Friday, August 29, 2008

My New Thing

I discovered the activity of letterboxing recently whilst researching an article, and it sounded like loads of fun. It is an excuse to get out in the country and take long and restorative walks with your faithful hound leading the way. Unlike letterboxing's sibling activity, geocaching, which will likely be my next step, the equipment required for letterboxing is minimal and inexpensive, though some additional general purpose "outdoor" equipment may well come in handy on occasion.

In order to start letterboxing, you need to have:

  • A trail name. Mine is shared with me by my wife Jennifer and my puppy, Maggie the intrepid Dartmoor Boxhound. We are The Wandering Walkers!
  • A personal rubber stamp. Ours is a floral monogram, integrating my wife's initials and my own. It was made by a rubber stamp company that does beautiful work, but many, if not most, letterboxers make their own. Rubber-stamp making seems to be a significant sub-hobby of letterboxing. It is something to do on those stormy winter nights while you are waiting for your next round of letterboxing! Also, wise advice, carry your own stamp pad. Letterboxes, especially the more remote ones, will likely have dry stamp pads.
  • A writing implement. I carry a couple of good quality gel pens, but I also take a fountain pen along for photo ops. The pen is to sign and date your stamp as well as for leaving notes in the host stamp book and your own.
  • A personal log book. This is a blank journal of some sort in which you put the host stamps. It becomes a record of all the letterboxes you have visited. The page paper should be acid-free for the sake of longevity and it should be fairly robust so it can take the wet ink of ink-pads. I picked up a cute little leather journal, quite picturesque, but the paper is inferior to what I would prefer.
  • A compass. I am way over-compassed at this point, because, as a former orienteer, I love good compasses. Mine is a Suunto MC-2 Global compass, usable in both northern and southern hemispheres! What you actually may need on some letterboxes is a simple baseplate compass, such as the Suunto A-10 Partner II, available for about $10.95 on line. That is a terrific little compass, and I may well add it to my collection. The compass is optional, as many letterbox clues do not require it, but if the clue invokes an azimuth reading, you cannot get away without it.
  • A computer, Internet access and a printer to access the thousands of letterbox clues available on-line.With this kit, you are ready to take on the game!

Wife, puppy and I found our first letterbox yesterday, and we are hooked! I will report back on that adventure later.

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