Part 7 ~ Gardens, Rockhounding and More

Gardens, Rockhouding and More is what was in store for us ! I was super excited to get out of Arkansas!  Not because the state is anything but fabulous, we had been in Arkansas for a WHILE !

We had been in Bentonville, more specifically, for far too long.  Lots of great places to visit, and I know Zach had an absolute blast at Amped Electric Games.  But we needed to move on.  Not just from Bentonville, but from Arkansas. 

Not quite out of Arkansas…yet

But we had a few more locations to check out before we officially headed to our Winter Location (which we had no idea where that would be).  But we needed to slow down.  We needed a place to wander around, that was quiet (sorry, but Amped was, as expected, loud and energetic) .
I needed some grounding

So we stopped at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks.


This was simply beautiful to walk around!  Fun stuff to look at, beautiful plants and sculptures, quiet and serene!  Just what we needed!  Even if Zach sometimes forgets to slow down!

Check out more pics from this beautiful garden here 



Our next long term spot was Hot Springs and Mt Ida!  But we took our time getting there!  We were able to see some friends along the way!  Fellow nomads, friends, family.   Always amazing to be around kind of people! 

We saw a family we hadn’t seen in a minute, as well as another friend who we hadn’t seen in almost the same amount of time.   We spent time in our small circle before heading down to Hot Springs!


I had wanted to go rockhounding since I found out we would be in Arkansas!  I have no idea why this state sparked that interest, but it did!  So we headed to the popular digging site, The Ron Coleman Mine!   Not a free dig site, but a very well put together location.   We took the tour (of course 😆 ) and it was informative!  We got some digging tips, and away we went…..

We had a blast!  It was hot, and we were sitting in the beating sun for the entire time!  But so much fun, and really quite addicting!  

Check out all our pics from this location


We wanted to go more places, and find more gems!   We tried a few “free to dig” spots, but were met with No Trespassing signs.   We attempted Jim Coleman Mine, but that dirt was SO SO hard that we had to beat it with a shovel to even loosen a tiny bit.  So, we mostly just stuck to what we had found at Ron Coleman.  

We took a break from rockhounding and decided to check out Garvan Woodland Gardens!  I’m always in for a stroll around a garden! 

In checking the place out online, I realized how we could never do it in one day.  So I priced it out for 2 days for us, and it was almost as much as a Yearly Pass.  The Pass also gives you free entry into a TON of reciprocal Gardens across the United States!


Check out the list of participating gardens thru the  American Horticulture Department

So we can go and stroll for free!  And honestly, we never just go stroll, they almost always have some kind of plant shop going on..  And we are suckers for any kind of plant 🙂 

The Gardens

Now the first time we tried to walk around, I got overheated quickly and we retreated to the bus!   We chose to just wait a few days for the temps to go back down under 90°F (the day in the garden it was closer to 100°F). And since we had passes, we could actually make this choice 🙂  

When we finally got a cool day, we packed some waters and set off to check the place out.  It was amazing!  They were in the process of setting up for the Holidays, but nothing that took away from the beauty!  

Check out more pics from this beautiful garden here

We had all but given up on rockhounding for free, or relatively cheaply!  Until we stopped in this little store, where we asked about local digging sites.   She gave us a map of all the mining places, most cost something to get the permit needed to dig.

*You don’t actually get any kind of permit, more like a receipt, but that’s ok, we live small, we don’t need something we’d want to keep

We decided to try Crystal Vista Trailhead since it was listed as a Free Site in the National Forest, so we felt safe with the fact that we wouldn’t be trespassing!   We started the hike, with very little gear.  Water 2 small shovels A bag to collect in .   I’m so glad we packed ultra-lite! 

Ready… Set…. WHAT??

The hike UP the mountain was steep, and steady!  There were no parts of that trail that weren’t some form of incline!  And the further we went, the further we had to go!   We didn’t want to turn around only to find out that we were “that close”.  

All in all, I think the trek UP (did I mention steady incline?!) was about a mile, maybe a mile and a half.  Not long, just steeper than anticipated.  

I think we can, I think we can!

Gardens, Rockhounding and More

I know this doesn’t LOOK steep, but it is! And that’s what it looked like the entire trip up!

BUT…. we made it to the top!!  Then spent about 2 hours in that area digging around.  It was easy to dig in, but suddenly we had gotten picky in our “keeps”!  Could have had something to do with the fact that we had to trek back DOWN the mountain! 


And it’s at this point that Zach had to make an 850ish mile trip to Georgia to swap out vehicles…. Stay Tuned for that story and where we landed next!

Missed a few parts of the story?? Catch up here!!

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 

Part 5 Part 6 

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