Thursday, April 7, 2011

Diamonds in the Rough & Bill

The plan when we left Betty's was to stay one night at Wally World in Shreveport but when we arrived there we were told they no longer allowed RV parking at this store. Oh well, it was still fairly early in the day so we took our rig and our money up the road to the Texarkana, AR store. This is a unique little city where the border with Texas runs up the middle of State Line Avenue. You can travel from one state to the other just by crossing the street. From there we moved on the Castle Keepers RV Park in Murfreesboro. This is a new (14 site) park that is a great place to stay when exploring the area. BEWARE, if you want a glass of wine or a beer you need to have it with you as Murfreesboro is in the middle of several "dry" counties. Gayle, the owner, is very nice and helpful and has a nice little park which she was constantly working on the whole time we were there.
All along the roads the wild wisteria is in full bloom. We took a hike from the park and saw the Little Missouri River (left), and the great view from the hill (right). We have not been on a hill this high since we left WashPA last fall. Top is an old quarry that filled with water when they made a mistake while cutting out the stone. There is supposed to be a locomotive that they could not get out before the flooding filled the quarry.
The main reason we wanted to visit this area was to go to the Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only place in the world where anyone can look for these precious gems and keep anything they find. Twenty eight diamonds larger than five carats and more than 17,000 of at least one carat have been found here since it became a park in 1972. The largest was a 16.37 gem found in 1975. We tried both the dry (top) and wet (bottom) methods and the only thing we found was a tiny piece of quartz. It was fun and this is a great place to play in the dirt and if you are really lucky maybe even find a valuable stone.
Not everyone here is a casual miner. There are several people who pay a monthly fee and look for gems as a hobby or even a job. The man on the right has found over forty diamonds including a 2.43 carat clear white diamond which he showed to me. The guy at the top has found more than 100 gems. As you can see by all the buckets this is a hard, labor intensive job of digging, then washing and finally searching through the gravel for worthwhile stones. Most finds are much less then 50 point (half carat) stones. Shovels mark the spots where the big ones have been found. The background shows the various ways people look for gems.
We traveled to a place called Hope on another leg of the Billgrimage we stared in 2008 when we visited Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas. Hope is where the birthplace home of Bill Clinton has become the newest park service historical site. It just became part of the park service in January and the official dedication will be next week on the 16th. This was Bill's grandparents home where he and his mother lived because his father was killed in an automobile accident before he was born. The house next door was the home of his friend Vince Foster who went to Washington with him to serve as his chief counsel.
The interior is decorated with period furniture and much of it reminded me of my own childhood, especially the Hopalong Cassidy pictures and bedspread. It was like stepping back in time into the homes of my friends and family. I guess I must be getting old when the things of my youth are considered historical. Bill was a guy who was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth in a time when many young people truly believed you could grow up to be President. His rise to becoming the most powerful person on Earth is a great story. A sign in the visitor center may say it all, "Bill did not spring from the ground a president. He was raised." Hope is also the home of former governor Mike Huckabee and there is a small exhibit about him at the visitors center.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Diamond State Park is such a crazy place. WE didn't find any either.