Friday, July 31, 2015

On Safari

I've been recently reading about the Minnesota dentist who went to Africa on Safari and the killing of Cecil the Lion.  The hue and cry over this has been just short of amazing in my opinion.  I have yet to weight in on the subject very heavily, mainly because what I say will little matter in the grand scheme of things.  I've found, many times over, that once people set their opinion about something, there are two chances that you will have to sway them to change their opinion - Slim and None.

Now, my opinion is this.  I was dismayed that the man chose to kill a magnificent beast such as Cecil the Lion.  I do not condemn hunters.  In the past, I've eaten elk and goose that were hunted.  Therein lies the difference in the two.  If a person is hunting and will eat the meat, then I'm all for it as long as the hunting is done humanely.  To hunt, just for a trophy, I feel is despicable.  We already know that we are superior to animals due to our superior intellect, but to take a life of another animal, just so you can mount their head on the wall I feel is just wrong.  That being said, I do feel that keeping the head of an elk, or deer as a trophy is fine, if you're also going to eat the animal.  

Now the uproar over this incident is really interesting. Take a look at the photo I've added to this  entry.  The photo is not mine and is in the public domain.  One of our most beloved presidents, one who is on Mt. Rushmore, was an avid hunter.  Theodore Roosevelt went on an extensive African safari following the end of his presidency.  Roosevelt spent about a year in Africa, collecting specimens for the Smithsonian and other museums.  Collecting specimens basically means shot and killed.  Roosevelt, in a year's time, was responsible for the death of over 1100 animals, including over 500 big game animals.  17 lions, 11 elephants and 20 rhinoceros were among the harvest, including 4 white rhinos.  Today, there are only 4 Northern white rhinos in existence anywhere in the world.

I find it rather contradictory that Roosevelt, who preserved many of our national monuments, including the first national monument, Devils Tower, and helped start the conservation movement in our country, could go on this kind of hunting expedition.  Yet, one could argue that his collecting of all these animals might result in better knowledge of the animal because now those specimens are displayed in museums in many different places.  Roosevelt was quoted as saying, "I can be condemned only if the existence of the National Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and all similar zoological institutions are to be condemned."

Had Roosevelt gone on his safari in today's Internet climate, he would have been vilified.  I doubt that many people out there know about this chapter of his life. I don't like this aspect of one of my hero's life, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it, because it's in the past.  This is part of his life that balances out some of the good he did during his life.  All people are like that.  

I used to revere Thomas Edison when I was younger.  The more I know about Edison, the more I've come to know that Edison wasn't a very nice person.  But that's beside the point.  Are we going to condemn a man for one incident?  Even if it's a series of incidents, are we going to condemn this man for all eternity?  If that's the case, where's the condemnation of Theodore Roosevelt?

In reality, the uproar over this incident has buried something else.  Social media has excoriated this dentist and in the process has basically forced him to shut his place of business.  Perhaps he can afford to do that, seeing how he could afford $55,000 to bag a lion trophy in Africa.  I would be willing to bet that all of his employees, however, can't afford this time off.  Where's the uproar over that?  And don't try to justify it by saying that they worked for a guy who kills for sport.  Do you know what your employer does in his or her off time?  Probably not.  Think about that for awhile, especially the next time another firestorm runs rampant via social media.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Photo Blogging Challenge (June 2015): Anything goes

So this is a little late this month, but I've been waiting until the photos publish in the Sharpshooters International Photography Club's weekly album.  Surprisingly, June was majorly busy, since usually it's less busy, being my first month of summer vacation.  I had things planned, most of which got done and that just kept me from a lot of things, but the one thing that I really wanted to do, I got done.  P.J. has his monthly photo challenge, so here's the story of how I checked off something off of my Bucket List.

Because my daughter is getting married in July, I figured the best time for me to get out on my annual camping trip would be to go in June before it got really busy.  My wife doesn't camp, my older two aren't around anymore and my youngest had school and Jury duty about the only time I could go camping, so I emailed a geocaching friend of mine and talked with him about a geocaching road trip.  The trip had several purposes.  Get as many different caches as possible while having fun, get a couple of specific caches for challenges that I was working on and climb to the top of Mt. Lassen in Northern California.

Several of the geocaching challenges I've been working on involve finding caches on each page of a particular atlas.  The DeLorme atlases are really detailed maps and people have put together specific state atlas challenges for almost every state in the country.  California actually has three challenges because there's a state atlas, a Northern California atlas and a Southern California atlas.  Living in Southern California, I'm closest to completing that one, but I'm getting very close to the other two as well due to my extensive traveling within the state over the last fifteen years.

So my friend Craig and I worked out a plan to travel up the eastern corridor of California up to Lassen Volcanic National Park and then come down through the great valley of California and home.  Highway 395 runs up through Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  It's pretty hot in the summer, but it was early June, so it wasn't really bad.  We actually ended up partially in Death Valley National Park for a part of the run, but we didn't stay, just sort of traveled through.  

One particular geocache we ended up finding was Have You Found What You're Looking For?  And yes, go ahead and start humming or singing along, because this took us to THE Joshua Tree featured on the cover of the U2 album.  Unfortunately, the Joshua Tree is dead as evidenced in the first shot, but it's become a shrine to U2 out in the middle of the desert just outside the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.  Yeah, the song's going through my head right now as I'm writing this.

Eventually, we got up to Lassen about day four of the trip.  Before Mt. St. Helens blew its top in 1980, Mt. Lassen was the last volcano in the contiguous United States to have erupted.  It began erupting in 1914 and continued off and on for the next three or four years.  During that time span, it also became a national park.  These if a lot to see there and a lot of great hiking opportunities.  

One of the hikes we took was a hike out to Bumpass Hell, a thermal area that looks very much like the thermal areas in Yellowstone.  The only thing that Lassen doesn't have that Yellowstone does are geysers.  Bumpass Hell is named after Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, a local miner, who, in 1865 had the misfortune of breaking through the thin crust of one of the boiling mud pots.  He ended up losing one of his legs due to the scalding mud.  Bumpass Hell is not very pleasant to be in if you have a sensitive nose since it has a sulfur smell to it, but it's an interesting feature.  

But the first hike of the day was the one I really wanted to do.   We got up had breakfast our first full day in Lassen and got ready for a hike to the top of Mt. Lassen, the centerpiece of the park.  This hike has been on my Bucket List, probably since before the term Bucket List was coined.  My first adventure in Lassen happened when I was 8 years old on a camping trip with my family.  Because we did mostly things together, the hike didn't happen that year, but I decided then that I wanted to climb the mountain.  When I graduated from high school, two of my buddies and I traveled all around the state during that summer.  We ended up in Lassen, but couldn't climb to the top because of extensive snow cover.  We ended up hiking through five foot drifts of snow just to get to Bumpass Hell.

Five years ago, my youngest and I went up there on a camping trip, but this was after an incredibly wet winter, the last wet winter we've had in the state.  The road through the park still hadn't been plowed and so to even get to the trailhead, we had to exit the park and drive all the way around the outside and come back in through the southern entrance.  The trail to Bumpass Hell was even closed that year.  There were ten foot drifts above the bathroom's room in the Lassen trailhead parking lot.  That's right, you read that right - ten feet above the roof of the building.  And this was in July.  Apparently, the mountain did not want me to climb it.

This year was different.  One thing that actually helped us immensely was the drought we've been suffering through in California.  We caught a tremendous break with that, because the snowfall has been minimal for so many years that the trailhead opened up early.  As you can see from the fourth shot, the snow field my friend Craig is walking through was about the extent of the snow on the trail.  We had about 6 or 7 of those crossings, but none of them were very treacherous.  

The trip to the top was fairly easy, but the elevation gain of over 2000 feet in just about 2.5 miles of hiking can cause problems.  There were two people we encountered on our way up who never made it to the summit because of altitude sickness.  One was smart enough to rest and head back down while the young girl was prodded by her family to continue on.  She made it almost to the summit, but never quite to the top.

As you can see, the views from up there were phenomenal.  If you look closely, on the left hand side of the last photo, along the cloud line, you can see Mt. Shasta about 100 miles away.  We probably lingered up there for about an hour, eating lunch and just taking in the views.  I ended up taking about two other group's photos and one of those groups we employed one of their party to take our shot at the summit.

Elevation gain? - 2000+ feet
Miles of hiking? - 5 miles round trip
Checking off something on your Bucket List? - Priceless

There's my five photos for the Anything Goes theme for the month of June.  Check out P.J.'s page to see his interpretation of the theme and then scroll down to the bottom to see the link for others who have participated in this month's challenge.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Photo Blogging Challenge (May 2015): Spring

Here is is, the end of the month already and P.J.'s monthly challenge is upon us.  This month, the theme is spring.  I will be the first to admit that I didn't use my camera very much this month, nor did I even use the cell phone camera, but I did take enough shots that I think I can come up with five shots that pretty much epitomize springtime.  That being said, here are my entries into this month's challenge.

1.  Fiesta

Every Mother's Day weekend, our church has its annual fiesta.  This fiesta is likely the second or third largest event in the city of Claremont every year, so a lot of people attend and there were good crowds even though there was a large threat of rain in the air most of Friday night when this shot was taken.  For the past couple of years, I've usually set up my camera on a tripod somewhere around here and get some light streak shots.  This year, I walked down to the fiesta, only to turn my camera on and find out I had a dead battery.  I knew it was low, but wasn't aware it was that low and so I was totally unprepared for this circumstance.

However, this year, because I'm now part of the 21st century and I have my own smartphone now, I used the camera in the phone for some shots.  Not quite the same thing, but since I have several shots for the past couple of years with light streaks, this is a little different from my normal shots at this time.  It worked out well, mainly because the sight angles this year for the various rides weren't the greatest in the world and the best angles were right in the middle of high pedestrian traffic, which is not good for a long exposure with a camera on a tripod, so it probably worked out better that I did have a dead battery.  Still, that's just a rookie mistake, one that will not be repeated again.

2.  New hobbies?

For whatever reason, it seems like springtime is the time when new hobbies can be explored, that is unless you have a hobby that involves winter gear.  Most hobbies tend to be warm weather hobbies however and so I've got anew interest, one that might not come to fruition for a couple of years, but there's a large spark of interest here.  

One of many photo projects that I've participated in over the last couple of years is the 100 Strangers project.  I haven't taken a stranger photo in over a year, but when I saw Stephen here piloting a drone over the fiesta, I figured I wanted to know more about the drone, how it worked, etc.  Push came to shove and I walked over and starting talking with him about the drone.  Eventually, Stephen said the magic words, "Would you like to fly it?"

Oh man, that was very cool.  I got to hover, I got it to go straight up over the fiesta and just about the time I was ready to really start watching what the drone was seeing, the app lost contact with it.  Oops.  Fortunately, it didn't just plummet to the ground and Stephen was able to guide it in to a safe landing, but at least I can say that I've now piloted a drone.  Oh, yeah.  I plan on doing that again, sometime I hope in the near future.  Perhaps my children can pool their money together and get their old man a drone for Christmas.  That would be pretty cool.  At least here in California, I wouldn't necessarily have to wait until springtime to try it out.

3.  Walt Disney Family Museum

Springtime usually means the beginning of the traveling season, at least for me.  Early in the season, during my spring break, I went camping in Death Valley, the first time I'd been there in about 20 years.  But I digress, since these photos for this challenge have to be taken in the month of May.

Usually in May, I go visit my older two children over Memorial Day weekend.  This year I traveled up to the Bay Area to visit with my daughter and her fiancĂ©.  My older son drove over from Merced for the weekend and we had a very enjoyable time.  Most of Saturday was spent dealing with little wedding details, mostly finding the right suit for the two dads.  I remember several years ago, when one of my good geocaching friend's daughter got married and he bought a suit for the occasion. If I remember correctly, he hadn't worn a suit in a very long time and probably won't ever after.  My daughter commented that she couldn't really remember ever seeing me in a suit either.  Well, I now own a suit, but once again, I'm digressing a little bit since that story doesn't deal with the photo.

Sunday, we drove up to San Francisco into the Presidio.  Our goal was to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum.  If you are a Disney aficionado, or have next to no knowledge of Walt Disney, you will enjoy yourself at this place.  The entire museum is obviously dedicated to Walt Disney, set up by his daughters and it contains all sorts of memorabilia of the man.  The museum is very interactive and pays attention to all sorts of small details.

At one point we were walking down a hall that had a grand vista view of the Golden Gate Bridge and my daughter commented that she felt that all of a sudden she was in a ride at Disneyland.  Not coincidentally, we turned the corner of the hallway and were in a room that featured everything Disneyland, including a scale model replica of the park.  Having worked at the park for five years in the 80s, this was just fabulous and I could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon, but there were other things to see.

The photo that I've decided to show here doesn't have anything to do with Disneyland, but with the early pioneering that Disney did with sound cartoons.  This shot shows 348 frame enlargements form the film Steamboat Willie, the first talking cartoon, and the first that featured Mickey Mouse.  The 348 shots represents less than 15 seconds of animation time of the film.  And these were all hand drawn at the time as well, no computers to help them out.  Talk about labor intensive work.  It's no wonder that a feature length film, such as Peter Pan, was only released once every three years or so.

4. Street photography

As most of you know, I enjoy taking street shots of total strangers.  Outside of the Disney Museum, the green between some of the buildings was hosting a massive street fair.  Food booths surrounded all sides of the green and all of us took advantage of the massive amounts of good food.  If any of us went hungry, that was our own fault. 

Springtime in San Francisco is dicey at best.  There's always a good chance that Carl can show up at anytime.  Who's Carl?  Believe it or not, Carl is the fog that shows up in San Francisco.  He even has his own Twitter account.  The day we were at the Presidio, Carl was still off shore, but was threatening to come in at any time.  Still, people came to the street fair prepared for the weather and most everyone was enjoying each other's company, which is why I find this shot so amusing.  All sorts of things are happening all around and this guy was totally absorbed in his phone, probably checking his email or something similar.  Maybe he was checking out the latest tweet from Carl.

5.  Kanka

While we were eating lunch on the green, my daughter told me to turn around and look at this massive Great Dane that was walking around with his owner on the other side of the green.  This dog was the size of a small pony.  After we'd finished eating and they had found a place to park themselves, I walked over and asked if I could take some photos of the dog.  After getting permission, I took several shots before the dog got bored and didn't want to have anything more to do with me.  This shot turned out the best of the bunch. He has a better expression in another shot, but I cut off his ear with some poor composition, so I'm going with this one.

His owner said the dog's name was Kanka, which apparently means best friend in Turkish.  Nothing better than going for a walk with your best friend on a beautiful spring weekend up in the Presidio.

Well, there you have it.  Five shots of spring.  Please stop by P.J.'s post to see his offerings on the theme.  There's also links at the bottom of that page where you can view other blogger's springtime offerings as well.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An open letter

This is an open letter to the young man who almost caused my life and his own to change forever, neither for the better.

Dear young man,

If I were you, I'd be thanking my lucky stars that the older man in the van that you encountered this morning while riding your bike has decent peripheral vision.  Maybe you have already.  Hopefully that will change the way you chose to ride your bicycle so irresponsibly this morning.

First, you weren't wearing a helmet.  Had we hit, you would have been sent flying over your handlebars, probably over the hood of my car and then onto the pavement on the other side of my van.  At best, you'd come out with some bumps and bruises, but you could have gotten some serious brain damage or possibly some broken bones out of the deal.  I went over the handlebars of my bicycle when I was in 8th grade.  I got a concussion and a broken left arm out of the deal.  It could have been much worse, but probably not nearly as bad as if you'd hit me.  I only hit another bicycle.

You, on the other hand, could very easily have hit me.  I say hit me, because I would not have been at fault if you had.  For you see, when someone comes up to an intersection intending to make a right hand turn, they look left first, because that's where the traffic is coming from.  Usually drivers will look right once they start to make their turn into traffic.  That's where you came into the situation.

Yeah, you were in the bike lane, but you were traveling down the street the wrong way in the bike lane.  You were traveling south in a northbound bike lane.  That's just asking for trouble and you almost got a lot of it if I hadn't seen you a split second before I really hit the gas and accelerated.  Had I not seen you out of the corner of my eye, you could have easily been hamburger meat.

Now, I doubt that you'll ever see this and I actually wished my window had been rolled down so I could have yelled a couple of choice words at you as you rode away.  Maybe those words would have helped drive home the message.  I hope you got the crap scared out of you.  I hope you start to wear you helmet, but if you don't, at least ride on the correct side of the road.  If you don't, the next driver might not be as quick as I was.

As I stated at the top, both of our lives could have changed a lot this morning.  Fortunately, they didn't, but perhaps that little scare will change you a little bit.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

PB Challenge (April 2015): Friends and Family

When I saw the prompt for this month's Photo Blogging challenge, I thought it might be difficult, but then I remembered that Easter was right at the beginning of the month and I knew we'd be with family, plus I also hosted a geocaching event at the beginning of the month, so then it actually became even tougher as I ended up with quite an assortment of photos for the theme.

That being stated, I decided to go a little bit different route with this month's theme.  And so without further ado, I give you my five photos for the theme Friends and Family.

1.  Handprints in cement

I think these handprints are from when I was about eight or nine years old.  Mine is the one on the right.  Sometime during that period, my dad poured some concrete at our house in Santa Ana, CA where we grew up and had all three of us put our hands in the wet cement.  When they finally moved out of that house about 15 years ago or so, my dad pried up that piece of cement and brought it with them to their new house where it now sits on an island in the front yard.  It's definitely a reminder of when we were a lot younger and smaller and it's fun to look at.  You can see I really relished squishing my hands into the cement, whereas my sisters were much more dainty in their approach to the gooey stuff.  Boys will be boys I guess.

2.  The Calendar

I'd say close to 20 years ago, my two sisters and I decided to start a family tradition by giving my parents a photo calendar.  The past 6 years or so, I've coordinated the effort, collected the photos from various people and put the entire thing together on my computer.  It's worked out rather well and my parents cherish this gift each year and it proudly hangs on their refrigerator in the kitchen.  The first year, my dad wanted to actually use it to write calendar reminders in it, but my mom put the kibosh on that very quickly.  They also don't throw them away and my mom says she goes out in the garage where they are stored and looks through them from time to time.  She gets to see her grandkids grow up every time she does that.

When we started this endeavor, it was a lot easier because there was only three sources that the photos came from since the kids were small and the adults, my sisters and me were the ones who took the photos.  Now, with four of the grandchildren on their own, we have to really on photos from seven different sources.  That just means we have to start the process earlier each year.  Before, I used to send the "all call" for photos sometime just before Thanksgiving and I'd have the photos soon afterwards and it would be a done deal.  This year, we were slightly late getting the calendar to my parents, but they did get it before New Year's Day, so it's all good.  April of this year was my niece's and her husband's month, so they're featured on that page.

3.  University of Notre Dame

Some of you might not be aware of this, but I was born in South Bend, Indiana, home of Notre Dame.  This all came about, because my grandfather taught at Notre Dame back in the early 1930s.  Because of this, my dad and two of his brothers also went to Notre Dame.  Some of my cousins went to Notre Dame and I also had a cousin who was a priest who taught at Notre Dame.  This cousin also married my parents and married my sister and her husband.  Notre Dame is a family affair with us and although I didn't attend there, mainly because it was out of my price range when it came my turn to attend college, I follow the college quite closely, especially for football.

Growing up in Southern California, that was sometimes very tough to do, mainly because many of my friends in junior high and high school were USC fans.  My best friend attended USC and during the 70s and early 80s, it was tough being a Notre Dame fan when they played each other because usually USC came out on top.  Yes, I was there in 1974 when Notre Dame was ahead 24-7 at halftime and I watched Anthony Davis run back the second half kick off directly toward the Notre Dame section at the closed end of the Colosseum in Los Angeles, which started an avalanche of points, eventually leading to a 55-24 loss to USC.  That was just ugly.

I was also there in 1988 with our entire family to watch #1 Notre Dame battle #2 USC.  Both teams were exceptionally good that year and my dad and I surmised that the winner of this game would become the national champion that year.  My dad took no chances that year as he was decked out in full Irish regalia, including his blue and gold Notre Dame tam-o-shanter.  That's when I finally realized that my dad was one of "those" people.  Those crazy alumni you always see.  I'd never seen him like that before, but he really wanted a win that day.  I don't believe he'd seen Notre Dame win in Los Angeles since 1966 when the Irish shellacked the Trojans 51-0 enroute to a national championship that year as well.  Anyway, to make a long story short, Notre Dame came out on top that year and our family went home very happy.  I haven't been back to see a Notre Dame/USC game in Los Angeles since that game.  I want that memory to last forever.  It was very satisfying.

4.  Father of the Bride

About a year and a half ago, I was up visiting my daughter.  I'm an early riser and my daughter isn't so I'd usually get up early, find some local geocaches and then hang out with her later in the day.  This particular day, my daughter's boyfriend asked me if he could tag along and go geocaching with me.  Sure, why not?  But I had a suspicion that he had ulterior motives, after all he'd been dating my daughter for four years at the time and we were pretty sure they were serious about settling down.

Eventually that day he asked for our blessing to marry my daughter.  I don't think my daughter could have picked a finer young man to spend the rest of her life and my wife and I were both thrilled that he was going to be joining the family.  As you can see, all of this will be coming to fruition in the middle of July up in the Bay Area. I will fully admit that I will probably be very emotional about this and will probably be the one crying as we walk down the aisle.  But I know if I start to cry, so will she and it will just be a mess, so I will restrain myself and think of happy things.  Maybe I'll even crack a joke as we walk down the aisle.  I think part of me is sad, after all, I loved her first, but most of me is very happy.  He makes her happy and I like that.  I'm looking forward to when I can call him my son-in-law.

5.  Geocaching friends

Most of these photos have been about family, so I knew this last one had to be about friends.  Another part of geocaching that I don't always talk about is the number of friendships that have developed for me over the years since I started this crazy game.  Outside of my wife, I can say most assuredly, that most of my best friends are fellow geocachers.

This is Craig who I've known for three years, possibly more.  I don't think I can pinpoint the exact time I met Craig, as it's more of a gradual thing as opposed to a specific day.  Either way, Craig is a very good friend of mine and although this isn't the best photo of him, the only other one I had was of his backside carrying a tire while we were cleaning up a trailhead last weekend during a Geocaching earth day weekend event.  I'm sure he's probably glad that I didn't post that one.

Craig is the friend that I helped last summer hike the John Muir Trail.  He needed a ride to get up to the starting point in Yosemite Valley and I readily jumped at that opportunity.  In fact, I credit Craig with helping me get into better shape.  When he decided to do this hike, I was invited to come along.  I knew I wasn't in any kind of physical shape to do that kind of hike, but over the past year, I've lost weight, gotten into biking more and am just more physically fit.  If he'd been doing this trek this year, I probably would have gone on the hike.  As it is, there was a time in the last couple of years when I thought my hiking and backpacking days were behind me, but I don't think that anymore and I thank Craig for being that inspiration.  This year, he and I have another road trip planned for June just because we like to geocache and it's fun to go out on the road and explore new territory.  

And that about does it for this month's photo blogging challenge. I hope you have enjoyed this month's selection.  It's not my usual type of shots, but I wanted to do something a little bit different this time around.  To see other people's interpretation of this month's theme, stop by P.J.'s blog and click on the links at the bottom of that page.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The photo

Every now and then, I take a photo that I just really love.  Almost all the time, what I seem to like, isn't what others seem to like.  I'll get likes and faves on photos that I take that I'm not even sure should see the light of day.

Other times, I'll post a photo that I think is something that everyone should comment on and just ooh and ahh over.  That's the idealistic side of me thinking I'm brilliant when I know for a fact that I'm just an average photographer who every now and then has splashes of brilliance.  And the every now and then should actually read once in a blue moon.

Then, there's this photo.  I took this shot from the Harmony Borax Works in Death Valley last month while on Spring Break.  It was late in the day, the sun was low, so the light was perfect, not too harsh, which is what photographers really want.  I didn't really think much of it as I was probably already concentrated on other shots, some of which I haven't really processed yet.

I posted it to my flicker account and really didn't think anything of it.  I liked the shot in black and white and thought it was a good quality shot.  The next day, when I went back to Flicker, I was amazed at the number of views this photo had and also by a couple of comments.  

Someone, somewhere in cyberspace liked the shot and the shot went viral at least in my small little space of the web.  Not viral in the sense that it got millions of views, but enough that it seemingly took on a life of its own.  If one of my shots gets more than 200 views on Flicker, I figure I've posted a pretty good shot.  In the first 24 hours this shot was up, it had over 3000 views.  People were favoriting it left and right.  For whatever reason, this one seemed to have struck the right chord with a variety of people and once that happened, it got shared around and the shot got more and more views.  I'm sure I could self promote at this point and get more but I don't think that's necessary.

I think what I'd really like is a little more consistency out of my photos.  In the past 5 years, I know I've grown as a photographer.  I look back on my first year of my 365 Project that I did and I'm not sure most of those photos would see the light of day anymore.  But I'm not going to take those down because they help define how I've progressed.  I need those to keep me going.  And so it goes.

Oh yeah.  If you want to see the full size version of this shot, please click here.  There's my self promotion.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Photo Blogging Challenge (March 2015): Two

Once again, P.J. has posted his blogging challenge.  This month, the theme was two, in honor of this challenge going on for two years.  Last year, I thought I did fairly well when the theme was one.  This year, I felt like I scrambled, which is usually the case, but here, once again, I'm posting March's theme on the first day of April, apparently a day late and a dollar short.  For whatever reason, I kept thinking that I still had another day, but that wasn't the case as March has already disappeared and it is indeed April.  So, without further ado, I give you the month of March's Twos.

1.  Two antennae
Although, you'll have to look closely at this one to see the second one.  Look at the nose of the butterfly and you'll see what looks like a yellow bulb, the second antenna slightly out of focus.  I love taking photos of butterflies and have been known to stalk them for hours trying to get a decent shot of any that come in range.  Several years ago, I learned the main differences between moths and butterflies.  Most people will say butterflies are colorful and moths aren't, but that's not necessarily the case.  The big differences are two-fold.  One, butterflies are out during the day while moths are out at night.  Second deals with their antennae.  A butterfly's antenna is smooth with a round bulb at the end, while a moth's antenna tends to look feathery.

2.   Two butterflies
Oh boy, here we go with an entire series of butterfly shots.  No, but I like this photo for a variety of reasons.  First off, it was taken with my iPhone.  While not the greatest photo in the work, I've been fairly impressed with the lens on this phone and I understand the lens on the iPhone6 is even better.  The second reason I like this shot is this is a new butterfly species for me.  These are Pacific Orange Tips.  I would suspect the one in the upper left hand corner is probably a male since it was pestering the other one to no end.  Either that, or it was defending its territory for some reason.  I took this shot, while geocaching, up in the newly created San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

The national monument is still being administered by the U.S. Forest Service, and thus, geocaching is still allowed in the monument.  I can imagine sometime in the future, if the National Park Service (NPS) takes over administration of this park, the geocaches will have to be removed.  I understand why the NPS takes the stand that it does, since it views geocaches as litter, but they also seem to be more open to geocaching, which I think is a good thing.  Time will tell on this one.  And ironically, I was out hiking a couple of weeks later in the Simi Valley area and spotted another Orange Tip there.  I guess, once, you see one, they decide they don't have to hide from you any more.

3.  Two peaks
I'm in the middle of my second week of Spring Break.  At the beginning of the first week, I went camping with my friend in Death Valley National Park, where this shot was taken.  We were actually geocaching all three days.  "But wait a minute," you say.  "I thought geocaching wasn't allowed in national parks?"  This is true, but there are certain types of caches, virtual caches and earth caches that are allowed, because they don't have any physical container, to litter up the landscape.  Virtual caches take you to a place and you have to answer a couple of questions about the particular place.  Earth caches are geology based virtual caches where you also have to answer some questions based upon the geology found in that spot.  It's a more specialized type of virtual in a way.

These two peaks, of which I have no names for them, are in the Greenwater range in the southern part of Death Valley.  The wildflowers were pretty much spent down at the lower elevations, but here at around 2500 feet or so above sea level, there was still a profusion of blooms.  Desert mallow, mesquite and five spot mallow were all to be seen in abundance at this site and others as we traveled into the park.  Once we got further down in elevation, we stopped see a whole lot of any kind of vegetation, as the park is pretty stark.  

4.  Two states
Part of the allure of geocaching has always been that it takes me places I might not go just because.  Just over that rise is Pahrump, Nevada and just down to the right off the edge of the photo there is a geocache that hidden out there.  That particular cache was the first cache I've ever found in Nye County, Nevada.  It might not mean much to you, but I think it's kind of cool when I find caches in new places I've never been before.  I can guarantee you that unless I had family living in Pahrump, I would have never visited there.

I've found geocaches in 8 different states.  I've found a geocache in every county in California.  Am I nuts?  Probably.  But, the silly game keeps me out of trouble for the most part and I've made some very good friends who have a like-minded interest in being outdoors and using billion dollar satellites to find pieces of Tupperware hiding in the wilderness.

5.  Two different systems
I can remember way back in the 70s when there was a push for the United States to go metric.  Everything started getting printed in both feet and meters or miles and kilometers.  That's where we went wrong.  If we are ever going to convert to the metric system, which by the way, is one of the most logical systems there is, then we have to jump in with both feet and don't turn back.  And the government is going to have to lead the way.

All the government would have to do is to stop posting signs in two different systems.  Why do we need to know that Badwater is 282 feet below sea level?  Isn't it enough that we know that it's the lowest point in the western hemisphere?  If the sign just read 85.5 meters below sea level, people would get the point.  Eventually, the "Old Schoolers," the ones who complain about anything and everything would eventually die out and everyone who has ever lived wouldn't know any better and we'd all just use the metric system.  Do you need to know the temperature in Fahrenheit?  No, not really.  Celsius is actually pretty easy to use.  If it's in the 10s, it's cold.  If it's in the 20s, it's pretty mild, while the 30s is getting pretty warm.  40s?  Yeah, that's where Death Valley is in the summertime, most of the time.  Death Valley is also a big draw in the summertime, especially for Europeans.  Why?  It's one of the few places that can hit 50 degrees.  That would be 122 for us non metric people.

So there you have it.  Another month of photos dedicated to the number 2.  Please stop by P.J.'s page here to view other's interpretations of the theme Two.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Photo Blogging Challenge (February 2015): Winter

So after blogging 23 times in January, I've fallen into my same old habit again, as this is only my fourth post of the month.  And the first three were written in the first two weeks of the month.  So much for good intentions.

P.J.'s Photo blogging challenge for this month was winter.  Quite a few people have participated this month as I note 11 other links, plus P.J.'s own contribution to the challenge.  I guess I'll be lucky number 13.

As always, winter in Southern California means something different than the rest of the country.  Snow, maybe at higher elevations, but nothing here.  We got a couple of days of rain in February, the latest being yesterday.  It's been cold all day today, but nothing like people back east have been having.  50 degrees here would probably be a nice spring day back east.

With the nice weather, I don't have a bunch of "wintery" shots to show you.  I went on a couple of nice hikes this month while out geocaching.  Found some interesting abandoned buildings while out on the hike and so I thought I'd show you those.

Usually, when I write this particular blog piece, I write about individual photos, but this time, I may just keep a string of consciousness going on this one as most of the shots are very similar.   The first two shots were taken while I went on a hike out in the desert north of where I live.  These are included in here, mainly because both of them were accepted into the Project Weather Flickr page.  Project Weather is linked up with the Yahoo Weather App.  The photos that are accepted into Project Weather are then featured on the Yahoo Weather App.  The first one is linked to Wilsona, CA, which means the next time it's cloudy in Wilsona, my shot could shoe up in someone's feed who happens to be looking at the weather in Wilsona.  I currently have 29 of my shots in Project Weather.  I see mine occasionally show up when I look at the weather for my local area since most of the shots were taken around here.  I do have some that show up in other areas, particularly Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  The nice thing is if someone sees the shot, they can click on a small link at the bottom of the shot and the app will take the user back to my Flickr page.  A little exposure never hurt anyone I guess.

Last weekend, the weather was cool, but there wasn't a threat of rain, so I went out geocaching again.  I picked an area that looked fairly isolated, someplace that I hadn't been to before.  What that usually means is there quite a few caches I haven't found.  At one point, while searching out sites on Google maps, I spotted this area that was a paved road that turned into a dirt road.  I could have driven to every one of these caches along this road, but chose to walk to them.  Just seemed like it would be a waste of gas and a waste of a fairly nice cool day to spend the entire time in the car.  I've been doing that a lot the last couple of months.  I don't get as many caches, but I've been really enjoying the times out that I have been caching and that's what it's really all about in my opinion.

I found the sign intriguing and pretty typical of rural signs in California, perhaps elsewhere as well.  They all seem to end up as targets by gun enthusiasts.  Not sure why that has to happen, but it just seems like it happens more frequently than not.  The cache, which was found at the base of that broken structure in the lower left hand corner of the photo was one of the ones that needed help as it was broken.  I did not have an extra container with me, otherwise I might have exchanged it out.  I did the best I could to keep it dry from the rain, but hopefully, the cache owner will remedy the situation so the cache continues to be viable.

While hiking along that same road, I came upon some sunflowers in full bloom.  Although it's technically winter out here, earlier in the month we were getting temperatures in the 80s.  The flowers in the desert and other rural areas started blooming all over the place.  This particular bloom had been picked by someone several days before I happened along the same area.  It was pretty much withered up at this point, but I thought it made for an interesting photo.  I've done that a couple of times, trying to make dead things look interesting.  I think I succeeded with this one.

Finally, the last shot of my winter theme goes back to the first weekend in the month when I took the top two shots.  I was about halfway done with my hike when I came upon this abandoned building and so I stopped to take some shots as it was a natural stopping point.

I ended up posting a full black and white version of this shot for the Sharpshooters International Photography Club weekly photo album on Facebook this past week.  Someone said it probably would look even better with some selective coloring of the American Flag that was attached to the side of the building, so I decided to try it that way too.  Interestingly, the flag was almost brand new, so someone had just attached it recently to the corner of the building.  After looking at the two images, I think I like this one even better than the original.

And so there you have it, five photos depicting winter.  Probably not the winter you have, but it's my winter and what I experienced this month.  Please stop my P.J.'s page and view his shots and interpretation of winter from the state of New York.  At the bottom is a link to other blogger's post on the same challenge.  Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

An Affair to Remember

28 years ago today I made the smartest decision I've ever made in my life.  I asked my girlfriend to marry me, and amazingly, with all she knew about me, she said yes.

For whatever reason, I am amazingly blessed to have a wife who puts up with all my foibles.  She said to me this morning that she wondered why I put up with her, but I actually think it's the other way around.  I know myself all too well, and I don't think I'd like to live with me for very long, yet she's done it now for 27+ years.  That's pretty remarkable.

During that time, we've lived in an apartment, and purchased three different houses, always upsizing to go along with our expanding family.  Interestingly, our first house was a brand new house and the other two houses we've owned since then have been increasingly older.  

Our three children have gone to school here in town, graduated.  Two of them have graduated from college and have full time jobs in Northern California.  Our youngest is still in college taking some very interesting classes, some of which I would have avoided when I was in college, but would love to take today.

Early last year, I took a series of photos entitled "Grow Old with Me."  All of the photos feature my wife's left hand, for obvious reasons.  This particular shot was taken on Valentine's Day last year.  Grow Old with Me my Love.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hey Butthead

Today's prompt for blogging today was: "Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!" After looking at some of the photos I took on Saturday, this particular quote from the movie Back to the Future, stood out above all the others in that movie.

Unfortunately, the desert has become for many people a dumping ground, a place to throw their unwanted crap so they can avoid paying a fee to legally dump it in a landfill.  There are few times when I'm hiking and geocaching out in the desert when I can walk more than a tenth of a mile and not see some kind of refuse strewn out there.  

Granted, there was nothing that could be done for this one as this was a permanent structure, but if you could have seen the inside.  This particular house will not surprise me in the least if sometime in the future it becomes part of an arsonist's ritual.  Looking through this window, there was probably close to a foot of debris inside.  I went around to the right of this shot and looked in another window and there was even more stuff in there, perfect kindling.

And if it were to happen, the house would go up and not much else.  But on my hike Saturday, I also passed several other abandoned houses, plus a jacuzzi.  Broken, with the insulation hanging out, someone didn't want it anymore, so instead of taking it to a landfill where it could have been disposed of properly, the owner decided to take it out and dump it in the desert.

And it goes on and on.  I saw at least four chairs, two mattresses and one couch out there as well.  It's interesting in a morbid sort of way too as things tend to clump together, as if they migrate to like minded junk.  The chairs were all in one spot, the television and computer monitors were in a different spot out there.  Oh, and let's not forget the entire load of about 25 or 30 used diapers I came upon.

And unfortunately, the title character of this blog piece just won't get it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Race the Clock

I saw this prompt today and thought, "That's what my life feels like right now."  I feel like I'm in a race and I'm getting close to the finish line.  The good thing is, I know why I feel that way and it's just something that's going to happen.

Our second yearbook deadline comes next Monday.  Because we have next Monday off, it literally is a race the clock, because that means everything is due this Friday.  Are we there yet?  Nope.  Will we be there by Friday?  God, I hope so.

If everything comes off according to plan, this should be a well received yearbook.  Being it's my first yearbook as an advisor, I have nothing to compare it to, but I'm hoping the staff can pull it all together in the next 48 hours or so, so we'll be able to say we raced the clock and won.

The photo is one that I took 3 and a half years ago at a cross country meet where my youngest was competing.  It was very overcast that day, so I was able to experiment with some long shutter speeds in the low light conditions.  This shot was one of the better ones.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Playlist for the week

I'm trying something a little bit different here.  Since I did well with writing prompts, I've discovered some daily writing prompts and I'm going to try and see if that will help me get through this block I sometimes have.  We'll see where it takes me, but the one I checked on today gave me some good material to work with for the first day, so I'm going to try it.

Sometimes, you just need music to help you get through the day.  5 song titles that pretty much typify my past week would be the following: 

Pressure - by Billy Joel

Under Pressure - by Queen and David Bowie

Help! - by the Beatles

Deadlines - by Arkells

Don't Stop Believin' - by Journey

Sometimes, it's just so much fun being the multi-media instructor at school.  I was on my high school yearbook when I was a senior in high school.  Deadlines look a lot different from the instructor's point of view.  The respect I've always had for my yearbook teacher, Mrs. Denise Tate, has just been ratcheted up several more notches.

Friday, January 30, 2015

And there was one - Day 20 of the Chill

And then there was one, the final entry of the 20 days of Chill Writing Challenge.  This is post #22 for the entire month of January, only three behind all of 2014.  I guess it's safe to say I'm going to have more blog posts this year than last year.  But perhaps a bigger question is, what can I do in the future to keep this going?

One thing I've learned about this is it's not that difficult to write about something on an almost daily basis.  This challenge was set up for success, which most challenges should be, otherwise who would do them?  I believe that I've had fairly good success with this particular challenge because I took some advice and wrote each post the night before.

I think this worked out well, because it really took the pressure off of me to write something.  As opposed to coming home and have nothing prepared, I already knew that my post for the day had already posted in the morning when I woke up.  Now, all I had to worry about was the next day's post and psychologically, I knew I had that night, or if worse came to worse, then I could always write something up on the day it was due.  And it just worked.

The only other thing that I can think of as to why it worked, is because Old Guys Rule.  

Thanks for everyone who came along for this ride.  I hope you've been entertained and I hope I didn't bore you too much with too many geocaching stories.  Thanks to P.J. for putting this entire challenge together.  Here's hoping that some of this will keep me more active as I move about the blogosphere.  Now that you're at the end of this, then there was none.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Steamed - Day 19 of the Chill

Sometimes, we get into situations where we feel we can't control anything.  Like when aliens come down to Earth and pick up people just to examine them more closely.  These people don't really have any control over the situation and for the most part are just along for the ride.

And what's with the deal that only people out on farms or rednecks in general are the ones who get abducted by aliens?  Yeah, I know I speaking in grand generalities here, but when's the last time you've read about a Wall Street stock broker being abducted by aliens?  Heck, when's the last time you read about a teacher in Cucamonga being abducted by aliens?  That's just wrong and I'm steamed about it.  What gives here?I think the rest of us should have an equal say in who gets abducted by aliens.  

I'd suggest a lottery but with something like that, you'd get the same kind of people applying to be abducted, or not necessarily applying, but I really think the same kind of person would get picked.  I really think the next big alien abduction should have some kind of codicil attached to it that only college educated, college degree holders would be allowed to be abducted.  C'mon man.  The rest of us want to have a chance to be like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Then again, I think my wife would get kind of steamed if I started building Devils Tower in the middle of our living room the way Dreyfus did.  And I know me.  I'd want to build something as grandiose and as large scale as his model was too.  The bigger the better.  Now if someone can get me out of this BORG cube, I think we'll all be OK.  Yeah, I don't think I want to be assimilated that badly.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Imagine that - Day 18 of the Chill

Back in December, when I first looked over the list of prompts for this challenge, I thought to myself, "Self, imagine that you can actually get to the end of this challenge."  I laughed a little too at that notion.  I'm not there yet as I still have two more posts to get to the end of this challenge, but the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer a train bearing down on me, threatening to derail my thought process and stop me in some crazy way.  Imagine that.

You see, I'm a casual blogger.  I have high hopes and visions of grandeur.  Even the title of my blog has visions of grandeur, otherwise, it wouldn't be entitled A Photo a Day.  When I first set this blog up in 2012, I was in the midst of my second full year at the 365 Project, a website that challenges you to take a photo every day for a year.  I did it for two entire years.  I figured I'd just go on and on and so I'd just blog about the photo I took that day and the blog would write itself.  Imagine that?

But at the same time I was having visions of grandeur, I also had realistic expectations.  At the top, there's a short description of what this blog is about and I state that I might not post every day.  It goes on to say, in fact, I'm positive I won't post every day, but I would like to post twice a week.  Last year I posted a grand total of 25 times.  I only posted about once every other week.  And yet, I think I had the best year photographically of any since I started doing a 365 project.  Imagine that.

This year has been a different story, due exclusively to this  20 Days of Chill Writing Challenge.  This will be my 20th post this year.  Imagine that.  I have to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it or not, but I'm pretty sure my OCD kicked in and got me through some of the rougher spots in the road, especially on prompts that I really didn't like.  And no, I don't really have OCD.  Ask anyone at work, or just come look at my desk and you'll probably understand that I don't have OCD.

So, I'm blogging more this year, which means that something has to give.  Ironically, what seems to have fallen by the wayside a little bit this year is my photography.  The photo for this post is only my 10th photo I've decided to publish on-line this year.  We're almost done with the first month and I only have a third of what I should have if I were doing a 365 project.  Imagine that.

But the real thing that counts is I'm OK with that, because I know I'll pick up my camera and take more photos.  I take my camera to school every day and make sure I have it each week for the photo club that I run as an after school club on campus here.  I don't publish those photos here, because I told my students that I wouldn't.  In return, they also know that they're not allowed to post photos of me on their Facebook, or Instagram account, etc.  There's enough images of me out there without having something show up somewhere else that I don't know about.  Imagine that.

And so it goes.  Only two more to go.  Oh, and by the way.  I mentioned above that I don't have OCD.  That's true.  What I really have is CDO, because that's in alphabetical order the way it should be.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Awkward Dinner Party - Day 17 of the Chill

Thinking about this prompt, I thought I might want to take a bunch of people from the past and put them all at the dinner table and see where it went.  One would think that it might get awkward putting Jesus Christ at the same dinner table as Thomas Jefferson, but actually, I think those two might get along fairly well.

So then, how might I get a better mix of people to create the ultimate awkward dinner party.  Then it hit me.  Just pick some random people off of the Internet from a social media site and have them come together for just one night.  The only requirement would be, I get to set the dinner conversations.  That would work.

All I'd have to do is throw out one political or social football, like abortion, or Obamacare or the death penalty the rest would be just entertaining to watch.  See?  That's where the problem lies.  I'm sorry if this is becoming redundant, but it just seems like people forget common decency and societal norms when they get on social media.

Even though my parents didn't outright tell me, I knew about the three things that you just didn't discuss in polite society: Religion, Sex, and Politics, or any combination of those, which might be all three sometimes.  Granted, I'm speaking in generalities here, but we seem to have lost our moral and social filters when it comes to social media.  We feel we can just post whatever we want and we don't care who the hell we piss off.

And the sad part is, when most people post stuff, either they're looking for someone to troll, so they can pontificate their side more and bring in other like thinking people, or they actually think they're going to convince the other side to change their own though process.  

Newsflash.  You're not going to convert anyone and all it's going to accomplish is to get every one just madder at the other side.  And for what purpose?  As far as I can see, there is not real purpose that's going to have any positive outcome.  It's probably one of the reasons that I try not to get pulled into political discussions.  Notice that I said try, because sometimes I don't succeed in avoiding the discussion.

However, from now on, I'm just going to avoid them all together.  It's not worth my blood pressure and I have better things to do than to validate someone else's viewpoint that I already agree with, or argue with someone who's not going to change their opinion just because I think I can convince them that they're wrong.  I already know the answer to that one.  I'm not.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ten years ago, I was probably..... - Day 16 of the Chill

Today's prompt is Ten years ago, I was probably.... 

And the answer is obviously, Geocaching!  I've actually been geocaching for almost 14 years, but my interest in it really took off about ten years ago.

A lot of people always wonder why I go out and geocache.  One of my sons just calls it "the weird thing Dad does."  He has geocached with me in the past and will tolerate his old man finding a cache or two when we're out and about, but it's not really his thing, and that's OK.  It's not for everyone.

I first learned about geocaching from a Where's George? chat room.  Where's George? is something else I could say I've been doing for the last 10 years or more, but that's an entirely different story which I'll probably save for another time.  Anyway, a friend of mine was talking about finding this hidden treasure on a hike he'd been on in Maryland and I asked him about it.  He said it was Geocaching.  

He led me to the site and I checked it out.  At the time, the closest geocache to my house was 7 miles away and a half mile hike.  I told my wife I'd discovered something cool and I knew what I wanted to spend my birthday money on.  Two days later, I purchased my first GPS unit and two or three days after that, I took my two sons with me and we drove over to the Claremont Wilderness Park, and hiked the half mile in on the trail there and found the geocache.

To be honest, as we were hiking up the trail, I kept thinking to myself, that this just couldn't be real.  It has to be a joke.  Who's going to hide something out in the wilderness and then who else is going to be crazy enough to go out and find that thing that has been hidden out in the wilderness?  I fully expected to see Allen Funt from Candid Camera come out of the bushes and say I'd been hoodwinked and that this was all a Candid Camera stunt.

But no, it was for real.  We found a large plastic bucket full of all sorts of things in it.  I know one of the things we brought home was a happy meals whistle that my youngest really wanted to have.  Let's just say we made that an outdoor toy and it kind of conveniently disappeared after a week or so.

But once we'd gotten back home, I was hooked.  I love the outdoors aspect of geocaching.  Back then, the caches were few and far between and you drove to a trailhead and hiked two, three, possibly five miles to find one cache.  I discovered all sorts of new trails in the foothills just north of where we lived.  Before that day, I'd never even knew the Claremont Wilderness Park even existed and there were all these trails to explore and caches to find.

Every so often, not nearly as often as today, I'd gather up the boy, or the boys and just go by myself and hike a trail to find a cache.  I'd get some good exercise along the way.  It has probably kept me a little bit thinner than I might be if I'd never learned about geocaching.

The hobby has changed over time.  Where there used to be one cache on a trail, now there might be half a dozen or more.  That first hike, we found one.  In fact, had we hiked the entire loop of that trail, we'd only have found that one cache.  Now that loop has 12 caches hidden on it, four of them by me.

No one really thought about hiding caches in urban areas.  Now that's mostly what you see is a lot of urban caching.  Not as much exercise involved there, but you can still get quite the workout if you pick and choose where you go.  It's something that you can do where ever you go.  I found that it was another nice diversion whenever we were camping.  Instead of just a hike, now it was a hike with a purpose.

I have over 160 photos in my Flickr album dedicated to photos taken while geocaching.  And yes, every one of these on this page was taken while geocaching.  The first photo is a shot I took in Waterman Canyon which leads up to my in-law's house in Lake Arrowhead, California.  I'm standing on a slight rise above the road, with the geocache directly behind me.

There's a geocache out on that island with the lighthouse in Crescent City, California.  The trick is you have to wait for the tide to go out so it's only available during certain periods of the day.  We got very lucky with that one as we had been hiking in the Redwoods and got back into Crescent City and discovered the tide was out, so we walked out over the rocks to get to the island.  Most of the time, you can't do that.

We spotted the snake at a rest area along Interstate 80 in Montana.  We'd been visiting my Dad up at my parent's summer house on Lake Couer d' Alene and decided to find some caches in the panhandle of Idaho.  Not one to miss out on a chance, since we were so close, we decided we might as well find at least one over the border in Montana.  We drove into Montana, pulled off at the first exit which was the rest area and found the cache and the snake.  Since we had to go down to the next exit to turn around on the freeway, we found the cache hidden at the next exit and for good measure we also found the cache hidden on the westbound rest area on the other side of the freeway.

The last shot was taken in July when I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge to find the geocache on the northern side of the bridge.  As you can see, geocaching has taken me to a lot of place, many of which, I don't think I would have visited were it not for geocaching.  I've actually found caches in every county in California (for those of you keeping count, there's 58 counties).  It has allowed me to explore various parts of the state I might have missed and it has also allowed me to explore my own back yard, those trails in the foothills.  Unless something drastic happens, I can see myself 10 years from now still writing about geocaching.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Miracles do happen

In 2002, which was early in my geocaching, I got into travel bugs big time.  One of the travel bugs I created was the Cucamonga Railroad Cacher - The Travel Bug Limited.  It was a caboose from my collection of HO scale model trains that I have stored in my garage.  I attached a travel bug tag to it and let it go, hoping that it would meet its goal of traveling on scenic railroads around the country.

Back then, most caches were fairly good sized and would accommodate this size of bug.  But as the hobby has evolved, the caches have gotten smaller and so it's more difficult to put this traveler in a geocache.  There were periods of inactivity, due to the cacher having it for a period of time until they found a large enough cache in which to place it.

But the caboose did travel throughout California.  It got to ride on the Napa Wine train and the Skunk train in Northern California.  Eventually, however, the travel bug disappeared.  For the most part, I'm resigned to that happening anyway.  Once you release something from your possession, you're at the whims of whoever next picks it up.  If it's someone new, they might keep it, or not know how to log it, or the person just might be spiteful and decide to throw it away.  There are a variety of reasons why the travel bug disappears, including the cache gets washed away in a flood.  Yeah, that's happened to a cache that one of my travel bugs was in.

So, in July 2005, the travel bug was listed as missing.  Someone actually took it in April 2005, but never logged it out of the cache it was in and when the cache was archived, the travel bug got listed as missing and I'd lost another one.  Or so I thought.

This afternoon, I received an email from telling me that my travel bug had been found by a cacher named cdbass who found it along an abandoned railroad in Ithaca, New York.  As you can see from the small photo cdbass posted, it's the original caboose that I let loose almost 13 years ago.  Oh, the stories this little caboose could tell.  Where has it been all this time?  Who took it and when and how did it get to New York?

As far as I'm concerned, it's just cool that it's resurfaced after almost 10 years of being missing.  Let's hope it gets to travel long and far in the future and eventually return safely back to California.