Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Cutting Edge - Day 2

Letterboxing is one of our favorite hobbies, along with rockhounding and photography.  When we tell people that we letterbox, usually no one knows what we are talking about.  According to, "letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places."  Letterboxing started in Dartmoor, Devon, England in 1854.  It started to gain popularity in the United States following a Smithsonian magazine article in April 1998.

Since 1994, the year we joined the Minnesota Mineral Club, most of our family vacations have revolved around rocks.  I enjoy our rockhounding adventures, love the people we travel with, and enjoy the places we get to explore.  But, rockhounding is Steve's passion.  I first heard about letterboxing on MPR and thought it would be something I could do after a couple of days sitting in a rock quarry or mine site. After coming up with our trailname (SZSRocks) and carving our signature stamp, we found our first letterbox near Grand Marais, Minnesota on September 20, 2008.  Since then, we have found over 400 letterboxes.  Steve and I are both hooked!

We decided to attend The Cutting Edge event in Moline, Illinois to learn how to carve our own stamps so that we can start planting letterboxes for others to find.  Our letterboxing friend, Hartx6, is an amazing stamp carver and we were thrilled with the opportunity to learn from the best!

After showing us how to transfer an image on to the "pink stuff," the first image we carved was a circle or ring.

After the circle, we carved a rectangle and then tried our hand at a faceted triangle.  This was my very first carving experience and I could see my lines getting steadier as I practiced.  Hartx6 was very patient and an excellent teacher.

When we felt more confident in our carving, we ventured on to images that we had brought along to carve.

We have talked about planting a series of letterboxes about minerals for a while.  Steve took the opportunity to start carving stamps for that series.  This is an image of Benitoite on Neptunite.  The image is taken from a painting by Wendell Wilson.  Steve's an overachiever...

I decided to carve a Ford sign stamp.  Hartx6 recently planted a letterbox honoring the American Pickers (History Channel TV show).  Along with his original stamp for the letterbox, he is asking the boxers who find the box to carve an image of something that the Pickers would pick and leave the stamp in the letterbox.  This means that the letterbox will accumulate more and more stamps.  Please note that when you stamp my image, the letters will be the correct way!

Butterqup (of Butterqup and Bear) is also thinking about doing a letterbox series of Foursquare badges.

You're never too young to start carving.  It helps if your dad is a master carver!

Just like rockhounding, we have met some awesome people who letterbox.

ggghiker and HowDgirls

 NamVet and Trail Rider

Butterqup and frequent.adventurer

Hartx6 and his assistant

When the Cutting Edge event wrapped up, we headed back to the Hennepin Canal to find a bonus box that Hartx6 had replanted, since the original had went for a swim when we attempted to get it this summer.  Hartx6, Pitties and Shorty have planted the awesome Wizard of Oz letterbox series (52+ boxes) along the Hennepin Canal in Illinois.  Steve and I found a couple of this series' boxes in June when we attended the Great Lakes Gathering 2010.   We came back with our bikes to find the rest of the series over the fourth of July weekend and actually were the first to complete the series!

Over the canal and through the woods to the Burning Broom we go!

The Hennepin Canal connects the Mississippi River with the Illinois River.  It opened in 1907 and reduced the shipping distance from Chicago to Rock Island by 419 miles.  Unfortunately, due to other technological advancements, the Hennepin Canal became obsolete before it opened.  It is registered on the National Register of Historic Places and is maintained as a state park.  A trail along the 75 mile canal allows people to hike, bike, ride horses, snowmobile, and letterbox!  Fishing is also popular along the canal.  We had a great time exploring the Hennepin Canal this summer and were excited to go back and see it in the winter.  A BIG bonus of our winter visit...NO BUGS!

We found the Burning Broom...

 Getting ready to stamp our logbook.

As you can see from our logbook, Hartx6, Pitties and Shorty are AMAZING carvers!  We can't thank them enough for our wonderful adventure in Oz!

Ready to go back into hiding.

Self-portrait.  Just playing around while Steve went to re-hide the Burning Broom.

When we got back to our hotel room, Steve decided to carve a stamp to leave in the American Pickers box, too.  I may need to run an carving intervention.  I'll let you know.

For the American Pickers box, Steve decided to carve a Belt Buckle Bullet stamp.  On one of the episodes, Mike and Frank (the pickers) found a Civil War military belt buckle that had a bullet stuck in it.  That was one lucky soldier...hopefully!

For our anniversary, we went to Shorty's Pizza and ordered a heart-shaped pepperoni pizza.  Pretty romantic!  Oh, and there may be a letterbox to be found close by!

If you're still interested, my next post will be the final day of our cutting edge adventure.


Jacqueline F. Graham said...

WOW!!! What a fun blog post! :-) Enjoyed reading about your adventure, loved all of your photos, and also had a ball reading about the carving event. Thank you for also sharing a photo of your logbook. Awesome! Wish that I could see some of those beautiful prints in person!

(((((Have a beautiful day)))))) and thank you for sharing.


Zoma said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jacqui. You have a beautiful day, too! :-)