A few weeks out from my annually planned fall trip to southern Arkansas, I received an email from WC with the MAGS Club, letting me know that the club`s second planned trip to the Vulcan Quarry in Black Rock, in the northern part of Arkansas, was scheduled for the same weekend I planned to be in the southern part of the state. I emailed him back to let him know that I planned to be in Magnet Cove on that weekend, with Ray Roth joining me and we were going to be checking out a novaculite quarry in the Magnet Cove on Friday morning. This particular quarry has four different types of novaculite and comes in a variety of beautiful colors, looking more like agate or jasper than flint, and very popular with those who enjoy the hobby of knapping…creating arrowheads and other Native American artifacts….and checking out some locations on private property on Saturday, where over one hundred minerals could be found, including smokey quartz, brookite, and rutile. We would also be checking out a new quartz crystal mine in the Mount Ida area that recently opened to public fee digging and possibly checking out a phantom crystal mine nearby as well as following up on a lead on private owned property on the north shores of Lake Ouachita that had both wavellite in green and blue colors, and quartz crystals too. WC emailed back to say that he would rather go with us on our planned trip and would get back to me…he was having problems firming up the trip to Black Rock and might just switch the trip to Magnet Cove with us. I let Mr. Parker, the quarry owner, know that this might turn into a club trip and he was okay with that. I had begun talking to him by email the year before, but didn`t make it down to the Magnet Cove area that year, due to time restraints. About a week out from my planned departure, WC advised me that many of the club members had encountered some conflicts with the dates and would not be able to make it, himself included, but he would put any others interested in joining us, in touch with me by email. As it turned out, my good friend Virgil Richards, was the only other club member that decided to join us on the trip.
Ray and I had both planned to leave the morning of Nov 6th and travel to Hot Springs….my trip would depend much on whether my Dad made it through emergency surgery that he underwent on Nov 4th. I had driven my parents to Barnes Hospital in St Louis early that morning, as my Dad had to be there to prep for Abdominal Aortic Anneurism Repair Surgery. His abdominal aortic artery had a couple of bad spots just above the wye, where the artery branched off to supply blood to his legs, and the Chief of Vascular Surgery for Washington University and Barnes Hospital, Dr Sanchez, was going to perform the operation, and place a specially made graft around the artery at that point, snap it into place, and then suture it as well as place four to five stints in the artery all around the graft, which would further secure it in place. This special graft was designed by Dr. Sanchez and made in the country of Australia according to the specifications of Dr Sanchez, which required about six to eight weeks to make and get to the United States through customs. My Dad was on the operating table for approximately six hours while Dr Sanchez and his medical team performed the surgery. It was a long wait and our many prayers were answered for a successful operation, and Dad came through it just fine, very stable throughout the surgery. My sister joined us in the waiting room before the operation began and stayed with my Mom and I throughout the day, and some of Dad`s closest friends came by as well to check on him while we waited. His surgery had been scheduled for early morning, however a patient with a worse situation was moved in front of my Dad`s scheduled operation and so his operation was delayed about four hours.
Dad woke up from his operation about ninety minutes afterwards, and we were able to see him for about five minutes in the recovery room, before they moved him to a hospital room. As is usually the case with general anesthesia, from past experience myself with outpatient surgery, it is hard to wake up from it and about the only thing you want to do is rest and sleep it off, so I returned home at that time and Mom began calling a long list of friends and relatives to let them know that Dad had made it through the surgery just fine. I returned the next morning with a box of donuts and Dad was glad to get them, his breakfast was pretty light after a bowl of soup the night before after the surgery. He looked much better and after a few hours, gave me his blessings to go to Arkansas on my fall vacation.
The next morning, Missy and I headed west to Joplin and then turned south on 71 toward the Natural State of Arkansas…I stopped off in Fayetteville to check out some minerals for sale at a flea market, where I found some pretty pieces of amethyst, a couple of nice dogtooth crystals from a calcite quarry in Ohio, and a chunk of matrix with three perfectly formed cubes of pyrite. We then continued south after a short break for Missy, and stopped off at Sallisaw, Oklahoma, to visit with Adam Lageveen. I had been talking to Adam for a few weeks after answering his ad on CL regarding Arkansas minerals for sale, discovering in those few weeks that he was originally from the same small farming town that my parents were from, that he graduated from the high school there with one of my second cousins, Cassie, and found that we both share a love of Arkansas quartz. Adam had started out rockhunting and mineral collecting and then ventured into the art of knapping and found that he enjoyed it much more, and needed to part with some of his minerals in order to create more room for his knapping material. I was only too happy to take some off his hands and he was gracious with good information as well. He allowed Missy to run free in his fenced in backyard while we visited for a couple of hours, and gave me a flat of beautiful green wavellite as well as some neat fern fossils from Scott County…all these years I had never seen anything come from that area, thinking it only contained ugly rocks, but he sure proved me wrong with that plate of fern fossils, and the more I gazed at that plate, I was simply floored by the beauty of it !! Adam creates some beautiful arrowheads and Native American knives from different types of stone, some of them in beautiful shades of color, should check out his work on his Facebook page under Adam Lageveen`s Lithic Art…he has been working with rainbow obsidian lately and that material really radiate some nice sheens of different color.
From Sallisaw, I drove back to Fort Smith and fueled up, then headed south…I had intended to stop off at the farm in Waldron on the way down, but as luck would have it, it was going to be all I could do to get to Hot Springs by dark, and since I would be coming back to the farm on Sunday, I decideded to drive on down to the condo instead. In years past, I have normally stayed on Lake Ouachita at Mtn Harbor Resort, but my plans this year included several locations closer to Hot Springs in general, so I opted to stay on Lake Hamilton this trip, finding a pretty two bedroom condo close to Highway 7 not far from the Mall at Pretti Pointe. The owner of the condo had given me a great rate for five nights and it was so much roomier and comfortable than any of the hotels there, that I booked it a few weeks back. As I got closer to Hot Springs, I could see that the sunset was approaching and was shaping up to be a nice one…traffic was slowing in front of me and I wasn`t sure I would be able to get to the lake in time to shoot it, so I picked up my camera and at each stoplight, photographed it…starting with this one…
Finally, I reached the lake and drove past the entrance to Pretti Pointe, stopping on the first bridge, to photograph the fading clouds out over the water of Lake Hamilton….
…I turned to look out over the waters of the other side of the bridge, which is the first bridge crossing Lake Hamilton on the south side of Hot Springs, the location I photographed the fireworks from back in 2010, and saw the full moon rising up over the waters already….
…and then I drove on over to Pretti Pointe to find the condo before the sunlight completely faded away. As soon as I located it, and was able to get Missy situated, I grabbed my camera and walked down to the waters edge to shoot a few more images of the sunset, using a boatdock located directly behind the condos for my foreground….
and the condo building as well…..
I returned to the condo and found Missy checking out the beautifully furnished condo that would be our temporary home away from home for the next four days, and I think she liked what she saw as much as I did…..
…I walked out on the spacious back balcony and while Missy was checking it out as well, I took a few night shots of the nightlights across the lake from the condos….
My buddy Ray checked into his hotel about thirty minutes later, about a mile north of my location…he had a late lunch on his eight hour drive up, so Missy and I decided to grab a sandwich at Subway at Walmart, since I needed to get some Bluebell Ice Cream while there too…found out the next day that there are about fifteen Subways in the Hot Springs area alone…three Walmart Supercenters, and multiple McDonalds as well…unfortunately for me, the nearest Phillips 66 station was all the way over on the other side of town. Oh well, cant have everything conveniently located nearby all the time.
Missy and I woke up about 6 am the next morning and I shot the sunrise from the balcony, on a very crisp and cold morning, with a big of fog rolling across the lake waters….
Ray and I met up at the McDonalds next to his hotel, for a good breakfast, before driving down to Magnet Cove to meet up with Mr. Parker, who owns and operates a novaculite quarry at Magnet Cove Stone Company….
…where we found beautiful shades of novaculite stone with dendrites attached to many of them….
Novaculite is used for Arkansas Whetstones, which are used to sharpen knives and instruments, but it`s also catching on in popularity for knappers and as a decorative stone, both in the USA and abroad as well. Virgil arrived about noon and we spent a couple of extra hours there while he selected a few nice pieces to use later on in his knapping work. We met later at Colton`s Steakhouse in Hot Springs for supper to plan out the rest of our rockhunting weekend. We didn`t get a very nice sunset that evening but the next morning`s sunrise sure was pretty….
…looking east above and even west below looked really nice, the sky just filled with clouds….
We drove back down to Magnet Cove to meet Mr. Parker and follow him out to some fields that he was leasing from a property owner, to look for garnets and rutile. He showed us where to start looking, and we set off in search of treasure…..
…I was lucky to find one perfectly shaped rutile crystal laying right on top of the dirt, on closer examination it appears to be one of those sixteenlings, bout the size of a large pea, and silvery in color…prob one that someone else found and accidentally left behind. We actually dug for about two hours there…we didn`t find much in the way of rutile, we were finding a lot of chards of novaculite, alot of them almost arrowhead shaped and many were in beautiful pastel colors…I found one that could be a thinking stone in a pastel pink. As we were packing up and preparing to leave, the property owner and his grandson showed up, and we stood around talking with them for an hour about the history of the area, they were very nice and provided alot of information on the area. From there we returned to Hot Springs, Ray for another nap, Virgil driving up to Mt Ida to scout out the crystal mines up there, and I decided to drive around and photograph the fall colors. I drove over to DeSoto Lake on the north side of Hot Springs, it features a spring fed small lake with a stone footbridge, manmade dam and waterfall, and an old powermill downstream from the dam that powered the estate of Col Fordyce that still sits on a hill above the lake….
I returned to the condo a bit before sunset and saw a speedboat approaching a pretty set of maple trees abloom with color….before heading out to supper after a plain sunset.
I again woke up about 6 on Sunday morning, in time to photograph the sunrise and morning fog that started rolling across the lake once again….
…and soon after, Ray and I were headed to Mount Ida to a new crystal mine location for us…one we had heard of before but had never actually been to. It turned out to be a unique experience for us and we did well there, but by noon we were on our way farther north to my grandfathers old farm near Waldron, for dinner with several of my relatives, an annual family reunion and my Uncle Joe had given me permission to bring my friends with me. We arrived at the farm about an hour later….
….the farm sits at the base of the mountains a few miles from the Oklahoma state line, where my grandparents were dairy farmers for sixty five years….
…we parked up near the old barn and then walked down to where everyone was eating dinner by the garage…I told everyone there that I had no idea who the guy was in the purple sweatshirt with LSU in large letters on the front…Ray was asking for duct tape so he could cover up the letters…I had told him he would be taking his life into his own hands wearing that down there, cause he was deep within RAZORBACK territory there…they took pity on him and fed him anyway. Virgil liked the line of food entrees so much that he decided to put his diet on hold for half a day and he chowed down big time, before heading on home to Tulsa. Ray left soon after, headed back to Hot Springs and I stayed a bit longer visiting with my cousins before heading back to the lake as well, arriving just in time to capture yet another stunning sunset on the lake….
…and after a quiet night of tv and relaxing down after two hundred miles of driving today alone…Missy and I woke up to another sensational sunrise on Monday morning….looked like the sky was on fire….
…and looking to the west, all pink layers of clouds….
Ray had a rough night sleeping Sunday night so while waiting for him to nap a bit Monday morning, Missy and I drove down to Cool Pool Falls, a local waterfall favorite of mine, and while we normally find great color there, it was pretty barren up behind the falls this year, even though it looks great in this photo, but the color in this image is actually on the west side of the falls and up the hillside….
After a good breakfast at CB, we drove to Miller Mtn Mine west of Jessieville and dug for quartz crystals there for a couple of hours, and then drove over to the private landowner`s place, that I had talked to earlier by phone. John turned out to be a super gracious host and welcomed us to his farm to hunt for quartz crystals and wavellite. We found several quartz singles and small clusters in the few hours we were there before darkness fell and enjoyed the time we were there looking. Here is one of the prettiest smokey clusters that I found at John`s farm….
Soon after darkness fell, we thanked John for his hospitality and headed back to Hot Springs to clean up and then met at the Bleu Monkey Grill for supper.
Ray said he was going to hang around a couple of extra days, at least until the bottom dropped out on the weather, while Missy and I were set to head home on Tuesday morning. I headed back to the condo to start packing and then hit the hay. We woke to cloudy skies the next morning, and started packing the truck soon after. It began drizzling rain as we headed out of the parking lot…I drove over to Walmart and picked up three half gallon containers of that delicious Bluebell ice cream that I had polished off on Sunday night, MOO-ENNIA Crunch, to take home with me. I iced it down real good, but it turned out to be a moot point. I drove thru Little Rock on the way home and the farther north we traveled, the more cooler the temps became. We stopped off in Batesville to grab some lunch and I found out soon after that, Ray had decided the falling temps and rain hitting Hot Springs, were too much for him and he had headed home as well.
I shaved about two hours off my driving time, stopping off in Rolla to fill up the gas tank once again and boy was that wind cold and sharp, blowing out of the northwest, when I got out of the truck !! I wasted no time in grabbing my jacket out of the back seat, Missy had kept it nice and warm for me, and from there on to the house, the heater was on low and felt great. We rolled back into the driveway about 2:30 pm on Tuesday afternoon, glad to be home, but a great vacation get away too, all about quality time spent with good friends and quality material found this time, rather than quantity. 🙂