Letterboxing Trip to NY, PA, MD, WV and Virginia
Last week I attended a camping conference in PA. It began Tuesday afternoon and ended Thursday afternoon. So….. I decided to go down a day early and stay in Binghamton, NY overnight (I have an aunt & uncle there and there are a bunch of letterboxes that I wanted to revisit in that area).
We began our LB adventures in Grimsby where we picked up the Canada Nurse at the St. Andrews Presbyterian cemetery. What a picturesque place (and a great hiding spot). Very unique grave stones (I’ve never seen them this way before).
Then we stopped in Niagara, near the place I grew up (Stevensville) to plant a couple of boxes commemorating my family history and the place where I spent my high school years along the Niagara River. (Two new Niagara, ON letterboxes to find!!!!)
Once we had crossed the border (at Lewiston) it was on to Darien Center (near Darien Lakes Theme Park) to pick up the Knot Quinn’s Knot.
We spent a great portion of the day heading down across NY state toward Binghamton. Towards dusk we stopped at Asbury Church near Nicols, NY. As we drove up to the church, the lights were blazing and the parking area was full of cars. However, as we watched, we realized there was no action outside at all. In fact, there was a loud generator (we figured it was pumping heat into the church where the band was practicing) on the back porch to mask any noise we might make. So we went ahead and did our find… stamped in in the car and replaced the box in it’s hiding spot without anyone ever being the wiser.
We ended up in Binghamton (and supper) after dark. Early the next morning we were up and going. We first went to the Spring Forest Cemetery in Binghamton. What a lovely spot. It is a large cemetery built on the hillside and there were actually five letterboxes that we searched for. The first was “the Overall Factory” (my favorite). It told the story of a fire in a clothing factory where 19 young women died. The stone in the cemetery listed all of them. The hide was very clever and the stamp was well worth the time and effort. This was my second attempt (the first trip down there was too much snow to make the final find.) Also, with this find I reached the 50 mark!! Others in the cemetery were also neat finds with their own individual searches. A very cool place to explore.
Next we went over the SUNY Nature Reserve to redo several that I needed to replace in my logbook….. Maggie’s Nightmare and Heron Tracks. Since the weather was nice and the going not too mucky we took the time to find Great Blue Heron and Uncle Wiggily. UW was a gorgeous stamp in a very peaceful wooded location… very cleverly done. My Dad had Uncle Wiggily books which he read as a kid.. and then got read to us and now our 8 1/2 year old loves to hear the stories when we visit Grandma and Grandpa. So I was very impressed and pleased with the quality of the stamp when we finally found it. Well worth the trip!!
Next we drove south through to Scranton, PA. We refound another of my finds at Bull Hill, just north of Scranton ~ again another peaceful location. When we pulled into the parking lot there was a car already there… which made me a bit nervous. However, with the two of us, we decided to go for it. When we got back to the parking area, another vehicle was there and they were flying their radio controlled model planes. So we watched for several minutes as they took off and landed and did loop-de-loops in the air with their little planes.
Then… time to move on to Mercersburg, PA for our conference, where I made good connections and had lots of great conversations with old friends and fellow camp staff. On our way in to camp we passed a fishing store. I have been looking for a fishing vest but unable to find one (due to no fishing stores in our area). So, Wednesday afternoon after lunch before my session, I skipped in to the fishing store in Fort Louden, PA. When I walked in the door there was a rack of vests right in front of me, with a “Clearance Sale” sign on them. I struck up a conversation with the owner while I tried on and purchased my vest. I loved boxing with it. It made stamping in so much easier. Everything in pockets within easy reach rather than rooting around through a bag and spreading everything out on the ground. I highly recommend it! Also, I have a couple of patches already sewn on… so if you see me on the trail there will be no denying that I’m a boxer. (My husband has taken to calling me Indiana Dellanna.. well our last name is Dell’Anno!!)
On Thursday afternoon after our last meal (of the conference), I headed south across the PA border into Maryland. Unfortunately, by the time I crossed over the border (about 20 minutes south of camp) it was raining quite heavily. So I stopped at the Dollar Plus in Hancock, MD and purchased a large umbrella. A short walk along the Potomac to the 100 Acres Along the Potomac LB ~ a cute walk and hiding place, but I wasn’t very impressed by the store bought stamp when I got there. It didn’t match the clue or the location at all. (OK: I would have been OK with store bought had it matched the clue). Anyways… my first find in MD. Then I was off to the Sideling Hill just west of Hancock. The higher I climbed up the “mountain”, the thicker the fog settled in. By the time I reached the visitor centre at the pull-off, I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in any direction. However, that made it very easy to be discreet with my find and rehide of the box in question Sideling Hill. This was a very cute carving. Then I continued westbound (to the next turn-about) and stopped again at the east bound pull-off at Sideling Hill to find the I-68 Sideling Hill, MD ~ again close to the car where I took the box back to stamp into. This box required some repairs and extra logbook paper ~ notified the owner.
Then I travelled south across the Potomac into West Virginia. I headed east towards Hedgesville and Martinsburg. Part way there I picked up Pleasant View in a peaceful little roadside park beside Sleepy Creek near the hamlet of Pleasant View. It was a short walk along a burbling creek. The horse-shoe shaped tree was really neat! I gave this one a 4/5 because the stamp was beginning to fall apart and not in the best shape. But otherwise… a great find!
Just east of Hedgesville I attempted the Travelling by Donkey LB near Falling Waters Presbyterian Church. It was a cute little country church (I love these old rural churches with their pioneer cemetery’s) and I’m sure I found the right stone and the right bush… alas, no letterbox. (I even crawled right inside the bush and searched around through the damp leaves… by this time it had stopped raining). Then I travelled south through Hedgesville to the Butler’s Chapel Methodist Church and up the hill to the Bird’s Eye View. Again, the fog settled in heavily as I ascended and I could see nothing of the view. And… I could not find the box in the ledge.
By then it was after 5 and I decided that if I wanted to make it down into Virginia before dark, I’d better get going! So I hit the I-81 south to Winchester and then SE to the Virginia State Arboretum. By this time the clouds were lifting and the sun was coming out. It was a beautiful warm spring evening when I pulled into the arboretum around 6:30. I was able to enjoy the smells (fresh moist spring air), sounds (the birds were singing happily) and sights (the redbud, forsythias and daffodils were in full bloom and there was a haze of green on all the trees and bushes). There were four boxes hidden here, all in very peaceful, unique locations. This stop was the highlight of my trip and made me long to be gardening (still too chilly here at home).
I then headed north to Berryville (reached by about 7:30) and proceeded to rush around the Clark County Park just west of town to find the series of 4 All Aboard boxes. I managed to find the first two, the engine and the coal tender, but it was too dark to be able to see the compass and locate the box car in amongst the trees. The caboose however, was close enough to the edge and the directions easy enough that there was just enough light to finish stamping it into my own book and stamping into the logbook at the end. (And I need to carry a flashlight with me to finish up those boxes in the dark!!)
By then it was 9p.m. and I headed back north into West Virginia. There was one more country church I wanted to check out so I stopped in to Franklintown, WV (another Dollar Plus) to pick up a flashlight. Back across the Potomac into MD, past Antietam and through Boonsboro, I found the Benevola Church Rd., but no LB. (However, it was dark and I was using a flashlight so… it may just have been that I was in a hurry). I decided after that it was time to head home for the night.
It was really neat to drive through Civil War country and to see familiar names. Being a Canadian, I am not that familiar with Civil War history, but it did inspire me to look up some of the events and some of the places that I was driving through. I was imagining trying to bring troops around those hills, through the valleys and over the creeks and rivers to actually conduct a skirmish… quite a challenge I’m sure!
On Friday morning we headed for home (Ontario). We made only one stop on the way, at Punxsutawney, PA. I had brought along my Wiarton Willie LB (marked as temporarily unavailable) so that he could visit his fellow prognosticator in PA. It was a lovely sunny morning and just at the right time for a break in the drive. A short 10 minute walk and a fairly simple find…. but an amazing stamp… well worth contacting the placer to find. And although it’s not normal practice it was fun to stamp Punxy Phil‘s logbook with Wiartion Willie’s stamp (and vice versa) in addition to the normal stamping that’s usually done. I let the friend I was with take care of that and I think she enjoyed being able to participate… she had never boxed before. As we drove through town we saw a number of these Punxy Phil statues dressed differently depending on which business they stood in front of.
All in all, a very successful and enjoyable trip… and I was glad to be able to get south as far as Winchester, VA and to get my first boxes from Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia….. sweeeet!!!
After arriving home Friday night, I had to do a bit of grocery shopping in town (on Saturday morning)… so I stopped and picked up a head lamp for my LB vest. So I will be fully equipped next time around. I am tired and glad to be home…. but I had a great boxing trip and my finds are now up over 60 (I can afix my F50 patch on) and my plants are at 19 ~ soon to be 22… so it’s not long before I will reach 25 and be able to afix my P25 patch (both are coming in the mail this week!! Yay!!!)