Diamonds, Toad Suck, & Glen Campbell

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The past few days has found me in pursuit of all things new and fun to do in Arkansas. I’ve accumulated quite a bucket list and have been anxious to start ticking items off.

First on the list, John took me to Conway. It’s a town just 30 minutes outside of Little Rock and it has an adorable downtown, beautiful homes, and two colleges. My husband is a good sport, letting me drag him along when he’s already been to most of the places I want to visit. But we had a great time exploring, and Conway is a place I will definitely be going back to. Here are a few pictures of my favorite houses:

Conway has a unique nickname – Toad Suck. You’re probably asking yourself what in the world? But I’ve been finding that the state of Arkansas doesn’t shy away from creative city names and nicknames. There is also Hog Jaw, Stumptoe and Turkey Scratch, to name a few.

In the old days, Toad Suck was the name of the local bridge. Urban legend has it that when the boat traffic on the river got too heavy, or if the river dried up, it was impossible to navigate. The river-going folk would pull over and head to the local tavern, where they would drink beer until they swelled up like toads. So it was written that “sucking on spirited filled jugs, they like old river toads did swell.”

Needless to say, there is Toad Suck everything in this town, including a park.

Also on my list was a visit to Murfreesboro to go Diamond Mining. The 90 minute drive was breathtaking. Long, beautiful roadways lined with green trees and an occasional rusted tractor or dilapidated building was just what the doctor ordered! And of course, we just had to stop when we came to Hollywood to enjoy a little stardom.

When we arrived, we grabbed our tools and headed in to watch a quick instructional video. Then it was just a matter of us deciding where we wanted to begin our hunt. We were ready to dig for diamonds! Being that I love to hunt for sea glass, I was convinced I would love this activity as well, and I probably will.

Someday.

When it’s cooler.

But that was not today.

It was crazy and fun, and a really unique experience, but dang the heat was blistering. The humidity was off the charts. So after an hour and a half, this fair-haired, blue-eyed gal couldn’t take much more digging in the dirt.

We were surprised at how many people were at the park. Hundreds of people spread out over the rocks and dirt fields in search of something sparkly. Everyone was sure they would be the lucky miner. I personally just wanted to enhance my retirement account. *wink* Some showed up with umbrellas or easy ups. Some brought their wagon filled with water, digging tools and sifters. Many passed on stories of the latest find, though I had to wonder just how much exaggerating was going on. The fish was how big?!

The best part was meeting up with the man we nicknamed Diamond Dennis. Dennis was retired, had lived in Murfreesboro all his life, and had decided upon retirement to take up the diamond mining hobby. Over the past two years, he and his wife started coming out about 10 days out of the month and have brought in hundreds of pieces of diamonds of varying sizes. He was very generous with his knowledge and, if we go again, John and I will know where the best places to mine are, as well as what equipment we may want to invest in. Dennis looked so much like what I would expect the old time miners to look like and we so enjoyed talking with him.

On our way home, we stopped in the downtown area to take pictures of a few really cute houses. My favorite had an absolutely fabulous red tin roof! We hit the local antique and flea market and enjoyed time chatting with the owner. One of the pictures you’ll see shows some large pieces of glass. Those caught my eye, as I do love sea glass, but this glass was just: See? Glass! It was left over pieces from a local glass making company. But they were very beautiful, especially in the light.

Last but not least: Delight, Arkansas. You may have heard of this little town because it’s where Glen Campbell was born and still has family. During our trek thru the little town of 300, we took a look at some cute cottages, stopped at the local flea market/thrift shop, and chatted with two store clerks. One of the ladies has lived in Delight her whole life. John asked some questions about Glen, and next thing you know they were telling all sorts of stories about growing up with him, his sister being in their school class, his nephew being a great singer, and on and on.

These past two days have been just wonderful. And what a great reminder that what can really make an experience extra special is connecting with locals and sharing stories. It brings everything together and, I gotta tell you, my love for Arkansas is growing!!

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