Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hiddenite, NC

When we moved here to VA last year, I met a man who told me about hunting gemstones in Hiddenite, NC. I saw him twice (he took some of our moving boxes as he was moving to a part of NC that is just about 30 minutes from here) and asked lots of questions and was quite interested to go. I've always been a rock hound so of course I was intrigued. When we knew the date of Steven's return and his vacation, etc, I suggested going to Hiddenite. The kids are finally old enough to be interested in this sort of thing, they (sort of) listen to us now and pay attention. Besides the crummy hotel bed, this turned out to be a very fun vacation! We stayed in Statesville, NC, and the drive to Hiddenite is only about 20 minutes from there. Statesville, by the way, is a gorgeous little town. Large homes in the historic district cost about $200,000 or less (!!!). It's relatively close to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte. To my surprise, I'd actually consider moving there if hubs could get a decent job in the area upon retiring from the Navy. I never thought I'd be a southern girl, but lately, I'm listening to bluegrass music, finding myself saying "Y'all", and wanting to watch Hee Haw. Hmpf. What do you make of that?


There's some good food to be had in Statesville...namely barbecue. We haven't had good barbecue since we lived in Florida and I had just commented to Steven last week about the fact that I've been hungry for good barbecue and besides Liz, that was one of the few things I've missed about FL. (Oh, and congratulations to the families of multiples in FL...TWIN LAW has been passed!!! Wooo-hoo! Parents have a choice!) So...for good food...the place to go in Statesville is "Carolina Bar-B-Q". Friendly service, GREAT food. Love it.

The actual gemstone hunting is quite fun. There are three ways to go about it...sluicin', creekin', or minin'. Sluicing is done while sitting at a sluiceway with water running over your sifter. The water washes away the dirt and you are left with stones or gems. This was the muddiest, dirtiest experience I've had in quite awhile - and that includes digging in my garden. Ick. We found some nice pieces but I'm not a fan of orange mud or muddy hands. We passed on the mining - three kids in a dark space underground (probably with an echo)? No thanks. Not for us. Plus, it's hard labour. Creeking is the way to go. It involves a hand shovel and a sifter. You scoop some rocks/sand onto the sifter and allow the creek to rinse the sand away to see what you've found. On a hot day, it's wonderfully refreshing. Early in the day, before we became experienced, we sifted here and there...we found a few pieces but got a bit discouraged. Almost at the end of the day, I decided to try digging deep near a rock where the stream current flowed...BINGO! So, next time we know, dig at the corners of rocks in the current and dig deep. Oh, and the stream and sluicing buckets, contain both "native" and "seeded" gems.

Enough of all of this talk. Here are the photos!

On the road again...this is what the drive looks like for most of the 5.5 hours!

Swimming at the hotel pool. Delaney will say this was the best part of the vacation!

Waiting in line for a permit.

The price sign. You can tell they go all out with the local graphics company.

Sample gemstones to help with identification.

Emerald Creek ahead!

Run, run! Let's go! (the path is sort of steep so you have to be careful, though)

Getting started...

Tinna creekin'

This is the train at Carolina Bar-B-Q...the kids loved it...

Our waitress allowing the kids to blow the train's whistle.

Carolina Bar-B-Q...yumm yumm!

William got a "pop gun"...oh boy!

Home in historic Statesville, NC - gorgeous!

I decided on the way home that I need to find yarn in these colours! Blues and browns look good together!

Our bucket of finds...

Gems all spread out...

William holding one of his finds - we think it is Hiddenite or Emerald

Delaney found this granite rock that has a vein of quartz running through it

Tinna found this piece of Red Jasper (she's trying to give herself bunny ears behind her head)

And this is the one Mama found at Cracker Barrell for 40% off!


Ulrike said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun! And so many lovely stones - I'm really pleased to see I am not the only one with a stone addiction.
Two weeks ago I went to a local alternative shopping center (kind of) and there was a jeweller who had made a beautiful necklace from pebbles in different greys, green-greys and blue-greys. Looked wonderful but was rather heavy.

Shannon said...

Hi Ulrike! Yes, we had a wonderful time and plan to return. We put the largest rocks in our tumbler last night, so hopefully it will make them nice and pretty and shiny. I'll let you know in a few weeks! I'm going to make pendants out of a few pieces - mostly the amethyst - but nothing fancy, just some wire so they can be hung on leather or something. I haven't really worked out the entire idea yet.

Sarah said...

Hi! very nice! I got some stones from Hiddenite too - for my birthday (only ours were by mail) and I've been researching them ever since. The green one is very pretty and it looks like flourite.

It's so fun isn't it!!!