This is going to be a monthly feature devoted to sharing with you guys other pen pal- and snail mail-related sites and activities out there.
If you’ve heard of geocaching before, then you already sort of know what letterboxing is. It’s a pastime dating from way back, when some guy left his calling card in a bottle at a remote location on the moors of Dartmoor in England. Apparently, it caught on.
Today we do it a little differently. In the most basic sense, somebody leaves a stamp and a log book in a waterproof box, and then hides the box in a location that is beautiful and/or remote. Then they write directions to find the box, sometimes cryptic, sometimes straightforward. They then give these clues to someone who then looks for the letterbox, or they can post the clues on an online forum.
How it works: To hunt for a letterbox, you will need a writing utensil, a stamp of your own, a stamp pad, and a log book. If you don’t have a log book, you can do like I did and bring an envelope or two (and then you can write to your pen pals about your adventure!). You will need to have clues, which I found here, where you can narrow your search down to your local area.
As with many of my geek girl pen pal activities, I had my friend Toni accompany me, and we decided that we needed to go letterboxing as soon as possible because we live in Michigan and for all we know there could be snow on the ground tomorrow. This was back in October.
There were a few locations in our hometown that had letterboxing clues, but we ended up at Stony Creek Metropark because they had what turned out to be a series of letterboxes in four different spots. I had written down the clues in a small notebook, and we were lucky that they were not very cryptic.
We got to the location of the first letterbox, and we found it fairly easily (it was hidden in the crook of a four-trunked tree!). But when we pulled out the box, it was full of water! We tried to at least use the stamp inside, because the paper in the logbook was completely soaked and sadly useless, but the ink wouldn’t stick.
We didn’t feel sad about it though, and just moved on to find the next one. On the letterboxing site, it appears that the directions were a little too vague, because the author eventually write an alternative set of directions, which we followed. We found the letterbox, dry this time, hidden in a hollow stump. We made our marks with the stamp in the box and with our stamps in the letterbox’s book. We made a note to ourselves that we needed to tell the site author that the box in the first location had water damage.
What I say: This was such a fun activity. I wish there were more locations in my hometown or even just in my county so I could do it again! Letterboxing is a fun way to get out of the house, which is something I always appreciate. I would recommend it to anyone, because I had a blast!