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Things we learned on vacation

     Here’s something you may not know: Murfreesboro, Ark., is home to the only diamond mine in the world that allows the public to search for and keep any gems it finds – for a small fee, of course.

     Our family visited this tourist spot a few years ago during a week that boasted 100 degree temperatures. We rented the necessary equipment – shovels, pails, strainers – and our excitement grew with every display we stopped to read, complete with headlines recounting 7-carat wonders.

     Even the sight of multitudes of bedraggled fellow “miners” digging in 37 acres of dirt did not deter us. We had visions of a great discovery. And since we had seven “miners” in our family and two diamonds on average were found each day, we figured our chances were pretty good.

     Our enthusiasm, however, didn’t last long. Squatting is hard, and it was hot. After about an hour of digging, sifting, kicking, changing spots, and questioning why we ever thought this was a fun idea, an executive decision was made (vacations require a lot of those), and we quit.

     Actually, it was a decision with unanimous support, quite possibly the only decision receiving that during the entire vacation. We chalked it up as a learning experience. 

     Now that I think about it, most of our vacations have had that “learning experience” factor.

     Imagine our surprise at learning our child who’s had trouble with math could suddenly measure to the 1/1000th of an inch when it involved his personal car space on the long road to Destin.

     And who knew that the hottest place in the western hemisphere is the San Antonio Zoo in July?

     It took a few trips for me to understand that although I am drawn to stops described as “historic”, “charming”, and “educational”, our teenagers are not, even in Williamsburg.

     Perhaps we should have been smart enough to figure out that the $8 turkey leg that looks so good at Disney World tastes no different than the one we pass up at Thanksgiving, but at least we do realize the deer that motorists pull over to photograph in Cade’s Cove are no different than the ones we try to avoid on Mt. Zion Road.

     And then, of course, there’s knowledge that could only be acquired the hard way.

     Do not go to Six Flags on Spring Break. Ever. 

     And always set two alarms, especially if a tour of the White House is on tap that took three months to schedule, and you want to avoid a scene similar to Home Alone’s airport one.

     So while the arrival of August signals the end of vacation season for many travelers, it’s the perfect time to remind ourselves of this fact that everyone who’s been anywhere learns: The worst vacation experiences will, somehow, become the best family memories.


     Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at henderson7@juno.com.