Today is Jody's birthday, he would have been twenty-five years old. Jennifer and I thought for a long time about what to do in honor of his birthday this year, and she came up with something very unusual that Jody would have really loved.
Traveling was really important to Jody. As he reached adulthood he was thrilled to have the opportunity to freely travel the U.S. and even see different countries as part of his work.
He planned on doing a lot more travelling after he got out of the Army and ultimately wanted to go to Jakarta, Indonesia to visit the city where he was born.
Jakarta was a completely foreign concept to Jody and he often wondered about it when he was growing up. It was an interesting part of his story that stood out, so people always asked him, 'What's it like in Jakarta? or 'Can you say something in Indonesian for us?' But he had no memories of his life there.
Because he was still in the Army at the time he wasn't able to take the big trip to Jakarta with Jennifer and I in 2008. But during his first phone call to me afterwards he was full of questions and happy but tentative excitement about this part of his history finally being within reach.
THE TRAVEL BUG
In honor of Jody's love for travel Jennifer came up with the (really awesome) idea of putting something that's called a 'travel bug' out in his honor.
A travel bug is a fun thing in geocaching that's basically an object that you put out that travels all over the country or the world via other people that play geocaching.
You put the travel bug in a cache and someone takes it to another cache, and in this way travel bugs go all over the world step by step. You can track it's progress online and also see any stories people have left about their adventures of moving it to a new cache. And you can even set specific goals of different places you'd like the travel bug to visit.
When Jennifer first told me about her idea I knew it was perfect and something that Jody would have totally loved.
We chose a souvenir from Jakarta as the item for the travel bug, it's a hand made keychain that has a picture of old-town Jakarta on one side:
and Jody's name on the other side:
But now that Jennifer and I had the travel bug we needed to come up with a cache to put it in. No cache seemed just right so we decided to create a brand new cache in memory of Jody and have his travel bug start out it's journey there.
Though we'd both done a lot of geocaching neither of us had ever started or hid a cache before, so we asked our friend Elijah to help us since he knows all about that kind of thing.
Elijah was really cool about it and got the ball rolling by giving us a cache and some prizes to put in it.
Strange thing, the first cache he picked up had the letters JW (which are Jody's initials) in stickers on the inside of it.
Now we had to find a place to hide the cache. So Jennifer, Elijah, his two kids, and I set off for an afternoon in the snowy woods to look for a good spot.
It was a little cold out...
...but we had fun anyway :)
We trudged through the deep snow and finally found a spot we thought was perfect.
It's out of the way but won't be impossible for people to find.
After finding the spot the first step is to start the GPS so that we can have coordinates to help people navigate to the cache.
And while the GPS triangulates we ...er ...actually Elijah hides the cache.
Now that the cache is safely hidden the stage is set for geocachers to seek it out.
We had lots of fun hiding the cache. But it was only a small adventure compared to the one we hope Jody's travel bug will have on it's way to reaching it's ultimate goal: visiting Jakarta, Indonesia.