One of the cool “add-ons” to geocaching are Travel Bugs. Travel Bugs (or TB in shorthand) are items that move from cache to cache. You purchase a travel bug, which includes a set of dog tags that are stamped with a unique serial number. One tag you attach to an object of some sort, one you keep. When you register your TB online, you can give it a mission – like “take photos of me in front of lighthouses” or just release it into the “wild” and see where it goes. You drop it into a cache and another geocacher will come along, pick it up, read the description of it, and presumably move it along to another cache closer to it’s goal.
I bought Amanda a couple travel bugs for Christmas 2005, and since we went to Disney World the next month we decided to make one of them a Disney Bug. We bought a keychain, attached the tag to it, and dropped it into our cache when we returned home.
It promptly disappeared, as often happens with travel bugs. An “offline cacher” (someone who geocaches, but doesn’t log their finds online) either picked it up, or someone “muggled” the cache (a non-geocacher found the cache and took it’s contents), or someone simply forgot to log it. For two months, there was no trace of our Disney Bug. Then, miraculously, one day a cacher logged it, saying he found it in a cache near Cleveland! It was saved and sent on it’s way.
By July, our Disney Bug made it’s way back to Orlando, and a caching family took photos of it (and them) in all four Disney parks.
Since then, not much has happened with the bug. It had been meandering it’s way back up the east coast, waiting for a determined cacher to pick it up and move it further west so it could go to Disneyland. Yesterday, though, we got quite a shock. It’s always interesting to get a notification email saying your travel bug has moved, and then see where it is at the moment. Amanda and I both did a double take yesterday when we saw it’s new location:
Our travel bug was in South Africa?!? How? Why? We read the note that the cacher wrote, “Will take a pic in front of the Castle in Cape Town South Africa.” Ah! They decided to take a little bit of liberty with our instructions to take a photo of it in front of each of the Disney castles and get a photo in front of a real castle. The photo hasn’t yet been uploaded, but we’re certainly looking forward to seeing it!
Geocaching.com will automatically create a map in Google Earth of where your bug has been. This one is pretty wild, because you can’t even fit the starting and ending points on the map at the same time.
We weren’t originally intending for our bug to go overseas, at least not until it had hit the U.S. parks first, but since it’s now halfway around the world, maybe it’ll get a chance to go to Paris, or Hong Kong, or even Tokyo. One thing is for sure – it’s certainly travelling further away from home than either of us ever have. If we win the lottery, I think it would be fun to try and catch up with it. Can’t decide where to go on vacation? Follow the bug! I bet you’d see some interesting places!