Where's Virgie?

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Virgie in Japan

In June, 2014, at the Cave Research Foundation expedition to Carlsbad Caverns, an SD card (a memory card from a camera) was found in some rocks next to the trail. This article describes our efforts to locate the owner and return the contents to their rightful place.


The find

One day, during Restoration Field Camp, in June of 2014, was spent walking along the visitor trails and stopping to remove coins and other debris from pools located near the trail. We also took this time to pick up any obvious trash that had been left on or near the trail. While searching, Alec Payne notice an SD card in the rocks. After some discussion as to whether it might be historic (it obvious was not), we removed it.

At first, I tried to read the card by loading it into my camera. The camera thought the card to be unformatted. Tammy's laptop has an SD reader on it; so, I used it when we got back to the research huts. It did not even recognized that the card existed; but, after cleaning and scraping the contacts, I was able to get the laptop to read the card sporadically.

The card contained a collection of photographs and videos from all over the word dated from 2003 or 2004 to December of 2005. The last few photographs are some dark images from inside Carlsbad Caverns. It seems that the card got full and the owner removed it (probably to replace it with a new card) and either dropped it or temporarily placed it in the rocks and forgot it or could not find it again. The card had been in the cave for 8 1/2 years before being found.

A first look

On first examination of the photographs and videos, a few things are noticed right away.

Most of the photographs on the card are named "Virgie in Japan" followed by an incrementing integer starting with 1. Most of the people shown in the photos are of an oriental race. The photographer appears to be not very skilled as there are: several shots of the ground near the photographer; a number of seconds long videos of the ground; poorly framed shots; and very dark shots in the caverns. The photographs are from all over the world and appear to document various trips to some disparate places. The photographs could be valuable to the owner and we reason that "she" would like to have them back.

Places and dates

Scrolling through the photos, a number of places that the photographs were taken can be identified. Matching that with the date from the camera setting, we can build this timeline.

  • Tokyo Japan: 10/05/2004 - 10/09/2004
  • Seoul Korea: 10/10/2004 - 10/11/2004
  • (time gap)
  • Unknown group at a house: 11/09/2004
  • (time gap)
  • Unknown Christmas: 12/23/2004
  • (time gap)
  • Unknown dinner: 03/20/2005
  • Turkey: 03/22/2005 - 03/29/2005
  • Singapore: 03/30/2005 - 03/31/2005
  • Unknown birthday: 04/02/2005 - 04/03/2005
  • (time gap)
  • Unknown Saguaro: 12/17/2005 - 12/18/2005
  • White Sands: 12/18/2005
  • Carlsbad Caverns: 12/19/2005

One woman appears in photographs from all of these places. We assume that she is Virgie.

Japan - Korea

The eight people from the Japan photos

The first photograph of the Japan and Korea series (21 photos in all, 15 from Japan) was taken on 10/5/2004 at 5:31 PM (camera time). It is identifiably Tokyo. A total of eight people appear in the series, usually in groups and posing for the camera. One photo shows all eight posing. It is assumed that they enlisted someone to take this photograph. The last photo from Japan was taken on 10/9/2005 at 11:39 PM camera time. Korea starts the next day.

The first Korea photo was taken on 10/10/2005 at 4:33 PM and shows two of the people, one man and one woman, not Virgie, seated in what may be a hotel. Three people appear in the Korea photos and all three were on the Japan trip. Several photos were taken at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul. The last two were taken at night with lighted trees and parked cars and individuals posing. Virgie appears in three of the six photos. The last photo was taken on 10/11/2005 at 6:03 AM according to the camera. It is an outdoor shot at night.