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Sorry for the late post…no service at the campsite…finally found data service in Harrison.  Sadly, I have to say I am at a McDonald’s instead of a local joint, but the nice lady at Mystic Caverns told me they have free wi-fi.  It’s the busiest McDonald’s I have ever seen.  3:30 in the afternoon with two drive-thrus going non-stop and a congregation of people inside….This is yesterday’s post.

Oh what a day..a comedy of errors mostly…yet still beautiful scenery and better than a work day.  I started out with a sinus headache that I went to bed with the night before only it was much worse when I awoke.  I knew I’d just have to wait for it to turn into a migraine before I could take my medicine for it to go away.  In the meantime, I tried out my electric water heating rod and blew a fuse, so  no coffee for me.  Thankfully, I’m not a coffee addict.

I set off for a short quarter mile hike with the dogs to Bear Cave in Petit Jean State Park.  I pulled a “Mike in Africa” and forgot the memory card in my camera.  In my defense, I switched to my good camera for the morning, and I hadn’t put the card back in since downloading my pictures from Africa at the beginning of the week.  Thankfully I didn’t miss a cheetah kill and since it was only a quarter mile long, when I got back to the car, I exchanged my dogs for the card and went back to take a few shots.  It was really a cool place…huge boulders, overhanging ledges, and caves.  I saw them from a distance the night before when watching the sunset.  It was fun to explore them.

Next I took another quarter mile hike to Rock House Cave.  The trail map brochure and the interpretive sign said to look for Indian petroglyphs in the middle to the left side of the cave.  They are a faint red.  Maybe you can see them in the picture.  I couldn’t really make them out, but by this time my migraine kicked in, so it was hard to focus.

Before I left the park, I stopped to do a geocache.  My goal is to find a cache in every state.  Maybe I’ll be able to increase my finds enough to catch up to my brother by year end.  I started caching a couple of years before him, mentioned to him that I thought he’d like it, and now he’s blown by me in number of finds, and he actually showed me how to hide one!  Speaking of Bart, I’m not going to be able to carry out maintenance on the one in Dallas, so hopefully it won’t get washed away by the rains over the next year.  The cache in Petit Jean was creative…hidden in a bird house.  Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me, so I took one on my phone.  I will try to get it posted.

So, the Reader’s Digest suggested route was to do a loop off of 7 and go to Mount Magazine and Mount Nebo State Park.  If I had to do it over again, I think I would cut down on driving time and only go to Mount Nebo State Park.  It may have had something to do with my migraine though.  I drove up winding roads to a picnic area at the top of Mount Magazine and just rested a bit.  There were some nice views and, as the book suggested, the temperature was a bit cooler.  I think this may be the only time in my life where I would prefer cool weather over warm weather…the fan is meager at best.  The northern face of the mountain is lush and grows ferns while the southern side is drier with patches of prickly pear cactus.  There are two rare species on the mountain – the maple-leaved oak tree and the middle-toothed land snail, but even if I looked for them, I’d have no idea if I saw them!

As I headed back down the mountain Scout got sick just as Petey had successfully gotten sick outside the car earlier in the day…JOY…I had to stop and wash down the dog bed.  Two sick dogs prompted me to stop at the local Walmart (surprisingly I’ve only noticed two so far in the smallest of towns).  I got some new dog food and bottled water, so we’ll see how they fare on that.  Otherwise, I’ll have to find a local vet.

On to Mount Nebo State Park…WOW is all I can say about the road…18% grade and switch backs every 1000 feet or so.  I barely made it up.  I felt like I should have stayed there a week after VANilla made such an effort.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time there, but for the time I did have, it was great.  I just walked around the visitor’s center.  There were two caches close by, so those were my destination points since I didn’t know where the trail led.  The first one was just under the rim trail, thus it afforded magnificent views.  The other one was down the side of the mountain.  It was appropriately named 375 steps.  Thankfully, whoever hid the cache had some mercy as the steps continued and the terrain was steep…the dogs fumbled around, but survived.  Both caches were ammo cans with knick knacks.  I signed the log book and left the name of my blog.  Who knows, maybe a random cacher will start reading along.  While at the visitor’s center I saw seven deer (my count is up to 11 now – saw 4 crossing the road the other day).  It turns out visitors can buy corn and feed them, so they like people, but weren’t too fond of the dogs.

It was 3 by the time I left there.  I was hoping to make it to Long Pool Recreation Area by 4 to relax, blog, etc…because tomorrow’s itinerary looks really cool.  There are lots of places I want to see, and I’ve found that I have only been able to stop at about 4 places a day.  About 10 miles past Dover, I realized I only had a quarter tank of gas.  The next closest town that I was planning to pass through tomorrow was 50 miles away.  I was contemplating on what to do as there were a few places I wanted to stop before I got there when I came upon a flipped, logging truck.  Logs blocked both lanes of traffic.  The driver was trapped upside down in his cab.  I heard from the people already on the scene that 911 had been called, the driver was conscious with a hurt leg.  They were trying to help him adjust a little because he was having a difficult time breathing.

Not to sound callous or anything, there wasn’t anything I could do there, I was low on gas, and had to find a place to stay, so I took a detour…back to Dover.  I found the lone gas station.  Instead of the pump reading “would you like a car wash”, it said “happy hour from 3 to 6…enjoy a fountain drink”.  Do the local town folks meet up at the gas station?  I didn’t find out, but I did find an alternate route to Long Pool!  “You just go up to 164, go a few miles, and just turn right on the road there, by Moore’s with the canoes…it will dead end into Long Pool”.  OK…well he was right!!! 

Long Pool is a National Forest versus a National Park or State Park, thus there aren’t main entrances, visitor centers with brochures or trail maps, or for that matter anyone to tell you how to find and pay for a campsite.  There is simply a fee station.  So, once again, I don’t know what I’m doing.  I found a spot and picked Tom and Rick to bother with all my questions.  They were kind enough to walk me through the procedures:  pick a site, get the number, write in on the camping envelope, enclose the fee, and drop it in the fee box.  These brothers camp quite a bit and are here for two weeks.  I’m so glad I met them.  They told me the bathrooms in the campgrounds don’t have showers, but the ones in the day use area do.  At first I thought that was odd, but then I saw the river…wide, calm, and milky blue…I’m certain it’s a popular summer swimming hole.  It’s hard to imagine that the same river, when it is high, is a premier white water rafting location.

So I don’t have a picture of Tom, Rick or their two dogs to go with the blog…oh well…but they were interesting.  They are from Russellville, AR…not far from here.  One owns a wireless internet company and the other owns a small motor repair shop for tractors and the like.  They expect to retire in Ecuador next year!  That’s cool.  They say for the cost of living there, they can live like kings on social security, and the health insurance is really cheap.  I’ve heard of more and more Americans doing that.  Well, I’m off to bed.  Uniquely, despite the wireless internet company in Russellville, there isn’t a tower here, so my post will have to come in the morning.  I have successfully found a spot where the answer to “can you hear me now” is NO for both Verizon and AT&T.  I had planned to look up a park map and look into couchsurfing in the next week or so, but that will have to be delayed.   It’s probably good for me to immerse myself into camping right now anyway so I can become an expert quickly. ETB

Websites:  www.arkansasstateparks.com/mountnebo/, www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/recreation/long_pool.html

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