Friday, March 27, 2009

Iron Mountain Natural Area

Iron Mountain Natural Area is a little known area located southwest of Mena, Arkansas. This 261 acre natural area is managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The ANHC manages 63 different areas in Arkansas. These "islands" preserve Arkansas' native habitat as well as provide many recreational opportunities.

The Iron Mountain Natural Area is one of only five natural areas that contain hiking trails. The trail is a 1.5 mile loop that follows a small stream (Paul Branch) which bisects the natural area.

It was a cloudy day when my wife and I visited Iron Mountain. After parking at the trail head along County Road 169, which is bordered very closely by private property, we began our hike. There appeared to be quite a bit of work going on within the natural area. There were several survey markers and flagging around the trail as well as obvious signs of trail maintenance. The trail was well marked by blue plastic diamond shaped blazes.

A short distance from the trail head you will reach Paul Branch where the trail splits. To the left the trail continues along beside the stream and to the right it crosses Paul Branch and continues uphill. As you will have to cross the stream here on your return and at the mid point it would be a good time to judge whether or not to cross downstream or circle back, depending on the water level.

Continuing left, the trail is fairly level. There are several narrow spots due to erosion and lots of small hops over tributaries of the stream. Old ATV trails intersect the trail at several places and in wet weather could cause for some wet feet so be prepared.

The trail passes through the typical pine, oak, and hickory forest. There is also the occasional cedar mixed in as well. The one constant along the trail is the sight and sounds of Paul Branch. As you follow the trail downstream you are constantly rewarded by the soft soothing sounds of the running water and picturesque beauty of a mountain stream.

The stream widens as you pass through a grove of cedar trees and begin a more uphill hike. There are some low branches and trees down in the corridor but nothing that isn't easily avoided. The trail finally reaches an older road at the north border of the natural area as the trail swings downhill to the right. As we approached the stream, we were treated by the sight of a woodpecker vigorously working for some food on a nearby tree. He was busy at his work and didn't mind the two onlookers staring up at him.

You will cross the stream at this point. There is a wonderful little rock formation nearby which makes a nice spot to stop and picnic or just relax to the sounds of the running water.

The trail heads south along the opposite side of the stream from this point. This part of the trail has many more trees and branches in the corridor. Several of the blazed trees have fallen and with the debris in the way it can be sometimes hard to make out the trail. There are a lot more ups and downs also, making this section more moderate.

There will be a large uphill climb towards the end. Watch your footing, especially downhill, as the fallen leaves conceal hidden rocks and small holes which could cause a fall. You will eventually arrive back at, and cross, the stream where it had split in the beginning of your hike. After that simply follow the trail in reverse back to the trail head. Of course most of that will be uphill. =)

The best times to hike this trail would be in the spring and fall when Paul Branch is running. The colors of fall and the wildflowers of spring also add to an enjoyable hike. With the numerous places for water to collect I would avoid this trail during the warmer months when the bugs will be out.

From Mena, travel approximately 7.1 miles southwest on U.S. Highway 71 through and beyond Potter Junction. Turn right on County Road 168 and travel 0.2 mile to fork. Turn right on County Road 169 and travel 0.3 mile to parking area on right.

Length: 1.5 mile loop
Difficulty: Moderate (this could lower as more trail maintenance is completed)
Scenic Beauty: 3
Child Friendly: Children under eight will need help in certain places. Older children should be fine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Almost Spring

It seems odd to be thinking of spring while snow falls outside, but the official beginning of spring is only seven days away. But while we can look forward to warmer temperatures, wildflowers, and the numerous other treats which delight outdoors adventurers, there is also the inevitable appearance of all those bothersome insects. Ticks and chiggers being by far the worst. While hiking I always remind our kids that bothering wildlife (ie. chasing squirrels, throwing rocks at snakes, etc.) is against our outdoor ethics. Ticks however, are fair game.

My wife and I have been enjoying the recent weather and have used the opportunity to dayhike some local trails which has been fantastic. Those combined with some searches for geocaches located in wonderful areas has allowed us to hike at least twice a week.

We were fortunate to visit Hole In The Ground Creek Falls. It was actually a set of waterfalls located down an old ATV trail north of Pencil Bluff. The scenery was outstanding. We spent quite some time enjoying the area and sat down to have lunch beside the upper falls. It was great. Our round trip distance measured by GPS was 3.03 miles.

Three days later we ventured into the Poteau Mountain Wilderness to visit Slate Falls. The hike along the old road was easy but we were disappointed that the falls were all but dry. Still getting to see the height of the falls and explore around the remains of the old stone dwelling made the trip more than worth while. Of course we hunted for and found the geocache Slate Falls while we were there.

On March 4th we were delighted to get another chance to go hiking and this time we chose to hike Hole In The Ground Mountain Trail. It's hard to describe how wonderful this trail is. Being located south of Booneville, with a trailhead at Jack Creek Recreational Area and the Dry Creek Wilderness, this trail is a seldom visited jewel in the Ouachita Forest. It isn't for the timid though. The trail can be challenging in places and is rough in others. Sometimes both. We tried to begin our hike from the Jack Creek trailhead but my wife didn't want to have anything to do with crossing the frigid flowing creeks. So we drove to the other trailhead and hiked in from there. One of my favorite parts of the trail are as you summit and cross over Hole In The Ground Mountain. The Pine on the west side of the mountain quickly gives way Black Oak on top and then Cedar as you move down the east side. The transition is so quick it is almost instant. There are also abundant geological formations and views along the way. I strongly encourage anyone who can to visit and enjoy the trail. You won't regret it. We flip flopped and got a total of 5.7 miles in that day and wished we could have done more!!

Monday brought about a doctors appointment in Poteau. That's a long drive and we stopped by Subway to grab some lunch on the way home to celebrate my 25lbs I've lost so far on my diet. We decided, spur of the moment, to hike at Runestone State Park in Heavener. It is kind of shocking how little trail maintenance is done there compared to our state parks. Yet another reason Arkansas is awesome! We hiked for roughly a mile by combining two trails ad enjoyed the views immensely. The picnic pavilions at the park have hang glider shaped roofs which was really neat.

The next morning, Tuesday, after the kids were off to school my wife asked me if I wanted to go for another hike. Oh Yeah! I was ready to go! :-) We decided to combine some geocaching along with our hike. We went to Knoppers Ford Recreational Area and hiked the Sugar Creek Hiking Trail. It was really warm when we started from the trailhead. The views of Sugar Creek were beautiful and initially the trail was clear and easy. Once you get about 0.5mi from the trailhead the trail gets rougher though. Again from lack of maintenance. Some blowdown had been there so long that the spur around it was more prominent than the trail itself. That notwithstanding, the trail was great. I enjoy hiking on seldom used trails. You never see another soul and have the woods all to yourself. We hunted for four geocaches along the way and enjoyed a picnic when we reached Middle Creek. By looping back we manged to hike 3.6mi in total. We did see three snakes (a ringneck, a kingsnake, and a cottonmouth) along the way. Of course with the warmer weather those little parasitic spawns of evil were out also. I hate ticks! But on the plus side, tick checks can be fun. ;-)

We've made plans to hike some more trails in the Brushy Creek Trail Complex this Sunday. We were going to do it Saturday but this cold and rain weather will still be here. Sunday should have temperatures in the 60's so it will be great. We're going to build a campfire in the camping area afterward and roast some hot dogs and marshmallows. I'm bringing our fishing poles to try our luck while we're there. The whole family is really looking forward to it and it should be a fantastic day.

The Ouachita National Forest offers so many things to do and see I don't think anyone could see it all if they spent a lifetime exploring it. I am sure that the attempt itself would be rewarding beyond measure. Arkansas offers so much to do. I feel blessed to live in such a wonderful state and being able to watch my children explore the natural world around them, knowing they will be able to share it with their children.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lovers Leap Trail

There's a change occurring in the Ouachita Forest. It's hard to see at the moment, but with attentive eyes it becomes more apparent. After a long winters sleep the forest is just beginning to wake up. It's an exciting and wonderful time to be outdoors. Which is exactly what the kids and I decided last week.

We're blessed in the fact that we live within driving distance of so many trails and recreational ares. There is so much to see in the Ouachita National Forest and as an added bonus much of it is not as well known as the Ozarks are to our north. We've been researching different places around us and making plans on visiting the ones we can this year.

We actually held a family meeting about it. My wife and I use those to see how the kids really feel about where we're going and what we do when we arrive. We'll have to curtail our geocaching to accommodate our new plans but that had to happen sooner or later anyway. We still plan on hunting some, but we've abandoned all our plans for geocaching trips alone. This way we can work harder on getting the kids outdoors more often and teaching (and learning ourselves) how to be more responsible outdoors/man/woman/kids.:-)

During that meeting a plan to make a run to Fort Smith to hunt geocaches turned into finding a nice trail to enjoy a short hike on. I was so proud of them. So with a forecast calling for just perfect weather for a dayhike, the kids and I decided to hike Lover's Leap Trail in Queen Wilhelmina State Park. it's a wonderful 1.3 mile trail with a beautiful overlook a short distance from the northern trailhead. We usually hike in from the southern trailhead but with the temperature in the 40's on the mountaintop and a good wind blowing in from the north I decided to reverse our normal route to get the wind at our backs as soon as possible.

The beginning of the hike was very cold. I was a little worried since I wanted to keep my hands in my pockets and curl up inside my hoodie but the kids where happy as clams. They were singing and jumping from rock to rock playing those games that always entertain children and inevitably always make parents nervous.

We arrived at the overlook and the view was the best I had ever seen from Rich Mountain. The cool dry air allowed for viewing far into the distance. The kids sat down for a snack and I had to call my wife at work to try in vain to describe what I was seeing. The overlook is aptly named. The splendor of the Ouachita Forest opens before you and at once you yearn to have what you love most close beside you.

We visited the ParkCache located there so I could drop off some TB's that have been sitting in one of my caches for far too long. Two or three different groups of people arrived but they all returned to the trailhead as we continued on our way around the loop.

Not far from the overlook is a nice stone marker that marks the point where the Ouachita Trail continues west and Lover's Leap Trail turns south. This is my favorite section of the trail. Hiking under the overlook there are great views of the bluff and some just fantastic rock work done on the trail in 1996. The trail starts climbing up from there and the kids took another break for snacks. Well, the boys ate trail mix and my daughter picked every single M&M out of it. LOL. With the kids rejuvenated by nuts and raisins, in my daughters case on a sugar rush, we continued down the trail.

There's a neat wooden bridge we crossed just before the trail turned east. The slope is much more gradual at this point and the walking was easy. We ran into a nice couple (the only people we had seen since leaving the overlook) along the way. I was surprised to see anybody hiking the whole trail and I almost laughed when they caught back up to us and asked me where the overlook was at. They were kind of surprised to see that the kids had hiked the whole trail.

The kids did great the whole hike. We've started to assign a hike leader when we hike. The hike leader is responsible for ensuring that everyone follows Lightfoot's checklist when hiking. The leader also carries the leader stick which is a small green hiking stick I painted. They were amazing and I was so proud of them. No rocks thrown from the trail, they were even quite when we hiked. Well as quite as you can expect young children to be. They were very eager to help clean up trash along the way and I was surprised to see how much we picked up.

We finally finished off the day with one of my wife's outstanding picnic lunches she packed for us and playing on the playground there. The cold weather eventually drove us off the mountain and we returned home. They've already asked where we're hiking this upcoming weekend so I have plans to make! Eventually I'd like to see our whole family take two or three day hiking trips. That will take awhile though and we're working towards that goal. There is still so much to see in Arkansas and we're looking forward to the new places we'll see and visiting our favorites again. I thought I'd leave off with a picture of our daughter enjoying the picnic we had after our hike. It was just one of those sweet moments I feel blessed to share with the kids.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Escape From Azkaban!

It all started with a post on the Arkansas Geocachers Association forum. Our friends red ink and CacheMates had some trackables that had been trapped in a TB prison for almost a year. To add to the problem, the cache (Azkaban TB Prison) had failed to be approved and the cache owner was MIA. (we hope everything is alright Burl)

The mysterious wizard Chuck Walla came to the rescue with what information he/she had on the cache which included the coordinates for the initial stage and the first part of the cache description. Since we had planned on geocaching on Saturday anyway, we were excited at the prospect of hunting this cache and aiding in the breakout of these trackables.

Azkaban was hidden on the Lee Creek trail system near Van Buren. Looking at the online maps we could tell it would be on the "Homestead" trail roughly 1.25mi from the parking area. We arrived in the parking lot around 12:00 and began grabbing everything we would need for an enjoyable day on the trails with the kids. We always bring plenty of snacks, drinks, and a load of other stuff which gets thrown in my pack. LOL.

The weather was cool but not cold, bright sunshine, just perfect for a day hike. We started down the trail and soon ran into our first obstacle. It seems some dark wizard had cast an aqueous spell which caused the creek to be higher than we had seen and running quite well also. We were unprepared for this trickery and spent quite some time trying to find an adequate place to attempt a crossing. We were successful, but one of our party sadly succumbed to this dark wizards magic. But with a smile on her face and a squish in her step my wife soldiered on!

The forest around us seemed to reverberate danger as we continued on our quest. But after thwarting the last attempt at turning us back, our spirits were high expecting the worst was behind us. It was then we found ourselves at the base of a high and very steep hill. This is when it became obvious that the trail was built with mountain bikers in mind. No switchbacks, just straight up. The kids were excited about some rock formations at the top so up we went. Almost immediately I felt Azkaban's dark magic on us again. My pack suddenly felt heavier. All of our strides shortened and our feet fell hard on the path as if some maniacal force was simultaneously pulling us down and back at the same time! It was only our encouragement of, and aid to each other that we were able to reach the summit. But again the dark magic had left its mark. Although we had reached the top, our strength and especially that of our littlest adventurers was gone. All was not lost though, as I had come armed with some magic of my own given to me by the good wizards Sotirod and Aloc.

Using the magical charms Sotirod and Aloc had given to me I was able to cast off the dark curse which had befallen us. Their magic was strong as we were soon back on our way and the forest parted giving us an easy path toward our destination. It was a short while later that the device (constructed by the good wizard Garmin) used to locate the prison beeped its warning that we were near our goal. It lead us to a gully ringed with short bluffs. We knew Azkaban laid before us. Triumphantly, we followed the device to location of the expected "key" to unlocking Azkaban's location and releasing its prisoners.

But there was no key. We could find nothing. We searched and searched in vain. A strange depression seemed to befall us as we thought our quest would end in failure. Shadows lengthened as our hopes darkened and the whispers of despair began to resonate in our ears. NO! All was not lost! This was the work of Azkaban's guards. The Dementors.

Holding the device high I cried "Expecto Geo!" The Dementors scattered and directly behind us our oldest son proclaimed the prison to be found! With her evil guards in retreat, Azkaban could no longer imprison the innocent trackables and we were able to release them without any further trickery by the forces of darkness. We took a break and enjoyed the thrill of our successful quest and spent some time exploring the area before we decided to make our way back to the truck. Our quest had taken us across creeks, up steep hillsides, and through the forest to our goal. We were, and still are, quite proud of our little adventurers who did fantastic along the 2.7mi hike.

We found a couple of geocaches on the way back. We'll gladly return later for more fun and adventure. Is it any wonder why I love this game! Happy Caching!

Monday, February 9, 2009

February's Featured Geocacher

Breaking the surface as February's featured geocacher is ButterflyDiver. Both she and her husband (deepdiverdave) have been caught in the undertow of geocaching since June of 2006. There's nothing fishy about this pair though. :-) They are often regulators at events ready with a friendly smile or a helpful bit of advice for other geocachers. So grab you pony bottle and check your gauges because it's time to backroll into this interview.

How did you hear about geocaching and what was your first hunt like?

I had read about geocaching several times & had possibly seen it on TV. Then I saw a yellow E-Trex on sale at Target & decided to spend the $100 to check it out. But, we just let it sit for several months. Finally I just sat down at the computer & read about geocaching & decided to try one of the hides in Maumelle. The first one that we found was Emily’s Hidden Treasure & it was less than a mile from our house. It was the traditional type of cache hidden in the woods, but we did not have a clue about what we were doing. So we stumbled around for a few minutes before we discovered the hide. And, it just seemed that we were hooked by this fun activity.

How did you choose your handle?

When we first started geocaching, we used the name “krycek008.” I had been a big fan of “The X-Files” TV show from its first episode. Alex Krycek was a regular character on the show & the nemesis of Fox Mulder. We used that handle for a bit more than a year & decided to start caching with our own separate names. It was about this time that had loosened up their rules about changing your name. And, I think that deepdiverdave was tired of my writing the logs for both of us. He wanted to write about our caching adventures from his perspective.
We both wanted to have names that related to another one of our favorite activities – scuba diving. Wayne chose deepdiverdave. Even though everyone calls him Wayne, his first name is actually David – named after his grandfather. I made a list of several possible names, but kept coming back to ButterflyDiver. When diving, I do feel as light as a butterfly & it does not take much effort to hover or remain buoyant – sort of like a butterfly when approaching a flower. And I have a butterfly tattoo. I also ran the name change by a few other caches – including the OENavigators team - to see how they liked the new handle. So with their approval, I dived in & made the name change.

After your first find, what about geocaching has kept you interested?

Probably the biggest thing that has kept us interested is the challenge of the hunt. It is just like so many things in life – you are always chasing after something. Whether you are chasing your children or chasing after love or a promotion or an education or the meaning of life, you are always seeking to find something. In the case of geocaching, you are seeking something physical, but you also learn a lot of things about life, people, & yourself.
We have also stayed interested because we are both stubborn. We have trouble giving up the hunt & walking away with a DNF. Geocaching also gets us outdoors & leads us to beautiful places that we would have never seen on our own. Another big reason for continuing to cache is the great people that you meet along the way. We might not have continued our enthusiasm for caching if we had not become friends with some of the caching experts in Arkansas. We learned so much from them & really appreciate all of their help & encouragement.

Of all your hides, which is your favorite and why?

My favorite is the first cache that we placed – Maumelle Travel Bug Hotel. When we started caching, we wanted to place something unique for our first hide. While on a business trip to Wisconsin, deepdiverdave found a few caches in Appleton. One was a unique homemade container that we modeled our first hide after.
A close second behind the TB Hotel is Mardi Gras on the Emerald Trail. We had always wanted to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans & our first time was the 2006 Mardi Gras after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. It was 6 months after Katrina & we were totally shocked by the vehicles that were still piled up under the interstate overpasses & the blue tarps that still remained on hundreds of homes. And, we did not even go to the worst-hit areas – we saw this destruction from I-10. So few people attended the parades that we came home with pounds of beads. We were not caching then but when we starting caching we left beads from the parades as trade items.
Deepdiverdave’s favorite hide is his Treat the Animals. This is one of those evil containers that AR-HICK made for the camo contest at an event. We are amazed that this hide is still there in its hiding place after 16 months.

What is your favorite type of cache? (traditional, puzzle, multi, etc..)

We always love to find an ammo can! I guess that we are like caching kids when it comes to ammo cans. When we first started caching, we would always avoid the micros. But as we got more experience & lots of advice from our new geocaching friends, we got brave enough to go after some of them.
I like to solve some of the puzzles, but have come across a few that I don’t even know where to begin. Every puzzle cache that we have found, I had to solve the puzzle. Deepdiverdave will not even attempt them.

What was the most embarrassing thing to happen to you while geocaching?

One of the first embarrassing incidents that we remembered occurred when we were caching in Morrilton after the event in November 2007. There was a cache near I-40 that we were approaching. We could not park on the right side of the road since there was a chain along that section of the access road. But instead of driving by & turning around, deepdiverdave pulled over to the left side of the road with the truck headed in the wrong direction. And just as he did that, a member of the Morrilton Police Department was driving by. He turned around his patrol car around & came over to find out our problem. Fortunately, he was very nice & knew about the event, so he just left us to find the cache.
Another embarrassing thing happened when we were looking for Hick's Evil cache in Morrilton. It was on a Friday afternoon & this was a very busy location on that day. Many muggles were around, but we tried to be casual & not draw any attention. But, I still had the feeling that I was being watched. I finally looked up to see the Morrilton Animal Control Officer staring at us from his truck parked on the corner. He was probably thinking that he should put a leash on us & throw us into the cages in the back of his truck. I could not concentrate on the hide after that, so I slinked back to the truck while deepdiverdave kept looking. We still have not found that one.

What surprising thing have you discovered about yourself through geocaching?

I have found myself in some places & situations that I never would have imagined being in. I have been at the top of cliffs overlooking the swollen & fast-moving Arkansas River in spite of my fear of heights. I enjoy seeing wildlife everywhere that we go caching, even though sometimes I don’t immediately SEE them. I have nearly stepped on a snake several times. Then deepdiverdave yells “Don’t step on that snake?” To which I say “What snake?” And then there have been several caches where you are standing beside a busy road, trying to act like you are supposed to be there, & furiously looking for the cache & thinking that the police will arrive at any second.
So, we have both learned to persevere in attempting to find a well-hidden cache. We try to never give up even when we think that we have looked in every possible hiding spot. And when we finally find a difficult hide, we are grateful to the cacher for challenging us.

Geocaching, is it a game or a sport?

To us it is more of a game, but it can seem like a sport when we have to climb rocks or hike for miles to discover some caches. And we could not be considered athletes since we are middle aged & not in the best physical shape. But we have the drive & a stubborn attitude to keep trying.

What GPS do you use?

When we first started geocaching, we used the $100 Garmin yellow e-trex. We were not sure that we would enjoy caching or would be interested enough to spend much time doing it. But when we got more active & got tired of punching in all of the coordinates by hand, we decided to upgrade. We did research & noticed what models were being used by the expert cachers & the State of Arkansas. Then with a big recommendation from topkitty, we jumped in & bought the Garmin 60CSx. And we have been very happy with it!

Do you have any geocaching goals and if so what are they?

Our immediate goal is to find the rest of the State Park caches. We have now found 46 of them with only 6 more left to find before The Grand Finale. If the weather cooperates & no one else in our family gets sick, we hope to finish the series by the end of February.
Another big goal that we both have is to place many more hides. We have accumulated several cache containers & have recently made contact with several organizations in central Arkansas that are actually wanting geocachers to visit their areas. So we plan to hide many more in the next couple of months.
We also want to spread out into other states to find some caches. Looking at the map on my profile page, we have not found any in Missouri or Louisiana even though we have been very close to their borders while doing the State Parks Challenge.
Our biggest goal in geocaching is to get out there and Have Fun!

Monday, February 2, 2009


What a difference just a little time makes. Thanks to our good friend red ink we have an upgraded GPS and we got a new vehicle that everyone can ride in. If you had ever seen us pile into our previous car (camping gear included) you would get an idea of how excited we are. Imagine six people, plus a large eight man tent and cooler with various other supplies cramming in a four door Ford Contour. LOL.

To top off a fantastic week we were thrilled this past Sunday to have finally found Dripping Springs Falls. We were so excited. I've looked for that waterfall off and on for at least a year! I think in total there were about six or seven serious attempts. Many of which involved quite a bit of bushwhacking. It was worth the wait though. The falls are amazing. It is hard to describe just how beautiful they were. It's a least a twin set of falls. There were three when we visited though. Each side also had a small upper falls. It was just breathtaking.

We climbed down the gorge to check out the bottom of the falls. The boys were busy throwing rocks in the water while Mom got up close and Dad shot some pictures. Our oldest was climbing around making us both extremely nervous. But he did fine. We played at the bottom for an hour or so and then decided to climb out and find a suitable place to hide the geocache we've been carrying around forever.

My original intention had been to hide the cache at the bottom of the falls but with the steep slopes I was afraid future hunters might cause damage to them. I believe this will be (if approved by the forest service) the first geocache placed in the Ouachita National Forest since they instituted their new cache placement policy. So I was understandably nervous. Of course my lovely life partner (AKA: Mrs. Navigator) is quick to point out that I'm ALWAYS nervous. LOL.

We were so thrilled to have found the falls that on the way back to the truck my wife announced we were having a celebration when we returned home. It was then that our six year old son informed us that it was Fuzzy's (his teddy bear) birthday. So we did what any responsible parents would do, muddy and wet, we stopped at the grocery store to buy the foodstuffs for taco salad and of course purchase a cake and candles for Fuzzy's momentous day. He was turning five after all. :-) It was just one of those wonderful days that make you feel warm and.....well fuzzy! LOL.

Today we stopped in at our local ranger station to turn in my cache permit and had an impromptu two hour meeting with them. It went great! I'm excited about the future of geocaching in the Ouachita's! Another district is supposed to be sending me some information which I thought was awesome since I have never contacted them. I'll post about all that later though.

We'll be posting February's featured geocacher soon and it promises to be another great one so watch for it. I'm also going to be updating the links over the next week so be sure to check back. We also wanted to thank everyone for their words of encouragement during our dismal period. The friends we've made geocaching are what we enjoy the most out of this game. Okay, maybe I like getting little smilies to. :-) Happy Caching!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Have you ever had one of those days that was supposed to be great but ended up being a huge pile of....well you get my point.

Not too long ago our TC sponsors hid a cache in our honor named "One for the Nav" NW of Big Cedar Oklahoma in the Ouachita Forest. The Winding Stair Area of the Ouachitas is amazingly beautiful. We were very honored to have a cache named after us and were counting the days until the opportunity would arise for us to go hunt it. When my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday I immediately replied "Lets go hunt that cache!"

I've been looking forward to today for over two weeks. It was going to be perfect. Even the weather was going to be a comfortable 70 degrees on my perfect day. Just my wife and I out hiking in the woods and getting to hunt a cache named for us. Perfect.

After the kids were on the bus we started our journey. We stopped along the way for some McBreakfast and just talked. That's a treat when you have four kids and before I knew it we were almost to Big Cedar. I enjoyed watching the cache get closer and closer on the GPS and felt my excitement grow as I made the turn onto highway 63 in Big Cedar. That's when the car died.

I thought for the briefest of moments that just maybe I could get it started again. However the sound of metal grinding informed me that we were not going to be driving anywhere soon. We were lucky enough to have a nice couple stop and let us use their cell phone to call a wrecker. We ended up hanging out at a very nice memorial to JFK alongside the highway for about two hours before the wrecker arrived and brought our broken car and ourselves back to the house. I also discovered that in my excitement to leave this morning I accidentally left our camera on top of the car. Just another little nugget of joy to add to my perfect day.

So now we're on foot for who knows how long. Most likely, barring a miracle, a least a few months. I know sooner or later we'll be back in the game though. I hate my birthday! LOL.