Sunday, February 12, 2017

Love Those Amusement Parks


Lake Louisa State Park (Pavilion), Clermont, FL
GPS Coordinates (in three formats):
N 28.438837o, W 081.736382o
N 28o 26.33022', W 081o 44.18292'
N 28o 26' 19.8132", W 081o 44' 10.9752"

Summer Bay Resort, 17805 US Hwy 192, Clermont, FL 34711
GPS Coordinates (in three formats):
N 28.351958o, W 081.659647o
N 28o 21.11748', W 081o 39.57882'
N 28o 21' 07.0488", W 081o 39' 34.7292"

Sr Tequila Mexican Grill, 16745 Cagan Crossing Blvd #101, Clermont, FL 34714
GPS Coordinates (in three formats):
N 28.355208o, W 081.677782o
N 28o 21.31248', W 081o 40.66692'
N 28o 21' 18.7488", W 081o 40' 40.0152"

Letterboxing Event: "Love Those Amusement Parks" (AQ #3498)
Letterboxing Event: "Love Those Amusement Parks Mexican Dinner" (AQ #3811)

Where to begin? "Follow The Cougar" has been quiet for a long time. Through all of 2016, Michelle and I were both recuperating from heart problems. That kept us off the road and left me with very little to blog about.

We were looking forward to this event as our first adventure of 2017. Our Cougar has been in the shop for some time. When we learned that repairs would not be completed in time, we decided to attend the event anyway – staying in a hotel instead of a campground.

Clermont, Florida is a community close to Disney World, so the word 'hotel' sent my wallet screaming for cover. The deluge of TV commercials for Trivago got to me, so I gave them a try. Good choice. In a sea of $250 per night hotel rooms, Trivago turned up a $100 per night room at Summer Bay Resort. Impressed but skeptical, we bit the bullet and took the deal. It turned out great. We had a beautiful two bedroom condo with resort amenities. I'll sure use Trivago again.

So What Is Letterboxing?

We discovered letterboxing several years ago as an activity closely akin to geocaching.

Letterboxing is an intriguing “treasure hunt” style outdoor activity. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places (like parks) and post clues to finding the box online on one of several Web sites. However, clues to finding some of the most highly-sought boxes are passed around by word of mouth.

There are about 90,000 active letterboxes hidden in North America alone. Individual letterboxes usually contain a log book, an often hand-carved rubber stamp and occasionally contain an ink pad. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox’s stamp on their personal log book, and leave an imprint of their personal stamp on the letterbox’s logbook.

Letterboxing activities are hosted on two websites: Atlas Quest (AQ) and Letterboxing North America (LbNA).

You can also learn more HERE and HERE

First Meet Our Hostesses

Cindyellen (tiggermama) and Lynda (eeyoremama)

We met them two years ago when they hosted another great event Love Those Movies in St Augustine, FL. That was a spectacular event and so was this one.

Thursday, 09 Feb 2017

We kicked off this weekend on Thursday evening with a dinner and 'Stamp In' (of course) at Sr Tequila Mexican Grill.

When Michelle and I arrived, this classic rig was parked across the street. It has nothing to do with us but I couldn't pass up getting a picture.

In the restaurant, were two people. Fifteen minutes later, there were at least thirty, engaged in a stamping frenzy. What must the staff have thought?

Aside from individual stamps to swap there was a set of sixteen stamps titled "Fair Foods" (Box # 278520) that served as the event stamp for the evening.

After dinner, the party continued with entertainment by a Mariachi Band. They were good. They were loud, and so were we.

Friday, 10 Feb 2017

Friday morning we started with breakfast at Denny's right by our hotel. Then we took off for Lake Louisa State Park to get serious about searching for letterboxes. While a letterbox is a container holding a stamp and a log book, stamps on a trail at an event are usually hidden in a small plastic envelope covered with camo tape.

Rubber stamps hidden in envelopes like this are the object of the search

For this event, our hostesses laid out eight trails (wow!) to challenge us – each capturing the theme of a local amusement park (now I get it)

Magic KingdomHollywood StudiosEpcot and World ShowcaseAnimal Kingdom
Seaworld OrlandoUniversal OrlandoUniversal's Island of AdventureBusch Gardens

Michelle and I chose "Magic Kingdom" as our first trail. Beginning and ending at the Wilderness Point Trailhead, this trail was a loop around a primitive camping area and covered about six miles.

Along the trail were seventeen stamps:

1. Jungle Cruise7. It's A Small World13. Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
2. Pirates of the Caribbean8. Under The Sea with Ariel14. Stitch's Great escape
3. Splash Mountain9. Dumbo15. Space Mountain
4. Thunder Mountain10. The Mad Tea Party16. Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
5. Haunted Mansion11. Winnie the Pooh17. The Castle
6. Peter Pan's Flight12. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

The day was beautiful – sunny and cool – a great day to be outside. Since this was a primitive camping area, markings were colored blazes on trees, campsite marking posts, and a few directional arrows. Our directions relied heavily on them, but to avoid being dull, our hostesses spiced them up with some fantasy. I tried to capture some of it in pictures. Here is a sample:

"through the sands of time"

"past the ghost ship on the left"

"into the bayou of pines and palmettos"

"a sister oak with a palmetto"

"Splash Mountain at its base"

"Dead Center of the Haunted Mansion"

"turn the corner to head for #33"

"look right to a gnarly opossum tree"

"just after the double arrow sign"

You get the idea. Too old and too slow, we got eleven of the seventeen before we pooped out. It was all fun though.

Saturday, 11 Feb 2017

We spent Saturday morning at the pavilion swapping stamps and visiting with folks. Lunch was a 'pot luck' which always means enough great food for an army and this meal lived up to the title.

We finished lunch with a raffle. Lots of prizes. I won an envelope of LTCs (Letterbox Trading Cards). There turned out to be fifty-three of them.

I have no experience with LTCs so this will be something new. The majority of LTCs are 3 1/2" X 2 1/2" card stock with artwork on the front and information on the back. The artwork is creative and I would guess took a lot of work. I'm not sure what to do with them. I suspect I will distribute them into future letterboxes for others to enjoy.

For our afternoon activity, we went with Desiree and Cecilia57 on the Universal Orlando (#278638) and Universal Island of Adventure (#278639) trail. We succeeded in capturing all of those stamps (minus one missing stamp). It was a pleasant hunt.

Universal Orlando (#278638) and Universal Island of Adventure (#278639) stamps

Who came to this big event?

Letterboxers everywhere, and I certainly didn't get to meet everyone. I tried to piece together a list of attendees using several sources. If I missed you or someone you know, let me know by a comment on this blog and I will put you on the list.

airstream dreamsAngel KissesBicycle Dave
Cecilia57Country DuoDesiree
dixie darlinDM Scuba Bratdogismycopirate
FloridaFourflyfishercacherFROG Grandma
GA Candy Girlgeogirlgsmalzoo
Mini DragonflyMosaic ButterflyMouse Nanny
NotMyCircusPapa BearPugs and Bee
R gangRed SwanRiver Sol
RiverKatSits N KnitsSouthern Oracle
Sudoku CrazySuper RodThe Gamecock
the pink dragonThree Flamigo'stigerlilly
tiggermamaTransient ToadstoolTrekkie Gal
twanda70WetToesWindchaser Woman

I have another reason for doing this list. I enjoy reading these trail names. They are clever and I'm sure there is a story behind each one. That could be a very interesting blog post. If you care to share the story behind your trail name, put it in a comment at the end of this post.

Our thanks to Cindyellen (tiggermama) and Lynda (eeyoremama) for another great event. I can imagine all the work and money you put into it.