Saturday, June 11, 2011

Park Quest 3: If At First You Don't Succeed. . .

We checked the weather obsessively this morning.  The forecast was for thunderstorms, but we were hoping to get both a quest and the pool in.  The coast was clear at 10 a.m. when we left the house armed with a picnic lunch and our daypack.

We headed down 301 for about 50 miles to Brandywine, Maryland.  Today's quest involved letterboxing at Cedarville State Forest.  The park quest website explains letterboxing well:

"Letterboxes are small, weatherproof boxes that usually contain a log book, a rubber stamp and an ink pad. They are hidden in publicly accessible places and the clues made available participants. The finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp on their stamp sheet or personal log book, and leave an imprint of their personal stamp on the letterbox's logbook."

So, it's kind of like geocaching, except instead of following gps coordinates, you follow a set of clues.  To complete the Cedarville quest we had only to find two out of four letter boxes.  Piece of cake, right?

We set off for the first box in good spirits. It was hot (about 90 degrees), but we had plenty of water and the forest was lush and beautiful.

We seemed to be following all the clues with ease and it only took 30 minutes to get to where we expected the first box to be.

Did you note that language?  Where we expected?

We couldn't find that darn box.  We saw this little fellow.

And these cool mushrooms.

And even a big pile of horse poo.

But no letterbox.  In searching, I very nearly put my bare ankle up against this fellow!

(My apologies for the blurry photo.  I hate spiders. . . Let me rephrase that, I HATE spiders and my hand was shaking when I took the picture.)

The black widow about did it.  After an hour of searching, we officially determined Letterbox 1 missing in action.  We trudged back to the car: hot, tired and in poor spirits.

At the car, we revived ourselves with some Gator Aide and grapes.  We turned down another path to find Letterbox #2.  We found it in 25 minutes!  Buoyed by our success, we decided to try Letterbox #3.  Another quick success!  We returned to park headquarters and got our passport stamped. 

Park Quest #3 Complete.

We drove home, dropped our gear on the floor and quickly changed into our swim suits.  We had time to jump in the pool and dunk our heads a few times before the rain started.  Followed shortly by thunder.  The boys were bummed by the short pool time, but they rallied with a promise of ice cream after dinner.

Lesson of the day:  success doesn't always come in the manner you expect.

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Quest Summary

Favorite Thing:

Both boys:  Seeing the Black Widow Spider.

Least Favorite Thing:

Gabe:  Walking very hard.

Matt:  Not finding the first box and the buzzy bugs.

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