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. 🙂

Batesville Again and Mt Ida in Late March 2019

Two weeks after driving down to join MAGS members at the Batesville Quarry, Onyx and I got up early on Saturday morning, March 30th and drove down to Batesville once again, this time my group would be joining up with members of CAGMAGS  at the quarry, and since they were gracious enough to allow us to join them, I invited them to join us the next day at the quartz mines near Mt Ida. Onyx and I had another good trip down, this time I decided to drive down Hwy 63 to Hardy, Arkansas, where we then turned south on Hwy 412/167. Between Mammoth Springs and Hardy, I discovered that road crews had transformed several areas of Hwy 63 into a much straighter line and a few extra lanes here and there in each direction. They still have their work cut out for them between Ash Flat and Cave City along 167, especially around Evening Shade, but at least they seem to be addressing those areas more now, as 167 is now four lanes from Cave City to Bald Knob.

I had word from about fifteen in my group that they would meet us at the parking lot of the quarry around 8:30 am…Fred Mahaffey and two friends from East Texas, Julie Parkhans from Nashville, David Bruce from Northern Georgia, Chuck Reed from St Louis, Mary and Pete from Cincinnatti, David Hodge had the shortest trip from Heber Springs, Bill Gorham and his daughter from Toledo, Ryan & his Dad Michael Maher from Iowa, Justin Baird from Hot Springs, and Paul and PJ from Kalamazoo. Most were staying in Hot Springs hotels, while a few of us were staying at the remodeled Joplin Inn and Suites.

I stopped off at the Phillips 66 on the north side of Batesville, a couple of miles north of the turnoff to the quarry, they had a decent price on gasoline there, prices were at least a quarter a gallon higher than my trip two weeks prior, all the way down there and this station was about fifteen cents a gallon less than all the other higher prices. I figured I was getting about 23 miles to the gallon the way down there, which was pretty good for a four door pickup. We drove on over to the quarry and parked near the office, hadn`t been there very long before others began showing up…I passed an suv on the way up the drive that I didn`t recognize, turned out to be Fred and his crew from Texas. Chuck texted me to let me know he was about 30 to 45 min out, coming down Hwy 67 from Poplar Bluff and was going to make some connecting roads over to Hwy 167, he wound up arriving before some others did. Justin had texted me earlier as I was driving down 63 in Missouri to let me know he was leaving Hot Springs to drive up, his drive about two hours shorter than ours, and some spent the night before in Batesville at area hotels, which are only about a mile south of the quarry. Soon after much of the CAGMAGS crowd arrived, Bill Pryor, the Arkansas State Geologist, who was our guide once again, arrived and after signing the paperwork for the owner of the quarry, we all drove up to the scenic overlook of the quarry for our group safety talk….

 

 

Bill is in the second photo in the white hard hat talking…while Mike Lowe is the owner in the first photo in the red shirt and white hard hat. Mike explained the history of the quarry and went over the safety rules with explanations for each rule, letting us know they had a perfect safety record and would like to keep it that way. This is a quarry where rockhounds are required to wear hard hats, safety glasses, and steel toed boots at all times on the grounds of the quarry, and to exercise good common sense at all times. 

Bill explained the geology of the quarry and area, let us know that the area where calcites could be found was in a fault zone in the quarry and consisted of a small area in the quarry, which is huge and deep….first photo is the south wall to the left and looking west straight ahead in the view….

 

…and the next photo shows the north wall on the right side…

 

At the end of the safety talk, we all headed to our vehicles….

….and followed the Owner down to the bottom floor of the quarry and parked…the weather was overcast with rain threatening from the west, radar indicated it was on the way from the west and we might have a few hours of digging time before the skies opened up. The only problem with that, is that later this afternoon, a cold front would also sweep through with or after the rain and temps were expected to drop to the mid 30`s…as my buddy Jim Bartle likes to say often….LOVELY….just lovely !! 

So we wasted no time in walking over to the calcite fault zone….the tan colored dirt area on the other side of the pond….

….shown above, and this shows one just how small an area this fault zone actually is in relation to the rest of the size of the quarry…

 

and many began digging in to find crystals specifically in the tan colored dirt area, while many others found crystals that were again laying all over the sloped area. On this trip, with rain closing in on us, I didn`t take my camera over there with me. Within two hours, we had one shower after another coming down in waves, some of us had good rain gear and others did not. We had let Bill know that we preferred to stay down in the calcite fault zone as long as possible this trip, so he did just that…the last of us left there after three hours…we were on our way out when David showed me a nice one he had dug out of the gooey clay mud pocket wall…

…and on this trip, let me tell you, I saw at least half a dozen crystals come out of there the size of beach balls and larger…yes I said LARGER…one or two so large that David Bruce, who found them and was taking them home with him, was given permission by Bill to drive over there on the ledge road to pick them up, rather than attempt to carry them down that rocky slope without damaging them, because by then the rocks were slick with rainwater. They were also heavy enough that David had good help over there to load them into his truck. We stopped off at the top of the quarry walls to check the shelves around the crusher, where quarry employees had placed several calcites they found down below…I found a few nice small calcites up there to take home, there were some in many different sizes up there to select from.

Again much appreciation to the Owner Mike for allowing us to come to the quarry and collect there. 

Many had already headed south toward Hot Springs and soon Chuck, David Bruce, and I were headed that way as well…David dropped out at Hot Springs where he was staying, while Chuck and I drove on up the road to the Joplin area, our hotel across Hwy 270 from the entrance to Mountain Harbor Resort. Onyx and I stopped off at Burl`s Country Smokehouse on the way up Hwy 270 at Crystal Springs, to get a couple of smoked ham sandwiches, for lunch the next day, then drove on up and got checked in at the Joplin Inn and Suites…this was the former Colonial Inn, purchased a couple of years ago by Mountain Harbor Resort and remodeled to nice rooms with nice furniture, tiled walk in showers, new heating/ac units, and free wifi provided. There is also a suite and a house available for rent on site, they were remodeled as well. I never stayed there before the remodel, but can safely say that Mtn Harbor always furnish their cabins, condos, lodge rooms, cabanas, and suites very nicely at the Resort on the Lake. 

A little while later, Ryan and Michael Maher arrived as well. We got cleaned up and drove over to the Lodge Restaurant for supper, good food and great company, plus a nice scenic view out over the lake as well. Chuck and I had a great time talking to Ryan and Michael about our mutual friend John Oost, who had driven back out to New Mexico to take possession of inventory from an old rock shop out there.

We wanted to try and work in some time looking for wavellite this trip, however a week out, I learned that the wavellite location remained posted and patrolled by local law enforcement, so we decided to skip it until we can either return there legally or find another location for it. 

The next morning we had breakfast at the Lodge Restaurant, Chuck leaving his suv at the motel and rode with me and Onyx… and then we headed west on Hwy 270 to Mount Ida, to the Subway Store, which was the designated meeting place for my group and CAGMAGS members who were going quartz crystal hunting with us. They have a pretty good sized parking lot there and since Subway opens early, I figured if anyone needed a sandwich for lunch later, Subway was a good place to get one or more. Bill Gorham from Toledo, pulled in shortly after we arrived, with his daughter and came over to talk to us…he is a truck driver full time and you can tell from his emails and the way he talks in person, he loves to dig and collect crystals and minerals. After the CAGMAGS crew arrived, I let everyone know where we were going, to Tony`s Southfork Mine for the morning hours and then about 1 pm, we would drive an hour over to the Jessieville area, to Tony and Shane`s new mine, where we would be digging through the tailings there, as we did back in the fall. Going by the condition of the road last fall, I let those in two wheel drive vehicles, know that they likely would not be able to make it up to the top of the hill and would have to park near the 3 yr old mine halfway down the hill from the top. Once we arrived at the mine gate, finding it open meaning Tony was likely up at the mine waiting on us, I again let those in the two wheel drive vehicles know where to park and then those of us in four wheel drive vehicles, headed on up the hill. I was surprised to find the road was in much better shape this time around, not muddy for one thing, and fairly solid and smoother…the only problem we had was that no one stopped down below to park, they all just kept coming to the top, so instead of having anyone back down the hill, with assistance from Tony, we made do and parked folks where we could do so at the edge of the forest and along the road. I was able to get Paul and PJ up at the top of the hill by the new mine, as PJ needed all the help she could get, saving her strength for the entire day and two mine locations. PJ is recovering from cancer treatments, which as many of you know, can really take it out of you, sap you of all your strength as you work your way through all the treatments, and take many years to recover from…I say this not from personal experience of it myself, but from seeing my Mom go thru and recover from it, as well as many firefighter, dispatcher, police officer, photographer, and rockhound friends who have personally walked through it. I was pleasantly surprised when I received word from Paul letting me know that they would both be there this trip, deciding to fly down this time around to avoid the long drive from Michigan. I really didn`t expect them to return til later this year…to me this shows that not only are they both dedicated rockhounds, but it also shows alot of bravery on their part to venture out so soon after and live life to its fullest !! I didn`t get a chance to talk to them much this trip, but WELL DONE you two, hope you had a great time down there and hope to see you on the next trip. 🙂 Chuck grabbed his hammer and chisels and headed for the big boulder covered with crystals on top of the hill…I grabbed my bucket and tools, and headed up on top to the new dig area that Tony is currently working on…found Mary already down in that pit surface collecting and checking out the boulders down there…Michael found his way down there soon after and Mary pointed out crystals on one boulder that he decided to work over and see if he could liberate some from it….

In the meantime, I was working the walls behind the two of them, looking for crystal points and clusters, found a few, where they were sticking out from plain site and dug them out, luckily the dirt they were in was nice and soft to dig into….and soon both pockets of my apron were filled and I had to go looking for my bucket…here is what I was seeing in the dirt walls….

..and this next one was a real beauty !!  loved digging it out as soon as I photographed it too…

While wrapping these up and emptying out my apron, I looked up and spotted Ryan digging around not too far away and snapped a few photos of him…

…then I continued down the wall finding even more pretty single points partially exposed in the clay dirt….

…and this next one was in a vein of quartz, the crystal you see exposed turned out to be a nice medium sized cluster….

…as noon came and passed, we started getting ready to head out and over to Jessieville to the new mine…everyone had a quick lunch and started packing up a bit…

…that is Tony in his white Powerwagon on the right talking on his cell…get a great signal there at the top of the hill, even on my phone with Verizon….that`s John in the orange hard hat and jeans walking down out of the new digs center of the photo, he is with CAGMAGS…

…Michael asked me to take a photo of him and Ryan, as I was getting a bite of lunch for Onyx and I….

Once we got everyone turned around and headed down the hill, Chuck and I were able to back up and leave as well…last ones out…I had everyone pull off the road just past the gate so I could lead them over to the new mine. We made the trip over there without any problems and drove down to the end of the road to the location we had dug at back in November, finding that hole filled in and the tailings spread out in a huge area, so we spread out and began searching and digging, finding some nice crystals and small clusters there as well…many of the ones I found had a nice smokey tint to them…

…about an hour into the search, we started finding more nicer stuff at the back area of the tailings….

When we first arrived, Shane followed us to the old mine dig area and showed us some clusters he had dug up earlier in the morning down near the old smokey location, told us we were welcome to go down there and collect too if we wanted to. About two hours in, a few of us walked down there to that location and checked it out…

…thankfully, Chuck was able to take a few photos of me digging along with David Bruce and David Hodges down in the smokey pit area….

 

….we didn`t find much until we spread out to the erosion ditches, we then found a few small clusters and single points laying around waiting to be discovered…those went home with a few of us…when we got done and returned to the original area, we found that many had left, some headed home and some headed back to their hotels, leaving out the next day or two. The CAGMAGS crew had headed home and it was down to Ryan, Michael, Chuck, and I, so we headed back to the hotel to clean up and then had to resort to supper at Subway as it was the only food place still open at 7:30 pm…by that time of the day, none of us had a problem with a good sandwich and chips for supper. 🙂 

The next morning Chuck was the first one up and on the road about 6 am…Ryan and Michael asked me about a good rockshop to go to, so I recommended Bill and Faith`s Blue Moon Crystals Rockshop, about two miles east of the hotel on Hwy 270, so I checked with Bill Sunday evening and he said they would be expecting us about 9 am…after another good breakfast at the Harbor Lodge, we headed over there and found some great stuff for sale, as usual. After about an hour visit with Bill and Faith, Onyx and I headed for home, as did Ryan and Michael…their trip was much longer than mine, but they let me know later that night that they arrived safe and sound about dusk. All in all, another great trip with good friends, good food, and good hunting !!