Date Planted: May 24, 2007 *International Plant-A-Letterbox Day!!!*
Address: State Road (Route 103), River Road, and Old Road, Eliot, Maine
BIKE length: This is about a 4 1/2 mile bike ride, much of which is uphill. It is not for the inexperienced or severely out of shape biker. If in doubt, drive it first. But I do not recommend driving a car to find the boxes, as there are not parking areas near most of the boxes.
First aid: Please make sure the boxes are holding up okay! :)
Clue last updated: April 25, 2008
In the past year or two I've been trying to get in shape, and in doing so I've re-discovered my love of biking. Since I don't have storage for my bike at my apartment in Somersworth, NH, I still store my bike at my parents' house in Eliot, Maine, which allows me to bike the same exact route that I used to traverse while growing up. I also draw bears. If you enjoy a morbid sense of humor, you may want to click on the "Drawings" link in the menu bar on the left. But parents, don't worry, all of the bears in this series are 100% kid-friendly, happy bears! :) Please bring your bike and get ready for an invigorating ride with beautiful scenery!
PLEASE REHIDE THESE BOXES WELL! Many of them are in public places, some of which are on technically private property, so stealthiness is required!!!
To get to Eliot, take Exit 3 off of I-95 in Maine and travel north on Route 236 (if you hit a traffic circle with a Dairy Queen, you're going the wrong way, but you might want to keep the DQ in mind for after the letterboxing!). Go straight through the first set of lights. At the next set of lights, Eliot Commons will be on your left (there is a Kennebunk Savings Bank, Shipyard Brew Pub, and East Mountain Chinese restaurant there). Take a left at that set of lights onto Beech road. Drive to the end of the street and at the stop sign, you will see a white building on the right that looks like a bank, but there is a sign that says Eliot Baptist Church (or something like that). This is where you'll park. Take a right onto State Road and you can access the parking area of the bank/church from there. Or if you'd prefer, travel a little further down State Road and you can park in the Eliot ELEM parking lot (also on the right). But the clues start at the bank/church.
Way back when this was actually a bank, I opened my very first savings account here! Get ready to begin your journey through beautiful, scenic Eliot. You might want to do some stretches. Definitely make sure you have some water to bring along too (if you forgot it, the Eliot Meat Market is just up State Road on the left). Don't forget your helmet! :)
For the first letterbox, look for the tree with a lamp post sticking out of it. Bear will introduce himself to you in the crevice at the base of the tree.
#2. Bear at the playground
I went to school at Eliot ELEM when I was a wee child and have many happy memories of this place. Many of which have to do with the amazing playground fashioned from old tires and wood, with the wide metal slide, all of which looked like a giant dragon! And the two tire swings that hung from the sides of the dragon's head! And the fabulous swing sets! And jungle gyms made of metal! ... But where is this amazing playground, you ask?
Take a right out of the bank/church parking lot onto State Road and ride past Eliot Meat Market (on the left). Eliot ELEM will be on your right. Take a right just before the baseball field and drive to the parking lot in the back. You are now at the former location of the dragon made of tires. Try not to cry. :D
Find the lamp post at the northeasternmost corner of the parking lot and park your bike here. Face the woods with your back to the corner of the lamp post and the dumpsters on your right. Walk to the edge of the woods. Not too far in front of you on the ground is a rock with a smallish, BENT pipe sticking out of it (not sticking straight up. If you see that rock, it's not the right one, you've walked too far). Bear reminisces about the playground that once was at the closest tree.
#3. The literate bear
The William Fogg Library was one of my favorite places to go with my mom when I was little, and my favorite book to take out there was The Teddy Bear Tree (which was about a girl who planted a tree that grew talking teddy bears).
Return to State Road and continue up the hill and past the Congregationalist Church on the left. You will come to a fork in the road with the William Fogg Library directly in front of you. Stay to the right and you will see The Eliot Grange Hall a little further down. Park your bike here.
Look for the stone on the hall with the year the building was constructed. Walk to the back corner of the building on that side and then take 30 steps in the direction the corner points. Bear has found a quiet spot to read in the large tree in front of you.
#4. Bear loves old cemetaries
Now, get ready to do some real biking! If you haven't stretched, do so now and take a good gulp of water. You're going to get back on State Road and continue down a hill, past the Eliot preschool, past Fore Road on your left, up a hill, past Depot Road on your right, around a bend with a guard rail, up a hill (I always get tired and have to walk my bike here! :) ), and past Jennie Lane on your left (which is a loop, so don't think you're having deja vu if you see a Jennie Lane sign twice!). After Jennie Lane you'll go down a nice hill, but be careful not to pick up TOO much steam, because you'll be taking your next left onto River Road.
At the corner of State Road and River Road on the left there is a very old cemetary. Park your bike across from the island at the intersection on the left hand side of the road. Look at the edge of the cemetary for a tree that has grown around a stone post. Bear peeks out at you from the crevice between the post and the tree! :)
#5. Bear on horseback
The houses along River Road are beautiful examples of old New England homes and Victorian style mansions. My best friend in grade school lived on River Road, which is how this bike route came about! :)
Get back on your bike and coast down the hill. Continue along the road past Old Cottage Lane and look for the William Murray Rowe baseball field further up on the left. Check under the rock next to the white sign for this horse-riding bear (very small letterbox with no log book).
#6. Stop and rest
Moving on, you'll start to see some really nice views of the Piscataqua River, as well as the General Sullivan Bridge. Continue down River Road and cross a bridge. Keep your eye out on the right side of the road for a stone bench. Park and have a seat overlooking the river. After you've had a nice rest, continue walking to your right. You'll see part of a wooden dock at the edge of the grass. Standing in front of that, take 22 steps toward the General Sullivan Bridge. Bear enjoys the view from the base of the scraggly tree in front of you.
#7. Bear at bat
Some might say this is the toughest stretch of the ride—are you ready for it? Keep going and you'll climb a hill, go around a bend, and pass Laurel Lane on your right. When you come to a stop sign, take a right onto Old Road. Here's another hill I always have to walk my bike up! :)
Just a little further up the hill on your right is Frost Tufts. You might want to park your bike by the road if you're lazy like me and don't want to bike back up that hill. :) Whether you park at the road or not, venture down the Frost Tufts driveway past the parking lot and stop behind the ball field snack shack. My mother and I manned this very snack shack during many of my brother's baseball games. Look to your left at the edge of the forest. Doesn't that large rock in the stone wall look inviting? Have a seat there and peek between the rock and the tree, under the smaller rock there. Did you hit a home run?
#8. Finish line
After you've rested up here, get back on your bike and continue up Old Road. You'll soon ascend a steepish hill, where things may start to look familiar again (the William Fogg Library will now be on your left). Take a right back onto State Road at the stop sign and coast down past the First Congregationalist Church. Continue on past the fire and police stations, Eliot Meat Market, and Moses Gerish Farmer Road. Take a left down Beech road to number 62 (on your right). Look under the rock across the driveway from the mailbox for your final prize!
To return to your car, turn back the way you came. The bank/church where Bear #1 hides will be on your right, just before the stop sign. I hope you enjoyed your Tour De Eliot with Bear today!
Note: There are two other boxes that I know of in Eliot, one of which is not far from box #7 at Frost Tufts. The other is at Dead Duck Inn/Eliot Boat Landing (down Moses Gerish Farmer Road). Check letterboxing.org for the clues!
Please contact me on AtlasQuest after you find these and tell me what you think! I'd especially appreciate feedback on the clues, since I know these aren't the easiest to find. Happy letterboxing! :)
NOTE: Before you set out you must read and agree to the Waiver of Responsibility.