In 2009 I was living in Ohio and a member of the Miami Valley Flyfishers (MVFF). I was active in the flytying program. That year several things happened almost coincidently.
** Dave Oertel, a past president of MVFF, got us involved in Project Healing Waters. What a great program. I participated.
** I was planning a BIG RV trip through western US for 2010.
** I began "Blogging" using Google Blogger – a tool that at that time was far less developed and at times infuriating.
** I was starting to get involved in Geocaching – a worldwide scavenger hunt game using a GPS receiver to find hidden caches of trinket treasure. Geocaching employed the concept of a Travel Bug using an alpha/numeric dog tag as a tracking device.
** I discovered Kirk Werner's three book series for kids using twelve original cartoon characters to introduce them to flyfishing. The books' central character was "Olive the Woolly Bugger". I bought the set as a Christmas gift for my granddaughter. I read them myself and got acquainted with all twelve characters.
Then came the big idea. Create twelve geocaching travel bugs, using Kirk Werner’s twelve characters, to carry the Project Healing Waters message around the country. I would start each travel bug by placing them in geocaches at various locations during my big RV trip in 2010. We would also create a blog to record and publish the club's activities in Project Healing Waters including snippets on the travels of the twelve travel bugs.
"Geocaching, Blogging, Travel Bugs, Olive the Woolly Bugger, Kirk Werner ????? WTFO" When I brought the idea to the club Board of Directors, I got the visual and verbal response of "We haven't a clue what you are talking about. Frankly, we don't care. Go outside and play." So I did.
I contacted Kirk Werner and his publisher and received permission to use the characters in the manner I just described. I created the blog. I purchased twelve Travel Bug Dog Tags from Groundspeak, the owner of the geocaching website. I rounded up twelve 35mm film canisters and I created twelve similar single sheet messages about Healing Waters and MVFF to go into the canisters.
In the summer of 2010 Michelle, our dog Bailey, and I took our trip. Our home on the road was our 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 truck pulling a pop-up camper. We travelled from Ohio to Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Michigan. The trip included two weeks in West Yellowstone where I attended the annual IFF conference. During the trip I placed eleven of the twelve travel bugs. Number 12 never got launched. I gave it to someone to launch for me and it disappeared. The whole trip covered 11,000 miles and took 80 days.
Over the next two years, I monitored the progress of my twelve prodigies on the geocaching website. Some of them had extensive travels and the log entries indicated many fly fishermen found the travel bugs and moved them along. I got an email every time there was any recorded activity. There were a lot of messages of appreciation in the logs. The whole thing made me feel good. A few of the travel bugs never made it out of the starting gate. It is impossible to know whether there was no physical movement or just failure to log the movement on the geocaching website.
By 2012 all activity had ceased and I considered all travel bugs missing. Meanwhile nobody in the club had made any posts on the blog and queries indicated no interest in continuing. So I considered the project over and I shut down the blog.
As a side note, our 2010 trip changed our life. We have sold our stix and brix house and now travel the US full–time in our 2011 Keystone Cougar High Country Fifth Wheel pulled by that same 2010 Dodge Ram 1500. We winter in Titusville, FL and take summer adventures somewhere else in the US.
Early in 2014, while wintering in Florida, I learned that the Travel Bug numbers belong to me FOREVER!. So when a Travel Bug goes missing, I can recall the number and reissue it. WOW! I spent most of 2014 doing just that. I decide this is my project and I do not want it to die. I dragged all twelve of the numbers back to my inventory. I recreated the travel bugs – this time as a laminated business card attached to a duplicate dog tag. The front is an image of the Werner character and the back is the Healing Waters message. On 30 Dec 2014 I relaunched the last of the twelve in Colorado. All twelve are now out on the road for the second time carrying the Healing Waters message.
I have also developed a section within my own travel blog devoted to this project. That is what you are looking at now.
You can see a lot by clicking on any of the links below. By getting into geocaching.com you can read all of the log entries for each of the travel bugs from their original launch. Unfortunately you have to sign up if you are not a member. No big deal, basic membership is free. Then select Play/Find Trackables/Enter Tracking Code. These are the tracking numbers for the twelve travel bugs: TB3E3X5, TB3E3Y2, TB3E3X7, TB3F6AD, TB3F69B, TB3F6AW, TB3F69V, TB3F69Z, TB3F6AV, TB3F6A3, TB3F6A5, TB3F6A0.
MEET THE CHARACTERS
TB3F69V – Andy the Adams
TB3F6AD – Billy the Blue-Wing Olive
TB3F6AW – Ernie the Elk Hair Caddis
TB3F6AV – Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear
TB3E3X5 – Mr. Muddler the Muddler Minnow
TB3E3X7 – Olive the Woolly Bugger
TB3F69B – Pete the Prince Nymph
TB3F69Z – Polly the Partridge & Orange
TB3F6A3 – Randal the Royal Coachman
TB3F6A5 – Sally the Yellow Sally
TB3F6A0 – Stan the Stimulator
TB3E3Y2 – Zachary the Purple Zonker
Pictures of all of us – just pictures
LINKS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT
Geocaching (and other GPS games)
Project Healing Waters
Miami Valley Fly Fishers