Saturday, June 13, 2009

A chance encounter in Walden Park

June 6, 2009 - Walden Park Preserve - Bangor, Maine

Brand new letterboxes hidden just this week!!! This is an exciting development as there aren't a lot of letterboxers in the area. Fellow local newbie Tri-Colored Paws hid her first series Maine's Hidden Treasures on a trail we'd never been to - the Walden Park Preserve (though it borders City Forest at the Veazie railroad bed, previously mentioned in last week's letterboxing adventures). We set off down the trail on a beautiful Saturday morning, quickly finding the first letterbox, "Taking Flight." The second box was a bit further on and we located it fairly easily - just as we found it's spot we had to wait for some muggles to pass, so we pretended to be photographing some nearby ladyslippers (well I guess I actually photographed it as you can see, but that was not the mission!) - so we waited as the man with the dog passed. And then we saw someone else approaching from the opposite direction. But wait! She is carrying papers - and who else but letterboxers would carry computer printouts on a stroll through the woods! As she approached she called out "don't look so suspicious!" - and we knew we had encountered our first fellow letterboxer on the trail! She introduced herself as Teacup, and we knew right away who she was, as we have seen her stamp at lots of previous finds and also seen some of her postal hitch-hikers during our postal exchange with her usual boxing friend, MudFlingingFools. Today Teacup traveled alone as her husband was in the area for business and she ventured up from coastal Maine to find new letterboxes in our neck of the woods.

So we all found the second box together, "Earth's Precious Treasure" - which appropriately is a ladyslipper. Then we set off for Box #3. This we also found pretty easily, "Working for a Living" - which is absolutely adorable. But this is where we began to go wrong - and wouldn't you know, once again it involves the Veazie railroad bed! Here's what happened - the series was posted by Tri-colored paws on Thursday with 4 boxes. On Friday she hiked it again with her mother (who beat us as 1st finders!) and planted a 5th box. The clues were amended, but in the description there were two boxes labeled #3. After we found the real 3 we skipped a paragraph of clues to where it said "After you've found box 3 ..." which would have told us to turn left along the railroad bed. We turned right. The clue then says "you'll walk for a long time" until a sidetrail branches back into Walden Park. Well we walked for a LONG time. Check. no side trails. lots of mosquitoes. swamp. and finally about an hour later - a twenty foot section of trail covered by bog! This is where we said "surely if we had to ford a bog, the clue would have said something!" and we realized we had gone horribly awry. Surprise surprise, the score is now Veazie Railroad Bed:3 - Us:0.

By this point we were exhausted and confused as we retraced our steps back to box 3, but couldn't figure out where we'd gone wrong, so we headed for the car (and Taco stand lunch treat!) .... A frustrating end to an otherwise lovely day of letterboxing, but it was nice getting to know Teacup while we were lost!

Someday we'll go back and find the other two boxes now that the clues are updated and we know what we're doing - just as soon as i recover from the trauma of finding a tick attached to my head the morning after our walk through the woods.
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Get Lost! ... again

May 25, 2009 - Bangor City Forest (Bangor, Maine)
Once upon a time last summer, Agent S. and OnTheCorner (with the boxing buddies Zamboni and James Bone) went searching for an LBNA letterbox called Get Lost! - It took them 2 attempts to find this box, located in the far far recesses of the City Forest. When it was finally located late in the fall, a bonus box clue was also discovered. This bonus box is located on Woodchuck trail, an unmarked trail that appears on internet maps but not on any posted maps in the forest. All we knew of it was that it connects the Veazie Railroad Bed trail to the West trail. We looked for it that same day, spent several hours walking along the old railroad bed, but found no connecting trail and had to turn back.

Which brings us to today - the clue for Woodchuck trail has been waiting patiently for a second attempt. Armed with more internet map printouts and a description of the trail, we set off along West trail this time - with Crabby and Whitney in tow - thinking to come at the trail from the other direction. About a half hour into our hike we decided to consult the clue - but OnTheCorner couldn't find it!!! The bonus clue was written on a small fortune cookie size slip of paper - but it was no where to be found in our boxing gear, and a call home to dad revealed it had not been left on the table in plain sight (thought that's where it turned out to be hiding). Determined to find this box we decided to re-visit "Get Lost" and get the clue again - though this was no small undertaking, being on the opposite side of the forest about an hours walk away. Crabby and Whitney enjoyed finding this box and stamping in, though they got bit by a few mosquitoes in the process. Along the way we found some lovely wildflowers, and lots of Ladyslippers like Crabby is seen here with.

Armed once again with a clue, we set out to find Woodchuck Trail. The description of the trail stated that it branches off West trail and there are two cedar trees at its start. After much walking we found a likely trail with such cedars - but then the trail quickly came to a fork which our description said nothing about - and we picked a direction hoping it would lead towards the railroad bed, then came to another surprise fork and picked a direction ... and soon we came to an intersection - but we were back on West Trail! Finally after four hours of wandering the woods we had to give up the letterbox hunt in favor of eating lunch - only to discover that our favorite post-letterboxing in city forest lunch burrito shop is closed on Memorial Day - 2 bitter disappointments in a row!

Woodchuck Trail - we will find you someday.
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Duck Surprise

May 25, 2009 - Orono, ME
Back in Maine again - and what better place to letterbox on Memorial Day than in a cemetary? Here we are joined by OnTheCorner, otherwise known as Agent S.'s mom. The Duck Surprise series of 2 boxes is hiding in Riverside Cemetary on the bank of the Stillwater River in Orono - the series actually used to be called "Two Bee or Not Two Bee", and when we found half of it last summer Two Bee was missing from the hollow stump, but Not Two Bee was to be found in the fairy house tree. Now the hollow stump houses a new stamp called Duck surprise, and Crabby also got to find Not Two Bee. The hollow stump is a great letterbox spot because it's in a very old -circa civil war- hidden part of the cemetary that is down a steep hill and not visible from the main area. Crabby and Whitney perched on Bertha E.'s stone to look at the hollow stump, and later they are seen peaking out of the "fairy house."

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Happy Jack

May 17, 2009 - St. Paul, Minnesota

On a gorgeous Spring day we set out to Como Park in St. Paul (home to a wonderful flower conservancy, a zoo and amusement park) to find another Red Cat Box called Happy Jack Returns.

One day, as Happy Jack was loitering near the corner of Hamline and Horton, he noticed a strange fellow crossing the street. "Is that a skeleton wearing a sombrero samba-ing across the street?" he said, not believing his eyes. He closed his eyes for a second and looked again. Sure enough, it was a skeleton wearing a sombrero dancing across the street and not the lingering effects of the rave from last night. "I'll follow him," thought Happy Jack. "He looks like he knows how to have a good time." So Happy Jack set off after the dancing skeleton, catching up to him at the crooked, leaning tree with the hole at the bottom. "That's a shame about Bulah," Happy Jack said to the Dancing Skeleton. "Mind if I join your party?""Si!" exclaimed the Dancing Skeleton. "The more people that remember my dear, sweet Bulah, the better! Although you'll have to find another tree. This cozy hole is a bit too small for the both of us." "Right on!" Happy Jack replied as he faced the skeleton in the tree. "I think I see the perfect tree for me at 340 degrees." And with that, he set off for a very large fallen tree that had been chopped into a couple of pieces. He stood at the clean cut at the top of the second section and took about seven steps towards the roots. There was an opening in the top of the trunk. He slid inside it and settled in, making sure to cover himself with some bark. "Let the party begin!" he exclaimed.
Meanwhile on this trip we were also looking for a place to plant a letterbox called "In Search of Prince Charming" - which would have been very appropriate at the Como Park Frog Pond - pictured above, it has a frog statue in the middle. Unfortunately for our planting mission, the parks in the city are all very well maintained and there were just no apparent good hiding spots for a suspicious piece of tupperware. We drove down the road to Lake Como instead, hoping for a slightly wilder spot. On our walk around the lake we spotted lots of wildlife - a white crane, several ducks and a family of geese with lots of little goslings. Eventually we came upon a hiding spot. Then Mr. Reluctant accomplice was stung by a wasp. Crabby and Whitney helped compose the following story,

Once upon a time there was a Charming Prince in search of a good spot to rest while he waited for his princess to arrive.The prince parked his stallion at the lot on Lexington Ave. N looking out on Lake Como. Facing the lake, he took the shore path to the right. He walked for some time looking for a secluded spot, finally when he had traveled a third of the lake shore path he came to a dock. Across from the dock he spotted 2 benches with a lamppost in between. Continuing along the path he counted 2 additional lamp posts, then looked to the right at a large 4 trunked tree 25 paces from the final lamp. This was no good for hiding, but directly ahead the woods began to look a little less maintained. At the base of a 2 trunked tree, the prince covered himself with some sticks and leaves and settled in to wait until an enchanting spell could be broken.Will you break the spell? Search out Prince Charming and let us know.
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Rendezvous at the Spyhouse

May 14th, 2009 - Minneapolis, MN

When I wrote to The Red Cat requesting clues to her boxes, she very graciously offered to host a mini-meet&greet in our honor! In reference to the Agent S. trailname, she suggested we hold it at a local coffee shop called the Spyhouse in Uptown Minneapolis. Pictured here are the attendees, Dartmoor Dreamer (left) and The Red Cat (right) with Crabby and Whitney. We did lots of exchanges and there was a wonderfully appropriate event box carved The Red Cat called "Spy vs. Spy". Of course no visit to Uptown is complete without a stop at the Sculpture Garden, home to the fanciful cherry-on-spoon sculpture. Looks like Whitney's holding the spoon? The cherry was newly re-installed after getting a fresh coat of shiny red paint.
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Blue Diamonds in Bloomington

May 10, 2009 - Bloomington, Minnesota

Bloomington Minnesota is the home of the Mall of America and also a blue diamond letterbox! Crabby and Whitney didn't dig the mall (too crowded), but they were quite enthused with letterboxing in Moir Park. First we sought out the amazing three part stamp "By the Light of the Moon" which was hidden by the very talented Red Cat. Then we continued toward the creek and found another beautiful carve by The Red Cat called Sugar Skulls. It was a beautiful day for letterboxing and a picnic in the park.
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The Red Fox

May 8, 2009 - Roseville, Minnesota
The next stop on the journey of Crabby and Agent S. was Minneapolis. Here we finally had some letterboxing success - first find of the Spring! The Red Fox is a box by Der Wandersmann in Roseville - a small city just outside Minneapolis. This box is hiding along a trail in Reservoir Woods, the city's old water district.

Crabby and his friend Whitney were excellent helpers. We let Mr. Reluctant Accomplice do the dirty work of re-hiding the box.
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A Crab in San Francisco

May 3, 2009
Golden Gate Park - San Francisco, CA

Crabby met up with Agent S. just in time to do some traveling! We traveled from Glenburn, Maine all the to the West Coast - for a short stay in San Fransisco. With limited free time to sightsee, Crabby and I ended up wandering through Golden Gate Park in the rain to look for letterboxes. While we were clearly close to several, particularly here at the Conservancy of Flowers - luck was not on our side.

We had a good time seeing the sights, but would have been much happier with a letterbox and some sunshine!

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