Sunday, July 29, 2007

Devil's Icebox Wild Cave Tour

This is just a reminder that the letterboxer's trip into the Devil's Icebox Cave will be the first Friday of September (Sept 7) with a make-up date the first Friday of October (October 5).

If you are on the list, be sure to be thinking about getting the gear needed (headlamp, two other lights, cleats or other shoes with ankle support and excellent traction, non-cotton clothing, a small pack, gloves, kneepads, etc.). Time flies fast and you don't want to be caught unprepared. Equipment information and other details can be found at

I currently have the following people on the roster (did I forget anyone?):
Ahistory (paid)
One Mean Green Bean (paid)
E-volution (paid)
Mr. McMonkey
McMonkey Mom
Mrs. Nugglebugs
Lnd-Crzr (maybe)
I can take up to four more people.

If this is the first time you've heard of this trip, please check out the information about the tour before requesting a slot as it is a strenous all-day tour requiring special gear and special equipment. You have to be able to carry a 65-pound boat 1/4 mile over gravel and up or down stairs and travel 3.5 miles from start to finish, most of it on rocky, uneven and wet terrain, sometimes on your hands and knees. Fee is $25 per person. Minimum age is 14.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Permits and Policies Updates

During the last 7 days, I have met with city park officials from Columbia (Mike Griggs today) and also from Jefferson City (Mike Bollinger last Monday) and given the state parks systems a heads up that I will be sending recommendations thier way as well. Ahistory attended the meeting with me today with Columbia Parks and Rec (CPR). During the meeting, we discussed respective parks policies with regard to letterboxing and geocaching. The following is a synopsis of the major points that came from those discussions.

Before we began, the City of Columbia Parks and Rec (CPR) shared that their policy was written about a year ago, and that they had worked with state officials to draft it after their park staff found several geocaches that gave them cause for concern (such as in landscaped flower beds where people were trampling flowers to get to the box). To write the policy they did consult with geocachers but not with letterboxers. One of the reasons they may have failed to find letterboxers to include in their discussion is that the policy lists as the website (instead of "dot org"). Also, in the post-911 climate, ammo boxes anywhere might be cause for concern. They city did say that more and more geocachers are now using plastic containers instead of ammo boxes.

The other main concern CPR had was knowing the location of the various boxes, and making sure that they were not being too saturated within any given park. The city has about 2400 acres throughout their park system which is roughly the same size as Rock Bridge State Park (2275 acres). Consequently, they had already removed the state park's restriction of one box per 200 acres as they would be able to grant few permits if that restriction were left in place.

The main concerns Ahistory and I had can be summarized as follows: 1) Letterboxing and geocaching are both treasure hunt activities but it is important to note that there are significant differences. If one policy is going to address both activities, it needs to clearly define the difference between the activities and create rules that are fair to both. A lot of the city's policy language was written specifically for geocaching and mentioned letterboxing almost as an afterthought (in part because it was modeled on the state policy which does exactly the same thing)
2) I wanted to re-examine and clarify the restrictions placed on the number of boxes allowed per person, the areas in which they could be placed, and the length they would be allowed to remain. The restrictions are in place for safety and to minimize panic from poorly placed boxes (e.g., an ammo box near a highway bridge or playground might raise cause for alarm).

To achieve these goals, I drafted a revised policy including with it all the changes we'd like to see to the language to make it more user-friendly. CPR agreed to review it and post the changes to the website.
Here are some of the points we agreed on:
--CPR agreed to modify the language of the policy to expand and clarify the definition of geocaching and letterboxing and some of the terms related to the two activities. I suggested the use of the word "treasure container" instead of cache as a more neutral term that covers both activities.
--CPR requested that each box with labeled with the name of the box and the name of the placer and include some sort of text about what letterboxing is and what people should do with the box once they find it. This way, it would make it easier for them to identify which box is which and easier to contact the placer if the box needs to be pulled for maintenance, or if it found by the unsuspecting person or animal who may have moved it from its original location. To help officials locate the box, they would like a photo (preferably digital) included with the permit application that shows the hiding place of the box. We agreed these were all reasonable and appropriate requests. The text to be included can be different from person to person but we will submit an example that other letterboxers can use as a model.
--The current language limits people to two permits per person per park. CPR agreed to grandfather in exisiting boxes as long as they were permitted. To simplify the process, they agreed that each person with one or more boxes already in place could fill out one permit listing all of the boxes in whatever parks they currently have, and all of those boxes would be up for renewal by this time next year.
--They also agreed to review the 2 permit per person per park rule since there is some conflict with boxes that are placed in series. The current language allows a person to put a "multi-cache' of up to five boxes on one permit. This would mean that one person could potentially put out two series each with five boxes whereas another person who might like to place three separate boxes on separate permits would only be permitted to place two of those three. While we did not agree on specific language for this policy, they are open to suggestions.
--Lastly, our last major accomplishment (and the most important in my opinon) is the following: The current language requires that boxes be removed or re-located after 12 months. For a letterboxer in which the clue and the route to the box is an essential part of the box, this policy is quite disconcerting, especially if we have already placed a box in an area that should casue minimal or no impact. We agreed with CPR that permits should be renewed on a yearly basis so that they know the box is still active. CPR also agreed that box could remain in place as long as no damage was being caused (such as trampled vegetation or new trails).

There were also a few other minor discussion points, but more on that later. Also, more later on my meeting results with Jeff City Parks and Rec. If anyone would like to review my draft and recommendations, please shoot me an e-mail at difoxfire (at) hotmail (dot) com.
I am hoping that if the city agrees to our recommendations, it will give us more weight when we go to try and convince the state and federal agencies.

I would also be happy to address any questions.

Oklahoma bound

I will be traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma at the end of this week to visit in-laws and do a little more LBing in that area. If anyone is up for a raod trip, there is a "gathering" happening on Saturday from 10:00 to ??? in Chandler Park on the NW side of Tulsa.

It started out as a small mini-meet just to hook up with a few poeple, but it got placed on AQ and now it seems quite a few may show up (I have even heard rumor that Perdu may try and come). I will be sharing some exmaples of the fine boxing in Mid-MO by showing off some of my groovy FF prizes, Lnd-crzr's incredible hand printed clues, and of course my logbooks. They have even asked that I show them how I make my logbooks, so I will be passing on what I learned from Fox-fyr, Lnd-crzr and everyone else. The LB community ion Tulsa is much smaller than ours and most of the boxes that are not missing are placed by out-of-towners, like myself and SafariMan, who frequent Tulsa often during the year. But they are beginning to grow along with the rise in popularity of boxing.

Anyway, I don't expect any of you to come and I will be sure to share my time when I return, but I thought I would extend an invitation for any of you die hards who have the extra money to pay for gas and the extra time to travel.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

boxing in WISCONSIN!

Me and McMonkeyMom are going to Wisconsin for 2 weeks and will be letterboxing. I am planing on posting a few pictures of the hunts we go on. If anyone else is going on an out of state letterbox hunt let me know and i wish you the best of luck!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

The man is looking...PSA!!

A couple of days ago I was on the Columbia city site and they had a new link for geocahers & letterboxers:

I was not aware that now the city of Columbia Parks & Rec are wanting all boxes registered with the system. If the park staff finds a box and it's unregistered, it will be pulled and held for 30 days while they try to contact the placer.

There is not a charge for a permit from what I can tell, and permits are issued for a 12 month period. They have some official blurb to put in approved boxes. The official blurb works great for geocaching but not for letterboxing. I am sure if the line approved by parks and rec is included it would work fine.

So my honer y side says ... time to send the parks & rec some serious paperwork! Also, I do not know if they are aware of our little blog as a way to connect with the Mid-Mo LB community. Sorry if this is old info to anyone, but I did not see it on the blog here and the link said 'new' & I hadn't noticed it earlier.

Happy boxin' & form filling!

Friday, July 13, 2007

MIA and Harry

greetings my fellow boxers- and hello to the newbies- I have been a wee bit MIA lately- but I think you will understand it was for good reason. One of my many hats is a book buyer at the University Bookstore and I have been planning out party of parties- the release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- so I could not resist the opportunity to work in a wee bit of boxing. If inclined to attend the most magical party in town, feel free to come to this free event.

Watch out for muggles of both worlds, and when you happen to see a witch named Artemisia Lufkin- ask her if she has a frog in her pocket and poof apprio boxio!!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Have you ever felt like this when finding a box? I thought you might be interested in such a thrill! Larry has been working on a series dedicated to his family. You may have already seen Play Well dedicated to our son Cole. He will soon be placing a box dedicated to our daughter and last night mine was planted.

This was my reaction to the find. Oh yes, this box is worth every bit of the reaction!

So to celebrate the love and care he took in placing this box, we will not be posting the clues live for a month. If you would be interested in a box that has A LOT of ciphering - in a high traffic - ultra sensitive location. Then email us at lady.busick at gmail dot com, we will send you the clues.

The safety of this box is of great importance due to the location. I hope to keep this box in mid-MO for a long time since it's located at a mid-MO treasure!

Keep on boxin'!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pirate's booty

It wasn't exactly letterboxing, but I used all my planting skills for a treasure hunt this week. Our almost-5 grandson is visiting and is enamored with pirates. I spent $3 at Good Will for a great old jewelry chest and a couple bucks more for trinkets.

The creek behind our house provided a great jungle in which to hide the loot. Take a look at the photos of the Treasure of the Dread Pirate Big Gus...


Thursday, July 05, 2007

MIni meet update

Quite a few of us were able to make it to the mini meet and meet Team Ginkgo and one half of Hoof'n It . We had a grand time sharing stories and logbooks. I had to scurry off to do family things while the others went on for a cave tour and to attempt a few boxes in the park. Perhaps someone else will be so kind to let us know how the rest of the evening went
But here is a photo of the merry bunch before everyone split up for their adventures.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

AHA: A “Short, Sweet and Sassy” Challenge!

AHA: A “Short, Sweet and Sassy” Challenge!

Letterboxing is first and foremost an art whether it’s the stamp itself, the handmade logbook, a clever container, the choice of hiding spot, or even the clue itself. For me, there’s something very satisfying when I’m struggling with a clue, and I look around, and “Aha,” all of a sudden it makes sense. While Mid-Missouri letterboxes have a wide variety of clues, it can be a real challenge to write a SHORT clue that is SWEET enough to lead people to the box yet SASSY enough that it still sparks that “Aha!” moment. So welcome to the “Aha! Short, Sweet and Sassy” clue contest.

The challenge is to plant a box in mid-Missouri with a short, sweet and sassy clue.
Here’s the kicker: Clues must be no longer than three sentences long. Each sentence can be as long as you like, although extending sentence length with repeated use of the word “AND” will be frowned upon. Though pictures (and drawings) are worth a thousand words, they will be considered one ”sentence” each, if used. The aim, after all, is to write a clue that sounds simple on the outside but which requires some critical and/or creative thinking once you’re actually “on the hunt.”

Here are the rest of the rules:
● Clues must be posted on LBNA. The description must mention that the box is part of the “AHA: Short, Sweet and Sassy ” clue contest. This description does not count as part of the three-sentence limit. ANYTHING that gives a hint to the box’s location MUST be part of the three-sentence limit.
Exception 1: You are permitted and encouraged to list the county and nearest city in the heading without counting it toward your three-sentence limit.
Exception 2: Other text such as background information, reminders to re-seal and properly re-hide all items, etc., is permitted as long as none of it gives any hints to the box’s location, box’s size/shape or anything else that would help someone find it.

● Boxes must be placed by September 1 (we won’t mind if you’re a few days late in planting). That gives you two months to plant and about four months to find all the entries with the winners to be voted on at the first Gathering of 2008. The prize will be a First Finders Tome ( a collection of clues that will not be published until one month after the winner receives the prize).

● Boxes must be placed anywhere within a one-hour traveling radius of Columbia, Missouri (that’s travel time by car, not plane, boat, bicycle, foot, equine or pogostick).

● The clue should be written in such a manner that someone from out-of-town can find the box about as well as anyone else. If they need to do some research, it should be the kind of research where they can look up the information on the internet or in a book or other similar media BEFORE they arrive, (i.e. they should not need to know anything about the placer or local oral history/folklore or have to find another box first, etc.).

● All finders must log their finds, and contact the placer after finding the box.

Judging Winners:
There’s an art to writing such clues. They should not be so simple as “Start here. Go there. Look under this.” There’s no real “Aha!” moment in such a clue, unless there’s something not immediately obvious about the clue until you’re at the actual location. On the other hand, they should not be so vague or mysterious that most people will find the hunt frustrating rather than rewarding. For some good examples of short, sweet and sassy clues, check out Team Gingko’s “Hidden Mickey” box in Mareceline, some of their CMRT: series in Macon, and Lady in Red’s “Hometown Spirit” boxes in Harrisburg. (You may not realize what is sassy about the clues until you find the boxes).

Winners will be judged on the cleverness, creativeness and challenge-factor of their clues, and the amount of “Aha!” sparked when finding the box. Extra points will be given for boxes where the containers, stamps and logbooks themselves are also “SHORT,” “SWEET” and/or “SASSY” (your definition). Remember, don’t outsmart yourself. If no one can find your box, the clues aren’t short, sweet and sassy.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The FUNgi of Letterboxing

This Spring, I offered a special stamp to anyone who found morels and sent me a picture and information on their good fortune. Only one person, JennyJ, was fortunate to hunt down her own patch of the delightful treats and claim the reward. Congratulations, I knew there was a mushroom hunter or two among the letterboxing ranks.

Last month, I received this photo from the Happy Wanderer and decided to extend my offer of reward. If you think you see any of the mushrooms featured in my wild mushroom series, please take a photo and let me know where and what you think you have found. If you have made a proper identification, you will be rewarded in true letterboxing fashion. Include the appropriate insert (like Happy Wanderer did ) and impress me even more.

By the way, if you are out there Happy Wanderer, please email me to claim your reward. I had major computer problems in the middle of the June and lost all of my old email and addresses.

Happy hunting,

Hello from newbie Hoof'n It

Hello! My husband and I are new to the LB world, and so far we love it. I have my boss/friend, J-Corn, to thank for introducing me to this unique venture that has been around for so long. He thought it would be something I would enjoy, and he was right! We have chosen Hoof'n It for our trail name because we love our horses and burros. We will be Hoof'n It from one place to the next.

We are from the Harrisburg, Mo area so have hit a couple places close by. We have not made it to Lady In Red's box in Harrisburg yet...that is going to be a today thing. Woo hoo!

To date we have found three total boxes, and think we found a spot for another but it is missing (we e-mailed the box placer). We ride motorcycles, so we are already planning on road tripping to some locations. We rode to the Union Covered Bridge Sunday evening and found a prize. This was our most challenging trip so far since people seemed to come in droves. Okay, there were only 10 or 12 others that showed up, but it felt like more. We also have visited Shelter Gardens (our first since I work there - and my boss told me about LB'ing), and Five Star Drinks - Eight ounces (our second one - great adventure!).

My husband and I are of the outdoorsy variety. We like to be outside, which is why my housekeeping skills are lacking. :-) He enjoys hunting, we both enjoy fishing, camping, walks, canoeing and kayaking. My sister has some land with a great cave on it, so we have really enjoyed learning more about caves. There are a lot of crawl spaces to explore, which have tested my claustrophobic tendencies, but it has been worth it. There are so many natually beautiful things in our State to explore and appreciate. Wish there was more time in a day to do it all. In between that, we both enjoy reading and our favorite board game is Scrabble (can't wait to start looking for the Scrabble series).

We also have horses, burros, chickens, rabbits, guineas, dogs, a cat, a couple fish, and we are trying to hatch out some duck eggs that we found in our barn. We also have a garden that we are going to try to keep weed free this year. Is that possible? We have doubled the size of it, so between that and the critters, we stay very busy.

I am looking for to meeting you all.

Hoof'n It
Brian and Karen