Monday, May 22, 2006

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.”

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