Sunday, June 30, 2013

Long Pool Recreation Area

   Dover, Ark.
Campground:    Long Pool Recreation Area
Website:    USDA Forest Service

The majority of my camping trips are to Arkansas' State Parks but this weekend was a little different. It is the first trip I have actually planned more than a week in advance and it turned out well; my sister even came along. We all met at my office Friday afternoon after work and my niece, nephew, sister and I headed in to the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest Area.

Three of us had been camping at the Long Pool Recreation Area on Big Piney Creek two or three summers ago. I had promised my niece and nephew I would take them there this summer to go swimming. The park offers campsites with any combination of water and electric or no hook ups. We chose a tent site with no hook ups. There was only one left in the area we chose, but it turned out to be a nice site with a trail down to the water.

Most of it was as I remembered but I also learned a few new things as I researched geocaches in the area. I learned about two days before going that there were at least two waterfalls in the area. We hiked there Saturday morning and found they had both dried up already. The swimming was nice and I am sure we swam several miles Saturday afternoon and evening.

The park offered both primitive and non-primitive camp features. There were many trails connecting different sites around the campground and the water. It was easy to get around. Camping is first-come, first-serve; it is also paid through a pay-station rather than an attendant making it easier to arrive after 5 p.m.

I haven't seen it in the Spring, but read signs that many people like to float the river. It is prone to flash flooding and visitors should use caution when it is raining in the area. There is no cell service in the area which is nice, but if there is an emergency adds to a dangerous situation.

Without the interruption of technology and with the views of the mountains and sky it is a very nice area to relax for the weekend. I look forward to visiting again sometime, hopefully when there is more water.

GC - Ghosts of Spanish Conquistadors

Geocache name:    Ghosts of Spanish Conquistadors
Hidden by:    Old River Runner
Location:    Dover, Ark.

I planed a weekend camping trip to Long Pool Recreation Area for this past weekend. My niece, 11, nephew, 13 and my sister, 33, arrived about 7:30 p.m. Friday. After setting up camp we went for a swim until dark, roasted hot dogs on the fire and told some scary stories. Around 10:30 we left camp to attempt our first night cache.
We began by parking at the overlook and looking out into the valley and up at the stars. I haven't seen that many stars in ages! The overlook was crowded with people, most of whom appeared to be high school students, drinking and playing music. We left the overlook and pulled in on a dirt road which didn't appear to have much traffic. We walked back east down the road and began the hunt.

After about five minutes of walking it became a more difficult to see between the reflective tacks and I had to  watch the GPS to make sure we were not walking in circles. It felt like we were but the GPS said we were still on the path. It wasn't long before I began hearing rustling in the leaves somewhere in the darkness around us. I told the kids to be quiet and listen. We clearly heard an owl somewhere, but the rustling seemed to stop. We heard it a little more as we continued through the woods looking for more reflective tape.

Having a GPS in my hand keeps me comfortable that we won't get lost, but I don't know where the spiders or snakes are. I don't know how close we came to finding the geocache, we found as many as three tacks on some trees but we never spotted four. We ended up somewhere close to a road and we could see break lights and hear voices. We had also been spotted as we could clearly tell by the voices. It didn't help that my sister had a red light and my niece had a blue light. The lights kept malfunctioning and flashing so it could have appeared as if they were police lights. As I said, they were drinking, and my sister was afraid they would be drunk and possibly violent. That lead to our giving up on the geocache and just trying to get out of the woods without being seen.

We had to walk without lights at times adding to the spookiness. We walked into several branches and thickets before stopping to listen and to watch. There were lights that would appear and disappear, making it difficult to tell how far we were from the road at times. I don't think I have seen that many lightening bugs in 10 years. We never got far from the road as we wandered through the woods, trying to stay out of sight. From the sounds of things we had scared those at the overlook off as well. We made it back to the car safely and it made for the most interesting "Did Not Find (DNF)" caching story I have experienced.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

An Expensive Meal

I don't eat at many expensive restaurants but when I do I always try to order the least expensive foods off the menu. I think the restaurant I dined at last night in Little Rock was by far the most expensive meal of my life.

As I looked through the menu, I found the prices were ridiculously high. Eventually I asked the waitress what the least expensive meal was and she told me an item that was on special for $30. I accepted. All was well through the meal with my friends. All seemed to be well after the meal. I handed my credit card to the waitress and signed the bill for $30 when she brought it back.

The next afternoon I received a call from the restaurant saying there was an error with my payment and asking me to stop by the restaurant. When I got there the waitress went over my order again and told me I owed $7,000. I was outraged and began arguing with the waitress who told me it was because I paid with a credit card instead of cash. The menu said the price was $7,000 but the meal was on special for customers paying cash. Her comments didn't make me feel any better. I continued arguing and refusing to pay. Then the manager came and told me to calm down. But he told me the same thing she did.

I told them I was going to call some people and that I knew a lawyer. Then I walked outside into the hot summer air and thought about what I was going to do. Seven-on-your side maybe? Legal fees would cost just as much as the bill itself. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't in much better shape when I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning to realize it had been a bad dream -- a bad dream it took a while to recover from and fall back asleep for another hour before I had to get up for work.

What strange and annoying dream will I have tonight?

Sleeping at the Wheel

It was a dark night as I headed home, driving down the highway. There was some traffic on the road but not a lot. My headlights lit up the road before me and beside me. I couldn't see very far and my eyes were growing tired. I knew I should pull over on the shoulder and sleep or at least wait until daylight to continue the journey. But I was in a hurry; I wanted to get home to sleep in my own bed. I kept driving. My eyelids became heavier and heavier, eventually I could barely make out the road in front of me. A little time passes and I find myself thinking how amazed I am that I am still on the road. There haves been curves and I can't even make out what is grass and trees and where the road is. I'm driving blind. I open my eyes and see my lights shining straight out into the grass and find myself in a soft bed in my house, happy to know I hadn't truly fallen asleep at the wheel of my car.

I have had that dream or similar dreams multiple times in the past. I'm driving; I fall asleep and somehow the car drives itself or something. According to, driving a car within a dream signifies "ambition,drive and ability to navigate from one state of life to another...Overall, this dream symbol is an indication of your dependence and degree of control you have on your life." It says sleeping may "denote a peace of mind." It could also symbolize ignorance or similarly to death, "renewal and new beginnings."

In the past I have looked up some of the symbols and they were much easier to interpret and try to figure out what the underlying causes are. This dream isn't so easy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Non-existing Memories

 Science was never one of my strongest or favorite subjects.Don't get me wrong, it is interesting and I like to learn how things work. I think the brain is probably what fascinates me the most. It is intriguing to think about how it works and even its digital equivalent -- computers.

I don't understand how a bunch of 0s and 1s can equate to a colored image of a certain dimension to appear on my screen. I don't understand how I am connected to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) who then provides me with access to the International Network "Internet" and the World Wide Web.

Similarly, I don't understand how the electrical impulses in my brain equate to memories. What intrigues me the most are those foreign, often physics-defying places my brain takes me at night. I gave dreams some thought in college and what causes them.I wanted to try to control my dreams. I wanted to have a dream in another language, specifically Spanish. I don't think it happened during my college career.

When I lived in Spain, I finally had a couple of dreams in Spanish, but most were silent nightmares, most likely brought on by my real-life fear of heights. Being in places that made me face my fear was a frequent occurrence in Europe. Most of the dreams involved me climbing to some height, usually on a building, and then realizing I didn't have anyway down. Usually I would let go and wake up.

A few weeks ago I dreamed I was passing through border control in an Islamic country. I had never been there before. There were were several weird parts, but nothing made the dream special. Two weeks later, I revisited that dream within another dream. And then last night, I revisited it again -- I even had more success crossing the border having learned from my previous adventures. Somehow in my dreams I had memories of the previous dreams.

It was pretty interesting how my brain would remember other dreams within a dream -- a memory that didn't really exist. I didn't look any of those three dreams up in a dream dictionary, but it somewhat makes since for the dreams to be symbolic. I wonder how much we could really learn from our subconscious minds.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Petit Jean State Park

My first trip with a group other than my family was a ski trip to the mountains in Colorado when I was a freshman in high school. That was when I learned how important the people traveling together are one of the most important aspects of any trip. With a bad group its going to be miserable; with a good group even the worst locations can be fun. Life is just so much better with people. So is camping.

A month ago I went camping and blogged about Lake Frierson State Park. This past weekend, I camped with a friend at my favorite state park - Petit Jean. Located about an hour and a half from Little Rock, Petit Jean State Park offers many spectacular views. Of course, it is also one of the parks where I have to face one of my greatest fears -- heights. There are multiple overlooks on the mountain, looking out in almost any direction. Some are very safe, some are very dangerous.

Saturday morning my friend and I set off on the Boy Scout Trail, a 12-mile trail that is estimated to take eight hours. It crosses many of the other trails at the park and winds through various landscapes. At one point, we were sitting on rocks that dropped off into the canyon below. There were no rails or anything, just one step away from death -- well not for me. I chose to stay back. We only made it on six miles of the trail and completed those miles in nine hours. We were still exhausted.

Most of the hiking trails aren't that strenuous and most hikers are able to hike any of the trails with the exception of maybe the BSA trail. Visitors can also enjoy the Mather Lodge Restaurant which overlooks the canyon or fishing on the lake. Also, in addition to camping, the park has cabins. One downfall to the park is no swimming is allowed in the lake or creeks, only in a swimming pool at the lodge. Most of the campsites have running water and electricity. And a huge plus -- they aren't all on top of each other.

Petit Jean remains by far one of my favorite parks and locations in Arkansas.