While composing a post about our Rails to Trails Travel Bug a couple of month as ago I wrote, "This one is a bit cute. I expect it will go into someone's private collection before it travels too far." How prophetic was that?
We released it on June 8th of this year, and on August 3rd I received this email: "Found the tag only on the ground next to a nearby but different cache than this is listed for (was near Hanging Out at Lake Ann.) Is it supposed to be attached to something? Maybe I can rescue it? Let me know."
So it lasted less than two months.
I did some detective work and here's what I can piece together.
July 21: A geocacher whom we know personally and trust, dropped the TB in FTF Hounds MN Style - timewellspent.
July 22: The very next day, four DNFs were posted on that cache. I can't tell from the logs if they were all caching together that day, but certainly were in parties of two and two. These were experienced geocachers with 200 to 500 finds each. I find it hard to believe that four good geocachers would post DNFs if the cache were there. It appears that the cache was gone that day.
August 2: Two geocachers post finds on FTF Hounds, but neither report the travel bug. The cache has obviously been placed back in its hiding spot, minus the TB and possibly other SWAG.
Here's the log entries from Hanging out on Lake Ann, a cache just 900 feet away from FTF Hounds.
July 27: Very well done. Some effort went into this one. May need some re-design. Found part of cache on ground, and TB. Signed log, and returned to original configuration.
August 2: Whole cache assembly was on the ground and open, needs some re-engineering I guess. I found a travel bug tag on the ground but no bug.
So here's my theory. FTF Hounds was found and removed by muggles, only to be returned at a later date. Maybe they read the description inside, logged onto geocaching.com, and figured out what a geocache was - but they didn't do enough investigating to learn what a travel bug is. Once realizing that geocaching is a game, they replaced the cache, but not the TB.
And I think I see a pattern developing. The FTF Hounds geocache is located just 639 feet from the now archived, My Favorite Cache Container, from which our Raceway Woods Christmas Golfer disappeared. (click on photo to enlarge)
Someone in that area is making a habit of pilfering the contents of geocaches. All the caches are owned by the same person. I'm going to contact him and see if he has noticed the pattern.