We are back from our early spring vacation. It’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a restful time away. I find it takes me at least two or three days for each week we are away, to be able to re-focus and figure out what direction we need to take for to go forward. I need time to catch up on mail, laundry, shopping, and the ever growing email accounts and social media obligations. Time away is necessary, I find, to re-evaluate where you are and which direction you should be going next. I have never failed to come home with a new vision and a clear perspective.
There were many years where we didn’t take any vacations as a family, but as our children begin to leave home, we have decided to make family trips a priority. We now make an effort to take at least two trips a year together.
The last couple of years, we have concentrated on exploring the beach areas, as I am addicted to warm sands and southern sunshine. This trip was no different, but I will tell you about the beach in my next post.
We began our journey by driving south and making a small detour through Arkansas to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. We have never been there before, but it was well worth the trip.
Arkansas is a beautiful state.
We first read about this park as part of our home schooling journey, in a monthly children’s publication called Which Way USA. It is a monthly Geography Book Club by Highlights Magazine. The kids get a different state map and puzzles each month with interesting information and attractions to help them learn about the states and their geography. All our kids loved them, and couldn’t wait for the next one to come in the mail.
One of the attractions listed in the Arkansas book was Crater of Diamonds State Park. Our kids have never forgotten it (this was years ago), and they have always wanted to go there.
Even with our son being in high school we had a great time, it’s a fun place for all ages.
When you get to the park, you purchase a ticket to dig in the diamond field. Some of the biggest diamond discoveries imaginable have happened here, including some incredibly huge, famous diamonds and sapphires. You can read more about them here.
We purchased some yellow rubber booties to wear over our shoes, and rubber gloves to wear as it was a very muddy day.
Aren’t they just so darn cute?
We chose to just walk around the diamond field and pick up our rocks rather than dig for them, you have both options available. The largest stones have been found just by walking around the park, so that’s what we decided to do.
Yes, you really can just walk around and pick up diamonds.
The field doesn’t really look very remarkable at all. There are rocks strewn about, in all colors shapes and sizes. They have sample rocks on display to show you what to look for when you search for your stones.
It is a bit of a challenge trying to find the right one.
We found some of the rocks looked suspiciously like rocks we have here in Wisconsin, but it was still fun to search. My husband was skeptical and thought that they perhaps trucked rocks in from other areas of the country just to make things look good.
I think he was jealous cause my rocks were bigger than his.
You never know, there could be a diamond in there someplace.
The locations of the most famous diamond finds are marked with these black shovels. I spent my time circling around these areas.
I don’t think I found anything but obsidian, quartz and shale.
There are covered tables where you can sort your rocks. I picked through my bag and chose the most colorful examples.
It’s just my nature.
They may be worthless, but they sure are pretty.
The park has gemologists on site to identify your finds if you should find a valuable candidate.
You can even wash your rocks with a sieve in these long troths. It was very cold the day we were there, and the water had ice on it.
No rock washing for us this time around.
I will take the dirt home, thank you.
It was a lots of fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone even though we came home without a famous rock. Hands on experiences like this are how we have taught our children many things, including the science of geology.
Learning about rocks is so much more fun when you are out in the dirt looking for them instead of staring at them in a boring text book. Don’t you agree?
The park also has a museum and a great gift shop where you can buy pretty shiny rocks and other gifts to take home even if you don’t find the rock of your dreams.
There is camping available and I am sure the park is lovely in the summer months. Perhaps we will come back and try again someday.
Check it out if you happen to be driving through Arkansas!