We took our kids on a little trip to North Carolina over the Memorial Day Weekend. Seth especially has been wanting to attend the Aurora Fossil Festival for years. He has also dreamed of an afternoon or two spent fossil hunting in a creek that runs through Greenville, NC called Greens Mill Run. We were able to combine both on this little trip. I have been asked daily by my kids when I would be posting the trip photos here; I just haven’t been able to face the sheer number of them! What follows is a photographic trip journal for my kids, with some words thrown in here and there. Stay tuned tomorrow, because I brought something fun back from our trip to give to one of you, and I’ll share some links to help your family start fossil hunting if you are interested!
There was a lot of rain in the days leading up to our trip, so Greens Mill Run was really deep and murky on our first evening there. Not the best, and not any fun at all for Silas who wasn’t allowed in the water, but the kids still found some sharks’ teeth.
We met our friend Greg and his family in North Carolina. Greg is one of Jonny’s best friends, and is pretty serious about fossil hunting! He is very well equipped.
We spent our second day at The Aurora Fossil Festival and discovered huge “pungo piles” in the area where we parked. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but this fossil rich soil is mined locally from Lee Creek Mine. Jonny was able to fossil hunt in the mine itself quite a few years back, but it’s been closed to the public in recent years. The kids were really excited to hunt for sharks’ teeth in the piles, and were rewarded with lots of them.
There were plenty of experts on hand at the festival to help identify fossils. Greg had a couple with him that he was unsure of, and was able to get some help with that. Seth, our resident expert, listened with interest.
We had a great time touring the Aurora Fossil Museum.
I could not get our kids to cooperate for a photo!
So, later I lined them all up on a pungo pile to try again.
That didn’t go much better.
So, I asked them to all turn around so I could get a photo of the backs of their shirts.
Then, just to see what they would do, I told them all to peek over their shoulders at me. They all did it, but almost immediately, Seth realized what he was doing and yelled, “Mommy this is ridiculous!” I was forbidden to share the photo of them all looking back at me.
Even the parking lots are paved in fossil dirt from the mine, so you can find sharks’ teeth everywhere you look.
These pungo piles are across from the museum. People spend all day digging through them, searching for fossils.
Silas was pointing at a lady with an ice cream cone here. He wanted it.
While we held off on celebrating until we got home, this was actually Silas’ birthday. So, I carried him to an ice cream stand with amazing old fashioned homemade ice cream. It felt special, my own quiet bit of time with just the two of us, on his birthday.
We shared a cup of vanilla. It was kind of crazy good. I am glad I don’t have this stuff available to me all the time. I am not a big ice cream fan, but I could eat this ice cream every day. That ice cream may be what ultimately motivates me to make this trip again next year. The strawberry, which I shared with Jonny later, was even better than the vanilla.
Here’s an attempt at a group photo including our friend Greg and his two kids. Greg’s wife took it for us. Once again, very little cooperation of course. I think that in addition to Greg’s kids I’m the only one looking at the camera and smiling.
This was probably the highlight of the trip for Jonny and for Larkspur. Buried in the pungo piles in front of the museum were about a dozen plastic bags, each containing a small plush shark. Those who uncovered one could take it into the museum and be rewarded with a prize. Jonny dug for quite some time, determined to find one for Larkspur who was really desperate for that prize. It was kind of like trying to find a golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He finally found one, and I think he was even more excited than Larkspur was.
Larkspur was rewarded with a shark’s tooth necklace. And while you can’t see her in this picture, Beatrix is sitting on the floor next to Larkspur, head down, quietly crying. She was rewarded for her tears with a shark’s tooth necklace as well, by the kind lady at the museum.
Sunday morning we attended Mass at St. Peter’s before returning to Green’s Mill Run. It was a lovely Mass, and we sang traditional hymns that I associate with growing up in the south. I really liked that part. Gabe’s been sounding out Amazing Grace on the piano ever since we returned.
Green’s Mill Run is right across the street from St. Peter’s, so we didn’t have far to drive after Mass. The creek was nice and low and clear when we returned on Sunday. The kids had so much fun, and everyone found plenty of fossils.
I thought I would sit on the bank and knit, but ended up spending most of my time hunting for sharks’ teeth as well.
We ran into some of the more serious fossil hunters just before we left. They were searching for the “hot spots” where the biggest and best teeth can be found. At this point, we were ready to hit the road and head home.
The kids spent a few minutes drying off in the sun before we loaded up for the four hour drive home. Jonny and I hope to take our family back again for the Aurora Fossil Festival next year. But, next time we aren’t going to sleep the whole family in one hotel room. That was ridiculous. How much sleep do you think Jonny and I got? The kids haven’t stopped talking about the trip though, and that makes it all worth it.