"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Letterboxing - A New-Fashioned Treasure Hunt

My Letterboxing Family - "Young" and Younger
My extended family has a new hobby…. Well,
it isn’t
“technically new” for all of us…just some.

It’s called
…and my sister, Kelley, is the one that introduced the family to it. She has been doing it for a number of years and is basically the Letterbox Queen of this area. If you have any experience with Letterboxing at all, you know about “Sondog”. That’s her; and I will bet she has planted more boxes than anyone else in Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding area.

I like to jokingly tell her that I am really the one that got her started on it; I used to dream up treasure hunts when we were kids and make her follow them. Not so sure she thinks I should get the credit, though, for her Letterbox fetish.

Anyway, she introduced it to me a few years ago, but I could never really participate, due to all my time being spent at our newly opened bookstore. But this year, she made stamps for our Mom and Dad for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and having already introduced our older sister, Lynn, to the hobby it just this summer became a family affair.

Mommy's first Letterbox find!
Letterboxing is a fast growing hobby utilizing the internet to connect people with where the boxes are located. One should create a “trail name” and buy or make a stamp to represent this identity. Clues are posted on-line to enable one to track and seek out any available boxes. One will find clues that are complicated - winding you through a series of events before you are able to find the treasure – or one will find a simple little jaunt that can be made by car to a local spot. You get to choose which one is right for you, depending on the time you have available, and your ability to climb or hike in the woods.

The best sight to check out to find the clues and also learn about Letterboxing is http://www.letterboxing.org/. This site will not only allow you to get the clues for a letterbox, but if you are new to Letterboxing it will also walk you through protocol and etiquette that is involved to become a full-fledged boxer that holds to the traditions that keeps this hobby so much fun:  http://www.letterboxing.org/GettingStarted/

A quick "Google" of the term will inform you that Letterboxing began in 1854 in Dartmoor, England. A Victorian guide by the name of James Perrott, placed a bottle with his calling card, at one of the most difficult terrains he traveled.  He included a note to tell others that reached this spot, to also post their success at arrival. No one could have dreamed that it would grow into what it has become today. In 1888, the tin replaced the bottle and self-addressed postcards replaced the calling cards. As letterboxing progressed during that era, people that participated also received their clues and information at the local Pub. Letterboxing pretty much remained a Dartmoor tradition until 1998 when a magazine article was published about the Dartmoor boxes. With that article, the pastime came to America and with the advent of the internet, letterboxing spread like wildfire (well almost) to become what it is today.

This has been such a wonderful experience for my family; getting us together to enjoy the beautiful area in which we live, adding a little exercise, and social time with Mom and Dad, just about makes this the perfect hobby for us. It was a few years ago, I realized I need to spend as much of my spare time as possible with my folks as their age forces us to come to terms with the fact they are not going to be around forever….and this is their time. I delicately balance my last child-rearing years with Matthew and my last years with my folks; when I think of that and all that it means, I feel pretty comfortable with having to sometimes shut out the rest of the world…for now.

Grandpa and Matt find a box using combined skills.
When you see that little blue bird stamp (carved by my youngest sis) with the trail name of “Wild Wind” beside it, you will know that’s me. My son and my nephew gave me that name several years ago when we were hiking on Mineral Ridge. I hate to think of the reason they came up with that name - reading the posts on this blog, however, may give us an indication.  My sister surprised me with the stamp she carved a couple years ago. She selected a blue bird because...well, as I have said before at this blog, I have become a "bird lady".

If you are looking for a fun, new hobby, I invite you to check out Letterboxing. It is a blast. It will get you outdoors, and also provide a great way to learn a little bit about the history of our area.  As this is an organized group, it will eventually even help you make some new friends; as well as help you make some life-long memories.

1 comment:

  1. We've done a lot of Geocaching, but we haven't tried Letterboxing. When the kids were younger, they were more interested in swapping prizes in the Geocaches... but I bet they'd get into the rubber stamp thing now. We'll have to look into that. Any excuse to get out in the woods!

    How fun that your parents are involved, too. I miss seeing them!