I had a whole slew of letterbox clues I had printed out from a privately accessed weblist. You can see the names of the boxes on the public sites, but you cannot find the clues there. I've had access to some of these for over a year, but with grad school and working and my long commute, plus moving and planning a wedding, I had no time to search for these.
The great thing about finally getting to look for boxes with clues unavailable to the general public is that the chances are much much higher that the box will actually BE there. And in fact, they all were! At least one had a logbook with stamps in it from 2005, which is old in outdoor letterbox terms.
I love letterboxing because it takes me places in my own neighborhood I never would have known were there, or explored. We visited:
• a Zoo-themed Metra stop, complete with lion statues
• a prairie restoration and oak savannah that had once been in danger of becoming a housing development, and thus criss crossed with old broken sidewalks (yes! sidewalks into a prairie!)
• a bike trail along Salt Creek
• a Ronald McDonald House near an airstrip where Charles Lindberg used to land when he was running the US Mail
• a beautiful meadow filled with purple flowers
• a retro-tastic store full of goodies from childhood (Star Wars glasses! Yes, please!)
We tried for 2 boxes we had no initially planned to get and they were unsuccessful. But we did find many others. In fact we could have kept going, but after dinner and one extra letterbox, we finally were too tired to go on and called it good. I got a lot of great pictures on my camera, but no time to clean them off right now.
* * *
I am going to Denver for my friend Jennifer's memorial service in a few weeks. The memorial service will be non-religious. However, several of us are driving up into the mountains the afternoon before, where we will re-create a ritual we did in college, this time adding the farewell to and celebration of Jennifer's spirit to it. We are all renting a vacation cottage together. Over the weekend I caught part of "The Big Chill" on TV and.... oh that was hard. I never ever thought I would experience that movie in my own life. It just never occured to me.
Anyway I am planning on doing at least 2 letterboxes in memory of Jennifer. One will be hidden somewhere at the ritual site in the mountains. One will be hidden in Beloit, where we all went to school. If I ever get to Phoenix, I will hide one there, as that was Jennifer's hometown. So it will be a series, and to complete the series, you will have to travel cross country! And yes, there are fans of letterboxing who WILL do so, just not many.
Right now I am getting supplies together to carve the first stamp (letterboxes contain a logbook, a hand carved stamp, and other goodies). I am thinking I will have my sister sketch me some Doc Martens for the design. For the Wisconsin box, I am looking for a good pencil sketch of Robert Smith of the Cure to use.
Jennifer was fantastically and prolifically creative. She would love that we are designing a ritual, hiding letterboxes, and writing poetry in honor of her.
She would also love that her college girlfriends are all wearing funky tights, fingerless gloves, and boots to her memorial service. We don't care it's in May! If I could only bring a hat along as well, that would be great. But I can't so instead I will be giving myself the gigantor, EPIC, Jennifer hairbeast hair. No straightening iron for me on this trip.
Now I just have to run to the art supply store in the Loop that carries carving medium. Maybe after work today.
* except clean the bathroom, do my laundry, go grocery shopping, etc... Does. Not. Count!