Travel Bug with 350 Million Miles to Return to Earth

Space Shuttle Discovery (source: NASA)

UPDATE 2/24/2011

The Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew launched into  orbit on February 24th, 2011.  The mission was originally scheduled for late 2010. According to NASA, the official mission rockets the shuttle toward the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver a module and critical spare parts. The mission will also make geocaching history, again.

NASA Astronaut and geocacher Michael Barratt (source: NASA)

Astronaut Michael Reed Barratt is the flight-surgeon on the mission.  Barratt is also a geocacher.

According to geocacher, cosmonaut and video game developer Richard Garriott (Lord British), Barratt will spend part of his free-time in the extreme environment of the International Space Station going geocaching.

Garriott tells Geocaching.com, “The mission takes the NASA orbiter to the International Space Station and the highest geocache in existence. In the two years that bug has waited on-board the ISS, it has sure made some distance!”

Garriott contributed $30 million to the Russian Space program for a seat aboard a Soyuz rocket bound for the space station. While on the space station he hid the geocache  “International Space Station” (GC1BE91) and placed a Travel Bug inside it.

Richard Garriott

The ISS and the Travel Bug placed onboard travel at 17,500 miles an hour. So far the Trackable has moved more than 350 million miles since Garriott placed it in October of 2008.

Garriott met Barratt during preparation for his trip to the ISS. According to Garriott, “I know Mike from my training time in Star City [Russia] as he was training there too. In fact, he was one of the very first Astronauts /Cosmonauts I met in Russia.”

Garriott says Barratt already had one chance to grab the Travel Bug but missed it: “He has already flown once between the time I left the bug and this flight. He even saw the bug, but he was not a geocacher at the time, and so my hidden in plain sight worked!”

Travel Bug aboard the ISS

Barratt has a rare second chance to grab the Travel Bug.  And Garriott says that Barratt is going to take it: “Now that he is a geocacher, he recognized the item immediately! I have spoken with him about his upcoming flight and intentions to recover the well traveled bug.”

Garriott hopes the Travel Bug takes a final trip to his doorstep, “I do indeed hope that the bug finds its way back to me, that would be a real thrill.” Although he hopes that it experiences some more extreme conditions first: “I think Mike may have it visit the NASA undersea lab before it finishes its exotic journey to the heights and depths humanity can take it.”

Watch the Lost & Found video below showcasing Garriott placing the ISS geocache.  The video also details Garriott hiding the lowest geocache in the world.  He placed the geocache “Rainbow Hydrothermal Vents” (GCG822) in 2002. It sits 2300 meters below the surface of the ocean.


The Reverse Geocaching Puzzle Box – Geocaching.com’s Lost & Found Video

Inventor Mikal Hart shifts geocaching in reverse.  Hart’s “Reverse Geocaching Puzzle Box” is a locked box that needs you to deliver it to a secret location.  The box won’t unlock until you take it to this pre-programmed destination.

The GPS-enabled box presents users with a deceivingly simple button and a small display.  You press the button and the display reads a distance. Players only have 50 chances to move the box to the correct location before the box locks forever.

There are many more geocaching adventures. Take a look at all the Lost & Found videos here.


Going Too Far Behind the Scenes

I hope you’re blown away by the Lost & Found teaser video we posted in this blogging blast.  Literally, I hope hurricane force winds of amazement shifted you from your seat in jaw-dropping anticipation of what’s to come.  Ok. I’m just hearing this now. Alright.  This just in. Our lawyers say we’re not liable for any “shifting,” femoral breakage or injuries incurred while watching said video, or “hurricane force winds of amazement.”

Where were they when I almost snapped my femur on a shoot in Texas?

Now, traditional behind the scenes blogs may not take you to the moment before near-disaster or a pic of how  *not to win friends in Texas.  Here’s a little look (way too far) behind the scenes of our latest adventure shooting some of the stories you’ll see in the Lost and Found series.

These pics are just a sampling of our (mis)adventures.

Our videographer Reid interviewed Richard Garriott on the tower containing his YET-TO-BE-RELEASED cache.
A quick way to win over the locals in Texas? Drive a rental with New Jersey plates.
That's a picture of... my shirt. The significance? It's about a nano-second before I nearly fell off the tower at Richard Garriott's cache. But years of (below average) athletic conditioning kicked in and I righted myself with only a muffled shriek. I'd like to thank my High School tennis coach.

I wish they had geocaching class in my 5th grade. We had square dancing. Reid works the camera angles to capture kids learning topics like coordinates, distance calculations and fun. We later went outside geocaching.

There are 15 stories in the works right now with more added each week.  Hold onto your chair because we’re off to another round of Lost & Found shoots next week.   This time we’re headed to Colorado, bound for Denver and Fort Collins.  We’ll be in California after that.  Any ideas for great geocaching stories in either of those states? Let us know!


The Four Types of Geocaching Texans Who will Rule the Universe

I’ve thought about how to rule the universe since I started writing this sentence. I’m therefore an expert. I believe it takes only four types of people. (Are you writing notes?) 1) The Genius 2) The Champion 3) The Mad Scientist and 4) People Who Really Really Like Each Other

We’re traveling around the world shooting videos showcasing the best of geocaching. On a trip to Texas to shoot video for Geocaching.com’s Lost and Found stories, we met all four types of people. Watch out universe.

The genius is Mikal Hart. He invented a device that’ll change the face of geocaching by putting the game in reverse. Hard to imagine? It’s not for a genius, and soon it won’t be hard to imagine for the rest of us.

The Mad Scientist is Richard Garriott, the best type of mad scientist.  His innovative video games like Ultima kept us entertained and on the edge of madness for decades. He not only went to extremes, like space and the ocean floor, to place the highest and lowest caches. Garriott is also about to launch one of the most imaginative (and potentially frightening) caches on earth.

The Champion is known as Mrs. B. She’s a school teacher in McKinney, Texas. Mrs. B is using geocaching to teach her 5th graders about coordinates, distance, geography, math and interactive learning. The kids love her and learning, and that’s tough.

The final and possibly most important type of people are those that really really like each other. Dillar and Karen are those people. Karen proposed to Dillar by using stealth and their favorite hobby, geocaching. Dillar unsuspectingly opened the cache “All the little things I love” and by the time the cache closed, was engaged.

Yeah, watch out universe they’re all in Texas. Thankfully I believe they don’t want the administrative hassle of running the universe. Imagine the paperwork, the meetings, the power mongering. If you want to watch their stories (and others) you don’t have to wait long. Lost and Found launches this May.