Saturday, August 06, 2016

Closing in on half way

With the addition of 2 more caches to our "collected" list we've picked up caches 21 and 22 so we're closing in on the 1/2 way mark (just need 4 more).

On our way back from picking the kids up from KC for their annual week with Oma and Opa we finally managed to get by Lake Dardanelle State Park.  We pass it frequently, just never when their open (or when we have 30 minutes to spare to go by).  They have a really cool set of fish tanks with fish from the lake (an impoundment on the Arkansas River formed by the Dardanelle Lock and Dam.  On the northeastern shore is the state's only nuclear power plant.  A storm was rolling in so we didn't have much time to take in the scenery.

The second cache was picked up on our way back from our annual Byrd family beach trip.  We've been planning to pickup Lake Chicot State Park on the way back from the beach for about a year.  Once again we were racing against a pretty serious storm but we managed to grab the cache and get back to the visitor center and car mostly dry.

That's probably it for a while until we find a weekend to head out and work on a bunch in southern Arkansas.

And our current collection status:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mark another couple off the list

It's the beginning of Spring Break so must be time for another family campout.  The weather was supposed to be warm, until we booked our campsites, oh well.  This year's trip was to Bull Shoals-White River State Park, lovely park, though a bit windy.  I bet it's comfortable even in the middle of summer with the cool breeze blowing off of the White River.




We spent Saturday touring the park.  We tried our hand at Mountain Biking but do believe that trail is a bit above our experience and gear level.  So we quickly abandoned that plan and just went for a hike instead.  We also snagged the Park Cache.

Sunday morning we finally got breakfast cooked, cars loaded, and on the road for another couple of  parks in a circuitous trip home.  First up was Withrow Springs State Park.  We had a cool, windy picnic lunch then headed off to retrieve the Park Cache.  After a LONG walk through the woods we quickly grabbed that cache as well.  Emily and I picked up an extra cache while we were on the way back (she didn't make it all the way to the Park Cache).  A conversation ensued that some of the caches seem to be in out of the way places when they should be close to the Park's "main feature".



Next up was Hobbs State Park / Conservation Area.  During that drive (and close to the destination) the GPS app on the phone decided it liked listening to our book on tape too much to shout out directions.  Once we got turned around all was well.  Not such good luck getting that cache.  I'm 99% sure where it's supposed to be, but it wasn't there :(.


We had hopes of snagging 1 last park on the way home but it took us too long to get out of camp to make it practical.  It was kind of a pipe dream on my part anyway to grab it.  Oh well, it's just off of I-40, we'er through there enough that one day we'll go by a) when the visitor center is still open, b) when we're not in a hurry to get somewhere.

Any way, here's some Park signs from the trip, a map of our travels, and an updated map of what we've found.

Our trip:

And our current collection status:

Saturday, January 02, 2016

New Year's Trip

Usually on New Year's Day we climb Pinnacle Mountain.  This year we decided to go spend the night in a cabin at Crowley's Ridge.  And since we'd be passing several other state parks on the way we should visit and find their caches too, right?  So, the plan (pre-flood) was to get Hampson Archeological Museum, Herman Davis, Lake Frieson, and Crowley's Ridge on the way up.  Then Old Davidsonville, Lake Charles, Powhatan, and Mammoth Spring on the way back.  Reality turned out a little different.  Mother Nature again forgot to turn off the sprinklers so we had to modify some plans.  With the flooding there were concern we might not be able to get Lake Charles (the trail the cache is on is closed) so we added Jacksonport as an option.  We also weren't able to make it to Pawhatan (Hwy 25 was closed).  And, because of time (kids had fun exploring at Mammoth Spring) so we dropped Jacksonport too.  But, we still got 7 caches out of the trip.  So, 532 miles later, here's what we saw.

On the way up we decided to grab Lower White River Museum State Park, as we were passing by.  Lots of neat stuff in there from the bygone erra of steam boats and such.

Next up on our travels was the Hampson Archaeological State Park.  It contains the collection put together by Dr. Hampson as he excavated an ancient village he found on his property.  The village no longer exists lost to modern farming but it was extensively excavated by him and later the U of A and others.  We didn't stay long (both because there wasn't much to see and also we were keeping the superintendent from her lunch).

After grabbing lunch we moved onto the Herman Davis State Park.  It's a tiny (less than 1 acre) park dedicated to Herman Davis, a World War I veteran.  The park's sign sums it up better than I can, you'll need to click on this image to make it bigger.


We then headed on up the road to Lake Frierson State Park.  Took a nice little hike up the hill.  Not much else to do in the park if your not fishing in the lake.

And we ended the day at Crowley's Ridge State Park.  Took a nice hike over a swinging bridge as well as several other bridges.  Found the cache, but no clue :(.  Apparently when they rebuilt the cache after it was stolen they forgot to include the clue.  The park superintendent and the new park interpreter were both aware of the cache but didn't know the clue.  The interpreter's going to track it down and email me.  In the meantime I've reached out to the cacher network and think I have the values.


We spent the night in a fantastic cabin.


Friday morning we continued our trip.  As we were checking out we mentioned our plans and concerns about the road to Lake Charles and Powhatan possibly being closed and the superintendent confirmed it was indeed closed.  So, we marked them off our list and headed to Old Davidsonville Historic State Park.

Then it was WAY up the road to the Missouri border (which actually involved a jaunt through the bootheel of Missouri to Mammoth Spring State Park.  We all stood in the middle of "State Line Road" to be in 2 states at once.






And, here's our updated map, we're 1/3 of the way there.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tracking our progress

Well, we intended to pickup another 3 caches today on our return trip.  Alas, mother nature decided to water the lawn and seems to have forgotten to turn off the sprinklers.  So, we just came on home.  For some time now I've been wanting a better way to track where we've been and how we're doing on our journey.  So....I turned to my good friend Google to create a map.  It took a bit of grunt labor to build it, perhaps I'll eventually move it all into a database to build the KML file for me automatically using Geocaching.com's API to gather details on which caches we've been to and such.  But until then, here you go.

Oh, and I updated the template for the blog.  Good, bad?  I know I need a new header photo, but that's gonna have to wait until our annual trek up Pinnacle for New Year's (assuming we don't get iced out this year).

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

On the Road Again

School's out for Thanksgiving so must be time to visit more State Parks and grab a few more geocaches.  October was pretty busy so we didn't manage to collect any State Park Caches but now we should have a bit of time.

This trip it was time to hit a cluster of parks in North West Arkansas, and to visit the new niece/cousin.

First up was Lake Fort Smith State Park.  This is a new old park.  Back in 2002 they closed the old park to allow for the expansion of Lake Fort Smith.  They packed up and moved 2 miles north.  We hiked a bit of the Ozark Highland's Trail to get to the cache.


Next up was Devil's Den State Park, 9 miles as the crow flies, 32 as the car drives.  We've camped at this park before, it's a nice place to go "off the grid" since it's now in a hole that cell signals don't get to.  It's also unique in that it has both sandstone and limestone caves.  They are all closed right now to protect their resident bats from the White Nose Syndrome but there's still plenty of trails to hike.


The last stop was Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, one of many Civil War parks in the State.  We learned a bit of history.  The park was flying 2 flags, the current US flag as well as another flag that took google to determine what was.  It was the official flag of the Confederate States.  Most people assume the Confederate Battle Flag was their flag, it wasn't.  It has 3 stripes (2 red, 1 white), a field of blue, and a circle of stars.  Lots more information here.


So, for those keeping score we've collected 11 of the 52.  Maybe we'll manage to grab another 3 next weekend to keep our streak alive.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Another Weekend, more caches

What do you do on Labor Day?  You head out to find more caches.  In-laws in town?  Bring them along.  250 miles and 10 hours later we have another 3 Park Caches in our collection (had to skip the 4th one on the list due to time).

First we headed west on Highway 10 to Peron and headed up the mountain to Petit Jean State Park.  We've already been there several times so it was a quick stop to grab the cache.


We headed out the other side of the park on our way to Havana (Arkansas, not Cuba) to head north (and up, you gain almost 2000 vertical feet) to Mount Magazine State Park.  We've been here before but the cache was a bit down one of the trails.  After tracking it down (which required a smidge of bushwhacking) we went ahead and completed the loop.  Once we returned to the cars we had a nice picnic lunch before heading out for our next destination.


Next up was Mount Nebo State Park.  After a brief stop at the visitor center to refill water, use the restrooms, and pickup an ice cream treat (thanks Opa) we headed to the trailhead for the Bench Trail.  We quickly picked up the cache and headed on 'round the mountain.  We had hopes of scenic views as we traversed the 4 mile trail but opportunities were far and few between.  They became more numerous once we got back on the North side of the mountain.


We had to cut our trip short, not making it back to our cars to make it to Lake Dardanelle State Park before the visitor center closed.  Since we want to do more than just "grab the cache" we'll stop back by next time we're passing by (probably Thanksgiving).

So that gets us to 8 of 52.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Caching the State Parks

Been a while since I've put anything on here been doing most of my "sharing" on Facebook.  But, this medium is more conducive for this kind of thing.

So back in 2008 the Arkansas State Parks created a Geocaching series to encourage folks to visit all of the state parks.  The general gist is, find a cache in each park with a clue to the whereabouts of the final cache.  Well, back then the kids were too young to really do much with it so I ignored it.  A couple of weeks ago they "re-announced it" so we decided to have a go at it.

We decided that we should actually visit each Park (previous visits counted) instead of just "cache and dash".  The whole family also have to have visited the park.

The next Saturday we headed over to our local state park (Pinnacle Mountain State Park) and eagle eyed Emily quickly found the cache for us.  1 down, 51 to go.  I forgot that I've been "collecting" pictures of the State Park signs.  Fortunately it's close so I'll swing over there in the next couple of weeks to grab a picture of it.  I'd also like to "collect" some of the caches that are located there.

This weekend we thought we'd snag a few more.  We started off at Plantation Agricultural Museum in Scott.  Learned a bit about Cotton Ginning and such.


Then it was on down the road to Toltec Mounds Agricultural State Park.  Watched an interesting 10 minute movie about the history of the site.  Started to walk one of the trails but were chased off by an approaching storm.


Then we headed east to the Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park (a nice long drive).  After 15-20 minutes of fighting the swarming mosquitoes (it is located in the middle of a swamp) we failed to find the cache, quite frustrating after the drive.  Storms were looming, it was getting dark, and the mosquitoes were swarming.  So, we headed home.


Today, we headed north to Woolly Hollow, a nice jaunt down a mountain biking trail led to a wooden bridge.  Then we had to do a bit of searching to find it.  Found a suspicious pile of sticks under a tree, bingo.


Eli and I headed back to Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park armed with bug spray and determination to find the cache.  After searching for 15 minutes and forcing my phone to "relocate" itself I set my phone down to within a foot of the cache.  Continued searching with no luck.  Was ready to give up, turned around and said "hey Eli, here it is".  Success.

So, we're 5 for 5.  47 plus the final one to go.  The rest are going to be a bit longer slog from the house.  We've visited 4 more (Crater of Diamonds State Park, Devil's Den State Park, Mount Magazine State Park, and Petit Jean State Park), as a family so those will be quick "cache and dash" visits.

Some of the ones we need to visit are 30 minute visit kind of places with no camping, etc.  Others are bigger with lots to do.  So, hopefully over the course of the next year we can visit the rest.  Use some of the bigger parks as a "basecamp" to go visit some of the smaller ones.  Should be a good way to see the whole state.