The Hounds of Boxerville

Thomas and I were invited by Mark and Sue Pepe to join a group of letterboxers for a Pinecone Adventure to Dartmoor. This is the third Pinecone Adventure to the Moors and our first. We are so incredibly happy and honored to be traveling with this group to the birthplace of letterboxing. Our trip takes place from August 28 - September 11, 2014. This blog will chronicle the trip as well as activities before and after the trip.

Pinecone Adventures Returns to the Moor with The Hounds of Boxerville.

The road in front of us grew bleaker and wilder over huge russet and olive slopes, sprinkled with giant boulders. Now and then we passed a moorland cottage, walled and roofed with stone, with no creeper to break its harsh outline.
- from The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sunday, November 30, 2014

More Post-Trip Information

There really isn't much to report about the Dartmoor trip since I have taken care of quite a bit of stuff since we have returned. But there were still a few loose ends I wanted to handle and I also had made a plan to blog at the end of each month until the end of the year. So here is an update for November.

I went through my journal and decided to take it apart and then put it back together in a better order. I arranged the stamp images according to type and then I added some papers and pictures I had. By the time I finished adding and arranging everything the book was thicker. So I rebound it with bigger wire rings. I also added a pixie charm that I had bought in Widecombe-in-the-Moor. I have also done a little more work on my pictures. But I am still not done. I need to go through about two more days worth of pictures and then sort through them and make some slideshows. One other thing I did was to go through all the literature and brochures I collected. They are now in a folder and I still am not sure what I want to do with them. They may just get filed but I was thinking of trying to bind them somehow. I will let you know what I end up doing and hopefully everything will be complete by the end of next month.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Updating Post Trip Information

Another month has passed since we returned from England. I still have a few things to do to finish up the trip. Things have been put on hold the last month so that I could take care of other things and really nothing mattered that much. I still need to finish sorting out some of the pictures and I need do a few things with my logbook. I also have some papers and information that I am going to bind at the end of the year. I have gotten some things stored and organized and I am happy about that.

Unfortunately we are still dealing with the rental van issue. The charge was taken off our bill but the credit card company has issued a statement to the rental van company and they have 45 days to either let it go or recharge us. It is really annoying and I hope it all ends well. The charge is bogus and I feel that the rental van company is trying to get extra money out of us.

Anyway that is where we are at for now. By the end of the year I want to have everything regarding this trip organized and put away. I shouldn't have a problem with getting that done. I will make one last post at the end of the year to sum up this trip.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Getting Back into a Normal Routine

We have been home a couple of weeks now and our normal routine has kicked in. I am still working on things from the trip and trying to organize stuff. I have spent quite a few hours going through all the photos I took on the trip but I am still not totally finished with that project. I do want to organize all the photos and then pick out a good representation of the trip and create a slideshow. I also finished going through my logbook and I got all the stamp images I received logged in. I also updated my counts and spreadsheets with my finds. I have a pile of items that I need to decide how I want to store or save them. There are postcards, patches, pins, brochures, pictures, stamp images, receipts and other papers that are just sitting there waiting to be dealt with. I also have some ideas and things I want to do with my logbook. There are things I want to add and I would like to rearrange it so it is in a better order.

We paid for most of the trip before we left so we didn't have that much to worry about when we got home. But I am happy to say that the entire trip is now paid for and we did well. It was even a little less than we had expected. I am glad to have all of the financial things done. The only real thing that we are working on is the problem with the van. When we returned the vans they noticed a dent on the front left bumper of the van that hadn't been noted on the pick up form. So the company decided to charge Thomas £1500. We immediately called our credit card company to file a dispute. The only problem was that it was a Saturday and they couldn't really do anything then and also the charge hadn't actually been posted to our account. They told us to call when we got home. And that is what we did. They gave us lots of instructions and they told us they would work on it and get back to us. In the meantime they told us not to pay that charge until everything was handled. So far we haven't heard anything and we are still waiting. Our credit card company has always been good with handling these things so I think it will all work out.

The other thing I have done since we have been home is keep up with the Yahoo! Talk List. I don't post much but I have made sure to read what is being posted. And I have kept Mark P. informed about the van situation. I really enjoyed the trip and I am glad I have kept up with this blog - it will be a great reminder of our visit to the Moors.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Home Again, Home Again Jiggety-Jig

It is Friday morning and we are home. We left London early yesterday morning to begin our journey home. I guess we were both ready to come home because we were awake at 4:15am. So we showered, dressed, finished packing and were ready by 5:00am. [Note: We were up at 4:15am on Thursday morning London time which put us up at 9:15pm Santa Fe time on Wednesday night.] We had scheduled our taxi for 5:30am so we went down to the hotel lobby with our luggage and soon after the taxi showed up. The drive to Heathrow was quick and quiet. There was no traffic and the city seemed quite different than it does during the day. We arrived at Heathrow and made our way to the Virgin Atlantic desks. We checked in our bags and we were ready to go since we already had our boarding passes. There wasn't a gate assignment yet so we went through security - which was extremely quick and painfree, we didn't even have to take off our shoes - then we went and found a place to get coffee and some breakfast and wait for a gate assignment. It took about 40 minutes before a gate appeared on the screen and at that time we made our way to Gate 17. Here we had to have our passports and boarding passes checked - again it was very quick. At this point we only had about 30 minutes to wait for boarding. We were happy to have two seats by the window by ourselves - it is just nicer not to have to worry about anyone else. We got settled and were ready for takeoff but for some reason things were moving slow - so our 9:05am takeoff turned into a 9:40am takeoff. When things got settled I decided to watch a movie - Maleficent and then they came around with beverages. After my movie finished they brought us lunch - salad, chili, bun, passionfruit yougurt, coke and coffee. While eating I watched Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Later they brought us a strawberry popsicle type thingy for a snack and I also had more coffee. When this movie finished I took a break and filled out the customs forms for me and Thomas and then closed my eyes and rested for a bit. Then I decided to watch another movie - Noah. During this movie they brought us another small meal - cheese and sundried tomato sandwiches, chips, cookie and mints. Thankfully when the last movie finished we were close to landing, by this time I was getting really bored and was ready to get out of the plane. After landing we went through customs which went really fast and then we went to claim our bags. Once we had our bags we made our way to Terminal 5 where our next flight was leaving from but not until 8:30pm. The time at this point was just after noon NYC time. They told us it was too early to check-in so we had to find a place to sit and wait for a couple of hours. There was only one place to get anything to eat and that was a Dunkin' Donuts. So we had iced coffees and a doughnut and sat there and talked and read until we could check-in and get through security. Around 3:00pm we finally got bags checked in and our boarding passes and then headed for security. Again we got through security quickly - I really thought that security would be more involved since we were flying on 9/11, but it wasn't bad. We made our way to Gate 23 and settled in as we still had a few hours to wait. We spent the time reading, playing on our iPads, walking around, getting a few snacks and even taking a couple of cat naps. I really thought we would go stir crazy as time just seemed to drag - I guess we just wanted to get home. We finally boarded and began our non stop flight from New York City to Albuquerque. We ended up sleeping the entire flight which made it seem quick. The plane landed in Albuquerque about 11:00pm and by the time we got our bags, took the shuttle to our car and got out of the parking lot it was almost midnight. It was 1:00am when we got in bed - that means we had been up for almost 28 hours. We were so happy to home and in our own bed and I have to say we slept like babies and didn't wake up until 10:30 this morning.

So that is our trip to Dartmoor and London - we had a great time but as usual we are very happy to be home. This was a great experience and I loved Dartmoor. Maybe one day we can make another trip to the area and see more of the moors. At the end of this month I will write another post about what I took care of post trip - just to keep a full record.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

London [Day 3]

Well today is our last day in England - early tomorrow morning we begin our journey home.We woke up this morning, got dressed and decided to get most things packed. We put aside the clothes we want to wear tomorrow and then packed our suitcases with what we didn't need. We also started putting our carry-ons together. Once this was organized we went down for some breakfast and made final plans for the day. Then I spent a few minutes getting our boarding passes for the first flight tomorrow. I put these in my carry-on and then we headed out for the day.

It was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel to the London Eye where we had a 10:00 time set up. I brought the confirmation to the ticket counter where we received our tickets and the we joined the queue for our ride. We didn't have to wait long before we were put into one of the capsules. The ride around takes about a half hour and we loved it. BEAUTIFUL-INCREDIBLE-FUN-AMAZING! These are the words we used to describe the ride, what amazing views of London. Well worth the time and money. I took lots of pictures and really was glad we did this. After our ride we went and got tickets for an all day hop-on, hop-off ride on the City Cruises boats along the Thames. Then we waited about 15 minutes for the next boat so that we could take a ride to the Tower of London. I enjoyed the ride and loved the different view of the city. During the ride we had a live commentary of the sites along the way. One of the things I liked was that there are these lion heads along the sea wall and there is a saying that goes with these lions when the river rises . . .
"If the lions are drinking, then London is sinking."
These days they have better ways of controlling floods but I like this insight to the history of the river. We arrived at the Tower pier and made our way to the Tower of London ticket booth. We used our London Pass to get tickets and the we walked to the entrance. From here we first saw the hundreds of thousands of poppies placed in the dry moat around the Tower. I had read about this before we left for this trip and I had marked this as a 'must see' for the trip. So I took a few pictures and then we went in to tour the tower, making a mental note to take a walk around the outside of the Tower to see all the poppies. In the Tower we did and saw the following . . . Traitors Gate, Medieval Palace & Wall Walk, Ravens, Crown Jewels and Bloody Tower. The history of the place and the architecture are both amazing. We really liked our visit here. We then exited and did the walk around the Tower and were moved by the poppies everywhere. Each poppy represents a fallen British soldier from World War I and was done to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the war. It really is a must see exhibition that is there from August 5 - November 11, 2014. Here are a few links about the poppies.

Tower of London Remembers
Row on row, the poppies flow at the Tower of London
Poppies in the Moat
Remembrance and the Poppy
800,000 Red Poppies Pour Like Blood From The Tower of London
Stunning Photos of the Tower of London's Poppies

From the Tower we walked to Tower Bridge to go to The Tower Bridge Exhibition. Again we used our London Pass for this. The exhibition takes you up to the top where you can walk across the bridge on walkways with nice views of the River Thames. Then you go back down and get a tour of the engine rooms. It was a fascinating history of the bridge and great information on how it works. And we got to walk across the bridge twice - once on top and the again on the bottom. Next we made our way back to the pier so that we could take the boat over to the Westminster pier. As we walked we got to see the drawbridge being raised. Arriving at the pier we walked past Parliament and over to Westminster Abbey. We had planned to go in but there was a line and the wait was around 30 minutes so we just decided to walk around the area. We found a pub (Westminster Arms) and went in for some fish and chips and some sticky toffee pudding. I also decided to have a guinness. After eating we continued our walk and we ended up walking through St. James Park and over to Buckingham Palace. We took a few pictures and then walked through Green Park to the Green Park Station so that we could get back to the hotel. Now that we were done for the day we got last minute things packed and then relaxed. It is now time for bed - we have and early and long day ahead of us tomorrow.

[Note: I have mentioned the London Pass a few times in the last three posts. When I got them I wondered if we would actually save any money. Well I kept track of all the things we used the card for and how much they cost. In the end we saved about $125 and for some of the attractions we didn't have to wait in the ticket line to enter so it made things move a little faster. I am glad we got the passes and would do it again.]