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Our Family Adventures

Life and Adventures…. gardening, hunting, kayaking, jeeping, climbing mountains, and more!

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Jeeping

Take what you can get, moments

A couple weekends ago we got the chance to head up into the Kisachie Bayou Forest area again. We’ve only been to this portion of the forest a couple of times and we weren’t really able to explore it in depth. We generally spend a lot of time around the Fort Polk/Pitkin forest area and know most of the forest roads and trails and cool spots. So this gave us a chance to learn some of that about this area too.
Forest jeep

When you get up in this area you see alot more of the rock that was quarried around the Hodges Gardens area long ago. This rock isn’t really present in the lower Kisatchie area. Also this upper area is alot hillier. Jared turned one of the rocks over and found this little guy. Yes…we have scorpions too if you look close enough.
scorpion

We also stopped over by the Bayou campground to see how the water level looked. Much higher than it was when we visited in September for Cheyenne’s birthday trip. We even found a really cool camp spot for the next trip up there with her when it warms up. It has the perfect bayou overlook and white sandy dune…can’t wait.
bayou

Of course we had to get the shot of the jeep at the overlook area. I mean it’s not often anyone in Louisiana says they were at a vantage point overlooking the forest tops. LOL!
overlook

We made camp at the Red Bluff campsite which we had mostly to ourselves except for two young couples who camped down the trail a bit.
camp

And I got to test out my Optimus Crux stove and cookset that I got for Christmas! I really like the set, my only complaint is one I’ve seen mentioned before in reviews is that the stove tends to have trouble keeping a flame in cold weather. And when we woke up it was in the 20’s. Being that we do most of our camping during that type of weather I’m not sure if I’m going to end up with a different stove or find a way to make this one perform better in cold conditions.
optimus crux

optimus

We spent the last of our time there driving all over the forest roads and trails looking for new cool places to explore. We found a really great spot for some deep woods camping at a later date. It had a small swamp area nearby.
swamp

swamp

We also visited the Longleaf Vista trail again and much to my delight I found the Elliot blueberries are there and blooming!
elliot

We also had some fun climbing around on the rocky buttes…and got some much needed exercise.
~

rock

It was a quick trip, but definitely a fun one. It’s always the best day anytime I’m in the woods or outdoors with my hubby. It was so nice to have some one on one time with him doing the things we love.

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Arkansas Ozarks Part 1

Jared and I recently took a short trip to Arkansas. For me the trip was two fold. My father passed a way 10yrs ago in the Fort Smith area and I have long since wanted to find and visit his grave. As with a lot of family stories, my parents divorced when I was young and my father slowly drifted out of my life. Reasons and back story don’t really matter any more, time moves on and so have I. But the need for some closure was heavy for me.

So we set out after work one afternoon and drove and drove until we finally decided to pull in about midnight to the first campground we came across. Which happened to be right outside of Mena, Arkansas called Iron Mountain. After paying our fee at the site sign, we drove around in the dark unsure of where we were supposed to be setting up but eventually settled on a spot that the deer had just been grazing in moments before. We interrupted their midnight snack. It was a quick..setup the tent, throw in the sleeping bags and crawl in night since our scouting for the shower house ended in a bust. Not the most comfortable of nights, but oh well. It was quite cold and our spot near the roadway was a bit noisy.

The next morning we packed up and again scouted and found the shower house. It was nice and big and had lovely hot running water! If you’re ever in that area I recommend staying there, very pretty place …just pick a site further back from the roadway. After cleaning up we headed out to grab breakfast, and headed towards Fort Smith. I was now seeing Arkansas in the daylight and could try and catch some photos…even if they were from the Jeep window going 60mph.

Lovely Quachita Mountains and forest
Ouachita Mountains

Quachita Mountains
Lots of logging trucks along the way, also lumber mills.
Logging trucks

Fort Smith was a really nice place, very pretty. Lots of factory work there. I even got a shot of Mr. Peanut!
Mr. Peanut factory

The rest of that morning did not work out the way I had hoped all these years, but that story is one I’ll keep for my own. After finishing up in Fort Smith, we headed out and headed east.

I loved seeing so many old barns and farms along the way. I think I could do a whole series on Arkansas barns.
Old Barn
Finally in the Ozarks!
Ozark Mountains

I have to say driving on all those curvy steep mountain roads made for a queasy afternoon. But it was fun. When we reached Jasper, we found the road to Kyles Landing and headed down the dirt road into the canyon and towards the campground.
Kyles Landing road

Once finally down there after a long and steep decline we picked out a camp site with the Buffalo River below us and beautiful cliffs behind us. Then explored a bit down by the river before it got dark.
Kyles Landing camp

Kyles Landing/Buffalo river

Kyles Landing

After dark crept in we sat around cooking our dinner, chatting, and dreaming of what lay ahead of us the next day. This is always my favorite part of camping.

Back to Camp Livingston for more Caching and Exploring…

This time we brought my son and his fiance. They’ve never done a camping or caching trip with us so it was fun to bring them along! After driving around Livingston with the trailer in tow we ended up choosing to set up camp at Stuart Lake nearby instead of inside the grounds of Livingston.

The guys decided to have a friendly competition to see who could start the fire first with what they had on them…guess it depends on what you pack. LOL!

Jared got it going first, but I think he kinda cheated… ;D

Along the way during our exploring of Livingston we found a crabapple tree! I took a few fruit to see if I could seed them. ( 6 months later, a few sprouted but I lost them )

Sometimes you find cool little places along the way like this.

The main excitement was finding the old “Ice house” that we had been told about by one of my blog readers! (Thanks!) It was such a cool place to explore and take shots of.

Lots of cool graffiti out there…

Also took a peek into what I presume they call the tunnels. Went quite a ways back and was luckily dry that day so was easy to explore. (We’ve gone back since and not good when wet after so much rain)

We found a cool looking ‘fruit’ (not edible!) and found out it’s called and Osage Orange or Hedge Apple. The tree was prized in Native American days for use for bow making. The wood is extremely hard and strong.


Outside entrance

We also found the entrance to an underground area where bats live that is also the home of a cool geocache. Here is a little toy soldier hinting/pointing the way.

And we also found lots of other foundation work and left over history from this area.

We also made a stop at Camp Claiborne on the way home to see if we could find a geocache that had eluded us for a while near the Officers Club and rec pool.

Finally found that sucker!! Yay!

It had a cool travel bug in it so we took it and sent it to a new home later at Sam Houston park.

We also stopped to grab a geocache along the way home in McNarry, La and had to walk across this old pine tree to get there.

All in all a fantastic time. Definitely a place we will go back to time and again to explore.

All of the shots from that trip can be seen here :

Biking Road Trip

It’s been a while since we’ve actually had time to go on any road trips. Life’s been busy here, it sucks but hey what can you do? You take an impromptu early day off of work and load up!! When I pulled into the driveway, Jared had the Jeep doors pulled of. Ooh this was going to be fun! Boy was it a windy ride!

Watching the pavement roll by…as we headed North to one of our favorite places to go. The Kisatchi forest, Fullerton area. It’s so pretty and so much cool to explore.

I always see this wild flea market when we pass, I finally got a shot of it. No telling what is hidden in that place.

This next shot was actually after our ride. Sweaty boy trying to get bikes loaded back up. The trails out there are not bad for biking. There are some hills, sand in a few spots, fun twist and turns, oh and the down hill is my favorite part 😀 I’m a wimp and end up having to walk my bike up the hills half the time.

This is a shot of Fullerton Lake. The spot where the old Saw Mill town used to be. Oh. wait did I not mention that. Yes, this really cool place in the early 1900’s used to be a thriving saw mill town. There are even some great foundation remnants out in the woods there. I’ll get together some of my photos from our past trips out there and do a post soon on the history of the area.

For now, I’m still trying to comb the knots out of my wind whipped hair. And Icy/Hot’ing down my thighs from all the pedaling.

Day 2 Camp Livingston and Pineville, La

The second day of the trip we headed towards Camp Livingston. On the way we stopped to catch a cache that is hidden as part of this historic pine tree. The hider did a good job because that one eluded us. While there, an older man from the Dry Prong area stopped by to see what we were doing. Turns out he has an antique shop in Dry Prong that carries really old cast iron pots. We had a great time talking to him and will have to go find his shop next time we are up there.

When we got to Livingston we found some of the old roads and drove around. It’s a really big site and had a large network of roads. I’m not sure what the site in this next picture is but it had a big foundation. **EDIT** My husband has informed me that this is the Gymnasium. We located a few caches along the way too.

We also found the swimming pool. This thing was *huge*, had to be way bigger than Olympic size. If you look on Google you can find it easily, there is a huge chunk of the woods taken out by this thing. It was hard to get any good shots of it, and even if I had you wouldn’t be impressed. Unfortunately vandals have nearly completely destroyed it. Shooting it up, dumping loads of trash in it. Here’s a shot of a piece of the side wall.

We later found an area where people park to get on the ATV trails, and had lunch there. I found this set of foundation that was kinda interesting. It was 3 really long concrete lanes. Not sure what it was for though.

On our way out of Livingston we tried to find the famed POW camp area. We really wanted to see the POW graffiti that is said to be there. But no luck…we couldn’t find it. All we found in that area was lots of animal bones.

On the way out we stopped in Pineville, La so I could get a few shots of the old Mental Hospital barn. Across the way was an airfield and this pilot looked as though he was practicing his approach because he would circle and go towards the runway then pull up and circle again.

I’d like to find some more information on this old barn and the hospital…which was shut down years ago. I was once told by a local that there was an underground tunnel that the cattle were herded from the barn, under the road and into a field to graze…which is now a lake. Hhmm…. strange.

Then it was across the old O. K. Allen Bridge and headed back to Camp Claiborne to make camp. We decided there was still much left there for us to explore.

We made camp at the MultiUse Trail area for ATV’s, and had dinner and fun by headlamp. LOL!

Day 1 Geocaching Camp Claiborne

On our way up to Stuart Lake and Camp Livingston we decided to stop off at one of our favorite spots, Camp Claiborne in Forest Hills, La. This also used to be an old military installation for World War II. There are lots of remnants there, and many we have yet to find. Claiborne was the first place we found a Geocache and it’s what got us hooked.

There are miles and miles of old roads still passable, but it can get kinda hairy at times if you don’t have some sort of off road type vehicle.

But it’s always worth the hunt when you find what you’re looking for…

One of the hunts took us to the old Officer’s Club. Lots of foundation work and even some tile left of the building.

Right past the Officer’s club is the Recreation Pool. There’s lots of beautiful graffiti now.

We then left Claiborne and set up camp at Stuart Lake, it got dark on us quick so we didn’t have time to explore the lake much. The campsite there is really nice, and little did we know there were showers with hot water available down a path nearby. We ended up setting up our own camp shower and boiling water….LOL…turned out to work great, but sure would have been easier to use the provided showers.

The rest of the shots from the day are here….http://www.flickr.com/photos/gypsysoul/sets/72157625651313817/

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