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…