Geocaching is a kind of scavenger hunt that you play with a GPS. Someone goes out and hides a container somewhere. The size of the container varies, everything from as small as a pencil eraser to as large as a big garbage can. Places where they are hidden? Almost everywhere, I think you would be very surprised how many are right under your nose (there are geocaches in the parking lots of Lowes, Kohl's, BJs Wholesale Club, and more right in Westminster near where I live). Frequently, they're found in parks and such. Inside the container is a log and sometimes some items to trade. The person who hid the geocache then goes online and puts the GPS coordinates of the location of the container online, where they can be searched and downloaded. It then is up to others to find the geocache using their GPS, and log the finds. It's fun!
When I said that the Geocaches sometimes contain "items to trade," frequently they are just that. Little toys and things for kids that can be traded in and out of the cache. However, some of these are loggable travelers called "Travel Bugs" or "Geocoins" which have a tracking code printed on or with them. If you pick up one of these, you go online to Geocaching.com and enter the code, and note that you found the item. Then, you drop it in another Geocache, and note that as well. Some of these traveling objects have goals to go to a certain place or do other things. It's all very entertaining.
Travel Bugs happen to be my favorite thing about Geocaching, and I'll seek out Geocaches simply to grab trackable items. I've also "released" a few of my own. Here's a quick roundup of what these trackables have been up to!
Travel 'The Bug' I
I released this Travel Bug, which is a picture of our cat, Labor Day Weekend 2009 in Ocean City, Maryland. This one started out slow, since the very first person to pick it up kept it until May of 2010 (near Pittsburgh), and then it wasn't picked up from there until October 2010. It's been moving along ever since, though, and has visited Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, and is currently in New York. He's traveled nearly 3,000 miles!
|Rusty the Dog with Travel 'The Bug' I, Oct 2010, PA|
|Travel 'The Bug' I with Isis the Cat, March 2010, PA|
|Travel 'The Bug' I with Seymour the Cat, Sept 2011, NY|
|Travel 'The Bug' I with Margaret the Cat, Sept 2011, NY|
I love how people take photos of their pets with my travel bugs!! :)
Travel 'The Bug' II
I released a second version of the same travel bug since I had two of the photo luggage tags of The Bug. This one was released in Manchester, Maryland (near my house) in October 2009. It traveled 1060 miles to New York and Ontario before going missing in Ohio sometime after September 2010 (not sure exactly when). Sadly, trackable items sometimes go missing for whatever reason. Sometimes, they show up again, so hopefully this one will turn up again soon. There were some cool photos taken of this one in November 2009.
Baltimore "I'm Crabby" Travel Bug
This one was a keychain of a crab saying "I'm Crabby" that I purchased in the airport and released as a travel bug in Kona, Hawaii in November 2009. It traveled 2800 miles to British Columbia, Canada, but was lost soon after in April 2010. A rather short life for this one, but like Travel 'The Bug' II, I hope it will turn up again.
China Good Luck Duck
One of the reasons that Travelers go missing is sometimes because they are just "too cute," so there's a geocaching guideline that things that seem like toys shouldn't be used. Well, I defied that, and released a rubber ducky as a travel bug in Hunt Valley, Maryland (near my work) in April 2010. This rubber ducky had been a party favor at a friend's Chinese New Year party, and I thought it would be fun to give it a goal of going to China. It hasn't become lost yet, and has had tons of adventures, traveling to West Virginia, then to British Columbia, Washington State (including a trip to Groundspeak Headquarters, home of Geocaching), Oregon, California, and is currently traveling around the state of Iowa. Its current travels add up to 5,586 miles and it's still going!
|Good Luck Duck at a Chinese restaurant in Victoria, BC, July 2010|
|Good Luck Duck in Chinatown, Vancouver, December 2010|
|Posing with other Chinese things, June 2011|
This is a coin in the shape of a US Flag. I took this one to a cache locally in Hampstead, Maryland and then took it to Indonesia, where I released it in Ubud, Bali. So, it has some artificially high mileage (since I started its mileage in the US and took it to Indonesia myself). Once in Bali, it was picked up by an Aussie and taken to Australia, where it went to South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. It's now in South Island, New Zealand, where it is being cared for by a high school class. Total Mileage so far: 14,939. It has a goal of coming back to the US someday, and I hope it makes it!
The Mystical Traveling Stone
I was trying to find something to use as a Travel Bug, and when going through old jewelry I found an old necklace with a charm that was a pink rock wrapped in silver metal. I cut it off of its string chain and made it into a Travel Bug. We took it to Indonesia with us, and then left it in a geocache in Hong Kong. It was picked up and taken to Austria, and then to the Czech Republic, where it has been moving around pretty regularly since March. Who knew the Czechs were so into Geocaching? It moves A LOT, but then in August it was placed in a cache that is the hardest level of difficulty and terrain (requiring climbing equipment to reach), so it will probably be there for a while. It has moved 7000 miles. Check out how much it has moved in the Czech Republic, mostly in and out of Prague:
|Woa, that's a lot of movement in the Czech Republic!|
|The Mystical Traveling Stone with a young cacher, Czech Republic, July 2011|