Monday, May 26, 2008

Ozzy The Osprey Love Doll

I just finished reading the greatest discussion thread over in the Groundspeak Forums. It reads like a great novel, or at least a well written soap opera. On 6/25/2006 a geocacher from Connecticut named Planet spotted something on a web cam. The web cam is on an osprey nest and and is put on by the Connecticut Audubon Society.

The Ospreys had laid some eggs and brought something for the baby to enjoy. A little blue teddy bear. This bear appeared to have a travel bug dog tag around its neck. A possible match was quickly identified as missing travel bug, "Sophia Loren". This was soon ruled out due to other forum reader's "scientific" examination of the web cam footage. The toy bear was being called Sophia, blue plush, blue bear and more. Finally on 8/14/06 ZSandman suggested the name, "Ozzy the Osprey Love Doll" Everyone agreed that it was not a travel bug, but if that bear came out of the nest it needed to be made into one.

Ozzy was moved around the nest and was played with by the birds all summer. The cachers following the thread were watching the baby bird, "Junior" grow up right in front of them. Ozzy inspired love songs to be written, funny photoshop postings and cartoons drawn in the forum. Terms such as "those with blocked web cams" and "The Australians who get to work when the web cam is dark." Finally, in the beginning of September of 2006 Hurricane Fernando blew Ozzie out of the nest.

A rescue party had long been in the planning for when Ozzy left the nest. Planet got some folks together with kayaks and headed to the nest. Sadly, Ozzy was not recovered and wasn't able to fulfill his destiny as a travel bug. In memory, Planet was given an angel teddy bear which was named Spirit of Ozzy.

Spirit of Ozzy the Osprey Love Doll is now a travel bug owned by Planet. There are currently 30 geocachers watching the travel bug with hopes it gets close to them.

In the summer of 2007 the ospreys were back and the discussion thread was revived. Everyone felt like happy parents when two baby ospreys hatched. No teddy bear to look at but there was still plenty of excitement. The fire department came to the nest twice to rescue the babies from trash.

Now the Osprey are back and this year four eggs have hatched. That's a lot of fish to catch and feed to the hungry babies. You can see the web cam at the Connecticut Audubon Society Website. For some reason the live video will not stream in FireFox so dust off that Internet Explorer. You can also join the discussion forum here.

You have to go read through the thread yourself. There are so many funny comments and great posts. You'll feel like you know "Ozzie" and might even put a watch on the travel bug listing!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wild Weather In Southern California

For the past few days the weather here in SoCal has been relentless. Last weekend the temperature was in the triple digits and now we have thunderstorms, hail and even tornadoes! Here is a YouTube video of the hail coming down in Moreno Valley. You can hear the thunder booming in the background. I like this video because in his very first sentence he mentions that it's like we are living in Minnesota. Ha ha, Minnesota.

This next video is of a double funnel tornado that touched down in Moreno Valley as well. There are a bunch other videos of the tornado from different areas at the YouTube page. All this video was taken by people that live only 30 miles or so from me.

I took a couple of pictures of the rain as it was coming down. It was raining as hard as I've ever seen it rain. Can you believe that the second I turned the video camera on, the rain stopped. I mean stopped. Like someone closed the valve and there was nothing. Not a drizzle. That's how my video skills go. Thank god for YouTube and these fine people for posting their video.

Our big trip up Mount San Jacinto is next weekend. The weather is supposed to be warmer. It only got up to 30 degrees at the upper tram station today. There is fresh snow up there. The Wife and I are staying at a resort in Cathedral City. It's a place that rents out its vacant time shares. We will be in a one bedroom condo. It's a very nice four star place for $104 a night from (No, there is no time share sales pitch to worry about. It's just a hotel.)

I have a few Palm Springs power trails all mapped out too. I hope to return after having found over 60 geocaches. The weather needs to be warm enough for us to go summit the mountain and cool enough for us to hike on the desert floor. I should have some great photos when we get home.

Here's the pictures of the rain from two days ago. I took these from the safety of my front porch. There was some serious lightning and thunder going on at this time. Thankfully I'm bullet proof! By the way, I hope all you hardcore cachers attending GeoWoodstock are enjoying yourselves right now. Have fun, tell everyone Hick@Heart says hi!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Fun Hike For A Geocache

The Boy and I decided to go out for a little walk. I've been looking for any opportunity to break my new backpack in (Osprey Aether 70) and get my legs ready for my next big adventure. Even though I live in a very densely populated Southern California, there is a surprising amount of open land near my house.

We "hiked" right out our front door and headed out of the neighborhood. The local park has a nice dirt trail that made us feel like we were somewhat out of Suburbia. We crossed a busy Highway 79 and ended up on some old dirt roads.

We were soon climbing an old washed out road leading to the top of a nearby hill. From the bottom we could see what appeared to be a swarm of birds flying in a group near the summit. It reminded me of sea birds swooping down on a school of anchovies that had been pushed to the ocean surface by game fish.

As we approached the top I realized these were not birds at all. I was surprised to find a group of people flying radio controlled gliders in the wind. I'm sure they wondered why I was up here wearing a 70 liter pack. Little did they know that most of the Pack's volume was consumed by blankets and sleeping bags for a little weight. Some of the group was standing right at ground zero so The Boy and I went over to the other side for a photo op.

Ground zero soon belonged to us and I began searching the rock piles for our treasure. The Boy was watching a fire truck and ambulance scream along the road below when I made the find. It was a very cool tin container shaped like a pirate ship. Inside were many "gold coins" and a few other pirate themed trade items.

We drank some water and watched the gliders for a little while before heading back down the hill. On the way down we saw some people riding their horses in the open fields. We were soon back on our neighborhood streets and back at base camp.

We traveled just under 5 miles which is a long hike for only one Southern California geocache. I guess that's how they do it in Minnesota. The backpack proved very comfortable and I'm looking forward to putting many miles on it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

World Wide Flash Mob III, San Diego

Today was the day for WWFM III flash mob event on Coronado Island in San Diego, California. Sonny and Sandy of PodCacher were the hosts of this event. They had seen my previous posts stating that I was going to be attending and contacted me to ask if I'd like to volunteer to help at the event. I was happy to help out.

The event started at 10:00 am but we needed to meet the rest of the team working the event at 9:30 near the first waypoint. I found the group and after a few introductions and trading some geocoin discoveries, I was assigned the role of "Official event still photography technicial expert" OK, so I made up the cool sounding title but, I was the photographer. There's not very many situations where you can meet someone for the first time, hand them a very expensive camera and wait for it to be returned half an hour later. Geocachers are generally a good group of people. So, my job was to take pictures. Lots of pictures. That's what I did.

The first waypoint was right in front of the ferry landing that services Coronado. The signal for everyone to converge on the waypoint was an orange bucket, carried by Sonny, being placed on the ground. As soon as it hit the ground, people started coming from all directions. Log sheets were passed around for everyone to sign. There was a travel bug box and a swag box for people to trade things.

Soon the whistles blew, announcing the time to move to the second waypoint. This was a nearby grassy area that provided nice seating for the group photo. The San Diego Bay and the downtown San Diego Skyline were the perfect backdrop for our memory. I'm sure this will be a great photo. The sun had eaten through the marine layer and it was an unexpected 75 degrees right on the water. Several comments were made cursing the decision to wear jeans rather than shorts.

Again, whistles blew and the group broke apart to head to the third and final waypoint. We were headed to a giant compass rose that decorates the entrance to the park. The sign in sheets were used to hold a raffle where some lucky cachers won FTF rights, a tee shirt, an ammo can filled with swag and an official WWFIII Flash mob geoocoin. (Yours truly never wins anything but I am the first to discover this really cool geocoin.)

At 10:15 the event was over. We all were supposed to leave the area via the different directions identified by the compass rose. I took team Hick@Heart back to the prep area to return the camera and chat with some cachers. QDMan recognized me and introduced himself. We had a laugh about the baseball I found that boasted his signature. It was nice to finally get to meet him.

I grabbed a handful of travel bugs to take up to Mount San Jacinto on the weekend of May 30th. I also took some time to log a few more geocoins. My favorites were; ea6bflyr's SPUTNIK Geocoin, Fatboy's tanktop, and a cacher from Australia had his Australian Pioneer geocoin.

Since The Wife was busy chasing The Girl, and I was taking award winning photos with the event camera, I gave my camera to The Boy. He took some good photos but it seems he had the zoom all the way out and so I don't have a photo showing the entire mob very well. You can view the official Flickr photo set here. The Boy did capture a close up of himself that is pretty funny so I'll put it here!

After the event we walked about a half mile down a small beach to grab a cache that someone said may contain a travel bug that wants to reach mountain peaks. That bug wasn't there but we enjoyed the walk and enjoyed finding the cache. One of the houses was for sale and for a cool 11 million dollars you could have your own piece of heaven right on the water in Coronado. 11 million is slightly out of my budget so I can only enjoy the view from the pictures The Boy took.

The temperatures were warm and The Girl was ready to relax so we had a gourmet meal at Burger King and then headed over to REI to drool on all the cool stuff that's on sale. The event was a blast and appeared to be a success. I believe the final tally of events participating in the World Wide Flash Mob is 167 events. They were scheduled to happen in 15 countries, including 45 US States and 11 Canadian Provinces. Be sure to check in with PodCacher to see details on all the events. Sandy said they would be very busy with hundreds of emails documenting them all. PodCacher plans to cover the details in a few posts. You'll definitely want to go check out the high quality photographs. If you go look at them it would be funny for a bunch of people to comment on the great job Hick@Heart did on the pictures!

Here's a bunch of pictures from today.

The team

Downtown San Diego seen from the Coronado Bridge

Part of the mob

Setting up the group shot. (Sandy reacts to The Boy taking pictures)

I'm sporting the demo flash mob geocoin

The event filmer films The Boy taking pictures

The Girl finds a flower

The Boy with the event coin

Fattboy shows off his threads

The San Diego Bay

Nice little stretch of beach. Perfect for a walk.

The Kiddies under a really cool tree.Mean streets of Coronado

The Boy with USS Midway in the background

Nice little house right on the beach with a vanishing edge pool/waterfall.

A Perfect lawn with a flagpole from a ship.
Bugs I picked up to take to the mountain

Official event schedule

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Here Comes Some Fun Geocaching

I haven't had much time to geocache in the past couple of weeks but there is some big time fun on the horizon.

First is the flash mob event on Coronado Island in San Diego. Next Saturday is WWFM III and we will be in one of the most beautiful areas in the world for our first flash mob. This event is being put on by the folks over at PodCacher. If you didn't get a chance to read my previous post about it, you can check it out here.

Second is a trip up Mount San Jacinto for a hike to the summit and some mountain top geocaching. There is an earth cache, a virtual cache and 6 active regular caches listed on the "top o the tram" bookmark list. Click the image of the mountain for a great photo gallery.

I am actually planning a hike up San Jacinto via the infamous Cactus to Clouds trail this October. This trail is considered one of the toughest hikes in California. You gain over 10,000 feet of elevation. That's actually more elevation gain than you get on a typical summit trip on Mt. Whitney. (Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states.)

The wife and I are planning on taking the "easy" way up in June. We will ascend the first 8400 feet inside the comfort of the Palm Springs Ariel Tram. From there it's a 5.5 mile hike up the remaining 2000 feet to the summit. We plan to spend the day exploring our share of the 54 miles of available trails in this great state park. (Hopefully the fire danger does not close off our summit attempt) The temperature at the tram station is typically 30 degrees cooler than the desert floor. That means this summer we can cruise up the mountain and hike around all day, even camp in 70 degree weather. NICE! Come winter time we can ride up into the snow without having to drive in it.

Needless to say, there are some very exciting events coming up for us. I am very excited to get into my new hobby of hiking and climbing. I have to say that I have always wanted to climb a mountain. My family spent a lot of time out in nature while I was growing up. Geocaching has been the catalyst into pulling the trigger on some real hiking and camping adventures as an adult for me. I actually started a new blog that I will dedicate to these non geocaching adventures. I only have a couple posts on it so far but feel free to check it out here. These two hobbies will often go hand in hand and I will be sure to share those adventures here.

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