The Texas Road Runners !!!!!
Road Trip Adventures, Roadside Attractions, Crazy DIY Projects, Texas Fishing, Rock Hounding and more......
Gem Trails of Arkansas 2003
Sites visited were : The Oak Cliff Gem and Mineral Society and the Ron Coleman Quartz Mine.
Forward : The Oak Cliff Gem and Mineral Society. (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)
On to this weeks report. This time, instead of another Gem Trails of Texas report, a Gem Trails of Arkansas! I had been searching for a local Dallas area rock club to join. One which offered plenty of field trips and not too far away from where I live. Also one which offered some lapidary instructions and equipment. So about a month ago, I finally found one, the Oak Cliff Gem and Mineral Society! Unfortunately, I had just missed their last meeting and field trip.
I finally attended their October meeting and met a great bunch of folks. Doug Wallace, of Mineral Search, provided and interesting presentation of his rock hounding adventures. There was even a raffle in which I won a small bolo tie which I plan to give to young Nick someday. Finally the announcement that the trip to Ron Coleman's Quartz mine was a go! Oh, by the way, I added their link to the Links Page.
Star Date : 10/31/2003 : The Drive up.
I took off around mid-morning and took I-30 east into Arkansas. After crossing the state line, I stopped at the Tourist Information Center to stretch my legs and collect some of their tourist propaganda. I continued on I-30 and finally had to stop for gas in Hope, AR, birth home of our former President Clinton.
I continued on I-30 till I reach Hwy 7 and began heading north to Hot Springs. Although I-30 is a great highway, Hwy 7 turned into a slow 2-laner with many curves and hills heading into the mountainous area of Arkansas. Meaning, take your Interstate minded driving and the lead foot away and just enjoy the views. Your not going to get anywhere fast.
Finally, I made it. Whereas Hope, AR is the birth place of former President Clinton, Hot Springs is the hometown of the former president. I found my Best Western motel and checked in. It was just across the street form the big horse racing track. At least they had a state-of-the-art security system.
Once settled in, I began to go through my Arkansas tourist propaganda. I noticed one of the flyers for a Miller Rock Shop just north of Hot Springs Village. Apparently, if you bring the card in, you get a free Arkansas diamond. So I headed out north again on Hwy 7 to Hot Springs Village and just beyond, was the rock shop. I really didn't see anything new or fantastic to buy for my collection, so I inquired about the diamond. Ok, the diamond wasn't real and was just cut glass. I then noticed the sign to Ron Coleman's quartz mine and would just have to see it tomorrow since it was growing dark. So, I headed back and took in the sights of all these crazy people!
I got back to my room and went next store at Rocky's for a sandwich and fries. They did have an interesting menu though!
Star Date : 11/01/2003 : Time to dig.
It was another early morning wake up and onto the local I-Hop to meet the field trip folks, Matt Reiser and his wife Lydia, Gary and Kathleen Copple and Leanne Sparks. After coffee, we headed north again on Hwy 7 through town, through Hot Springs Village and took a left on Blakely Camp Road to the entrance of Ron Coleman's quartz mine and shop.
We paid our digging fees which is normally $20.00 but got in for only $10.00 due to a group club discount. Then we headed down to the parking area. Their operation was simple. From the strip mine, they would use bulldozers to load up a bunch of dirt and bring it on up through a road and deposit the tailings in an upper area.
It was time to dig and a beautiful view of the Ouachita Mountains to dig in. Before long, I found my first crystal. I wasn't too picky, big or small went into my bucket.
Quite a few others were out digging. Gary and Kathleen were having too much fun and Leanne had quite a fistful. Time flown and it was getting close to lunch. The mine had an area where one could wash their newly found crystals. Matt and Lydia looked like they had a successful hunt.
I said my goodbyes and headed back to the shop. Of coarse I picked up another refrigerator magnet. I then headed back into town for lunch and check out the local sights.
The Arlington is one of those fancy hotels where you can be messaged and be bathed in the local Hot Springs water. The Hot Springs National Park is right in the center of the city. Though the trails aren't for everyone. There was a whole row of bath houses including the one by the parks services. This spring water is not named for nothing, there is actual steam evaporating from this fountain.
After checking out the local sights, I headed back to my motel and picked up some dinner back at Rocky's. At least this evening, Monster Garage was on and this time Jesse James made a monster out of an old hurst.
Star Date : 11/02/2003 : Back home.
Time to head on home. I took Hwy 7 out of town and first Checked out DeGray Lake State Park. Its a great lake! Too bad I do not have a boat.
I gassed back up in Texarkana and then headed back west on I-30 back to Texas. I then remembered seeing a roadside attraction on the Internet in Paris, TX. They had their own Eiffel Tower so I then took Hwy 271 northwest from Mt. Pleasant. Well, I found it, cowboy hat and all. Unfortunately, it was not as tall as I expected it to be.
Since I was in the area, I decided to head back south on Hwy 24 to Commerce, TX and obtain some GPS data for my old Gem Trails of North Texas 2003 report and for Brad's Book. Unfortunately, as I drove north on Hwy 34, the road was shut down due to construction. At this point, I was getting tired and headed back to Commerce, onto Hwy 50 to Greenville and then I-30 back to home.
I have to admit, it was a great little adventure. I made some new friends and finally got to see some sights of Arkansas. Like I said earlier, I wasn't picky with my findings, but here are some of the better crystals after I cleaned them up. If I had more time, I would have liked to check out Diamond Crater State Park and search for diamonds. I guess I will save that for another adventure!
So, until next time, take care and I'll See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!
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