A Memorable Memorial Day
(May 2006)

OK, so most Memorial Days in my life just don't seem to be all that memorable . . . My main memory from childhood Memorial Days is being forced to march for miles in bloody majorette boots that were far too tight for my poor growing feet! Subsequent Memorial Days brought far more comfortable boots, first in the form of government issue "high tops" for Army "boot camp" and then in the dozens of pairs of cushy "HiTecs" that were sent my way in mail drops by HiTec (in exchange for using my name in their company advertising after I'd reached 10,000 miles of backpacking) to keeping me marching from the Mohave Desert on the PCT to the mountains of Montana on the CDT! The only Memorial Days I actually remember are: 1) climbing Mt Marcy (NY high point) in the snow, then coming down through myriads of black flies, 2) Pete meeting me on the Finger Lakes Trail near the Catskills and taking me out for the "best hamburger ever", 3) Pete meeting me on the AT in Port Clinton, PA on my 5th time through there in the pouring rain, and 4) Pete out with me on the shore of Puget Sound walking through the star-fish studded "lowest tide ever", then dancing for hours at Sound Fest near the Seattle Space Needle! This year, however, is also going to be a "keeper" and already among my favorites!

May actually seemed to start out pretty slowly this year. After all the activity of my Georgia trip in April, May came in with lots of rain and an intractable cold that I just couldn't seem to shake. I had MayEve's and Wild Rover's delightful Spring into Letterboxing Gathering to look forward to near the beginning of the month, the March for Homelessness and several other volunteer projects towards the end of the month, but not a whole lot of letterboxing in between except for Joe's "Peace ... in many languages" boxes and a bunch of CT State Forest "Seedlings" that I enjoyed searching for all over the state of CT.

Then, I heard through the grapevine about National Letterboxing Day being on May 24th. Letterboxing friends had mentioned to me several times in the past about adding our boxes to the Atlas Quest list, in addition to LbNA, but I had just never had the time to look into it. (Heck even getting our boxes listed to LbNA usually takes a bit more "nagging" than I care to do, since I've always depended on Pete to take care of anything "computer related"!) Well, finally, that morning I decided if we were ever going to do it, now was the time! If people wanted to see how many boxes could be added to the entire inventory in just one day, here was our chance to "stand up and be counted" in a way that might actually make a dent or a difference! So I asked Pete if he could add our boxes to Atlas Quest for that one special day. No way, he was already heading for work that day and I was sick in bed, didn't have a clue as to how to go about doing it, and didn't even know our password! However, as they say, where there's a will there's a way! I literally put my foot down, hopped out of my sickbed, jumped into my boots and demanded that he take me to the library and show me how to post our clues or else I was going to ask Butterfly to help me over in CT! (I figured if a 75-year old woman who claimed she had problems with computers could work it out, then there might still be hope for me, too!) Anyway, Pete finally relented, took me over to the Carolina library, and for for the first time ever, showed me how to get into Atlas Quest, how to get to our site and patch it over to AQ, etc. Needless to say, Pete was concerned that I would start pushing the wrong buttons if left to my own devices, but fortunately for him, I got bored after posting just our first two boxes! I thought to myself, "this is going to take forever and I can't stand to be sitting here in front of a computer much longer". So that's when I decided there had to be a way to just lump all the rest of our boxes together. And I would have done it all with just one more entry, too, if I could have, but the AQ count entry only goes up to 98, so I had to add 3 more entries just for good measure: 98, 55, and 15! So that's what happened with our "big splash" into AQ for National Letterboxing Day, just in case anybody was wondering! And then I hopped straight back into bed to continue trying to recuperate from that infernal cold!

The next day, I was still sick, but Pete had already taken the day off, so he convinced me that I'd probably do better sitting in the car going to Canada with him and clearing my congestion with a few short hikes, rather than just staying in bed and losing out on our planned trip to the Rocks, Docks and Locks Gathering in Kingston, Ontario altogether. I obliged on the condition that we take it easy and only do a few short walks. That first day we literally drove straight through CT and MA without letterboxing at all, and made Niskayuna, NY our only designated letterboxing area of the day with a dozen or so quick boxes. Then we headed directly over to the southern Adirondacks to our campsite for the night.

The following morning, we planted our boxes for "Good Luck Lake", visited a few other lakes in that immediate area and then literally did not much else Friday afternoon but drive straight to Pulaski, NY to get a motel room, shower, rest, and hit the nearby seafood buffet!

On the next morning, we caught MtNestRobin at the coffee stop along I-81 that she and her husband set up for summer holiday weekends. After a couple more quick boxes in that area, we found ourselves approaching Canada by 1000 Lakes Bridge shortly before noon. A 20 minute wait got us through customs, and then we were zipping along towards Kingston to meet the fine folks at the Maritime Museum where the gathering was being held. Norasta and Guitarzan were fantastic hosts, welcoming us with personalized cloth zip-folders full of clues, maps, parking passes, pencils and even samples of goat soap! We didn't have to worry about not being able to bring in stuff like meat, cheese or fruit, because all of that was provided by the friendly folks of Canada, too! All we had to do was walk a short distance into town to find ourselves amidst the historic stone buildings, the winding alleyways of cute little shops, pubs, parks and even an amazing department store that had us strangely attracted to examining the underwear draw! I was still coughing up a storm and had to turn in fairly early to our berths on the retired Coast Guard Cutter that was serving as our B&B, but Pete managed to stay up and party for awhile with the Mid-Atlantic letterboxing crew, who had lodgings on the Alexander Henry for the weekend as well.

On Sunday morning we finished the last of the shipboard letterboxes, breakfasted on yogurt and scones, then went ashore to explore other rather exotic letterboxing locations like the old psychiatric hospital, the prison, the royal military college, Fort Henry, Parrott Bay, historic Rideau Canal locks and trail, LeMoine Point, Parrot Bay, and many other interesting places. I fact, we were so amazed to find so many letterboxes in such a relatively compact area (after all, we certainly weren't expecting anything like Portland, Seattle, Houston, Syracuse or Atlanta!) that our Canadian letterbox count went from 1 to 61 in just 2 days! We boxed till almost sunset and then decided we might as well stay another night on the Alexander Henry, rather than trying to make it back to the US that evening.

On Monday morning, we really had to be getting back to the US, though, since we had such a long drive home! Somehow we made it even longer by missing the exit for the 1000 Islands Bridge, and ended up driving another 50 kilometers or so extra to cross back over into the US at Ogdensburg. From there, we figured we might as well do a few of the letterboxes near the northern part of the Adirondacks in Rensselaer Falls and Colton along the beautiful Raquette River. Then we had to pretty much drive straight through the middle of the Adirondacks, with only a couple of quick stops in Tupper Lake and Indian Lake.

By the time we got to Glens Falls, NY we were starving, but fortunately I remembered a decent Chinese buffet there, right next to an automotive shop, which was a good thing, because just as we took the exit, our car almost ground to a halt. Turns out that a power steering belt had completely shredded, and all we could do was thank our lucky stars that it had happened in a town we knew less than 200 miles from home and not somewhere off 500 miles away in the middle of the woods! Needless to say, we lost a couple of hours on repairs, and had no time left for a single one of the letterboxes we had hoped to stop for in Saratoga Springs, but we made it home late that night, quite content with our "Memorable Memorial Day Trip"! Thanks to everyone who helped make the month of May so memorable for us as we continue to count our many blessings along with our many letterboxes!


Wanda and Pete

P172 F10,752 X1212

Index to Our Letterboxes

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