Wanda and Pete's Letterboxes - Travelin' Light Series

Index to Our Other Letterboxes


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!
479. Travelin' Light The "prototype" of our "travelin' light series" to start off our 2013 trip to Hawaii on the right foot!

Well, since it would have cost us an extra $100 to bring our backpacks with us on our recent trip to Hawaii, we decided to travel light this time with only a couple of day packs! In keeping with the travelin' light motif, we also decided to dispense with the usual lock-n-lock boxes and logbooks, and only leave behind a few small stones with stamps glued on the back side that we could plant just about anywhere!

The first one we dropped off was right at the start of our trip when we stayed at a "choice" near-airport location, where staying overnight and leaving our car in their lot was only a bit more expensive than merely parking for two weeks at the airport garage next door. To find the "baggage" we left behind, just go to the back of the parking of the "choice hotel" north of the airport parking garage, and find the largest multi-trunk tree on the east side fence. About 4 feet up, where you wouldn't expect a little stone to be hiding in some grass, is our "new motto"!

480. Flowers Rock on Maui! A trio of tiny little rocks, with mini flower carvings by nosox!

When we asked MA master carver nosox if she had any tiny little carvings that she wouldn't mind having us "gorilla-glue" onto small (1-inch) stones to take out with us on our winter 2013 "travel light" Hawaii trip, she kindly obliged with three delicate little flowers, which we have planted at very easily accessible spots for tourists traveling to Maui.

The first is almost like a little lei greeting for cruise ship passengers arriving on the dock at Kahului. It can also be done as a 2 mile walk or bus ride from the Kahului airport to the Maui Mall stop near the Whole Foods store. In any case, simply find the large banyon tree southeast of the green-signed pedestrian walkway, if cruising in, or northwest across the street from the Whole Foods parking lot, if driving in. Note the knot about 4 feet up in the middle of the Banyon on its ocean side - makai - with an RM heart off to the right and an S black cross a bit back to the left. Behind this middle knot is a small shelf holding a 1-inch shiny black squarish stone with the "Delicate Daisy" glued underneath. (Remember: we're "travelin' light" here (no box, no logbook) and there's "no loitering", so just stamp up quickly, replace the rock carefully, and off you go on your merry daisy way!)

The next two rock flowers can be found by "cruising in" to the historic town of Lahaina. We were actually planning to plant one flower somewhere within the huge 1/4 acre banyon that spreads through Courthouse Square, but that area was far too busy, so we settled on planting near another popular area attraction, the Old Lahaina luau, a mile or so further up Front Street. Just north of the luau location, along the west side of Front Street is a cute little restaurant called Aloha Mixed Plate which serves the typical Hawaiian lunch plate of 2 scoops of rice, potato/mac salad and chicken/seafood. To find the "Happy Hibiscus", perhaps after enjoying lunch or luau, sit down on the curved part of the low stone wall on Front St near the big wall that separates the luau from the restaurant. Look over you left shoulder to the large bamboo clump of maybe 10 or so shoots, with several chopped off in front. Directly behind the chopped-off stalks, between and in front of two orangish 2-4 inch diameter shoots, a 1-inch blackish triangular stone rests about 6 inches off the ground. You know what to do - pretend to tie your shoe!

Finally now, off to a peaceful little spot tucked away on a side street a few blocks back south along Front St. to near where "Jesus Is Coming Soon". Go south/southwest on Ala Moana to get to the Lahaina Jodo Mission, then turn left after passing through the main gate to find yet another banyon tree shading this corner of the courtyard. If you go behind the banyon, you should see some cut-off branches to the left of a white bark section where the letter "J" can be seen about 6 feet up. A natural brownish reverse "J" has grown around a part of one of the cut-off branches, with a little shelf above it about 5 feet high. Here rests a tiny "lotus" (actually a chrysanthemum) on the back of a light grey 1-inch oval stone. Please put it back to blend in naturally with its surroundings!

483. Happy Haole Another "travelin' light mini" sunshine happy dancer!

Since there was no international folk dancing to be found on Maui when we visited in the winter of 2013, one of the things we did instead when we got out there was to go to Pukalani, about 10 miles east of Kahului, for some Israeli dancing that was being held on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons at Grace Church just off the Kula Highway on the way out of town.

If you happen to get out that way, too, just look about 4 feet up in the multi-tree behind the mailbox on the corner near the parking lot exit. A happy little dancing man is jumping for joy on the backside of a little 1-inch round stone up in that tree!

484. Colorful Kiteboarding A little memento of the colorful kites we saw while walking the beach back to the Kahului airport.

It seems the place to go for kiteboarding in Maui is Kahana Beach, less than half a mile from Kahului airport. So, if you're flying in, or out, and need a quick "letterboxing fix", just follow, Kaa Street past the rental cars to its "T" junction end at Amala Place near the ocean. Then continue straight past the yellow gate about 35 steps and look for a multi-trunk tree on the left with a low branch cut off. On the ledge behind the cut off branch (circa 3 feet high) under a couple of black strip beans, find a 1-inch squarish dark stone with a "symbolic representation of a colorful kiteboard" (or something like that;-) on its underneath side. Then go down the beach west a ways to see the colorful kites themselves!

485. Return to Paradise A special turtle carved by Blackvelvetrav for our "20th Anniversary Honeymoon Return to Hawaii" trip

Well, we hate to admit it, but we were so busy bopping around from Hana to Haleakala that we almost forgot to plant this box until our next-to-last day on Maui! By then, it was too late for us to get back to any of the places where you actually can go "swimming with the turtles" (Napili, Olowalu, etc.) so, we gave this "honu" a temporary home in a small park called Honaloha across from the Kahului shopping center adjacent to the Maui Seaside Motel on Ka'ahumanu St in downtown Kahului, with hopes that perhaps he may get transplanted somewhere closer to his actual "turtle brethren" by some kindhearted letterboxers at some point in the future...

For now, simply find the large grass shack in Honaloha Park where canoes are sometimes stored. Then head towards the water, where you should see a blue sign that says "Kahului Fisheries Management Area". To the left of the sign, covered with a grass skirt tucked under a branch of green Naupaka bush, next to a couple of "rock decoys", find this turtle's temporary nest. (And please feel free to take him out to another safer "turtle nesting spot", and write up some new clues for us to post, if you happen to be heading out that way!)

486. Two Petite Precariously Planted Peppers Part of our "travelin' light rock" series in southern CA.

1. Padre Peyri's Pepper
If you ever happen to be going to the old mission in southern California that is famous for its gargoyle-headed washing facilities, don't forget to note that it is also famous for having the first pepper trees ever planted in Alta California! (Apparently the seeds were brought there in 1830 by a sailor from Peru, and planted by Padre Peyri.) One of these first pepper trees still stands in the quadrangle near the restrooms. We were about to plant our little pepper inside this courtyard, in a chink in the wall, until we noticed that the gate would be closing at 4:30 PM. Therefore, we quickly removed our pepper stone and put it just outside the courtyard gate under two red bricks on the left side when facing the courtyard. There under a small white stone should be a very thin grey 1 inch oval stone. Turn it over, and, yepper, there's your pepper!

2. Pio Pico's Pepper
Another one of our favorite colorful places in southern California is the place where the American flag was first planted on California soil back in 1846. When you get there, find the spot where Pio Pico planted a plot of "pickled" pepper trees. One little pepper has fallen not far from the "tree". (Hint: a sign near Casa De Reyes marks where these trees used to be.) Sitting on a nice rustic bench painted with 4 "Day of the Dead Ladies" under a Tienda de Reyes sign on the wall behind, look right to an pointed arch mosaic with some plants growing in a small garden plot in front of it. About 8 to 10 inches in front of the bottom right side of the mosaic, pick up the smallest stone (circa 1-inch diameter) near the edge of the stone border. Turn it over to stamp your pepper and replace it as discreetly as possible, since there may be hidden cameras somewhere around this area.

As we already said, these are very precariously placed peppers, so get them while they're hot! We don't know how long they will last in such public places, but we will be curious to see how they fare, and how many people may find them before the gardeners rake them up!

488. Laughlin by Candlelight Another "travelin' light mini", this one left while passing through the southern tip of Nevada

We always get a kick out of seeing the bright lights along the Colorado River as we cross the desert into Laughlin. This time we also found a new pedestrian bridge snaking over route 163 just west of Casino Drive. To find this extra little flicker of light (it doesn't "hold a candle" to those bright lights down the road!:-), just park and walk north over the shiny new wavy bridge, then follow the curvaceous stone wall northeast to its end. On the backside (streetside) of this part of the wall, look in the small crevice 3 rocks up and 1 rock over (circa 6 inches by 3 inches from the bottom right corner) to find a small grey 1-inch stone tucked in with a tiny red pebble. Turn over the stone for your little "night light", and then replace it carefully for the next visitor!

489. Roy's Snail Another "travelin' light mini" left while ambling back across the CA desert

Many folks are used to "speeding along the highway" through these "deserted parts" of CA, but for those who are taking their time along historic route 66 between Needles and Barstow, CA, the lights of Roy's in Amboy may be some of the only lights you will see for many, many miles! So, if you happen to be ambling out that way, find the red-based unlit lamp post in the parking lot just west of Roy's, and pull over nearby. Three rocks are currently placed around this lightless lamppost. Under the one on the northwest side is a very flat 1 to 1.5 inch stone under which a snail has crawled for cover and gotten "squished" on the backside.
(N.B. even if the rocks disappear, the snail may still be hiding here very discreetly attached to that small flat stone, so we hope that you won't be discouraged in your search!;-)

490. Last Little Ladybug Another "travelin' light mini" left near Disney on our 2013 road trip to Florida


After having our butts scuttled by the departing beetles and cockroaches of "It's Tough to be a Bug" at the base of the giant tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom where we celebrated Pete's 65th birthday, we found one last little leftover lady bug still clinging to the underside of a rock in Pete's pants pocket! So, we decided to put her on a "Shingle" and send her down the "Creek" to a Park several miles to the east. Actually, all we did was turn into the park's western entrance, take the little quarter mile loop starting southeasterly, and tuck the tiny ladybug rock into a low ledge just a few inches off the ground in the southwestern corner of the wooden fence surrounding the Caretaker's House, barely halfway around the loop. We wonder if she's still hanging out there in that fence corner on the backside of that tiny little stone...

491. Arsons Pay for Pepper Spray! Another "travelin' light mini" planted in SC on the way home during our 2013 southern road trip

While passing through central Georgia on our way home from Florida after the long, cold winter of 2013, we thought that this time through the South it might be fun to stop briefly at a small mountain located shortly after crossing over the border into South Carolina near where we had spent a fun day letterboxing the year before. Suddenly getting silly and shifting into a strangely distorted version of pig Latin, we found that we had an "ache to lay" a letterbox where "arsons pay". The pay gate was still seasonally locked, however, so we decided that it would be only "right" to put some "Tea" before "Our Road" (euphoniously, of course!;-), and then continue right to "A" Dead End. From there we headed northwesterly(?) down a somewhat muddy red chute, strolled around a good-sized lake, found a curious-looking tree with its roots sticking up into the air about 50 paces behind a low wooden bench (photo coming soon), did a short climb to find a very defunct latrine, and finally took the dead end road back to our car (c. 4-mile loop). If you don't want to do that whole loop, though, just go a few hundred feet down the way we started out our stroll, and you should see a cement topped bench off to the right above a considerably smaller body of water than the one we walked around. About 40 steps uphill behind this bench, you should be able to spot a multi-tree with a chunk of rock in the middle of the trunks. If you lift up the rock chunk, you should see a small 1-inch flat circular stone beneath. Turn over that small stone for a tiny bite of pepper (hopefully not a "hot one", so it won't burn your buds!;-)

492. A Quick Game of Chess Another "travelin' light mini series" with stamps carved by nosox, placed while hurrying home through PA on the last day of our 2013 southern trip

Well, we'd been hoping to plant these cute little chess pieces, carved by nosox of MA, much sooner during our 2013 southern trip, but, as usual, one thing led to another in rapid succession, so we found ourselves scrambling to get them planted on our very last day, while taking in some "lightnin' bug boxes" on our way home through northeastern PA. (Hope the "bug" doesn't mind finding a bit of "schach" among the native Americans! ;-)

Anyway, after searching for "Whispering Giants" on the eastern branch of the Varden Preserve in northeastern PA (or "reverse engineering" those clues, if you're short on time), you reach a line of rocks in the path near the curve just before the final stretch of the pond loop. Look under the southern side of the northwest overhang of the largest rock to the west. Stealthily removing the four-inch gray triangular stone tucked there should reveal a one-inch light orangey circular stone that holds the "Pawn" on its underbelly.

Now jump over to the other side of the "chessboard" for the western branch of "Whispering Giants". We recommend taking the trail that goes straight back from the kiosk through the evergreen plantation and then curves right to rejoin the other muddier path. Shortly thereafter, still in sight of junction #17, take a seat on the far side of the large layered "Empire-style" rock sofa on the left flank of the trail. At your feet, just a couple of feet from the rock cushion's eastern overhang, behind a 6-inch triangular green rock, is a 2-inch ovalish gray stone with the "Knight" clinging for dear life to its rump! Hope you enjoy the rest of your game...

509. "Saranac Sixers" Travelin' Light Rocks Another set of mini "stamp rocks" to mark some great "little climbs" in the 'Dacks!

What a nice little treat we got in the summer of 2013, when we went up to the Adirondacks to climb a few more of the 46 mountains over 4,000' in upstate NY that count towards "46-ers", only to find that there is now a much easier club to join in Saranac Lake called ... "6-ers"! Yup, there were banners all up and down the main street in Saranac Lake this summer proclaiming the existence of this newly orgainized venture to get folks out climbing the "less High Peaks" surrounding the Saranac Lake area, none of which is over 4,000', but all of which are great fun climbs nonetheless! Turns out half of them already had letterboxes on them (one being a mystery box that we planted many years ago, but don't know if it's ever been found yet), so we figured why not plant "stamp rocks" on the remaining three mountains and encourage other letterboxers to become "6-ers", too!

So, a quick doodle with the carving knife (hey, even I can carve an ampersand, a scarred-up-looking face, and my interpretation of what a Scotsman named McKenzie might look like!;-), and off we went to become "6-ers"! Hopefully we'll have more letterboxers joining us as "6-ers" soon, but please don't underestimate the time it takes to climb these three particular rocky-topped mountains, which are not "rock climbs" per se, but still require several hours of rather strenuous hiking. The first two are each about six or seven miles round trip, and the last one, McKenzie, is well over 12 miles round trip if you take in another "6-er", Haystack, as a side trip along the way to the summit, as we did that day. That being said, we decided to leave the last "stamp rock" where it could be more easily accessed by several different routes, including possibly by X-C skiing in winter, or by about seven miles round trip on the standard route for those not wishing to go the whole distance to the summit. In any case, please do your homework before going out to tackle these mountains. That is why we're not even going to give you the starting points for these climbs this time, so that you can do your own research to find out whether you're up for it or not. The climbs are definitely their own reward, but if these stamps can serve as tiny carrots or a little bit of "icing on the cake", that would be great, too!

1. Ampersand

Go to the top of Ampersand Mountain. Pass the summit, following the yellow blazes curving SE towards the former fire tower. To your left you should see a green plaque dedicated to the "Hermit of Ampersand" on a large flat southeast facing ledge. Go the flat vertical northwest face of that same ledge. Half a foot north of the northwest rock face in a somewhat secluded alcove south of a westerly pointing rock formation, find a foot-long, half-foot-high squarish rock, and under its western side, several small stones. Behind the middle 2-inch-long black stone is a 1-inch ambersandy-orangish stone with an Ampersand glued onto its underbelly.

2. Scarface

Go to the true summit which is 0.3 mi past the rocky lookout where most people stop. There is a small yellow "TRAIL" disk on a tree at the actual summit with the words "END OF" added to the top of it. Facing that disk, three steps left of the tree is a several-foot-tall rotting stump with a small tannish stone blending in well with the color of the inner bark debris on the side nearest that "high point tree". Turn it over to see the scarface.

3. McKenzie

A little more than halfway to this summit on the standard route, but with far less than half of the effort required for the full climb, reach a 4-way junction where the east-west Jackrabbit X-C Trail crosses the main north-south trail. On the south side of this crossing is a sign telling you that it is 3.6 miles back to route 86 at Ray Brook or 2.1 mi back to Haystack Mtn. On the north side of the crossing is a good sitting boulder. Three or four steps north past this boulder is a tree with a brown sign featuring a yellow arrow and a red disk. If you look closely, you can also see, carved into the inner bark of this same tree with the sign, the letters "McKNZ Mtn" and an arrow pointing diagonally upwards to the left. At the front base of this tree, behind a large potato rock and under leaves, find a flattish 2-inch squarish white stone with my crude representation of Scottish "McKenzie" on its backside. Hope you've enjoyed these wonderful mountains!

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

Copyright (c) 2001, 2014 Wanda and Pete. All Rights Reserved.