View Full Version : Howdy from Hot Springs

09-14-2009, 10:08 PM
Howdy Folks!

I’m an aging Native Hillbilly from Hot Springs who’s been ramblin’ the Arkansas woods and back-roads for over 40 years now. I spent most of the 1980s as a Professional Studio/Event Photographer before becoming interested in some of the early home computers – which ate my brain. I retired from professional photography and took to hackin’ code for a living - which I still claim as my profession, but mostly because “ramblin’ around Arkansas” doesn’t look good on official forms. An interesting thing happened while I was away playing with my keyboards… Cameras became Computers and Computers became Darkrooms. As an old-school-film-photographer-cum-computer-geek, I couldn’t have been happier. It was like Zen! But I have no desire to resume working as a pro-photographer, and as far as I’m concerned I’m done with the “Three Bs” forever. (Brides, Babies, and Banquets.) Now I have a descent Nikon DSLR outfit and I take photos of what I’ve always loved to photograph best – which is Arkansas, from the macro to the panoramic.

So since I’m ramblin’ AR anyway – often a ways from the beaten path – Geocaching is a natural and happy inclusion that I’m sure will lead me to many very beautiful areas that I otherwise would not have found.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: I first heard about Geocaching not long after it began, and even mentioned and explained it a few times on a local radio show I used to host about computers and the Internet. It didn’t seem to stir much interest with my audience back then, mostly because none of them had GPSrs and weren’t inclined to buy what they perceived to be expensive and complex toys of little practical use. (The Dashboard Navigators hadn’t hit the markets yet.) But I went out and found my first cache way back then … and I didn’t even use a GPSrs to do it (I didn’t own one either)! I read the description of a cache located near where I lived on Geocaching.com, and it was in an area that I was so intimately familiar with that I was able to walk right to the place, and after a few minutes of poking around, I found it. I went ahead and signed the log, explaining how I had found it and that I hoped it wasn’t considered “cheating” to find it without the aid of an electronic bloodhound.

So even though I got a kick out of finding that box stuffed under a log in the woods all those years ago, I’d hesitate to call it my first official “find” … I’d consider it more of a fluke because I knew the area so well, and I doubt I could find others in places I wasn’t as familiar with as easily.

Now all these years later I finally bought myself a Garmin Venture HC for a variety of different reasons, and Geocaching will certainly be one of them. I found my first four right-off-the-bat (I consider these “official” now!), and only had to give up on the fifth because it was getting dark.

Although I’ve been known to ramble State-Wide, my normal stompin’ grounds would be a rough diamond-shape (appropriate enough) running from Hot Springs to Lake DeGray to Mena to Mt. Nebo and back. A personal favorite is Petit Jean State Park, and I can’t count the hours and miles I’ve spent hiking there over the years.

Tomorrow I think I’ll try the “Winona Auto Tour” (a 27-mile gravel road through the Winona WMA on Forest Road 132 from Hwy 7 to Hwy 9) … it probably won’t be a good day for landscape photography, but I’ve got at least 14 caches along that route loaded in my GPSr, so I’m sure I’ll have a fun trip anyway!

Wish me luck, as I wish all of you the same…

Hot Springs

09-15-2009, 05:33 AM
Howdy, ArkyMark and Welcome! Seems like you have all the traits for this game...er...obsession and Arkansas is a great place to play it in. All I can say is you will have a blast! I'll probably see you on a log somewhere. Try to attend some of the great events that are coming up soon. That's a great way to meet fellow geocachers.

09-15-2009, 05:54 AM
Welcome to our game. There are several cachers from around this area from the obsessed to the casual cacher. Many caches are to be found in the area that you described. Arkansas is a great place to cache. I happen to ramble and romp in the Hot Springs area as well. Hope to see you on the caching trail.

09-15-2009, 07:03 PM
Well met ArkyMark. Fascinating story...you tell a good tale! Hope to see you on the trail - Petit Jean is our little slice of heaven too!

09-16-2009, 03:39 AM
Welcome to the game I love Mt .nebo I hike there almost daily and even have four caches placed there..Hope to meet you on the Geotrails someday :lol:

09-16-2009, 12:22 PM
Welcome to the board and the hobby/obsession of geocaching. I think you will find a ton of opportunity to find places you have never been to, or know about through geocaching. Some of the things we have been to are waterfalls that are not in Tim E's book, a few gorgeous lookouts, some siren misty forest areas, and some great tales to tell around the campfire or dinner table. There are some members of this forum that take great pictures and have some great tales on geocaching (especially as many as you can get in 24hours).

We hope to meet you someday too, and just so you'll be forewarned, some of our geocaching events that our members hold around our state will include a photo contest of the best picture while out geocaching. so that something to think about next time you see that perfect something while out caching!

Good luck on your future caches.

On a side note, I found your webpage very interesting and some of your pictures are great. Can't wait to see your "while out caching" page.

09-16-2009, 04:20 PM
Howdy ArkyMark! It is always greeat to have another player in our area! I see that one of my caches was your first find, and I hope you keep on finding more. Please feel free to PM me here, or contact me through GC.com, if I can be of service to you. Happy caching! :D :D :D

09-16-2009, 04:50 PM
Welcome ArkyMark!
When we first started there were not many geocaches around in this are but a few in Hot Springs. I was just wondering if you remember the name of that first cache you found or where it was located? We might have found the same cache! Thanks to some mighty addicted geocachers who I will not call by name but their initials are QC, L2C, GR, ZG and other new cachers have made Hot Springs a hot spot for geocaching. There should be enough caches to keep you busy for a while, thanks to these folks.
Hope to meet you on the trail.

09-16-2009, 09:44 PM
Welcome from Fort Smith.

I'd count that first box as a cache find...I know of at least 10 that I've found without the GPS just because I knew the area or looked at pictures.

There's one guy around here who doesn't use the GPS unless he's out in the woods.

09-16-2009, 11:32 PM
Thanks, Folks...

... for all the great welcoming greetings. I'll address some of your questions and comments below, then we should probably move out of the Welcome parlor to continue any further discussions in a more appropriate part of the saloon...

To those who have complimented my website: Don't forget that the House Painter's house is often the most shabby-looking one in town ... after painting other people's houses all day, he doesn't have much time left for his own. I plan to overhaul it when I get the chance, and actually de-emphasize the professional work I do. I sort of consider myself simi-retired from that, too. Mostly, I just "give the store away" these days - and literally, I have given online stores away before! But before you line up, I mostly just do this for non-profit Community Service Organizations who don't have much of a website to begin with (or sometimes none at all). If you do good work and could benefit from having an online "portal" type site (like you folks have here), then I just might give you one with all the bells and whistles you want - if you'll buy the domain name and pay for the hosting. (You'll also have to run and maintain it mostly yourself, so I can wander on like Kane from Kung-Fu ... but I'm around to help with the confusing stuff if you need me.)

edieo: I accepted your Friend invite on GC.com, thanks! You live in Chickalah? I pass through there on my rambles from time to time. I've taken Hwy 7 so many times I could drive it blindfolded, so I like to take 27 as an alternative even when it's out of my way. I've always wanted to photograph hang-gliders, and the last time I was at Nebo I got a real treat! Right as I drove up to Sunset Point, there were half-a-dozen of them just setting up to fly. I was able to get in a good position to catch them launching and soaring out over the valley, which was quite a spectacle! I don't have the photos online yet because I'm trying to put together a whole Nebo album and want to get some more shots to fill it out. And as with all my other favorite locations in AR, I'm anxiously awaiting the Fall color-show...

jclaudii: I could show Tim E a few falls myself! (Really admire his work, though.) And I know that the Winona WMA area that I just took the world's-wettest drive though is riddled with them. Honestly - I gave up looking for caches after finding QuartzCachers' micro at the ONRT Trailhead because it was mostly a downpour from there on out - but I loved it! That's the perfect time to find all these little hidden falls ... but I'm afraid my expensive cameras aren't expensive enough to love the rain along with me. In fact, I usually carry an inexpensive point-&-shoot pocket camera with me if I suspect any hard-core bushwacking will be involved, and leave my bulky DSLR locked up - but my days of hauling 20-pounds of camera equipment in and out of hollows with a tripod slung over my back aren't quite over yet - just getting more numbered. (Although a friend who often travels with me now has a new title to go along with Tripod Mule ... he's now also my "CITO Bag-Handler"!)

QuartzCachers: Yep - I made your cache in the Morning Star Cemetery my first "official" one, since I'm not counting my fluke-find of many moons ago. You'll also see that I found two more of yours yesterday (Sept. 15th, 09) before giving up in the deluge - the one at Iron Springs and the next one up the road at the ONRT Trailhead. Read the log on the Iron Springs one for an amusing little tale, y'all!

Ashallond: LOL and thanks! I wondered if there wasn't some "hard-core" version of the game where you just looked the co-ordinates up on a quad-map and struck out with your compass and wits only. I thought of trying it that way over the years, but considering the size of some caches in relation to the areas they're often in makes that seem challenging to say the least. But you've inspired me - I think I'll try looking around without using the GPSr to begin with when I know I'm at least close.

cachemates, "QC, L2C, GR & ZG" and the rest: ... I already figured out you folks were some of the most active - and I think GR's Hot Springs A~Z series is great. I haven't done it yet - but this is my hometown and I recognize the locations from the descriptions. I think this would be a great series for folks who were new in HS since it would show-and-tell them about places it could take years for them to find or learn about otherwise - so bravo on the creative history lessons there!

As I mentioned in my intro, I've been aware of this "game" pretty much since it's earliest days and did my best to bring it to the attention of my radio audience (another thing I've retired from ... my goodness how time flies!) I've also described it to countless people over the years because I just find the whole idea delightful and intriguing, and a great way to get geeks away from the computer screen and looking for something other than the exit to the next level in a video game for a change. Yeah, I'm a Geek myself - but a well-balanced one (activity-wise) ... I split my time between hacking at my desktop, and hauling my laptop with my wireless modem out in the woods and hacking there, too. (Did I mention that my Tripod-Mule/CITO-Bag-Man was also my Backpack Communications-Center Transportation Captain? Well, he was ... until he dug in his heels at the last trailhead and refused to budge from the spot. I think adding the WWII field-radio was the last straw, but I digress...)

As I recall from back then, the GC.com site had maybe 7 (?) listings for this area on it, but I'm not sure how wide of an area I was searching. (Hey - I'm still trying to remember exactly where I was living back then!) I was well aware that the game was gaining in popularity every day however, and over the years every Sunday-supplement and TV-News Magazine had done a story or three on it. So now that I've finally bought a GPSr and decided to join the crowd as an actual participant instead of just a sideline promoter, I'm not surprised to find a lot more caches around this area - after all, almost 8 years have passed. But of course, "a lot more" is almost an understatement... I made a GPX file of the closest 400 caches to my location (leaving a generous 100 spaces open for marking waypoints as I roam), and found that all of those fall within about a 20-mile radius of me! I am glad to see that there is a good distribution of caches in every corner of the state, though - because I'll undoubtedly find many of those before I find some of the ones in my own neighborhood!

And finally - for those of you still awake...

Keep in mind that first cache I found was placed before this game was widely publicized, and most Federal/State agencies had no idea what was going on. That first cache was actually in the National Park area of Hot Springs, and therefore an official No-No these days. Actually there were several in the Park back then - and the one I found had been placed there by some running/jogging club who often used the mountain trails. It was a plastic box about 30-feet off of a sharp bend in a trail that runs along the top of North Mountain, then cuts back down past Goat Rock into the Gorge. I checked it several other times out of curiosity when I was hiking through there (a couple of others had signed the log since me and someone took the Lucky Penny I had left), but I finally found it muggled one day - with parts of it torn-up and scattered all over the place. I knew they didn't trash the cache, but I also knew the National Park Service would frown on such a thing (they already had rules in place about "abandoned property" and their strict take-nothing-leave-nothing policies are legendary), and it seem to me that the Federal Government has Zero sense-of-humor. But I'm delighted to see that Arkansas' State Parks and Forest Service has decided to lighten up about it and see it for the valuable family-fun attraction to their areas it can be.

I'm sure you'll all be delighted to know that if you do meet me on the trail, hiking tends to take a lot of the wind out of me these days ... even if typing doesn't. (And now you also know that "Ramblin'" applies to me in more ways than one.)

Thanks again for all the warm greetings, and I'll see ya out there ... and here online, too!


09-17-2009, 03:57 AM
I'm glad to hear you'll be coming back to Mt Nebo if you'd like some company just give me a shout ,but be warned some folks (Wolves)might tell ya I'll talk your ears off , :!: :P And I'm not sure how good of a mule I'd be 8O ,,but I'm am part mountain goat ... :lol: :wink: Edieo

09-17-2009, 07:37 AM
As a side note since your doing more of the "rugged" caching, meaning no fancy PDA's with hints and logs, no iphone app that links to the page, etc, you may find our "phone a friend" list helpful, But danged if I remember where it is! I know Gunnar W has sent me e-mails in the past with it, PM me if your interested and I'll send you his e-mail address.

All I got to say is Wow, your logs are GREAT! and seems you'll fit right in here and make tons of peoples day with just the log you write. I can't wait to read your ramblings of journeys and treks here. I have some new caches out on hwy27 that are just begging to be found...So far only astrodav has found them and they were just put out on Labor Day! Good luck again and hope to read more in the other sections!

10-03-2009, 08:53 AM
Welcome to the site from one new geocacher to another. Hope you have a great time and many finds.