did a thorough search!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lake Valley and Chloride Letterboxing

Today is the last day of our trip and we are headed home. But there are things to be done first. I want to find a letterbox and plant two letterboxes. So this morning we packed up the car and headed out. This post is about the letterboxing part of the trip and you can read about the rest of the trip at Scenic Byways and Ghost Towns.

The first place I wanted to go was the Lake Valley Backcountry Scenic Byway and the ghost town of Lake Valley. So we drove from Silver City to Hillsboro and then took NM 27 south. This is part of the Lake Valley Backcountry Scenic Byway and I wanted to plant my first box in Lake Valley. this box is NM Scenic Byways: Lake Valley Backcountry. When we first arrived in Lake Valley we encountered a locked gate. There was a sign saying the town opened at 9:00am and my watch said 9:10am. So we assumed they were closed even though the sign said they were open Thursday through Monday. Just when we had decided to turn around and leave a man showed up to unlock the gate. So we drove in and went to the school house which serves as a museum and a visitor center. We spent a little time talking with the man who unlocked the gate. When we got ready to leave to do the walking tour I decided to ask the guy if I could plant a letterbox outside of the school house. But before I could even explain what I wanted to do he blurted out "NO!". Then he said "They wouldn't want that here because it would bring too many people to the town and they would damage the structures.". I again tried to explain that I just wanted to hide the box under a bush just off to the side of the school house and there weren't any buildings around that area. It quickly became obvious that he didn't want to talk about it anymore, so I just dropped and decided I would look for a place along the highway. So we went out to do the walking tour but we decided it was too hot to walk the town so we drove to a couple of the buildings and took some pictures. While we were looking around Thomas noticed something along the highway that had potential as a hiding spot. So we got in the car and headed in that direction. It turned out to be an information sign for the Lake Valley Backcountry Scenic Byway. So we parked at the sign and looked around. Thankfully, I was able to find a good spot for the box. So I got it hidden, took some pictures and made some notes for the clues. Now that this box was in place we could head out to plant the next box.

The next box - NM Scenic Byways: Geronimo Trail - had been planned to be hidden along the northern section of the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway. So we left Lake Valley and took NM 27 north back to NM 152. Then we took NM 152 to I 25 and then I 25 to Exit 83 for NM 52 and Cuchillo. From the exit the road is NM 181/52. But soon they split and we continued on NM 52 towards Cuchillo and Winston. As we drove I looked for a Geronimo Trail sign and hoped I could hide my box there. But we drove all the way to Winston and did not see one sign. So we decided to go to Chloride to find a box and maybe find a spot for my box. So we took Republic Rd. which turns into County Road CO06. Then we turned onto Wall St. and headed into Chloride. We passed the Hanging Tree as we entered the town and soon came upon a Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway sign. I was overjoyed  - now my box could be near a sign on the Geronimo Trail. But first I went to find flyfishercacher's Silver Chloride box. This box is hidden in the Monte Cristo Saloon and Dance Hall Gift Shop and Gallery. I entered the shop and found the woman working there busy with a customer. So I looked around and waited. Thomas eventually came in and we talked with the woman who had no idea what we were talking about. She said her daughter probably knew and that she was next door at the museum. Thomas walked over and talked to her and they both returned to the Gift Shop. She did know about the box and pulled it out from under the counter. While I stamped we talked about letterboxing and I told her I had plans to plant one somewhere in town. Sometime during our talk she offered to host the box in the Pioneer Store Museum. I was happy about this because I knew the box would be safe and available year round since it would be inside and out of any winter weather. I went back to the car and grabbed my box. I opened the box to show her my stamp and logbook. I explained to her that I had carved the stamp by hand and she was quite impressed with my work. The stamp I found here is a custom made stamp (like they have in Dartmoor) and I explained to her that most letterboxers carve their own stamps. She loved my image and asked if I minded if she used the stamp for promoting the museum.
View as We Left Chloride
I didn't see any reason why not, so I told her she could use it for whatever she wanted. So I gave her the box and she said she would keep it safe and available in the museum. So please take some time and make the trip to Chloride to find my box (and the other one) and visit the Pioneeer Store Museum and the Monte Cristo Gift Shop and Gallery. It is well worth the trip - the drive is beautiful and the town is full of history. The two women, Mrs. Edmund and her daughter Linda Turner were quite knowledgeable about Chloride and extremely friendly. There is no charge for the museum but they would greatly appreciate any donation you feel like making.

So with all that done we were ready to head home. Once we left Chloride we didn't make any stops until we reached our house. It was a good letterboxing trip even though I didn't get everything done. I couldn't hide my boxes at the Catwalk since it was closed for the weekend and I wasn't able to update one of my boxes because we ran out of time. But that is okay - I will take care of these on another trip.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Boxing NM 15, Trial of the Mountain Spirits and Big Tree Trail

We have a couple of things planned for today and you can read about that at Ruins and an Alligator. Along with these plans we also wanted to find a few letterboxes. Thankfully the letterboxes were around and in the areas we had planned to visit.
Our day started driving along NM 15 (part of the Trail of the Mountain Spirits).
View from Copperas Vista
The first letterbox we found was at the Senator Clinton P. Anderson Scenic Overlook (Copperas Vista). After taking in the scenery I went in search of Azroadie's Gila letterbox. This was a quick find. I took the box back to a place where I could sit and stamp in - this place also happened to be at a spot with a grest view. After stamping in I returned the box to its hiding spot.

We then continued along NM 15 and stopped at a pullout with an interpretive sign for Alum Mountain. From the sign I had to walk uphill on this two track road to a two trunked tree. It was only a short walk and I had no problem finding the box. I sat on the road to stamp in and again I had a great view. An added bonus was that the area under and around the tree was covered in morning glories. Once the box was back in place we continued to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

I know the rule that letterboxes aren't allowed in National Parks but I didn't plant this one, I was only looking for it.
Gila Cliff Dwellings from the Trail
The clues were a little off and I had to back track a little bit to find the box. There was just one part of the clue that was backwards. Anyway I found the box and took it to a bench to sit and stamp in. Thankfully it wasn't that busy at the park and the trail was deserted when I found the box and again when I put it back. Azroadie also has webboxes at different National Parks and there was one here at Gila. For these boxes there isn't an actual box. What you do is find signs and collect words and then plug those words into a url to get an image. I was able to find both signs and get both words while walking along the trail. So that was all the letterboxes for this area.

The last box that I wanted to look for today was Big Tree by ArnoldZiffel.
Trail to the Big Alligator Juniper
This box is hidden near the second largest Alligator Juniper in the country. So to get this box we had to hike about two and a half miles to the tree. It was an incredible hike - oaks, maples and tons of wildflowers. And the fact that it was a beautiful afternoon made it all that much better. I found the box and took it to a picnic table near the tree. We sat in the shade of the tree and other trees and stamped in. I returned the box to its hiding spot and then Thomas and I sat at the picnic table and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Forty-five minutes later we headed back to the car.

We are now relaxing in the hotel room and talking about what we are going to do tomorrow. This trip has been incredible and we have had such an enjoyable weekend.
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