Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Treasure Hunting

Went treasure hunting letterboxing with Lulu over the weekend. I've been trying to describe it to my friends and family but the describes it best as an "intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming treasure hunt style outdoor quest." In short, this was really, really cool!!!!!

Here were some of the clues and things that we saw along our journey.

Clue: Stay where you are and face the corner of the fence. You should see a path that runs to the left side along the back of the fence line and up a hill.

You should see, slightly uphill, an old iron fence, or piece of one. Make your way up to the fence. Watch your footing here. Approaching you should see a cement square with the top painted blue. Looking at the fence look at the left side and at the base of the "end".

Inside, was a homemade stamp. We used the stamp to stamp in our notepad and then carefully hid the stamp back where we found it.

The stamps were hidden in small film canisters that were covered in camo duct tape.

Typically, you find one stamp per location/park. I selected a location that had several stamps which were hidden by the same person. So, you had to find one stamp to move on to the next.

OK - first, I thought that this was going to be a quick trip. No, we were there for 2 HOURS. We had a great time though. Truthfully, I would have given up much earlier, but Lulu was determined to find all of the stamps. Several times I found myself standing in the middle of the woods saying, "Lulu, we might not find this one" and she would say, "just stand back mom and read the clues again."

One stamp, in particular, was very difficult to find. Let me set the stage:

At this point, we are on a secluded, albeit beautiful, path along a river. Note: I did not pack for this - we both had on flip-flops and left our waters back at the car. We are also about 1 hour into the day and I have no idea where I am in this wooded area/park place. Fine. We are on a wooded path behind the park. The path is in the middle of the woods and it is only a path in the sense that you can tell that people travel through this area - it is not professionally cleared to make way for visitors. The woods were thick. I'm talking a real, wooded, nature "pass-through" here folks, not your run of the mill bike/running path.

Nonetheless, let me walk you through our journey to find this one clue. It reads, Follow this path around and down the "root stairs", always keeping water to the left side. Keep going and walk around past the marsh area and past the two large trees with "fingers spread". Follow the path up and around until you come to a set of small stairs going down. You will see the water to your left and wooded area to the right.

Which "root stairs"? These?

or these?

or the hundreds of other "stairs" in the woods?

Oh, this is the best part... the next part of the clue reads, "Do not linger here too long for the dragon gets hungry." What the heck is THAT supposed to mean? You must be kidding me! Here I am in the middle of the woods with the "water on my left" and the "woods on my right," as instructed, and now I can't linger long because "the dragon gets hungry?" Whose idea was this anyways?

So we keep walking and continue with the clue. "You will come to a clearing with a granite marker for the "overlook"." Clearing, how do you describe "clearing"? Kinda an open-ish area where the trees are not growing? Well, if that's the case then we passed through dozens of "clearings" on this trail. And what is the "granite marker"? Okay - so we got all excited when we saw the first sign of rocks (see below), which we thought was our "granite marker." So here we are looking at these rocks and screaming - "Look a granite marker - we found the granite marker!!!!!!! Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, read the next clue it's gotta be here somewhere. I can't believe it we found the granite marker!"

The clue continues Look at the marker and turn back toward the wooded area from the direction you came. Look to the side of the "woods" and at the edge you will see ivy growing. About middleways will be a small holly bush, next to the bush is a spor in the middle of the ivy. Locate this spor on right side of ivy and box is hidden underneath the overhanging holly branch (still connected to the bush) and some branches. Hidden in plain sight.

By the way - anybody here know what a spor is?

OK - so we look back and look for ivy. Ivy? Ivy? You mean ivy like growing up the backboard at Camden Yards ivy? What do you mean ivy? Note to self (as I am walking in the woods with flip-flops on) I should have paid better attention to the poison ivy info that they gave us at Girl Scout leader training. Holly bush? Holly bush? Where's the f**** holly bush? What ivy? What holly bush?Maybe we passed it already and didn't realize it. Let's just keep walking. Should we turn around? Where are we? Lulu tells me to keep walking, so I do.

But what to our wondering eyes should appear????????????????

Is that an illusion... or is that a granite marker and a clearing!!!!! Cue Handel's Hallelujah!!!

See? There's the ivy and the holly bush! We did have to call Fairy Grandmother to ask her to look up the definition of "spor" which I thought might have been a "clearing" in the ivy. Turns out that a "spor" has something to do with misplaced rocks. A-ha!

Here's Lulu, again, wondering why she is the one who always has to "go in" and get the stamp.

We found several more stamps during the day, like this one...

... and one under this tree...

... on top of this stump!

More holly (as you can see) and again wishing that we were NOT wearing flip-flops!

In truth, we did not look for the final stamp as we were much to tired to keep going. We will, however, return to the park once again to complete the adventure that we had started.

I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend that you try this adventure at least once. Here some more tips for future letterboxers.

1. Do your research ahead of time on or Some boxes turn up missing for one reason or another. I went to a place that had recent confirmed sitings of the boxes so that we had a good chance of finding what we were looking for.

2. Wear appropriate clothes for hiking in the woods. I think that many boxes are easier to find than this one but you might want to be prepared, just in case.

3. Travel in numbers. Had I known that the area was going to be that secluded then I would have preferred to have been their with my husband.

4. Keep the box locations secret. Don't walk around the park with your directions in your hand where everyone can see you. Also, IF there is the SLIGHTEST chance that you might be seen then abandon the box and retry at another time. This is a hobby better suited for the older kids, I think.

5. Bring a poking stick and/or gloves. You will need to poke your hand into some dark and dingy holes: the kind of holes that are perfect for little spiders. You will want to grab and poke with something other than your own personal hand (or the hand of your precious offspring, unlike me). If you don't have a glove or stick then this would be another good reason to bring dear husband along!

6. Keep an open mind and have fun. We saw all sorts of birds, squirrels, gorgeous butterflies, and a blue lizard skink. Had we packed a lunch, we would have had many places to enjoy our meal.

I hope that you try this at least once. If you do then please tell me all about it.

1 comment:

MitziKai said...

This is great! Letterboxing is very popular in Southern MD. I've wanted to try it with the boys but just haven't gotten around to it. Now I'm motivated to get going. I'm going to put it on the Oct MOMS Club calendar for sure!! :)