First stop in Arkansas is a sleepy little town in the southeast called Hope. President Clinton has famously said on the campaign trail “I still believe in a place called Hope”. Why, do you ask? The Prez was born in Hope and spent his early years there. This is a very small NPS site, in fact only about 11,000 people visited it in 2014.
What was sort of spooky about visiting this historical site was the fact that it was furnished just as when little Bill was there – in the late forties and early fifties. He had some of the same books and toys that we had when I was little. The house was very reminiscent of my grandparents' house. I guess I'm slowly moving into the historical category myself.
After spending a night at the fairgrounds in Hope, I moved onward to Crater of Diamonds State Park.
Crater of Diamonds is a 37 acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of the world's eighth largest diamond-bearing volcanic crater. You can go diamond hunting and if you find a diamond, it is yours to keep. I had visions of making it rich – what they don't tell you is that if you do find a large diamond, it will probably only be the size of a match head. Most of the diamonds found are smaller than that.
|There were other things to do at the park - look at all this green on this trail|
|We had some rain and the Little Missouri flooded. This is almost the same area where the green trail picture was taken|
I was so lucky that I met this diamond-hunting maven named Jan. She had done this before and could show me the ropes. Jan was really an interesting woman – she was in the medical field and would contract out to different hospitals all over the country. Every three months she would move to a different part of the country where she wanted to work. What a great way to spend your working life.
So, this is how you go diamond hunting. First you put on icky old clothes because you are going to get dirty. Then you rent a “Basic Diamond Hunting Kit” for $12. It is a bucket, a shovel and a screen set. You trudge out into the mud, find a place where you feel lucky and fill your bucket with dirt and mud. You then trudge up to the Washing Sheds. You put your mud into the screen set and douse it in water, trying to wash all the loose mud out, leaving all the rocks and hopefully diamonds. Flip the rocks out onto a ledge and then go through all the rocks looking for little itty-bitty shiny rocks. And then repeat.
|The Diamond Field|
|Jan showing us how to play in the water|
After the first bucket load, I was pretty much done with the whole process. I did enjoy the playing in the water, so I would just rinse the rocks, dump them and then let Jan do all the intense look-see part. I figured if she found the rocks, she could keep them. I don't think diamond hunting is my cup of tea. There was one guy there who had been there for over a month and had found five diamonds. Another couple had been coming to the park for the past five years, a week at a time. Me – been there, done that.