Wanda and Pete's Letterboxes - She Sells Seashells

Index to Our Other Letterboxes


XXV.    SHE SELLS SEASHELLS ... A sandy saunter by the seashore from East Beach to the Charlestown Breachway (about 1/4 to 4 miles, depending on how many shells you wish to collect!)

CHECKED - 9 of 10 are OK 29 March 2011
Box #2 is MISSING - May 2009

When "The Brittle Fox Den" of Corning, NY came to visit our little state for the first time in late September 2009, we were "tickled pink" when they asked us if we would be willing to plant 10 lovely little hand-carved stamps of various seashells somewhere along our RI seashore! We just happen to have a nice long stretch of "fairly undeveloped and somewhat protected" seashore in our own hometown of Charlestown. Only a couple of letterboxes have ever come and gone in this 5-mile area over the past 10 years, so it seemed high time to go out and plant some seashells along here at high tide!

Actually, the beach area itself is far too exposed with its shifting sands to support letterbox activity here. However, just behind a windbreak of pitch pines and other seaside vegetation, within sound of the crashing waves, is an old sandy jeep road that seems just the place along which to do a "letterbox shell search" on the way out - and perhaps a "real shell search" along the shoreline on the way back! Please remember to "stay on track" and watch out for the ubiquitous poison ivy that creeps along the sandy track edges, as well as the occasional "dune buggy". And we definitely do NOT recommend heading out on this little adventure in summer, as it can be very "buggy" indeed!

A breezy fall afternoon, like the one we had for planting these boxes, is a delightful time to visit, with mushrooms popping out of the sand everywhere, bright red shiny rosehips on display and no crowds! There is also no parking fee then, and dogs are even allowed from October to March. A sunny winter morning can also be a wonderful time to visit, as we know from experience from the couple of times we actually managed to ski this whole section of the beach before the coastal snows quickly melted! (We even had a box called "Ski the Beach" out there near the end by the breachway before it finally fell victim to the sometimes brutal winter storms, so we've now replaced it with a somewhat more sheltered "Trek the Beach" box, towards which finding all of these shells will lead you most of the way!) Spring days can also bring seaside charms, but we always avoid summers.

Anyway, no matter what season or time of day you choose, please make sure you have plenty of time, water and perhaps a snack to fully enjoy this area. The "shell boxes" range from about 5 to 15 minutes of walking/stamping time apart, depending on what pace different people might feel most comfortable walking in sand, and allowing another hour or so roundtrip for the "trekking box" and the full walk to the breachway, where at certain times you might actually be able to catch seeing the waves dash that final little stretch uphill to "jump" the sandy beach rim! Whatever you decide to do, though, please bear in mind that you could have a rather long beachwalk back, so plan accordingly!

To find your staring place, take East Beach Road south from Route 1 (following the blue blazes of the North-South Trail south out of Burlingame), until you reach Blue Shutters Beach at the end of the pavement. You can either park here, or drive another very bumpy quarter mile east to another parking lot (fee for parking from May to September), and park somewhere around the "tollbooth", "port-a-potties" or white flagpole, which may serve as your "guiding beacon"/turning point marker, if you decide to follow the beach on your way back. Whatever you do, please remember to replace these pill container letterboxes as carefully as possible, snuggled safely with tops flush to the ground near trees or vegetation, and usually covered with three small stones or other natural-looking items to keep them from losing their place in the shifting sands of time!

1) From the parking lot, proceed east on the jeep road to the first large grouping of pitch pines on both sides of the sandy lane. Just as you start to pass through the pitch pines on the north side of the lane, curve left off the path and look on the north side of the first pine to the north.

2) Continue east on the sandy lane to a split in the road. Note the cedar tree in the middle of the island, where we almost planted the second box, but then noticed poison ivy there, so take about 10 steps south from the "island cedar" and look on the east side of the big trailside pitch pine.

3) Keep going east on the sandy lane closest to the ocean. Pass 3 metal stakes on the right side of the road. From the start of a slatted fence on the left, head east along its north side for 10 steps then turn left (north) for 5 steps and look under the east side of a young pitch pine below a flat stone.

4) Back on the sandy lane, keep walking east for awhile, passing wood posts on the left, metal spikes on the right and a big sandy clearing on the left. Find some ex-telephone pole posts on the right and look on the south side of the westernmost post (about 3.5 feet high), under three small stones and bits of wood.

5) Follow the sandy road east, passing several different types of fencing, until you reach a green sign within a small pine island on the left. It reads "LOT #2". Go about 10 steps south from that sign across the road and look under the east side of the first pine on the south side of the sandy lane.

6) Continue east on the sandy road, passing a few metal spikes on either side, then look on the left for 2 metal fencing spikes with fallen wooden fence posts on either side of them. Look on the east side of the small pine closest to the east end of the east wood post under the usual 3 small stones.

7) Keep heading east on sandy road until it jogs left and then right passing a sign reading "CAMP AREA #1 / 1-10". Stay on the sandy lane just left of that sign and shortly, just before a root reaches out from the left side of the road, note a 3-trunk lyre-shaped pine about 6 steps off the left side of the road. Look about a foot or two from the south side of its base.

8) Continue east again on the sandy lane to the east end of a longer curved stretch of slatted fence on the left. Then take 2 steps north off the road and look at the base of a bayberry bush. Look among its branches under the 3 usual stones.

9) Continue east on the sandy road looking for two standing wood posts with wire between them and a large fallen down post just a little further east. [Update: the wood posts have fallen] Look behind the far end of the fallen post. (This is just before a small white post on the right marked with an "81" and well before a sign that reads "LOT #3", and a good place to decide whether or not you wish to proceed onward for our "Trekking the Beach Box".)

10) Finally, return to the area of the first box, either by going back west on the sandy road or walking the beach until you spot the white flagpole that marks the middle of the parking lot. Somewhat opposite the first box location, where you reached the first grove on both sides of the sandy lane, look on the ocean side of the sandy lane for another multi-trunked pitch pine tree with a U-shaped base reminiscent of a lyre. Look on the south of the tree base under some rocks and debris, and be sure to tell us truthfully how many sea shells you actually found - and whether you earned your "beach trekking poles", or ski poles, as the case may be!

320. TREKKING THE BEACH A nice long walk along East Beach towards the Charlestown Breachway (this box replaces Skiing the Beach, gone the way of coastal snows!)

CHECKED - OK 29 March 2011

If you get out far enough along the sandy lane paralleling the ocean to find the 9th shell that we planted for the "She Sells Sea Shells" series carved by The Brittle Fox Den of Corning, NY, you just might wish to continue another mile or so round trip through the sand to get your trekking poles while you're out there, too! After you pass the green "Lot 3" sign, keep on trekking until you spot the sign that reads "Camp Area 2 / 11-20" ahead of you. About 100 steps back west from that sign, near the beginning of "tree line" protective vegetation on both sides of the path, carefully search under a flat stone on the north side of the path, around the southern base of a pitch pine that is growing near the western border of a big clump of prickly-stemmed snowy white-flowered beach roses. Hope you decide to continue on to the breachway to round out your journey and enjoy your beach walk back to your car!


You can find information about this hobby at Letterboxing North America (LbNA)

News concerning this hobby is posted at LbNA Talk List