Doodle is a rock hound, so we spent our August vacation fulfilling one of her dreams: gem mining in North Carolina. We began our geology-themed vacation with a stop at Luray Caverns in Virginia. Both girls were in awe of the caverns' beauty and enjoyed listening to the self-guided tour on tape. The next day we arrived at our destination and quickly went to the mine for an exploratory visit. The mine's web site boosts that you can find 70 different gems there, and we probably found half of the possible gems in our buckets of mine ore that we ran through the sluiceway over two days. We didn't have much luck finding gems in the mine's creek and opted not to go in to the mine to dig due to pesky sinus infections that three of us were recovering from and the fact that no one seemed to be having much luck digging. Among our finds were emeralds, amethyst, garnet, topaz, citrine, smoky quartz, rose quartz, clear quartz, tourmaline, and other pretty rocks too numerous to identify. We got very dirty and ruined a few old shirts, but we had a blast.
Tootle isn't as knowledgeable as Doodle about the various types of gems, but her interest in the subject has intensified and she is particularly proud of a large nicely shaped piece of quartz that she found. Doodle loved all of her finds, especially the emeralds and amethyst. I'm having emerald necklaces made for both girls with the best of our gems, and we can't wait to see them. Today is the second day of school and Doodle has already written an entry in her science journal about the trip. I predict that both girls will have other occasions to write and talk about this trip during the school year. We didn't strike it rich, but we did make rich memories.