Sunday, May 28, 2006

Home on the Range -- it's Nowhere, Man

Bored this summer? Take a little jaunt to the ends of the Earth.

OK, so you can’t have an end on a globe. But parts of Wyoming are darned close.

This summer, my son and I loaded a U-haul and drove it across the country to Portland, OR, where my VERY pregnant daughter was afraid she would have her baby before the cradle arrived at their new home. Their mover's contract went bad, leaving her with several more weeks of lawnchair and air mattress decor, so Dad and brother drove to the rescue.

I didn't look foward to three days behind bouncing down the I-80 potholes, but I couldn’t pass up a special letterboxing opportunity. I’ve been experimenting for some time with a building material called “hypertufa.” It is a lightweight concrete that the British use to make fake-stone planters and other garden gizmos. I tried to make a letterbox container that looked like a rock.

My first try looks more like a very hard loaf of bread, but I figured that I could put it somewhere far from the critics. Like ...

Nowhere, man.

Cecile carved a great stamp, we found a nice book and I put the rock into the U-haul. And somewhere in the middle of Wyoming, we found a perfect spot. Check the photos if you don’t believe me.

Here are the clues to the Nowhere, Man Letterbox:

Westbound on Interstate 80 from Laramie, drive until your eyes glaze over. Eastbound from Rawlins, about the same. Either way you can find Exit 279 between Laramie and Rawlings. Exit 279 is for Cooper Cove Road, a gravel track traveled more frequently by pronghorn antelope than by cars. Don’t miss the exit – it’s a looong way to the next turnaround.

When you get to the bottom of the exit ramp, you are almost nowhere. So amble over to the north side of the overpass, where a cattle crossing guards the way to a hunter management area.

That metal grid may keep the cows behind the fence, but the deer and the antelope are supposed to play freely out here. So just uphill from the cattle crossing is an antelope crossing – a retaining wall on the cow-grazing side, a tall mound of rock on the freeway side and a line of wire fence up the ridge. At the very top is an open gate. Cows can’t climb up the retaining wall to go through it, but for antelope it is like jumping up on a curb.

Look on that rock pile and find my fake rock. Inside is your quarry. While you are up there, enjoy the view.

Welcome to Nowhere, man.

Monday, May 22, 2006

More Gathering Pics

Let me quickly say thanks to all the fine folks who came out and made the Spring Gathering such a grand affair.

If you'd like to see a few more pictures from the gathering, click here.

I've said it many times before and the good people who came to the Gathering proved it once again, that Mid-MO is indeed a world-class LB community.

If you'd like more information about the Gathering, or future Gathering, you can track me down through LBNA, or keep an eye on this blog for future posts.


There and Back Again; A Mid MO LB Gathering

There and Back Again
A Synopsis of the Mid-Mo Spring 2006 LB Gathering
Written by Fox-Fyr with credit to J.R.R. TolkienChapter One: An Unexpected Party

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit on or eat; it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort…
This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself saying and doing things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbor’s respect, but he gained—well, you will see if he gained anything in the end.

On May 6, 2006, at the 2nd annual Mid-Mo Spring LB Gathering, our letterboxing community was treated to quite a party, complete with an excellent variety of vittles, an entire host of riddles, a small pack of kiddos, and some of us no doubt left a little wider ‘round the middles. Thanks to the efforts of LND-CRZR and his endless hours toiling over logbooks and clues and stamps, we got to share in a bit of Bilbo’s grand adventure on that lovely spring day as about 20 adults and half a dozen kids met at the Prancing Pony. Throughout the day, we successfully set out into the Shire, along the Old Forest Road and into the Misty Mountains in our attempt to make it “There and Back Again.”

[As far as the respect of the neighbors, well, those who glanced in LND-CRZR’s living room window during the month prior to the Gathering likely suspected him of counterfeiting as he repeatedly dipped papers in colored ink and hunched for hours over a table to carve delicate details in numerous stamps. ]

However, those hours of work paid off handsomely, not so much in monetary wealth, but in the wealth of meeting new letterboxers, exchanging stamps, and the chance to search for boxes that were truly a treasure worth finding. Not only did each logbook contain beautiful “ancient dragon paper,” all of the covers and bindings and wrappings were utter amazing and a work of art all by themselves, with some of them being quite tricksy. The stamps were masterfully carved (as some of us have come to expect from LND-CRZR). Even the clues were unique—with Tolkien as inspiration, how could they be anything else?. Two were written on large bones; five had beautiful hand-drawn, hand-illustrated, hand-painted maps, and my favorite was the four-page wooden book with its puzzles and double encryption that may have taken more time to decode than it did to hike to the actual box. (If you’re anxiously awaiting a copy of the clues, rest assured that they will soon be arriving by postal eagle to the mailboxes of those who attended the Gathering (funded in part by proceeds from the Tip Jar aka “Alms for the Insane.” If you made a contribution, thank you)

[This may also be the place to interject a disclaimer: the quality and uniqueness of the Gathering books and stamps and clues should not intimate anyone from planting letterboxes of your own. The fact that LND-CZR has delusions of grandeur and may be certifiable insane, does not mandate that you, too, need to spend as many hours preparing letterboxers as most people put into their day jobs. Not all boxes have to be equally as time-consuming or difficult. Correct me if you disagree but I believe a little bit of effort goes a long way: a simple home-made stamp, a simple logbook, and a well-chosen location, are all you need to satisfy most letterboxers.]

In addition to the boxes themselves, two letterboxing contests proved that artistic talent and creativity are not limited to just a few people in our community. One contest was to make a letterbox using a 2-cup Ziploc Twist-and-Lock container. Though the eight entries were all quite unique, a theme of round logbooks (reflecting the container’s round shape) soon became apparent. How many hours did we spend cutting out individual circles for those books? Even trickier was figuring out how to bind them. Perhaps the major exception to the round logbook theme was LND-CRZR’s scroll in a homemade box.

In the end, the winners (tied for 1st place) were the “Lorax” LB by Mama Roots based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, and Fox-fyr’s “Sea Kelp” Box which reflected a need to “seek help” for her letterboxing addiction. One Mean Green Bean’s Zodiac LB came in a close second. Hopefully, these eight new boxes will soon appear in the Mid-Missouri letterboxing scene. As prizes, MamaRoots took home a lovely handmade bag by Lorilee and Fox-fyr claimed a hollow log fashioned into a LB hiding kit designed and donated by C2B2.

The second contest of the day was to create a Hitchhiker based on your favorite fantasy characters. The 13 entrees ranged from the WWII Flying Ace (Snoopy) to Taka Nuva (Bionicles) to Tree Girl to Jewel (unicorn from The Chronicles of Narnia) to Totoro (of Japanese animation) to much more. Jenny J’s “Falkor the Luck Dragon HH” (from The Neverending Story) went home with the first prize (a handmade secret-flap logbook and waterproof LB container donated by Fox-fyr). One Mean Green Bean’s “Captain Planet HH” and C2B2’s “Box of the Cliff Elves HH” tied for 2nd place. One Mean Green Bean won a bag of letterboxing accessories including several new ink pads. C2B2 went home with a hardback copy of The Hobbit. Eight of the HHs were released that day into the Mid-MO Bed &Breakfast HH Hostel (clues for the hostel are up and running on LBNA).

As the afternoon lingered on, most of us had to leave, though I believe everyone found at least a box or two before departing. Though some of us may have been disappointed to have not found more boxes, keep in mind that an adventure on Tolkien’s scale requires (and deserves) more time than can take place in a single afternoon. Perhaps that’s why six of us (whose schedules permitted us to do so) also camped and cooked out and hung out by the campfire that evening with some additional letterboxing the following day. And for all but one of us, there’s still a bit more adventure left to be had in order to complete the series. Even LND-CRZR had more adventures awaiting him as he went home with a “First Finders Tome” of new LB clue donated by Fox-fyr, Jenny J and C2B2. The latest report indicates that he has found seven of the eight LBs in the tome. That means that the rest of us will soon have even more new boxes to search for soon.

All-in-all, it was a grand adventure. If you enjoyed it as much as I did, be sure to drop LND-CRZR a thank-you note and let him know you appreciate all his efforts for helping to build the Mid-Mo Letterboxing Community into what it is.

On a final note, if you’re not addicted to letterboxing yet, don’t think you’re safe, at least not if you stay in Mid-Missouri. I think we have a world-class letterboxing community here, both in terms of boxes planted and in the people who search them out.

”No, no,” said Bilbo. “I didn’t mean that. I meant, is there no way round?”
“There is, if you care to go two hundred miles or so out of your way north, and twice that south. But you wouldn’t get a safe path even then. There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.”

Friday, May 19, 2006

Gnome Home Letterbox

This little gnome just begged (and I mean begged- gesh they are persistant little folk) to be made into a letterbox and so I created this little guy out of love for all little gnome folks. The clues are here in picture format- with this a couple hints, this little gnome loves to watch the children play, start your journey there and this little guy likes his privacy so you will need to remove some rocks to find his home, please re-place the rocks to ensure his privacy. A fun little first finders prize awaits!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rummage Sale Traveling LB

greeting fellow letterboxers- how do you know you are getting more and more addicted to letterboxing- you have a rummage sale letterbox! I have the traveling Rummage Sale LB from dragon in my ink stained fingers as we speak and since I can't be out letterboxing on Saturday, we thought this was a great way to still do some letterboxing. Check out the clues:

hum, what else do I have up my sleeve- you never know, 2 boxes coming this week from mamaroots- one you will only find out if you come to the rummage sale box, the other I would just watch out for!

Thanks so everyone for a fun LB gathering and big thanks to my good friend Lorilee for introducing me to letterboxing last December. I was hosting mine and my hubby's annual swap and shop and Lorilee had made these great little bags (I also love bags of all sorts!) with some carabiners and I asked what they were and she showed me and I was like "what is letterboxing" once she told me I snagged up the 2 kits and we bartered (I think I traded her a sock monkey) and my son jasper got one kit and my neice the other kit for Christmas. We found our first box on Christmas Eve and the rest, well it certainly isn't history, one can only tell what the future holds!!

more to come-mamaroots

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Photos from the gathering

Lnd-Crzr take the prize for organizing a spectacular gather at the Dry Fork Campground in the Mark Twain National Forest near Guthrie May 6. It was not only a day of great fun (which I expect Ron will describe in better detail) but of contests and some incredible hunting courtesy of our host.

I loaded our photos of the gathering into my Flickr account. You can look at the whole gallery by clicking HERE. The photos are all under Creative Commons, which means you are free to download them as long as you give me credit.