Friday, September 26, 2008


( MS )
Burned nearly beyond recognition,the geocache had been hidden in the forest when a wildfire burned through the hiding place. The next geocacher went to the coordinates and found some barely recognizable, mostly destroyed, trade items and no log book.
At first they thought that the travel bug had been “moved on”, before the fire. They were wrong. Looking closely at what was left, the cacher found a travel bug dog tag, with melted and charred, “stuff”, on it. When the tag number was checked at the on line web site, they discovered that it was indeed the travel bug. Much cleaning followed and they had the remains of a Yellow Jeep Travel Bug. The dog tag was stainless steel so it held up fairly well, although permanently discolored from the intensity of the fire.
Astonished, the geocacher told friends and posted the findings on the travel bug’s web page at WWW.GEOCACHING.COM. A restoration project was started with a number of geocachers pitching in to restore and return the travel bug back into circulation.
Origonally issued by The Jeep Company and sent out to Geocachers, it was now nearly unrecognizable.
In its new configuration, the dog tag would become a skate board for the “remains” to ride on, with a subsitute Yellow jeep attached by the dog tag chain. Here is a link to the photo of the finished project: photo
I had read about it, thought it was cool, and, I wanted to get my hands on it ! I wanted to see it up close and think about this very tough little travel bug and how it had somehow survived a forest fire.
When it was finaly back in circulation, caching friends from Oklahoma had it in their possesion. I was to finaly get a look at this often talked about travel bug.
The Oklahoma friends were intending to go to the “Lock Yer’ Hubs” geocache in the Arkansas outback, to send the YJTB on his way.
Designed as a Jeeper’s type of geocache, it somehow seemed fitting for the restored YJTB to pass through the “Lock Yer’ Hubs” cache.
End of the story ? Nah, ya’ know bettern’ that.
Jeeps and geocaching seem to be a good match. Quite a few cachers drive jeeps daily as well as on caching runs.
Enter into the picture a dedicated geocaching team from Tennessee.
Kate and Dick who use the geocaching screen name of GeoJeep.
Traveling to Vandervoort, Kate and her Daughter went to retrieve the YJTB from the Lock Yer’ Hubs cache. As they were trying to walk in to the cache location, darkness overtook them and the attempt was called off.
A week passes with Kate and daughter trading emails and Kate talking to Husband Dick about just how close they were to getting their hands on the TB.
Online research and reading, whets their appetite for this elusive travel bug.
They make the decision, they will drive from Tennessee to Arkansas, again.
Arriving in Mena, they spend the night, driving up on Talimena scenic drive to watch the sunset.
Early the next morning they call and I agree to meet them at the Vandervoort picnic ground.
We stop at several caches along the way and they find each with their Magellan GPS reciever.
We are in for a surprise when we get to the road to the Lock Yer’ Hubs cache. It has been been closed off by the USFS as part of a program that has been planned for some time. The road is bermed off and has been carefully seeded with a good ground cover already evident.
The buldozer had pushed out a micro cache that marked the waypoint, so I stay to try to find or replace it. As the GeoJeep team pushes out on foot, I locate the cedar tree the cache had been hidden in, and holler after them. “Hey I found it” !
I had replaced the micro cache and reshot the coordinates when I herd a triumphant yell in the distance. Dillon the retired drug dog perked his ears up and looked at me as if to say, “you think they are alright?”
After a few minutes the GeoJeep’s, Kate and Dick, came up the trail grinning from ear to ear, saying, ” well, no luck, it had been picked up already !” I replied, ” that yell and your grin say different !”
We laughed and took photos of the “trophy travel bug”.
By now it is after noon and we decide that the Dixieland Cafe in Vandervoort is calling to us pretty hard. The friday special fish dinner is sounding better by the minute. A short description of the hush puppies and green tomato rellish, does it. We are off to the Dixieland Cafe.
Good food, geocaching tales and jeep talk, round out the days activities.
On the drive home I think, “A Ouachita Mountain Bug Hunt ! Whoda’ thought it !” “That Yellow Jeep Travel Bug may develop some kind of a following”, I know I will be watching it’s travels via the internet web site. Here is the link:

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