|stamping a found letterbox|
For those who have never heard of Letterboxing, I, as always, totally recommend you check it out and share this fun family activity in your own home town or whilst out and about on travels. (For some helpful and informative sites and to start your own adventures today click here and here.)
If you're a local (in or around Portland, Oregon), you might even give our clues a try and see if you can find our first two plants. (Since we are usually doing our questing with a five year old, those we've searched for with riddles or confusing directions have often been just really frustrating. To make these simple for others with children in tow, we kept our clues pretty straightforward. They're both also less than half mile walks on very easy trails.) Great for kids and fun for the whole family...
"Gnome's Home" at Tryon Creek State Park in Portland, Oregon:
Tryon Creek State Park was named after Socrates Hotchkiss Tryon who originally established a land claim there in 1850 (and who I must mention because of his exceedingly excellent moniker). This 645 acre woodland park contains a number of trails for both horses and people and also seems to be home to dozens of magical hidey holes where we are certain colonies of gnomes and possibly fairies also live.
To locate the one gnome home we did verify (and the location of our very first letterbox) start your search at the southeast end of the Visitors Center (entrance off of SW Terwilliger Blvd.) and proceed down the Center Trail. Take a right at the Maple Ridge Trail and then a left onto Middle Creek Trail where many paths converge. You'll pass a bench with a back. Midway down a fairly steep hill, you'll approach another bench with no back. Have a seat. Across the path you'll notice a fallen log. Walk up the log to its end where you'll spy a circle of trees with a rotting stump at their center. It's there you'll find our Gnome's Home.
"Native Salmon" at Wildwood Recreation Site in Welches, Oregon:
The Wildwood Recreation Site is located 40 miles east of Portland, off U.S. Highway 26, just past the 39 mile marker. Nestled along the Mount Hood Scenic Byway near the town of Welches, this beautiful day use area offers a chance to explore natural stream and wetland ecosystems along accessible interpretive trails and boardwalks. The site also offers family picnic units, several group shelters, outdoor picnic kitchens, playing fields, volleyball and basketball courts and fully accessible trails. It likewise provides access to the Salmon River and an extensive system of trails in the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness (managed by the Mount Hood National Forest).
After paying the $5 fee to enter the park, skip the first junction and take the next left. Park near the covered information area and bathrooms. From there, head down the path past the silver salmon. (Many wooden salmon will also line your trail.) At the end of the boardwalk go left. Pass the mini mountains and take a right at the fork. Some grand old stumps will line either side of the path just before it forks again. Go left at this fork passing a hidden world of streams. Just past the forest gifts, heed the blue arrow at the 4-way crossroads. Over the bridge follow the fish's nose at the next junction. After stopping for a most unusual view of the river, continue on the path until you spy another bridge. Pause to read Coyotes Tale then cross the bridge. Where trolls might lurk, you'll find Native Salmon atop a support pillar covered in moss.
Do let us know if you find them. (That's what makes the whole thing so much fun!) Subsequent plants of ours will be listed as we place them under owners name "Spaceship Passengers" at Letterboxing.org .