Letterboxing at Fort Knox

Fort Knox

Fort Knox

After years of thinking about it, we finally took our first foray into Letterboxing a few weeks ago.  As is often the case, it’s one of those things that make you wonder what took you so long!  We took the opportunity of the long Labor Day weekend to go on a little day trip to Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.  If you haven’t been and you’re in Maine, I highly recommend both of them!  I’d imagine that the observatory is super-cool right now with the fall color.  Fort Knox was established in 1844 to protect the mouth of the Penobscot River valley from potential future British naval incursion.  The boys really loved exploring all the dark tunnels and rooms, especially the underground storage areas for food!  Ooh, dark and scary in there.  Bring a flashlight!

Inside the tunnels in the fort

Inside the tunnels in the fort

One of many cannons

One of many cannons

Fort Knox tunnels

Fort Knox tunnels

Food storage areas

Food storage areas

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

View of the Penobscot River

View of the Penobscot River

Letterboxing is a treasure hunt style outdoor adventure.  A “letterbox” is a waterproof container containing a rubber stamp, often hand carved, and a log book.  You can go online to Letterboxing.org, or atlasquest.com (my favorite), and search for letterbox plants in your area (or the area you are visiting, etc.).  There are clues given for how to find the letterbox.  Such as, “find three trees growing close together, walk 10 paces north, and dig under some rocks to find the box.”  Or something like that.  You have your own personal stamp and log book.  You stamp the letterbox log book with your stamp, write a note, then use the letterbox stamp to stamp your personal log book.  It’s a lot of fun!  Really takes very little start-up costs, unlike geocaching where you need a personal GPS unit.

Our first letterbox was in a picnic area near Fort Knox, and then we also found four letterboxes in Fort Knox.  They all had awesome hand carved stamps.  One of the things about letterboxing is that you are supposed to be careful and not draw attention to yourself.  When you find the letterbox, it’s important to replace it as you found it, hiding it so the casual observer won’t notice it.  This is slightly difficult with a 5yo who is very excited, LOL!  You are also not supposed to share your log book with others.  Part of the fun is discovering the cool stamp, so you don’t want to give away the surprise by showing others your stamp collection.

Looking for our first letterbox

Looking for our first letterbox

K's Ecojot journal that he chose as his letterboxing log book

K's Ecojot journal that he chose as his letterboxing log book

And to top off a perfect day, we saw a sign as we were headed home that proclaimed, “Blueberries – Last Days!”  So of course, we quickly turned and bought 15 pounds of Maine wild blueberries from a local farm.  Mmmm……blueberry jam, blueberry pie, blueberry muffins….

15 pounds of blueberries for $33, how can you pass that up?

15 pounds of blueberries for $33, how can you pass that up?

Blueberry Pie, recipe from Cook's Illustrated, July/Aug 2008, Issue 93

Blueberry Pie, recipe from Cook's Illustrated, July/Aug 2008, Issue 93

I highly recommend this blueberry pie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.  It was amazing!  Firm filling without any off-flavors from using too much tapioca or flour or whatnot.  The crust uses vodka!  It was so flaky and yummy.  The vodka adds more liquid to make it easier to roll out, but the vodka then evaporates in the oven, so the crust turns out flaky.

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3 Responses

  1. Letter-boxing sounds like fun. We tried geo-tracking this summer but I love the whole stamp thing. I’m sure the kids would love the whole treasure hunt aspect (Pirates of the Carri bean and National Treasure are Bug’s favorite movies atm). The weather is changing quickly here… might not get a chance to try until the spring though.

    Did you guys make a signature stamp for yourselves to ‘sign’ journals you found? I want to make some stamps with the kids. I’m thinking of making stamps to make our own Christmas wrapping paper this year.

    • I know your kids would love it! It really takes very little preparation. My friend just keeps a little bag filled with their letterboxing stuff in her car, so they can go whenever they find themselves with a little time. I bought each of us a journal (Ecojots which I got at Borders just because I love Ecojots.) I let the boys choose their cover design on their journal. Then we went to the craft store and I had them choose a small stamp, and they each got to pick a color of ink pad. I brought along an archival pen, and that’s all you need! I plan on making stamps, however I wanted the boys to go letterboxing a few times before we do that so that they will understand the significance of what we are doing. The Fort Knox stamps were all hand carved, with a theme suitable for our location, and the boys thought they were pretty cool. Might be a good winter project! Did you do a search near your home for boxes? I bet there are some very close by. They can be found in the most random places!

  2. oh man!! blueberries are my favorite! mmmmmmmm pie ♥

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