Our Family's Trail name ~ Team Awesomesauce!

This blog is going to be about our adventures with letterboxing. We just found out about this fun family activitiy and hope to find many letterboxes this upcoming Spring/Summer Season.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Sun Came out - Finished Where the Wild Things are PICTURES!

Finally it warmed up a bit and the sun actually came out!!  So after Tom got home from work we packed up our letterboxing stuff and headed back to John Ball park to finish our letterboxing quest - Where the Wild things are -- below I'm just going to post a bunch of pictures we took while finding the last two boxes - FUN EVENING!!  I would suggest this quest to anyone with kids over 5, also would make a great FREE date for couples, or go with friends -  Have kids under 5?  Just be ready to carry your children while trying not to fall yourself as you traverse up and down some steep hills, and stollers won't make it here..  BONUS - there is a "hidden" playground at the top of the 130 stairs :)  PS I am just learning about blogging and how pictures format, so please forgive my not so perfect placement of pictures while I learn
 Isabelle and Savanna headed up the 130 steps as instructed to begin where the wild things are :)

 So cool to see all these daffodils out and everything else still brown and asleep in the forest

 This part of the quest read:  "walk the plank"  FUN!

 Searching, trying to decide which way to go
 Tom rereads the clue while the girls listen and we retraced our steps 
 Found the "Big Belly Tree"  - there was a tree with a big hole in the trunk, the girls look inside a little afraid to reach in the deep hole filled with bugs and stuff
 Found a LetterBox!! - pictured below is the box
 The girls opened the box and did their stamping, this one was another monster stamp from the book Where the Wild things are - So cute!  And then they put the letterbox back together carefully and hid it back in the same spot for the next letterboxers who come along :)

 We followed the last clues/instructions and finally found the last letterbox in this series.  It contained the cute notebook below for letterbox finders to leave their stamp.  It was fun to look thru the book and see who had arleady found this letterbox and read their comments etc. 

We left our stamps 4/21/11 -- See if you can find this letter box and look for our stamps in the notebook!!

Well that is all for now and already today the sun went away and it is kind of raining outside - Hope it warms up soon.  We are thinking we will go to Aman park for our next letterbox Adventure...I'll be sure to post the next time we go out!

Friday, April 15, 2011

John Ball Park, Grand Rapids - Where the Wild Things are

For our second attempt at letterboxing we went to John Ball park.  This plant is called Where the Wild Things are and was planted/launched September 10th, 2010 by Angel Winks.  She did a nice job of incorporating the story of where the wild things are into her clues.

Here is picture of our quick made letterboxing kit - you'll need to bring your own ink pad, paper/notebook to collect stamp images, your own stamp, a pen/pencil for writing date etc. and a compass is helpful as well.

So At John Ball park we began to follow the clues that printed off from http://www.atlasquest.com/ I actually think I like atlasquest better - they have many more symbols that tell you things about the plant and if you register with them you can see the last person who found a plant, so this may give you a better idea if the boxes are still there or not.  This plant had been found on April 7th 2011, so we knew we had a good chance of finding them.

This person has hidden 5 boxes in a woodsy area of John ball park with a BIG hile you must climb - Our first instructions were to climb up 130 steps - THIS WAS A WORKOUT -  the girls loved it, then once we got to top of hill there were a few more directions to follow, go past a certain tree, take the trail to the East, find the doubletrunk tree and look for a tree next to it with many toenails to find the first box. (many toenails meant alot of exposed roots)  and we FOUND OUR FIRST LETTERBOX!!  I forgot to bring my camera so no pictures this time.  But it was very exciting, we did our stamping and then hid the box right where it was before ...

Onto the next clues, we were instructed to go by some more landmark trees and then make our way down a VERY steep hill that was covered in dry leaves, making it even more slippery - it was truely an ADVENTURE down the hill.  I said let's turn back this is too scary, we might fall -- but Tom and girls convinced me to keep going and we slowly crawled/slipped down the steep hill, making our way from tree to tree -- We made it to the bottom and then proceeded to find TWO more letterboxes, What FUN!!  We have 3 left to find there, but it was getting late and needed to get going --

My rating for the Where the Wild Things are Letterboxes at Johnball park - Not just a 15/20 minute walk quest, plan for a good hour or so to find all the boxes and be prepared to do some major hiking, climbing up ALOT of steps and trekking down a steep hill and I don't know what to expect after that...  It's a definite ADVENTURE and the boxes were fairly easy to find, we had to retrace our steps a few times, but the landmarks mentioned were all there - Great one for a family with older kids who are looking for something to do on a nice afternoon or evening :)

Here are pictures of two of the stamps we collected from this plant:
You can see we found Max and one of the Wild Things above.
The beginning of this week the weather was really nice.  Now it has turned cold, windy and rainy.  When the weather gets nice again we will go on our next adventure and I'll post about it here.  I will remember my camera next time :)

Cole Memorial Park - Marne MI - Nascar 101

After searching just a little on http://www.letterboxing.org/ we found the closest plant of letterboxes to us was in Cole park in Marne.  So we decided to try it.  The boxes were planted in September 2007, so it was a long shot. 

The plant was called Nascar 101 and planters trail name was camper stampers - he set up his clues with a questions/choices about nascar facts for example: if this person won this race, go five steps this way or if he didn't win walk over to the short tree stump etc.

Upon arriving we followed the clues and this park was very easy to navigate and the clues did match up with landmarks, trees etc. but unforunately we did not find any letterboxes, they were all missing.  If the boxes had been there it would have been a fairly easy "quest" and only would've take 15-20minutes for the average family to find them.  No major hiking skills required...  Oh well....

My plan is to rate all the letterbox adventures, so that if you'd like to try some out you'll know what you are getting into - also you'll know if the boxes are really there or not...  I also plan to bring our camera on the next letterboxing adventure we take and post some pictures..

Our first quest was on Tuesday, then on Wednesday we went to John Ball park, near downtown Grand Rapids - I'll post about that adventure next ~

How Letterboxing works

Ok, so what is letterboxing? Basically it's like a treasure hunt. People "plant" letterboxes at public places such as parks, bike trails etc. and then they post clues about where they are located online. To find out more about letterboxing and find clues online go to http://www.atlasquest.com/ and/or http://www.letterboxing.org/

The boxes are usually small tupperware/plastic containers that seal tightly or ziplock bags. Inside a letterbox you will find the rubber stamp of the person who hid the letterbox and usually a little log book, journal where you the finder can leave your own stamp, trail name and date you found the letterbox. You will be able to see who has found it before you as well. You should bring your own journal or paper to collect the different stamp images and then you can create a scrapbook or whatever with stamp finds :)

When you are done stamping you need to put everything back into the plastic container, seal it tightly and place it back where you found it, making sure it is hidden. You must also be discreet when doing this, so non-letterboxing people don't notice you and come and maybe take/move or destroy the letterbox.

So those are the basics of letterboxing - I've read that many letterboxers make their own custom hand carved stamps, so they are totally unique.. We plan to plant some of our own letterboxes once we have found some more and get a better feel for letterboxing...

This past week we went on two letterboxing quests - I will post about those next ~

Team Awesomesauce is Born!

Earlier this week I was on a Mom's Discussion board and one of the topics was: What do you do with your kids outside for fun? One Mom noted that they love to Letterbox and said there are a lot of letterboxes hidden in Grand Rapids and surrounding areas - I wasn't exactly sure what letterboxing was when I read this so I looked into it. She listed two sites to get started: http://www.letterboxing.org/ and http://www.atlasquest.com/ I looked through these sites and was surprised to see how many locations there were near us with hidden letterboxes. I explained about letterboxing to Isabelle and she was really excited about it, as was Savanna and Tom. So we decided to try it :) All letterboxers create themselves a trail name and we came up with ours last night after watching parks and rec. We are Team Awesomesauce and our stamp will be an apple. The girls also want to make individual trail names and stamps, that is yet to come... I'll explain how letterboxing works in my next post