I have been meaning to write about travel bugs & geocoins for some time now, because they really intrigue me. Some are beautiful, some are downright ugly but each and everyone has a story behind it and a journey to undertake.
What are travel bugs, geocoins and trackables? I hear you ask! These are generic names given to items of all shapes and sizes, that geocachers send out
“into the wild” or keep as a means of tracking their personal mileage. Each item is personal to the geocacher in some way and quite often has a story attached to it. They each have a unique tracking number etched on to a tag (or on the geocoin), geocachers then make a note of the number and can add logs on Geocaching.com. Some “owners” have created some great goals and stories for their trackables and I have a lot of fun discovering them and reading about their travels.
But none have been as interesting as Herman! My story of Herman begins on 18 Feb 2012 at Kent Cachers Best Bib and Tucker Meet in Maidstone, Kent. At our monthly meets we have the TB pot, where we all drop travel bugs & geocoins for swapping. At this particular meet there was a particularly unusual travel bug, placed by little-miss-naughty. At first we just assumed it was baby food for Little Car, how wrong we all were! This strange little tub was picked up by borrowed-wine at the end of the meet and was looked after for 10 days.
Then came the special Leap Day event organised by Sir-Lancelot, and the strange tub of mixture put in another appearance. Now after having read up on Herman I was adamant I was not going to go home with this strange looking liquid. Famous last thoughts! Before I knew what was happening Smif247 had picked up the mixture and informed me it was coming home with us.
Once home, smif247 had to find the detailed instructions on how to look after Herman, the most worrying of which was “You CANNOT put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead.”
First things first was to empty the tub into a mixing bowl, stir it and cover with a tea towel. That was when we first noticed the yeast smell. On reading the instructions we discovered that Herman would be getting hungry the following day and that “it” would need feeding.
Already we starting to feel quite responsible for this strange mixture bubbling away in the kitchen.
In no time at all Herman began to integrate himself into the family. All of us would check on his progress every day to make sure he was still bubbling. All of us panicking that Smif247 may end up killing the first edible trackable in Kent! Thankfully this did not happen. Smif247 looked after Herman as if he was his own child.
I must add however that we did not take him out on geocaching adventures with us (only logged him as visiting the nearest cache to home), unlike another cacher in our community who had been given a share of the first round of Herman!
Then day 9 arrived and we had to feed Herman again before splitting him into 4 equal portions. We had to give away two to friends, refill the TB container so Herman could continue his journey and prepare ourselves for cooking up our portion.
By this point Herman really had become another member of the household and it was quite a daunting feeling knowing that we would be cooking him and then eating him. Word of advice – don’t ever name a cake! It makes it harder to eat!
On day 10 we added all the final ingredients and set about cooking Herman: The German Friendship cake. Then the inevitable happened! The reviewer for our area started publishing brand new caches within 3 miles of our home location!!!
Argh! What to do? Easy really, we left Jellybeans behind with strict instructions on when to turn off the oven, so we could go out and grab the FTF”s. One of which was the Supermarket Sweep series that Smif247 is crazy about.
Upon our return and in need of some celebration (we grabbed 2 FTF’s), Herman was cooked and had cooled enough for eating with a well deserved cup of tea.
Our cake sitting didn’t quite end there. We still had another 2 days before we could pass on the travel bug mixture to another geocacher at the Kent mini meet, High Tea, and one of our friends who was to have one of Herman’s “babies” decided to go away for a few days. So Smif247 had to go through the whole process a second time. I personally think he really enjoyed it.
Herman is now well and truly on a journey from cacher to cacher. Last heard he was dropped off at the Surrey Cachers monthly meet and is now residing in the home of sidjoloo. I wish him all the best of luck traveling across the country and I hope he touches the hearts and homes of many, just as he did ours.
Auf Weidersein Herman!
UPDATE: Herman reached his destination July 2012