Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Closing in on the last one

I've got a full tank of gas, the kids are Nana's for the day, Alicia's at work......hummmm, the kids are tired of caching, what's a fella to do......time to hit the road.

First stop was Lake Catherine State Park.  Located on the shores of one of several lakes clustered together in Central Arkansas.  When I first got to where I thought the cache was I noticed some signs marking the trail closed due to hunting, hummmm, not good.  Then I looked down at the fuzzy jacket I was wearing, hummmm, deer colored, good thing I'm gonna be in State Parks today.  Rechecked the GPS and saw I didn't need to take that trail after all, cache acquired, time to move on.

Next stop was DeGray Lake Resort State Park.  On the way it occurred to me that I'd forgotten to grab the bagel I'd intended to eat for breakfast, swung by a Pilot that just so happened to have a Cinnabun stand inside, grabbed one of those and a thing of chocolate milk, problem solved.  Now onto the park.  One thing I realized I failed to take into consideration was that the milages between things was basically park entrance to park entrance.  I failed to take into consideration the time required to drive within the park, more on this later.  This cache was located in an interesting place at one of the swim beaches, let's just say I'm glad my arms aren't any shorter than they are.

The next target was Daisy State Park, located on the shores of Lake Greeson in Daisy, Arkansas.  Looks like a nice hidden gem of a place to come spend a weekend.

Onto Cossatot River State Park - Natural Area, I missed the turn that my GPS wanted me to take onto a Weyerhouser road to get to where the cache is, as luck would have it I wound up at the park sign that I needed to take a picture of anyway, and there was a sign pointing me towards Cossatot Falls.  Six and a half miles of gravel road later (remember how I mentioned I'd forgotten to factor in traveling to the actual caches?) I was at the falls, and quickly found the cache.  The water was down so no-one was playing in the falls, but I can see how boaters could have a lot of fun there.

Time to head back east.  Quick stop for lunch on the way to Lake Ouachita State Park, then hunting for the cache.  This was the most challenging of the ones I found today, very sneakily hidden.

I plugged today's finds into my spreadsheet and determined that my answer was indeed inside of one of the State Parks (good sign).  I headed towards it hoping to find stage one today, then the family come back another day to find the actual finally.  My luck ran out after having found 5 caches today.  I reached out to some fellow cachers who have finished the challenge to check my numbers, so far I've received confirmation that I'm off, now to see by how much.  Stay tuned, the end is near.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Butterflies and a cache

We picked this weekend to goto Queen Winhelmina State Park because it was predicted that the Monarch butterflies would be passing through on their way south for the winter.  We did see some butterflies, lots of bikes (both human powered and gas powered).  We hiked a couple of trails (bushwhacked to fetch the park cache (that's #47 of 52), rode our bikes, hung out at camp.

I bumped into a couple of Rolla grads at the bath house last night.  Emily and I were walking up (I was wearing a UMR sweatshirt) and a guy asks "are you an alum?".  We talked for a bit, turns out he (ME'08 and his wife ArchEng'08), also lived in the Quad.  Small world.

We'd planned on stopping by another park on the way home since it was "in the neighborhood" but Eli didn't sleep well last night so we opted to just head straight home.

Had to ask where the park sign was (different road than we came in on) and snagged a picture last night.  Glad I did because since we didn't goto the other park we didn't go out that way either.

If you squint you can see a butterfly.

Speckled King Snake, we watched him until he moved on along

Gorgeous views

And of course, sign #47.

Five more parks to go.  Since we're not whitewater boaters Cossatot will probably involve hiking a trail along the river.  We can hike from the visitor's center to the cache and back (it's about 4.5 miles each way), it'll be a long hike but quite doable with daypacks.

Daisy will probably be our campground when we go see it and Cossatot.

The 3 lakes (Catherine, DeGray, and Ouachita) will probably all be done together.  Stay at 1, enjoy 1, visit the other 2 as well.

If we'd been thinking further ahead, perhaps we would have used the 4 day weekend around Columbus Day but we have other plans Friday and Saturday night.

We're getting close, I'm looking forward to finishing up.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

And then there were 6

This weekend on the way back from a quick trip to KC for Opa's birthday we swung by Hobbs State Park - Conservation Area for another try at their cache.  If you'll recall from March of 2016 we attempted to find it but came up empty handed.  This time after reading notes from several other cachers who had found it we were successfull.  We did discover that the clue was missing though.  Talking to the friendly visitor center staff they had the clue handy "people keep walking off with it or wiping it off of the container".

I've been holding onto this sign photo for over a year, so Woohoo, I finally get to post it.

So that's park #46 of 52.  At least 1 is going to have to wait until the fall butterfly migration.  The kids are a bit burned out on collecting caches right now too.  Collecting 13 over 2 weekends of Spring Break may have been a bit much.  Especially since there was considerable distance between some of them which meant many hours in the car.  Perhaps we'll be finished by the end of the year.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring Break - part two

There's a saying in Arkansas.  If you have outdoor plans in the Spring, you'd better have an alternative ready.

We'd planned on another weekend of camping.  Mother Nature decided she needed to water the yard some more and blow some leaves, so we camped in our house Friday night to avoid the storms rolling through.  Saturday morning we awoke to a beautiful (unpollinated) morning.  We headed to the extreme Southwest corner of the state (south of Bradley) to Conway Cemetery State Park.  Resting place of Governor Conway (and his family), the First Governor of Arkansas.

We headed north to Logoly State Park.  It gets it's odd name by taking the 1st 2 letters of the last names of the 3 families (Longinos, Goodes, and Lyles) who owned the land when it was leased as a Boy Scout camp before eventually being purchased by the Nature Conservancy.  A nice quiet park.  I did make a navigational error when scouting out where the cache was which took us a bit out of our way.

Next up was Poison Springs Battleground State Park, first in the Red River Campaign.  The cache was a good 100' away from where it was supposed to be and had recently been "cleaned up and fixed".  Unfortunately, the park series clues weren't put back, so I'm working on obtaining those from other sources.

Last stop of the day was our campground for the evening, White Oak Lake State Park.  Beautiful place to spend the evening (once the generator next door was turned off), nice trails to walk on, a lake to play on in warmer weather.  Unfortunately, this cache suffered from the same "clean up and fixup" as the last one, sigh.

Sunday morning we awoke to a nice foggy morning on the lake.  After breaking camp and eating breakfast we headed South East again to Millwood State Park.  This lake is the water source for Texarkana and home to lots of large bass (or so the brochure says).  We had an enjoyable stroll and picnic lunch on the two trails by the lake.

Historic Washington State Park was our next target.  Capital of Arkansas for a couple of years after the Union troops captured Little Rock.  A quaint little town.

A quick stop by Crater of Diamonds State Park to grab that cache and stickers for the kids' trunks.  The hiding spot for the cache was one of the more ingenious I've seen.

And then it was time to head the rest of the way home.

So, for the weekend that gives us:
#39 - Conway Cemetery
#40 - Logoly State Park
#41 - Poison Springs Battleground State Park
#42 - White Oak Lake State Park
#43 - Millwood State Park
#44 - Historic Washington State Park
#45 - Crater of Diamonds State Park

45 of 52, 87% getting close.  It was a successful set of Spring Break caching trips, 13 caches across the two weekends (still gotta track down the clues for 2 of those).

Monday, March 20, 2017

On the road again

It's Spring Break in Arkansas which must mean it's time to get back to geocaching.  This weekend took us to 6 parks via 450 miles or so of road.  For those who don't know, South Arkansas is timber country.  We saw LOTS and LOTS of timber.

The weekend started with a drive down to Cane Creek State Park.  After briefly confusing the ranger because "our name wasn't on his list" we got moved into our campsite for the weekend.  One thing we discovered is either there was a family reunion of sorts going on, or the folks around us knew each other from camping/fishing.

Saturday morning after packing a sack lunch we started our quest by obtaining the park's official cache.  We then headed off on a leisurely jaunt through the woods to one of the 3 swinging bridges in the park.  That was about a 6-7 mile stroll, the kids were pretty zonked by the time we finished.  We decided a drive in the car to another park to allow some rest time was in order.  So, we headed on over to Marks' Mills Battleground State Park (one of 3 stops on the Red River Campaign).  Oddly the park itself isn't where the skirmish occurred, that's a mile down the road, must have been where the state could get some land.  Once back home we road bikes for a while, working on a puzzle cache, we figured it out but never actually went to collect it, perhaps we'll be back some day.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed out on a rather circuitous route home.  Everyone heads out South to go North, right?  Our first stop was Moro Bay State Park.  When we arrived we were curious why the cabins were built up on stilts, then we found this pole.  Note that Emily's feet are about 20 feet above the current water level, that's a lot of water!  The kids had fun exploring the ferry that had crossed here until 1992.  And we learned that flammable and inflammable mean the same thing, who knew.

Next stop was the South Arkansas Arboretum State Park.  The azaleas were in bloom, though not much else was yet.  It was still a nice stroll.

Just down the road we stopped at the Arkansas Museum for Natural Resources.  Built near the crater of a sizable blowout it chronicles the rise and fall of the natural resources market in Arkansas.  Primarily timber and oil.

Turning north towards home we had one more stop to make, this time at Jenkins Ferry Battleground State Park.  The last stop on the Red River Campaign trail.  It was at this stop that the Union Army finally escaped the Confederate Army by destroying the temporary bridge across the flooded Red River.

So that gives us:
#33 - Cane Creek
#34 - Marks' Mills
#35 - Moro Bay
#36 - South Arkansas Arboretum
#37 - Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources
#38 - Jenkins Ferry

38 of 52, almost 3/4 (1 short)

Hopefully we'll be finished this fall.  Waiting until October for Queen Wilhelmina because of the migrating butterflies that stop by.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

That's Edgy Man

One of Eli's friends has adopted as his personal catch phrase "That's Edgy Man".  He really came into ownership of it at a church camp this summer.  So, when Eli was invited to his birthday party he knew just the gift to make for him, an Edgy Button.

So, on a Friday night when the girls were off at a church lock-in, we put on our Maker hats and got to work.

The first thought was that a Staples Easy Button would be the perfect starting point.  Wonder if anyone's managed to change the message it says.  Off to Instructables.com we go.  Doesn't look like it but there are several people who have replaced the internal guts so we went that route.

First stop, Staples to get an Easy Button to see how much room we had to work with.  If anyone's curious, this is what the inside of your Easy Button looks like.

The black dot in the top left is the "brain" of the whole operation and looks fairly impenetrable and unmodifiable.

I found the voice module we needed on Amazon.  Prime shipping could have it to me by Sunday, but we didn't have that kind of time.  Time to check and see if Radio Shack happens to have what we need.

Surprise surprise, they do (no seriously, I was shocked when we walked in, they asked if they could help, I told them what I was looking for and they said, we used to, yup, right here)..  For those not in the know, Radio Shack used to be a tinker's goto spot.  Emphasis on used to be.  Now they mostly sell popular electronics, phone accessories, etc.  Not so much for us tinkerers.  Tinkerers in Little Rock are pretty much in a black hole as far as sourcing stuff.  Honestly that's probably a good thing for my wallet.

Now it's time to break out the Dremal and soldering iron and so some adjusting.

I didn't take too many "in progress" pictures unfortunately.  But we had to (desolder the existing circuit board, enlarge the battery "cage" since the new voice module runs off of a 9 volt, adjust the button to allow the bigger internal button to be pushed, adjust the button to fit around the battery, grind off the raised "Easy" from the button).

Use a paint pen to add EDGY to the top and voila, you've got an Edgy Button.

Reports are that he loved it!

Monday, September 05, 2016

4 days, 2.5 tanks of gas, 834 miles, 10 State Parks, and 10 caches

Another long weekend means another opportunity to visit State Parks and collect geocaches. We found a cabin available at Village Creek State Park, just outside of Wynn. One of the best parts? No wifi and spotty cell service (double win, though it makes planning the next day's journey a bit more challenging).

 Friday afternoon we loaded up and headed out towards Village Creek State Park, arriving at our cabin by 6. After unloading we jumped on our bikes to explore the park and fetch the cache as well as the requisite park sign picture. One interesting feature is a giant Arkansas Flag. The flag poles on each of the 4 central stars have the appropriate flags on them for Arkansas' "owners"; the United States, France, Spain, and the Confederacy. Lots to do in this park, miles of trails to bike and hike on, a couple of lakes to play in.

Saturday saw us heading out on a 230 mile circuit to retrieve 5 Caches. First stop, Jacksonport State Park. This town was the county seat for a short while until it was bypassed by the railroad in favor of Newport. The railroad offered to build a spur for $25,000. The town refused and died shortly thereafter.

Next up, Lake Charles State Park. On the western shore of the Arkansas Fish and Wildlife Management's Lake Charles the State Park is mostly a fishing park. The Mockernut trail takes you alongside the lake and is a nice walk.

Down the road a short 5 minutes is Powhatan State Park. Took a while to find this cache and had to get the magic numbers from the staff. Folks keep stealing their cache.

Moving on down the road we next stopped at Lake Poinsett State Park. This trail wasn't nearly as scenic as the one at Lake Charles but it was nice to stretch out legs.

Load'em up, move'em out, back on the road to Parkin Archaeological State Park. Former home of the Mississippians, watched a very interesting movie and had a great conversation with the interpreter. By the time we left it was obvious the kids were done. Fortunately, this was the last stop for the day.

Saturday's tally is 5 caches, 230 miles, 8 hours. We headed back into Wynn for dinner at a local Mexican place, then back to the cabin for showers and bed.

Sunday found us on the road again after sleeping in a bit, this time heading South. Our first stop was Mississippi River State Park. One of the newest parks it has a really neat visitor center. It is a joint venture between the State Park system and the US Forest Service since its in the St. Francis National Forest.

Next stop was just down the road to Delta Heritage Trail State Park. Union Pacific donated 73 miles of right away from the abandoned Delta Eagle route. The Park Service is turning into a biking and hiking trail. We road about 4 miles down and back. Right now about 27 miles are open. Eventually you'll be able to ride from Lexa to McGehee including crossing over the White and Arkansas rivers on the old trestles.

One last stop for the day, Arkansas Post Museum State Park. It was the territorial capital of Arkansas. From things I read later we probably should have gone around the bend to the National Monument where the post used to be but we didn't. That will have to wait until we're in the neighborhood again, which may be a while, it's not in our typical neck of the woods.

Then it was a long 2 hour drive back to Village Creek. The highlight of the trip back was probably the half-dozen dust devils we saw in the freshly harvested fields. We tried to go kayaking but the fellow who told us the lake was open until 7 was apparently mistaken.

Sunday's rally was only 3 caches, 220 miles, and another 8 hour day. Everyone was tired.

Monday meant time to head home, but why not pick up one more cache. Before heading out we managed to get an hour of kayaking in, the kids seemed to enjoy it. We headed home via Mt. View, home of the Ozark Folk Center (no, this is not the shortest route from Wynn to Little Rock, in fact it's several hours out of the way, but it was worth it.) We got to see an old printing press in operation, and the kids got to dip candles.

The final tally: 2.5 tanks of gas, 834 miles, 10 state parks, 10 caches and WAY too many hours in the car

#23: Village Creek
#24: Jacksonport
#25: Lake Charles
#26: Powhatan
#27: Lake Poinsett
#28: Parkin
#29: Mississippi River
#30: Delta Heritage
#31: Arkansas Post
#32: Ozark Folk Center