Branson, MO to Hope, AR
We started early (7:45am) for our 333 mile trip today. We left Branson with very little traffic and headed south for Arkansas. Shortly after the drive began, most of the vehicle passengers were asleep so we didn't watch any movies and waited to have our Bible hour later. We hit all the major fast-food restaurants today - McDonalds for breakfast, KFC for lunch and Wendy's for dinner.
After arriving in Arkansas, we headed for Mufreesboro and the Crater of Diamonds State Park. It is the world's 8th largest source of diamonds and the world's largest (and I think only) diamond mine open to the public and that allows you to keep what you find. For a really rather modest entrance fee and rental of mining equipment, we headed out for our adventure! Half the group spent the time surface mining - walking around and looking at what was on the top surface. Well, that's what they were supposed to be doing, in fact, they spent a lot of time playing in the mud!
The other half of us would dig spots, put the dirt in a bucket and then bring it to a station to wet sift the mud to find the treasures within. For the record, it was 97 degrees today at the mine field with a heat index of 110 so we spent considerable amount of time in the shade! We dug and sorted for about 3 hours and collected our valuable finds. After returning our equipment (and getting our deposit back), we had them look at our finds and the only real gems we found was some jasper. Well, at least we had fun.
We cleaned up a bit, or changed clothes when necessary - like Jedi, and then headed for Hope, AR and our hotel for the night. It was a good trip with the opportunity to watch an episode of the Muppet Show. We had our Bible hour on the way to the Diamond park, it was Acts 19-26. After dinner at Wendys, we stopped at Walmart and got some ice cream cones for dessert. All in all, it was a good day and we are looking forward to getting home in only 2 more days!