Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Adventures of Flat Chip

This weekend I put out a new Geocache and did some checking on one of my other ones - the Athena Travel Bug Hotel to make sure it was still in place and see what things had been left in it by folks who has found it so far. The thing had five different travel bugs in it which was really fun to see.

In the wild and wonderful world of geocaching, there is a tradition of "releasing" a travel bug, which means placing something that looks sort of like a military dogtag into a cache site for others to find. Each of these dogtags has a unique number engraved on it which can be tracked. The people who find them log on to the geocaching.com website and type in that code so they can record where they found it and leave a message if they care to. Then, they take that travel bug and leave it in a DIFFERENT cache someplace else. The people who originally released the things get to watch the record of all the places it goes. Sometimes the people who find them take pictures of the bug in whatever place where they found it or where they may take it to and post those pictures on the website as well.

Some travel bugs have a specific destination in mind. For instance, I found a Disney bug that wanted to get to Disneyland. Others just want to see how many different places they can go and how many miles they can cover.

The tags can be attached to anything. I've seen them on various toys or small items of interest. The one I picked up yesterday was one of the more creative I have found.

Apparently there is an after-school program going at a school in Maine where the kids have released a bunch of travel bugs and are watching to see where they go. They are learning geography and comparing distances to see whose bug goes the furthest. This one says: "My name is Flat Chip and I am learning about geocaching at Kennebunk Elementary School in Kennebunk, Maine! I hope to go all around the world! Thank you for helping me in my travels. I would love to see any pictures you might take of my journey too!"

When I logged on to the site for that travel bug I got to see pictures people had taken of it placed on a cannon at Gettysburg and a few other cool places it had been.

I personally think this is a fabulous idea. I'm already thinking of several young friends I have who might enjoy designing a travel bug and then being able to watch where it goes.

I went online and read a bit more about the group that is doing this project. Each year they get a new group apparently and start all over with a new set of bugs to release. Once the bugs are out in the world, they can keep tracking them for however long they remain in circulation. I can just imagine these kids growing up, going through high school and maybe even college, occassionally logging on to their website and seeing where their childhood travel bug has been.

I am planning to take this travel bug with me to Egypt when I go there next month. I intend to do a bit of geocaching around Sharm el Sheikh and hopefully will find a suitable spot to leave him there. Before leaving him, however, I will try to get some photos of the kid's bug at the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Then, maybe we'll take one of him on a camel going up Mt. Sinai. Once I drop him off in Egypt, it will be anybody's guess where he will travel to next.

This particular travel bug was released in May of this year. I will definitely be keeping an eye on it to watch where it goes in the months to come.

2 comments:

Pondering Pig said...

Sounds like so much fun! I've really got to get into geocaching. I have an ancient GPS unit someone gave me and I've used it mainly to get back to my starting place when I'm in a strange town and don't want to be bothered with maps.
The flat chip thing reminds me of garden gnome abduction, like in Amelie or at Gnomes Without Homes

papa herman said...

Belladonna-

i thot of this post when i was reminded (because i saw a marked bill) about "where's george."

for us non-geocachers who would like to track the whereabouts and walkabouts of something... where's george allows one to track the journey of one's money.

go to www.wheresgeorge.com to learn how.

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