In January 2017 I had renewed my interest in the worldwide GPS treasure hunt game called Geocaching.
One of the game pieces are called trackables or travel bugs (TB) Trackables are any objects that have an assigned code from Geocaching HQ. The intentions for trackables are to be picked up by a geocacher from a geocache to be carried over to a different geocache and place in there for the next geocacher. This ‘travel’ is recorded by the player thus making it trackable.
The type of trackables include, but not limited to, dog tags, T-shirts, and Geocoins!
Geocoins are my favorite type of trackable. They usually are metal or wooden tokens minted in the similar fashion to a medallion, token, military challenge coins, etc for use in Geocaching.
BRIGADIER WALLACE MCHOOTS
In February 2017, I bought a #Steampunk themed owl geocoin. My girlfriend, Deana, encouraged me to create a persona for it with a backstory.
Greetings! I’m Brigadier Wallace McHoots, special owl attachment to Geocaching. As a bird of prey, I’m rather anxious to being freed from this cache-cage. How about some jet-powered excitement by logging my departure, and advancing me to the next available geocache that can accommodate my ample size? Keep calm and carry on, my fellow geocachers!~ Geocaching dot com
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have done the following. I hid my first geocache, Walk The Line, in the neighborhood with McHoots inside. I had the misplaced faith in the Geocaching Community to be true to the process, and be full of integrity.
For several months, and a thousand or so miles, the player known as sproutter took Brigadier for a tour. Meaning he would metaphorically ‘dip’ McHoots into a geocache for a visit. Then continue to retain him.
I even set up a Facebook Page to track his progress with posts and pictures.
All was well until April …
Geo Saloon & TB Hotel
sproutter dropped McHoots at a travel bug hotel called, Geo Saloon & TB Hotel, (GC2EG3F) a geocache specifically for exchanging trackables. Another geocacher player, ShebblesAtPlay, found the geocache but no trackables whatsoever in July, 3 months after sproutter.
I reached out to her through the messaging system asking if Brigadier Wallace McHoots was in the cache. She replied a month later, stating no, even after two visits.
My heart sunk.
It’s gone missing, presumingly forever. This confirmed that I shouldn’t have done this in the first place. I marked him missing on the website and moved on with my life.
On December 1, 2017 (Tabula Rasa Day in my world) I received this message …
Well, it’s time for a Christmas miracle… after your email, I got thinking about the group of kids that was with us on our stop at the milkshake shop that was also home of a TB Hotel. I asked my friend to ask the parents of the kids who had attended the hike and milkshake party with us, to see if anyone had grabbed a metal owl. Well… 4 months later… it has been located!!!! One of the kids in our group had grabbed it!! My friend was able to connect me with the mom of the boy who’d grabbed it and today I was able to make it to her place of employment and pick it up. I have it now, safe and sound. I will be taking it around for a visit here and there. I will send it on its way soon, but I wanted to let you know it is in good hands now and the owl will be flying around a bit. Merry Christmas!! 🙂ShebblesAtPlay Dec 1, 2017 6:09 PM
My reply was …
Oh my, Shebbles! This is the most AH-mazing news I’ve received in awhile – THANK YOU FOR IT. 😃 I’ve been telling my GC group that you’re my hero. For my Christmas “wish” I had a request. Once you and Brigadier (TB) had your fun of visits and travel, could you please return him to my house? ******, Lake Stevens WA 98258 – but ONLY WHEN you’re done – if it’s weeks, months, years, so be it but I kindly request this. Did you know I created a Facebook page for him? Search for Brigadier Wallace McHoots – we can post our story. At any rate, again, THANK YOU FOR THE SEARCH AND RESCUE! You’re a saint. Merry Christmas indeed. May you and your family be blessed.
From there I would continue monitor her activity with Brigadier on the Geocaching website, but didn’t directly interact with her.
TWO AND A HALF YEARS LATER
The global pandemic of COVID-19 rages on since December 2019. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has effectively shutdown the state, and it’s citizens. For fear of being forced into quarantine, my plans to find 2 marquee geocaches in California were shelved.
To stay in-state, my sister and I agreed to finish up the Wenatchee area from when we cherry picked a few Jasmer Challenge geocaches last summer.
The Springhill Suites Wenatchee was our hotel. A geocache was hidden in the parking lot by ShebblesAtPlay. Yes, the current guardian of Brigadier Wallace McHoots.
Once we recorded our find, she immediately hit me up via the messaging system asking me if I was in town and for how long. I answered, and she suggested that she return Brigadier Wallace McHoots.
She has had her fun but that it was time to follow through with our agreement thus displaying a ton of integrity. On the day of the meet up, she brought me cookies that were “made of Lysol and love”, and my beloved Geocoin.
In exchange I gifted her 2 unactivated travel bugs for my gratitude. We couldn’t shake hands, but the feeling was mutual to place a username and face.
Now that he has returned … I’ll place him in my Collection, and out of Inventory for safekeeping. Perhaps I’ll create a facsimile of him, and send that out in the world at large.