Thanks so much to the local squirrel who went out of his way to let me know that the “blackbird, mourning dove, and squirrel deterrent cage” that I created to protect my bird feeder should actually be called a “blackbird and mourning dove deterrent / squirrel feeding system.” Also high five to him for sticking his entire face inside the feeder. That was definitely what I was hoping he would do.
So this epic fail has sent me back to the drawing board once more. Oh well. At least he posed nicely for his crime in action mug shot. Little stinker.
One of our highly nerdy yet entertaining passions is trying to capture interesting or lovely photos of the birds that cross our path. Our path is often quite close to home (a.k.a. adjacent to it as it is in our yard), but we have found some magical winged wonders since moving here a few short months ago.
The titmouse is one of our favorites because it has a sassy hairdo and loves to talk back to you when you play bird calls in its vicinity.
Fun fact that you never wanted to know – the plural of titmouse is titmouses, not titmice. Think of it like houses, not hice. 😉
In the summer of 2015, we stayed in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It’s unique and funky and gorgeous, and we adored it. We saw enough purple, blue and maroon hair to make Japanese pop stars jealous. Every inch of the town has its own spirit, character and beauty.
We played in Beaver Lake, zip-lined through the trees, got hooked on the crazy good food at the Mud Street Cafe, visited Quigley’s Castle (the former home of a woman who a covered every surface with rocks, minerals and all things nature – it’s amazing), and saw the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (a wonderful big cat and exotic animal rescue facility that cares for countless animals that cannot be cared for elsewhere – big cats aren’t pets – stop telling yourself that they are). It was all lovely.
For most people, lovely would be just what the doctor ordered. MOST people.
My thinking, on the other hand, is that there’s no need to stay where you are and do amazing things that are readily available when you can force your children to get in the car and listen to them whine at you and gripe at each other for several hours.
I would love to say that everyone took a leap of faith and trusted me with full confidence and sheer joy when I told them that I had found a cool new activity that they would enjoy, but that wasn’t how that went. It was an even tougher sell when I explained that we would have to get up well before dawn given that it was several hours away, and I didn’t exactly know where we would be going or what it would be like. Nevertheless everyone grumbled their way out of their beds the next day, poured their sleepy bodies into the car, and we headed off to Mount Ida.
Up to that point, we had just nabbed pretty rocks whenever we happened to stumble across them. We had visited a few underground caves and had stopped at some other interesting geological formations over the years, but this was our first actual dig for specific rocks or minerals. Google wasn’t much help, so divine intervention must have led us to the Twin Creek Crystal Mine. It was not highly publicized at the time, but it was a jackpot, and we were shocked that it wasn’t crawling with rock hunters.
A few bucks per person to dig and you can take home whatever gorgeous quartz you can find. One of the biggest tricks about hunting for rocks is knowing what to look for when you search. You could be standing on a pile of gems and never realize it if you don’t know the geological hints.
Thankfully the staff at the mine spent extensive time showing us what to look for while also digging with us. They were a ton of fun to be with for the day, and they were very kind to our children. (You have great people there Miss Dixie!) My only disappointment is that I didn’t take many photos to document the adventure. At the time I wasn’t blogging, and frankly, we were as distracted as kids in a candy shop.
We loaded so many rocks into the car that the tailgate of my SUV was almost scraping the highway when we left. They were under our seats, propping up our feet, and jammed in any available space between our bags. We brought home buckets of crystal points, and the kids handed out souvenirs to every child in each of their classes (they were an immediate sensation!). We gave them to family members and placed them in various spots around the house for decor. They still make us smile.
If you dig rocks (on multiple levels), rockhounding is infectious. You get a taste of it, and you want to do more of it. The Twin Creek Crystal Mine was a beautiful surprise for our family. Our last minute day trip started something that has led us to places and friendships that are unique, fun and incredibly special. If you ever head to Arkansas, add it to your places to go list. The Twin Creek Crystal Mine is a real gem.
We are on the road once more. I threw together a last minute rockhunting trip to New Mexico (we love it there!) before the remaining minutes of summer have gone the way of the dodo. I never plan our trips in advance, and my husband is always a good sport about taking another random willy-nilly unplanned Joanna adventure. The kids don’t have a choice, but they (usually) have fun once the eyerolls abate.
There’s no better way to take a stretch break after 12 hours in the car than popping into Roswell to grab some food and a few minutes of out of this world entertainment.
The kids wanted to get on the road and go, but I feel like you should find the fun wherever you are if possible, so we dashed into the International UFO Museum & Research Center minutes before it closed. It’s little so we didn’t need much time, but it did make us smile. If you happen to be heading through there, it’s a fun stop.
I have yet to figure out why my kids roll their eyes whenever I mention that I have a surprise activity planned. Please enlighten me if you have any suspicions. 😉
***I will post rockhunting updates shortly. Thanks!
Rockhound is the friendly term used to describe a geological packrat (a person who collects rocks). That’s my crew. We can’t resist picking up driftwood, shells, and twisty intricate sticks wherever we find them. But above all, we love to collect rocks. Either you get it, or you don’t. It’s fine by us either way.
Most of the families in our area take their kids to Disney, Universal Studios, and other big name entertainment, and that’s awesome. We take ours to mountains, quarries, and mines, and that’s pretty epic, too.
Over the past couple of years, we started rockhounding in earnest. We went from casually picking up lovely rocks we walked past to actively seeking places with beautiful geological formations. Helmets and pickaxes also joined the family at that point. You know the old saying… The family that pickaxes together… Nevermind – I can already see why that phrase never made the old sayings list.
Thanks so much to all of the rockhounds who have shared their time, knowledge, and kindness. You have made our world shimmer and sparkle in more ways than one, and you have become our instant family.
This site will go through some of our previous adventures as well as some of our more memorable mishaps (no – not pickaxe related). I am aiming to continue updating it as we take more family nerdventures. Hopefully some of these will make you smile, and even better, maybe they will inspire you to go out there and get to digging, too. If that happens, let us know. We always love to hear other people’s rock hunting stories! 🙂