BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Adventure. It can be defined as participating in exciting and potentially hazardous undertakings. Life is an adventure, there are the moments that are most certainly exciting and some moments that take your breath away because they are so thrilling. For many, they would rather look back on their life and say, “I can’t believe I did that,” rather than, “I wish I would have done that.” Chris Masters has lived a life of adventure, full of travel and great thrills along the way.
Chris grew up in Polk County and attended Mena Public Schools. After graduation, he attended Hendrix College, earning his Bachelor’s in Physics. Afterwards, Chris pursued his masters at UALR. “I had a friend after graduation that moved to Boulder, CO and I knew that was where I wanted to go so I defended my thesis and two weeks later I took everything I owned and moved to Colorado,” says Chris with a smile. After moving to Boulder, he began work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA].
In the beginning, he worked on a laser project that was measuring the ozone in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. “I was a research assistant and I couldn’t go any further so I started looking for opportunities and then I got on with the United States Antarctic Program so I spent about four years working on the Antarctic research vessels. I was having such a blast, I spent a lot of time down around the Antarctic. After the contract with the Antarctic Program was up, Chris looked to head back to Boulder. Soon afterwards he went back to work at another NOAA laboratory called Earth Systems Research Laboratory, where he would spend the next 14 years. “I worked half the time remotely from Mena, visiting Boulder 3-4 times a year. After things going on in my life and then my mother’s health declining, I decided to move back to Mena in 2014. I started work as the Network Engineer here [UARM] and did that for two years before becoming Computer Information Officer [CIO] in January of this year,” explains Chris.
Anybody that knows Chris would say that he loves adventure, a love that developed through his time traveling and working in Colorado. While working off, he developed a love for amateur photography and mountain biking, “I picked up both of those hobbies while living in Boulder. Obviously, living there provided great opportunities for pictures and then mountain biking was great there as well.” Recently, Chris competed in the Ouachita Challenge, a 60-mile rigorous mountain bike tour and race.
Along with these hobbies, Chris may be most excited about his work with the Ouachita Amateur Radio Association. He is an amateur radio operator, or “Ham” as they are called in the Amateur Radio world. “I love being a part of the group and the national amateur radio association as a whole. It has been a lot of fun learning about the technology and the potential, but also connecting with people through our work. I have talked with somebody in New Zealand before so it’s cool to be a part of something that connects people from all over the world,” states Chris.
Despite traveling the world, Mena is home for Chris, not just because he grew up here, but because it is roots. “This really is my roots. My great great grandfather homesteaded land out south of town and that’s where I live now. There is just a lot of history here for me,” explains Chris. Like many others that call Mena home, Chris loves the atmosphere of the community and the people in it. “It’s really a safe place, people are kind, and it’s a great place to live.” Often, you can’t appreciate what’s right in front of you and what blessings have been received until you are able to see other places. Chris feels that Mena is a real gem and it is a great place not only to live, but to play. “There is so much here. We have beautiful trails that you can go hike or mountain bike at any point. The trails here are rated ‘epic’ and thousands of people flock here each year to ride. In Boulder, if you wanted to get out on a trail like we have here, there would be hundreds of people. Unfortunately, people don’t realize what we have right here.”
Everyone wants to live an adventurous life, experience the excitement and thrills that come with those great experiences. For many, traveling the world is not an option, but Chris reminds us, adventure is right out our front door in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains.