The wife and I are just back from a short vacation. We left the adult kids at home and got away for a week. Destination? Arkansas, USA. (Yes, we went there on purpose.)
Almost 30 years ago we were moving from San Diego, California to Norfolk, Virginia. We drove across the country in an overloaded Nissan Sentra without air conditioning across southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and into Arkansas where we stopped to wash our clothes. At the coin-op laundromat in some forgotten little town, a local lady tried to strike up a conversation with us.
“Ya’ll visiting Ken?” she asked in a thick southern accent.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Are ya’ll visiting Ken?” she repeated.
“Ken who?” I replied a little confused.
“Not Ken. Kiiin. You know, kinfolk. Are ya’ll visiting kinfolk around here?” she clarified.
“Um, no. We’re just passing through. Stopped to wash some clothes.” I answered.
“Oh. Okay.” she flatly stated.
We had so much fun stopping there 30 years ago, we decided to try again. Here are some of the memorable points we enjoyed.
- Murfreesboro, Arkansas is home to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. It claims to be the 8th largest diamond deposit in the world.
- The diamond park is open to the public and what you find, you keep.
- Diamonds are found there almost every day.
- The diamonds are mostly tiny. (1/4 carat or less)
- Most are found by professional diamond hunters. The public website obscures this fact and emphasizes the ones found by tourists.
- The local pawn shop buys most from the professionals and resells to the public.
- We looked at almost 200 raw, certified diamonds found at the park, in the pawn shop.
- There’s not much else to do in Murfreesboro. Population of 1,631 (in 2013) and what appears to be 8 restaurants, a few stores, and 312 churches (estimated by driving past, not an actual count).
- The city municipal building is in the center of a rotary traffic circle. It has parking spaces on the inside edge and the circle is wrapped by stores with other parking spaces on the outside edge.
- Driving lanes and parking spaces at the city center are in desperate need of repainting for clarity.
Who doesn’t love a list? So write one! Top five slices of pizza in your town, ten reasons disco will never die, the three secrets to happiness — go silly or go deep, just go list-y.