Skip to Content
Register · Login

A Letterboxing Community

Atlas Quest

All About Ryan

Ryan with a drink
A picture of Ryan, living the good life in Central America

Have you ever wondered who this bizarre person is? Where did he come from? Why does he inflict bad jokes upon the world? This is a man who’s eaten bull testicles just to brag about it. What motives could this man have?

I began my letterboxing career at the age of 25. It was April 2001. I had received a free issue of Backpacker magazine. How could I refuse? And in it, I caught a small blurb about this strange hobby called letterboxing. It was a fascinating concept, and that weekend I ran off to the Columbia River Gorge to hunt down the beautiful Multnomah Falls letterbox. I failed.

But I don’t give up easily. I headed up the road a couple more miles to hunt down the Horsetail Falls letterbox, and this time I succeeded. I was officially hooked.

In the course of the next year, I hunted down nearly 200 letterboxes and planted about 80 others for the thrill of torturing the rest of the letterboxing community on long, arduous trails that only a psychopath could enjoy. A couple were planted in easy locations to give them a false sense of security, but they’d have to work if they wanted them all.

I grew up in San Luis Obispo, California, so you’ll see a large number of the boxes I’ve planted near there. I visit the area often to see friends and family, but my letterboxing career began after I arrived in Portland, Oregon. Thus, you’ll find most of my letterboxes within an hour or two drive of Portland. Anywhere else I’ve planted boxes I’ve just happened to pass through along the way. And now I live in Seattle, but I don’t plant letterboxes quite as much as before.

Vital Statistics

Name: Ryan Carpenter
Age: 47
Birthdate: July 14, 1975
Favorite Color: Light blue
Favorite Food: Ice cream
Motto: It wasn’t me!

Below are some commonly asked questions about myself:

Did you really eat bull testicles?

Sure did. They were sliced up so the general shape wasn’t that obvious, though, and if you can think of other things, it tasted much like steak!

You really ate bull testicles, though?



Because I could. It was my second night in Central America, and you can read all the nitty-gritty details about my Central American adventures. The story of the bull testicles would be in volume 1.

What’s the story between you and Amanda from Seattle?

Does it matter? You guys will spread rumors regardless of the answer! Don’t think we haven’t heard the gossip behind our backs! However, she’s a wonderful, charming girl, and all you other guys will just have to take a number until she sees the error of her ways and figures out there are better men than me! =)

How do you get all this time to travel around the world letterboxing?

As software engineer by trade, I was laid-off with the economic downturn back in 2001. With my war chest in savings, I’ve been traveling to distant lands, hiding and finding letterboxes, and generally enjoying my semi-retirement, at least until I run out of money. At this rate, without a rich benefactor, I may have to settle down and get a job again sometime in 2006. *sniffle* *whine* [Editor’s note: As you may have noticed, 2006 has come and gone, but Ryan has managed to squeak out a living from Premium Memberships for the time being.]

So you know Spanish fluently now, after having lived in Central America for four months, right?

Nope. I can get by with it, and the locals there tell me my Spanish is very good compared to most gringos, but I’m still a long way from fluency.

Participants from the Blue Lake gathering
Members of the hastily organized Great Blue Lake Gathering

Did a grizzly really bite you in the butt while you were backpacking?

I have no idea where this story originated from, but it’s absolutely untrue!

Did you really kill a grizzly with your bare hands?

I don’t like to brag, so I refuse to answer this question. ;o)

Do you really have an autographed picture of Jack—the one of Jack In the Box fame?

Doesn’t everybody? We’ve been good friends for years. He’s the biggest goofball one could ever meet.

What one word best describes you?

Gringo. With a capital G.

What’s your best piece of trivia that nobody knows about?

The word for wives and the word for handcuffs is the same word in Spanish: esposas. Who said learning a foreign language was hard? =)

When is your new book, Letterboxing For the Complete Idiot, due out?

You dunce. There is no such book, but it may not be a bad idea....

That’s all the questions I have time for now, but if you have others you’d like me to answer, by all means, contact me!

Carpe diem!

— Ryan