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Sifting for Treasure: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Two



Day two, Wednesday June 10

Crater of the Diamonds State Park, Murphreesboro, Arkansas and Caddo Gap, Arkansas

Up and at ‘em! We got every­one assem­bled and loaded, and headed off to the Diamond Mine. We were now part of a three car car­a­van, and were hop­ing we wouldn’t lose any­one along the way. We had our cool­ers and tools packed; I guessed we’d be able to dig our way out of any­thing and not starve, so we’d be OK!

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

The entrance to “strike-it-rich-ville”

We crossed the line into Arkansas, our third state in two days; mak­ing progress! We got a bit hun­gry sooner than expected, or left later than expected I guess. We hadn’t passed a sin­gle rest area for a pic­nic lunch, which just seemed unbe­liev­able. Even though we were on a county or state high­way, it’s still a major thor­ough­fare for Arkansas. Since we’re trav­el­ing with four kids, I had planned on us being able to pull off in a rest area.

Checking the map, we decided to stop at Lake Catherine State Park, since it would surely have pic­nic tables and play area for the kids to get some energy out. It looked pretty close to the road, but don’t believe the map. It ended up being 12 miles off the road, and took about 20 min­utes to drive back to the pic­nic area. It’s a beau­ti­ful park, and a nice stop­ping spot, but fur­ther than we wanted. Oh well, we’re on vaca­tion, so we decided to quit wor­ry­ing about a sched­ule so much and just go with it!

Wouldn’t you know it, after we got back out to the high­way and headed fur­ther south,  lo and behold, we came across a rest area one mile far­ther. Go fig­ure! They could have announced it ear­lier with road signs!

Digging for Diamonds

After a bit more dri­ving, we finally pulled into the Crater of the Diamonds State Park. Yeah! Crater of the Diamonds is the ulti­mate trea­sure seek­ers play­ground! Everyone loaded up their bucket with tools and headed into the park. We enthu­si­as­ti­cally fig­ured since were ten of us, we just knew we would be the lucky ones  to find a dia­mond that day! One was found the day before, but not yet on this day. “You betcha its gonna be us…”

Digging for Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

Oh land, we implore you to give up your bejew­eled bounty!

We spent the next four hours dig­ging around in the dirt and run­ning buck­ets of rocks through the sluice. Shovel, carry, swish, swirl, tap, swish, swirl; squint at the rocks. Still noth­ing. Rinse, repeat. After bak­ing in the hot sun for four hours, every­one was ready to give up for the day. We took our finds up to the park ranger who helped us iden­tify the stuff we did find. We dis­cov­ered that we had lots of Jasper and some Quartz and that’s about it! Everyone was hot, tired dirty and some­what dis­ap­pointed that we hadn’t located any Diamonds. We decided the quartz mine we’d planned on vis­it­ing tomor­row will be bet­ter; never lose hope!

Bunking at the Caddo River Ranch

We headed out on the car­a­van again to make our way to the cab­ins we’d rented. I called ahead to let them know we were on our way. We fig­ured it would still be day­light when we arrived and hoped we’d be able to find the place OK. After a lot of search­ing on the inter­net before we set out on vaca­tion, I had picked the Caddo River Ranch to stay at for this part of the trip. Darlene and Ken, the pro­pri­etors, were very accom­mo­dat­ing and friendly on the phone.

The Ranch ended up being pretty sim­ple to find and we couldn’t have asked for a pret­tier set­ting. We drove  on to the Ranch, passed the main house and kept fol­low­ing the path on out towards the Caddo River. The cab­ins were sit­u­ated at the end of the drive, about a half mile past the main house.

There were a total of four cab­ins set along the bank of the Caddo River. We had made arrange­ments to rent num­bers one and two, and they were the fur­thest along. It was very pri­vate, well off the road, and reached our cab­ins and parked the vehi­cles, we hardly even noticed there were other peo­ple rent­ing the other two cab­ins. We all went around check­ing out both cab­ins and dis­cussing who would sleep where.

Cabins 1 and 2, Caddo River Ranch, Caddo Gap, Arkansas

Cabins 1 and 2, sit­u­ated on the bluff over­look­ing the tran­quil Caddo River

Cabin num­ber one sat atop a small bluff, with a great porch that over­looked the river. Cabin Two was smaller and a lit­tle less ele­vated above the river, but with an equally great view of the river. Each cabin came equipped with every­thing we’d would need to enjoy our time here: an acces­sorized kitchen with refrig­er­a­tor, stove, microwave; cut­lery, sil­ver­ware; all linens and tow­els. It had a nice “campy” feel to it; kitschy but clean. The bonus was that the cab­ins had air con­di­tion­ing! Oh yeah, we were really rough­ing it!

Outside Cabin One, we found a stone lined fire ring, stacked fire­wood and a great pic­nic table to sit at. The porch, which wrapped around two sides of the cabin; the front and the river-facing side; was fit­ted out with plenty of chairs to sit on and enjoy the view. We took advan­tage of it and rested a bit, just watch­ing the river wan­der by, lis­ten­ing to birds and talking.

The grownups would’ve been con­tent to just sit on the porch a while, but the kids were dying to go play in the river imme­di­ately. We split up; half of us going with the kids to watch over them as they played in the river; the other half tasked with mak­ing dinner.

Dinner by Campfire

We dis­cov­ered at all of us had for­got­ten to bring any char­coal, so we sent the kids out to for­age for kin­dling so that we could build a fire in the fire ring. We got a great camp­fire going, and had ham­burg­ers cooked over the camp­fire. Though we ate a lit­tle later than orig­i­nally planned, the kids loved cook­ing over the fire, and no one complained.

By the time we were done, we were using flash­lights and a camp­ing lantern to see, which just added to the adven­ture. We were lucky that one fam­ily was camp­ing on their way down and were well pre­pared! The cab­ins were stocked for the kitchens, but not nec­es­sar­ily with light­ing for the out­side. We ended up cook­ing din­ner out­side the whole time we were here because it was fun to visit around the fire. There is def­i­nitely some­thing relax­ing about a sum­mer cabin with the river next to you, and a camp­fire and smores to put every­one into a rem­i­nisc­ing frame of mind. The grownups and kids all just kicked back and chat­ted. Very nice.

A Tale of Two Kids and a Rain Swamped Tent

Our kids really wanted to camp out­side, so we put the tent up on the porch and got them set up. We don’t camp too much since we’re city dwellers, so this was a lot of excite­ment for our kids. It looked like a nice night as we all headed in.

Funny how things  can change! About 2 hours after we called it a night, a major thun­der­storm came roar­ing through. This was the tor­ren­tial down­pour, thun­der so bad the house shakes, kind of storm. I’m lucky my hus­band didn’t stran­gle me after all the times I sent him out­side to check on the boys. I just knew they were out­side cow­er­ing inside their tent, afraid to try to run in the house because it was so dark, and the thun­der was mak­ing them shake! Each time my hus­band would come inside soaked, and tell me the kids were sound asleep. I stared at him unbe­liev­ing. How could they sleep through this, in a tent! The storm didn’t let up until around 4am and I sent him out at least three or four times to check on them. They slept soundly through the whole thing. WOW! My hus­band and I on the other hand, didn’t get much sleep at all!

Camping the porch of Cabin 1, Caddo River Ranch, Arkansas

Camping the porch of Cabin 1, Caddo River Ranch, Arkansas

Finally, at 5:30am, my old­est came into the house, soaked to the bone. He was angry and shak­ing cold, stat­ing that “he was soak­ing wet and it wasn’t his fault!” He had rolled off the air mat­tress, sleep­ing bag and all, and was then lying in a pud­dle of water on the floor of the tent. I for­got to tell my hus­band that I had let them open the screen win­dow in the back of the tent for some air. It had been hot and muggy when we went to bed and I thought the cross breeze would help them cool off. He had zipped the front screen closed the first time he went out to check on them, but didn’t real­ize there was one inside also since we had bor­rowed the tent! Oops! The other one was com­pletely dry; he never fell off the air mat­tress. They didn’t even know it stormed! What troopers!

All pho­tos by eJourna

For more pho­tos, check out our Crater of Diamonds and Caddo River Ranch photo gal­leries.


Related posts:

  1. A Day In The Quartz Fields: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Three
  2. Superman’s Hometown: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Five and Six
  3. Hot Springs: Arkansas Diamond Mining Day Four
  4. The Ghost Town of Cairo: Arkansas Diamond Mining, Day One
  5. Ghosts of the South: Exploring Haunted Places in Arkansas

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