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Witchiepoo's Letterboxes

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Friendship Knot
Witch Way?
Remembering MK
Pirates of Sunset Grace
The Alice Series
The Acorn Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree
Company Picnic
Finding Opus
The Hobo Signs
The Hobo Signs 2
Personal Traveler

Friendship Knot
Mason Neck State Park
Lorton, VA Prince William County
Placed 11/03/02 by Witchiepoo and Shell

note-there may be a fee for park entrance in season

Reported MISSING

Park in the visitor's center parking lot. Enjoy the view of the water as you head towards the paved walkway to the right of the visitor's center. Go right at the fork. Continue along the windy path to the wooden bench overlook. Take the stairs down to the right.

When you reach the point where there is a small path on the left to the water and a fence on your left you have almost reached your prize! On the other side of the fence is a small stump. Just 10 steps in is a small tree. Walk to the other side of that tree. With your back to it, face towards 10pm and spy a two in one tree just a few steps ahead. Inside that tree under leaves and bark you will find the Friendship Knot.

Please stamp in carefully. Very busy area!

Remembering MK

Lake Ridge Golf & Marina Park
Lake Ridge, VA, Prince William County
Placed by Witchiepoo

Replanted 5/12/2007

All about the park: Click here!
From I-95: Take exit 160 West (Occoquan/Lake Ridge) turn left on Old Bridge Rd., go straight approximately 5 miles. Turn right on Smoketown Rd. Take the first left on Griffith Ave., which leads to park entrance.

I carved this in remembrance of MK, my first cat. Hope you enjoy as much as I liked planting it.

The park is open all year long and is always free! It closes nightly at 5, so plan accordingly.

Park at the first parking lot on the left, where it advertises the golfing. Turn right when you first enter the parking lot and go to the end. That’s where you need to park.

When I lived with a friend in a townhouse, MK lived in the basement. So go down the long flight of stairs at the end of the parking lot. It’s a long flight. Enjoy the weird spacing that makes you take one step on one stair and two or three on another!!

At the bottom of the stair, there is a boathouse in front of you. Off to the left is the beginning of a path. Let your curiosity take your feet down the path. The Occoquan River is on your right.

Carefully step with catlike grace through some rocks and back onto the path. There are several washouts and many fallen trees along the path. A couple times the path breaks off, but stay on the main left path. The right breaks just take you to the water. You certainly don’t want that! Follow the path around the bend to the left.

Step carefully over a washout that crosses the path from left to right. Even though superstition says that carrying a cat over water is bad luck, keep on going. I think that came from cats freaking out and clawing a person to shreds! MK wasn’t a fan of water either, but the bathtub fascinated him.

You can hear the river from here. It's a lovely sound. I hope you take time to look around and see how pretty it is. I was lucky enough to meet a little dog named Max. There’s another sewer marked "sleepy" on the left. Keep going!

Finally, the path sort of comes to a T. Off to your left are some stairs. Take those up. I know it reeks here and I'm sorry. Did you know that cats sense of smell is ten times greater than a humans? Regardless, hurry off as quickly as you can!!

The path comes to a ragged Y. Go left toward the fence on the hill. Take the path to a huge fallen tree, and then go to the roots of that tree. As you face the fence, you see a path running left to right. Turn left and follow that path.

Go down a hill and follow the right bend the path takes. Go up a slight hill.

Stop when you come to a place on the path where a group of rocks are on either side of the path. It’s just past the slight hill, so don’t go charging on! There is a large stone on either side of the path. Then, just ahead, there are two trees parallel to each other on the path. Stand between them. At 3 o'clock, there are three black and white stones. MK was black and white. Nestled in the middle, under some innocent looking bark and twigs and leaves, you’ll find your prize.

Keep following the path you're on toward the picnic tables. It will lead you back on quiet cat's feet to...the long staircase you started on! Go on up to find your car.

The Pirates of Sunset Grace
Fountainhead Park, Fairfax Station, Fairfax, VA
Placed: August 16, 2003
The final stamp, the pirate ship, has been reported missing.

[Fountainhead Park ( ) can be found in the Lorton area. It’s just off Rte. 123. To reach Fountainhead, take I-95 south of the Beltway, exit at Occoquan and travel north on Rt. 123 approximately 5 miles. Turn left onto Hampton Road and drive 3 miles to the entrance on the left. Free entrance and parking!]

At one time pirates teemed in the area. You couldn’t go two yards down the road without being set upon by marauding bandits or highwaymen. One particular group called the Virginia area their home, but they overstayed their welcome. A lynch mob charged through the forest, determined to leave the pirates swinging from the trees, so they decided to make a run for it. Their ship, the Sunset Grace, was safely hidden, but they had to get to her first.

Follow in the steps of the pirates and you’ll find their treasure!

First, find their hidden path. It’s called the yellow path now, but that’s just to throw off the mob searching for them. The path is a real pain to find. After you park, walk down the road till you get to the loop that wends its way to the marina. There is a tiny strip of road that cuts across the loop with an ominous sign declaring “Authorized Persons only”. The pirates didn’t listen, so you don’t either! Cut across the loop (from right to left) and walk onto hidden path.

Once you are on the trail, turn left almost immediately. When given a choice, most people choose to go right, so naturally the pirates wanted to throw everyone off. Hurry down, up and down the hills! Duck under the tree that’s fallen over the path. Carefully pick your way over the muddy path – the pirates had to throw sticks into the muck to get across. They’re still there. Hurry down the hill. Hurry! The mob nips at your heels! At the split, take the right leg and follow the loop. Cross over the wooden bridge. Hills loom over you now. Will there be an ambush? Go left toward the red marked trail. Cross the wooden bridge and run on. You’ll pass a tree that is double marked red. Go up a hill – STOP! To your left you’ll see a sign saying "Danger! Archery range!" Stand on the rock at the top of the hill and look down the path. Straight ahead is a tall, moss-covered tree. Behind it is another moss-covered tree whose roots look like feet sticking into the ground. A smaller 3-in-1 tree is beside it. There between the trees, the pirates hid the pirate map. Look under the white rock. Then hurry on. Run!

Run over the wooden bridge. Follow the switchback, then go down and up the hills. A few hearty men were fast on the pirates’ heels. That meant they had to be eliminated. There’s a red rock at the top of the hill. Stand on the rock to the right of it and look dead ahead. There’s a large tree with a smaller one growing out of it. The ambush party waited behind that tree to pick off the pursuers. You’ll find their favorite weapon still there.

Clamber up the hill and around the switchback. Pass the rock piles and keep going. You’re going to go right, toward Shock-a-Billy hill. Run up the trail. When you reach the top, it’s hard running, so slow down. There are a lot of stones around. Pick your way carefully down the long hill. At the bottom go right, down the Expert Path. Climb down the hill, but don’t trip on the erosion plates set in the ground. Go across the wooden bridge. Up and down another hill. Cross another wooden bridge. You come to a four-way crossroads. Face the sign there. Behind it is a large tree. The Jolly Roger is hidden there under yet another white rock.

Head toward the parking lots. You’ve almost made the whole run! Cross a wooden bridge. Now the stream splits. Follow the stream. There is a fallen tree over the stream. Draw a line from the fallen tree across the path and you’ll find a large stump. Behind it is the treasure of the Sunset Grace.

Hurry on! You’re almost done! Go down the hill, then up again. There’s another "Danger Archery Range" sign. Across from it is a small finger of land. That’s where the Sunset Grace is hidden! Behind the lone large tree there. You’re done! You’ve found them all.

Now follow the path up and you'll exit at the bike exit.

The Alice Series
Leesylvania Park, Woodbridge, VA
Placed: August 31, 2003
Isabel roared through the area and resulted in over a million dollars worth of damage!! Unfortunately, the Bushey Point Trail was closed!! My Alice series was swept out with the hurricane. Sorry.

Info about and directions to the park.

There is a charge to get into the park: $3 on weekdays and $4 on weekends and holidays. Be prepared! I got caught and had to scrape up quarters to get in.

Park in the Bushey Point Trail parking lot. Go down the lovely twisting trail. At the split, continue on straight. Is this the park or Tulgey Wood? Never mind. Cross the wooden bridge and go straight. Cross the second wooden bridge and go straight. Look at the water and you’ll see a group of rocks forming a T in the water.

The trail comes to a small split. The left break is just a jump down to the water. Stop at the split. Turn north. Take 25 steps into the woods. You’re now facing a tall oak tree. Take a 280° reading. There’s a tree with a hole in it. The Cheshire Cat showed Alice how to get to the beautiful garden through a hole in a tree. So naturally Alice must be here…searching for her garden again. Behind the tree you’ll find Alice.

Back on the path! Keep marching along till you see another wooden bridge. Do Not Cross! Instead, turn left and follow the path along. At the large stump on the left, stop. Now take 20 steps along the path. You’ll see a large mound of moss off to your left. Go to it. Crawl under the brush and trees and you’ll find TweedleDum and TweedleDee hiding from the Monstrous Crow there!

Walk on – take a rest at the parking lot if you need to. Keep going, once you get your breath. At the "Cartop Boat Launch" turn right.

Walk behind the fence. Count the points in the fence. Stop at number 8. As you face the water, take a 300° reading. Hop the fence, and start in that direction. Go through the tiny piece of woods and cross the path again. Start counting your steps as you go into the woods and stop at 30. You’re facing a tree. On your left is a pile of firewood. On your right is the firepit. Turn north and take 20 steps. There’s a little path off to your left. Take 12 steps down that path. Off to your left is a 3 in 1 tree. Face that tree and take a 210° reading. There among the fallen trees the Red Queen is holding court.

Head back up the path, over the bridges, and you’re home. It’s a lovely walk. I saw borogoves and mome raths – and even a Jub Jub bird! Okay, okay, squirrels a fox and even a crane.

Don’t forget your repellant! The bandersnatchs ate me alive!!!

The Acorn Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree
Mason Neck State Park, VA
Placed: November 9, 2002
Replanted July 2, 2004

Reported MISSING again!

Replanted May 12, 2007

The Bayview Loop Trail is one of the most beautiful walks in Mason Neck Park. You should explore it just for the view! Just as a warning, when I drove up at 9AM, I had to pay the $4. If your timing is off, you may have to pay, too!

Drive to the Bayview Loop Trail. It’s just before the Visitor’s Center. It’s on the left and has a bathroom and playground. Park at the end and set out following the split rail fence.

Go down the stairs and cross the bridge/walkway.
Read "What’s for Lunch?" if you can!
Take a moment to look over the water at the ducks. There are a ton of ducks out there! A couple of geese and heron, too.
Go down some more stairs and cross another bridge/walkway.
Read "A Dirty Shame" and wonder how long it will take for erosion to take the area.
Follow the path down more stairs and cross another bridge/walkway.
Read "Current Events".
Yes, cross another bridge/walkway!
Read "Waterfront Homes".
Look for beaver. There are a ton of fish and birds in the area, too. I almost didn’t see the beaver till he ducked underwater and I caught sight of his tail!
Go up stairs. Don’t trip over the roots in the path.
At the top of the hill, there is a jumble of fallen tree debris and the path splits, take the right path.
Almost immediately, the path Y splits again. Take the right path again. It's not used often, so it's not going to be crowded or wide.
Pass the red tagged tree.
Pass the pretty flowering bushes and many fallen trees.
Go to the lovely bench overlook.
Sit on the left end of the bench and gaze over the water. It’s beautiful during the fall.
Remain seated and turn facing the path.
Take a 30° reading.
Look behind the stump and half under the log.
Beneath the sticks and bark hides the prize.
Look out for spiders!!

Witch Way?
Mason Neck Park
Lorton, VA, Prince William County
Placed: November 9, 2002

Listen to the story and learn without fail
Of the witch who got lost on Wilson Springs Trail.

She ran down the path with trees marked with yellow dye
Through the railroad ties that beside the path did lie.

Down the hill and past the tree heavily gnarled
And beside a tree where “ATAL” is carved.

Cross over bridge one and then number two
And the path veers left, though she never knew.

To the left of the path stands a 3-in-1 tree
And to the right a round curved one you’ll see.

It is to that curved tree you stand behind
And count 22 steps off in your mind.

Now a larger tree’s in front of you and off to your left
Stands the remains of a 3-in-1 tree all bereft.

One tree stands tall while the other two lie beside
And in this tree Witch Way? does hide.

Stuck in the hollow beneath twigs and bark
The witch stuck it there when she got lost in the park.

Company Picnic
Ft. Hunt Park, Alexandria, VA
Placed July 10, 2004

Ft. Hunt Park is basically a circle. Once you go in and pass Section A, you have to go all the way around to get out again. This letterbox is planted in honor of the company picnic I attended on the same day. Great weather, no humidity and fabulous fun and games. What else could you ask for?

Park in Lot D. That’s by the baseball field. Walk down toward the “do not enter” drive, keeping close to the woods. Just follow the line of the woods down to a very twisty path.

When it joins another path, turn left.

Follow the path down the hill and over the wooden bridge. Climb the wooden stairs. At the top of the stairs, the path splits. Follow the right path.

You are now on the yellow-tagged path. Keep going. You’ll pass a fire pit to the right. You’re going the right direction!

At the small crossroads, stop. Take a 225-degree reading. You’ll see a pile of stones next to some small saplings. The stones are all chained together. Under an "innocent looking" pile of twigs and leaves in the middle, you’ll find Company Picnic.

Finding Opus

The Hobo Signs
Lake Accontink Park
Springfield, VA
Placed: February 21, 2009

Learn all about the park here

No entrance fee! A real hobo would be thrilled!

Drive down the road until you see the Orange & Alexandria Trestle. Park in the lot there.
"Oh a hobo’s life is a life of ease
We never work and we do as we please"

See the historical sign about the Orange & Alexandria Trestle? Read it!
Note when it was built. Note when it was burned. Remember.

Walk down to the dam and see all the fishermen. Fishing was a staple for hobos in the day. If they couldn’t earn food, they would fish or trap.

Off to the left of the dam is a trail. Follow that up. Continue straight onto the path. Cross a wooden bridge. The path splits, but stay to the right. Be aware that there are lots of people, bikes and dogs.

"We’re lazy as heck, but there’s one thing we’ll do
Is tune up our gadgets and toot toot for you!"

Off to the right is path down to the water. Follow it down to the water’s edge.
You’ll see a tree with no bark on the bottom.
Look around and find a bird box with the #10 painted on it.
Behind that tree under an innocent pile of leaves and sticks you’ll find the first hobo sign – “Get Out Now!” Stamp and get moving quick!!

"When it’s swingtime down in hobo town
All the hobos gather ‘round
Everyone begins to clown
Oh boy what rhythm!"

Continue on the path.
There’s a large rock to the left.
Keep following the water, stepping over a fallen tree.
You’ll pass the November stick on your left.
At the path fork, turn left and follow it up to the main path.
Turn right on the main path.
At the fork, there’s a bulletin board and a bench. Want to rest a bit?? Continue going straight.
At the corner of the path, you’ll see a broken split rail fence (appropriate with the hobos! Okay, bad joke).
Stand next to the first post and look at the lake.
Take a reading of N 352˚.
Remember when the trestle was built? Add the numbers together. It will come to a 2 digit number. Add those together.
Take that many paces.
Between a broken log and a 4-in-1 tree is a good place to rest for the night.
That’s where you’ll find “Safe Camp”.

"Pots and pans, old tin cans
It makes no difference what
We swing ‘em high, we swing ‘em low
We swing ‘em sweet or hot!"

Back on the main path.
Go down a hill and pass another split rail fence.
At the fork, go straight down the path.
Pass a little drop off with a stream at the bottom (there’s a fence there, too).
Take the first side path to the right.
Walk all the way down to the bottom. The crows will definitely greet you!
It’s rather marshy there.
Look for the small arch of branches and leaves on the forest floor. Stand behind it.
When was the trestle burned? Take the first and last number of the year to make a new 2 digit number.
Take that many paces to the large hollowed out tree.
Turn west.
Take 5 paces.
Turn around (that’s 90˚!) and there’s a hollow tree with a white rock buried next to it.
Between the two is your next hobo sign stamp.

"So grab your partner by the hand
It’s rhythm of a different brand
The craziest music in the land
This hobo junkyard gadget band"

After you get that one, turn again and go straight to the path ahead.
Do you see a lot of buried rocks? You’re going the right way!
Cross a stream (jump! There’s no bridge!) and up a small hill.
At the T, turn left.
Walk through a mossy area and continue up the hill.
You’ll pass a broken tree stump on your left that looks like a star
Continue up the hill toward the fallen/broken trees. There’s another split rail fence.
You’ve found the main path again! Turn left and go on.
Pass the fence and stream again.
At the fork, take the right split.
At the next fork, go straight on up the hill.
Walk along this narrow path. Pass through the chopped tree.
At the T, take the left path.
At the tree with the orange mark, stop.
Put your back against that tree.
Straight ahead of you is a lone man watching you with shifty eyes. “You need to always turn right to get out of here. Otherwise you’d be best to go back!” he whispers insidiously. Okay, not really. It’s a tree.
When was the trestle burned again? Add that 4 digit to 2 digits. Then add those 2 numbers together.
Take that many paces up to the tree.
Under brush and twigs is the sign for a “Dishonest Man”.

Back to the path and the orange tree.
Ignore what the dishonest man said and continue on the path.
It leads to a paved path. Turn LEFT.
Pass a bench and follow the curves down the hill.
Please be careful…bikers fly down this hill like a bat outa hell.
At the T, turn right.
Continue on back to the parking lot.

Photobucket The Hobo Signs 2
Lake Accotink Park
Springfield, VA
Placed: March 7, 2009

Drive down the road until you see the Orange & Alexandria Trestle.
Park in the lot there.

“There was a time, when lonely men would wander;
Through this land, rolling endlessly along.
So many times, I've heard of their sad stories;
Written in the words of dead men's songs.”

See the historical sign about the Orange & Alexandria Trestle?
Read it! You’ll need information later.

There’s a billboard behind it talking about the fish that can be found in Lake Accotink. Read it too. Information there is needed.

Go up the stairs to the right of the dam and turn right. Walk along the water for a while. Go down a set of stairs and continue on.

“Down through the years, many men have yearned for freedom.
Some found it only on the open road.
So many tears of blood have filled around them;
'Cause you can't always do what you are told.”

Cross the beach and go over a wooden bridge. Continue on the path. There’s a whole bunch of broken trees on your right. Pass a big white trashcan on your left.

A red blaze marks a tree on your right. Right after that is a path off to your right. Follow it along. Duck under a tree. You’ll pass two sets of fraternal twin trees. The path comes to a T. Go left.

A big tree lies across the path. Clamber over it (please watch out for snakes!). The Fitz tree is on your left.

During the Civil war, General J.E.B. Stuart dispatched (how many??) men under Gen. Fitzhugh Lee (Robert E. Lee’s nephew – known as Fitz) to burn the wooden trestle over Accotink Creek.

Put your back to the tree. Take (the number of men) paces straight ahead. You’ll discover the Bam + Cam 1984 tree. Take a 135˚ reading. How many men were sent with Gen. Fitz? Take that many paces again.

Directly ahead is a holly bush. Beyond it is a 2-in-1 tree. On the other side, nestled in a hollow (under innocent looking sticks and dry leaves) is Kind Hearted Woman.

Put your back against that tree now, and straight ahead you’ll see the path again. Turn right and continue on it. You’ll pass the Luxembourg tree on the left.

At the fork, turn left and cross the bridge. Pass the strange twisted trees that litter the path.

Smell that?? Cookouts! The hobos are sharing food! Hurry up!

“Please tell me where, have all the hobos gone to.
I see no light a'burning down by the rusty railroad tracks.
Could it be, that time has gone and left them,
Tied up in life's eternal travelling sack.”

Cross a stream with no bridge and once you’re on the path again, go right. The path curves left, then comes to a T. Go right.

At last you come to a gathering of chopped trees. The chairs of any hobo before being used for firewood! Stop there and take a 250˚ reading. Remember the fish? How many were there in the first three lines? Take that many steps. You’ll find the last chopped tree piece. Next to it you’ll find a tree stump with its leg propped up. Under that leg you’ll find Good for a Handout.

Follow the path out of the woods and you’ll be back among the regular folks again.

“Last Sunday night, I wrote a letter to my loved one.
I signed my name and knew I'd stayed away too long.
There was a time when my heart was free to wander.
And I remember as I sing this hobo song.”

Personal Traveler
You know my trail name? Do you know where I got it from? Sing two lines of the theme song to me and I'll give you my personal traveler! :)

C-A-P-S! Let's go Caps!

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