Thursday, December 13, 2012

12/06/12, Thursday: Since Hot Springs, AR is on the way down to Crater of Diamonds State Park, I thought we could stop and see what it is about. There’s a lot of camping around the area, but nothing really cheap (Yes, we’re cheap). We found an Army Corp of Engineers park, Crystal Springs Recreation Area that was open so decided to try that. I think this would be a pretty park in the summer time, right along the river. It’s real quiet now. Four other campers there. 

Before we went to the campground, we drove into Hot Springs trying to find the Hot Springs National Parks Visitor Center. Hot Springs is not a town to be driving RVs, very little parking downtown at all, other than parking garages.  So we went to the campground and spent the evening there, then the next morning we went to Walmart and unhooked and drove the Jeep downtown. We found the visitor center, which is in Bath Row, and walked along Bath Row and the downtown area, and did some caching. There’s a couple of areas that people can fill water jugs with water from the hot springs…drinkable? It’s suppose to be. We didn’t try it, but there were people that were filling water jugs. We weren’t really impressed with Hot Springs; it’s a really old town, not RV friendly  and not much other than state parks and lakes for tourism (other than the gift shops and museums).  I would prefer to stay at the park rather than actually go to the town.

From there we went to Arkadelphia and then on to Crater of Diamonds State Park. We got there in the afternoon, so we decided not to pay for a day of diamond hunting until the next day.  It costs $7 per person to get in. We stayed at the campground in the park. It was beautiful outside, lower 70’s. Curt opened up the awnings and washed them off. They were full of bugs and leaves, even if we haven’t used them in ages. He washed the RV and the Jeep also.  Grilled some burgers – I finally found some hamburger that is decent. Most of the burgers have turned out so chewy you can barely eat them. I miss North Dakota hamburger. That evening it rained, so we figured it would be a total mud mess, terrific. We went over about 10 and it really wasn’t muddy at all. We took our own bucket, shovel and trowel, but rented a screen set. There is a short video to watch with directions on how to sift for the diamonds and what they look like and what other stones or rocks you might find.  The diamond field is basically a field that gets plowed once a month (last done on 12/04) and people come in and dig and sift for stones. It is 37 acres (they don’t plow the whole thing). We just picked a spot and started digging. We started out dry sifting. A park ranger went to the water pavilions and was explaining to some people there, so I went over to see how to do it that way. It seemed like most people were doing it that way, so we went over to do the “wet sifting”.  I picked out some clear “stones”, but they were calcite and other things not worth anything. Curt wasn’t impressed, but I’m glad we stopped to do it.

There have been diamonds found. In 1924 the largest diamond found in North America was found there; 40.23 carats, named The Uncle Sam. The last “larger” one was in 2011 at 8.66 carats.  It is the only diamond-producing area in the world open to the public. There are people that come back monthly and yearly to do this. A massive volcano brought diamonds to the surface. Over 75,000 diamonds have been found at “the Crater”, an eroded volcanic pipe. On average, more than 700 diamonds are found each year. 

There’s a cold front coming in, so we want to find a campground for electricity instead of using just our LP, and we need to get mail transferred again. I found a Passport America campground in Texas to work our way to that has good reviews for $12.50 a night for full hookups. It’s about 100 miles east of Dallas. We need to fill our propane pretty soon.

12/11/12, Tuesday: Got to Big Cypress RV Park, Pittsburg, TX. It’s a small park, maybe 35 sites. But it’s got full hookups, decent water flow and electricity and sewer. It’s got free internet and even free washers and dryers. We called for our mail yesterday to be sent here. On 12/12/12 we did some geocaching. The closest ones were in the town of Pittsburg, which is really small, and there was traffic and people wherever we needed to go to. I did get 2 though.

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