Labor Day Weekend Annual Trip 2022

By the time September finally rolled around, Onyx and I were ready for a break and get away. I had been working virtually every weekend since I returned from New Mexico in March, because we didn`t have any extra help at the golf course. I had checked in with Gary regarding fluorite and found out they had nothing new, had not found any new pockets in some time now and a few dealers had cleaned them out of all the good stuff long ago. I always have requests for fluorite when I go to Kentucky, so I put together a few flats of what I had in my collection and took those with me, in addition to what I had left over from the last time I had been down to see Gary before the show at Marion. Since we weren`t gonna be stopping off to see him and get more, I decided to take the direct route to Harrodsburg this time…a route I am not fond of driving because once you turn east on I-64 from I-57, the scenery thru there is pretty bland and boring all the way across southern Illinois and Indiana both…when you finally drop off the big hill into the Ohio River Valley and cross the mighty Ohio River into Louisville, then you have to be alert as you wind your way through the city to the other side. The interstate thru there has seen its share of construction work over the last five years and it kinda reminds me of a racetrack at times…not me doing the racing, more like me doing the speed limit and getting passed on both sides by racecar drivers. I do like going thru the tunnel on the east side of Louisville tho and I think Onyx enjoyed it too, even tho it was kinda brief. 🙂

Then you travel at least another 30 minutes east on 64 before you drop south on Hwy 127…that stretch can be kind of bland as well. By then tho, I know I am close to my destination, inside Kentucky and about to see all those big horse farms with their fences and beautiful horses in the fields of green, and keeps me awake.

It`s only a 7 hour drive so we didn`t leave til 8:30 am and hit no construction traffic on the way down…I forgot about picking up the hour til we lost it, and so that put us into Harrodsburg near dinner time, so I checked into the former Baymont Hotel fast, allowing Onyx some time to get used to our room. Sometime in the past year, Baymont sold and became Econo Lodge Hotel, and began an extensive remodeling change over, and then by the end of summer, went thru another hotel ownership change, becoming the Clarion Pointe. Have to say, the rooms are much  nicer now and it was a very quiet stay this time around as well.

Once Onyx was settled in, I  then headed to the buffet restaurant at the Bright Leaf Golf Resort Hotel, receiving texts along the way from some of the guys who were there and waiting. Some had not arrived yet and those of us there already, were kinda hungry, so we went on inside and got a big  table over on the south side along a bank of windows. We hadn`t been there long when it started storming and raining outside, our view out the windows is part of the golf course there…..

So basically, we got inside just in time, although the storm seen to the southwest, actually just clipped the golf course and the sun came back out shortly after it started raining. We enjoyed a good dinner and had a great time talking, then went back out to get ready for the first night of the swap and sell tailgate event that evening in the hotel parking lot. We had a good time with that and more people showed up during the event. By 9 pm I was headed back to my hotel, to get a good night of rest before the long day on Saturday at the first quarry.

I was up early Saturday morning, and soon Onyx and I were headed to the Bright Leaf Restaurant for breakfast…as I pulled in to park, I noticed the guys had already parked in such a way that all I would need to do was pull alongside the front row and they would be able to single file pull in behind me and follow to the quarry. We had a good breakfast and then prepared to drive over to Caldwell Quarry…I let Clay know we were about to leave the Bright Leaf and head his way, he figured we would get there first, and asked that we leave him room to get around us to the gate. As I was pulling up to get out on the highway, someone backed up out of his parking spot and rudely jumped in line in front of the others…I`m not going to name names here, but everyone saw it, felt slighted by it, and it did not go over very well at all. Alot of rockhounds in my crew are from the south, they take their manners very seriously and this was a HUGE NO-NO. That was strike one of the day.

We headed south to Danville, and were quite lucky to get thru many of the stoplights along the way without interruption of the line, and soon we were lining up on the right side of the driveway at the entrance to the quarry. Clay arrived a few minutes later, unlocked the gate and we parked in three rows in front of the office, signing the liability release forms for him, and then listened to a safety briefing by him as well. We then took a group photo with the huge pretty rock in front of the office….

We then headed down to the 2nd level, parked and split up in different directions…Clay told us the only change from 2021 was that they were now blasting a new road up and out of the back of the quarry to the highway, to make things much easier, traffic wise, on the entrance road…creating one way in and one way out for the future. Some of the guys headed up to the 3rd level where the most recent blasting had occurred and found Jackpot City waiting for them up there. Sam made the first discovery, finding a small boulder that he was able to quickly cob down to a couple of nice size chunks covered on top with brown calcite dogtooth crystals…

how is that for some pretty calcites ???  pretty neat in my mind. 🙂

Once the main group discovered what was being found up there on that level, they never left that level except to go get more tools or buckets. I have a few guys in my group that are Field Trip Directors with their clubs, some serve as Safety Directors in their clubs too, and I rely on these guys to keep an eye out for each other and the other rockhounds, in regards to safety. This is a location that there are safety requirements and rules in place, and while we want everyone to find nice material and have a good time, we also want to follow the rules set down by Clay, we do not want anyone hurt and we do not want anyone violating simple safety rules, which is to ignore their own safety as well as the safety of others.

I allow these guys in my group to alert someone if they see a safety violation, and such was observed Saturday while we were at the quarry, and the rockhound was advised to move to a safer location. I trust that this rockhound now understands how actions like that can have consequences that none of us want to see happen, that could affect the whole group and other groups going forward. We, as a group,  would very much like to continue going to this location in the future, so actions like that, are not, cannot, and will not, be tolerated at all.

I was advised of it later that day…I was down in the hole collecting some coral, which was laying all over the bottom floor of the quarry…

..some of it weathers pretty good down there and some of it does not, this particular piece was face down in dirt and gravel, so it weathered just fine. In the past few years there, we at times, have found huge plates of corals, some of them 3 to 5 feet long and two feet wide, the entire surface covered by corals.

After collecting a bucket of smaller pieces and then some even smaller branches of corals, I walked up to the third level to see how everyone was doing up there, found a few small plates of calcites up there as well.

Several saws were operating up there and rockhounds in general seemed pretty happy with their finds. Here are some photos of some plates that started as boulders and were cobbed down by some of the guys in my group…cannot remember now whose plates they are tho…

…the common denominator here is fluorite cubes…and below are some vugs and plates closer up for your viewing pleasure…

After a few hours there, most followed Harry and Larry over to the Junction City location for geodes. I stayed behind to make sure everyone had gotten out alright, and then locked the gate, and notified Clay that the gate was locked and we were out of there, before heading to Junction City myself.

I just missed the end of the line of vehicles by the time I arrived in Junction City, but knowing their destination, I was able to take a shortcut and arrive a few minutes ahead of them. Harry had been in touch with the landowner and found out that some heavy spring rains had washed some goodsized geodes out of the banks…and then the drought settled in and the geodes should still be in the creek. I dont know about everyone else, but I was quite happy with the ones I found, all of the larger ones had sunshine quartz, and two of them had some good red coloring as well…

I got tickled when Harry suggested I clean them with Iron Out to remove the yellow coloring…sorry Charlie, I happen to like Sunshine Quartz and these puppies ain`t going anywhere near any Iron Out solution. 🙂

Pretty sure I do know tho, that everyone had a great time at the creek, it`s a good spot to cool down and it`s a good spot to find some great geodes too. Here are some photos and the first video I shot today…


..that is Logan, bottom right corner of the photo above, one of the new guys to the group this year…he lives down in Kentucky Agate country. Here is the second video….


We soon ran out of steam collecting, everyone by that time had several nice ones, and we were ready to head back to the hotels, clean up, and get some dinner, and then finish up with the second night of the tailgate sell and swap event. I believe Friday night was the seafood buffet, and boy was it delicious, as always…they really know how to cook good food at this place and provide down home great customer service, as well. Their breakfasts are pretty doggone good, too. We left so early Sunday morning, driving to the second quarry, that we didn`t have a chance to get breakfast.

We took off at 6 am and breakfast doesn`t get served til 7 am. Some grabbed something from their hotels breakfast bar…I had purchased a cinnamon roll at Mc Donalds the day before and had it instead…they are pretty tasty as well, plus I had my Keto to drink, and that filled me up pretty good. I also had my Keto for lunch, but I rarely eat lunch when I am out rockhounding anyway. We had a nice drive to the second quarry, and arrived about 8 am, going through only one construction zone this time, as opposed to several last year, plus traffic was pretty light this year as well.

As soon as we arrived, we started looking around at the boulder fields and walls…

…and soon, everyone had picked out a spot to work and were busy sawing or working out with their hammers and chisels….some were surface collecting…Onyx and I took a nice long walk around the second level from one side all the way around to the other side…didn`t find much, but sure had a good walk. I noticed Sam up there later in the day on the second level, pretty sure he found some nice stuff tho. 🙂  Dean was working on some boulder vugs down below where Sam was walking around…


After Onyx and I finished our walk and started back toward the truck, having parked in the center, I spotted some pretty colors and veered off to a small boulder pile and discovered a pretty vug with a big yellow calcite crystal inside, surrounded outside by gorgeous blades with yellow, orange, and red colors…

I saw Sam nearby, and called him over to show it to him…he worked it later and was able to chip it out just fine. Soon after, Dorsey came by and picked me up to show me a couple of areas with some neat stuff. He was telling me about this huge column that was exposed in the old quarry, so we were driving up to that area, and he told me that he would like to remove it in one piece and then make a fountain out of it, but I was like him, when I saw it…it sure didn`t look like an easy task to get up to it with a front end loader and remove it in one piece.

Dorsey showed me a few other areas in the quarry that we could access and check the walls for pockets if we wanted to do so…he knew we were looking for the pretty stuff…one pit we worked last year and harvested several beautiful calcite crystals, was now under water once again…last year it was fine, the year before it was under water, and now once again, was under water. Slade and Dean had a fun experience there last year, something involving a large rat I believe they said…apparently Dean does not care for rats much…needless to say, that big rat won`t be bothering anyone, anymore. 🙂

Dorsey took me back to my group and dropped me off, let me know he would be at his office for awhile if we needed anything. He did contact me about an hour later, told me that some members of my group were in an area that they should not be in, without the rest of the group being there as well…he likes the group to stay together…so Sam and I drove up to where they were at, and told them to return to the main quarry floor where the majority of the group was located still.

Once we had that taken care of, Onyx and I did some more roaming about, looking for, and finding more pretty vugs…

…like this boulder I found with a long seam of snowballs of quartz in it…

…and then this beautiful pink dolomite vug, with some yellow coloring…

…and a poker chip calcite pocket I found in a short wall as well…damaged somewhat before I found it, possibly ran over by something heavy…needless to say, I was not able to remove it intact…

…and some honeycomb formation calcite or something….

…some of the guys were taking a break when I returned to my truck soon after…they were gathered around John and Dawson, checking out some flats Dawson had brought with him…

...and Don was taking a much needed break as well…the right way. 🙂

Slade brought me a few of his finds and I took a photo of them….

…definitely had some pretty stuff going on there. By afternoon, we had some rain showers just off to the west of us, we got lucky and did not get any rain at the quarry…clearly it had rained enough the day before we got there, judging by the water puddles all around us. 

We headed back to the hotel in batches…Onyx and I took off first, I was pretty tired and she was pretty muddy, so I stopped off at the creek near the lunchroom and washed her feet off and her belly, where she had decided to lay down in the mud puddles.  She loves getting wet and muddy, has no problem wading in creeks and mudholes, but let me tell ya, when it comes time to clean up, she is not a happy camper. We got it done tho and soon headed back to Harrodsburg, getting back in time to take a short nap before dinnertime. 

I let the guys know about the other areas that Dorsey had taken me to, both places had some walls that likely had some pockets to be checked, so soon after arriving at the quarry Monday morning, several of us drove over there to check those walls out.

We soon found a couple of large openings…I should say one large opening and one smaller opening about 15 feet away, with several plates strewn across a 20 foot long area scattered in and among the rocks of the small hillside leading up to the wall from the boulder border parking area. These were plates none of us had ever seen before, looking like wavy, smooth calcite. In the middle of the larger opening, stood a big…no let me rephrase that…a HUGE column with a unique formation to it…..

it had an attached base that sat off to the side of it tho…Slade began pulling a lot of nice sized plates out from the void inside and around the column, while David Bruce went to get his saw, to remove that base attached to the column…

…this column resembled the one Dorsey had shown me earlier, only this one was smaller and shorter, and likely much more manageable for him if we could remove it intact. David sawed off a heavy chunk that would have made removing the column, nearly impossible…

…while Brad, Don, and I watched…the three of us had been scrounging thru the rocks to pick up other plates and found a few small basketball sized chunks of this material as well…

…the round ones resemble the chert boulders we see in Missouri, somewhat. While Slade and David were doing much of the work upstairs, Brad and I worked on the smaller opening over to the left about 20 feet away…finding even more plates in the clay dirt below the wall and Brad pulled some out of the smaller void there as well. Some of the smaller plates I pulled out of the dirt, had an agate look to them, but that agate look did not remain when I washed the dirt off a few days later.  Oh well, the adventure of finding them was def worth it. Slade and David decided to go up on top of the wall and work on removing the column, so David got his ladder out and assembled it a few feet away….

Slade and David climbed up to the top of that column and tried to use their legs to topple it, however it would not budge…Don told them he had a bottle jack, so they used that and eventually it came down from the void…I shot videos of it using my phone camera and cannot get them to work on my page here…check my FB page, they are on there. David had to take a rest break after that….

…although he did have the shortest drive home that day. 🙂

We all split up the plates that we found and took several home with us…I have checked with the guys, think some of us are still trying to figure out the best way to clean them up. I know I am. 🙂




Cleaning and Cutting in August

I took some time off in August to get caught up on some cleaning ahead of the Labor Day trip, so I could take some beautiful calcite clusters out there with me. I also rented a tabletop wet tile saw from a friend of mine, who has an equipment rental business, rented it for the entire weekend for less than a hundred bucks. Came in the form of a mitre saw…think it works better on lumber…despite my best attempts to lock it down into place, it kept raising up on me…

Something else these saws need, is a guide and vise, one that securely holds what you are cutting and doesnt vary from the course, which is, or should be, straight ahead….something to work on in the future.

I thought I did pretty good for a first timer with a wet tile saw…

after cutting this one open, I thought I had a colorful egg half, but the yellow came off with paint thinner, turns out it was off the side of the diamond blade. 🙂

have great color and pattern on these two halves, but couldnt finish the cut all the way thru, prob gonna be a bear to fix these, too.

Many, many moons ago, as a youngster, I had a six inch Lortone Rock Saw, my parents bought it for me for Christmas one year, had it for a few years…enjoyed it, but I dont think anyone realized how noisy those things could get…it was in our utility room off the garage, right next to my Dad`s home office. 🙂  I was limited after that as to when I could use it and for how long. 🙂

The last weekend of August I was able to clean up some beautiful poker chips encased in the gorgeous red calcite druse from a few pockets I found back in mid January at MFQ, and put them in flats to take to Kentucky with me….

…that was almost as much fun as it was finding them. 🙂


How I Spent My Birthday Weekend July 2022

For my birthday this summer, I took the day off and had lunch at Missouri Hick BBQ and then prepared for a visit from my friend Don Lapham. Don spent a few days before down in Springfield, Missouri and emailed me a few months before, asking if I could take him rockhounding to Haunted Ridge and another location while he was down here. I said sure, no problem buddy…I did let Don know, that normally we are baking by that time of the year tho, so be prepared for some Missouri wet heat. 🙂

Don came prepared for the wet heat, had a beach umbrella or two with him and brought his Sheik wear too. 🙂  Due to the heat, I had asked Greg Coleman if it would be okay if we arrived around 6 am and he told me that would be fine. It had been some time before I had been to Haunted Ridge, so I was pleasantly surprised to see Greg had made good on his thoughts to build a new entrance off Roderick Road……

…and he had lined it with a lot of big boy plates and landscape boulders of druse, some rootbeers included, and these are available for purchase…and I would bet Greg and the guys will assist in loading them for you….

you pass by these beauties and then stay to the right of the lake on down to the new parking lot….

…big open parking lot, with a lot of parking space, and the pay shack in the middle on the far side…

There is still no entrance fee, you get your liability waiver forms here, sign them, hand them back to Judy or one of the other employees, and then one of the guys loads you, your buckets and tools, into the four wheeler, and takes you off to your choice of locations. When you return, you can either pay your driver or pay here at the shack for your buckets you filled with beautiful druse.

It was much cooler in the day then, and after a brief visit with Greg and the crew, he loaded us up into his new side by side and took us over to the new Rootbeer Pits, so we could dig up a few buckets of rootbeer plates.

Greg showed us a couple of spots in the pits where he had seen some rootbeer plates pulled out and we began digging soon after…

It didnt take long for the heat to catch up to us, despite being in the shaded areas of the forest, so we drank our water bottles and kept on digging, and soon had our buckets filled with rootbeer.

this is how they look when you pull them out of the clay dirt…they do take a good powerwashing and then most will treat them with Dawn Powerwash soap and water…most are afraid to use Iron Out on the rootbeer colored plates, for fear it will remove the rootbeer color.

As soon as we had our buckets filled, and were ready to go and escape the heat, I texted Greg to let him know and we were picked up soon after and taken to our vehicles…

Don was staying in the Potosi area, so I told him where to meet me Sunday morning and I would take him to the SS Quarry from there.

Don was waiting for me bright and early the next morning and I led him to the SSQ…luckily we had a couple of hours before the sun heated things up to the unbearable stage…Don broke out his umbrellas for this one since there was very little shade except next to the walls and where we were digging at, there was no shade at all…


Don was telling me about collecting blue halites in New Mexico….he tells a good story, let me tell ya. 🙂

I was able to find him a good deep pocket to work after a little while there, and he was able to liberate some WHOPPER size Poker Chips for his trip home…

BE Clement Mineral Museum Annual Show June 2022

I took the weekend of June 4th off so I could drive down to the B.E. Clement Mineral Museum and visit my friends in Marion, Kentucky and see the show this summer. I used to see my Marion friends a few times a year, back when my group and I were going down to dig out the Eureka Fluorite Mine to help the Board of Directors provide a good digging location each year to the hundreds of rockhounds who visited each month during the public dig season. We truly miss those opportunities these days, as do hundreds of rockhounds who are no longer allowed to go dig there any longer. It is especially saddening, after all the time consuming leg work that Bill Frazer put into getting the mess straightened out, that brought those public and private digs to a screeching halt a few years ago. Bill put his heart and soul into making things right for everyone, exhausting himself doing so, only to then find out that the Board members were split on their decision to re-open it to patient rockhounds who desperately wanted to return to dig there some more. Disheartening to say the least.

I wasn`t able to see Bill or Sherry while there…I had been told by a Board member there, that neither one was at the show and she had no idea where they were even at. I didn`t find out til after I returned home, that Sherry had been at the show and Bill was at home. Needless to say, I wasn`t happy that I had been lied to about that matter, either, as Bill and Sherry are dear friends of mine.

I did get to visit with Gary and Walter Griffith, while I was there…as usual, they were sitting just inside the entryway at a couple of tables covered with fluorites. I had talked to Gary by phone a few weeks before and he told me that they were completely sold out of fluorites, yet here they had some on the table in front of them. When I mentioned that, he grinned and said they had managed to put some back with the show in mind and were able to provide another dump truck load of fluorite chips for the children to dig for outside the Museum. Good people, very resourceful, and great friends.

Walter`s wife came in shortly after I arrived, with their lunch and the grandkids, so I left them to have lunch and went to visit with other dealer friends there, like Jay Tripp from the Bowling Green area of Kentucky, who sells Elmwood Mine material as well as Fluorites from Worldwide sources, and Steve Manley from the Belleville area of Illinois, who collects and sells a variety of crystals and minerals from all over the world….their booths were next to each other so it was easy to visit with them…

the 2 flats at the top are some of Jay`s fluorites and the flat below is Spirit Amethyst from South Africa.

While standing there talking to them, Ed Clement came around the corner and stopped next to me, he was being driven by his daughter, as Ed was recuperating from surgery and unable to walk at the time…I told him it was good seeing him although I would have rather seen him in better health. We visited for a few minutes and then she whisked him off to visit with more folks there. I stayed a few hours and then headed back home. I have been going to the Clement Mineral Museum Shows since 2010.


Unique Bladed Barite Piece

I didn`t go rockhounding the summer of 2022 very much, hardly at all, as I was working nearly every weekend at the golf course as we were shorthanded like every other business was. One day in May, I was up at City Hall making my monthly utilities payment, and stopped in to see my rockhound friend Jan, who is the Secretary to the City Council. She had a huge bladed barite piece sitting on her desk, among the many rocks and crystals I had given her over the years. I had never seen one this color, it was dark grey to black, has a glassy calcite coating on it, with chalcopyrite bobbles and DT calcites on it. She said a local farmer, who worked at Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine many years ago, had dropped by and gifted her with it. He died a few months later. I was able to identify it by its shape, but like I told her, I had no clue that bladed barite could even be found out there…even though the mine is located well within Washington County…a few miles south of there is the Pea Ridge State Forest and druse quartz is very rarely found out there, except in small sizes and sugary frosting.

Pretty neat piece for sure !!

Geode Fest 2021

Well I thought I had posted this story late last year, but cannot seem to locate it now, so will re-post as much of it as I can remember, meaning the highlights. 🙂

I recall getting up there early last year to visit with vendor friends, namely my buddy John Oostenryk, good friends Charity and Jamey Moog, Dennis Kossow, Kirk the Geode Fest Director, and since 2021 was the first year for Greg Coleman and Johnboy from Haunted Ridge Druse Farm, I wandered over to find them setting up their booth soon after I arrived. They were going to be selling druse quartz from Greg`s farm each day, so naturally I visited with them each day they were there and provided them with insight from my many past experiences during several years of Geode Fest. 

…and across the way from their booth were several tables covered with Viburnum Trend Minerals…albeit expensive ones…and I was especially intrigued with two huge clusters of calcites from the Fletcher Mine that were on display…I dont believe either one sold while there, but they were sure beautiful….here is one….

I was told a day later, that the price tag on it was $ 2500…that prob explains why it didn`t sell while there. I also recall the price didn`t get lowered on the last day, either. Here is another photo of the booths at Geode Fest 2021….

Pete Hahn came up on Saturday, to help Johnboy and Greg work their booth, and went out hunting with me on Sunday morning. The first couple of days I went hunting with John and Sie Shell from Northwestern Iowa, went with us. I had met Shell a year or two before, she is a friend of my Tennessee Rockhound friend Abigail, who has been under the weather for a couple of years now with some health related problems, we hope to see her back out rockhounding with us soon. Shell joined John and I on one of the Railroad Creek locations, upstream from our friend Josh`s place. As usual, Shell and I could not keep up with John that morning….

I had two buckets filled fairly quickly and decided to go back to my truck with them…on the way, I snapped a photo of Shell posing next to the creek…

I remember posting this photo of her on my FB page and several comments from good friends here locally, saying ” they now understood the obsession of rocks now “……or something like that. I got a good chuckle out of it.  🙂   

It was pretty warm last year and I recall visiting the Amish booth with the home made ice cream a few times that weekend. Each evening, several of us went out to eat to the Italian Restaurant in downtown Keokuk, Angelini`s Ristorante is what it`s called, great low light atmosphere inside a remodeled storefront on Main Street and great food, too….

Josh and his wife Jennifer, joined us each evening for dinner there and we sampled the wine selections as well.

Saturday morning Shell and I went back to Railroad Creek and walked downstream to a few locations, she wanted to check out a secret location for geodes…we dug there in the hillside for a bit, didnt find much, and then we walked on down the creek to another place where I had good luck finding good stuff, geodes and calcite chunks, along with John and Chuck Reed, a few years before…we dug into that short bank for quite a while…

I think the best days of collecting were the first day and the last day…Pete and I went to Josh`s Railroad Creek Farm location on Sunday morning, got there ahead of the crowd by different route, and walked upstream to a certain spot we had been directed to, that supposedly had purple interior geodes. I called to check on Shell, and she told me she was preparing to head home early, had changed into her clean clothes and was headed out the door, then asked where we were going…told her we were on our way to RR Creek to find the purple interior geodes…and the line went quiet for a long second, and then she freaked out, decided she would join us, and showed up about 15 minutes later. She wasn`t real happy about it, but excited to see what could be found…amethyst in geodes seems to really bring out the ” FREAK ” in some people. 🙂

As we were walking down thru the brush on a short cut to the creek, I was leading the way with Shell behind me narrating one of her many videos for her sales page, and I recall her telling her people ” that she had woke up that morning and decided to head home, but then received a phone call from some a__hole who told her he and a friend were going to a location that is known to have purple interior geodes…. so she had to change back into her dirty clothes and drive over to join them and now was following the a__hole thru the brush to the location. ” 

I was chuckling about it then, thinking whatever, not like we twisted your arm and made you come with us, sounded like a bit of whining to me. I didnt realize she was recording it til later, when I had several friends see her video and emailed me to tell me she was referring to me as the a__hole on the video, and they were not happy about it. I was like whatever but I understand that she had some blowback on it and this year when I saw her, she apologized for it. We remain good friends. We dug into that bank like there was no tomorrow, and while we found a few geodes, we didn`t find many we could keep due to the size and very few of them felt hollow…

…when you arent finding good stuff…you dont last long at that location and tend to move on to another…

She also got a bit perturbed with me for cracking open my geodes right then and there, when I was pulling them out of the mucky clay mud and dirt…it was dry dirt under the tree roots and clay mud all over the rest of the bank. I was pulling cannonball sized geodes out and while I did break some into three pieces, I also managed to cleanly break a few hollows into just halves…like this pair….

many of the ones I smashed into a million pieces weren`t that great to look at anyway, so no big loss to me, and I wasn`t setting a bad example for any younger rockhounds as there was no one around us for awhile anyway. As far as I recall, we did not find any geodes with amethyst inside them, but we had a good workout and a good time trying. She headed home soon after that and I returned to the booth area to visit with friends before heading home.

John showed me some geodes he picked up from a dealer a few booths away…

…and I snapped a photo of a couple of guys holding one of the biggest geodes I had seen that weekend, one that John cracked open for them soon after I returned to the venue…

I also found out that Greg and Johnboy had done well on druse quartz sales, they were able to sell everything they brought with them. 



Barites From Washington County

Well I am finally getting some time off, boss decided to trust the weather forecasters and believe this winter, Nov 2022 into March 2023, is going to be harsh and snowy, and laid all of us part timers off for the winter season. Now I have some time to catch up on some of my trips and stories and photos. I am reminded weekly from readers how much they like to read my blog site…thanks for your patience. My email is if you want to send me any additional comments.

These are some of the barites I have collected in the past year in Washington County, near Potosi, on private property locations. I heard about Blue Barite long before I ever saw it in person, and so far, I have only found it at one location in Washington County…before this, I had only found Bladed Barite and thought it to be the prettiest barite I have seen…I can now safely add Blue Barite, Crystalline Barite, and Turtleback Barite, to that list of pretty barites.

Here is a flat of Crystalline Barites that I found earlier this spring, I need to clean them up a bit more, however I like the clay coloring on the barite to some level…this level at least, as it makes it easier to distinguish the texture of the crystalline…….

the second photo shows some on my tailgate after cleaning them in Iron Out, so you can see the difference between clean and cleaner. Some of these are crystalline barites on druse quartz and some art turtleback barites on druse quartz, these were found at a newer location in Washington County.

The next photos show blue barites along and some on druse quartz, from the same location as those above….

Some of the best Bladed Barites I have found, have come from a tailings dam location at the north end of Washington County, and from an old mining community near the south end of Washington County….

…and one plate I found at the newer location which is what I would call northwest Washington County…a small section of the barite attached to some beautiful rootbeer colored druse….

Recently my group and I discovered some really pretty Bladed Barites at a new location…stay tuned for the new story on that location…


New Mexico Trip 2022 Part 2

On our arrival back to Deming Sunday evening, we drove directly to the Italian Restaurant, because we weren`t sure if they were going to close early or not. We were inside and seated by 6 pm and figured we would be okay, but then another smaller group or two came in behind us and the attitude with staff seemed to change a bit it seemed like…food was still good but our waitress seemed a bit edgy for a bit there. We discussed going to another historic mining area the next day, again west of Lordsburg and south of the interstate in the Gage area. The mine on the side of the ridge below is where we started our exploration on Monday morning….


We climbed up to this old mine, with the ore chute, and then climbed on up to the tailing piles on the hill above it…

From the height on the hill, we had quite an advantageous vantage point…to the north was the newer quarry, where it is quite obvious they have a lot of material on hand to blast and work for years to come…

…something that struck me when I saw the campers out there between us and the newer quarry…I had looked at Google Earth maps the night before, and Google has the camping area posted inside the quarry area, when in fact it is just south of the quarry fencing in a wash area…I wonder how many people think it is truly at the quarry, which is all fenced in and gated at the entrance…the next view is looking due west and the dirt roads you see going up the sides of those hills, all lead to other mines…


…mines we did not go to after this one…despite an extensive search by the guys along the top of the ridge while I was taking photos, nothing really spectacular was found…David Bruce found a few calcite crystals up there…this location was noted in one of the rockhounding books as a good location for quartz and calcite clusters, but we were unable to find any of them….

At this point, John decided we would be better off going over to Fluorite Ridge and checking out some of the old mines over there instead. Pete and Nic decided to go check out another mine to the north, they had made contact with a mine owner there and he was going to take them to his claim and let them do some rockhounding there. I will include that part right after our exploration at Fluorite Ridge. 

The rest of us drove back to Deming and then north to Fluorite Ridge, and stopped at this first mine…..

….and walked around looking for some pretty stuff. Take a look at the next photo, you will see what the thorn bushes and trees look like in the Fluorite Ridge area and why you have to keep a sharp eye out while walking around the desert floor landscape there at all times, these are all over the place there…

Despite an extensive walk around, checking a couple of adits that were closed off for safety, we continued driving north on the main road, and stopped on the other side of the historic ore chute. From our vantage point up high on one of the trails, we were able to see a quarter mile north, where there was an old ore chute, there was someone working at the top of the ore chute with a small excavator, so we drove down there to look around and check that out as well. We had been to this location in 2020 and searched the area extensively, not finding anything but massive fluorite there, but we did find hundreds of colorful red jaspers there as well as a lot of puddingstone. Virgil was along on that trip and he spent a few hours checking out a huge petrified tree trunk that was exposed in a wash nearby.

John walked up to check out what the contractor was doing with the excavator, and we all wound up walking up there eventually as well, turned out he had dug out the vertical shaft opening and was preparing to seal it on top with a concrete lid…always nice to see people doing things like that, with a concern for safety of others. From there we searched about an hour across the road for pretty stuff…a few of us located some loose fluorite cubes but we were not able to locate a source for them. John then wanted to drive over and check out an old manganese mine, however, after a lot of driving, we were unable to make it to the mine due to unstable road conditions.

We then tried to drive on up to the upper reaches of Fluorite Ridge, but again, experienced more road problems, AO 18 Road was shown on the map to go up there, but after driving out a few miles, we ran into a gate, cattle fencing, and a NO TRESPASSING Notice there, so we turned around and returned to Hwy 26. 

After all that, everyone was ready to stop for the day and grab some supper, so we headed for our other favorite Mexican Restaurant, Irma`s. It`s a bit smaller in size and sometimes a bit noisy in there, but they always have great food there. I took Onyx back to the hotel and then returned to the restaurant. By the time I got back, the guys were starting to get their food, and it took a fe minutes for our waitress to see I was at the table, but she made up for the delay and got my tacos to me pretty quickly, and they were delicious. After the dismal day of collecting, we decided we wanted to go to the other historic area of mines, near Hachita the next day.

In the meantime, Pete and Nic were having a great afternoon at the old mine in Sierra County. A former Zinc Mine that produced alot of secondaries and Nic told us the next morning, that they found some nice vanadinite there.  He did take some nice photos of the mine while they were there…

Nic said the white material on the mine all above and to the left in the photo above, is an ore body seam of willemite and wulfenite….he said the willemite is fluorescent blueish white under short wave. He said they also found  Hemimorphite there. 

…and here are some of their finds that afternoon….


Tuesday morning, John decided we didn`t have to be on the road early, so we enjoyed another leisurely breakfast at Denny`s again and then headed west to Hwy 146 and south to Hachita. John had told me before the trip, that on this trip, we should be traveling the speed limit in that area, because the Border Patrol officers were always thick in that area and they do run radar…a speeding vehicle means something entirely different to them than normal officers…so we were well within the speed limit going there and coming back. As we approached our turn off to the old mining district roadway, I noticed a few BP pickups with horse trailers parked on the side of the highway and officers getting ready to go horseback riding…something was up apparently, but they were on the other side of the highway and at least a few miles from where we would be. At the same time, I felt safe and protected, the whole time we were out there rockhunting, too. John opened the gate and then we headed down a very dusty, dirt road toward the ridge with several old mines dotting the landscape. Within a mile of the gate, we came upon some road construction equipment and two water tankers…another half mile down the dusty road, we came upon the road boss going toward his equipment base, we stopped to talk to him and he let John know that they were widening the dusty road with a grader and would likely be west of where we intended to be. I can safely say they did a great job widening it to the point we had to turn off. We drove up a slight hill and round to the left and parked just off the road amongst the sagebrush, grabbed our buckets and tools, headed up the hill to tailing piles we could see up on top of the hill….

The pile on the right in the photo above, turned out to be a turquoise mine, there were little pieces of it laying all over the ground and some of the guys dug into the white colored rock walls to get more…I have a lot of turquoise at home so I kept on searching…apparently Nick did as well cause he was out in front of me looking around too….

I know he wasn`t finding much cause I didn`t see him putting much in his backpack…one thing about our elevation up there, we had great views of the scenery in all directions around us…looking west in the first photo and northeast in the second photo, below…

and southeast of us here…

…we didn`t locate much of what we were looking for, pretty color and copper secondaries…so after talking to Nick and Pete about another mine right over the horizon to the east of us, we got into our trucks and headed in that direction, the others following me soon after. When Pete, Nick, and I pulled into the second old mine, we discovered several adobe looking building remains, and some rock walls and pillars that appeared to be an old mill site…as soon as we looked around the parking area, we spotted specular hematite…I first thought it was magnetite, but once John got there, he was able to determine specular hematite instead…it was all over the ground there….

There was mine machinery still fairly intact there at the old mill, like this piece…Dawson said it was a neat looking old Trommel….we spread out to search the grounds for anything pretty…I found some pretty crystals on some matrix rock near a couple of old shafts that were fenced off…showed them to John and he said, ” wow, where did you find these ?  ” and I pointed out the location, he said they were garnets…so several of us headed over there and I pointed out a few more and we found a few more beyond that…a pleasant surprise he said. 🙂 

We decided to head over to the old mine at Hachita that had been highly recommended to us by a few clubs that go there…we drove south on yet another dirt road…this one, unfortunately, had not been graded or smoothed out in places, but we eventually arrived at it and started fanning out to search again. This one was much more promising, there was good color on the ground all over the place as soon as we got close. This mine has a lot of colorful history, worked by the Apache Indian Tribe for many years, they mined turquoise there, back in the days when Geronimo was their Tribal Chief, back in those days the Apache lands stretched from southwest New Mexico west and deep into Arizona. I`m not sure if we found any turquoise there that afternoon, but we sure found a lot of chrysacolla and malachite there…there were several tailing piles there to look at and several washes that were nice, the walls were stuffed full of color in each one of them…the grounds of this mine produced quite a bit of color……we parked and walked in….

….checking out the first big tailing pile and then moving on to a second, they both were so tall they blocked out the view of the mine adits and shafts in the background behind them…..Nic and Dawson took more photos than I did at this location…

Once we reached the back of the second tall tailing pile, there was color laying all over the ground in front of us…everywhere…and just beyond that…there was also this huge and wide wash that encompassed several adits….

….during later exploration of the wash near the back of it, I discovered  some nice chunks of a pretty pink druse quartz, some of it with the chrysacolla, stuck in the banks of that wash on both sides…yes I brought some of those chunks home with me, these 2 for sure….

We all walked around picking up colorful stuff all over the grounds…and then started exploring a little more in depth…there were horizontal adits about fifteen feet down with some entrances easy to get in to them and some were not…so the guys explored the easy entrances and were able to get some beautiful chrysacolla from them….I`ll just let the photos Nic and Dawson took, do the talking….


Pretty nice photos, right ? I didn`t venture down there so much appreciated that Nic and Dawson could share them with me so I could share them with you here…this next photo shows David Bruce standing up above the horizontal adit they are in…I did walk over there and look down, in time to see David Hodge climbing up the ramp out of there with two full buckets.

About an hour later, we were packed up and headed back to Deming for supper at the Italian Restaurant again. This would be our last night of supper as a group, we had received word of a snow and ice storm bearing down on Missouri, Iowa, and  Arkansas, so we were all going to head back home the next day to get ahead of the storm.

We had another great breakfast the next morning at Denny`s once again before heading out in separate directions. David Bruce even  surprised us by having a milkshake as part of his breakfast…

…figured it must be a Chef thing. 🙂

I found out later that David Bruce and Dawson hit a checkpoint roadblock near White Sands National Park, due to a missile test and Dawson was able to capture some video footage of it. Told him they were lucky, as all I got to see on the way back was another big brush fire. 🙂

John stuck around a little while to visit with some friends and do some research as well at the Retro Ranch. I heard from him later when he finally made it to the storm, had to drive thru it, believe he dealt with alot of ice, but made it home safe and sound…his car told the story….

Onyx and I headed north toward Albuquerque…I had called Ray to see if he would be home late morning and he said he would, so I could drop off the release forms with him and thank him once again for allowing us to dig at his mine. After filling the tank once again, we headed east on I-40 and didn`t stop for the night til we reached Shamrock, Texas…stopping for the night at a hotel being remodeled, called the Irish Inn. Onyx and I were up early the next morning and headed home, arriving about mid afternoon and ahead of the storm. I heard from Pete and Nic, David Hodge, and Dawson, letting me know they had made it home safe and sound as well.

Another great trip for the record books…resulting as always from the combination of great locations, great weather, great minerals found, great food, great lodging, and of course, great friends to rockhound with. Really sorry that more couldn`t make this trip…believe me, you and your company were greatly missed by all of us.

Really appreciate your patience with me getting this entire story and photos sorted, edited, and arranged, sorry for the delay in putting it together…my right eye is finally beginning to heal properly as of today and I should be back to 100 percent by Friday. 



New Mexico Trip 2022 Part 1

After a long mixed bag of winter this year, a few more snowstorms, one big storm with nearly 16 inches of snow on the ground and 3 inches of ice under the snow, I was ready for a break. Around Feb 1st, I asked John about going back to New Mexico, since we hadn`t been able to even think about it last year, due to New Mexico`s Governor shutting down the entire state to travelers over the Covid BS. I think he was as tired of that charade as I was and was ready for a change of scenery. He started checking with Jeff, at the Retro Ranch, to see if we could return there and dig some more treasures…took a while for Jeff to return John`s calls but he eventually heard back and all was good for us to go back there for a day or two.

After the trip out there in 2020, John and I had talked at Geode Fest this year, we wanted to go to some old mines, including the Blanchard Mine,  where plates of blue fluorite cubes and bright blue linarite crystals could be found, possibly wulfenite crystals as well. Most of those mines are in the central area of the state around Bingham. The Blanchard Mine, for many years, has been producing common primary minerals of galena, barite, fluorite, and quartz, with secondary minerals of linarite, anglesite, brochantite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, and pyrite. While wulfenite is not mentioned in that list, it has been found there before, along with other minerals such as aurichalcite, cerussite, chrysacolla, malachite, smithsonite, and rosasite…and we did find a few of those at many of the mines we went to this trip, not laying out in the open, but usually located in vugs of boulders.

The mines in the Bingham area, are located in the Hansonburg Mining District and worked from the early 1900`s to around 1985…after that, the mines were primarily worked for specimens only. Many other old historical mines in New Mexico, that are no longer actively worked, have had the same result, many under claim ownership and being worked primarily for specimens these days. Sam was assisting us not only with maps imagery, but helping us check for active claim ownership on the old mines, so that we would not be trespassing on those claims.

I had some friends, that I had taken rockhounding to some secret spots over the past ten years, and had told me that anytime I wanted to go to the Blanchard Mine, known to produce beautiful plates of blue fluorite, let them know and they would put me in touch with the owner. By mid Feb, I called and talked to Ray, and obtained permission to go to his mine with a small group of my rockhound friends. I called him back a week later at his request and he offered us two days of collecting there, asked me to stop by his home on the way to Deming, to visit and pick up some release forms for his mine.

While I was setting up the Bingham mine visit, John was busy researching a few other historical mining districts to visit. Pete and Nic were doing some research on the Kelly Mine area along with John, who has some contacts there as well. Nic was able to contact a lady in Magdalena that was able to grant us access to the Graphic and Nitt Mines, that are higher up the mountain above the Kelly Mine.

Sam helped us with satellite map imagery research and provided alot of good information on the Bingham area mines, as well as the other mining district areas John was researching. By the time February was coming to a close, we were pretty set on our schedule from Thursday March 3rd, to Thursday the 10th, when we would be all set to head home.

I decided to take Onyx with me on this trip…as I didn`t want to leave her at the Vet Clinic Lodging, nor any of the local Puppy Palaces either. I decided that the places we would be rockhounding at,  that had the cactus landscaping, I would simply leave her in the truck and she would be fine with that…and luckily for me, she was. 🙂

New Mexico can be a long and daunting drive for many…Pete and Nic drove down there from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, so they had the longest drive, nearly 30 hours of drive time. My drive takes about 16 hours so I split it into two days and try to do a little sightseeing/rockhounding along the way to break up the drive some. Onyx and I spent the night at Tucumcari, NM, once again, the Budget Inn there has been remodeled very nicely and is a very comfortable place to stop for the night in a very quiet section of town, and for a very reasonable rate as well. I had dinner at Del`s Diner once again, great restaurant with great food there…had breakfast there, the next morning before heading east on I-40 once again to Albuquerque.

I noticed a Union Pacific Train traveling westbound on the north side of I-40 as soon as we left Tucumcari and stopped to photograph it with the NM landscapes a couple of times….

As soon as we climbed up on top of the mountain range halfway between Tucumcari and Albuquerque, I called the White Sands Missile Testing Range, to check and see when they were going to be testing missiles. The mines in the Bingham area are about 300 feet from the boundary fence of the Testing Range and the Military folks really don`t like anyone to be up there when they are testing the missiles. As luck would have it, I was able to talk to a soldier who had once been a fire and police dispatcher himself, and he told me that it would be in our best interest if we could go rockhounding in the Bingham area the very next day, Thursday, the 3rd, because every day after that for the next week, they would be shooting missiles and rockets at the base. On the days they shoot, roadblocks go up on the major highways very early in the mornings around there, and you cannot proceed past one til they give the all clear…that can range from a few hours to the next day.

This year, instead of rockhounding along the way, I stopped to visit with Ray at his home in Albuquerque, pick up release forms from him, and I gave him a beautiful large Southern Illinois purple and grey fluorite cluster with galena, to thank him for being a gracious host. During our visit, he explained the layout of the mining grounds to me, and let me know that while we would not be able to go inside the mine, he pointed out two areas outside the mine that have been very productive the past few weeks and assured me that we should do quite well there…more about that later. He also showed me some of his collection from his mine, and all I can tell you, is that I am sure my mouth was hanging open the entire time and I just hope I didnt make a mess on his floor with any drooling, while looking at the many stunningly beautiful specimens he had on display.

He had another appointment to get to that afternoon, a committee meeting preparing for the upcoming Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Show, so I didn`t keep him very long there. Onyx and I left to fill the gas tank at a nearby Phillips 66 station, let her out to stretch her legs a bit, and then I called my cousin, Larry Moore, who now resides in Albuquerque as well, and met him for lunch closeby. We had a great meal and visited for over an hour…I had not seen him for several years. Larry was born and raised in Orange County, California, his Mom was my Mom`s oldest sister…he has traveled all over as an Archaeologist for the Army for several years, and now works for the State of NM managing Reclaimed Mines, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

Afterwards, Onyx and I headed south on I-25 and soon we were Deming bound once again. On the way down there, I saw the results of a vehicle pursuit on the northbound side of I-25…we popped up over a hill and there was a pickup truck at a 45 degree angle, the bed of it up on the guardrail, cab smashed in, looked like it had rolled several times before coming to a rest in that precarious position on the guardrail…police cars everywhere, at least 20 of them….fire truck and ambulance on the shoulder by the pickup, and nb traffic backed up at least two miles…maybe a quarter mile south in the median was a vehicle pulling a trailer, whatever had been sitting on the trailer was now flattened so I am guessing that the pickup may have either struck the trailer and began rolling from there or rolled over the trailer. There were two officers out with the driver of that vehicle and all appeared okay…saw several vehicles crossing the wide, shallow median to turn back south and go around it. A few miles further south, we topped another hill and spotted 3 NM State Police Officers, one with a Canine, searching an area to the right of the interstate, with several civilians following and appeared to be assisting in a search as well…something possibly thrown out of the pickup there…I was listening to a radio station at the time that was giving traffic reports for roads in that area, but nothing advised about that incident. The reporters were talking about a state officer that had been fatally injured on I-25 near Santa Fe tho, and I immediately said a prayer for his family and Law Enforcement in that area.

About 15 miles further south, I began seeing a large cloud of black smoke ahead, which made me think of that large cloud of black smoke we saw in 2020 as we were headed home from Deming and approaching Albuquerque…that turned out to be a huge brush fire along the west side of I-25, flames higher than the interstate itself producing heavy black smoke that could be seen for 20 miles as we approached from the south that day. As it turned out, I was seeing this smoke cloud for at least 15 miles as we traveled southbound and appeared to be east of the interstate down in the valley south of San Antonio, appeared to be heavy brush on fire as well….

We arrived about three hours later and got checked in at the La Quinta Hotel on the east side of town. I knew David Hodge was already there, as I heard from him the day before and then he let me know when he arrived in Deming as well. Took awhile to get in touch with Pete and Nic to see where they were at due to the mountain range near Ruidoso, and weather…David Bruce and Dawson let me know when they made it into Deming earlier that day as well, and John was expected to arrive by 6 pm, so we decided to meet up at the Si Senor Mexican Restaurant for dinner. By the time David Hodge and I got there, John had arrived earlier than expected, and was sitting with David Bruce and Dawson. I had a tea only, still full from a big lunch with my cousin, while they all chowed down…except for John…didn`t find out til five nights later, when John told me that Si` Senor Restaurant had problems with their cooks a few weeks before, and the food was terrible that evening…as a result, we did not go back while there that week. There are about ten Mexican restaurants in Deming, we like one of the other ones, about a block away, called Irma`s…great food and a bit noisy atmosphere, but very friendly folks there, too. I found it kinda ironic, the Mexican restaurant I frequent here in Sullivan, my hometown, they were having problems with their cooks during the same time frame as well…and when I returned home, their problems had been resolved with a cook terminated and the food has only gotten better here. 🙂

We had a good discussion that evening, regarding going to the Blanchard Mine the next morning, everyone was as excited as I was after telling them about my visit with Ray at his home. We decided we wanted to arrive about 8 am so we would leave about 5 am the next morning. As we were approaching Hatch, the sky indicated that we were going to have one of those exceptionally BEAUTIFUL sunrises to enjoy….this one photographed by Dawson who was riding with David Bruce and John….

…and mine….

Around 8:30 am, we arrived to the entrance dirt road leading to the base of the mountain…could see the mine above…and immediately had to slow way down due to the rough entrance road along the valley floor…go to my FB page and check out the video I posted on March 4th to see how rough that was…then we started up the mountain road…Ray was definitely right when he said it was a rough road and 4 wheel drive would be needed…there were stretches where you were driving on smooth limestone and 4wd helped with traction alone…we came upon some good size rocks in the roadway as well as a couple of narrow spots…couldn`t go faster than half a mile an hour most of the time….deep ruts too….

I am guessing those ruts are some that Ray told me he and friends of his filled in with large rocks to make the road much smoother a few weeks back….the road in the photo below looks fairly smooth and even….far from it tho…that is the first leg below…

…this was also on the first leg up, beautiful scenery there for sure…


Took us a while, but we finally made it to the top of the mountain, and the guys were so excited to get started, they grabbed their buckets and tools and took off in search of buried treasure. I told Ray I would call him and let him know when we made it up there, so I took care of that first, then let Onyx out for a bathroom break, then got my tools and bucket and headed out in search of treasure. We were at the first spot that Ray suggested looking at, the place he assured me we would find some nice stuff at….boy was he right and then some !! 🙂

I walked up to the spot where Pete is seen in the video above, and started looking around there…at the other end of that bench, I spotted John, David Bruce, and Dawson, working in a pocket that Ray told me that some folks worked for a few hours, a few weeks back, and pulled some nice plates out of. I walked up there and took a closer look at it.

The area previously dug out, was about ten feet long and at least two feet wide, but appeared to have been filled back in, so the three of them were preparing to dig it back out and see what they could be found. It appeared that would take awhile so I ventured down to do some prospecting and figured I would check back on them later.

I wandered down to the area below them and found Nic dug into what he figured was going to be a pocket, unbeknownst to him at the time, he was pulling out some nice chunks covered with blue cubes and white bladed barite…

…and here is what he was pulling out of there…all cleaned up now of course….

and here he is holding a couple of larger ones he pulled out of that pocket….


While down there talking to Nic, I made note of where Pete was located as well, just about 20 yards south of Nic…so I wandered over there to see how he was doing…he had a nice large pocket going and was doing quite well too. He stood up to stretch his legs a bit and I shot him with the view behind him, reminded me of something about ” working in the office with a view “….

…just look at all that color in the rocks around him…pretty sure he had a hard time choosing what to take home that day, as we all did…I know I did. 🙂

I then wandered back over to the other side of Nic to see what David Hodge was working on…found him head and shoulders inside a pocket….

…and started pulling out one plate after another…I should prob step back and clarify, pulling out one large plate after another….every 15 minutes for a while there…with cubes and barite on them…the area we were working was almost like a very large area of white bladed barite, some of it in a honeycomb pattern, some of it just big blades…and the cubes were attached in small vugs between the blades and combs…I should also add, and if you scroll back up and take a closer look at Nic`s cleaned blue cube chunks, you will note that the host rock here appears to be beautiful quartz…..

…and one other thing I should add, is that everywhere around us, there was gorgeous seams of color running thru the rocks surrounding us…bright blues and greens, pale greens, light yellows…as I was walking around behind David`s pocket, I came upon a huge pocket of quartz…I could easily call this multi-colored druse quartz because the crystals resembled druse, and they were tightly packed into this pocket on top of this bench we were walking around on. This pocket was about 25 feet across, at least 15 feet wide, and every bit of 8 to 10 feet deep…still kicking myself for not collecting at least another bucket or two of smaller pieces of the quartz out of this pocket…the bright green hues of brochantite and azurite running thru the quartz was nothing short of AWESOME and AMAZING….I did manage to take home several yard rocks from this pocket…some were just sitting on top waiting to go home with some lucky guy….here are a couple….

keep in mind…this quartz completely goes around and totally covers the rocks, every nook and cranny included…just totally mind blowing !!

Yes, I did work that quartz pocket, filled a bucket…wish I had filled at least another bucket or two as well…it was that nice !! Some would say, you were there for the fluorites…and I would say most of the crew was…me, I`m a bit different…my rule is anything pretty that strikes my fancy, goes home with me…heck I even brought home some of those honeycomb barite pieces !! 🙂

I did finally wander up and find a pocket to the right of Nic and then later, over near Pete too, and worked both of them, pulled out some nice chunks of that barite with pretty blue cubes attached to them…size of a football for the most part….

I took a break and walked down to check on Onyx, let her out of the truck on the leash and let her stretch her legs and get some water…I drank a bottle as well…then moved my truck up the hill a little ways like David Hodge did with his, closer to the pockets we were working…little less distance to carry those buckets as we were getting more tired…I parked at an angle so Onyx could continue to benefit from the very nice breeze we had enjoyed all day up there. Here is the view to the northwest in front of where I parked up the hill….

…and to the south….

It warmed to at least 75 degrees but didnt feel like our wet heat here in Missouri…the dry heat feels much more comfy out there and that breeze made it even more comfy. We also had a visitor come up the road on a razer and visit with us for about 20 minutes…he was camped out on the main road near the entrance and just enjoys riding around that area when he has time to do so. After he took off back down the mountain, I decided to get some of those yard rocks and started carrying them to my truck two at a time, wrapped them up and then placed them in the tub in the bed. I then got another bucket and walked over to the pocket I was working next to Pete and started filling it up too. My next break I walked up to check on John, David Bruce, and Dawson, found Dawson down in the pocket pulling out pretty cubes….

I met David Bruce on the way down to his pickup with a plastic crate filled up with a big fluffy white piece of snow…it sure looked like snow…like frozen snow no less…turns out it was likely gypsum per Ray…I checked with him later and he figured it was prob a form of gypsum…some thought maybe arragonite…sure was pretty and unique looking….

…and this is how this gypsum looks in the bottom of the pocket they were working on all day….

and this shows David Bruce and John wrapping up their finds as we are getting ready to get down off the mountain before darkness…

…can you imagine looking at all this razzle dazzle inside the pocket they were up there working all day long ???  wow…just WOW….talk about major distraction…

The advice was to be off the mountain before darkness set in…by 5 pm, Pete and Nic, David Hodge, and I, had our trucks packed and so we drove on down to the bottom of the mountain, where we waited for John, David Bruce, and Dawson. I photographed Pete and Nic coming down the road behind me in my side mirror….

…and we wound up down here at the bottom of the mountain…as the sun was starting to set…

While down there, we photographed the sunset which was very pretty, one of those sunsets that hangs up in the skies and changes every few minutes, getting prettier each time…


It was pretty close to full dark when they came down the mountain and we headed out of there…being our first time there, the landscape and roads totally changed as the darkness took over and I got a bit turned around at the first intersection, but realized it a quarter mile down the road and turned around. Soon we were back on the main road and on our way back to Bingham, and then west on 380 toward San Antonio. David Hodge, Pete, Nic, and I discussed stopping off in Truth or Consequences for supper, while we were waiting on David Bruce, Dawson, and John to come down the mountain,   as it would be late before we got back to Deming and most everything would likely be closed by that time on a weeknight.

We stopped off at the Denny`s at T or C and had a pretty good dinner meal, then headed on south to Deming. Afterward,I stopped off at a Conoco station a few miles south at Williamsburg just as it started to rain, but their pumps were not working well so after spending 20 min there and only getting 5 gallons, I headed on down to Deming, getting in by midnight. John had texted and said they were gonna head to Magdalena the next morning for the Graphic and Nitt Mines by 5:30 am again…I was literally wore out and there was no way I was going to be able to do another long drive and long dig day on 4 hours of rest.

So Onyx and I slept in while the rest of the crew drove up to Magdalena the next morning early, and then we went to breakfast at Denny`s about 9 am…then went to Tractor Supply and picked up a few extra buckets…theirs are bright red…can`t lose one of them. I told the guy at the cash register that and mentioned to him that I needed them for rock and mineral collecting…he mentioned to me that an uncle of his had a mining claim out on Fluorite Ridge and after a bit more small talk, provided me with his uncle`s name and number. I called him on the way back to the hotel and we talked a bit about his mine claim…located between two silver mines but no silver on his claim…told him we weren`t really interested in silver, just pretty crystals and minerals, like secondary minerals, and that is when he told me that he had ALOT of calcite and quartz on his claim, small and big sizes. We had a good talk, but he wanted to think about letting us go to his claim and asked me to call him back the next day.

After getting back to the hotel with my new buckets, I decided to re-arrange my bed load and see if I could make more room. That had been the topic of discussion at dinner the  night before…we all did SOOOOO well at the Blanchard Mine, we were all a bit worried about having enough room for anything we found the next five days. I was able to move my wrapped yard rocks from the tub in the bed, to the front and passenger floor boards in the cab, which freed up room for 4 more buckets in the truck bed. If needed, I could also transfer the cooler to the front passenger seat and that would give me room for at least one more bucket. Everyone talked about the Blanchard Mine visit and how tough it was going to be to top the collecting there !!  🙂

By about noontime, there was a dust storm just outside Deming, could see clouds of dust fairly high up in the air across I-10 from the hotel to the northeast….

….and the dust was settling into the business district as well. Since I wasn`t tired after sleeping in, I decided to go check out the Luna County Museum that John had suggested, he said they have an extensive collection of geodes and thundereggs from Paul Colburn`s personal collection…Paul was known as the Geode Kid in those parts. John and Mary had visited the  museum a few years ago on one of their trips down there to collect rocks and minerals…John was right, it was a pretty neat and very extensive collection, located in the Western Room, which was a treat by itself as well. Paul`s collection of thundereggs and geodes is contained in about ten huge wood framed glass cases, that are well lit to show off the many agate and crystal lined eggs and geodes….sorry for the glare on the glass…

…Paul`s collection spanns many years of collecting from all over the United States, there was even a few large geodes in one case from Alexandria, Missouri, the very extreme northeast corner of Missouri…and there were thundereggs lined up along the very top of each case, as if they were taking advantage of every inch of available space in and on, each case in that section of the Western Room. While there, I ran into a guy looking around the museum as well, that is from St James, Missouri, just 30 miles west of me on I-44…he was doing some research on a guy named Huston, not sure of the spelling, he and his wife originated in my hometown of Sullivan and he was a Mining Engineer…they moved to the Deming area where he purchased some property outside of town and may have done some mining out there as well. Pretty small world to run into someone else from Missouri, let alone my area, while out in southwest New Mexico. 🙂

From there, I drove over to the Deming Fire Station, located in City Hall…wanted to visit with the firefighters there and check out their white colored fire trucks.  I had seen some photos of their trucks online and thought they had an antique truck too. As it was, they were still working under Covid Restrictions and visitors were not allowed inside their station, they invited me to come back another time under more ” normal ” conditions. Maybe next year.

In the meantime, I had texted the guys to let them know about the dust storm down in the Deming area, which had been elevated to a Dust Storm Warning by 3 pm…I wasn`t sure how far out it extended, but the forecast in the Magdalena area had included a Wind Advisory. Pete told me later that while it was a bit windy up there at times, they didn`t have the dust storm and never did run into a dust storm on the way back to Deming, either. Nic took a lot of photos while up there and sent me several neat ones…Pete, Nic, and David Hodge left Deming at 5:30 am and arrived at least 30 min ahead of John, Dawson, and David Bruce. They found a couple of mine entrances open and were able to do a little exploring while waiting on the other three to arrive….

…and Dawson took a few photos while there as well…think this one above is the Nitt Mine, where pyrite can be found in the tailing pile…next photo taken by Dawson shows the scenery up on the mountain side surrounding the mine shown….

If I recall correctly, the guys did not find much in the tailing pile they dug down into at the Graphic Mine and it may have been that they were not able to get deep enough to find the layer where the nice stuff is found there. I believe everyone was back in town early enough that evening to have dinner at Marie`s Italian Restaurant…they took over an old Bank Building and serve really good food there…and boy do they believe in feeding people there…at very reasonable pricing. Luckily for people like me, that don`t eat rabbit food…aka salads…they have an out of this world delicious baked potato soup with Italian Sausage slices that is served before your main dish arrives…YUM !! 🙂 

Our destination the next day was the Retro Ranch for an easier day of digging and collecting. This is a secret location that John and Mary discovered a few years ago on one of their hunting trips, while fixing a flat tire on the road next to the ranch, in the cold and rain, where they were befriended by one of the ranch owners and invited to a warm cup of coffee after he finished changing out the flat tire. The following information is from my 2020 trip story —

About six weeks after my fall trip to Arkansas, I had an email from my buddy John Oostenryk about his recent second trip to New Mexico, regarding his opportunity the year before, to go to a property where much lapidary material, with some mineral specimens, had been stored…the family that offered him that opportunity was cordial but firm that he not publicize the site. John had returned a second year and cleaned out another chunk of the material and then had a stellar idea, that he had first checked with the family about…and they were receptive to the idea, that he invite my group and I to join him this spring, going to this secret location to get even more of the material there..out of there…and the price the family offered us was $ 50 a bucket. 

Digging was easy because the soil down there is mainly a mixture of sand and dirt, kind of a loamy material and easy to dig through. Their first few days there, they were picking up thousands of chips and pebbles and marbles, bits and pieces of every mineral imagineable, then they started digging in. Family was able to give them a good idea of where some things were buried to give them a start, and then from there on, they just searched everywhere til they got a good grasp of everything themselves. He brought back 11 tons the first year in a large commercial truck he rented. The second year he rented a similar truck, but better than the first one and he was also was fortunate to be able to hire a friend of family that knew how to operate a tractor and had a tractor to operate, to dig for them…machinery in good hands can make all the difference between backbreaking labor and not wearing yourself out daily. Knowing John as well as I do, I know he and Mary brought back some very nice lapidary material, nice crystal specimens, nice mineral specimens, nice fossils, nice slabs, and a mixture of nice everything else that one finds in buried treasure…over 20 tons of it in two trips over two years time. “

So in 2020, John advised everyone going, or even thinking about going on the trip then...”  not to talk to anyone about this particular location. For one thing, it was a secret location and we didn`t want anyone and everyone finding out about it, trespassing into the property to steal stuff there, causing the family there even more grief.

Number two, if they did break in and start stealing, they could very easily get dog bit, shot, injured by either means, killed by either means, or both…I sure wouldn`t want that on my conscience. As I told everyone, there are guard dogs on the property 24/7 and the residents and neighbors are armed at all times, plus they saw deputies and state troopers all the time down there in the area, as well as BLM officers and Border Patrol Officers. I forwarded John`s email to everyone and advised them to read it a few times before making a decision and let me know how they felt about it. ” 

So in 2020, everyone was on board with the warning and advisory about keeping this location a secret, and as far as I know, the advisory is still the same, keep this location to yourselves…if you need a reason besides the request by John…. it boils down to the way this family was treated in the past, the short story is they were not treated well by folks in southwest New Mexico. This family has been gracious to us and treated us well, and I think it only fair that we respect their wishes and treat them just as well in return. 

We didn`t have to get up extra early the next morning for our trip, so after a leisurely breakfast at Denny`s, we arrived mid morning at the Retro Ranch and began searching and then digging for buried treasure. The price per bucket this year turned out to be $ 100, and the price was not set til after we arrived that day. Due to the fact that most of us were closely watching how much we collected after our bonanza day at Bingham on Thursday, we were careful in what we collected and most of us filled one or two buckets at most. Afterall, we still had a few more days of collecting at different locations to go. Here are a few photos of collected items at the Retro Ranch….starting with a chunk of Wonderstone, which is found extensively in a few spots of Southwest New Mexico and prized by many for yard rocks and lapidary projects…

If you like Agates…this is a good location to find a wide variety of them…

…including this beautiful Kentucky Agate that David Hodge found there….and there were piles of agates, minerals, and wonderstone laying everywhere…

…the dirt there is loamy, mixture of sand and dirt, very easy to dig down into….

I should include here, that Pete came upon several geodes and Mexican coconut geodes in the dirt he was digging through, one geode was quite large and heavy, thought to be a thunderegg instead of a geode, and due to the weight of it, Pete decided not to take it home with him. Soon after, someone was able to pop it open, turns out it was hollow after all and filled with beautiful crystals inside…

I believe he and Nic had already taken off by then, and since no one else wanted to take it with them, I decided to take it home with me. 

By mid afternoon, we were done and looking for a new place to explore. Pete and Nic had left an hour before and drove to Fluorite Ridge to check out some locations there…about 3 pm, the rest of us drove to Fluorite Ridge to see if we could find them and check out a couple of spots as well….the road leading to it was very dusty, you either had to stay right behind the vehicle in front of you, or a ways behind it…I was behind David Hodge and I chose to stay back a bit….

Fluorite Ridge is a huge area, only accessible by a few roads, one really needs to go there much earlier in the day to do that area any real justice in searching for spots to collect at, if you are looking for fluorites that is. If you are looking for colorful red jaspers,  puddingstone, and pet wood….they are all over the desert floor in that entire area….sometimes you can find entire petrified trees in the washes in that area.

We were unable to find much, and unable to locate Pete and Nic, so we headed back to town shortly to get some dinner, returning once again to the Italian Restaurant for some more great food. We discussed our trip for the next day to the Lordsburg area, one of John`s favorite areas to go to. Part of the discussion is about a ground nest of bees, once thought to be African bees, not the good kind…not sure John was ever able to confirm what type of bees they are, but people like me, tend to avoid mean bees and since we had some new people along this time, John let everyone know about the bee nest and where it is located there. 

The next morning we went to our go to spot for the Super Slam breakfast again…holds you pretty much all day…and then headed west on I-10 for Lordsburg…an area rich with old copper mines to the south of the interstate. There is also an old ghost town there called Shakespeare for anyone that likes tourist attractions like that, it is just south of Lordsburg and down a gravel road by the cemetery, Road AO22, take the first right hand turn to go to the ghost town.

We went further south and then down a dirt road to the old copper mines…the landscape on both sides of the main drag is dotted with old mines and tailings…you just have to be careful you are not claimjumping down thru there. John has been to the area we go to, several times over several years and knows the safe places to go to, and the places you have to pay thru the nose to get into as well…we didn`t go to the latter places. We started looking around in the old trench mines first…where the bee nest is located…luckily we when we arrived, it was windy and pretty chilly, too cold for the bees most likely, and once we started collecting and got down into the trench area out of the wind, it wasn`t too bad for us, either. 🙂

Nic snapped this photo of David Hodge, Onyx, and I, all bundled up for the wind and cold…it wasn`t anywhere near as cold in 2022 when we were there.

that is David Bruce, John O, and Pete in the first photo in the trench, looking for crystalline azurite and malachite pieces, then David Hodge searching, and the photo above here is Dawson trying to move the big cracked rock off the wall to see if there is any pretty stuff underneath…I didn`t stick around to see how successful he was in moving it off, but I bet either way, he did get a good work out in. 🙂

When we finished up at the trench area, we drove on down the road to another spot and checked out some boulders that were completely covered in bright blues and greens….


I should prob point out, that I don`t have alot of videos posted on this story, most I shot with my phone camera and those are on my Facebook page, so if you would like to check those out, send me a friend request because generally they are only available for my facebook friends to see. My FB link is 

From where we parked at the second spot, this was the view looking back to the northeast towards I-10…

…lots of cactus out there, some you really have to watch for and watch where you step…the main reason I didn`t let Onyx out to run all over the place…these are the ones you really have to watch out for and there are some even smaller than this one…

I took a couple of walks around the entire mine area, started below where we parked and found a lot of nice smaller rocks covered in druse quartz with malachite azurite coated on top of the quartz….

the darker blue is normally the azurite and John said the lighter blue could be chrysacolla or cerussite, both are excellent secondary copper minerals..pretty soon I had my tailgate completely covered with them…

…when I started walking the hillside above, I ran into Pete who had just cobbed down a nice chunk of rock covered with crystalline malachite…he told me Nic was up on top of the hill and finding malachite up there, so I headed up that way next…

…and David Bruce showed me some of his finds too…


I walked up on top of the hill and found some pretty stuff up there as well and then walked past the guys working the boulders, and past the framed structure, to the front drive of the mine, and spotted this boulder about 20 feet up on the hillside…could not miss this one unless you were blind !!

and here it is even closer up…the sun was on it and it was bright !!

…I walked back down toward the truck and met Dawson wandering around, asked him if he had his hammer and chisel with him…he did and then asked him if he would like to see some bright blue and green, told him it looked possible to chip some plates off of it, so he followed me over there and was able to chip a few off…he liked the bright boulder too. He gave me one of the plates and we walked over to the other side of the road to look at some old mines that dot the landscape to the northwest….

I then walked back to my truck to wrap up my plate…and heard the guys were finding some wulfenite blades in some of the vugs they were working on in the boulder field above….David Bruce sent me this photo of one he found in a sea of color….

…it wasn`t long after that, that we loaded up and headed back east on I-10 toward Deming, ready for supper at the Italian Restaurant once again. 🙂