Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Signature Stamp

A great tragedy has struck--my famed signature stamp, a goofy-looking turtle, usually green, is missing. It was last seen around Gorham, Maine, the evening of October 27th. I suspect it's hiding among headstones, near a parked hearse. It was raining, and I was trying to hold my logbooks and ink pads, bent over to protect them from rain while stamping in. By the time I realized it was missing, it was dark and I have no flashlight. YOU search among headstones in the dark of night without a flashlight and see how successful you are! =P

If you have seen this stamp, please let me know. The stamp isn't my original turtle. The original turtle was barefooted, and Amanda carved a homage stamp of sorts, I guess it would be called now, that looked like the original stamp except the bare feet were replaced with boots. One boot said "AT," and the other had "2003." She carved it while I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, during a visit to see me in Connecticut.

It was the first time the stamp had returned to Maine since I finished the trail, and Amanda says he wanted to stay. There might be some truth to this, but I'd still like it back. It's my fourth signature stamp, and the one I've been using the longest. It's priceless.

In another news, in a fit of cosmic justice, Amanda has also lost her signature stamp in Maine. There is no known reason why her stamp would want to stay in Maine, but hers has less sentimental value. =) It was last seen late at night, shortly after Amanda picked up a box that half a dozen people were looking for, at night, in the pouring rain. She smuggled the box into our rental car where we stamped into it as everyone else continued to search for the box. She had the stamp then--she stamped in with it--but the stamp was never seen again. Was it revenge? Perhaps. Was it a tragic accident waiting to happen? Perhaps. Maybe it fell out of a pocket when she replaced the letterbox.

To begin our whole adventure--the abbreviated version, at least--Amanda and I decided to check out the extravaganza known as the Frightnight 3 gathering. We flew out last Wednesday, then drove down to Boston where I have a cousin who had a place for us to crash and to catch up with since I don't get to see him often. He loves Taco Bell, so we get along well. *nodding* =)

Our first full day on the east coast was mostly spent sleeping in until 1:00 in the afternoon. Jet lag sucks. We did get out long enough to find Choi's Hang In There letterbox--which was exciting for me since I don't think I ever found one of his boxes before. =) We spent quite a bit of time driving around getting lost, though. Signs are terrible out east, and especially so in Boston, with tiny little signs (if there was any at all) that you can't read until after you're already driving by it. Nor are they lit up at night. Amanda found a wonderful sign near Chestnut Hill that said the steps behind the sign were closed, but that there was another access point 200 years to the right with an arrow below it that pointed left. We felt this was symbolic of all signage in Boston, and certainly makes getting around a challenge. =) (The correct direction, in case you're wondering, was left.)

Friday afternoon we spent driving north to Portland. We stopped for a few hours in Salem--a location that, remarkably enough, the well-traveled Amanda had never stopped to visit before! And just before Halloween? How lucky were we? Actually, we didn't much like the crowds and probably would have enjoyed ourselves had it been some other time of year. We did a haunted house at my encouragement--how can you NOT do a haunted house in Salem just before Halloween?! I think there are laws that require all visitors to do at least one haunted house. We paid our $8 each and it was somewhat disappointing, we thought. It was an okay haunted house, but this is Salem! We had high hopes that Salem had the concept mastered.

We continued north, picking up a few letterboxes along the way--mostly the drive-by variety as we drove by. We also stopped at a Wal-Mart along the way to pick up costumes and food for the gathering the next day.

In Portland, we booked ourselves into a Motel 6, then headed out to Gorham to meet up with some other letterboxers for a corn maze that night. Alas, it seems we showed up a bit late and ended up going to the corn maze on our own. We hoped to find the other letterboxers at the corn maze, but it was SOOO crowded, the odds weren't good. Even worse, we didn't know what anyone looked like! We weren't sure who all went, and we didn't think we'd recognize any of them even if we did see them. "Keep your ears open for anyone who mentions stamps, letterboxes, or whatever," I told Amanda, but it was a long shot. We also tried looking through the parking lot for obvious letterboxer bumper stickers, but that would just get us their cars. We still wouldn't know where the owners of the cars would be! Anyhow, we never did find them, but I had a lot of fun running through the corn maze trying to find our way through. =) Amanda didn't much like the crowds, though. (Actually, I didn't either, but hey, you make the best of a situation that you can, right?)

The next morning, we drove out to Gorham again, this time for the official Frightnight 3 gathering, which was a blast. The surprise guests were... wow! How exciting! =) Is it safe to say who the surprises were? Hmm....

I arrived as a Jack-O-Lantern. Amanda has at least one picture of me, but we don't have a way to get it off her camera at the moment. (We're still in Maine.) Perhaps someone else can upload a picture of my costume? Amanda, of course, arrived as Nancy Drew--but don't ask her why her hair wasn't straight. ;o)

I really enjoyed meeting Casper in particular. *nodding* Fine fellow. I never imagined there was someone I had so much in common with!

Actually, everyone was fun to meet--especially those women wearing costumes that did not require much fabric. ;o) My favorite costume (sorry girls) was Death. An impressive performance, indeed!

Then we broke off into a letterboxing road rally that ended at a bonfire. Lots of fun, despite my losing my signature stamp near the end. =)

Today, we goofed around in downtown Portland, went off to the Portland Head Lighthouse, and picked up some more boxes along the way. Good times!

We're now in Manchester, New Hampshire, ready to fly back to Seattle tomorrow. I'll be catching up with a lot of e-mails and tweaks when I get back to Seattle. Now, I need to get off to watch Desperate Housewives. Weee! =)


Anonymous said...

NOOOOOOOO! I couldn't read any more after reading that your lost your sig stamp. Shame on you!

Oh well, at least I got an exchange with you before you became so irresponsible.

Unknown said...

Great to see you both again. Thanks for making the trip out. It was a great surprise to have you both in Maine for FN3. We're so sorry to hear about the loss of your stamps. Rest assured we'll send out rescue parties, and we'll do everything we can to send them safely home to you.

~Muddy Paws

~zess~ said... one of the LAST people to do an exchange with Green Tortuga before he set out for that fated rainy-night-boxing misadventure, I might be a suspect in this mystery. Add to this my dismay when he did not even RECOGNIZE me when he later saw me (maybe because I had more fabric hiding my head than I had for the rest of my costume when first we met & exchanged). Yes, and now I learn that I've been further scorned...and for Death itself! I'd be suspicious of me. But, alas, I do not have it, for if I did, I'd try to sell it in the AQ Marketplace. My true regret is that I seem not have acquired Amanda's exchange before she lost HER stamp! Yikes. The East Coast just didn't want you two to leave, I guess. And, as good letterboxing visitors, you couldn't depart Maine without leaving your stamps, could you? (Next time, the imprint will be sufficient.)

Ryan said...

I've actually wanted to replace my signature stamp for quite some time now to include my trail name. Get tired of writing that "Green Tortuga" every time I stamp. Really need to carve it directly into the stamp! Or maybe just "El Tortuga." That sounds more manly, I think. *nodding* Not like there are any other tortugas running about to confuse me with.

And I wanted a new stamp for thru-hiking the Florida Trail. So it looks like my old signature stamp is done for now! (But I'd still like to keep it for sentimental reasons if it turns up. *sniffle*)

Lisa said...

"Out East" huh? The East Coast is hardly a mono-culture, and saying that all road systems are as bad as Boston's ... them's fightin' words!

Anonymous said...

I wish I'd known you were coming to Salem. I could've directed you to a good haunted house--the one I just directed! (I've got an indoor box in Salem, too.) Salem is a strange little town, and it is best to go with someone who knows his or her way around, so as not to get sucked into the worst of the touristy junk.

Sounds like your experience with Boston driving is about par for the course. I've been here two years and still haven't learned how to interpret the signage (when it exists). It may be a lost cause.

Anonymous said...

Is this part of the "3rd on the 6th" caper? -Rose

Anonymous said...

Oh Great One,

If the stamp in question were a true Homage, the name woudl be something like the "Green Potato(e)" or "Green Kahuna" or some such.


jackbear said...

I think I saw it listed on ebay. It was in a lot with a K-Martha stamp and Purple Skull stamp. There was a Nancy Drew one in the lot too, but I thought the whole thing was a bit overpriced.

Good luck, I'm sure it will turn up, you'll have the whole country looking.


Anonymous said...


You would have at least recognized one LBer: me. The corn maize had numbers throughout it and you could grab questions on different categories. We were a big group and we grabbed questions on different subjects, so when we got to a number, we would be sure on the answers ("this number we turn left").

Except some teenagers came along and ripped out all the numbers after 2. We wandered around in there forever in the dark.

You might have heard us tho, because sometimes we were going one way and I'd stand there directing, saying, "This way is North." Got a funny reaction from a couple not in our group. . .

Mainekokopellian & I went and looked around in the cemetary, picked up the hearse, etc. on Monday morning. Which there was frost on the ground, so that was fun. MKK will be eventually cleaning up his cemetery and maybe can see yours if it's there.

We also went to Totem Bear country and looked around for Amanda's. That would be a miracle to find, as there are so many trees and skads of needles and such on the ground.

But I did want to let you know we looked before we took off for some last minute boxing.

I'm not saying we wouldn't have held them for ransom if we had found them. . .