Diamond Mining

We’ve made it to Murfreesboro and the famous Crater of Diamonds State Park. You really can dig for diamonds here and they say that people find about 600 every year. Not to mention that there are other gems that are also dug up occasionally!

We went and scoped out the mining area already today. It is just a big open field where you can play in the dirt. You can rent all the equipment you need and they have processing pavilions where you can wet sluice as well. Interestingly, there is also a small water park here.

We are staying in one of the 60 campsites. They were supposedly booked solid last night but it looks like there may have been some cancellations and/or early departures (perhaps because of Hurricane Gustav.) We discussed possibly going home a day early but it doesn’t look like that will be necessary although we will probably try and pull out early on Tuesday. The storm should be getting to Dallas around Wednesday morning – if it stays on it’s current path.

Here is another reason to have an iPhone: we’ve been able to track the storm closely. We wouldn’t have current weather reports otherwise. We only get one TV station here in Murfreesboro and it is the PBS affiliate. They aren’t known for their up to the minute weather reporting! (I’m not sure how we ever managed to get by without an iPhone:)

Little Rock, Arkansas

We only had two nights in Little Rock, so today we headed into downtown Little Rock. We weren’t sure what we were going to do, but we knew the Clinton Library was in the area along with a couple of good restaurants/breweries. We started at the Farmer’s Market and then walked down William Clinton Boulevard. We decided to check out the Library. It was reasonably interesting. You’ve probably seen this photo a million times – “the bridge to the future.” It is right next to this old railroad bridge which does make an interesting contrast.

There were a lot of things that Clinton had received as gifts including a Trek bike and jersey from Lance Armstrong from the 99 Tour de France.

We walked back along the Trail of Sculptures. This is the first sculpture and the only one worth bothering to stop for a picture.

We were looking for the “rock” that contributed to the “Little Rock” name but this is all we found. This is one thing that the city could work on to improve it’s image. The whole downtown was pretty nice – good restaurants and some interesting shops.

The KOA Kampground here is packed solid. They said they had to turn away people who were driving up from Louisiana and other potential targets of Hurrican Gustav. We’ll be heading off to Murfreesboro from here and then home!

Flying Things Everywhere!

We really enjoyed staying at Crane Creek Lake State Park.  The campground was lovely and we had it practically to ourselves.  The first couple of days were very comfortable with the wind blowing (supposedly the remnants from Hurricane Fay.)  After that the bugs arrived!  There were gnats and mosquitoes plus the day we went mounting biking these things were absolutely everywhere.  It seemed like they left some kind of carcass behind.  We would often find hollow bodies stuck to things.   I thought they may have been some kind of pre-cursor to dragon flies.  They were very sticky.  You could grab them by the wings. 

The biting bugs were terrible.  Alan and I are both completely covered with red spots.  Usually, I’m the only one sensitive to insect bites, but that wasn’t the case this time.  We had to have our “smores” fire at 6 o’clock so we could get back inside before we were eaten alive!

 I wasn’t sure we were going to get any hummingbirds.  None showed up the first two days, but we knew they were in the area.  The Visitor Center had a feeder that had two hanging out all of the time.   Alan finally managed to get a couple of photos:

Mountain Biking around Crane Creek Lake

We are sitting in Little Rock with a barely manageable Internet connection so I thought I would catch-up on posting some of the pictures from Cane Creek Lake.  Here are a couple of photos from our Mountain Biking adventure.  I really loved riding in the woods.  It was a little muddy and that made some of the uphills tough, but riding in the woods on the downhills was a lot of fun (except for the bugs.)  There were several suspension bridges and part of the trail over the usually wet areas was actually planked.

Alan thinks that I’m smiling in this photo, but I’m really grimacing as we ride over the levee! We didn’t end up with any serious injuries – just a few bruises.  I lost it once going over one of the numerous bridges.  This one had a big spiderweb and I foolishly reached to brush off the webs while still on the narrow bridge.  I ended up with a nasty brush-burn on my knee caused by one of the 2×4’s that made up the bridge railing!  I guess this is a good way to learn how to keep both hands on the handle bars. 

 

Cane Creek Lake

During our first two days at Cane Creek Lake (outside of Star City, AR) it was really windy.  That turned out to be a blessing since it kept the bugs down.  We had a boat dock right next to our campsite.  We went down at sunset and took this picture.  It was hard to get a good shot because the dock was moving and I didn’t have anything good to balance the camera against.

A Bad Day to Good Day

We’ve made it to our next destination, but I don’t know when I’ll get to post this since we only have Internet access on my iPhone.  We are now at Crane Creek State Park.  It wasn’t the easiest place to get to since first of all our GPS (and Google Maps) didn’t seem to think that it existed.  There was no sign of a Lake in the area. 

It turns out the Lake was only created in the early 80’s and the State Park had only opened in the early 1990’s.  It is a nice campground.  We are sitting right on the edge of the lake (the picture with my sewing machine in the earlier post shows the lake in the background through the trees.)  We are planning on staying at least four nights and maybe five.  We’ll head out to Little Rock and then onto Murfreesboro before getting home on the 2nd. 

I had spent this morning waiting to hear from my Mom who was in the hospital having some tests done.  That was part of the Bad Day that turned out to be a Good Day.  They didn’t find anything wrong and she is fine!  (But a note to all of my friends and loved ones – don’t drive yourself to the hospital when you think you are having symptoms of a heart attack!)

Now on to the second part of my Bad Day.  While taking a shower at the Bath House, I realized that my wedding ring was missing.  I didn’t have any idea of when I lost it except that I knew it was before I got to the shower.  I wasn’t too worried because I thought I lost it while making the bed this morning.  Well, it was no where to be found.  We completely ripped to trailer and truck apart looking for it.  From the photos, we knew I still had it at Mud Island but I couldn’t remember anything after that.  Finally, we are about to give up when Alan asks about an earlier incident with a lot of soap.

Our shampoo/conditioner/soap dispenser had come flying off the wall of the shower in the trailer on our bumpy ride across the back roads of Arkansas that we had to take to get here from West Memphis.  It made a huge mess with literally cups of various soap products in the bottom of the shower stall.  I didn’t want to wash all of that down the Gray Water tank so I had scooped it by hand with paper towels.  Alan thought maybe my ring had come off then with all of the soap.  I had put the broken dispenser in our outside garbage can so I went out to look in there and my ring was sitting RIGHT ON TOP!  (Somebody is definitely looking out for us when we are on the road:)  It hadn’t slipped down with the rest of the garbage, but was delicately balanced on top of one of the pumps! 

I will say an extra prayer tonight in thanks for it turning out to be such a Good Day on all fronts!

West Memphis (and Ribs Explained)

Since this trip was about Arkansas, we decided to go as far as West Memphis but not really venture into Tennessee.  However, there wasn’t really much to do on the Arkansas side of the river after we picked up our tire and all of the BBQ places were calling to Alan.

We started by heading right out to Interstate BBQ our first night.  This is a pretty famous place known for their ribs and BBQ Spaghetti (yes, I said spaghetti).  The place wasn’t in the greatest neighborhood and it definitely wasn’t a tourist attraction but it was clean and the food was absolutely delicious.  I had the BBQ Spaghetti which is just spaghetti with chopped pork and what seemed to be a slightly sweeter version of their BBQ sauce.  Alan had the ribs and chopped pork dinner.  We got to see the owner.  He stopped by our table to make sure everything was good.  I would definitely go back there!

 

 

 

Our second day, we headed over the river again to check out Mud Island.  We had read about a scale version of the Mississippi River that they had there and you could also ride your bike around.  The miniature river was really cool.  It explains where and how the other rivers feed the Mississippi and it ends at the Gulf.  It was fun to walk down the length seeing how the river has moved and changed.  Kids were playing in the water and letting their flip-flops float down the Missippi. 

There were also scale versions of the cities, bridges and dams with signs all along pointing out places of historical significance. 

We stayed in a campground right on the Mississippi River.  We could sit outside our camper and watch the barge traffic go by.  There was at least one barge about every hour or so.  It was really interesting to watch them go by.  We found the best write-up on the barge traffic at Mud Island.

We weren’t sure about staying at this campground at first because there isn’t much there except concrete pads and hook-ups.  We had a tree though and once again got a couple of hummingbirds to come visit our feeder. No pictures of hummingbirds – just this picture of me that I didn’t know Alan had taken until later.

We left Mud Island and headed into Memphis first to check-out a peanut shop where they fresh-roast peanuts every hour.  It was one of the original Planter’s Peanut outlets.  Then we headed to our next BBQ meal – the Rendevzous.  I think that I have been to this place in the past when I’d visited Memphis on business years ago.  They have dry rub ribs which Alan liked but I found them a bit too spicy.  My chopped pork sandwich that came with coleslaw was pretty good. Technically speaking, what they serve here is not actually “barbecue”; they refer to it as “charcoal broiled”.  We couldn’t leave it at that though.  There was one more place that Alan wanted to try – the Cozy Corner.  Even our waiter at the Rendevzous said we should go there.  (Although I doubt he thought we were going to head over right then after already eating one dinner.)

The Rendevzous was not exactly road food.  I think it gets a lot of tourist traffic, but the Cozy Corner is definitely road food – to me that means you probably wouldn’t venture inside unless someone had told you in advance that it was okay.  Alan had another set of ribs and made me order the bologna sandwich.  I had a rib or two and maybe two bites of the sandwich. It was all really great but I couldn’t eat any more.  Here is a better photo of the bologna sandwich which Alan finished:

 

Here is a shot of the restaurant (so if you are ever driving by you will recognize the place and go on in!)

That was it for Memphis.  We did not go see Grace Land or do any of the other other Elvis-related tourist activities.  We did go in the museum at Mud Island and that was better than expected.  There were a lot of river boat displays that were pretty intresting.  This is a replica of the Robert E. Lee that won a famous race of riverboats. 

 

Before we left the museum I got Alan to pose for one picture: