Note: I found Internet access at Palmetto State Park in TX. It is slow going but I managed to get this out. I will be able to post more when we get to our son’s place. Thanks for reading.
We pulled into Lake Catherine State Park in AR Friday night. I originally thought we were going to soak in the hot springs. Time was of the essence so I told Mike I didn’t care about soaking that what was more important to me was mining for the crystals. Mike said that was fine with him. I found this place that was at least an hour west of Hot Springs. That whole day it seemed as if lady luck was shining down on us.
To start the day off Saturday, we took a hike on the falls branch trail. It said it was the “easy” hike. By WI standards it would be considered strenuous. There was an upward climb and it was very rocky. Considering we didn’t eat breakfast it went well. After the hike we packed up and were on the road by nine heading for the mines.
After about an hour and a half drive west of Hot Springs and stopping for breakfast, we pulled through the gate of Wegner’s mines which was a stone arch made out of crystal rocks around 11:30. Wegner’s has been open for 28 years. There brochure reads:
Our exceptionally beautiful mountain valley is peaceful & in harmony with Mother Nature. Since 1981, we have been your environmentally friendly source, working consciously to keep our water clean. we reclaim out mines for Mother Natures’ benefit and future use.
I thought this was a great place to gather crystals. When I shut off the engine the first thing I noticed was how peaceful it was. No freeway traffic.
We checked in at the office and was told the next trip to the mine wasn’t leaving till 1:30. But as it turned out a group of five were waiting so they would do an earlier time so, they took us all right away. The best of all Angie could come to the mines with us. I brought her out of the van and she met all the dogs and they got along famously. We got our gear, two large 5 gal pails, two trowels, two garden hand rakes, two sets of gloves and one crow bar. Three other people joined our group so the 10 of us loaded into the back of this beat up old pick up truck that had bench seats lined along the back. We headed off for the mines and what a trip that was. I thought we were on a ride at Disneyland. We were jostled around like on a roller coaster. Over big rocks, down into big ruts. Up down, back forth. Angie did well considering how bumpy it was.
We got to the mining area and our guide gave us some instructions on what to do in case of emergencies. He showed us a container that held all the first aid one would need and a cell phone. (The guide was leaving us there.) The area was bulldozed out to unearth crystals. We were instructed we could dig for an hour and a half. It was hot, the sand was red and crystals were everywhere. Not that they were spectacular crystals but they beautiful none the less. The guide said digging around the base of trees might yield some good results. I got some pretty nice crystals and for extra measure I just got some really cool rocks. We boxed up our loot and by the time we left it was nearly four. There was no way were going to make Caddo Lake State Park in TX before night fall. To Mike’s credit he didn’t once mention we needed to get going. He got into the moment and allowed it to flow.
We took the scenic route following Hwy 8 for 45 miles which let us out by Arkadelphia and I 30 around 5:30. Mike remembered this restaurant in Arkadelphia that we went to 15 years ago (Mike has a tendency to remember what he ate and where he ate it on trips) called the pig pit. As long as we were in Arkadelphia we thought lets see if was still there so we pulled into a gas station and Mike went in and asked. The Pig Pit was now called Fat Boys and the new owners followed the original owners recipes. Mike said it was just as good. Now with full belly’s we were back on the road headed west on I 30 for Texarkana and then Caddo lake.
It got dark and the roads leading to Caddo Lake State Park, TX were narrow and winding. I white knuckled it for what seemed like hours but was only about one hour. Finally, we saw a sign saying Caddo lake turn here. We turned and with it being so dark we missed the entrance. I pulled into this bar called Uncertain Tap in the town of Uncertain and we were feeling a bit uncertain ourselves. Mike went to find out where we went wrong (who says men can’t ask for directions). When he got back in the care he smelled of smoke. “Wow,” I said waving my hand in front of my nose, “You were only in there for a second.” Laughing Mike explained that we overshot the entrance. We turned around and lo and behold, there it was.
At the park office, there were people milling around outside. We got out to discover the office was closed. All the people were checking reservation list finding their sites. We didn’t have a reservation. We hung around watching and listening feeling, yet again, uncertain. Finally, Mike said we don’t have reservations to anyone in general. A park worker materialized and pointed to the paper wall saying which sites were still available. There were no tent sites, no electric sites, no cabins but wait. There was one site with a screened shelter. It was site 13. We went off in search of site 13 hoping no one was occupying it. When we turned the corner and found it still available our uncertainty vanished and jubilation took its place.
What luck to get a site and then have a screened shelter to put all of our stuff. We stayed there for two days and enjoyed the convenience. When it rained Saturday night all of our stuff was safe. It looked like it was going to be a great trip. Well, anyway, its good to have hope. It turns out the next couple of days were diametrically opposed.