Wanda and Pete's Letterboxes - More "Travelin' Lights": 2014


Index to Our Other Letterboxes


BEFORE YOU SET OUT, PLEASE READ THE WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER.


Introduction to our Travelin' Lights:
As many people know, having found over 40,000 North American letterboxes over the past dozen or so years, we have become quite concerned with the proliferation of plastic boxes in various places around our planet. Granted, so many boxes "go missing" on a regular basis (most likely picked up and thrown away as litter) that the number of boxes out there at any given time does not as yet seem to have become a real problem for our environment. Sometimes we've even been glad to hear that some of the over 500 boxes we've planted over the years have "gone missing", as it means we won't have to worry about tracking them down later or leaving them behind as trash when we're gone. However, we still love the idea of collecting stamp images in "wild and wooly places", so from now on we personally have decided to mostly go with a compromise solution we call the "travelin' lights" - stamps stuck on the back of stones that can be discreetly hidden almost anywhere and that "travel lightly" on the environment as well as on trips!

The idea for "stamp rocks" actually came to us over a dozen years ago, while planning a hike in the Adirondacks of upstate NY. We had stuck a piece of foam onto the bottom of a rock and poked the letters "Vanderwhacker" into it, as a sort of prize/memento for those who reached the top of that mountain. Somehow we decided not to leave it up there, but often wished we had, as that could have been our first "official letterbox"! Years later, on a trip to Nevada, where only one other letterbox had been planted at that time (over 300 miles away!) we also brought with us some stamps stuck on stones and considered leaving them hidden just like that, but the convention to try to protect logbooks in boxes was so strong and the stamp material so weak that we naturally just put the "stamp rocks" in the boxes, too. (This was long before online public logging of finds even existed, when the only way to find out who had been to a particular box was to go there yourself, so traditional logbooks were much more valued back then.) Later on, we planted another series in RI with "stamp rocks" and mini-scrolls in film containers, but the "big leap" came after someone we called "the box thief" started confiscating boxes in certain CT state parks. Sort of as a joke, we stuck a stamp under a rock and called it "Calling Your Bluff". Some people complained that they "couldn't find the box", but that was the whole point - there was no box for the "box thief" to steal!

Anyway, even if "stamp rocks" don't take hold as a concept others might care to follow, they do seem to work for us. We like planting them, and have been pleasantly surprised with their longevity so far even in some pretty precariously planted places! Since we ourselves still don't go in for public logging of finds (we love that old-timey touch of "mystique" in not knowing when or by whom a box might or might not have been found!;-), we do hope that most letterbox plants will still include traditional logbooks. However, between those like us, who simply love "the hunt" without the need for publicly logging finds, and those who love to log their finds online anyway, we don't expect that a few logbookless rocks should upset anyone, especially with the precedent already well set for logbookless magnetic boxes and such. The only question remains to see how the carving material under the rocks will hold up to being exposed to the elements. Yet consider, even if a stamp disintegrates outdoors after a short while, it could still have a survival rate as long as many boxes, and it would certainly seem likely to have a much more "natural demise" than a plastic box! At any rate, we feel that even if one person might have fun looking for any of these little "stamp rocks", whether they log them or not, then they will have served their purpose!
518. "Galloping through Grand Cayman" Just a quick leap over from the George Town Cruise Port

Since one of the stops on our January 2014 Ruby Princess cruise was Grand Cayman Island, and since that rather elongated island is only a couple of miles wide in some spots, we figured we might as well walk from one side of it to the other. We barely managed to hike on over from the west side near George Town to the orange lighthouse on the east side (near where we also found a well-placed letterbox guarded by a very large iguana!), when black clouds started threatening from the north. So, we "galloped" back west and dropped off our horse near the Elmslie Memorial United Church, located on Harbour Drive just a bit north and across the street from the small remains of old Fort George near the cruise dock. Facing south from the main church entrance, you should see a tall multi-tree to the right. At its western base, we left a 2" triangular gray stone with tiny brown dots and a galloping horse hitched to its back. Hope it's still there at its "hitching post"!


519. "Striking a Musical Note in Mahogany Bay" A sweet stroll along the south shore of the largest island of Honduras

We thought we might be leaving this little note near where we went to see the Garifuna culture song and dance show on Roatan's eastern shore, but, as usual, we got so caught up in the music, etc. that we completely forgot! So, we decided to drop off the note in a much more accessible spot on the lovely little nature trail that connects the Mahogany Bay cruise port terminal shopping forum to the beach area itself. From just to the right of the "ski lift" (on the right side of the shops when disembarking and going up the ramp), simply take the parallel walking path towards the beach. Turn right onto the nature trail at the sign and follow it winding gently uphill until a bench appears on your left. Facing that bench, we left the note stuck on the backside of a tiny stone at the base of the far left leg of the bench, where we hope it won't get swept away!


520. "Catching the Breeze in Belize" A short stroll from the pier to this popular lighthouse in Belize City

From the Belize City port terminal, go right past the shops and head easterly following the shoreline shortly to the Baron Bliss lighthouse. This is a popular stop on the guided city tour carriage circuit, so please bide your time here until "the coast is clear". Then, when you are reasonably sure that no one is watching you, continue northerly, about 50 steps from the stairs in front of the light house leading up to the Bliss Memorial, to where you can see that the base of the seawall to your right is becoming eroded. Note how a small oblong dark gray stone (c.! - !.5 inches long) has been tucked into the base of the seawall at this point so that you can replace it the same way. Carefully pry it out and then turn it over to stamp your little "Belize memento"!


521. "Double Picnics at the D.P. Preserve" Two little picnic spots just a few miles from Lake Okeechobee's east shore.

Although Florida certainly has many areas with plenty of letterboxes, we were amazed to not find a single letterbox within quite a substantial radius of Okeechobee - much larger than the state of RI! So, in an attempt to remedy that situation, we dropped off a couple of "little rocks" just off the route of the "Ocean to Lake Trail " which links up the Florida Trail System from Hobe Sound to Port Mayaca. The first one, "Little Sunshine", can be reached by hiking about half a mile south on the Fred Schiller Trail (named for a guy who built over 200 miles of trails in this area!) from the parking lot at Gate 2 on the south side of route 76 about 3 miles east of Port Mayaca, or just under a mile west of Gate 1. After crossing the gravel road, continue another tenth of a mile or so south to reach the picnic area, then head over to the rock-lined gravel road, and look to the west side of the second rock group from the north, about 3 steps northeast from an orange-blazed post. Find a little sunshine sandwiched on the back of a very small stone sitting in a tiny depression in the ledge of the lower rock, protected by the awning of the upper stacked rock.

Now, for a "Little Mushroom" to add to your next picnic, drive down the gravel road from Gate 1 (if you haven't already done so to skip the walk in a hurry to reach your first picnic with the Governor!;-), pass the campground at around one mile, and go about another mile to where the main road makes a major curve left. Park somewhere off the road near here, and make your way across the grass to the more northwesterly of two bridges in the island picnic area. After crossing this bridge, continue walking east about 77 steps, past a picnic table, to the third live oak on the right. Stuck on the back of the small stone tucked into the basal "V" between the two most easterly protruding parts of the trunk should be a little mushroom. Hope you enjoy your double picnics!


523. "Going GA-GA for GA " A tiny tribute to Georgia's most famous gardens, for those who just happen to be passing through...

Don't go out of your way for this one, unless you're going to be visiting these lovely gardens anyway! We just met someone down in Florida who apparently traveled quite a distance for one of our similar "travelin' light" stamps in Alabama and was very disappointed with the poor little stamp we left there, not realizing that for us, anyway, this hobby of letterboxing has always been more about the destination and the hunt, not the stamp! So, "fancy stamp collectors", you have once again been forewarned, especially if you don't want to spend $18 on a non-free day just to find a tiny pebble!

For others who might be in the area, however, a trip to these GA-GA Gardens near Pine Mountain can be a delightful experience even in the middle of winter, when the gardens are open for free midweek. On a particularly cold and windy day, we especially enjoyed the indoor butterfly gardens and the horticultural center greenhouses, the northern building of the latter housing some marvelous Mediterranean and tropical gardens. From the front of the horticultural info/gift shop entrance, go through to a courtyard and find the closest door to this next building to the left. Once inside, take the ramp left to the upper level and curve right through a stone archway to an overlook of a flower-fringed lawn down below. If you were to continue left on the upper level, you would pass some banana trees and angle down to that lawn, but first take a short rest on one of the seats provided on the large balcony to the right. If you choose to sit furthest to the right upon entering this area, there should be a Bleeding Heart Vine sign with a green knobby thing behind in that corner of the planter nearest the rock wall. About a foot up from the dirt of the planter and about six inches over to the right on the wall, we left a one-inch square tiny gray stone perched on a little greenish rock ledge with nothing but "GA" gorilla-glued to its backside! No logbook, but please feel free to let us know or record your find if you find it.


524. "LA-LA for Lafayette, LA" The "Cajun Component" of our little "traveling' lights" stone series

To find this tiny rectangle stone with LA on its back you must first find the Arcadian National Park Visitor Center that is closest to the airport in Lafayette, LA. After viewing the remarkable film at the free museum there, stroll back out to the parking lot and continue walking past a couple of "prickly pear islands" to a row of 11 wooden posts joined by rope standing along the edge of the road. From the first post you reach, take a couple of steps at 120 degrees to a tree with many woodpecker holes and turn over the small stone on the north side of its base for your LA-LA. (This tree is also about 275 degrees and 15 steps from a water fountain, if you need a sip after sampling some of that spicy local Cajun food!;-)


525. "Betty, you can call me AL" Drive-by stone on a road trip down memory lane to "prehistoric times"!

To find this little arrowhead-shaped stone, you must first find your way to an ancient cave in northeastern Alabama once used by four distinct prehistoric cultures, some of which are featured in a standing exhibit inside the cave. We thought it would be fun to call the woman sitting in the middle of the cave "Betty" (after Betty Rubble), and the fellow to her left about to show off by throwing an Atlatl could be called "AL" for short (hence the "song name";-) Anyway, once you've visited them and are heading back out the entrance/exit gate, perhaps you'd care to stop for another photo op? Just across the road is a large brown sign with the name of the cave and a guy throwing an atlatl. Make like you're stopping to take a photo, then scoot around to the other (north) side of the sign to find yet another arrow. Directly behind the arrowhead point up on the little ledge is where we left a 1-inch light gray arrowhead-shaped rock with "AL" on its back. Hope it's still there!


526. "Mary, you can call me MS" Another drive-by stone just up the road from "MS Mary's" in historic Biloxi!

This stone calls for a visit to the "Patriarch" at Mary's long famous restaurant just north off the "main drag" in historic Biloxi, followed by a short stroll north to the interesting historic info circle "smack dab" in the middle of the street - careful, a car actually did come along quietly and stop for us while we were totally absorbed standing there staring down reading it!) Then, from the history circle, walk just a bit further north to a multi-tree just right of the brick pathway between #126 & #128. We left a small (1-inch) triangular stone with "MS" glued to the bottom of it on the right side of that tree nearest the building.


527. "Orange You Glad to be in TX!" A little stone welcome to the first rest area in Texas when coming from the east on I-10

This was a quick late night stop for us after a very long drive, so here's all we have for notes: line up EK3 and a medium tree between the 2nd and 3rd picnic pavilions east from the TX travel info center and restroom ramp. Go 4 steps from the light pole to the tree, then another 15 steps along that same line from the tree to the chain link fence. On the right side of the fence post at that spot we left a tiny (1-inch) elongated triangular-shaped stone with "TX" glued to its backside!


533. Travelin' Light in a Colorful Colorado Stupa A stup-endous side-trip to a colorful colorado site of peace and happiness.

Before heading up to our first VOC trail work trip of the 2014 season at 10,000' to 11,000' on the NW side of Rocky Mt. NP, we thought perhaps that we "sea-level Rhode Islanders" had better take a day or two to acclimate to the elevation. So, after doing a couple of hikes at 8,000' around the Red Feather Lakes area NW of Fort Collins in the morning, we decided to take an afternoon tea break at the nearby Sham-bhala Mt. Center off county road 68C to visit the Great Stupa, open to the public daily from 10 to 6.

We parked in the designated visitor parking area, and from the kiosk immediately started following the gravel walkway lined with colorful banners (first white with yellow, then orange with red, shades of blue etc.) on about a 0.6 mile stroll toward the Stupa itself. Passing several buildings, we eventually saw the Great Stupa ahead of us, with its colorful swirled ornamentation that reminded us of the lollipops we had just seen on the Hammond Candy tour in Denver the day before. A small stone structure before the Stupa seemed to be the place where people traditionally leave trinkets - colored rocks, coins, jewelry, bits of artwork, etc. So, we thought that leaving behind a "colorful travelin' light stamp rock" that we just happened to have with us might be a suitable addition. However, we didn't want it to be too hard to find in the pile of other things, so we chose a somewhat more discreet location.

We walked off to the left to the visitors center, where we were welcomed with tea and oranges and a film about how the Stupa was built. Then we continued up the stairs on the left side of the Stupa to a semi-circular stone sitting area around a wooden-stemmed stone water fountain. This seemed to be a nice quiet stop to leave the anonymous "colorful carving" we had glued to the back of a small 2x2" brownish stone.

So, if you sit on the south side of the semi-circular sitting area near a large rough white stone and place your left hand on the flat triangular gray stone to your left, then gently walk your fingers down about a foot, perhaps you will find that small brownish stone that we left behind in a crevice, resting upon a pink stone that sits atop another rough white stone. If not, we hope have a wonderful visit to this colorful site anyway!

N.B. It might be a good idea for newer letterboxers to read the introduction to our "travelin' lights" at the top of this page before searching for these stamp rocks. Several people, who seem to have had trouble understanding the clues or "thinking outside the box", have expressed exasperation that they could not find the "box", when, of course, these rocks do not have a box!


581. Paradise Island Peacock A short walk over the bridge from downtown Nassau to Paradise Island for this lovely peacock carved by Thimbelinda of MA

Well, it seems that places like south Florida and the Caribbean have some of the highest percentages of missing boxes that we have seen anywhere in our travels, and small wonder - most of the parks we have visited down there are either meticulously groomed, full of spiky plants or garbage that gets periodically removed, or have few secure hiding places for boxes to last. At any rate, though, we simply couldn't resist making one last attempt at leaving something behind for letterboxers to look for at this popular stopover in the Bahamas.

So, since many of the prettier areas we had considered, like The Cloisters, appeared to be far too landscaped and peopled for boxes to last, we went for something more "nondescript" this time, and planted the peacock in the direction where people might be less likely to walk. After crossing the bridge, less than a mile east from the cruise dock in downtown Nassau, to Paradise Island (which can also be reached by water taxi), most people seem to pass the restrooms, cross the first street north, and then head east towards the entrance to the Paradise Island Resort. However, we decided to cross the street and head just a bit west towards the tunnel. From the east end of the concrete wall there on the north side of the street, walk about seven steps west and look under a small piece of limestone sitting just over the concrete wall there near chest level on the pipe running between the white wall and the black iron fence. We left the peacock there in a small camp pouch near the third main black post from the east end of the fence which is also across from the second main silver support post on the opposite side of the sidewalk. Hope the peacock will nest here longer than most and not just fly away with the next breeze!


BEFORE YOU SET OUT, PLEASE READ THE WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER..

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

Copyright (c) 2014 Wanda and Pete. All Rights Reserved.