A Huge Film About A Tiny Hero

ant-man

Lake Charles, LA

I know that Marvel’s Ant-Man has been out for a few weeks now.  I also know that I’m late to the game on this film.  I fully intended to see it on its opening weekend, but LIFE happened and I just never could seem to get my butt in a chair at the theater.  After seeing the film, though, I’m both happy and sad that I waited so long to see it.

Why am I both happy and sad?  Well, I’m happy because the theater wasn’t jam-packed full of people when I finally got to see the film.  This meant that the odds of running into an idiot with a loud mouth or a screaming child with a parent who just won’t leave the theater were pretty low.  I really, really, REALLY dislike constant interruptions during films, and for this reason I will often wait a week or two before checking out some films.

I was sad because the film was no longer available in 3D in my local theater.  Since Marvel has been releasing films in 3D, I’ve only missed seeing them as such once before watching Ant-Man, and that was Thor, because I didn’t think it would be worth the extra bucks to see in 3D.  I was wrong then and I wish that I had the chance to watch Ant-Man in 3D as well.  The visuals were awesome, particularly the scenes involve ant action.

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SPOILER FREE REVIEW AHEAD!!!  KEEP ON READING!!!

Ant-Man was extremely well-paced, finding the perfect balance between humor, action, and drama.  It follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a man recently released from prison who is looking to start fresh, support his daughter, and change his ways.  As is often the case for ex-cons, though, getting and finding a job is tough, so he ends up in a situation where his hand is forced and he has to take on a “job” that’s a sure thing.

That sure thing, though, was anything but.

Lang finds himself under the tutelage of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist who is just as sharp (if not sharper) than BOTH of the Stark men involved with S.H.I.E.L.D.  Lang agrees to help Pym put a stop to his former protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has plans that involve tech based on Pym’s own research.  Without revealing too much, Cross’ plans involve selling his tech to a certain secret organization that has posed a threat to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some time now and shows no signs of slowing down.

In order to stop Cross, Lang, Pym, and Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), put a huge scheme into play that involves three “associates” of Lang who have experience in illegal affairs.  This trio, Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (Tip Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian), provides a lot of the humor in this film, with Pena stealing just about every scene that he’s in.

In fact, I would say that of all of the Marvel flicks that have been released so far, Ant-Man‘s supporting cast is the strongest one yet.  From the aforementioned supporting cast to actors such as Judy Greer, Wood Harris, Bobby Cannavale, Martin Donovan, and a few surprises from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film is loaded with brilliant acting.

The primary villain in this film (and I promise that this isn’t a spoiler since this guy is in the trailer) is Yellowjacket (Stoll), and while his actual screen time as Yellowjacket is brief, Stoll excels as Darren Cross on the screen.  Cross danced on that fine line between being a good guy that’s broken emotionally/mentally and being a bad guy who just wants to have his own piece of the pie (albeit a pretty big piece).

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The action scenes were excellent.  The powers of the heroes and villains in this film could have looked ludicrous and silly as all get out on the screen, but production nailed each and every scene involving Ant-Man and Yellowjacket.  Sure, some of the scenes were played for gags, but they didn’t take away from the plot or break the flow of the film in any way.

In short, I LOVED Ant-Man.  Action, humor, drama, perfect direction, excellent music, and flawless editing made this easily one of my top five Marvel films.  I highly recommend it and if you haven’t seen it yet, GO SEE IT!!!!!  You will not regret watching this excellent film!

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll be posting about the second episode of Fear The Walking Dead in a few days.

Will California Walkers Have Perfect Tans???? A Quick Look At The Premiere of “Fear The Walking Dead”

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AMC

On Sunday night, a record setting 10.1 million viewers tuned in for AMC’s premiere of Fear The Walking Dead.  Teased for months and pushed as a series that begins with the beginning of the zombie outbreak, expectations were high for Fear.   The record viewership doesn’t surprise me one bit, as the show has a loyal, built-in audience thanks entirely to its predecessor, The Walking Dead.  I’m one of those loyal fans, and I was extremely interested to see just what Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson (the creators of Fear) had planned for me and other fans.

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!!!!!!WARNING!!!!!!  MILD SPOILERS (FOR BOTH FEAR AND TWD) POSSIBLY AHEAD!!!  You’ve been warned!

So how was the show?  Well…..it was a start.  In all honesty I wasn’t that impressed.  Now before you get angry and accuse me of being a mouth-breathing simpleton that only watches zombie movies and television shows for the zombie action, know that the primary reason that I watch and love The Walking Dead is for the brilliant character development.  I love how characters like Beth (RIP), Carol, Glenn, and Carl have developed from stereotypical characters that would end up as nothing but window dressing in other programs into fully fleshed out characters that have matured, become empowered, and transformed into entirely different people as the show has progressed.

But wait, Ken, this was only the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead!  You can’t judge the show’s character development after just one episode!  Really???  Why not?  After one episode I knew that I liked Rick and wanted to learn more about him.  I didn’t trust Shane, but he seemed like a guy who was at least trying to keep it together.  Morgan moved me, particularly in the scene where he sees his zombified wife in the street and he can’t bring himself to shoot her.  Glenn’s cocky voice over the radio to Rick made me want to meet the kid attached to it.  That first episode hooked me.

The characters in Fear The Walking Dead didn’t hook me at all.  Frank Dillane’s drugged out Nick opened the show, waking up in a haze in an abandoned church.  He fumbles around looking for a girl named Gloria and quickly finds out that some serious business had gone down in the house of worship.  He’s so high, though, that he’s not entirely sure if what he’s seeing is real or a byproduct of bad medicine.  He then runs out into the street and is hit by a vehicle.

Enter his mom, Madison (Kim Dickens), his future stepfather, Travis (Cliff Curtis), and his sister, Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey), who are getting ready for another day at school.  Madison is the local school counselor who is attempting to blend her family with Travis’ family.  Travis is a teacher at the same school where Madison works.  Alicia is super smart and ready to move out on her own in college.

More characters were introduced and more are on the way in future episodes, but the first batch of characters we get to see were unlikeable, annoying, and bland.  Nick is a putz.  Perhaps he will develop into an interesting character (I’m especially interested in seeing him fight his drug addiction in a world that is falling apart), but I honestly do not care if this character lives or dies before the end of the season.  Alicia didn’t draw me in either.  She’s just sort of there for the entire episode.  Travis has potential, as he seems to be the only person that is honestly trying to get to the bottom of Nick’s story about seeing Gloria eating people in the church.  His heart is in the right place, but again, he didn’t grab me like Rick or Shane did in the TWD premiere.  The most unlikeable character of all (with Nick being a close second) is Madison.  She’s abrasive and the stereotypical uber-attack mother/cool school counselor who defends her loser kid against the cops even though he’s done something illegal (and the cops say that they have no intention to arrest him while interviewing him).  I can understand her being a mama bear, but she also needs to let her kid take responsibility once in awhile.

The episode spent a lot of time with Madison and Travis trying to find Nick and Nick stumbling around town looking like a walker and calling his dealer.  Alicia watches a video with her friends of a man getting shot multiple times (and only the head shot taking him down) and arguing whether it’s real or not.  Madison and Travis finally come face-to-face with a walker after a confrontation between Nick and his dealer.  Then the episode calls it a night.

Is their potential for this show to get better?  Absolutely.  It will be interesting to see how the characters react to what’s happening around them in the early stages of the zombie outbreak and how society as a whole breaks down in response to the world collapses right in front of them.

I have high hopes for this show, but the characters lack the charisma that the characters on TWD had right out of the gate.  I’ll give it a couple of more episodes, but as of right now it’s not must-see TV.

Let me know what you think about the show in the comments section and, as always, thanks for reading.

A True Hero Dies And A Brief Update

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Maryland And In Hearts Big And Small

I never knew Leonard Robinson.  Up until a couple of years ago I didn’t even know that he existed.  However, today my heart grew heavy when I heard the news that he had passed away on Sunday in an accident on a Maryland highway.  Robinson was a self-made success story that dressed up like Batman and rode around in a Lamborghini that was tricked out to look like a Batmobile.  That might sound silly to some people, particularly the general public, but in reality, Robinson was not just a Batman enthusiast.  He was much more than that.  He was a hero, a TRUE hero, that dressed as Batman and spent his own money to visit sick children in hospitals as the Dark Knight.

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Leonard Robinson brought joy to children that were sick, some even terminally sick.  Children who probably saw doctors and nurses more than some of their own family members received love, friendship, gifts, and a smile from Batman.  Robinson might have been the Dark Knight, but he was and still is a bright and shining symbol of just how great humanity can be when it decides to do something right.

You can read a bit more about his tragic death here:  Baltimore Batman Dies In Accident

You will be missed, Dark Knight.  Keep your vigil in the heavens.

Now, on to other things.  I’ll be attending Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA on October 17th and 18th.  As of right now they are still adding guests to their lineup.  Celebrity guests include Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Lew Temple (The Walking Dead, The Lone Ranger) as well as others.  Comic artists include Rob Guillory and Kody Chamberlain and others.  There will be vendors, artists, and cosplay guests in attendance as well.

I attended another event put on by the group in charge of this one, AVC Conventions, earlier this year in Bossier City.  While the event was fun, it was cramped and there were many people unhappy with the event.  Hopefully AVC learned from these growing pains and they won’t have the same problem in Lafayette.  One major improvement is having the event spread out over two days.  Tickets are fifteen dollars for a day pass or twenty-five dollars for the weekend.  If you attend, look for me.  I’ll be Charlie Brown on Saturday and the Discount Dark Knight on Sunday.

More info can be found here:  Louisiana Comic Con

I still haven’t seen Ant-Man yet, and it’s killing me.  Hopefully I can catch it one night this week or if it’s still playing, this weekend.  I’ll probably go check out Fantastic Four also, even though the reviews are terrible.

Oh, Fear The Walking Dead debuts this weekend, and I hope it’s at least half as good as its predecessor, The Walking Dead.  Convention season is coming to an end for me, but the fall TV lineup is just getting warmed up!

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As always, thanks for reading.  Hopefully I’ll see a few of you at Louisiana Comic Con in October!

Fall In Love With Comics Again

Credit Unknown

Comic Book Discussion Circles Everywhere

I’ve read comics off and on for most of my life.  As a young child, my favorite heroes were primarily DC characters like Batman, Superman, and The Flash.  Some of the lesser known heroes in DC’s stable such as Firestorm, Black Lightning, and Plastic Man held my interest as well.  The only Marvel heroes that I liked when I was younger were Spider-Man and Hulk, and that was primarily due to the fact that those two characters were in comics, on television (including Spidey in snippets on PBS), and on cartoons on Saturday morning.

As I matured, the X-Men, Daredevil, Captain America, and to a lesser degree, characters such as The Punisher and Ghost Rider, grabbed my attention.  Gone were the brightly colored spandex suits of DC’s big heroes, making way for the grittier, (seemingly) more adult tone of Marvel’s herd tackling issues that I was slowly beginning to understand like racism, gang violence, politics, internal emotional struggle, etc.

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When I entered college, I left the two big guys in the dust for titles from Image like Hellshock  and Codename: Strykeforce.  These titles were tougher than your standard Marvel and DC books (although I now know that DC and Marvel both had some pretty intense titles in publication during the 1990’s) and I loved them.

Now, less than a year away from turning forty years old, I’ve found myself back on the DC train.  While I’ve read and enjoyed many recent Marvel titles, DC has won me over, particularly with their New 52 batch that came out a few years ago.  Geoff Johns and company got me interested in Aquaman, for crying out loud, and I do believe that I’ve fallen in love with Mera as well.

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I’m championing the likes of Black Manta and Ocean Master and have taken a lot of interest in Cyborg, Wonder Woman, and Animal Man.  Heck, even Robin, specifically Damian Wayne, has become an important part of my life.  Couple that with the brilliant television shows Arrow and The Flash, and the promising looks of Suicide Squad and Batman Vs. Superman coming to the big screen, and I’m pretty much a DC guy through and through.

Granted, I’m still a bit behind on the times as the New 52 has already been replaced recently, but DC has reminded why I loved comic books and superheroes so much as a child.  I loved to see Superman enter the fight and wipe the floor clean without breaking a sweat.  I enjoyed seeing Batman break cases and dig up clues, all the while fending off attacks from costumed villains such as The Riddler, Penguin, and, of course, The Joker.  I couldn’t wait to see these larger than life characters take on insurmountable odds and come out on top.

Why?  Why did I love those types of stories so much as a child and have rediscovered that love for them again at my current age?

Because every year that I grow older and become wiser to the insane world in which we live, I NEED an escape, and DC’s heroes provide that escape more than any other stable of comic characters.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I still love to see the X-Men fight super villains and discrimination at the same time, and every once in awhile I prefer to see the young version of Peter Parker fight school bullies, but ultimately I need a getaway, and DC has done that for me in spades.

I know that I’m doing a lot of rambling here and I do apologize for that, but if you haven’t read a comic in recent years, go out and grab one.  I highly recommend The New 52 run of Batman and Robin and the Justice League titles from the same series.  The rebooted origin story of the JLA is awesome and hilarious at the same time.  I also highly recommend the Aquaman series in The New 52.  In just a few panels, Geoff Johns blows up any preconceived notions you might have had about everybody’s favorite fishy guy.

Go ahead, escape for a bit.  You deserve it.

As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to comment below about any of your favorite books on the shelf now or from when you were a kid.

bats

Space City Comic Con 2015

Myself and the lovely Michele Specht!

Houston, Texas

With the exception of their Galveston winter event a couple of years ago, I’ve attended every Space City Comic Con to date.  From the excellent first year event at the Galleria to this year’s event at the NRG Center, I’ve seen this convention do wonderful things, fight growing pains, and, most importantly, learn from their mistakes.

This year’s convention had a whole lot of pros and a few cons as well.  Let’s start with the pros first and then work our way through the few cons that I happened upon.

Spider-Gwen!

Spider-Gwen!

First and foremost, this convention has maintained one thing throughout its existence, and that’s the fact that it’s a big event with a small event feel.  I’ve heard many attendees refer to something known as the “Space City feel” which is basically that despite having some big name celebs like William Shatner, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darville, Kevin J. Anderson, and most of the cast of Star Trek:  Voyager on the guest list, this event is very laid back.  Volunteers were friendly, full of information, and quick to make sure that any and all problems were handled as swiftly as possible.  NRG Event staff was awesome as well, making sure that the area was clean, safe, and friendly.

Harley Quinn, DDK, and Poison Ivy.

Harley Quinn, DDK, and Poison Ivy.

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville.

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darville.

Event attendees were friendly as well.  There are always a few bad apples in the basket, but pretty much everybody that attended the convention played “Texas Friendly” throughout the duration of the event.  This includes celebs, authors, artists, and vendors.  In fact, the celebs at this event went out of their way to interact with the fans.  Handlers didn’t stop them, either, which is a plus in my opinion.  The highlight for me was getting to meet the lovely, friendly, and funny Michele Specht of Star Trek Continues.  Not only did she remember me from a tweet that I posted about a week ago, she hung out with me and a few other chemically imbalanced members of the Just Us League!  She’s definitely one of the funniest and friendliest celebs that I’ve ever met, and I hope to see her at another event in the future.

The Just Us League and Michele Specht of Star Trek Continues!

The Just Us League and Michele Specht of Star Trek Continues!

Another pro for this event was their programming app.  Yes, I’m a more traditional kind of guy when it comes to programming schedules.  I prefer to hold a program in my hand and read it instead of flipping through an app to see what’s going on.  However, after using the app for a bit, I grew to appreciate its usefulness when it came to updating any last minute changes or cancellations.  It still needs a little work, but I believe it will get better as this event continues to grow.

Iron Texan!

Iron Texan!

Something else that I enjoyed about Space City Comic Con was the fact that getting into, out of, and around the event was a snap.  The check in process flowed quickly and there were almost no hassles to getting inside the convention hall.  The size of the crowd was good, but not cramped like it was for Space City’s second event.  A few spots had slower traffic than others, but those spots were usually occupied by excellent vendors, artists, cosplayers, or my favorite green ladies, Orion’s Envy.  While they didn’t have an official performance at the event this year, they danced all over the convention floor.

DDK and his favorite green ladies, Orion's Envy!

DDK and his favorite green ladies, Orion’s Envy!

There were also tons of cosplayers at the event.  While I don’t like to use the term professional cosplayer, there were a few in attendance at this event.  All of them were very cordial and seemed to get along quite well with the crowd.  Plenty of “regular” cosplayers also attended the event, and they were all very friendly as well.  I had a lot of fun interacting with them and taking photos of and with them.  There were more Harley Quinns in attendance than you could shake a stick at, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book!

GOTG!

GOTG!

Marty McFly, DDK, and Cap!

Marty McFly, DDK, and Cap!

The Joker, DDK, and Harley!

The Joker, DDK, and Harley!

Myself and Harley Quinn!

Myself and Harley Quinn!

But was the event perfect? Not at all.  However, I’ve come to expect a few bumps in the road from an event of this size.  My biggest hangup about this event was the poor signage.  Without a physical, in-hand program, and an app that shows promise but needs a little work, it wasn’t easy to keep up with the locations and times for everything.  I do see this improving in the future, but it should be mentioned in my opinion.

Another con was finding the entrance to the event (but only the first time).  I rode with friends this year and despite the GPS getting us to the event, we had to circle a bit before we found the proper gate to go through.  After that initial difficulty, though, getting to the event was no problem.

My only other complaint is that this event should have stayed open a tad longer on Saturday evening (or at least dropped the extra cost of getting into the after party).  I didn’t attend the after party and from what I heard from folks who did, it wasn’t worth the extra money to attend the event.

So will I attend this event next year?  Absolutely!  Houston is one of my favorite cities and Space City Comic Con is one of my favorite events.  It’s still growing and as long as the show runners keep a happy balance between the “Space City feel” and the quality of its guests, I’ll continue to attend this event until I become one with the Force!

Quicksilver!

Quicksilver!

Next up on my convention agenda is Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA in October.  This will be a first year event by an established convention running group, AVC, that has already put on shows in Mississippi and northern Louisiana.  They haven’t announced many of their guests yet, but Lafayette is close enough to home and I have a ton of con family and friends that live in the area, so this is going to be a fun ride no matter how good the convention actually turns out.

As always, I want to thank you for reading this post.  Be sure to let your friends know and feel free to comment below if you attended Space City or any other convention recently.  Thanks!

SDCC Leaks, Hits, And Misses!

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Not In San Diego

I’ve never attended San Diego Comic Con.  I’ll probably never it to the convention unless I get an invite or one of my many, many stories gets picked up for a film (a guy can hope), but I do look forward to the photos, videos, and articles about the event each year that friends and others share on the web and in person.

This year’s event featured three big sneak peeks and one that was pulled from the web before I could see it.  Warner Brothers coughed up looks at the highly anticipated Batman Vs. Superman and another DC property that hasn’t garnered as much attention (but I think it will now), Suicide Squad.  Fox offered a glimpse at Deadpool, a film that has been begged for for many years by the Merc with a Mouth’s biggest fans, and X-Men:  Apocalypse, which I’m sure will be a very good film based on the strength of the two previous films (First Class and Days of Future Past).  Unfortunately the sneak peek that was offered for Apocalypse has been pulled from the web, so I won’t have anything to say about it until Fox makes the official trailer release.

So, let’s take a look at each trailer (except for Deadpool, which was apparently pulled except for the bootleg video) that I have managed to see and then I’ll post a few comments about each one.

Batman Vs. Superman

A lot of people, myself included, cringed at the first brief tease of Batman Vs. Superman whenever Warner Brothers and DC presented it at last year’s SDCC.  Batman was laughed at for looking like a LEGO figure and people were talking about how Batman/Bruce Wayne was going to be terrible because Ben Affleck was cast in the role.  Also, Man of Steel didn’t draw as much positive heat as Warner and DC had hoped for, and with the announcement that Jesse Eisenberg would be portraying Lex Luthor in the new flick, things looked pretty bad for the Bats/Supes face off……until now.

Although there isn’t much revealed in the new trailer, we do get to see a whole lot more than what has been offered up to this point.  Ben Affleck looks like he’s comfortable in the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and Jesse Eisenberg (despite just a few brief seconds in the trailer) looks like he’ll be just fine as Luthor.

I have to admit that of all of the trailers I’ve seen from SDCC, I’m most excited for Batman Vs. Superman.

Suicide Squad

While big DC fans are no strangers to the excellent Suicide Squad books, the general movie-viewing audience isn’t familiar with them at all.  Sure, even casual DC fans know about Harley Quinn, and everybody knows about the Joker, but how well will characters like Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, and even Killer Croc, translate onto the big screen?  I had my doubts, but after seeing the trailer (including Jared Leto’s inked and grilled Joker), I’m pretty pumped up for this flick.  I’m sure that there will be plenty of naysayers for the film regardless of how well it does in the theaters, but I’ve just got a really good feeling about this movie.

Deadpool

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Go ahead and watch the bootleg if you want, it’s pretty good, but I am not that impressed.  Plenty of fanboys headed for social media to whoop and wail over the wonder that is Ryan Reynolds as their favorite mercenary, but all I saw was Reynolds channeling his old (and wretched) Hannibal King from the only Blade flick I hate, Trinity.  I have yet to be that impressed with Reynolds as an action star.  I didn’t like him in X-Men Origins:  Wolverine or as Hal Jordan in Green Lantern.  Sure, neither of those films was that great, but I feel that a better actor could have done a better job with the material had they been given the chance.

I’ll hold my judgment off until I see the film (and you all know I’m going to see it), but expectations are pretty low.

So, there’s my opinion on the big reveals at SDCC.  Do ya agree?  Disagree? Lemme know!!!!

Hikes, Hot Springs, And Purple Cows

The view from one of the docks on Lake Ouachita.

Hot Springs, Arkansas and Surrounding Area

A couple of days ago, my family and I returned from a nice vacation in Arkansas.  We stayed in the Ouachita National Forest in Mount Ida, AR.  Our trip included visits to Hot Springs, Magic Springs, a couple of hikes, and the kids went digging for diamonds as well.

On our first full day in Arkansas, my wife and the kids headed out to a local state park to dig for diamonds.  As a rule, I do not post photos of my family in this very public blog, so I won’t be posting any images of my children in this post.  However, I can say that they really enjoyed their time at the crystal dig site, but came up short on finding anything of value.

I spent the day hiking the Hunt Loop at Iron Springs near the Jessieville Ranger Station in the Ouachita National Forest.  Whenever I travel through Arkansas on Scenic 7, I always take at least a few minutes to stop at Iron Springs.  It’s a lovely little spot to take a break, eat a sandwich, or just take in the sights.  This was the first time that I walked the Hunt Loop Trail at Iron Springs, and I must say that I really enjoyed it.  There were plenty of nice sights to check out, and I ran into a few other hikers along the way.  The trail got a bit rough in a couple of spots, but overall all it was a decent trail to walk.  The terrain was a tad rocky in place as well, so if you ever decide to take this short 1.1 mile trail, be sure to wear sturdy footwear.

Iron Springs at the beginning of the Hunt Loop Trail.

Iron Springs at the beginning of the Hunt Loop Trail.

I also took a hike on the Friendship Trail at the Jessieville Ranger Station.  This was a much smoother trail and I highly recommend it to anybody who wants to take a hike but might not be up to any long treks on rough terrain.  This trail is specifically designed for people with handicaps or who just can’t handle tough trails.  It has only one steady upgrade and the entire trail is blacktopped and paved with plenty of space for wheelchairs to pass each other.  The trail is dotted by a number of informational signs about the wildlife and the forest, and the highlight of the trail is the fish pond (also handicap friendly) that has a pavilion suitable for get togethers.

Duck boxes at the Fish Pond at Friendship Trail.

Duck boxes at the Fish Pond at Friendship Trail.

The fish pond at Friendship Trail.

The fish pond at Friendship Trail.

On our second day in Arkansas, the family trekked over to Magic Springs, an amusement park near Hot Springs.  I’m a huge coaster fan, and couldn’t wait to tackle any of the big rides that Magic Springs had to offer.  There weren’t that many big thrill rides in the park, but the few it had were well worth checking out.  There was almost no line for any of the rides (we went on a Monday), so I got on each of the big rides after a very small (if any) waiting period.

My favorite ride in the bunch was The Gauntlet.  Suspended from the rail and with feet free in the air, this coaster whipped myself and other riders around a few times and was very fun.  I also enjoyed riding the X Coaster, which featured a 90 degree vertical lift and multiple corkscrews before dropping you back in reverse to do it all over again.  My wife said it was one of the craziest things she’s ever watched me ride, and I have to admit that it was a bit crazy BUT I will say that I never felt safer on a coaster than I did on this bad boy.

The Gauntlet at Hot Springs.

The Gauntlet at Magic Springs.

The X Coaster at Hot Springs.

The X Coaster at Magic Springs.

I also rode Big Bad John, a traditional roller coaster with a couple of nice twist and turns.  My son and wife rode this one as well, and they really enjoyed it.  The wooden rocker, Arkansas Twister, was a teeth-rattling, rickety wreck.  It’s the biggest coaster on the property, but it banged me up more than any other wooden coaster that I’ve ever ridden.  It was fun to a degree, but I don’t recommend riding it more than once.

Big Bad John at Magic Springs.

Big Bad John at Magic Springs.

Arkansas Twister at Magic Springs.

Arkansas Twister at Magic Springs.

Other highlights included the Plummet Summit, a large flume ride that dumps tons of water on riders and bystanders, and the Ozark Taxi Co., a car driving experience that allows drivers of all ages to make a couple of loops in an old timey car.  My wife, kids, and other family members also went to the Crystal Springs Water Park, which is part of the Magic Springs Property.  They really had a blast soaking up fun on the lazy river and multiple water slides.

On our final full day in Arkansas, the family and I took a walking tour of the city of Hot Springs.  I’ve been here multiple times, but there have been a few new stores and sights added to the area.  I really enjoyed checking out Stella Mae’s, a rockabilly and alt store that featured plenty of retro styled clothing and products.  When I heard the Reverend Horton Heat blaring over the speakers in the store, I knew that I was in the right place.

After walking around Hot Springs, we ventured over to the newer part of town to eat at The Purple Cow.  Another retro style place, but this time around instead of rockabilly, golden oldies were playing over the speakers as we dined in a very 1950’s styled restaurant that included a great soda shop that featured tasty floats, sundaes, and pie.

I tackled the Purple Cow Ice Cream Soda while my wife and son split a piece of Purple Cow Ice Cream Pie and my daughter had a traditional root beer float.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you visit this place for great burgers and even better dessert!

Purple Cow Ice Cream Pie.

Purple Cow Ice Cream Pie.

Purple Cow To Go Cup.

Purple Cow To Go Cup.

Purple Cow Ice Cream Soda.

Purple Cow Ice Cream Soda.

We finished the trip off with a quiet visit to the Charlton Creek Campground, where the kids played in the water and I just chilled out for a bit.  It was a very shady little campground and there was a very nice creek on the property.  It was the perfect ending to a fun vacation.

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