About a month ago, I was eavesdropping on an after-school conversation between two of the other moms with kids in Smuch's class. One of them was describing an activity that her family sometimes does, called letterboxing. It sounded interesting and since we've got a lot of time to kill this week and because I really needed to get out of the house yesterday, I thought we'd give it a try.
In a nutshell, people who do letterboxing have hidden packages all over the country...all over the world, really. Then they post clues to finding the packages on the letterboxing website. Each package minimally contains a rubber stamp and a notebook. If you're just starting out, like we are, you go online, check for clues to letterboxes in your area and then set out with your own stamp and notebook to find them. When and if you find the letterbox, you stamp your own notebook with the stamp in the letterbox...
and then put your own stamp, name, and date in the letterbox notebook.
Yesterday was cold and windy, so when I took the kids out to a local park, we followed the instructions, walking and walking. Naturally, the kids refused to wear their sweaters, so we were all freezing. In the end, I'm pretty sure we found the location, but the letterbox wasn't there anymore. We got our three freezing butts back to the car as fast as we could.
When we got home, I did a little better job with doing my homework on the letterboxes and selected two possible series of boxes we could go in search for. Both of them had updates relatively recently, so I figured our chances were pretty good. We set out again after lunch, to look for a series of three letterboxes at a nearby (very busy) open space preserve. Still cold. Still windy, but at least I got them to wear their coats! The first letterbox, again was MIA, but the second was our very first success. The kids were so excited. We did our stamping and put it back carefully. The third, missing again.
It turned out that Daddy was a little disappointed that we went letterboxing without him, so we set out on a mission to find the other series (of five boxes) today...back to the same park where our first failure occured. Our trip started out like this - in an empty, overgrown, overflow parking lot for the nearby amphitheatre. And off we went.
It took a while to get to the location in the first clue, but we got there. It wasn't exactly obvious, but with a little effort, we found it!
These boxes were only put out there about a month ago, so I thought we had a pretty good shot at finding a few, but we found them all! These folks found some pretty good hiding places too.
On the whole, we bit off a bit more than we could chew with this one. It involved about five miles of walking, I figure. We ended up stopping for lunch after box #3 and the whole trip took more than three hours. I'm not sure how Daddy's shoulders are going to be feeling by tomorrow.
There's nothing exactly mystical or meaningful behind searching for letterboxes, but it's a great way to motivate the kids to get out in the great outdoors. They've walked an awful lot in the past two days and they say they're up for more tomorrow!