Saturday, June 30, 2007

A few new bloggity things to try

Blogger just released the beta version (geek for "not ready for prime time) of an update that fairly significantly changes what we can do on the blog. I put two new elements up as a test: A poll and an ad. I'll see how they look/work for a week and then either take them down or see what we want to do with them.

The new version also allows one to add video clips and create podcasts. That opens the door to some very interesting clues. But then you have to look at faces like this one:

It also allows us to publish the blog in other languages, so if you really want to read in Català , български or Hindi, let me know. Talk about a way to keep the muggles at bay...

Another feature that has been there for some time but most folks don't know about is the site meter. If you scroll down to the bottom of the "sidebar" at the right, you will see a Sitemeter logo. Click on it and it will take you to the latest readership statistics for the blog. For instance, as of 11 p.m. Saturday, the site had received 9,215 visits (since the counter was added a year or so ago). We average 59 visits per day, you usually stay on the site about 4 mintues and we had 25 visitors on Saturday.

Some of those visitors are "spiders" or other robots that haunt the Web looking for sites to index. But we now have enough traffic to be a notable local blog. As my job has focused more on blogs I find it wonderful to be part of something useful to a group of people (and not part of the university).

As long as I'm blog-talking, I'll ask for another favor. I'm trying to put together a list of interesting Mid Missouri blogs. If you write one, read one or just know of one, please send me the URL or post it as a comment to this message.



Friday, June 29, 2007

CORRECTION: Mini Meet is July 3

CORRECTION. My original post said the mini meet is Tuesday July 2. It should hve read Tuesday July 3rd.

CORRECTION: Mini-Meet is Tuesday July 3rd

In case you don't read comments, correction: Mini-Meet is Teusday July 3 not July 2.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mini-Meet July 2 at Rock Bridge


I've been corresponding with Team Gingko (half of them anyway) and she'll be in town next week to run some errands before she has to head back to Florida. Therefore, I invited her to meet me at Rock Bridge State Park, Devil's Icebox parking lot at the kiosk at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2 (after I get off work). I'd like to extend an invitation for anyone of you that happen to be free that afternoon may be able to join us for exchanging some stamps and a visiting the cave. I know it's a holiday week and some of you may already have plans, but if you can come, please let me know. We will meet at the kiosk (or the Rock Bridge Mills shelter if it's raining). I don't know if she'll be able to bring any of her letterboxing friends from Macon, but I hope so. Also, she that while they have an active community in Florida, she's never been to a Gathering before so it would be nice if some of you could attend.

I have to be somewhere at 6:30, and I don't know what Team Gingko's time constraints are, but I suggested that if she had time she should hit several boxes in the area. I suggested Devil's Icebox, Connor's Cave, Home Tweet Home and Buried Jewells. I also gave her the names of some of the other boxes in the Providence corridor area.

Since it's such a short time frame, I don't suggest a potluck although I may bring a few treats to share. Hope to see you on Tuesday and plase RSVP via the "Comment" link.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Urban Boxing Part 2

Grace to You and I headed out today, She seriously wants ALL of our local stamps before she moves. This seems to be quite an undertaking as new boxes pop up almost daily. We think we might be up for the challenge though. We perused our clues. Rain was in the forecast. Our junior boxer was going to need a nap so we had to end it early or factor that in. We pointed the car north and headed to Macon. We figured that the boy could sleep on the way home. That was about the only thing that went as planned.

While we didn't have personalized plates or pagan stickers we still felt like we stuck out. I can't tell you how many times I tied my shoes today! Good thing I wore the ones with laces. The first box was somewhat of a challenge. Even though part of the clue went right over my head we were able to find it. Another excellent reason to print two sets of clues so both can read! We experienced the same phenomenon that Fox-fyr did of people appearing out of thin air at the moment we were replacing the box. Unbelievable! They were everywhere. Box two stumped us completely. We really thought we had it but kept coming up empty. The next time you see one of us ask about the evergreen escapade. Eyes were everywhere. A police car drove by slowly checking us out and then we were really nervous.

We made it through the rest of the series without drawing attention. (We hope) Finally...the Bonus. After reading Fox-fyr's post, we approached with trepidation. Victory! And what a bonus! We were fortunate enough to meet the local crew in Macon. Very friendly, enthusiastic people. They seem to be creative in all manners as we found through our discussion. Our biggest regret was that we did not have more time to spend with them. They were all fairly new boxers and treated us like Rock Star/ Celebrities. It's been a while since I felt that cool!

I must say for both of us that this is a series well worth the drive. We spent the better part of the day there. The minutes flew by. It was wonderful set of boxes with very well written clues that made our day most enjoyable. We were flushed with success on the ride home. We also had a number of great A-HA moments. To me this is one of the best parts of letterboxing. It makes me feel part pirate, part spy and all warm and fuzzy inside! Find the time before Team Gingko leaves the area if you can. You won't be sorry!

New Auther AJMonkeyMan

I have been told to tell a little bit about myself as i am a new author on this blog. My name is adam an my trail name is AJMonkeyMan. i have been boxing for about 8 months now maybe longer. My mother told me about Letterboxing and we have been interested ever since. I enjoy boxing a lot and hope to help new comers without publicizing the sport of letterboxing to a large crowd of people. I am happy to be boxing and cant wait to go on my next hunt.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I wanted to share a couple interesting things from my letterboxing adventures in San Francisco. Like Fox-fyr mentioned in her recent post, letterboxing in the city is completely different from letterboxing in wooded areas and parks. I was completely out of my element in San Francisco and nabbing a box that is only feet from the road when you have no cover is really challenging. It's amazing that some of the boxes have lasted as long as they have, especially when you look at all the clues for which the boxes were known to be missing.

I wanted you all to see this stamp. It's a folding stamp. The strip of duct tape works like a hinge, so you can fold the stamp up to put it in the box but you can open it out to stamp with it.

This is an example of how a couple boxes I found were camouflaged. When hidden in patches of ivy, they blended in quite well. It made stamping in a bit easier too. You put the lid on the box and set in down in an area with some other plant and no one is going to notice it while they're passing by.

Hopefully I can get some more pictures out for you to see soon!

Lady in Red

Will popularity kill letterboxing?

Lnd-Crzr recently e-mailed a few “oldtimers” wondering what direction letterboxing will take as the mass media discovers and promotes it.

Sorry if I am breaking confidence, Ron, but this is such an important subject I wanted to post it to the blog and invite people to use the comments to voice their own predictions and opinions.

Many letterboxers fear that the sudden recognition of the hobby will overwhelm us with new boxes, newbie searchers and semi-muggles who damage boxes or give the rest of us a bad name.

At the heart of this is the nagging irritation that an activity that made us special – and is special to us – is now not all that exclusive. What happens when a niche hobby gets so popular it has a section at Michael’s?

Right now, letterboxing doesn’t make it on the Harris list of top hobbies , but that is a moving target. Hobbies constantly walk the line between “fad” and “lifestyle.” Big chain hobby stores are actually pretty good indicators of what is in.

My prediction is that letterboxing will boom outrageously for a year or two, then take a big dive as the next fad kicks in. That’s both good and bad for those of us who enjoy it now. We will get plenty of supplies and boxes to find, but have to search in a crowded field. For a while.

Hobby fads have a definite life cycle. They start underground, leak out, boom, then fizzle. Sort of fizzle. Old hobbies never die, they just fade back to the realm of the diehards.

Think of the aisles hobby stores of recent yore. Remember tole painting? How about pogs? CB radio? Hackey sack? Slot cars? None are dead, but all were threatened by popularity at some time. Letterboxing, too, will survive. It may get commercial and less tasteful for a time, but then the folks who really aren’t up to the hunt will drop out. My guess is PLB will absorb much of the shock, as it is more of a carving craft than a search hobby.

Keep in mind that letterboxing is not at all new. James Perrott started it in 1854. But it was something of a secret in the U.S. until the Smithsonian article in April 1998. Most of us “found” letterboxing after reading or hearing a story – or through a friend who did the same.

Even if we wanted the slam the door on new folks, it is impossible. And in my mind, unfair. We have no right to letterboxing, only opportunity.

If you want to stick with it, teach the newbies how to keep out of trouble and plant challenging boxes. And wait patiently for the commotion to die down.

And if you don’t like the change? A new hobby is always just around the corner.

Saturday Meeting Minutes

Here are the other topics the group discussed.

1) A small insert (half of an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet) to slip into our local boxes. It would contain useful LB info for new or accidental finders, and possibly useful websites. We didn’t go into detail on this. Anyone want to take it on as a project? Those of you who are newer (less than a year) to letterboxing may have good insight into what should be covered.

2) A standard handout for anyone to use when contacted by the media. Everyone seemed to agree that this was a good idea, but we didn’t delve into it. As Foxfyr pointed out earlier, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel on this.

3) Two group projects were discussed. The first one is a series of letterboxes, probably all in one park, that cover various aspects of letterboxing: etiquette, use of a compass, solving ciphers, etc.

The second project would be a series of boxes around downtown Columbia highlighting cultural/historical/interesting spots in the area. The possibility of somehow involving the businesses was mentioned. McMonkey Mom has a friend in the business community that she was going to contact. We all agreed that more discussion from all of the local LB community was needed.

That’s about it, as far as I can remember. C2B2 may have some additional items that he will post. Any of the group attending, please add anything I’ve omitted. Now everyone please jump in and express your feelings on any of this, or take on some small piece of it as a project. And as always, Good ‘Boxing to you!

Monday, June 25, 2007

LB Levels of Difficulty

The group that met on Saturday felt that it might be helpful to new letterboxers if our clues included a level of difficulty. Folks could then pick a box and head out, knowing what challenges to expect. We thought that 3 levels would give some information without getting too complicated.

Easy Level: Short distance. Easy terrain. Paved or smooth trails. Short time commitment. Very kid-friendly. Simple ciphers and codes, or none at all.

Intermediate: Longer distances and time commitments. Some terrain challenges or bushwhacking. Trickier clues. Harder ciphers.

Experienced/Challenging: More terrain challenges. Longer hikes. Obscure clues. Brain-tweaking or multiple ciphers. Probably not suitable for young children or for newbies just wanting to test the LB waters.

Again, the idea was to develop these levels and use them in our box clues with a link to the blog to see the specific criteria of the levels. Any of you at the get-together, please add anything I might have forgotten. Everyone here, give us your input please.

Questions of LB Etiquette

A handful of the local LBers got together on Saturday morning to brainstorm ways to help new letterboxers learn LB etiquette and hopefully, reduce lost or damaged boxes. The McMonkeys, Nugglebugs, Ahistory, half of C2B2, and I shared ideas, and would like to share them with the rest of you.

I thought it would be easier to break the ideas into several posts. Any of you with suggestions/refinements may post your comments to that topic. Then I will try to revise and repost each topic.

So here is the group’s first suggestion. Although everyone present agreed that a small sheet of helpful hints would be great to tuck into individual boxes, we felt that some hints might be useful before they even went out hunting. It was suggested that a brief blurb be added to the top of everyone’s clues - something concise and in capital letters -
such as:






I think the plan is to decide on what we want to say in this little header, and then C2B2 will tuck it somewhere in the blog sidebar for anyone to make use of. In your comments feel free to add/subtract as you see fit, keeping in mind that this particular item should be succinct, in the hope that new LBers will actually read it before they head out.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Urban LB-in Adventures: Discretion and Unexpected Surprises

One of the best things about letterboxing is some of the surprises one can encounter along the way. Recently, e-volution and I experienced such a huge surprise that I felt like sharing the story with the rest of you.

On a recent letterboxing trip to the northerly town of Macon, we had the grand adventure of severely testing our urban letterboxing skills, especially that of the skill of discretion, and solving clues in a very small and unfamiliar town where if we weren't careful, we'd really stand out as non-locals and endanger the boxes we were seeking to find. Truth to tell, I felt a bit like a fish out of water, being surrounded by buildings instead of trees and watching for cars instead of unsuspecting hikers.
Still, things started out simple enough. At first I thought we were visiting a sleepy town. No one was about, the clues were simple, and our first box was easy to find.
That was just the cosmos teasing us.
As soon as we decided to re-hide the box, there was a person around that corner, a car moving around that corner, a police patrolman cruising by the other corner, and even two horses being ridden double smack down the middle of a main street in town . But not a soul seemed to even own a cell phone. Since we could only walk around the block so many times without raising suspicion, we shook our heads in dsibelief, and took the box with us to return it later.
The next dilemma we faced involved whether we should walk or drive. I usually LOVE having personalized plates but cruising up and down small town streets with personalized plates and pagan-themed bumperstickers was not my idea of how to blend in, especially given some of the locations we ended up searching.

We did get to see some cool sights. Some of them led us absolutely nowhere--what does the clue say again?--and some we saw more times than we expected--the box really should be here...let's look again....and again...and yet again. Try to look casual. Really.

Is there a way to casually count paces and peer in nooks and crannies in a empty lot in full view of traffic? How many times can I search for my keys, drop my sunglasses and stoop to pick them up, and pose to get my picture taken in front of less-than-picturesque landscaping? All the while watching for people watching us, especially those sneaky ones in parked cars, or those that suddenly pour en masse out of buildings into what had been an empty street only moments earlier. Still after several hours, spread out over two different days, and some hunting under cover of darkness (What's our story again in case the police stop to investigate?"), we finally approached the last part of the clue which was to "say hello to the troll."

That was when we got our biggest shock.
Knowing that if we played our cards right we might have a chance to meet and exchange stamps with the people who had planted the boxes we found, we cautiously approached the troll. We hesitated, seeing the presence of Muggles (non-letterboxers) nearby. What could we do that would not draw undue attention to ourselves and what we were doing? Who could have predicted that our deliberately discreet question about costume designers from Florida would spark a conversation that began with an enthusiatic "Are you letterboxers? Hey, I'm a letterboxer," and then a second or two later, the speaker called excitely to another person, "Hey, there's letterboxers here!" A third person walking by who overheard the comment eagerly said to 4th onlooker, "Hey, do you know about letterboxing?" At her puzzled look, he said, "It's great. I'll tell you all about it later." I stood there in disbelief and shock as the Muggles looked puzzledly at each other and us before continuing on their way.

So much for discretion. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, and collected my wits, I had a chance to meet and chat with some very fine and enthusiastic folks, all of whom had just started letterboxing. I supposed I had become so accustmed to the mid-Missouri style of letterboxing where secrecy and discretion go hand-in-glove with letterboxing, that I had forgotten it's not that way everywhere.

The secrecy is one of the things I like best about letterboxing...e-volution joked that letterboxing is good for terrorist training: concealing boxes in plain sight, practicing under-cover techniques, decoding ciphers, etc. But in all seriousness, I like the fact that I can walk (or drive) by a box's location and delight in the fact that most people will pass unsuspectingly by it while I know it's there. I hope that all new letterboxers eventually experience the same feeling, and with any luck (and quite a bit of skill), the rest of you may also have a chance to meet and chat with some of the wonderful new aquaintances we made in Macon.
FYI, I did get to speak that evening with part of Team Gingko via cell phone. She happened to be in Columbia at the time. What irony.

Alley Cat clues alive and well

After a few LB last Wed, we came across the cuckoo clue to Alley Cat. I just wanted to encourage you to go after this little cuckoo if you haven't already. The kitty loves to have visitors, but first you have to find the little birdie to tell you how to get there! What was exciting was that my family took the clues out to Fulton in January and glad to see it was back in Boone Co this week! Whoever finds it next will need to make some copies, so please give the little cuckoo the TLC it needs!

Also, we found two boxes lying exposed, so a friendly reminder to keep doing your best - I am certain it's the elements and curious non-LB'rs leaving things wide open.

Have a great weekend full of boxing!

Service with a smile

I just had to share this "note from finder" about out "Nowhere, Man" box. Look up the box if you don't know about it. It is literally in the middle of nowhere.

Hello.I am a truck driver for FedEx.On 06/20/07,while traveling I-80 west I blew a tire on a trailer I was hauling.Looking to get off the road,I hit the first exit I came to. Exit 279.After calling in my breakdown and location,I got out of the truck to stretch my legs.Long story short,after kicking around a few rocks,I came across yours.Having no idea what I found,I carefully read thru everything and safely replaced it exactly where I found it.Finding your "treasure" completly by chance has made for great story telling among my family and fellow drivers.Thank you.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Leela and Ellie in Concert

While this post may not seem immediately relevant to letterboxing, it will to mostof those of you participating in the Favorite Music PLB ring. And the rest of you may take advantage of this announcement as well.

Musicians Leela and Ellie Grace will be in Columbia for a concert on Saturday, june 30. Seebelow for details.
Leela and Ellie Grace, local folk favorites, have been branching out from their Mid-Missouri roots and spreading their music far and wide over the last year! With big changes on the horizon and the exciting news of an upcoming recording project, they want to spend an evening celebrating and making music for their beloved hometown community. Join them on June 30th for a concert at Unity Center of Columbia. It promises to be a special night and a perfect send off for Leela who will be heading west next month. Do not pass up this rare opportunity to see Leela and Ellie perform live in Central Missouri!

When: Saturday, June 30th at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Unity Center of Columbia, 1600 West Broadway
What: Leela and Ellie Grace’s Hometown Concert!
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for kids!
More Info:,, (573) 823-5650

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hello Everyone!

Hi! I'm Lady in Red and I'd like to introduce myself.

I've been letterboxing for a little over two months now. E-volution got me started. He asked me if I liked puzzles and then told me a bit about letterboxing and then asked if I'd like to come out with him sometime. I haven't stopped since.

I grew up near the town of Harrisburg and still call it home. I work in Columbia as a computer programmer... a great use of my biology degree! I want to be a mom when I grow up. Some of my interests and hobbies include cooking, knitting, crocheting, tatting, sewing, entomology, letterboxing, contra dancing and playing musical instruments.

Other random stuff: I spent four months studying abroad in Japan while I was in college. I loved it... even though I'm still not sure what some of the things I ate were! I'm currently in San Francisco attending a conference for work. I've found one box here so far, and I found a few boxes in San Diego on a short pre-conference vacation. (I think I've got my sister-in-law hooked on letterboxing now!)

My First Letterbox POLL

Three years ago there were fewer than five letterboxes in mid-Missouri, and we have now exploded into more than 120 listings for Boone County alone, not to mention the surrounding counties, and the number of boxes with unpublished clues. I imagine it must be tough for someone just getting started in letterboxing to narrow down which boxes to start looking for first. Thus I am asking the following three poll questions:

1) What were the first five letterboxes you attempted/found?
2) Why did you choose to hunt for those boxes first?
(please answer without giving away any spoilers to the boxes or their locations) and
3) how did you intially learn about letterboxing?

The goal of this poll is to determine if there are any common factors that draw newcomers to certain type of boxes first. Your comments may be helpful in creating a series of letterboxes designed especially for those who are new to letterboxing. You need not have found your first boxes in mid-Missouri; I am primarily seeking to know the factors that caused you to hunt for those boxes first.
The possible answers to question two are endless but some of them might be as follows: the name of the box drew your attention; you recognized the box location from the clue right away; the clue was not enciphered (or maybe you intentionally sought a ciphered clue); it was conveniently located; you were along for the ride with a friend(s) and they chose the box; something about the clue or the box description drew you to it; they were the only boxes available in your area at the time, etc.

Question 3: Learned about letterboxing:
a) Friend or acquaintance introduced you to it
b) Saw an article in a magazine or newspaper (which one?)
c) Found a letterbox by accident
d) personal research
e) other--please describe

Thanks for your help with this survey.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Country Drive anyone?

Just wanted to let you all know that we planted a new box in a virgin county - Monroe County! Check out the clues on LBNA and do a little research on Union Covered Bridge. If you're really hot, you can take a dip in the creek!


The 5 B's

Friday, June 15, 2007

Newbie J-Corn


I recently asked our host to allow me to become a "poster" to this blog. He graciously agreed. He indicated I would need to start with a brief post about myself and why I started boxing. He did say brief, right?

My trail name is J-Corn, like Acorn, but with a J. My signature stamp has an acorn with a J in it. I ran across geo-caching some time ago and thought it would be fun, but then never followed up. I purchased an art book titled Art Stamping Workshop by local artist/author Gloria Page. It had mentioned letterboxing as a great hobby for those who liked to carve stamps. There was a link to LbNA. I followed that to MMoLB and here I am. I had already carved some number stamps, so that part of the process did not intimidate me.

I am an avid outdoors person who likes camping, hiking, hunting, canoeing, skiing, etc. I am a lifelong Boy Scout (since 2nd grade) and currently serve as my son's Webelos Leader and Cubmaster for Pack 733. I also am interested in art in several areas such as collage, cardmaking, beading, native American crafts, painting, and others. I am married and have two children, a boy, age 10.5, and and a girl, age 13. My wife is a school teacher. My son has found one box with me and is trying to come up with an idea for his stamp. I think my daughter may want to join in at some point. My wife has muggle tendencies, but if I ever get her on the trail, I think she might get hooked as well.

I think that is brief, isn't it? I look forward to meeting members of this group at a gathering sometime.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cheverolet Ad

Well now it really hits the fan.
I received my new issue of "Family Fun" magazine today. Some of you may recall this is the publication that brought a lot of attention to the hobby. Especially from Scout troops and the like. Lnd-Crzr posted about this in the March 2007 blog. I was flipping through the pages when I was confronted by a full page, two sided ad by Chevrolet. The title of the ad was "Welcome to Letterbox Camp"! !!!! The flip side is entitled "Learn it, Love it. Letterboxing!"
The front side has peel off "caches" for people to play with. It is very bright and colorful, asking questions using words like "adventure" "challenge" and "hidden clues". it seems enticing to my untrained eye. The other side includes a "Letterbox Lexicon" and a gear checklist.
Unfortunately, it seems to freely mix letterboxing and geocaching in several ways, including suggesting supplies such as a compass OR a GPS unit. :( There are a few other references to caches. The link at the bottom of the page did not work for me. It is
On the flip side it does preach the "Leave No Trace" motto with at least two different times saying to rehide better than found and avoid disturbing nature.
I must say this just freaked me out. If this ad is in this mainstream magazine what other publications also bear this message? Surely other specialized magazines will have this as well.
It's all out there now folks. It was inevitable.

If you would like to see this ad let me know. I am still trying to figure out how to resize it and post a link. (Sorry Clyde, this dog hasn't learned that trick yet!)

Smell the Flowers?

According to an e-mail I just read, if I read it correctly, Lady in Red and E-volution hit 30 boxes ALL on Saturday (including half a dozen or so of mine), the last by flashlight. These two may be even crazier than A-history *wink*, *grin*

And imagine . . .just two years ago or so we didn't even have 30 boxes in the mid-Missouri area.

ALL: Don't forget to take time to stop and smell the flowers (and to leave at least something interesting in the logbook---something other than just name and date). Letterboxing is an art, after all, right?

The Pittie's Tales of Mid-MO LB Adventure

Before the meet & greet and after spraying on a can of Deep Woods OFF, we tackled Wallace & Gromit-Lost in RB. Immediate success on these 4 boxes started our day off right. We were surprised to see so many of you at the meet and greet. It was a first for all of us, since we are new to letterboxing. It was fun to exchange with so many of you and to pass off some cooties. Isn't it fun to see how excited kids get about getting cooties-ok, we adults get excited too! I wish I had looked up all of your personal travelers before setting off to MO. Oh well!

Foxfyr's tour of Connor's Cave was a highlight for all. It was my son, "Tiger's" favorite part of the weekend. The park is really beautiful. By now, I was really getting anxious to get going - the boxes were calling my name, so with LndCzr as our guide (and errand runner, thanks a ton for keeping us together-I know it wasn't easy) , Devil's Icebox was next. We did stamp out in the open with a tour coming through (very naughty, I know). No one realized what we were doing and the box was retrieved and replaced in stealth mode. The rest of the boxing day was spent on Connor's Cave and the rest of the Wallace boxes. Tiger enjoyed playing with the snails found along the way. It was a good thing we had Ron along, I think we would have been the next to be "Lost in Rock Bridge"!! By the time we finished W&G, the bug spray had worn off and we were all having issues with the blood sucking "travelers" picked up along the way. When we got back to the granny mobile, as we like to call it, Shorty retrieved the "Sail Away WI" box (now listed on AQ & Lbna). We were so happy to see you all had played along with our temp plant and we laughed all the way to "Buried Jewells" at the entries in the logbook, especially Foxfyrs!

Found Buried Jewells quickly as my mother "Gma Weez" likes to skip ahead in the clues to determine the hiding spot. It worked this time. Next, tick checks and showers, then a trip downtown for dinner and Coldstone Creamery. Afterwards, we plotted our next day's attack at the "record" and fell fast asleep dreaming of the treasures we would find tomorrow...The kids, Gma Weez and I started out at about 9 am.

We hit the Bed & Breakfast first, left 2 HH's, took one. Enjoyed the box immensely. Thanks Foxfyr! Then to "Shelter Gardens", such a beautiful place and the weather was great too. We spent quite a bit of time here. Next to Dublin Park (bug spray applied), where we enjoyed watching and photographing 5 deer grazing ahead of us. After a bit of bushwacking, we found "Monster tree", but the Irish roots were not found. Shorty and I looked for some time while the rest waited at the van. I think if we had had Dafi Daffodil, our resident tree expert with us, the outcome would have been different. Oh well, off we go to Rothwell Park. Gma is a great navigator...soon we discovered Neighborhood Park, but Taz was missing. Sorry OMGB, hopefully it was out for maintenance. Next we picked up the rest of the crew and headed for Kiwanis Park. There we found LndCrzr's 4 with ease. Mamaroots' Lorax took a little longer (Gma tried to skip ahead again)!! Then to Capen to plant Dafi and Highflyer's "forget me-not lb. We found a great spot for it! I hope you all get a chance to check it out soon. The "Capen" box was fun, tough to find! We were staring right at it and didn't see it at first. Then off to find "More Parts" and the "1st bonus more parts", "Rain Came Down" & "Good Boy Fergus". Next, Gma, Pitties & kids visited "Home Tweet Home". It was about 6 pm and not a soul in sight. We really got a kick out of the false floor and nest - gives me an idea.... Anyway, by now the kids were starving, but instead of going to dinner, we went to Nifong Park for just a few more. The bug spray again had worn off, etc. etc... I loved the bridge at Nifong (simple and rustic). "Diary of a Worm" was found by Gma Weez (she has a built-in compass is her mind - it's amazing to me since I have no sense of direction) and Shorty & I nabbed "Kiss Goodnight" & "You can do it Sam". All of the Favorite Books boxes were special in bringing back memories of reading those books to the kids before they could read, especially "Runaway Bunny". After dinner, We headed downtown to try & make our total take 20 boxes for the day with Higher Ed and Mid-Mo Letterboxers. We were so excited to figure out the clues for Higher Ed and again Gma had the intuition for the structure and Shorty found it first (he is always looking for HH's). Thoroughly enjoyed this one - cleverly hidden - camera is a great idea. Then we located Mid Mo LBers, but a it was closed for a private meeting. We vowed to try again tomorrow! We got home about 9 pm - very satisfied, but equally exhausted.

Monday was more leisurely, we took our time at the "Mid-Mo LBers", enjoyed smoothies & lattes, as well as the awesome collaborative effort put into the lb. Every part was special, I especially liked the box. Then to "The Happy Birthday" box, some shopping (and investigative activity - to locate the weaving/pottery studio). "Mud Strings...Things" was had and enjoyed greatly. What a neat place to have in town! Our energy was fading fast as we tackled Bear Creek Trail and "School house rock". It was cool and quiet and more deer were seen as well as some turtles. Ahistory's series brought back great memories (for us adults anyway). We sang the School House songs as we stamped in (I'm sure we were a sight). We made it to #3 and then Gma couldn't go any further, so she headed back to get the van & pick us up at Casey's. #4 was our last box of the weekend. On the way home, we popped by a drive by box about an hour away from our home and much to my surprise, a hh I had released in March was there. It had moved 3 times already.

Thanks for all your hospitality and assistance in planning our weekend. We really enjoyed ourselves, your city and especially your creative stamps, clues, logbooks & log entries. We hope to see you all again soon. I still have about 30 more clues deciphered and ready to go.

Thanks again!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Letterboxer sighting

Just a quick reminder to keep a sharp eye out on the trail for fellow letterboxers this summer. I had the grand experience to see one of these creatures as he emerged from the woods seemingly out of nowhere. I even managed to take one photo before he turned and hurried off down the trail.

As you can see from this picture they often hide in shadows holding scraps of paper. They blend in very well (this photo was taken in the noonday sun) and often scurry off very discreetly. Remember to always be suspect of any fellow hikers and look for the tale tell signs of compass lanyards, inky fingers and that look in their eye. An exchange may be just around the bend.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Publicity and Access

Whether we like it or not, it seems that public awareness of letterboxing is beginning to pick up on many fronts, at least in the Columbia area. This is evidenced by the library's upcoming event and by something occurring today.
This morning, I noticed several "teams" of people accessing one of my boxes on campus. They were not very discreet at all and even discussed the box with some in the building who had no idea what a letterbox is nor where any are planted. No one read the book enough to find the directions to the bonus box (which are pretty obvious if you actually read the welcome text) or if they did they didn't care about the bonus stamp. In fact, from what I could overhear, they had more of a scavenger hunt mentality of getting this stamp and moving on to get the others on their list. After a few had left I quickly pulled my book to see who they were and I learned that they were all MU staff from one of the Schools on campus that was holding a retreat. Only one a few had stamps and some merely signed in as "Team 3" with no name or signature or anything.
At first I didn't know what to think. Yeah it's great that there are people doing the activity but it seems like whoever arranged this had not taken the time to properly research the activity and discuss LB etiquette before sending out the teams. I believe some of you may have been contacted by email from some representative of the School prior to today. If I recall Mamaroots said that they had contacted her trying to get a location of one of her boxes. I didn't realize at the time what kinds of issues this sort of activity might create. If anyone has the contact information of that person, please send it to me so I can drop them a note.
I have mixed feelings about my letterboxes being used for "treasure hunt" style retreat activities without my notification or input. I am not mad. But to me these entries are kind of like unwanted graffiti. On the other hand, it certainly adds legitimacy to the sport, when a University School (not just a department) recognizes and utilizes it as part of formal team building activities. It provides me some ammo for any nay-sayers and demonstrates how LB's can benefit non-letterboxers as well.
The whole thing makes me question whether the past secretive approaches most common of LBers will continue to serve the LB community or become a barrier as more become aware of our activities. Seems like we could be more proactive instead of being reactive down the road. For example, we could design some
formal letterboxing ethics and guidelines for hunting boxes in Mid-MO. Then in the future when someone contacts us we have something formal to send them to guide their activities. Seems like the library could use this and that it would be best if the local LB community created these and not just one or two members.
I know I have talked with Lnd-Crzr and a few others, who had suggested a first LB series which can impart ethics about rehideation and proper placement. I would like to hear what you guys think about the issue and what suggestions you may have.
Last, a quick warning to anyone with a box on campus. I would recommend checking on them in the next few days. If these teams used the same level of discretion at all of these boxes, it is very likely that they exposed some hiding spots. Ooops got to run, I hear another team now.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Kw6F Clue

In case you were not at the recent mini (which turned out to be not so mini) Meet-and-Greet for the Pitties and crew who came in from Illinois (more on their adventures to come), here is the clue which was given out that is spoken of in posts below. I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep it a secret until it lands in unsuspecting laps, or if folks would want to go ahead and see it. With a couple weighing in on this issue I decided to post it.

It is in celebration of my second year of Letterboxing (though it is very late), my 100th box planted and the fabulous friends I have made through this hobby (or addiction as some might call it). I did a similar quest for my first anniversary and am already working on the third epic quest as my anniversary is actually in December.

At this point I believe it will become a WOM (Word of Mouth) clue, never published, but simply passed from person to person.

Good luck to those heading out on Saturday!



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Road Trip Weekend

Sorry for the short notice, but if you happen to have all weekend free and don't have little ones at home to play with, you're invited to come camping and caving and 'boxing with me this weekend. Sometime on Saturday afternoon after I get out and stretch my legs for a bit, I plan on driving up to the Hannibal area to meet some friends who will be camoing and caving all weekend. They will be rustic camping in a conservation area (similar to Boone County'sThree Creeks CA--i.e. no facilities but it's free) and be caving on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I plan on hunting for boxes in Hannibal on Saturday and joining them for camping Saturday night and caving Sunday morning. If I have energy and time on Sunday I plan on driving up to Schuyler county (10 miles south of Iowa) to do a little maintenance on my Dark-Eyed Lady box. It's been found recently and in good shape, but the landmarks have changed, and I need to rework the clue.

If you want to tag along, send me an e-mail via the "contact the placer" link on LBNA and give me your contact info: name, phone e-mail. I have room for 4-5 in my car, a tent that sleeps four and helmets you could borrow if you want to go caving. The caves are all wet caves so you would need the same kind of gear as a Devil's Icebox trip (see last month's Devil's Icebox postfor details). Depending on how long my hike takes on Saturday I will likely leave Columbia around 2-3 p.m. on Saturday.

Rollin' For the River

Just wondering if anyone is planning on doing the Rollin' for the River bike ride on Saturday, June 16? I don't have any letterboxing in mind, but am planning on riding and thought it would be fun to look for or ride with some of you other LBers/bicyclists. More info on this ride can be found at It sounds like a fun (and worthwhile) event. If you're not riding but would like to support the Missouri River Communties Network, I'd be happy for sponsors!

Library Buzz

For the curious...I ran across this link on the Letterbox-USA Talk List. Thought I’d pass it along. Seems like there is lots of leeway given to the individual libraries as to what they want of focus on.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Home Tweet Home in Full Swing

After a long and unexpected winter migration, Home Tweet Home is back up (literally) and in full swing (figuratively). And, as always, keep your eyes open.--Fox-fyr

Monday, June 04, 2007

Post Mini Meet-and-Greet Report

Well the mini-meet was under threat of near torrential downpours all day but once again the weather gods were on our side and the large crowd who came out enjoyed a grand day of meet-and-greet with our new friends from Ill.

I did manage a group picture and a few others from the day. To see the lot, simply click HERE.

I did manage to release the clue to my better late than never, ‘Second LB Anniversary-100th Box Planted-Celebration of Fantastic LB (New and Old) Friends’ LB series, though just barely. The plan was to release 5 copies of it, but as time is a fast and fleeting nymph, I only managed to complete one copy. So how could I decide who should receive such a heavy burden? A contest of course! The starting location was hidden within the clue and so the contest became, who could find it first. The lucky person would get the map and thus, first shot at the quest. Through laughs and giggles the band of locals poured over the page. Eventually, through a true group effort the correct answer was given and in true Mid-MO form all agreed to share the clue and venture out as one.

Now, for those of you who were in on the contest I have a question for you. I have a pretty good photo of the clue, though I don’t believe it would be readable. Should I post a picture of it for others to see, or should it remain mysterious until it falls in their lap? It’s up to you. Please vote through the comments below. I’ll give it a few days and then make a decision.

For more detail of the day’s events, look at Fox-Fyr’s comment below the Mini-Meet and Greet Update below.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

The science of Lock N' Lock

I ran out today to check on one of my older boxes, Civic Duty. I planted it almost one year ago to the day and have checked on it several times since. I was worried that it may have gone missing, but was delighted to find it still tucked neatly in its hiding place. However, I was less than thrilled to find it full of about 1/2 an inch of stagnant, stinky water. Luckily, the logbook was still in relatively good shape and the stamp was unaffected. I have pulled the box for the time being for minor repairs.

Not that sticking a piece of tupperware in the woods is an exact science, or that we can ever have the reasonable expecation that nothing will damage our little treasures, still I do wonder if some of the containers advertised as "waterproof" are truthfully so. This got me thinking and sent me back to the good ole' days of high school science experiments. I thought I'd test out a few "waterproof" containers that seem to be popular amongst local letterboxers. I tested the brand I used for Civic Duty, Snapware (purchased at Gerbes), which I have long suspected of being a little less than waterproof, the industry standard Lock N' Lock from Walmart, and a bright yellow box with a black lanyard and o-ring type device that I think is made by Aqua (I bought this one from Gerbes for $1 in the special summer display near the goggles and blow-up toys). Both the Snapware and the Lock N' Lock box were similiar sized (about 5"x3"x2") but the yellow box was quite a bit smaller.

I put each box in the sink and allowed the water to run over the top of the box for several minutes. I checked each box and found that both the Lock N' Lock and the yellow box were completely dry inside. The Snapware box had a small amount of water in the bottom. I noticed that water tended to run over the top of the Snapware box and catch in the corners between the lid and the lip of the bottom portion. Water seeped in around the corners because of that. I then submerged all three boxes and held them under for about 1 minute. Again, the Lock N' Lock and yellow box stayed dry while the Snapware box seeped water in through the corners.

So, from this highly scientific, rigorously controlled, totally unbiased, expertly designed silly little experiment, I have proven my hypothesis to be true: if a person is truly addicted to letterboxing, then she will do just about anything in pursuit of said hobby, even submerge little boxes in a sink full of water at much too late an hour for rational thinking.

Other than that, I don't know that I proved anything definitively.

Perhaps it was just this one Snapware box that had a defect and leaked, but I've noticed that several of my other boxes hidden in Snapware are usually at least damp when I've checked on them. This is the first one with standing water.

Though this isn't a product endorsement, just thought I'd do a PSA since the rainy season is upon us. Lock N' Lock seems to be just slightly more expensive than Snapware, but I think it might be worth it. Opinions? Ideas for further experimentation? Anymore mad scientists out there?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mini-Meet and Greet Update

Jut a quick update on today’s mini-meet. In the event of rain (though I believe it will have moved off by noon) we will meet at the pavilion south of the Devil’s Ice Box parking lot. Take the south trail and just round the corner is the shelter. It’s not far, but can’t be seen from the parking lot.