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My wife are always looking for interesting things to do. One day we stumbled across a show titled Cash and Treasures on The Discovery Channel. Thee host Kirsten travels to various places and hunts for valuable stuff of some sort. One of the episodes took her to North Carolina to search for emeralds at the Emerald Hollow Mine.
My wife and I were planning a trip to Virginia Beach, VA and realized that the emerald mine in North Carolina was about 5 hours drive away. We decided to do it. Our plan was to do at least one day, or possibly two days.
We arrived in Statesville, NC, on Monday, which is only about half an hour drive from the mine.
We got up early Tuesday morning, grabbed a free breakfast at the hotel, and headed for the mine. We were there shortly before they opened at 8:30am. We parked, and headed to sign in. The guy wasn’t ready yet, so we waited. Be careful with this guy as he is kind of gruff. After a bit he was set and read to go. We purchased the combo permits that would allow us to digging, creeking, and sluicing. I told him we only needed a single digging tool set. I didn’t figure my wife would be doing any digging. We got our free buckets of dirt, and sluiced them. They were pretty obviously seeded with various small chunks of quartz and other stuff. Nothing valuable. There were other buckets that you could buy that were seeded with other stuff. But we wanted to dig, and find stuff. So we took our shovel and bucket and headed off to dig. We only knew the general area where were supposed to dig, but we had no idea of the best places to dig. In the red dirt, or brown dirt? Deep? Shallow? Near chunks of mica? We had no idea. We dug some dirt in one spot, filled a bucket, and carried it back to the sluicing area. The five gallon bucket was kind of heavy when filled with dirt. We sluiced the dirt finding not much but very small pieces of quartz. We made multiple trips back to refill the bucket for different areas, but for the most part found very little except very small pieces of quartz.
We were kind of disappointed, and had petty much decided that we wouldn’t be coming back the next day.
We got kind of got tired of carrying the heavy bucket, so we turned in the bucket and shovel. We wanted to get a couple of the creeking setups. The gruff guy said we only paid for one. I told him that I wanted to get a second one and was willing to pay for it. But he was kind of a pain, so we just let it go and headed down to the creek with the one kit. The tools are just a small handheld gardening shovel and a small screened box.
The creek produced stuff much better than the digging. The pieces of quartz were larger, and nicer. We were also finding amethyst, blue rocks, green rocks, orange rocks, and who knows what else. We don’t know what half the stuff we got are. Our opinion of the place changed, and again we were talking about coming back for the second day and just do creeking.
So that is what we did. We came back on Wednesday morning, just bought the creeking permits, but this time we paid for two creeking tool kits. We head straight for the creek. This time I planned to skip most of the quartz stuff and focus on finding the other more interesting stuff. And I found a bunch of interesting stuff. I tried various strategies such as digging in front of big rocks, behind big rocks, under rocks, in deep pools. These all yielded colorful stones. Also productive was walking through the creek and watching for colored stones. I found a bunch of cool rocks like this.
We also bought a $25 Killer Beryl/Emerald bucket. The bucket again was obviously seeded. But we got a bunch of emeralds from the bucket. I am sure the emeralds and other stones that came in the $25 bucket are worth much less than the $25. I still think that best bet is to come, get the creeking permit, and head for the creek. Don’t expect to find anything super valuable. Just plan to have fun, and find lots of pretty colored rocks. But then again, you may get lucky. Also, I am sure the lady from Cash & Treasures got special treatment. Don’t think that you will get the same. Some of the staff were very friendly, others were not so much.
Overall, we had fun, and got a lot of pretty rocks for my wife to play with making jewelry.
Emerald Hollow Mine is located at 484 Emerald Hollow Mine Dr., Hiddenite, NC 28636, (828)632-3394.

* I went back and rewatched the Cash And Treasures episode where they went to the Emerald Hollow Mine. One thing that I was was the girl got to dig in area that is not available to the general public. It was roped off, and reserved for school groups. She also had a guy with her showing her where to dig. My wife and I and as far as I know, no one else was even given a clue as to where to dig other than in the broad digging area.

* Also, we have been sorting through our rocks. We believe that we got more emeralds than we originally thought. Many of them came from the emerald bucket that we bought. But we may have found some while creeking as well. Not sure. We also have a couple small pieces that look different. I think they might possibly be hiddenite crystals.

My wife and I were staying in Statesville, NC in order to visit the Hiddenite Emerald mine. We got in on a Monday afternoon, and started looking for some place to eat. I checked out the phone book looking for any BBQ places. I love finding some hidden diamond of a BBQ place. I found a place named Carolina Bar-B-Q. I did a search on Google for reviews, and they seemed favorable. So we decided to have dinner there.
I used my GPS and easily found the place. It looked just like the pictures on the web. The inside wasn’t was I would have expected. For some reason it reminded me of the inside of a Dairy Queen. There were various military flags, and some hillbilly related stuff. There was a small brag wall with celebrity pictures.
But what is important in a BBQ place is the food. We both ordered the Barbecue Pork Dinner which the menu said were the “original dinners that made us famous!”. We each got two sides, and a choice of dinner rolls or their hushpuppies.
I chose baked beans and potato wedges, and the hushpuppies. My wife chose green beans, french fries, and also hushpuppies.
The food took a little while, but not too long. A family who came in after us, got their slightly before we got ours.
The barbecue pork was actually just shredded pork on the plate. There was BBQ sauce in a bottle at the table. I squirted some on, and mixed it in. The sauce had a smokey flavor, but was nothing special. I was actually kind of disapointed. I guess I had my hopes up. I remember eating at Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa, AL, and was blown away. Even Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, NY is very good. But Carolina Bar-B-Q was nothing extraordinary. The prices weren’t too bad though. The hushpuppies were very good. I have never seen them up north. I think the last time I had them was in a BBQ in Gatlinburg, TN. But overall the food was just okay. Not bad, but nothing special.
Carolina Bar-B-Q is located at 213 Salisbury Rd, Statesville, NC 28677. (704) 873-5585

I chose Allentown since it was about halfway between home and our destination of Virginia Beach, VA. I researched various hotels. I ended up booking a room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was supposedly a 3 star hotel (or 4 star?). I used the name your price feature and got a pretty good deal.
I used my TomTom One GPS to guide me to the hotel. It took us right to where the hotel was supposed to be, but we didn’t see the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We hadn’t been looking at addresses. So we made note of the hotel’s address, and went around the block. We found the hotel at the address was now a Holiday Inn. I had only booked the room like 3 weeks earlier. We parked in the parking garage next door, and went inside. The front desk was short handed. Apparently someone was sick, and there was only one girl handling the check ins. There was some kind of marriage weekend seminar thing gong on with lots of people checking in. But the girl did a great job being pleasant, and keeping her cool while being overwhelmed. Eventually another guy showed up to help. Check in went quickly, and we got a non-smoking room on the 5th floor. We asked about a good restaurant nearby. She asked what kind of food we wanted. I told her just some local restaurant. She suggested a place just down the street name Allentown Brew Works.
We dropped our stuff off in the room, and headed out to get something to eat. Allentown Brew Works was okay. Nothing to write home about.
Our room had two double beds. It seemed reasonably clean.
The hotel was supposed to have wi-fi. But I was not able find a wi-fi network I could connect to. I tried calling the front desk, but the phone rang and rang for at least a minute or more with no answer. I thought maybe they were still busy with a line of people to check in. I walked down but they didn’t seem too busy. The guy told me the wi-fi didn’t reach the 5th floor. But he gave me a network cable and told me there were a network jack near the desk. When I got back to my room, I plugged my computer in. It attempted to acquire a network address. But it kept saying limited or no connectivity. After visiting the front desk again, they called a tech. The tech came and checked it out and after some testing, told me the connection for the whole 5th floor was out. He called someone and said it would probably be back in 30-45 minutes. For some reason I didn’t really believe that. Sure enough it is over an hour later, and there is still no network connection.
My wife had a complaint that the water for her shower wasn’t hot enough. I ran some water over my hand later, and found it very hot. Maybe when she took her shower, a lot of hot water had already been used. It seemed fine later. But when I took my own shower the next morning, I had the water cranked all the way to high, and it was barely warm.
The internet connection never worked while I was there. I suppose I could have gone downstairs and sat in the lobby with my laptop. But that did not appeal to me.
Oh and I was surprised to find that parking in the garage cost $6. I thought it was free. Oh well.
Was I satisfied? Well…I got a great price through Priceline’s name your price thingy. But if I had paid full price, I probably would have been a bit ticked off. But for $60 including taxes…well $66 with parking, I am doubting I could have found a better place. So I am not totally disatisfied.

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