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Arkansas, Here We Come! A Week Off, Part 1

Time for a vacation to one of our favorite spots on earth, Cotter, Arkansas on the White River.  This is one of the most beautiful places you can go in the country.  The river spills below the Bull Shoals dam and winds through the Ozark hills with crystal clear 58 degree water year round.  A trout fisherman’s heaven, the river is stocked full of rainbow, cut throat, brook & brown trout.  This would be a week of fishing and exploring the Ozarks, once we got through the major weather event arriving on Sunday.

We arrived at the Marion County Airport (KFLP) in Flippin, AR,  before the weather started moving in on Saturday.  One of the things we like about KFLP is that they usually have nightly hangar space available.  We put Caddie in the big hangar and buttoned her down for the week.  KFLP is a small non-towered airport located right next to the Ranger Bass Boat facility which makes it easy to find from the air.  Overnight hangar rental recently went up from $6 to $10 per night but fuel prices remain reasonable for the area.

"The Battleship"

Blanchard Springs Caverns… So what do you do in the Ozarks when the weather is threatening and you can’t get on the water to fish? With one of the worst days for tornadoes in years forecast for Sunday, we figured the best place in the world to be was 200+ feet underground.  I had researched a few places to go and came up with Blanchard Springs Caverns, which was just an hour or so down the road towards Mountain View.  Since we had been to a few caverns throughout the years and had not been terribly impressed, our expectations were not too high.  WOW, what a beautiful place!  This was not at all like the other places we had been… no tight spaces with small corridors, but a huge underground theatrically lighted  wonder of nature.  They have three different tours, but only offer the easy (1 hour) upper level tour this time of year.  The dim lighting did make photography a little challenging, but I eventually turned the ISO up to 3200 and got some pretty good photos… click on any of the photos for a larger view.

The Exit… After the cavern tour was over, we went down to the outfall of the springs about a mile away.  This area is where all of the water exits the caverns and creates a beautiful waterfall flowing into a small stream. I set up the camera and tripod to experiment with some 3 frame HDR photos that you can see below.  These were all shot at normal exposure and +/- 2 stops.  The lighting was not great, but was enough to make the HDR’s look decent.  Feel free to comment about the level or quantity of processing in the HDR’s.

Further down, the stream feeds into Mirror Lake, a beautiful lake with a large stone dam at the end.  Below the dam, the stream fed an old grist mill that was left on the banks but was not reachable this time of year.  In this photo, I chose a more surreal process for the HDR, it seams to portray the looming weather conditions more appropriately and makes the mirror of the lake surface kick a little.

Mirror Lake

We ended the afternoon with a late picnic lunch next to the creek… luckily, the weather never got too bad in our area like it had the day before just northwest of us.  And, the best news was that the weather looked perfect for the rest of the week for fishing.  We’ll cover that in the next post!  To catch the next post as soon as it is out, click the “follow by email” box in the right hand column and enter your email address for instant notification.

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