Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Planting a travel bug

For those of you not familiar with Geocaching, let me give a quick overview. Back in the early days of the Internet and GPS (May, 2000), a guy decided to try planting an item in the woods behind his house and posting the geographic coordinates online. The idea caught on and within a few weeks, others were hiding their own containers using nothing but GPS coordinates to guide others to the hidden items. (Read the complete history here)

Today, it is an incredibly huge activity enjoyed by millions. There are nearly 3000 hidden caches in the Orlando, Florida area alone. Here's how it works: You log onto geocaching.com and look up caches close to your location. You program the coordinates into your GPS device, and set off. Once you find one, you write your name in the included log book, then re-hide the cache. When you get home, you record your find online. Some of the bigger caches include small trading items as well. You take something and leave something. Pretty straight forward. Shelsy and I have found 26 so far. Some have been as big as Rubbermaid containers, others as small as film canisters (or smaller!)

Travel bugs go along with the trading concept, but they take it a step further. They allow one item to be tracked. When someone finds a travel bug, they remove it from the cache it was in and place it in another, logging the move online. The item's progress is tracked on the website for all to see. Travel bugs can either have specific goals in mind (to reach the west coast, to travel over 1000 miles, etc.)

We purchased a travel bug tag that we attached to a Disney key chain. We'll be sending it out in Pennsylvania tomorrow with the goal of returning to us in Florida!

Once we've set it free, I'll post a link here. It could take months or years to make its way from cache to cache before finally reaching Orlando. I'm pretty excited about it...we'll see how it goes!

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