Monday, March 7, 2011


I had only had the new video camera about 3 minutes when I remembered we had some helium balloons left over from Valentine’s Day.

The more I thought about those balloons, the lighter the camera seemed to feel in my hand. This was never a part of my plan, but I had momentum now. I had other plans for this new camera but the stupidity had set in and sometimes, that’s all it takes.

I got the first balloon. For the remainder of the story it will be known as "Balloon One" I attached it to the camera. It wasn't enough.

I got a second balloon. We will call this one "Balloon One" also because there is no real need to differentiate. Stop getting hung up on the small stuff.

After attaching the 2nd balloon one, I knew this could totally work. although I had not yet defined what "work" would be.

I got the third balloon to which we will not refer again because it is this one that is the reason I now own several weapons, some sporting goods equipment, and about 50 feet of 3 quarter inch, class 200 PVC pipe which by the way is all for sale if anyone is interested.

So here is what we have.

1. Smallest video camera I could find.

It is disguised as a keyless remote

(no seriously, look into my keys and say that)

2. The lighter than air vehicle to carry it.

All I needed was an anchor of some sort because we want to be smart about this. Well fortunately, we had some special tangle resistant kite string that I could.... wait... what was that?? Tangle resistant? Yes, it has a special coating on the string that makes it difficult to tangle or knot. It would have been smart for me to think about that feature of the string but this was no time for thinking.

So, I tied the string to the camera, and headed off to my backyard for the official launch. It was cold and quite gusty out but I decided to throw caution to the wind. And by "caution" I mean my camera.

The whole thing rose higher and higher until it went above my roof and the wind began to push it. The string tightened and I fought with the thing for a good 3 seconds before the kite string's defense system kicked in and set itself to "detangle mode" It was at that point that I realized how unfortunate it was that I had put my Cell phone's memory card in the camera without first backing it up. Off it went my contacts, texts, some documents, emails, pictures, and of course my new camera.

My first reaction was to grab the kids, get in the car, and follow those balloons until they landed gently and easily retrievable in a field somewhere where I would simply pick them up, and head home.

My second reaction was "Oh shit, my balloon is going to get stuck in the top of that tree"

So there was my sophisticated surveillance system precariously stuck on a branch of a tree threatening with each gust of wind to detach and fly away delivering my camera and memory card to some lucky person downwind from Lewisville.

I did what anyone would do. I gathered up the kids and went to Wal-Mart to buy a BB gun. This is probably a good time to point out that the camera cost $18.00 on eBay.

There I was at Wal-Mart with my babies in tow on the BB gun isle looking through the various air rifles. I found the perfect one, some air cartridges, and some BBs. I was about to head out but then decided in order to get on the “people of Wal-Mart” website I needed to add to the equation.

In all seriousness, in the checkout line, people were staring at me like crazy. I don't know why.

That night after everyone was asleep, I grabbed a beer and the gun and headed to the greenbelt which is a fairly common practice in Lewisville.

I walked out to the tree, and I could see the shadow of what was either my balloon up there or possibly a bald Eagle. It was hard to tell because it was dark. I started shooting wildly at the shadow, and accomplished nothing. I might have missed. This is when I decided if I put 10 BBs in the barrel and fired it I would likely... well I don't know what it would do. It would do something and the one at a time method wasn't working.

I filled the barrel with Ammo, fired once, and it destroyed the Eagle (Oh yeah, at some point I renamed the aircraft to "The Eagle").

So, my first success. I managed to pop the balloons so they could not fly away. They were deflated now but still stuck up there mocking me from above.

The next day I got up and spent a good hour shooting at the wad of Mylar and ribbon in the top of the tree hoping to somehow dislodge the thing and retrieve my camera. I also secretly hoped it was somehow still filming my efforts.

After a bit of time, I noticed a helicopter circling the greenbelt and thought "here I am in the green belt firing a gun up in the air" I quickly went to the house and checked the news to make sure there were no reports of a lone gunman shooting up the greenbelt. It was just a car wreck.

I decided that wasn't going to work so it was back to Wal-Mart; this time for less conventional weaponry.

The thought was to tie (A damn good knot this time) the string to the tennis ball, and launch the tennis ball into the tree with the slingshot. I did a few practice shots with some free range tennis balls to see if I could even hit it.

You can't launch a tennis ball with a slingshot. It doesn't work.

I began throwing the tennis balls at the branch and was getting close to it so once I felt I had my aim down, I launched the one with the string attached.

So now my tennis ball was stuck in the tree next to the balloons.

I went home dejected.

I explained the situation to Jack, and he came up with the best solution yet.

A few days had gone by and I had come up with several other ideas

1. Crossbow w/ String for a mini harpoon type device

2. Ladder + Chainsaw

3. Screw large bolts half way into the tree creating steps. Add a new one as I go till I reach it

4. RC Helicopter that shoots model rockets (I will probably do this anyway. I have already designed the remote launching mechanism. It needs to be done.)

Finally I settled on a series of progressively smaller PVC pipes with makeshift hooks on the end.

It was off to Home depot.

This is the point every man struggles with in life. It is dumb to spend this much money and effort on an $18 camera but I had already spent too much of both to just give up. I know I know... It makes sense to me though. Shut up.

I began gathering all the items I needed to make the ultimate "camera Balloon caught in a Tall Tree retriever"

I came home all excited to use the new tool and retrieve what the wind and trees had taken from me and I'll be damned if the balloon and camera weren't just sitting on the ground next to the tree. I could see Elmo on the balloon staring up at me and laughing his fuzzy red ass off. The only satisfaction here was that Elmo was riddled with BB holes

Incidentally, Here is some of the footage I got from the camera after I got it back:

At any rate, I got my camera back. I also got a kite. I think I will see if I can get some good aerial footage of those new power lines behind my house.


  1. Oh, Bryan. I don't even have words. But I did laugh several times.

  2. where did you get that camera

  3. Bill, go to ebay and type in: keychain camera
    They are dirt cheap, and pretty cool