Sunday, November 2, 2008

11-01-08 The Hell's Hollow Letterbox

It must have been a sign.

Stumbling across a soaked diaper embedded into the leafy trail, several of the Future Scientist team stopped to discuss the demerits of littering. Given the impressive absorbent capacity of the diaper, one Future Scientist deemed it necessary to skewer the diaper with a stick in order to judge its weight, and perhaps carry it to a better disposal area. The hefty piece of baby toilet cloth garnered several "whoa!"s as it bent the heavily strained stick.

Now that this portion of the team's eyes were primed for spotting litter, another member eyed a partially concealed zip-lock bag with a gaudy pink object inside. Could someone perhaps have left their cell phone and forgotten about it? The plastic bag revealed...a treasure! Perhaps the team had found a geocache! Perhaps it was pirate booty! The possibilities were endless.

The entire team assembled to make sense of the mystery item. It turned out to be a letterbox - a clued treasure-hunting activity that has been around since the 1800's, and made its way to the U.S. in 1998 after an article in Smithsonian Magazine publicized the tradition. The Future Scientists were quite proud of their ability to sniff out this piece of buried treasure despite not having any clues. Inside the bag was a rubber stamp bearing the logo of this site's letterbox, along with a logbook. According to the log, the treasure had only been found once before, over a year ago!

The Future Scientists made their mark in the logbook, and triumphantly stamped their hands. One of the Future Scientists dyed her hands in pokeweed. Can you guess which one? Afterwards, the letterbox was hidden away as it was found.

The precise location of the letterbox was not described in this blog, so as not to ruin the fun for any potential letterboxers! To read more about letterboxing, you can find a nice summary with helpful links at wikipedia. Perhaps in the future, the Future Scientists will consider going legit and finding a letterbox using actual clues.

Oh, and given the frenzy of the find, we forgot to take the diaper back to a better disposal area. If you happen to find this letterbox, you can also keep your eye out for a 30-pound diaper in the vicinity.

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