My beloved Vrex is no longer mine. It has found a new home with a gentleman in Tennessee, who wanted something faster than his current ride, and he was a prior Vrex owner. I needed to sell mine, to re-fund the bank after buying the Giro 26. We struck a deal, and I got a weekend family vacation outta the deal!
See, half way between Tennessee and DFW is a place called Arkadelphia AR. Now, I've never been there, but not more'n 33mi away is a lovely little place in Arkansas, called Crater of Diamonds State Park! This is the only diamond mine in the world that is open to the public to mine for diamonds. Seriously. Check it out here!
Now back a few years ago, when the Monkeys were far smaller, we rented an RV and went there for a weekend. It poured the whole time, and poor Dave about caught serious hypothermia. We had fun, but it was wet, cold, muddy and miserable. But the Monkeys have always wanted to go back.
Enter the gentleman from Tennessee who wanted to buy my bike, but not to have it shipped. Since Arkadelphia was half way, we agreed to meet there and exchange greenbacks for a green bike! But to make it worth while for a 4+ hour drive, we decided to go to Crater of Diamonds Friday, and Dave would drive to Arkadelphia to deliver the bike. I'd spend the day mining with the Monkeys in hopes of them finding a "basketball sized diamond" (their description) so that they could all buy their hearts desire (a horse, a cat, all the HALO legos ever made...).
This trip we camped. The weather was essentially ideal. Cold nights and middlin' warm days. The problem was that we underestimated how chilly it would get at night in the tent. The kids failed to bring warm sleeping clothes, and Dave brought his summer weight bag. The kids had to burrow down into their sleeping bags to stay warm, and Dave, well, he froze.
We dug for a couple hours after making camp on Friday afternoon. The Monkeys enjoyed grubbing in the dirt and playing in the wash-water. It's about a half mile from the diamond field to the campsite, so we did have a bit of a walk each time we went out there. We brought all our own food, so we didn't eat at a restaurant for any of our meals there. That made it more 'real' to the Monkeys I think. Friday evening was primitive fire starting practice, with Dave showing the Monkeys how to use a fire steel.
Saturday, Dave took off to Arkadelphia to deliver the bike. That went smoothly and the guy was very nice. Dave brought back some extra bread, and a couple other things like sweatshirts for the Monkeys, and spoons. The Monkeys and I hunted diamonds all day long, except for a brief break I took with the youngest one, to make some lunch for all and bring it back to the diamond field. We didn't find any diamonds, but we had a good time trying!
In the evening, we had dinner, and after that, we had another round of primitive fire starting practice. It was a bit harder the second time, as we did not use any manmade tinder sources--only natural ones, and the soft dry grasses were in short supply at the campsite. Lots of oak leaves and pine needles, but it was tough making a good tinder bundle. Still, once the fire was going, it was nice and WARM!
We were blessed with good weather this trip. Others, in the South and Midwest were not so fortunate. We saw some of the storm lines on radar that night, and were grateful they were not in our area.