While we're exploring this southwestern corner of Arkansas, we decided we needed to go to the famous Diamond Crater State Park near Murfreesboro. We did some reading and assembled our tools. We had a shovel, a bucket, spoons, colander, and zip lock bags to keep all our diamonds safe. We were ready!
We made the hour-long drive from our camping spot at Lake De Queen. Since it was a weekday in the spring, we assumed that we would have the place to ourselves. We were wrong. The parking lot was full.
We paid our $10/person fee to enter into the mine, excited to find our first diamond of the day. The mine looked more like an unplanted corn field, with the farmers bent over the rows of soil.
As incentive to diamond-miners like us, there are signs scattered around the field of past successes. This 6.07 carat rough diamond was found laying on the ground in full sight by a local man in 1981.
This 16.37 carat diamond was found in 1975 by a guy visiting here from Amarillo, Texas.
In case we should question the authenticity of our chances, notebooks at the gate have pictures of people from all over the world that have found sizable diamonds in the last several years. And the best news is that whatever visitors find, they get to keep!
The same rain that has caused the lakes to run over their banks has made this mine field into a muddy mess. But we had read that one of the best times to go diamond hunting is right after the rain has washed away the soil to expose more precious gems. Denisa is finding that it's hard to get mud through the holes of a colander to find those diamonds.
Mark's strategy is going down to find those sparkly rocks, so he's digging holes in the mud for his diamonds.
We saw people searching in the mud that was almost up to their knees. We soon realized that galoshes are better foot gear during rainy season than our tennis shoes.
Sluicing tables full of water are on the hill tops, and they have some much-needed shade. Here people are bringing buckets of mud, and then rinsing the bigger particles away to look through the sediment for diamonds.
Denisa talked to the guy in the red shirt. He has attended all the classes on the best ways to search for diamonds. He had premium screen boxes and knew how to use them. This was his 35th trip to the state park, and he has yet to find his first diamond.
So we weren't completely surprised when our first trip here turned up only these six diamond imposters. We already knew the verdict, but there is a gemologist on staff to make proper identification of anything found at the mine. On the average, he said that two diamonds are found each day. He had already identified two diamonds today.
Every guest can carry out a five gallon bucket of rock. Living in a motor home, we limited our stash to a zip-lock bag of these colorful jasper pebbles. Denisa wants to join the rock club next winter when we are at the resort in Mission, Texas. We hope to tumble and polish some of these stones then.
So we made our journey back home without finding the big diamond. But digging in the dirt on a blue sky day with temperatures in the 70's isn't a bad way to spend a day wandering His wonders. We got back to the motor home, and took a walk around our campground. Our wildlife picture of the day is a little unusual, but we saw this critter backing across the road.
In case you didn't recognize him, this is a dung beetle. He's rolling his prized ball of dung across the road. Unlike humans that are searching for tiny prized diamonds, he is glad to find this prized piece of poop that is bigger than he is. It will be used as a nest for laying eggs, or for food for the family. How silly of us to be looking for tiny diamonds, when this creature has found home and family in the jewel he found today!