Saturday, May 28, 2005

Memorial Day

For most Americans, Memorial Day means a long weekend during the warm days of late spring, replete with family barbecues, outdoor activities, and perhaps a parade honoring our veterans.

For me and my crew, the importance of this national holiday was driven home in a big way today. After a quick flight from O'Hare, we taxied to our gate in Cleveland and noticed an unusual amount of activity next to a Delta Airlines 737 parked just across from us. There were fire trucks and police cars lined up, as well as numerous officials in various uniforms and business attire. After our passengers deplaned, we inquired as to the occasion and learned that the jet was carrying the bodies of KIA soldiers from Iraq who were being returned to their families in Ohio.

We watched as the caskets came down from the aircraft draped in the colors of our great nation, and not one of us had a dry eye as we watched the procession. It was a very moving experience, and one that I will never forget.

I trust that each of you, my friends, will be able enjoy a very pleasant weekend in the company of friends and family. Please join me in taking a few moments to remember the sacrifices made by our fellow Americans, without whom we would not be afforded the freedom to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Linc Bags A Rare Bird Photo!

My friend Linc sent me a photo that I thought might be of interest - here is his account and photo:

"When I climbed up the grassy backside of the dam and reached the macadam walkway on top of it, I looked down in the rocks at the waters edge, at first glance I thought I was lookng at a penguin, but no, it was the Black Crowned Night Heron. He was standing motionless (stalking fish) and I whipped up the camera and shot him as best I could. He never took his eye off the waters surface as I walked across the top of the dam and back to the car."

Way to go Linc! This is a great picture!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Afternoon Delight!

YAY! I finally managed to sneak in a day for myself with nothing on the books(well, actually I have TONS of stuff to work on, but dangit I just HAD to get outside and hit the trail!)

I decided to try the Beaverdam circuit of caches earlier this morning, but my caching gear was scattered all over the house and it took a while to get organized. I finally set out at 1 pm or so and made my way down to Mt. Hope Road. As I strapped on my leg bag and backpack a young gentleman came off of the north trail head with a hunting bow and a string of carp - really big ones! He spotted my Sig Sauer and stopped to chat for a moment. I'll tell ya, I have a great respect for folks who can muster a bow with accuracy!

I made my way down to the end of the road for the first find and walked right up to the first stage of a multi. This was good feeling... I was starting to wonder if my caching skills had suffered from this long absence and my fears were quickly allayed. The weather was just starting to turn when I started the hike, but I had looked at the doppler out of Sterling before leaving home and was betting that the approaching showers would move east faster than they were moving south.

Good thing I didn't bet any money...

The rain started as I followed the trail north, but rain doesn't bother me much unless it's a downpour and I can't see. I scored my first cache find at Merganser Point and IT FELT GREAT! I walked right up to the hide, which was in a tree, and sat for a while reading the log comments which got me to reminiscing... With those 400 plus finds, I have a lot of very fond memories!

I eventually closed and rehid the cache and started bushwhacking to the next cache. Ahhh...yessss... the smell of the good earth, the spider webs all over my arms wrapping fresh thorn scratches - I was in my element! From nowhere the song 'Afternoon Delight' popped into my head, complete with that lovely four part harmony, and I sang through rain and pickers to GZ at Feeder Stream.

Now, the thunder had picked up a bit and I was seeing CTC lightning through the canopy, but the afternoon heavy departures from IAD were still rumbling by so I figured it couldn't be all THAT bad. It wasn't, but as I closed and rehid the cache the rain started in earnest. I didn't see any clearing to the northwest, so I decided to follow the feeder stream up to the road for a quicker hike back the car. That was an enjoyable hide, even in the pouring rain.

I can't wait to get back here in fair weather to finish out the series - I am quite fond of this area and I am very glad to see that cache master 'B Team' has populated the entire reservoir with hides.

Hey, there's nothing like a great meal at the end of a long day. Nightengale and I celebrated the arrival of fresh corn from Florida with a steak dinner - Casper looked on with an approving eye.

Casper in all of his glory...