Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Letterboxing

CJ and I went on our first letterboxing excursion with my Mom on Monday when my parents came out to visit.

Letterboxing is kind of like Geocaching, but with rubber stamps...
"Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime combining artistic ability with "treasure-hunts" in parks, forests, and cities around the world. Participants seek out hidden letterboxes by cracking codes and following clues. The prize: an image from a miniature piece of art known as a rubber stamp—usually a unique, hand-carved creation." - from AtlasQuest

My Mom has really gotten into letterboxing lately. It combines some of her favorite things...rubber stamps, roadtrips, and adventure! She recently found a site, AtlasQuest, that lists letterbox locations online, and you can search for letterbox locations in your area. She did a bunch of them over her vacation that she and Dad took with some friends of theirs. And she did a search on AtlasQuest for letterboxes in the area near my house, and found quite a few of them. We decided, on a whim, to go find one of them when Mom and Dad were visiting us for Labor Day.

Mom searching for the letterbox...

A big part of letterboxing etiquette is secrecy, I guess, just in case other letterboxers are around, so you don't spoil it and make finding the letterbox too easy for someone else. Something my parents and their friends have found is that having a dog is a great "cover" for gallivanting around outside, since it just looks like you're taking your dog for a walk.

Luna enjoyed being out-and-about with us.

Another part of preserving the secrecy is that most people take the letterboxes back to their cars to do the stamping...

(for some letterboxers, the surprise of seeing what the stamp design looks like is half the fun, so if that's you, go no further!)

This is what is in the box...a stamp (hand-carved) and the logbook, where you can see the signature stamps of others who have found the letterbox! Some letterboxes will have an ink pad included as well, but a lot of them don't, so it's wise to carry your own ink pad with your signature stamp.

This is Mom's "signature stamp", an Adirondack chair stamp that was hand-carved by Jackbear Stamps, and was given to her for her birthday by me and CJ. A signature stamp is "The stamp letterboxers use to identify themselves, both in the logbooks of letterboxes they've found and for exchanges. Also called personal stamps.".

"Letterboxers stamp their discoveries in a personal journal, then use their own rubber stamp, called a signature stamp, to stamp into the letterbox's logbook." (well, or vice versa, like Mom did!)

I'm not sure CJ and I would like to be hard-core letterboxers, (some people get really involved in this hobby!) but it seems like a fun activity! It's one of those things we could do on one of those "It's awfully nice out today, lets take the dog and go somewhere!" kind of days! According to Mom, there are at least 30 in the Medina area. And I think fall is a great time to do this type of thing! It may even be a cool activity for the Homeschool Art Class!

If you want to learn more about letterboxing, I'd encourage you to poke around AtlasQuest and/or Google "Letterboxing".

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