Aurora Fossil Festival Trip

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.


  1. Krisite says:

    St. Peter’s is our Church! We play/run at Green Mill Run Greenway all the time! Glad you enjoyed your time here. It is a small world afterall.

  2. Melissa says:

    Just shared on FB (after getting sucked into the cyber world for and hour).

  3. Looks like it was a wonderful family trip by your great photography as usual. What a great record for your memories! Thank you for introducing me to the idea of fossil hunting. I think my 5 year old son would enjoy it.

  4. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for sharing this. My kids really enjoyed reading this with me!

  5. That looks like so much fun, great pictures

  6. Looks like a fantastic trip for everyone…

  7. That looks like so much fun! I am really jealous of the fossil hunting.. I will have to see if there’s anywhere good around me.

  8. You were only about 2 hours away from me! I love going to the fossil festival and bringing home bags of dirt for my school babies (I teach 6th grade science).

  9. Oh, how I love your family. I think the 1st “Family in a Shark’s Mouth” photo was the best family portrait I’ve ever seen. Super-enjoyable post!

  10. Looks like it was fun. My two boys a few months back attended a fossil show and activities at.the local library and had the best time. =°}

  11. What a wonderful trip! When we moved to our property over a year ago – it seemed the previous owners had dogs and did not clean up the dog bones. Needless to say our Jude out exploring found dianosaur bones… when his friend Isaac visited I gave them both bags and they came back a few hours later brimming with bones…. Jude then ‘ordered’ his! Too cute! Found the post here:
    Rach x

  12. So inspiring! Did you make those screen-thingys? I have to look in to that. My littles would love to spend a day doing something similar. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Your trip looks like so much fun!! Everybody looked like they were having such a good time. Haha I can’t believe your kids forbade you to share a picture. Too funny. And little Bea, crying about the necklace. Poor thing. That was really nice of the museum lady to give her one too.

    That ice cream sounds delicious!

  14. What are you knitting there?
    Looks like a great trip.

  15. Looks like A LOT of fun! My poor kids have boring parents.

    BTW, we never buy store ice-cream anymore. I found an electric Waring ice-cream maker at the thrift store and we’ve been making our own ice cream from our goat’s milk and chicken eggs. It’s so easy, I know exactly what ingredients are in our ice-cream and my kids love it!

  16. it was a great read. and the pictures beautiful as ever. thanks

  17. tava/yarnmama says:

    Oh, man. My son LOVES when I show him your posts on fossil hunting. This one is a doozy with so many great pictures- he will be asking to see this again for days. We live in Seattle so not much fossil hunting here. We visit the Burke Museum at the UW regularly to look at their fossils. And my son (five years old) has set up his own museum at home. Maybe we will have to visit your part of the country in a couple years. Thanks for the great post to share with my son!

  18. That trips looks so wonderful – but I bet you were exhausted!! What a great activity for the whole family to enjoy. I am looking forward to your links about fossil hunting, since I imagine my girls would really enjoy that when they get a bit bigger. No idea what kinds of opportunities there are here in WA state, though! I’ll have to research a little.

    And I am SO glad you mentioned about the hotel room… about partway through your post I realized you stayed overnight and I actually did think to myself “I wonder whether they all stayed in the same room or got more than one room.” I wondered this because I despise hotels now that I have little kids! Thank you for being human and saying it was bad – haha!!

  19. Wow! What a fun trip!

  20. What a wonderful hands on learning experience and fun-filled weekend. Teachable moments we call them here. It seems like you so easily are able to do that with most things day to day in your lives, integrating learning and teaching and doing. The best way to learn. Love that. (lovin’ on that pretty pink yarn, too! )

    Have a great week 🙂

  21. Wait a second… that knitting project is pink… is it a girl?

    What a fun and educational trip! We just got back from a week long adventure too where our (just 5 of us) family shared one hotel room… I was so tired from the lack of sleep but it was worth it.

  22. What a lovely lovely trip! We pack all of us into one hotel room too …. recently we tried two rooms that I thought were adjoining with a door to connect rooms together, but rooms were just next to each other. We let the teenagers sleep in there and I worried all night…no sleep either way.

  23. So glad they all had such a good time! Hope you can regain strength as it sounded tiring for you! Love the yarn also! Blessed beginning of the week to you! loved the picture of the church too … it is so wonderful to have houses to love and worship our Saviour…

  24. that is amazing! what a great trip. so, how many fossils were you all able to bring back?

  25. It looks like you had a ton of fun! We plan to do a bunch more stuff when Little Man gets older and listens a bit better…for right now, nothing major except the Marietta Islands.

  26. Really interesting and fun post, I can´t believe your weather over there is so nice, over here we have rain, rain, and more rain. Usually, Vienna, Austria is pure sunshine and lovely weather this time of year!

  27. I love the picture of them all in the shark’s mouth! Oh my goodness…those facial expressions! Sometimes the best pictures are the candid ones 🙂

  28. love the girls’ pink suits. My grand-daughters would look great in them. Can you share where you got them?

  29. Oh Ginny, I went to that exact museum in college on an oceanography trip. My shark-loving self was thrilled to go there. I even have a shark tooth chocolate mold from there 🙂 It looks like you guys had a blast!!

    Are you knitting the dress for Maggie Rabbit? I bought the pattern but haven’t started yet.

  30. This sounds so fun!!!

    Were you knitting for bunnies?!?!

  31. What fun! I bet my kids would enjoy this as well.

    The pink yarn….is it a girl

  32. How fun! It’s great to have a hobby that the whole family enjoys. happy memories 🙂

  33. Oh what fun. Nothing better than getting away from home for the night and spending the day digging in dirt for treasures! Sounds like a perfect trip to me. Do you have a remote shutter button for your camera? I set my camera on a tripod and let my boys use the remote to take the pictures. We get some very fun family shots that way. I can’t say they are sitting proper or anything, but they are really fun. Oh and that picture of Silas on the bridge is just fantastic. I hope that one is printed and hanging on the wall in your house 🙂

  34. Do we get to see what that lovely pink yarn is on Wednesday?? Glad you had a great time!

  35. Elizabeth says:

    This post was a delight to read. I grew up in Farmville, right outside of Greenville and vacationed the summers across the Pamlico River from Aurora. We would ride the 45 minute ferry across the river to Aurora to fossil hunt. Our family vacation home has a driveway enriched each year with what you described as pungo piles. We spend many many hours finding countless treasures ride there in our driveway.

    Would love to meet up with you guys next year if you go again.

  36. So fun! I get obsessed with finding sea glass around here but I think fossil hunting would take it to the next level. It doesn’t look like much opportunity for hunting around here (ME) but I’ve just started delving into info sites. My son would love it!

  37. What a wonderful time together for your whole family. You are all so blessed. And that pink yarn is beautiful… a cap sleeved sweater?

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