Ammo Cans and Travel Bugs

CNN: Geocaching puts authorities on edge.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — In a game of global positioning called geocaching, the lowly treasure hunt has gone high-tech — but it can also be a game of risk when terrorism-sensitive authorities find the goods first. Scot Tintsman found that out when he stashed a green bucket under an Idaho highway bridge last September, intending to fill it with goodies for other players to find using Global Positioning System units. But before he could finish adding the requisite trinkets and log books and posting its GPS coordinates on the Internet, a bridge inspection crew found it. Rounding a corner on his motorcycle to finish rigging his cache, he was greeted by a barricade of police cars and a bomb squad.

In November, a geocache outside a police station in Provo, Utah, met a bomb squad robot as its fate. It contained a toy gun, holster and nightstick. In June, a bomb squad in De Pere, Wisconsin, used a robot-mounted shotgun to blast the lid off a suspicious-looking military ammunition box found in a park. It also turned out to be a geocache.

Geocaching.com has big stickers you can put on the side of an ammunition can saying "Official Geocaching.com Game Piece" to cover up the "M-16 300 rounds" or "Tracer bullets" sign. Ammo cans are perfect for caches, they’re already camouflage coloured, they’re waterproof, sturdy, animals can’t break in, and they’re readily available at surplus stores for cheap. The downside is they might get blown up.

We didn’t get out caching much last year. I would like to place a cache, but it’s hard finding a good hiding place. There are guidelines for placing caches on the site, and dozens of caches within twenty miles of my house. I knit a mini Mermaid sock from Lucy Neatby’s Cool Socks Warm Feet to use as a travel bug, it made it to Colorado before vanishing forever, hopping from cache to cache. Maybe it was just too cute to survive in the wild. My other travel bugs are Coco the Koala, languishing on in Perth since October, and On The Level, on walkabout in Canada. Hopefully they’ll get moving again soon. High tech equipment like a handheld GPS unit is great for getting a geek out into the fresh air.