March 27th-March 28th
Our luck was off with the weather- it was still grey and cold on Sunday. We had already reserved our campsite for the evening, so there was no warm hotel room waiting for us. We decided to tough it out and headed for the Diamond Crater State Park. The giant crater formed by a volcano millions of years ago is the only public area in the U.S. open to visitors. The volcano spit out diamonds as well as other gemstones and rocks. For a $7 entrance fee, you can spend the day hunting for diamonds. Anything you find is yours to keep.
We arrived around three in the afternoon, checked into the campground, and went out to explore the crater. We opted to do “surface searching” the first day. Basically, you walk up and down troughed corridors looking for diamonds or gemstones on the surface. We also took a small shovel and a pocket knife to dig in the dirt when we saw something interesting. It was a cloudy day, so we didn’t have the sun to help us and by closing time at 5pm hadn’t found anything. Three diamonds were, however, found that day, so we had hope for day 2 of searching.
Back at the campground, we got to talking to our neighbors. We were in the tents only area which is more conducive to socializing the RV areas. There was a single guy who had driven down from Minnesota to escape the cold and a dad with his three kids on spring break from Memphis. They offered us some of their left-over stew for dinner which we gladly accepted. Just as we were half-way through our dinner, the wind started picking up and a light rain began to fall. About 10 deer ran by the campground into the woods. We started putting are gear in the car and the tent, and just as we finished the downpour started. The strange thing was that it was thundering and lightning and only about 45 degrees outside. We spent the rest of the evening in the tent- I think we were asleep by 9pm. The next morning at breakfast there was a little bit of sun, giving us hope for the day.
Day two of diamond searching started with a 9:30 orientation from a volcanologist. She showed us some examples of diamonds that had been found on the site (white, yellow and black) as well as other interesting volcanic stones. She also showed us the technique “wet sluicing.” Basically, you have two screens. The first one is used to filter out all of the large rocks and mud. The second one is much finer and captures the smaller stones. You sift by placing them in water. It was a much messier technique but more hands-on. We rented some wet-sluicing equipment and gave it another try. Unfortunately after about 3 hours, we were cold, wet and muddy (I had mud caked in my hair) and we hadn’t found a diamond. We weren’t too disappointed, though. We had fun and were ready to go south to find warmer weather and our next adventure.
Next stop: Fort Worth, Texas