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TED'S NATIONAL PARK STAMP CHALLENGE

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Stamp-O-Rama...
or, a stamp blitz of the greater North East
by Mike Cornett

Mike and Greg came into town with the intention of grabbing every stamp available, and they might just have succeeded! If you plan on coming to the Washington DC area plan ahead with an excellent map of the area, especially downtown DC! ... Ted

Hi Y'all, a little trip report. No quiz.

Guess it's about time I came out to the closet (oops, bad metaphor) and confess what I have been doing for the last week or two. Well, what a surprise, it was a motorcycle trip!! This trip had been in the planning for a long time and when Greg Pink said he would be through with graduate courses by the end of July and ready to go Stamp Hunting, that sealed it. At first it was going to be a camping trip, but then I figured I could mooch off of my few remaining friends and I put the tent back under the bed.

Saturday, July 2, after a leisurely breakfast I headed for Dayton, Ohio, and the Wright Brothers' Bicycle Shop. Greg had left Florida the previous afternoon and after 973 miles he arrived in Dayton in time to waste the whole day. Well, I'm sure that to Greg getting only one stamp is almost a wasted day. I got there about 3:30 p.m. after a fluff-butt ride of 300 miles. The next morning we left at 6:15 and headed for the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe (burial mounds, ya know). From there we wandered through West Virginia and managed to pick up three more stamps at the New River Gorge National River in Glen Jean. From there we made it to Friendship Hill National Historic Site way north in Pennsylvania. A short distance away at the Fort Necessity National Battlefield Greg and I parted and he headed north to get a couple more stamps and I headed east to Mike & Ruth McBride's country estate in Upperville, Virginia. When I arrived about 8:00 p.m. dinner was ready and I again enjoyed the incomparable cuisine of folks who really love to cook and do their shopping in Milan, Zurich, London, and Frankfurt. Greg arrived at about 11:00 p.m. and there were actually leftovers leftover.

Monday morning we had what Greg described as "the best breakfast I ever had in my life" and hit the road for Pennsylvania again. After a dreadful choice in roads (PA 30 between Gettysburg and York) we got behind for the rest of the day. We split up after the Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site (no burial mounds) and Greg headed for Philadelphia and I went to Valley Forge. We agreed to meet at Chuck and Kirstin's house on Long Island. After Valley Forge I went to Philadelphia also and was greeted by horrendous traffic and a temperature of 97 degrees. Negotiating the traffic and taking liberties with parking I managed to get stamps at the Benjamin Franklin National Monument, Independence National Historical Park (the Liberty Bell), Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial (What? You don't know who . . .), Gloria Dei Church National Historical Site, and the Edgar Allen Poe National Historical Site. Now it was time to do battle with the New Jersey Turnpike on the way to New York. After briefly diverting to get a stamp at Morristown, NJ, the site of George Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters, I eked across the George Washington Bridge into NYC. By 8:00 p.m. I managed to find the Wardell's house in Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island. If you have to live in NY, this is the place. We had a good meal and watched Kirstin anchor the 10 O'clock news. When she got home at 11:30 we talked until 1:00 a.m.

Tuesday morning, after a rough start due to a bad neutral switch on Greg's bike, we were off for Teddy Roosevelt's home, Sagamore Hill, in Oyster Bay. Next we headed back east on Long Island toward the Fire Island National Seashore. Ouch, that was an extra 150 miles in the opposite direction! The stamp wasn't where it was supposed to be, but we managed to find it anyway. Next, in a tribute to Greg's persuasive abilities, we headed for Manhattan. Yeah, I couldn't believe it either. Amazingly enough we found a free place to park the bikes at the Battery and after getting the Castle Clinton stamp (constructed for defense before the War of 1812) we headed up Broadway and then down Wall Street for that stamp. With a quick stop at Grant's Tomb to check the authenticity of the person buried there (and to get a stamp) we were out of Manhattan headed for Massachusetts. Greg stopped for a stamp in Connecticut (THE stamp in Connecticut) and I continued to North Attleboro for only my second motel on the whole trip. The Super 8 was the pits, but we had a good dinner.

Wednesday morning we split again. Greg was determined to "clean out" Massachusetts so he headed for Cape Cod very early. I knew I couldn't get many stamps in Mass. and still make it back to Washington for a little gathering at Bill Shaw's place, but I did go up to Boston for the John Quincy Adams stamp (my only one from Mass.) and then back through Providence, RI for the Roger Williams stamp and down through Orange, NJ for the Thomas Edison stamp. All in all it was not a fun day of riding down the New England Turnpike and the New Jersey Turnpike. At least those folks move right along. I was hardly ever under 80. Bill Shaw's house is beautiful, large and in a wonderful wooded area west of the city. He made what was probably the best quiche I have ever eaten. Bill, Larry, Carol, Ted, and I had a great time telling jokes and lies and soon it was time for me to follow Larry home. Since Greg was still up north someplace I got my choice of rooms. As soon as Larry picked up his absent roommate's iguana and put him in the closet, I decided on the big room with the private bath and the waterbed. Good choice. Greg got in about 2:00 a.m., or so I hear.

Thursday morning Greg had to get his bike fixed so I decided to do the gonzo day of stamp hunting in Washington that Ted Verril had planned out for us. In spite of the hectic schedule I really enjoyed the day and ended up at the Nature Center in Rock Creek Park where Larry met me and guided me home. Thirty stamps in one day was my biggest tally ever, but I knew that when Greg and Larry did the run on Saturday they could get even more. (They did: I think Greg's total was 39!) If you're interested you may send a SASE for the list. Thursday night Larry (yes, this is Larry Fears we are talking about!) took us out to dinner and I managed to exploit his generosity with steak and lobster. Bet it'll be awhile before he makes that offer again!

Friday was another fun day. With Larry in the lead we left at 6:30 a.m. and headed south toward the George Washington birthplace. We arrived before 9:00 and the ranger was kind enough to let us in for the stamp so we could be on our way to the other ten we would collect that day. I enjoyed having someone in the lead who could take me places without my having to read the map and watch for the signs. After BRIEF stops (Larry was fond of saying, "Fort McHenry won't come to us!") at Fort Washington, The Thomas Stone House, Oxen Cove Park, Fort Foote Park, Piscataway Park, Greenbelt Park, and Ft McHenry (you know, "The Star Spangled Banner") we had a nice lunch near the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and then went out to the Hampton National Historical Site. From there we headed to the Monocacy National Battlefield and over to Harper's Ferry for the Appalachian Trail stamp. I talked to a couple who had started out in Georgia on May 25 and were hoping to reach the trail's end by the first week in October. I was impressed--almost in awe. Last year 375 people hiked the entire 2,162 miles of the trail. Wow! There was only one thing to do in response to such rugged physical demands. Larry knew a great place for milkshakes. Our stamp hunting done for the day, we headed for Carol Kuech's house for some great food and a gathering of twenty or so motorcycle folks. Bill Shaw helped me diagnose and fix my turn signal problem. Elsie Smith told us about getting ready for the Iron Butt rally later this month. Imagine: 1,000 miles a day for eleven days!

By 9:00 p.m. I was ready to leave for Mike and Ruth's place in Virginia. It was a lovely cool night and the little back roads on the way to White's Ferry were fun. Thank goodness for the extra 200 watts of driving lights. At the ferry my bike was the only vehicle on the trip across. The operator said he should charge me double, but was content to take my $1.50. A half a mile from the McBride's place my driving lights shorted out, but thankfully I didn't need them for the rest of the trip. After chatting with Mike for awhile I went to bed in the best bed in the world, except for mine at home. I got up late Saturday morning and after a leisurely breakfast I hit the road at 11:00 a.m. (I SAID it was leisurely, didn't I?) The trip home was routine. There was, maybe, 30 minutes of rain-the only rain of the entire trip. It took me 300 miles (and five stops) to "get in the groove" so this was not a record run. Oh yeah, I picked up two last stamps at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in Cumberland, MD. Swung into my garage at 1:00 a.m. CDT.

It was a tiring, but very fun trip and the 67 stamps made it my most productive trip (in terms of stamps) so far. But, I'm glad I still have good stamp reasons to return to the East Coast: 12 in MA, 12 in NY, 2 in ME, 1 in RI, 3 in PA, 1 in MD, and several in Virginia and DC. But, for now I'm content with 244 National Parks, National Monuments, National Historical Sites, National Battlefields, National Seashores, National Memorials, National Scenic Rivers and Trails, and so forth. Such fun!

This report was long, but at least I didn't give my menu each day, list all the roads by number, describe the performance of the motorcycle, present history lessons, list the price of gas (cheapest: $1.10 in Ohio), or describe my physical condition. Thank goodness, huh?

Downtown Mike Cornett, Texan-in-Exile #1
'95 K1100LT "K Bueno" (multicultural license plate)

Copyright©1997 Mike Cornett, Ted Verrill
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