We went to the Crater of Diamond State Park with our Cub Scouts this weekend to camp and try our luck at mining diamonds. It’s a two hour drive there from Little Rock, and a beautiful drive. We ended up with just three families camping on Friday, but had four more join us to dig on Saturday. For those of you who don’t know, the park is the only place IN THE WORLD where diamond digging is open the the general public.
Searching for Diamonds
Digging is much harder than you’d think. There is a lot of mica,
quartz, jasper, and calcite that confuses you and makes you think you’ve
struck it rich. I found some pretty green rocks I thought might be
jade, but were volcanic ash! It makes for great geology lessons and Cub
can earn lots of goodies like: Geology beltloop and pin,
family travel requirements, Webelos Geology pin requirements, and lots
Sifting and Washing
The boys loved getting dirty (but not so much getting hot) so we treated them with a trip to the little water park right outside the digging field. I think that was the highlight for them!
Cooling Off in the Waterpark
Some hints: If you go with a large group they give great rates. We only paid $1.81 for the kids and $3 for adults to dig. You can take wagons, tools, screens, coolers, from home. If you don’t want to cart all that they also rent everything you can hope for there and have a restaurant where you can rest. Take swimsuits if you want to get the kids clean before going home!
Sunday we drove up to N.W. Arkansas to check out Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. It’s a pretty drive through the Boston Mountains so no one complained about the 3 hrs each way in the car…(not too much anyway.)
Crystal Bridges Museum
We planned on meeting my grandpa (aka Popie), mom, and aunt there but were really late getting on the road so we imagined they would be done by the time we got there. Funny thing was as I was calling them to see where in the museum they were we happened to look across the pond and see them looking out the window of another gallery!
Ceiling is a work of art
My “artsy” guys
The grounds and building alone are enough to warrant a trip to
Bentonville to see the museum. But the collection inside is also
amazing. One of the most comprehensive American art collections in the
world. Here are some highlights:
Can you imagine the dinner conversations with this family?
Mary Cassatt is my favorite
This reminded us of Scott’s grandma
Maxfield Parrish’s “The Lantern Bearers” is so dreamy
We met up with some friends for dinner in Fayetteville and drove the kids around on a mini- tour that sounded like this:
“See that- that’s where I had geography.” (Dad)
“That’s the dorm I used to live in.” (Mom)
“That’s the dorm I used to live in.” (Dad)
“They didn’t have this cool stuff when we went here.” (both of us)
“That’s where Grammy and your grandpa lived” (mom)
“That’s where mom and dad met.” (Mom)
“That’s where I took your mom on our first date.” (Dad)
“That’s where I used to eat tacos.” (Dad)
Don’t know if they heard us but it was fun anyway!
The kids hiking, hunting for ancient sea fossils, playing games together, making zombie movies…
Our dog, Cole was thankful for- No Leash!
Don’t think any of us wanted to come home.
No internet, TV reception, or cell service (which was WONDERFUL. We love these kinds of peaceful trips. You realize how much you DON’T need and what is important. The hardest part is learning to be quiet and relax.)
Outings to Jasper to eat, buy a puzzle, and visit Emma’s Junk Museum (a great junk store!)
(We really wanted to stay the night but after calling everywhere realized planning a Labor Day trip isn’t possible on Labor day weekend!)
the weather was gorgeous. It’s been over 100 here for so long, and then
suddenly I think it was about 70 (maybe cooler.) Lovely and sunny.
Mountain View is about 2 1/2 hours from North Little Rock, and it’s a beautiful scenic drive.
First we went to Blanchard Springs Caverns. We went on the longer tour, which I haven’t been on since Scott and I were dating. (They close that trail when it rains a lot or in the fall/winter when the bats are hibernating.) It was a fantastic tour, I enjoyed it much more than the Dripstone Tour we usually get to take. My oldest now wants to do the Wild Cave tour! (She might have to do that one with her grandma, as I am a bit claustrophobic.)
My phone doesn’t take good cave pics!
After the caves we wandered down into the park to the springs. It was very crowded due to Labor Day weekend and a wedding, so we didn’t stay long. *Note: with your cave tickets you get access to the picnic area, swimming hole, and springs for the day!
Horseback riding was next on the agenda. I had a horse that was due for retirement in a day, and I think she knew it. She was just not into the ride! 🙂 There were wild boar and deer on the trail!
We tried to make it in time to visit the Ozark Folk Center, but would have had only 30 minutes for that. Next time. There is a new ropes course on the grounds of the Folk Center called Locoropes. We did manage to squeeze in time for some of that…
Emily Almost to the Top
All the kids (even my man and mom-in-law) made it up the rock walls and down the zip line. I was really proud of Max because he is afraid of heights but managed to make it down the zip line! There was an awesome agility/tree course that scared me to look at. You go from tree to tree on these swings, bridges, ladders… Very cool. I know we’ll be back up there.
Sharon on the Zip Line
Can you find Max?
After that adventure we were starved and had to go to our favorite pizza joint in all of Arkansas, Tommy’s Famous Pizza. We have made special drives the 2 1/2 hours just for their pizza.
Yes, it’s that good. (Make sure you take cash though, Tommy’s doesn’t take plastic!)
Kids and Their Gran-Gran
After dinner we strolled over to the town square to listen to music. Mountain View is famous for it’s music jams on the weekends. There are little gazebos and stages everywhere with people just setting up and jamming all night. Bluegrass, gospel, folk, country…
And, in case you didn’t get enough pizza there are snack places open all night!
School started for my kids back in early July. Then, my oldest
decided she wanted to try a private girl’s school so we had another first
day of high school last Monday. And of course, I took pictures of none. (Bad, bad, mommy.)
I will have to make pretend ones and pose them this week…
Thought I’d show you some pictures of a road trip my honey and I took to Fayetteville in July.
We met in Fayetteville at the good old U of A many moons ago. (Where my parents also met.)
It was a fast and furious business trip but we managed to have fun!
Sculpture Gardens at Terra Studios
There is a place called Terra Studios on the way down the “Pig Trail” that I’d always wanted to go to when I was in college, so we went. They make those little “Blue Birds of Happiness” out of blown glass? It was set up as an artist colony long ago and has a ceramic, metal, and glass studios, along with a really fun store and cafe. In the store you can watch them blow the glass bluebirds. I think it was 115 degrees the day we went and the poor guy was out there blowing glass!