My boyfriend's parents came in Austin a few weeks ago and while the both of us were at work, they letterboxed across the city. What's letterboxing you ask? In a nutshell, it's a scavenger hunt outdoor activity. Letterboxers (who are located all over the US) hide small, waterproof containers that are publicly accessible. Inside these containers, is a stamp and a log book. A few letterboxes we found even had a brief description of the place or why the letterboxer decided to place it there.
So how does one find a letterbox? Before you start searching, you'll need a few supplies. You'll need your own unique stamp, an ink pad and a log book. To find where letterboxes are, you can search on a few different websites that take your location and find letterboxes around you. The clues to find letterboxes can either be super simple or very difficult. Some clues lead you right to the spot, some are cryptic and take some time. Once you find the letterbox, you stamp your stamp in their log book and vice versa. My boyfriend's mom writes the date, where she's from, sometimes who she's letterboxing with or why she's there. We found log books that date back to 2012 and have stamps from all over the world.
Once you've traded stamping, be sure to place the letterbox back exactly where it was. We also made sure to not let any "Muggles" see us, which we learned are people passing by who most likely don't know what letterboxing is. We also learned that SPORs are a Suspicious Pile of Rocks. So much lingo.
My boyfriend's parents did say that some letterboxes they've been to won't be there. There's a website where you can message that particular letterboxer and inform them that it's not there anymore. My favorites were the letterbox at the Tacodeli in Austin. The stamp is a set of hands that look like they're praying with a taco in between. Another was a letterbox at a small brewery in South Austin that was located in a tree next to the brewery.
According to a few websites I looked at, letterboxing began in England in 1854 when a Dartmoor National Park guide, James Perrott of Chagford, left a bottle by Cranmere Pool with his calling card in it an an invitation to those who found the bottle to add theirs. It caught on in the US in 1998 after an article in the Smithsonian Magazine. Whether your letterboxing in your hometown or in a visiting city, it's a great activity to get outside and learn new places that you may have never come across!