While we were in Tuscaloosa, we stayed at Moundville Archaeological Park, in Moundville, Arkansas (about 20 minutes south of Tuscaloosa). We did love that it was closer to the church where Samaritan’s Purse is working out of, and that Vaughn didn’t have to take his truck a mile down the road so that they wouldn’t be locked in when they had to leave at 6 in the morning like last year. There were some things that we didn’t love, like some questionable goings on in the park (lack of on-site security), and that I had to go down the road to the laundrymat (where guys just hung out for no reason, kinda creepy – loved the owner when I met him but he’s not there all the time). Moundville is basically ‘across the tracks’ from where we stayed last time, and kind of a ‘wow’. I never felt scared, but was very aware of my surroundings – tho people that know me say I am anyway (aware); comes with having littles I think.
The campground at the park has 30 some sites (I think), 6 of which are full hookups. Sites cost $12/night, including those 6 fhu, but campers have to pay a one-time day entrance fee. For us, that day entrance fee was $60; we qualified for the group rate 😉 Even with that additional $60, averaged over our 14 day stay, we still found our site to be very reasonable.
I DID love the Moundville Park itself – though we didn’t explore it as much as I would have like to. Moundville is 26(?) acres of park that includes several Indian mounds built around 800 years ago. Most of the mounds are off limits, but one of the mounds you can climb to the top of and there a hut there that is a reproduction of one of the Indian mound huts. There are 3 ponds on the property that were formed when the Indians dug up the dirt for the mounds.The park has a newly renovated museum, that, while small, is gorgeous and very well done. One day that first rainy week, we got cabin fever, and took an afternoon to drive up to the orientation building at the entrance to the park and watch the introductory film. We thought it was very well done; it gave us lots of great background on the mounds/area, and was void of any evolution theory. After we watched the film, we hopped in the van and drove to the museum (if it had been nicer out, we would have enjoyed the lovely walk). The museum is small, but it is tastefully done, and was interesting.
When we checked in for the park campground, the lady asked how many of us there were (they always do). I said 12, and she asked a few more questions, including if we homeschooled. I said that we did, and she asked if I would like a teachers guide for the park. Since we were going to be there 2 weeks, and I knew absolutely nothing about the park, I said yes please! She didn’t have any on hand, but said that she’d print one off for me. After that, I forgot all about it, but when we went down to watch the movie, the (different) lady at the desk said that there was an envelope for me. In it, I found a lovely teaching guide that included history on the park, details about all the exhibits, and activity sheets for the kids – including enough copies for the whole family!!! That was really fun!
Because of the guide, we knew that the procession inside the museum doors was meant to depict a royal-family wedding procession…At the museum, we ran into the lady that made the teaching packet for us, and she told us that all the exhibit pieces outside of the cases were replicas, and that the kids were free to touch them. We did. All the items in glass cases are originals, like this stone carving, called the ‘Duck Bowl’ (for obvious reasons)…The duck bowl is carved from one solid piece of stone, and it is lovely. If they would have had replicas for sale, I would have bought one, RV or no RV! It was such an exquisite piece – the symetry and smoothness/consistancy of the bowl were incredible given the tools that were available! I love it that my kids like to look at stuff like this too! There are a ton of artifacts on display, most on loan back to the park from the Smithsonian…We enjoyed our visit to the park, though we didn’t get get to explore the grounds as much as I would have liked, for various reasons. There are several Indian huts depicting different building purposes, and there is a boardwalk that we didn’t take but would have liked to… We would like to come back and check out the park more another time, but as of this past Monday, our 10 days at Samaritan’s Purse was over, and our 2 week camping limit at the park was up (tho it wasn’t busy and they would have let us stay longer had we asked…); it was time to hit the road for new adventures!