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home : columns : dave fjeld
November 17, 2018

6/20/2018 8:46:00 AM
Travel bug makes it back to Windom in time for graduation
A decade ago, I paid a visit to Suzanne LaMaack's second-grade class to hear about the class's anticipated trip across the United States and maybe even the world - over the next 10 years.
Don't be alarmed if you think you missed the big story about second-graders gallivanting across the country for a decade. Actually they didn't; their "travel bug" did.
Travel bug, you ask?
A travel bug, or TB, is part of the GPS game of geocaching that the grandparents of LaMaack's second-grader, Chase Miracle, introduced to her classroom in the fall of 2007. Rob and Sharon Maricle of Fairbank, Iowa, started the TB for Chase's grade, so they could watch where the TB traveled over the next 10 years, with the hope that it would return to Windom in time for the class's graduation in 2018.
Despite some bumps along the way, it made it back last month - after traveling a whopping 23,938.4 miles in 10 years, 8 months.
So, let's back up.
The TB was a key chain-sized school bus with a geocaching tag attached that read: "Do not keep me! I am a Travel Bug. Help me travel from cache to cache. Visit www.travelbugs.com to learn about me and help me on my next adventure."
So, here's how the GPS, or "global positioning system," game worked: The TB was dropped in a cache, one of many set up all over the world by individuals and organizations. The locations of these caches are identified at the aforementioned website. GPS users use the location coordinates to find the caches.
Once the cache is found, the visitor may take something that's stored in the cache, but they also must leave something.
Then, they take an item to another cache and drop it off for someone else to take and carry to another cache location.
Through the website, the TB can be followed.
In the fall of 2007, LaMaack's class began following the TB school bus from Abby Park in Windom to Iowa, Utah and at the time of the story in April 2008, it was in Washington state.
So, what happened after that and how did it travel nearly 24,000 miles before returning to Windom in time for graduation?
Well, here's a quick recap:
After the story in 2008, the bus ventured all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio.
In June 2009, the bus traveled to Missouri and Arkansas before heading off to Wisconsin.
By October 2010, it was at Lovers Lane in Richmond, Ind.
In March 2011, a geocacher picked up the bus for a marathon three-state cache run before winding up in the Bayville School District in New Jersey and a month later it was at Jersey Shore, N.J., then all the way to Massachusetts.
In October 2013, the bus headed to Texas and by May 2015, the bug made a return visit to Windom. It traveled to Florida in February 2016. It made a couple of 1,300-mile trips to Alabama and South Dakota in September 2017 and February 2018 and by May 2018, the bus was back in Windom in time for graduation.
As I mentioned before, the TB had some bumps along the way. The bus was lost in February 2009, but found a month later.
Inexperienced geocachers lost the bus (possibly didn't log in its location), in September 2012, December 2012, August 2015 and one more time in March 2016.
In several cases, Chase's grandparents restarted the bus, but in one case the original bus was found in April 2014 at the same time the duplicate was in possession.
In any case, the class enjoyed following the travels of the TB bus - most or all of its 24,000 miles.
Although Suzanne retired a couple of years ago, she continued to follow the TB and provided some final details of the school bus's journey over the past decade.

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