MAGS Annual Trip to Missouri May 2019

When I received the call from my Manager Shawn at Greenbriar Hills to come back to work this year, I let him know that I had a couple of rockhound clubs that wanted to come up and rockhunt with me…MAGS Club was one of those two clubs…one of three clubs I am a member of…he asked me for the dates of the weekends I needed off to take both clubs rock collecting and allowed me to take both of those weekends off. I was sooooo glad to hear that. 🙂  I do love working there and I will say…they did work me pretty hard the day before both of those weekends. 🙂

I had been in contact with Kim Hill, the Field Trip Director for MAGS, for at least a few weeks on FB, regarding the timing of each day, locations we were going to, and final details on the trip, helping them with lodging information after discovering that their normal stay location was booked solid. I made some inquiries and found out there was a major Ozarks Mountain Festival in Eminence that weekend, so they would have to book pretty fast there if they wanted to stay there…Kim got the word out to her members and they booked their reservations pretty fast. I then had a text from W.C McDaniels, the President of MAGS, and he was concerned because he wasn`t able to contact a good mutual friend of ours, Betty Marler, of Park Hills…they always invited Betty up to go rockhunting with them and now he was not able to get in touch with her. I began making some inquiries with friends in the Park Hills Gem Club to see if they knew another way to reach Betty over the next week…they let me know that they really missed seeing Betty and hoped she would soon return  and tried reaching out to some of her relatives as well, by email.

However, I struck out…or thought I did, until W.C. texted on Friday and said he had finally heard back from Betty, that she was having phone issues and everything was okay. I was glad to hear she was okay tho…she and her late husband Lloyd have been good friends for years, they were very instrumental in not only starting the Park Hills Gem and Mineral Club, but the Park Hills Mineral show that is held annually at the Federal Hill Mine Complex and has grown to be one of the largest shows in the Midwest over the years, as well as one of the most enjoyed shows in the Midwest…many rockhounds not only talk about this show every year, but literally thousands look forward to it each year as well. It`s definitely one of my favorite shows to attend.

I was also contacted by Rockhound Bill from Chicago…I had rockhunted with him and his girlfriend Debbie, a few years before at Geodefest and a prior MAGS trip to Missouri, but then both of them went silent for the past few years since…so I was a bit surprised to hear from them all of a sudden. He let me know they were going to be in the KC area the week before the MAGS trip to visit family, then drive down for the rockhunting weekend a day ahead of time. He asked if I knew of any locations where they could rockhunt before the group arrived…I let him know that I did not know of any locations in that area that allowed rockhunting through the week, including the two locations we were going to that weekend.

This is advice I normally give to rockhounds all the time when asked…advice I hope that they take me seriously on and heed the suggested warning. We all know what can happen if someone decides to go into a location like that ahead of time, on a weekday no less…if caught by property owners…it can be bad not only for the person or persons who went there when they were advised not to, but can have dire consequences for clubs or groups of rockhounds afterward as well, such as the cancellation of a scheduled dig or collecting date and generally no invite back as well. Many clubs, including MAGS, also have rules for their members to abide by, regarding scheduled field trips…members attending field trips to quarries or other off road locations are not allowed to drive or walk into the location before the scheduled meeting time, within a time period of a few minutes to several days before the scheduled meeting time at the meeting place. It`s not fair to others waiting in the parking lot of the quarry or meeting place for a dig location, abiding by the rules waiting for everyone to show up and enter together, then all of a sudden they see a member of the club drive out of the quarry…their first thought is what was that member doing inside the quarry ahead of everyone else, and how long was that member inside the quarry…have they already done some digging and found some goodies that the rest of us would have had an opportunity to dig for as well…and even if nothing happened, it leaves those rule abiding members with a sense of violation, disrespect and a lack of trust for the member who violated the rules…no matter what explanation the violating member provided…so another piece of advice for anyone reading this….if you join a club to go to field trips, like many of us like to do…PLEASE FOLLOW THE RULES…they are in place for a reason…if you don`t understand the rules, ask for an explanation….and if you ask me for advice, PLEASE FOLLOW MY ADVICE OR GUIDELINES…believe me, mine are simple and I offer them for a reason…if you need to know the reason, you need only ask and I will provide it for you. 

Kim and I had decided I would meet with the MAGS members at the Viburnum High School on Saturday morning, May 4th at 9 am…allowing Onyx and I to sleep in a bit longer than what we normally do when going rockhunting. We arrived at the parking lot just ahead of the main group, about ten minutes to 9 am…I figured most were prob at the Casey`s store using the bathroom. It was a little cool that morning, around 48 degrees and we had driven through some valleys with fog on the way up there, some misting as well…I sure hoped the forecast for clearing was correct.

The rest of the group arrived and soon we were on our way to the first location to do some druse quartz hunting…it`s alot easier to do with sunlight, because you can see the sparkles all over the hillside, but we made do once we arrived…..

…..this was the location I took them to last year and they loved it so much, they requested a revisit of it this year, you can find small pieces of druse and all the way up to small boulders of druse here…

 

….we spent about two hours there and then once everyone was ready, we drove down to the second location, where the smoky druse quartz could be found….it was a bit muddy down there…afterall, we had been receiving rain on a daily basis for the past couple of weeks…why I do not know….

 

I stepped over into the mud at the side of the road and picked up a nice plate of bubbley smokey druse quartz to show them what it looked like as well as a few small plates in various colors….

….once they observed how easy it was to find  and how pretty it was, some in bubble form and some in soda straw form, some big, some small, plus all the other colors of druse available there…well, let`s just say they were nothing short of ecstatic !! They spread out on the tailing pile and began searching for pretty druse…easy to find as it was EVERYWHERE !! 

 

…suddenly it seemed like the sky had lightened up quite a bit…I looked up to see the clouds rolling apart and could see some blue sky here and there finally…it even seemed to be warming up a bit….NOW, I was ecstatic !! 

…and yes, I did manage to fill a couple of buckets of druse as well…here are a few of my finds…

It should also be noted that there are some lapidarists in this group and in MAGS as a whole too…lapidarists are those that like to use rock saws to cut slices of rocks like agates…and create cabochons to make jewelry…in the past few months of collecting here, we have found some pretty translucent pieces of what appears to be some form of agate or jasper or chert…whatever it is, it sure is pretty stuff !!  Anne Pender Pinkerton was asking me about it and so I gathered up a few chunks of this agate for her….

My good long time MAGS friends Matthew and Carolyn Lybanon were able to make this trip, they both enjoy surface collecting and druse at this location was a good one for them as well, fairly easy walking…here you see Matthew walking down the slope of the tailing pile toward me in the green rainsuit….

…and Rockhound Bill sitting in the middle of the tailing pile collecting druse….

…and a few of the gals hunting as well….Kim Hill at the top of the photo in the tye dye shirt and Anne in the bright green/yellow shirt kneeling in the roadway……

…and then Carolyn came walking down the slope as well….

 

Soon after that, we drove on down to the quarry floor and everyone spread out looking for pockets and crystals…I was able to find a couple of pockets in the hour we were there. The problem down there was the amount of water in pools everywhere…making it difficult to get around to various places to look for pockets…it sure didn`t bother Onyx any, he looks at those pools as potential swimming pools. 🙂 Afterward, we drove down to see Miner Dave and see if he had any new Viburnum Trend crystals and minerals for sale…I was finally able to get in touch with him by phone just minutes from his house, he was cooking some chili and said sure, come on down !!

He def had some new ones, four tables covered by some of the most gorgeous crystals I had ever seen from a recent blast out of a couple of mines, however he already had that collection sold and was waiting for the buyer to come pick them up…we were able to look and drool, but that was it…out of respect for the buyer and Miner Dave, that is all we did, look and admire. He had some nice phantom calcites and some other nice ones too, and the MAGS members purchased some from him while there. They then headed south to Eminence while Onyx and I headed home.

oHe and I were up by 5 am the next morning and on the road by 6:30 am, driving down to Eminence via Hwy 63 south of Rolla…the weather noticeably warmer that morning with a forecast high of 75 and sunny skies. We arrived about 8:30 with a meeting time set at 9 am once again, this time at the quarry parking lot, since it`s right off the highway just east of town. I had received word the week before that recent blast activity had occurred then, however I was unable to get down there to check it out.

As soon as everyone else arrived, we had a short safety meeting…I let those that didn`t bring their hard hats, know that they should stay away from the walls as there are some rocks way up high that do roll off the wall and fall….we then traveled down to the pile and spread out around it to look for goodies. The sun was out now in full force and the temps were beginning to rapidly warm up…within about five minutes, I spotted a couple of nestles chocolate brown poker chips and then a medium sized green poker chip cluster immediately after…I let out a loud ” Holie Cow ” and everyone came running to see what I was finding. I had brought samples of what could be found there, just in case they didn`t have good luck finding anything, but if what I was seeing in a short time was any indication of what we were gonna find, it was obvious those samples they selected earlier in the parking lot, were just gonna be some nice extras for their collections. Be advised, from this point on, things happened very fast and I had no time to take any photos, I left that up to the rest of the members there, as I was busy finding nice crystals, making more loud ” Holie Cow ” calls and then tossing them down to various members to take home with them….one was a nice small plate of chocolate dogtooth crystals with a golden colored stream through them…I handed that plate to Anne and told her she could only take it home if she wrapped it up before putting it in her bucket. The last I checked, she heeded my advice and put them in her vehicle. 🙂

Mike, one of the members, and I climbed up on the pile and soon started spotting some more nice crystals, and clusters, alot of calcite druse plates and even a few vugs in boulders full of crystals and druse. Pretty soon I had to go back down and retrieve my bucket as well as a couple of bottles of water, as the sun was really starting to warm things up. The others spread out around the pile and began looking for, and finding goodies, others looked along the walls for pockets and fall down material. Everyone was having good success finding nice ones to take home. Pretty soon Onyx and I were the only ones up on top of the pile and I was finding stuff laying everywhere, much of it in great shape, all things  considered. Everyone else was looking for shade…I just removed my sweatshirt and then long sleeved shirt and kept drinking my water, and finding more nice stuff. I left some nice stuff in the pile in case some friends of mine from North Carolina, who were traveling to Missouri in the next week, might want to visit the quarry and find some nice ones to take home. Since the MAGS members had about a five hour drive home, they left about 1 pm…Onyx and I headed for home about 2:30 pm with a couple of buckets of nice goodies and a couple of yard rocks. I`ll post some photos of my crystals as soon as I get them all cleaned up. All in all, another enjoyable MAGS visit for sure. 🙂

SSQ During October

During October, I had a few nice visits at the SS Quarry, one visit producing a few unique combos from pockets….

….one producing some nice sunbeam photos….

…and then after some surface collecting in the quarry, I decided to stop on top on the way out and check for druse quartz…and discovered some nice plates of bubbley smokey quartz druse plates up there…

…I grabbed up several nice ones and then washed them off when I returned home, so I returned to the SSQ the next day and picked up several more…

BEAUTIFUL STUFF !! 

Abigail Comes to Visit

I received word that drilling activity was happening during the last week of July and that blasting could take place by the end of that week, and after letting all my nearby rockhound friends know, I started hearing from those that were interested in going…namely Chuck Reed, Nathaniel Reid, and even Abigail Evans from Nashville. Abbi believed she was healed up enough from her serious back injury that occurred back in December, and decided to drive up on Saturday morning, July 28th to visit and go rockhunting with us. Chuck and Nathaniel could not go on Saturday, so we decided to meet at Eminence on Sunday morning early…and I took Abbi to the Secret Spot Quarry on Saturday morning. She and I had a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then headed out to the quarry…by the time we headed that way, she wasn`t feeling very well, possibly due to eating food not approved for her diet. I told her just take it easy and if she needed to leave for a bathroom break, that would be fine.

We arrived about 2 pm and once out of my truck and looking across the water hole at the wall, I noticed even more rock pulled out from the base of the wall since the week before. I also noticed what appeared to be several openings in the wall near the base of it, and all along the length of it…

 

….what appeared to be several pockets including one potentially large one in the middle of the wall at the base…seen above in the lower left hand corner…below in the middle of the wall…. just staring back at me….

….and I began to get excited about what type of day it was going to be. I had my boots on and all I had to get was my apron on as well as grab my mini mattox, wraps and bucket and start that direction…I took the right side along the edge of the water, and as I neared the area of the wall where I found a nice pocket a few weeks before, I nearly stepped on this cluster….

…let me rephrase that…this beautiful cluster…and since I am in the habit of looking around when I find something this nice in amongst a lot of ugly rock, I did exactly that, made a 360 degree turn and look movement and immediately spotted two more large clusters like this as well as multiple single crystals and some twins and triples too…EUREKA !!!!  I looked around for Abbi and spotted her heading my way but slowly and surely, but once there, she didn`t stay long, as her stomach was not doing well so she headed for the nearest bathroom spot. She left me her bucket and I began to fill it with many crystals just in case. I looked up on the wall above the area of crystal filled debris and spotted what looked like a potential pocket to me…top of the next photo where the hole in the all is located…sure looked like a pocket to me…and crystals outside it and just below it really just cemented the idea for me…

…in fact, there were crystals dangling along the rock wall all the way down to the debris pile below, that I was standing in the middle of….you can be sure I was very careful where I stepped and how little I moved around then….I stepped back to the edge of the water figuring it would be safer there, but then looked down and spotted several small clusters in the water, pulling them free and placing them in our buckets for safekeeping. here is the first video I shot as well, click on the DSC_0033 and then click on the link that pops up starting with http://www.jwjrocks.com/ and ends with DSC_0033 and then a Windows Media Viewer Window should pop up…

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I also dug down into the debris pile and rescued several small clusters and combos for about 20 minutes, then began to work my way up the pile and along the wall to the base of the potential pocket….

…notice the druse on the left side in and around those big rocks on the left side ?  make note of that and in a few minutes, those will be come clear to you as well as it was to me….I climbed up on that debris pile after setting a few pieces of the dolomite up there to stabilize my footing, and then began to dissect the opening of the pocket…

As soon as I opened up the entrance to the pocket, after picking up all those loose crystals at the base of the opening, I knew I was going to have my hands full. There were gorgeous poker chips attached to beautiful bubbley gray druse that was in turn, attached to the walls and ceiling of the pocket….

…and then there is that pile of loose crystals inside the pocket along the floor of it…I knew I would have to carefully pick thru that to fully collect this pocket the correct way…time consuming, but it`s a good thing I did it that way, as there were several small dogtooths in amongst that pile of crystals and pieces of the roof plates that apparently came down during the blasting. Here is the second video I shot soon after this….

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BTW, here are the two entrance rocks that were guarding the pocket opening, note the gray bubbles of druse that match up with the druse you saw a few photos back….

…it was a while before Abbi returned from her bathroom break and when she did, she stayed close to her suv and wandered along the edges of the piles surface collecting only.

…and she photographed me and Onyx a few times as well….

I remained and collected the pocket and continued to wrap and put some in her bucket as well as mine…here is another look inside the pocket…you can see I had sorted thru and cleaned out the initial pile of crystals at the front of the pocket interior, now I was back to a second pile and once I sorted through it, I was barely able to reach the third pile at the very back of the pocket…down to my fingertips on the reach, so I decided to take a break, go back to my truck for another bucket and more wraps, some gatorade, and get my handrake which would give me an extra foot of reach….

and another video showing this as well….

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Soon after I had my bucket filled and so I took it back to my truck, and took a photo of the pocket from there…Abbi`s bucket remaining below the pocket….

This large crystal in the image below, was nearly at the very back of the pocket, I wrapped it up after pulling it out with the aid of my hand rake, and put it in Abbi`s bucket…I have so many large crystals like this, I figured she would prob love to have it for her collection….

It took me another hour to reach the back of the pocket and pull out the remaining loose crystals that were inside, using the hand rake to reach and pull many of them out…there was one huge cluster of bright yellow poker chips attached to a big and heavy plate of large bubble of pretty gray druse, here it is all cleaned up…

…and this next small plate with dogtooths attached at both ends of it, came out of the second pile of loose crystals inside the pocket….

many of the dogtooths found in the pocket as well….

here is a flat of the combos I pulled out of the pocket when I was sorting thru the second pile inside the pocket….many attached to that bright gray sparkley druse….

 

…and several others attached to a yellow druse….

….here is the pocket emptied out…it only took me a few hours to clean it out….

Abbi wandered over about the time I finished cleaning out the pocket to see what was inside her bucket…I photographed her from the truck as I was putting some yard rocks in the bed of my truck….

we got out of there shortly after, and headed back to town…after checking into the hotel, she decided to drive over to CB and get a light salad for her supper. I headed home to clean up and then went to our Mexican Restaurant for a late supper, and then bed…we were going to be getting up early to drive to Eminence and would need all the rest we could get…I could only hope she did the same. Here are some of her beautiful photos from that day….

Great Job Shooting Abbi !!

The next morning, after I got up and was nearly ready to go, I looked out front and saw Abbi parked in front of my house, dome light on and she appeared ready to go as well. I got my truck packed, Onyx inside and away we went toward Eminence, stopping only for gas at the Phillips. We made good time getting down there, stopping off at the deli at the Sinclair Station before driving on over to the quarry, and arriving just ahead of Nathaniel and Chuck, they were 10 to 15 minutes behind us. As we pulled in, I parked to the right of the new blast pile on the east side of the quarry….

We all spread out and began searching the pile for pretty crystals…Chuck and Nathaniel wandered over to the west side of the pile, which stopped on top of the little hill behind the main rock crusher…he found some huge boulders over there full of green and brown poker chip vugs and was able to harvest some for his collection. Nathaniel worked his way over to and down the wall to the west side of the coved area, where he found a new dogtooth pocket, he came and borrowed my ladder so he could get to it more safely. I found a nice vug half way up the pile on the east side near the wall with a nice set of black dogtooths inside, called it to Abbi`s attention but after awhile she did not think she could get up there to it, so I let Nathaniel know and he never came back to even look at it. I should have just taken it out, but I wanted to go up to the second level on the west side and see if there were any new pockets up there instead. On my way up there, I found Chuck over by the big boulder pile working on extracting some large brown dogtooth calcite crystals attached to the side of a large boulder….

Nathaniel discovered the boulder and dogtooths attached, pointed it out to Chuck, who wasted no time in trying to remove some, while talking to Abbi about rockhunting….here is Nathaniel showing me a couple of small ones that he was able to remove from a vug in that same boulder…

…and here is the pocket of calcites Chuck is working on up close…

…and one of the vugs on the left side of the boulder, that Chuck said eventually tied in with the pocket he was working on…

Chuck sharing a dogtooth cluster with Abbi above….and then he hammered on….

…while Abbi admired the cluster…

When I got up to the next level, Nathaniel was up there looking for pockets already…he wasn`t having much luck tho, he said…most were up higher, so I asked Chuck to bring my ladder up when he could and we looked higher along the wall, finding mostly shallow pockets up there…

..he did manage tho, to find some very pretty druse pieces….

I went further down the wall from him and found a few small pockets like this one…

We took off soon after, Chuck and Nathaniel headed back to St Louis area, while Abbi and I drove back to the Secret Spot Quarry for another round up there…here is what the west side of the Eminence Quarry looks like now all cleaned up…here is a video of that pocket I found up there too…

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and here is a video of Chuck hammering that boulder pocket and talking to Abbi at the same time…he was multi-tasking…

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check out those big green eyes Chuck has in the video….:)

Abbi and I started taking a look at the pockets along the base of the far wall on the other side of the big water hole, I told her to check out the bigger pocket that I had worked at the end of the day before, and take home some of those big bubbly druse clusters that resembled the grape agate clusters you see for sale from Indonesia…the gray in the pocket resembled the purple color of the grape agate…so she was checking out that pocket and I was working the pocket where the yellow rain jacket is sitting to her right…it was raining when we arrived so we wore our rain gear for maybe ten minutes, then it became so humid we had to take it off…I left my camera in the truck due to the rain…

…so you can`t see all five of the dogtooth pockets I found to the right of her….and here is a video that I shot a few min later….

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We left about an hour later, stopped off at Missouri Hick for some great BBQ, Abbi felt here stomach had returned to normal by then and then we hit the hay, completely drained of all energy by the time we got back to town. Abbi headed for her home in Nashville the next morning after a good night of rest…she decided she was going to check into the KETO diet that I have been on and lost 30 lbs from in the past year, it`s alot easier to maintain and go by. Good luck Abbi, think you will love the results as much as I did and do !!

Secret Spot Quarry on my Birthday

My birthday is July 22nd and for the past fifteen years I have always taken my birthday off from work if scheduled and gone rockhunting somewhere…when it falls on a weekend, I always go to one of the quarries, this year it was the Secret Spot Quarry that I decided to go to.  I let all my close rockhound friends know and Al was the only one that could go with me…I took it easy on him and we didn`t leave til around 6 am…we worked several pockets around the walls while Onxy did a lot of swimming in the water holes….

and we noticed the pile nearly removed from this section of the wall, so we worked our way carefully over to that section…as we did, we noticed that someone had been really nice to leave a large beach ball sized poker chip cluster laying next to the edge of the pile…I picked it up later and gave it to Al to take home as his very first yard rock. here it is….

After a few hours of searching and combing thru several pockets, we split up…Al stayed on one side of the pile when he found a large area of pretty white druse plates, he took several home with him…meanwhile I was on the other side and found a nice dogtooth pocket in the wall, and began pulling some clusters big and small out of the pocket. Al came over to assist me, bringing me some extra wraps and buckets, I let him know as soon as I had them cleaned up, I would let him pick some out to take home if he wanted. Here are a few of them all cleaned up with Iron Out a few days later…..

…and the one on the bottom in the image above, looked quite nice all by itself in the image below….

….and here is one of three larger clusters soaking in the Iron Out, has two large calcite crystals on it….

…I cleaned it up along with several pieces of wavellite that I collected back in March, while I had the Iron Out working for me…back to the quarry tho…we got out of there shortly after the dogtooth pocket as the heat was coming on strong..on the way back, despite his need to return home by 5:30 pm…he decided to stop off at Missouri Hick in Cuba and buy me a late lunch for my birthday…thanks again Al !!

New Rockhound Friends in July

Wow July was a busy month for me and really this whole year has been at times…I no sooner started my new job at the golf course and almost immediately found out I had three bosses that liked rocks…Nate who is one of my supervisors and has never been on a field trip yet, really likes them so I helped him get his collection built up a bit more since I started…Shawn, my Manager, really liked the looks of the orange dogtooths that I gave to Nate and then told me that his seven year old daughter, Miss Abby, really likes rocks and possibly fossils too…and then Dave, my Superintendent, came to me one day and started talking about geodes after I gave Nate a geode or two, and told me that he had driven past the old rock and mineral museum up by Keokuk several years ago on Hwy 61…I had to think about that one for a day, then figured out he was talking about the octagonal shaped building that Tim Scheffler`s parents had built as a rock and mineral shop, that Modot seized through eminent domain through the courts and pissed every rockhound in the country off by their shameful way of handling the situation just so they could expand Hwy 61 from a two lane to a four lane highway…I say shameful because of the way they treated Tim`s family over that situation…they could have easily gone around that beautiful rock shop and left it standing for the many generations of rockhounds that followed, to enjoy for years to come. When I asked Dave the next morning, he said yes, that was what he was thinking of, and then I gave him a geode from the Keokuk area that I had found at last year`s Geodefest, with some extra minerals inside it.

I think it was June when I found out that the seven year old son named Logan, whose Mom is one of my favorite Cracker Barrel employees, was interested in rocks, so I took his Mom Heather, a flat of druse quartz, poker chips, and some other pretties so she could give it to Logan…I did that for Miss Abby and Nate as well.

Last month in July, I found out from a local firefighter friend, that another seven year old daughter, whose Dad is a local Firefighter Captain friend of mine, was now collecting rocks and minerals, so I took him a flat of crystals to give to her and told him anytime they wanted to go rockhunting with me locally, to give me a shout. A few days later, another firefighter friend contacted me on FB and asked where he could take his new girlfriend rockhunting because she was big time into it, so I gave him some info as well.

On the 2nd of July, I received an email from a guy named Al, who lives just north of the golf course I work at, and asked if he could go rockhunting with me, after reading my blogsite about my trips and travels…I let Al know that my friend Chuck and I were going to the quarry at Eminence on Sunday, July 8th and asked if he would like to go with me and Onyx, warned him that we would be leaving quite early and he accepted the offer. That brings me to this next trip to Eminence…Al arrived at my house by 3:45 am and we transferred his digging stuff to the bed of my truck and took off by 4 am to Rolla and then south on Hwy 63…we saw a bit of wildlife on the way down, which I always take as a good sign of things to find. We arrived around 6:30 am….

…..and Chuck arrived an hour after us, I had Al working on a pocket with some poker chip calcites inside by that time…

…working the wall now exposed at the ground level after much of the last blast pile had been cleaned up and away…..

…when I walked over there, I discovered a beautiful mosaic pattern in the dried clay mud in front of Al`s position along the wall, so I took a few photos of it, never having noticed anything like that there before….

…he was hard at it, trying to get those poker chips out of the pocket too…

….while I was checking on Al, Chuck climbed on up to the second level to look for pockets up there, as soon as I let Al know to come on up and join us up above when he was finished to his satisfaction with the pocket he was working on, I went up and found Chuck working a pocket up there already….

…we both worked on several pockets and searched through a pile of crystals left below that ledge where someone had left a bunch of them behind…soon Al came up and joined us as well…when Chuck climbed up on this ledge above to work a bigger pocket, I walked behind and past him to the left and opened up another pocket in the vuggy rock wall…at first I was pulling out some beautiful druse plates, then they had poker chips attached to them, and then they immediately graduated to dogtooths attached and some were curvy plates and some were clusters…Al came over, sat down and started helping me with the pocket..I would hand one to him and he would wrap it and put it in his bucket, then the next one he would hand to Chuck, and anything I wanted I would put in my bucket next to me…we worked that pocket alone for at least an hour that way…it was chock full of beautiful crystals and druse….Chuck took these next few photos of me and Al working the pocket I found, when he returned for some water, gatorade for me, and some buckets and wraps….

…you can see the dark colored poker chips inside the pocket that I am trying to free up and pull out…the opening in the center of the pocket goes around a huge brown poker chip crystal that was probably two or three crystals blended together into one huge crystal of calcite, and that opening quickly turned to the right and went up, behind that huge crystal, so I was trying to enlarge that opening to get my hand in there easier…there was also an opening to the right of the hammer that went up as well…here is the center opening closer up….

I`m going to try and post a video here of our trip, to view it, simply click on the DSC_0357 and then click on the link that starts out with http://www.jwjrocks.com/ and ends with /DSC_0357.wmv, then the video will pop up, or should, in a windows media player box and begin playing automatically for you. 

 

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I wore out shortly after that and Chuck came down and chipped that big crystal out for us, here is the video on that, we had to take it out in pieces due to it`s size and placement in that pocket…

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we headed north and back home shortly after removing that big crystal, with about three bags full each from that one pocket. all three of us very happy with our finds for the day….I think this trip made Al`s day quite well, too, for his first field trip outing as a rockhound. 🙂

 

My Mineral Rock Gardens

I often get asked about my rock gardens, what I have in them and how big they get…last fall I planted several small beds of tulips and other spring flowering bulbs in all of my rock gardens and this spring I moved rocks around by type and location where found…and photographed the results when the spring flowers started blooming. This first image shows the rock garden on the west side of my shed, containing purple fluorites from western Kentucky, some of my wavellite from southern Arkansas, and many geodes from central Kentucky and the Keokuk area as well as a few quartz clusters from southern Arkansas mines…

…and as you can see, it mainly contains yard rocks…and some lillies at the top and on the west side as well….where my propane tank sits, I have Eminence yard rocks and some hybrid tulips….

the garden on the east side of the shed contains more flowers but starts near the shed door with a bed of lillies surrounded by a variety of beautiful crystals….

and on the far side of that garden is another bed of lillies surrounded by quartz clusters….

and just a little ways away in the curve of that garden is a nook of geodes….

…and more hybrids in yet another garden….

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of what my rockgardens look like. 🙂

MAGS & CAGMAGS Visit Missouri end of March for Druse 2018

During the MAGS Christmas Party in Memphis, my first one to attend in December 2017, W.C. asked me if I could take the members of MAGS rockhunting at the druse location near Viburnum again, and to the quarry at Eminence as well…they were kicking around a few dates and he said he would let me know what dates they decided on. I heard from him again the end of February and they had decided on the last weekend in March, I let him know I hoped to have another job lined up by then but would see what I could do about that weekend. As it turned out, I did have a new job by then, but was off weekends til sometime in April, prob due to the weird weather this spring…weirdest weather I can remember in sometime, including cold and damp weather, as well as late snowfalls…def not your typical springtime. I think the flowers and trees had a harder time adjusting than we humans did.

It was decided that Onyx and I would meet the members at the Viburnum High School on Saturday morning, March 24th about 8 am and then lead them to the Druse location. Onxy and I got up about 6 am and were on the road to Viburnum by 6:45…and pulled into the High School Parking lot an hour later…finding several members there already and more enroute from the Viburnum Hotel across the street where they spent the night. The Club had received word a week or two out that the hotel they normally stayed at in Park Hills, had sold earlier this year and ” had gone to the dogs “, not suitable to stay at any longer…too bad because the predecessor had run a very nice hotel with a great restaurant attached. I am sure that will be a loss to the communities nearby for many years to come.  Soon after arriving at the parking lot, I had a pleasant surprise to find my good rockhunting friend David Bruce, from northern Georgia, in attendance…long drive for him but he often goes with me to other locations I hunt at as well, like southern Arkansas and central Kentucky…he is a hard rock miner and dedicated to his hobby. 

After everyone assembled in the parking lot, we soon headed to the newer druse location…not far away but we had to travel a few miles by road to get there…and I had to go the long way with the group because some were driving low clearance cars and suv`s…we arrived about ten minutes later and parked on the side of the road…

….and I explained to them where they could find some pretty druse in all sizes from miniature pieces suitable for making wire wrap jewelry to yard rock size pieces. Everyone spread out and began to look…we had cloudy skies which make finding druse at any  location tough at best, but within the hour the sun was trying to peek thru and helped us out a bit better. I walked down to the bottom of the hill and found some larger and nice yard rocks, and pointed that out to some of the folks there, and soon more folks were also wandering down the hill to check it out. 

…while on the other side of the entrance road, I had let David Bruce and Arkansas David know about some marcasite and chalcopyrite dumped in special places, so they wandered over to that side first to look around…..

…we stayed up there the better part of a couple of hours, folks were finding some nice drusies and a few poker chip clusters as well…afterward we drove on down to the quarry, formerly known as the Secret Spot Quarry, and found a few wall pockets there that were full of nice calcite crystals. By mid afternoon, everyone was ready for a change, so we headed south to visit a friend of mine, at the request of MAGS members. We have visited with him a few times before, he is a mineral dealer of Viburnum Trend specimens and not only has great crystals and minerals for sale, but great prices and shares his knowledge on the minerals too…we arrived there about an hour later and everyone had a great time visiting with him once again. We had some new members along that not only made a new friend with connections, but purchased some nice crystals and minerals for their collections. Some of the group headed to Eminence from there, spending the night there so they could sleep in, while some headed back to Viburnum for the night.

The next morning, Onyx and I met them at the quarry in Eminence about 8 am again, after driving over to get a sandwich at the Sinclair Station`s deli shop…they make great sandwiches there let me tell ya…and I picked up a couple of bottles of water for Onyx as well. The folks that stayed at Eminence were there when we pulled in, but the crew that stayed the night at Viburnum were running a little later, so we drove on down into the quarry and I showed everyone where the most recent activity had been taking place and the more highly mineralized areas were located. 

…and everyone spread out to look for goodies….some heading to the coved area right away…one of my favorite areas to look for pockets of dogtooth calcite crystals….

…and one member finding a pocket that I had described as chock full of goodies the week before when I was there..looks like he had the same fun I did in pulling them out of the pocket….real back twister there….

…and while everyone was down at ground level, the two David`s and I headed up the western ramp to the newer activity work area…where I had found some pockets full of green poker chip calcite crystals, singles and clusters…you have to be very careful with the green colored calcites, as they damage more easily than other colors, tend to shatter even when trying to remove them from vugs and pockets. I was able to borrow a ladder which gave us a little better access to some pockets on the wall not very high up….after working this pocket, I let David Bruce work it for a while….

…and he did well too….we were a bit bundled up as it was about 40 degrees that morning when we arrived and maybe warmed up to 45 when we started working the wall pockets…this one in particular, went back to the left and then straight up and then to the right…making it difficult to get your arm into, specially if you had a couple of sweatshirts on like David did…Arkansas David got up there next and worked it and found out just how difficult it was to get the crystals out…there were several still in there if you could just get your arm in there enough to enable you to reach them…and then pull them back out…..

…we managed to pull some nice ones out, single crystals and small clusters both…and while we were up there, Jim Butchko wandered up to see what we were finding and looked down the wall from us to see if he could locate some pockets too….

…about an hour later, the Memphis and Arkansas crew decided to head for home…they had a five hour drive in front of them…and even tho David Bruce had a nine hour drive home, he decided to drive over to check out the old wall where we first started digging and hunting about ten years ago….

….he and I found some nice beauties in the old wall where the material was loose enough to dig into…I was glad to see him pull some nice clusters out for all the effort we put into that side. Here is one of the beauties I found in the old wall too….

…and a cluster I found shortly after….

David pulled about six clusters out of the muck there, similar to this one in size…and then left for home shortly after…sure was a good productive weekend for us all. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Tyler Texas Gem and Mineral Club in Missouri Late July

The first morning of my vacation in early July, I was standing on the front porch of a landowner`s bed and breakfast near Bismarck, Arkansas, talking to him and Andrew Stauber, new rockhunting friend from Conway, about an old lead and copper mine located on the property. The landowner was showing us photos of the old mine back in its heyday and telling us what could be found there, when my cellphone rang. Not expecting a call that morning, I answered it and found WC Mc Daniels on the other end, the club President for MAGS…the Memphis Club I am a member of…and he wondered if I might be available to take the Gem and Mineral Club from Tyler, Texas, out rockhunting, as they were going to be up in Missouri later in July. I told him what weekends I had free in the few weeks ahead and then he asked where I was right then, and I told him I was checking out an old mine near Hot Springs, something I am sure he is used to hearing me say these days. He said he would put the Tyler bunch in touch with me next week and let me go to check out the old mine there a bit more. We actually decided against walking up the hill to check it out that day, due to the weather being very suitable for copperheads and water moccasins, both of which the landowner said were very prevalent near the old mine lately..me being allergic to both, we decided to bypass this exploration til the fall time when it would be cooler and more likely not to see any of them.

A week later, I received a call from Fred Mahaffey, the Field Trip Director for the Tyler Mineral Club and worked it out that his group could come up the weekend of my birthday to go rockhunting with me. The following weekend they were going to be on the other side of the state at Lincoln, to dig for Missouri`s state gemstone, Mozarkite, however I had to work that weekend, so they decided to come up a week before and stay over. On Saturday morning, the 23rd, I was already committed to something else, so I agreed to meet them at the Caseys Store in Cuba at 3:30 pm…Onyx and I arrived to find them compacted into two pickup trucks, and after introductions, we headed south to the druse spot in the Viburnum area. It was extremely hot out there, and I had already been outside much of the morning, but had kept hydrated and was hoping the heat would relent a bit or provide us with a bit of a breeze, so we could do some decent hunting out there. Alas, that did not happen, and while there was drusy everywhere to be found, and they found plenty of it, we only lasted about ninety minutes in the heat. I had taken them an assortment of crystals from Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky, from my travels, and let them go thru them and pick out whatever they wanted to keep. The rest of the material was placed in the truck of one of the members to take back to the rest of their members. Everyone headed back to their motels and campgrounds, some were staying in Rolla motels and some were staying at a campground near Steelville…we decided to meet at 6 am the next morning at Rolla for the Eminence Quarry trip.

Onyx and I got up early Sunday morning and drove up to Rolla, arriving at the JC Penney parking lot at four minutes to 6 am…and found the Texas rockhounds waiting for us and raring to go hunt on a much cooler morning. I had brought them some more material, in case we didnt find anything at the quarry this morning, which sometimes can happen, and I also brought them a nice quartz cluster from my favorite mine in the Mt Ida area, for their club collection as well. We headed south, stopping off at Licking for a bathroom break and then continued south to Eminence, finding the Jacks Fork Valley completely socked in with heavy fog as we dropped down the hill into the Alley Spring holler and crossed over the Jacks Fork River. I figured we would find fog at the quarry as well, but was pleasantly surprised to only find a cool shade waiting for us there…..

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I told them as long as the shade stayed with us, we would be much cooler, but when the shade disappeared, we would need to as well, cause that sun would be unbearably hot by then…everyone spread out and started looking for poker chip crystals…a few of us walked down to the western side to check the recent blast area but found very little…and then we wandered back to the walls inside the shaded coved area…

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Kenny, the guy in the blue shirt and hard hat above, and I, walked over to the east wall of the coved area and I showed him some of the pockets that I had worked there two weeks before…Fred wandered over and looked them over as well. I told them how you can look into older pockets along the wall and sometimes other openings and pockets will open up in the walls behind them, hiding even more pretty crystals and sometimes some neat looking dolomite and calcite druse plates and pieces too. We started working the area I had been in two weeks before….

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…while some of the gals were working the berm piles looking for crystals…which a lot of folks take for granted, but a few months before when MAGS was there, we were finding dogtooth crystals all over the place including those berm piles…..

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..Kenny and I worked a few pockets there and did a little clean up along there as well, then when we finished, Fred came over and started working some pockets up higher as well….

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…and here are a few photos of what Fred was able to extricate from the walls there….

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…while Fred was working his pockets, the rest of us were taking it easy and cooling down with water and snacks…I took a few minutes to look over the flat of Texas agates and black palmwood that they brought me from Texas….

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…and a few minutes later, when the shade left us, we left as well, headed north to see my buddy Dave, to show them what Viburnum Trend minerals look like, including the fab double terminated green and yellow calcite crystals encased in pyrite that have been coming out of the Fletcher Mine lately…they were very taken with the minerals and crystals he had on hand and purchased several from him. On the way up there, I had a buzzard take off in flight from the road right in front of me as I crested a hill…feathers flew and there was a pretty hard thump, and he spiraled up and over my truck and to the grassy shoulder on the far side of the road…I stopped a few miles down the road to check my grill, thinking I might have a damaged headlight…but to my surprise, I had no damage to the headlight or the grill. From Daves house, they headed back to their motel rooms and campers, and Onyx and I headed home…took a nap, and then I drove back up to Cuba to MO Hick to meet them for supper there. I invited them all down to my house the next morning to look at my collection and they decided to come down about mid morning. Like everyone else, they thought my house looked like a museum and really enjoyed my rock gardens. They were going to stick around a few days and then drive over to Lincoln to look for Mozarkite.

I heard from Fred a few days ago, seems they had very good luck at Lincoln, their guide there had just dug out an electric line underground to his house, and they were able to find some nice stuff in that ground cut. He also asked if they could join me on my vacation trip to the Hot Springs area in November, they are interested in getting some nice quality quartz crystals and novaculite for cutting material…so I am sure I will see some of them down there then. 🙂

If anyone else is interested, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com 

 

Life After Arkansas

Took all of two weeks after my return from Arkansas before I was driving down to Eminence once again, this time it was just Onyx and I making the trip. We arrived about 10 am and discovered one large blast pile right in the middle of the quarry, and two smaller piles remaining from prior blasts, one to the right and one over to the left in the coved wall area. This one was spread out extensively and covered the back road going around the crusher to the coved wall. It was huge and I photographed it from right to left in four photos….

01 On Arrival New Blast Pile in Middle02 On Arrival New Blast Pile in Middle03 New Blast Pile Cuts Off Back Road04 Piles All The Way Over to Dumpster

Onyx and I got out and stretched our legs a bit and then as I was getting ready to hunt, he got in a couple of wind sprints and then returned to walk up the right side of the new pile with me…within fifty feet I started finding crystals and clusters laying all over the place….I was finding so many initially that I decided to drive my truck over to that side as well…

05 New Blast Pile in Middle

…and took this photo looking back at the front side of the pile and how scattered the rocks were toward the entrance….

06 New Blast Pile Fringes

…within a few minutes, I had two bags full of loose crystals and small clusters, many appeared to have a white sugar frosting poured all over them…and I started finding several yard rocks toward the middle of the pile as well…some I carried over to the far side and stacked them up on the edge of the pile so I could simply drive over and pick them up later. I didn`t take my camera up there with me, and just got them cleaned up this weekend so will snap some photos of them once the soggy rains stop in the next day or two and post them on here. I can safely tell you that I was afraid I wasn`t going to have enough room in the bed of my truck nor enough wrapping cloths to protect them either. As it was tho, I had just enough room in the truck, utilizing the front and back floorboards for many of the yard rocks. Afterwards, I drove over to the coved wall area….

08 Coved Wall Remains of Blast PIle

…where there was a small pile remaining…very steep tho, so wasn`t gonna be climbing it up the middle.  I was able to scramble up the sides tho and check the wall for pockets, and near the top discovered a few small pockets with some beautiful red colored calcite crystals that resembled hexagonal nuts rather than poker chip formations. There were also some pockets with the calcite that resembles cavelike formations, most of those I left there due to damage to them. 

09 Coved Wall Remains Up Close

…I filled another bag here, giving me a total of six bags, five at the new blast pile…and many yard rocks…by this time I was ready to leave and head home to get a nap in and grab some dinner. First I had to drive back over to the western side of the new pile to load up the crystals I stacked up on the edge….

10 Can Only Go So Far

I was a bit soaked from the light rain that had begun to fall shortly after we arrived, and Onyx had stayed in the truck when I got over the coved wall area…by the time we were leaving, he was nearly all dry once again.  I changed shirts and into my street shoes before leaving, planning to stop off and see a new miner friend on my return, not wanting to track mud into his house….he had some interesting pieces that I had not seen before, and I was able to pick up a few of them from him, one was a very small set of twin calcite crystals with malachite color at the base of the crystals. I`ll get a photo of it posted soon as well.

Thru the week, I received emails from Nathaniel and Chuck, both asking if I intended to drive down there again the next weekend…I had a couple of holidays to burn before the end of the year, so I took Sunday off to make the return trip. Nathaniel rode down with Onyx and I, while Chuck and his daughter Mackenzie, drove down the scenic route of Hwy 21 and 106 to arrive shortly after Nathaniel and I did. It was Mackenzie`s first time there and I think she was pretty impressed with the place. Nathaniel and I had only been there a short while before they pulled in, enough time for me to scout out some in floor pockets for her to check out, with some nice looking loose crystals and small clusters laying on the surface. She and Chuck started digging in when I pointed it out to them…while Nathaniel took off to check out the coved wall pile, which looked much the same as it did the weekend before when I was there. He climbed up the right side of the pile and was checking out wall pockets when I glanced over there about an hour later. For whatever reason, probably because I simply forgot, I did not take any photos at all that day, but I can tell you that we all did well…I only filled one bag with crystals that I found, but they were very nice crystals and plates from a few pockets that I discovered down the east wall…and after picking up a few plates, I called Chuck over and let him work the rest of the plates out of it. There were a lot of druse pockets along the wall as well and I pulled a few nice plates of those out as well as some druse pieces with poker chips attached to them….those always make beautiful sparkly plates to display…I have about four shelves of them at home…they glitter in the light like you would not believe, and are second to dogtooths in my book. By 1:30 pm, we were tired and happy, and headed up the road to see one of my miner friends to see some new material…both Nathaniel and Chuck wanted to get some nice Viburnum Trend minerals and we were able to do just that. I`ll get some of those posted soon as well. This weekend I took advantage of the beautiful unseasonably warm weather for December to move some rocks around in the backyard and made room for more. Today while it was raining outside, I high graded my crystals on the inside and made room for more that I have collected recently, including my Arkansas quartz crystals. 

if you have any questions or wanna say hi, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com