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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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