An iPhone Goes to Arkansas

I realized that I never wrapped up our Arkansas trip.  We’ve tallied the votes.  It is official – the trip is to be called:

An iPhone Goes to Arkansas

Mileage:  1, 937 miles

Departure:  August 5, 2008

Home:  September 1, 2008

Stops:

Ouachita National Forest (Oklahoma)
Hot Springs
Petit Jean State Park
Mt. Magazine State Park
Eureka Springs
Mountain View (Ozarks)
West Memphis
Cane Creek State Park
Little Rock
Murfreesboro (Crater of Diamonds State Park)
 
 

Playing in the Mud

We didn’t get started in the mine field until around 10 AM.  Here is Alan all ready to go with his equipment.  You can still see some of the furrows from when they plow the field.  It ended up costing us less than $30 for a day of fun – that included the equipment rental and access to the field.

Alan spent the majority of the day working the wet sluice.  I tried dry sieving for a while and that was fun but not really very productive.  The soil was pretty wet just below the surface so I had to stick to the very top layer.  (This is not necessarily a bad tactic since the last valuable diamond was found by a young boy who picked up his brown diamond off the ground as he was walking out.)  Since the wet sluice was covered, it was a lot more pleasant to hang out in the shade and play in the water so I went up with Alan.

We did have one of the “professional” diamond miners working soil next to us.  He had a major operation going.  I’m not sure where his dirt was coming from but he processed it pretty fast through a couple of custom sieves.  I think his name was Jim.  He was popular with the tourist that all wanted to learn what he was doing.  He told a story of one lady working some gravel and leaving it on the drying table and walking off saying she was giving up.  Once she was gone, Jim walked over and picked out a 90 point blue diamond from her pile!  Here is Alan and Jim:

This is the first phase – a pile of big rocks and a lot of clay clumps.  You had to work them all through to the smaller sieve.   We also kept some of the larger, prettier rocks to take home.  We’ll probably tumble them so we have something to remember our diamond mining day!

The remnants of one bucket after our hard work is on the left.  Jim’s results are on the right.  He did start with a lot more dirt, but then again it didn’t take him nearly as long to process it!  We were getting a decent amount of separation by the end (see the white speckles in the center.)  Jim spent some time looking at his cake and then he would just scoop off the top and take that with him.  We weren’t so confident, so we took all of the processed rocks home with us! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a close-up of our rocks.  There may just be a diamond in here:

Here we are at the end of the day.  Muddy, but not the worse for wear. 

We may not have been lucky this day, but two other people were:

Home Sweet Home

As I’m typing this we are in range of the house. I will publish it once we get off at our exit so y’all that worry will know that we made it home safe and sound.

Our last drive of this trip was uneventful. No rain. No traffic. No flat tires. (Alan rechecked the lug nuts on the new tire when we stopped for gas and inspected the other tires!)

The five-hour drive went pretty quick. I played solitaire on my iPhone for several hours and then we worked on a crossword puzzle for the rest of the trip. We usually try to avoid major highways but it doesn’t make much difference when you are driving at night.

We still need a name for this trip. The following are in the running:

– An iPhone goes to Arkansas
– Hummingbird Highway
– Tour de Arkansas
– Alan Sees a Bear
– Arkansa’ Palooza
– Where’s Mike Francis (weather guy in Little Rock) when you need him?
– All Around Arkansas
– Four Weeks in Arkansas

No Diamonds For Us

Just a quick update – I’ll post the pictures later. We spent the day playing in the dirt and mud. We didn’t find any diamonds (that we know) but we have a bucket full of pretty rocks. Two diamonds were found today – one 30 points which is probably worth around $300. We did have fun though and met some interesting people. Several were only there because they had left the Coast.

We have decided to pull out early for home to avoid any of the Hurricane Gustav remnants. Otherwise, we were going to have to get an awfully early start on the morning and take the longer, northern route home.

Now for another one of those bad news/good news stories. As we are getting ready to pull out, Alan goes to check the tire pressure and spots that the back passenger tire on the trailer has tread separation. This is now our third tire that has failed this way and we have less than 20,000 miles on the road. I will definitely be calling Airstream warranty tomorrow!

Now, of course the first really good thing is that we spotted it before we hit the road which made for a safe tire change. But, the spare tire pressure (which we just bought in West Memphis) was low. The good thing is that the Ranger drove by right then and he took us over to the maintenance yard where they had a compressor.

We are now on our way. We will be on I-30 at Hope within 15 minutes. I remember that my grandfather liked to drive at night so I’m sure he will be with us tonight!