Arkansas in July 2017

My vacation end of June could not arrive fast enough, once again, same feeling I had end of April when my spring vacation approached. My full time job is very stressful much of the time, but things beyond my control, have increased my stress this year over years past. I get another break in August, but it will be shorter, due to even more circumstances beyond my control, code for problems and events in the past few years that prevent some of us from taking additional time off from work. A year ago mid June, I lost my Dad to a massive heart attack, and this year, on the anniversary of that very day he collapsed in the yard, Mom began having problems that prompted a trip to the emergency room of our local MOBAP hospital. Luckily for us, Dr Draper was on duty that evening…he was the attending physician the evening that Dad collapsed and we really liked his bedside manner and attitude…too many times these days, you rarely find a good physician on duty, one you can understand and one that understands you, emergency rooms are often a training ground for new doctors. Last year we found out that Dr Draper is a keeper, with thirty five years of experience, we were delighted to find out that not only did MOBAP keep him on staff, they also promoted him to Chief of Staff in the ER here. Mom had shortness of breath and the evaluating nurse quickly whisked her inside to a room right away and began trying to get to the bottom of it. From the get go, Dr Draper figured it was either pneumonia or congestive heart failure and xrays eventually confirmed it was pneumonia after she was admitted later that evening to the intensive care unit of the hospital. She was hospitalized for a week and then released on the one year anniversary of the day we laid my Dad to rest, scarey timing for my sister and I for a few days there. Later it was determined that Mom had one of the bad pneumonia`s and told it would take at least four weeks before she could go outside, which was fine with her as she barely had the strength to walk up and down the hallway at home. She has had home health care nurses taking care of her daily and they released her today due to the progress she has made with her daily exercises and she can now go outside and attend to her flowers once again as well as go to church services and eat out once again.

I was able to take my vacation and go quartz crystal hunting in Arkansas once again after receiving her blessings, aided by good neighbors checking on her often and my sister staying in touch and visiting her often as well. Onyx and I took off by 7 am on Thursday the 29th and took the shorter route, south on Hwy 63 to Hwy 67 to 440 around Little Rock and then I-30 southwest to Hwy 70 west into Hot Springs. When I was down there in May, I learned that Arkansas highway crews were expanding 70 between Hot Springs and I-30 and had made much progress since we were there then. This time as we entered from the east end, it was obvious that traffic would soon be traveling on four lanes at least ten miles in toward Hot Springs before running into active construction work. Crews were building a few bridges in the middle of the construction area and that was slowing down the progress, but I am sure that by the time we return in November, it should be four lanes of traffic moving thru there. We had to come to a stop a few times thru there for large dumptrucks turning in and out of specific areas, giving me a chance to look at roadcuts looking for quartz veins…while I didn`t see anything in the shale cuts, after mentioning that to Robert Kuhn later on, he told me that is how quartz is often discovered in that area. By the time we arrived at the condo early afternoon Thursday….

      

….it was already getting very warm outside. I noticed this time, there were no bugs flying all around the doorway and the flowers were in bloom and quite pretty, including all the crepe myrtles at every condo building…

 

I quickly unpacked the truck and moved everything inside the condo, where I discovered soon after, that my laptop had bit the dust and would not even power up, so I made a trip to Walmart to get a new universal power cord for it, but even that didn`t work, so after a subsequent trip to Walmart to return the cord and replace the laptop with a tablet, I was back in business for email and internet browsing. I soon discovered tho, that I would not be able to load up any of my photos as this was more of a chrome book, not a true tablet. Needless to say, it was replaced as soon as I returned home.

Chuck and his family were set to come down and join me on Saturday evening, so I had contacted Tony to see if we could hunt and dig at his mine on Sunday and Monday, instead of our normal Friday and Saturday. I planned to visit friends and mineral dealers the first couple of days, starting with Johnny B  on Friday morning and then checking on Fisher Mtn Mine once again, which is under the control of Judy`s Crystal Shop these days. I ate a couple of bananas on the way down there and by 2 pm, I was good and hungry, so Onyx and I drove over to the south side of Lake Hamilton, to get some fried catfish and jumbo shrimp at Bubba`s trailer…he was a little busy when we arrived but the wait is always worth it, as well as the price.  I checked in with Mom by phone to let her know we made it down safe and sound and then went to Scoops to get a few quarts of home made ice cream for the next few days of dessert, then settled in to make some contacts and set up some visits for the next two days. That evening we enjoyed a nice sunset….

The next morning we were up early preparing to head up to Mt Ida to visit with Johnny, when I spotted radar indicating some strong storms quickly heading our way from Fort Smith, so as I started to let Johnny know by email about it, I noticed he had already emailed to let me know of the storm activity. I told him I really had no desire to be on the road between here and there in a bad storm, so we decided to postpone to Saturday morning instead. I decided to go over to Roberts house and visit for a short while, before the storms arrived…as Onyx and I headed to the truck, we noticed some fishing activity going on not far west of the condos….

Robert had cleaned up his property quite a bit since we were there in May..it was very weedy and grown up in brush in the area that he had several quartz clusters laying on the ground back then…but wow, what a difference this time around. He had done some extensive weed eating and brush removal, I could clearly see all the clusters this time around and he had separated damaged crystals that he gives away to a local charity, from the good stuff. Unfortunately, he had also discovered an unwanted visitor on his property…a thief no less, who came into the quartz areas and helped himself to some very nice select quality items, so he was trying to secure some of those areas to prevent it from happening again. I did not blame him a bit for being upset about it and made a few suggestions of locks and cords big and strong enough that they could not be cut open or compromised. I was glad that the thief did not get the small clusters that he had from Hogjaw Mtn Mine that I wanted to buy and told him I would return in a day or two to make my selections. Onyx and I drove down to Bubba`s to get some more food and then returned to the condo ahead of the approaching storms…

…boats were still out on the lake that morning, but were beginning to thin out and head for safety, as the drivers noticed the darkening skies…

…it took a couple of hours, but that storm finally rolled in and across the lake…not near as intense as the forecasters warned it would be…about the only thing I did accomplish that first day was a good visit with Robert and finding out the weather forecasters down there are the same as the ones in St Louis as far as sensationalizing the weather with very little truth to the matter. Often wish I had that type of job…be wrong 98 percent of the time and still keep my job, not to mention making two to three hundred thousand a year. We did manage to have a nice sunset that evening tho….

The next morning, after a good nights rest, Onyx and I drove up to visit with Johnny B, arriving about 8 am on his advice of getting there during the cool of the day. I have to admit it was a little cooler than the heat of the day, but the humidity sure did not make you think it was very cool that time of the morning. We found Johnny washing off some crystals he had been cleaning in Iron Out as well as muriatic acid…John uses small dumpsters as acid vats…

…and then he took me on a pallet by pallet tour of his property, including the pallets of huge crystal covered boulders in his front yard, which you see as you come down his driveway. 

This is the first pallet I spotted as I walked up his driveway to his dealer area tho…the color of the crystals is what caught my eye first, then the size of the crystals, and then the size of the boulders, the first two options far more important than the third one…

…now if that does not grab your attention, nothing will in my humble opinion…just beautiful quartz crystals there…and I am a big fan of the yellow and orange color staining on the crystals…it really makes them stand out and grab your attention !!  This by far, was not the only pallet of beautiful crystals that he had on hand that week, he was getting ready for a few mineral shows, one this weekend out in North Carolina and another one next week, so he was doing some major cleaning of crystals to take out there with him. I will show you the highlights of what I saw there…

the ones above were new, from Collier Creek Mine, and the two below from there as well, showed some interesting formations of crystals, kind of like clusters of flowers, on a sandstone druse…very pretty and he gave me a good price on them..wish now I had purchased at least one from him…

If you are interested in any of these, I can put you in touch with him, he is easy to deal with on pricing and he has some gorgeous stuff…he also has some that would require a small crane to lift and place in your truck bed, which he can accommodate you with as well.  He also had some clusters from Sweet Surrender Mine, if you are interested in what they look like when they come out of the ground…covered in a heavy coating of magnesium….

…they can be cleaned up and the magnesium removed if you have plenty of patience as John does, and plenty of acid as well….to look like this eventually….

…and here are some photos of what I purchased from John during my visit there…some green enhanced Dragon quartz from China….

…this HUGE flatsie as John referred to it…at least 22 inches across and 18 inches wide….

…and this unusually shaped cluster of crystals….

By noon, I was on my way back to the condo, stopping off in Mt Ida at the Phillips 66 station to fill my gas tank…both of the Phillips 66 stations have been bought out by Valero…then I stopped off at Judy`s Crystal Shop and briefly visited with Judy on the state of the lease she has for the Fisher Mtn Mine, in case we needed a place to hunt at on Tuesday. Judy was doing much better than the last time I saw her, when Ray Roth and I hunted there a few years back one afternoon…that was shortly after she suffered a stroke and was on crutches then…she looked much better and was now using a walker for long jaunts she said. Her husband Ray McGrew is back in the welding shop and still making the Gad-Pry bars, the ones with a point on one end, great for quartz crystal digging in the rock walls, and still does some major digging with his machines too.

After a nice chat with Judy, we headed on down to the condo to get ready for the fireworks display later that night. I wasn`t sure what time the parking lot would start filling up at the condo, so I didn`t take a chance and go grab some chow. Last year when we returned to the condo from digging all day, I had a hard time finding a parking spot mainly because of so many guests parking in the spots of renters, instead of up on the hill above where they were supposed to park at. This year, it didn`t get that bad. Soon after Chuck and his family arrived, I ordered a pizza and then set up my tripod and camera to get ready to shoot the fireworks display…in the meantime, it was boat city out on the lake behind the condo that afternoon…

…and I was surprised to see the US Coast Guard was on the lake as well as local law enforcement….

…and there was also another thunderstorm system headed our way, so I decided to stay put at the condo and see what happened…it looked as though it might even clip us and stay somewhat south of us once again, but over the course of the afternoon, more clouds began to build up and approach from the southwest…

…and there were so many boats out there going in multiple directions that even the ducks and geese were swimming over near my condo unit for protection….

…and by 6 pm, the Belle of Hot Springs started out across Lake Hamilton on their normal sunset tour….

…the clouds continued to stream in and build up, and boat traffic seemed to only increase as well….

…by about 6:30 pm, this huge dark cloud covered much of the lake and every boat operator out there headed for safety….this storm dropped a little rain and created some high winds briefly, causing a few tense seconds….Chuck arrived in the area and I texted to let him know of the storm blowing in…they rode it out inside Walmart shopping. Soon enough the storm just blew on over and continued to the east….

…and about an hour later, as the storm blew on by to the south, this boat and crew grabbed the first parking spot out on the lake, waiting for the display to start….

…and by 8:30 pm, even more boats were gathering on the lake behind the condo…keep in mind, this is on the west side of the Hwy 7/Central Ave bridge and there are just as many or more on the east side of the bridge, all filled with people, meaning there were several thousand folks in boats on the lake watching the show, not to mention folks like me on condo and hotel balconies, backyards and docks along the water of this huge lake, from one end to the other…mind boggling for sure….and once the show starts, the bridge over the lake becomes a parking lot….as it got darker, more and more boats took up position….

…and then several private fireworks shows started popping up all over the lake, on both sides, some even to the side of us….

…and the next thing you knew, it was pretty dark and we were just waiting on the release of the first burst….which began about ten minutes later…..

…I didn`t find out til the next day….but shortly after the fireworks display, there was a huge structure fire two miles west, where four rental homes burned to the ground, right on the lakeshore next to Airport Road and seven fire departments responded to the blaze. It started from a gas leak in a jeep ignited by a roman candle, the jeep under a carport attached to one of the homes, spreading to three other homes, at the Kleinshore Properties. Luckily there was no loss of life and kudos to the fire departments that fought the blaze, keeping it from spreading to the remainder of the homes there.

Early the next morning, Onyx and I met up with Chuck and his wife Lynn and daughter Mackenzie, and her friend Faith, who I had met at the Park Hills Show when she came down there with them,  at the Valero Station on Higdon Ferry Road and headed west as soon as I filled my cooler with some ice. We stopped off on the way to Mt Ida at Burls Country Smokehouse, located on Hwy 270 at Crystal Springs, to get some sandwiches for lunchtime, and got a sandwich for Tony as well, then headed west once again. We arrived around 8:45 am and met Tony at the lower mine entrance, paid him our dig fees and talked to him a bit about his new mine, then set about getting our digging clothes and boots on, grabbed our tools and bags, and walked up to the back wall of the mine….

On the way up there to the wall, I told Chuck to take the wall pocket, cause I really wanted to look around down below in the pit and around it for some yard rocks, and then wanted to go up above and do some surface collecting, especially since Tony was able to turn some piles over for us up above. He and Lynn, for her first time even, started working the huge vein pocket in the back wall and removing plates of large crystals….

…..while I poked around about forty feet below them and found some nice plates on boulders, which I was able to chip off and wrap up. I did also spot some nice yard rocks, but they were buried under a pile of other boulders, so I figured I would wait til the fall to get them. Here is one of the plates I chipped off….

….and here is the pocket in the wall that Chuck was working on to remove the plates from….John had worked this wall pocket back in May and left several intact plates and crystals in there…

After a few hours, I decided to drive on up to the top and do some surface collecting. Onyx rode up with me…I parked near Tony`s trackhoe and opened the tailgate and got my sandwiches out…one for Onyx and one for me…smoked ham on white bread with mayonnaise…

Right after Onyx and I finished our lunch…and no he isnt spoiled…much….yes he had his own smoked ham sandwich, double meat same as mine…and yes I got him a sausage and egg biscuit before we met up with Chuck`s crew that morning…but that was because I forgot to bring some milkbone crackers with me for him to snack on thru the day…so if you must judge, then yes, I am guilty as charged. 🙂  

I started surface collecting around where I parked first, found five or six nice crystal points and a small cluster right off the bat, literally right where I put my feet down getting out of the truck up there, and then we started over toward the trackhoe where Tony had stirred the piles up…..

…you cant see it in the photo above, but there are piles of fresh dirt on the right side where Tony stirred up the tailings there and it was a crystal bonanza over there, crystals laying everywhere…as PJ said back in May when she first walked up there from the lower mine that morning…” it was like Disneyland up there ” !! and then I moved over to the left under that hydraulic arm of the trackhoe when I spotted several small clusters laying everywhere over there…and then as I was bending down to pick up one, I got stung right above my left eye on my forehead…I raised up and looked to my right and there was a swarm of four or five red wasps…it felt like he got me in a glancing blow, maybe a sideways hit , def not a full force sting as I have experienced in the past, but I knew I had been hit and had to get out of there quickly….you see, I am one of the fortunate few thousand that is allergic to bee, wasp, hornet, and yellowjacket stings, and I have to either seek medical help right away, or get a shot of adrenaline right away, within a certain time frame of mere minutes, not hours. I had my eppy kit with me, in the truck, so I grabbed my crystals, my tools, my gloves, and ran to the truck…I looked back when reaching the truck and was relieved to see that the swarm of wasps did not follow me…yellowjackets and hornets would have done that…I got Onyx into the truck and then I climbed in as well, got turned around and then got out of there and down the hill to the lower mine again. I let Chuck and Lynn know that I had been stung and was going to inject myself with my eppy shot…Chuck let me know that Lynn was cross trained in giving those shots at school where she teaches and could give me the shot, and so I let her give me the shot instead.

Believe me, if I had to do so myself I could, have never been afraid of needles, was a human pin cushion for many years growing up with allergies, receiving a shot once a week for about fifteen years, and these kit companies make giving these shots to yourself a picnic these days…the needle is retracted to make it safer, and long enough to go thru jeans or other clothing, all you have to do with a shot of adrenalin is get it under the skin, more effective to do that then try to find a vein according to Dr Crawford, who was my family doctor way back when I found out I was allergic..he said back then get it under the skin and it will go straight to your heart faster than getting it into the bloodstream. These kit shots are only about half strength of the type of shot you would get at a hospital tho, but it was effective and slower moving it seemed like. I remember taking shots in the past in Dr Crawfords office one day, after being stung by several yellowjackets while mowing a yard, and I was standing in the hallway of his office when the nurse gave me the shot…it moves quickly to your heart and in such a rush that it knocks you on your butt if you arent sitting down…and you cannot do anything but rest for quite a while after taking a shot like that. Lynn did a good job giving me the shot, you have to punch it thru the jeans and then push and hold the button at the top of the shot for ten seconds, giving the liquid time to go into your leg under the skin…she gave me about eleven seconds and I could feel it accelerating my heartbeat after about ten minutes, so I knew then it was working. I decided to take a full strength Allegra tablet as well, just for an extra insurance boost…little did I know then, that by doing so, I had probably done far more good for myself.

We decided to stop digging for the day and head back to the condos, we had some good stuff by then and Chuck had liberated some nice plates from the wall pocket and was happy with what he had accomplished that day. Lynn needed to take the girls to another location, so she drove Chucks truck out and Chuck rode with me. I decided to stop by the ambulance shed in Mt Ida on the way back, to make sure I was okay, as it is another 30 min drive on down to the hospital at Hot Springs. I called the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office and spoke to a dispatcher who gave me directions to the shed, and once there, talked to one of the paramedics who told me that I had done the right thing and would likely be just fine.  We then drove on back to Hot Springs…my buddy Justin Baird called me as we were pulling up to the ambulance shed, and I called him back once we were on the road again…making arrangements to meet him at his apartment to see what crystals he had for sale, as he was moving to a new house he was buying, and in the process of moving everything over to it. We pulled into his apartment right ahead of him about 20 minutes later and checked out what he had not packed up yet…I wound up purchasing some of his collections and then we headed back to the condos to clean up before heading to Hibachi Sushi Buffet for supper.

Tony had given us a key to the gate for the next morning, so we decided to go up there a lot earlier and get a jump on the heat…however, a line of storms hit the area about 5 am and lingered on for a few hours, delaying our departure time to about 9 am….it was just Chuck and me today, so he rode up with me to leave his truck for Lynn and the girls to go shopping in. We arrived about 10 am and started at the top of the hill….this time I stuck a can of raid wasp and bee killer spray in my apron just in case…and I should point out here, that Robert had told me that wasps liked to nest in those machines when they sit around unused for long periods of time, so it was my fault for not being more aware of my surroundings the day before…I should have been more prepared and more aware of where I was and what I was doing. Had I been armed with a can the day before, I still might have been stung, but as John Wayne used to say, ” you might get me, but I`ll take a heck of a lot of you with me before I hit the ground “.  Chuck and I both skirted around the machine and kept our distance and we were still able to check out the area that Tony had stirred up, we walked on up, around, and behind the trackhoe and then Chuck wandered over to the old walls to see if he could chip off some more plates.

Onyx and I discovered some plates hanging around a wall of sandstone behind the machine about fifty feet and I chipped a few of them off and then wandered over to where Chuck was at…as I passed thru some small pine trees and brush, I got zapped by something unseen, on the right side of my neck and my right index finger thru my glove no less, at the same time…I continued walking over to Chucks location and waited to see if any swelling occurred in either area, but after five minutes of nothing happening, I dismissed it and continued on. I had another eppy shot with me but was mildly relieved I would not have to use it.

We drove back down to the lower mine so Chuck could finish up the wall pocket while I surface collected the huge tailing pile there. Onyx opted to remain in the ac of the truck, keeping things cool for us when we returned about 90 minutes later.  Up on the pile I found a few nice single points and then pulled a medium sized cluster out, and behind it a nice one sided yard rock that was a bit bigger than a loaf of bread…within that area, I started digging and pulled out some smaller clusters and points that were nice too. Chuck joined me up on the pile and we searched another 30 minutes and then decided to call it a day at 2 pm. After locking the gate behind us, we headed back to the condo to get cleaned up and then drove over to Roberts house to get some flats of crystals. We had a great time visiting with him, and I purchased three flats of small clusters from him, that he had dug at the Hogjaw Mountain Mine, similar to the beautiful golden healer clusters I had purchased from him on my trip down there in May.

Afterward, Chuck and his crew headed over to a Mexican Restaurant on the south side of the lake and I headed to the Outback Restaurant where my buddy Jake was working that night. I decided to have the filet steak there with a lobster tail this time around, ordered my steak cooked medium as I always do…I had to wait awhile to get Jake as my waiter that evening, this place was rockin` and busy as could be, standing room only at the door, but getting a good waiter like Jake is very important at places like this, because he is the type of waiter that takes very good care of his customers. About 20 minutes later, he brought me my plate and sat down across from me in the booth, asked me to check my steak…it looked like a piece of leather and trying to cut it with a knife confirmed it was way over cooked..he thought so too and took only the steak back, leaving me with the lobster tail, baked potato, and broccoli to eat, stopping to tell his new manager about it…I didn`t hear what she told him but ten minutes later he reappeared with another plate…and on the plate was a very thick medium cooked steak that was easy to cut thru and delicious as well, and in addition to that steak was another baked potato, more broccoli and another lobster tail !!  So I had two great lobster tails, two great baked potatoes, two great plates of broccoli, and one very delicious filet steak for supper that evening…and to top it all off, his new manager let me have the entire dinner at no cost whatsoever !!  I did leave a nice tip for my waiter tho. 🙂

 The next morning Onyx and I were up at the crack of dawn for some reason, and Chuck and his crew headed home shortly after. I actually thought about leaving by mid morning, but some friends that had been unable to get down there earlier in the week, let me know they could come down early afternoon to visit, so we decided to stick around afterall…besides I had paid for the condo til Wednesday so might as well stick around and rest up. That evening the weather forecast had me kind of thinking maybe I should have left at some point that day, forecast calling for storms and showers the next morning. I had a good supper with one of my friends at Outback again, this time I had one of their great hamburgers with a baked potato and broccoli, and Jake as our waiter again. After another pretty sunset, this one showing the Belle of Hot Springs crossing the lake on its sunset tour, Onyx and I headed to bed after the news…..\

The next morning was forecast for storms beginning about 7 am, so I figured Onyx and I would get on the road home by 5:30 to 6 am and get out ahead of it on the short route home…however, Mother Nature had other plans in mind and began storming about 4 am, so we slept in a bit and got on the road about 7 am headed home via the long route…we ran out of the rain about Y City and then hit spotty short showers the rest of the way home, arriving home about 4 pm, no rain east of Rolla. I made a phone call to check on some smokey quartz clusters for sale in the Fayetteville area that I had been told were Arkansas smokeys, but when the guy finally called me back, I was near the state line and he told me that no, in fact they were Brazilian smokey quartz clusters, quite pretty, and prob less pricey if they had been Arkansas quartz. 

I visited my pharmacist the next day and discovered that the eppy kit I had in my truck and had used on Sunday afternoon, had expired two years ago…I had purchased it in 2014 and it was only good for one year, she said. I was like holie cow, I thought those were good for a few years…but she said the kits these days are only good for a year, but it was nice to know that it had worked and she said I made a good decision to back it up with an Allegra and could have taken a second Allegra the next day and it would have sealed the deal even better. I ordered a new kit and decided from now on, will make that an annual order on my birthday as a present to myself, can prob remember it better that way. All in all tho, it was a great trip once again and much needed rest and relaxation too.

I received some good news from Tony and Robert about the November trip and will share that with my core group members soon. 

You can contact me at jwjphoto7@gmail.com if you have any questions or thoughts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Park Hills Gem and Mineral Show June 2017

Everyone has been asking me if I went to the Park Hills Show….

….I did go on Sunday the 11th, and met Chuck Reed and his daughter Mackenzie and her friend Faith, as well as my Chef buddy Nathaniel Reid, there at 8 am,  and walked the booths with them…my plans were to visit with my dealer friend Johnny B from Mt Ida, Ken Vaisvil from Arnold, and Virgil Richards from Tulsa. We also spotted a couple of vendors with some very beautiful gray druse coated with gorgeous chalcopyrites, sphalerite crystals, and snow white barite crystals attached to some of them…very pretty stuff…like this one now adorning my coffee table…

Onyx and I arrived about 7:30 am and after letting him out of the truck for a few minutes in the parking lot to stretch his legs, I photographed the old hoist house of the Federal Hill Mine at the old St Joe Mine in Park Hills….

….it always looks good from the vendor area too, little windy this morning tho….

…..then put him back in the truck in the air conditioning, locked him up and headed off to see my Arkansas dealer friend Johnny B…

….who is up there each year with some beautiful quartz crystals and other odds and ends…he had some neat stuff this year as well, some green quartz crystals from China that had been ” enhanced ” as he put it, sprayed with a green frosting that really made them stand out. While they caught my eye, I really liked the Desert Rosettes that he had on the table…six clusters of them…he made me a sweet deal and I bought all of them….

Shortly after that, my phone began blowing up…Chuck calling to confirm the exit off Hwy 67 to reach the park and show…and soon arrived while I was looking at the large goodies covering three tables at a local vendor`s booth…from a local quarry where miners had blasted and found two huge pockets full of gray druse quartz, coated…and I mean heavily coated…with blankets of chalcopyrite, dotted with large balls of sphalerite, and some had snow white bladed barite attached to them as well….

…Nathaniel showed up soon after and after he had a chance to check out the local goodies above, we headed over to see my buddy, Ken Vaisvil, who collects and sells Keokuk area geodes. The past few years I have been going to the Park Hills Show, I was always impressed with the amount and quality of geodes that Ken always has on display for sale at his booth….

….so I have always purchased a couple of them from him at this show each year. I saw him at Geodefest last year in Keokuk, and purchased a few more from him there…then earlier this year, I purchased a few flats of smaller ones from him for my shower remodel, that I hope to get moving on if my carpenter ever finds some free time to work me in to his busy schedule. Ken was sitting back enjoying the morning sun when we walked up on him and soon he had Chucks daughter and friend picking out some geodes to crack open….

…I posted a video of him operating the cracker and opening them up for the girls, on my Facebook page if anyone is interested in seeing it. Ken is a great guy to talk to and deal with, he truly loves collecting them as much as he loves to crack them open and sell them. He has always liked the dogtooth crystals that I have collected in the past so I took a couple of them to him that morning as well.

Ken started getting some customers, so we headed over to visit with Virgil, who was located behind Kens booth, along the back fence of the dealer area. Virgil had some nice stuff for sale at his booth, including azurite, malachite, snakeskin agates, chrisacolla, petrified wood, and he had a helper at the show, named Aaron, who was selling some huge sheets of selenite there too. While talking to Virgil, he pointed out a booth across the way and said we needed to go over and see what the guy had for sale, turns out he was a local miner that works at the quarry where the gorgeous druses coated with chalcopyrite, sphalerites, and bladed barites attached to them. So we walked over to see what he had…one was so big he had it on display in the back of his pickup, prob a five hundred pound piece, it was very pretty tho. He was offering build your own flats, so I took advantage of that and built one for myself and paid for it. Soon after that, Chuck and Nathaniel said they had to return to St Louis County, so we packed up and headed to our trucks in the parking lot…they took off headed north while Onyx and I headed south to the Eminence Quarry to do some rock collecting. 

Arriving about 1:30 pm, we got out of the truck to find it a very warm day…somehow I figured that Onyx wouldnt last long in the heat, but he surprised me that afternoon, staying outside the cab in the shade, prob due to a very nice breeze that blew all afternoon across the quarry. There was a nice ramp leading to the walls above….

….so I hiked up there soon after and began finding pockets of black and dark green dogtooths almost immediately, and set to opening them up and pulling out the goodies…filling one bag very fast and returning for two more as well as a bottle of water. There was a dozer working on the coved area walls til about 3 pm…otherwise we never saw anyone else that day there. I worked about ten to fifteen pockets along the wall before wearing out and heading home about 4 pm. Made for a long but pretty and enjoyable day. 

 

 

 

 

Arkansas Spring 2017

By the time my vacation rolled around on Friday April 28th, I was beyond ready for it…I started packing for my trip to Hot Springs earlier in the week on Monday and by Friday I was down to the small details. Onyx always has his bags packed quickly and I had him shaved down the week before to prepare for the Arkansas heat, which normally comes sooner than ours does up here. About the only thing I didnt like the looks of, was the radar on Saturday morning as I finished packing the truck. I was taking some flats of minerals and crystals from prior hunts down there with me, so I grabbed a couple of short sheets of plastic to cover them up in the truck bed, as the tonneau cover tends to leak some when it rains. We didnt take off real early that morning, trying to time our departure in order to drive thru the least rainfall plus the fact that I really do not like driving thru storms in the dark. We made it down to the other side of Springfield before we hit a few light and brief rain showers. Soon after I turned south on Hwy 71, now known as I-49, near Joplin, the rain picked up in intensity and near Neosho, so did the wind…blowing the rain sideways across the interstate…soon all of us that were southbound were now running our flashers, visibility was less than an eighth of a mile in front of you, I was down to 35 miles per hour because of the torrential downpour…I pulled off underneath the overpass at Anderson, Missouri and photographed the downspouts pouring water off the bridge above into the interstate median….

I also shot some video of the downpour, as I have never ever seen rain coming down that hard and for that length of time…and since I had never seen rain like that last very long, I assumed that I would run out of it very quickly and got back on the road. Needless to say, I was wrong…it never let up all the way down to the Arkansas line at Bella Vista…where I pulled off into the Caseys General Store to fill my gas tank and get a bathroom break. I then continued south to Rogers, where I stopped at McDonalds to get a double hamburger for me and one for Onyx, and a large fry. Onyx was not impressed with the storms let me tell ya…he had the luxury of curling up in the back seat and napping, putting it completely out of mind…we trudged on southward thru the downpour until we finally….FINALLY…ran out of it up on the Boston Mountains south of Fayetteville…darn near to I-40 near Fort Smith before it completely….stopped…..raining…I was soooo relieved.

I contacted my buddy Adam Lagaveen to see if he was home and free over in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, and hearing that he was, drove over to visit with him. Adam has been a good friend and great source of information on Arkansas quartz for a few years now…ever since I spotted him on my cousin Cassieopia`s FB  page and she gave me the lowdown on him after I found out on my own that he was into making Native American artifacts using lapidary rocks and minerals…pretty ones at that…mainly creating knives and arrowheads by knapping them and then constructing the handles using antlers…he does GREAT work I might add !!  Over the past few years of visiting with him on my many trips down there, he had also passed on to me his huge collection of Arkansas quartz from his many trips to the Mt Ida and Hot Springs areas, several yrs ago, and he had contacted me a few weeks back and told me that he had assembled more of his quartz and suggested that I stop by and collect it from him, which would create even more space needed for his knapping material and work area. Visits with him also provided an opportunity for Onyx to stretch his legs after five hours on the road, as Adam has a huge backyard at his home. He met me at the door as I was letting Onxy out of his seatbelt in the truck, and told me that he had a lab puppy asleep on the couch in the living room while his daughters were napping upstairs, so we would have to be quiet as we walked thru the living room to the backdoor…Onxy never noticed the lab cause the puppy was on her back and curled up under a blanket on the couch, deeply dozing away…I wish now I had taken my camera with me and photographed her, she was adorable sleeping on that couch and tiny as could be. We visited for about thirty minutes and I selected several smokey quartz Arkimers, both small and large ones, and a few green chloride clusters that he had available, as well as a few unique crystals that he had available this time around, one or two that are like a blue irredescence inclusions in smokey quartz found on the north side of Lake Ouachita. We talked about a few locations that he had told me about a year or two ago, one of which I was finally able to nail down to a more exact spot.

After wrapping the crystals up, I gathered Onyx, who had a few minutes to visit with the lab puppy after she finally woke up, and then we got back on the road…first back to Fort Smith on I-40 and then south on Hwy 71. I had intended to stop and replace the flowers at the graves of my grandparents at Sehorn Cemetery at Waldron…had the flowers under the plastic sheeting in the truck bed…but the rain started again near Waldron and I decided to come back up and take care of that detail later in the week. South of Waldron, we again had to slow down and run our flashers once again, as visibility again became very limited and this time it lasted about 15 miles…coming to a stop once again near Y City, where I made my turn east on Hwy 270. As I was making my turn east, I glanced to the right and spotted waterfalls in a creek that tumbles down the side of the hillside on the west side of 71 and they were heavily flowing…normally running at a trickle…plus there was a bit of water beginning to flow over 270 at the base of the turn ramp that I had to negotiate by driving over in the oncoming traffic lane to by pass. I began to wonder if the creeks on down 270 toward Mt Ida would be overflowing by the time we got to them, but I was soon relieved to see that they were flowing at a normal rate, meaning that the rain had not reached that far east yet, radar indicating later that all those intense storms I had driven down thru were moving mainly to the north-northeast. Within a few miles, I was driving toward Mt Ida and this is how the skies looked ahead….

…dark and menacing looking, but no rain falling ahead. In fact, as I got closer to Mt Ida and Hot Springs, the skies actually lightened up quite a bit…however, those white looking clouds earlier in the day seemed to be where the heaviest of the rains were coming from rather than the darker looking clouds….

….about an hour later, tho, we arrived in Hot Springs to partly sunny skies and got to the condo safe and sound. After unpacking, I called Mom to let her know we had arrived and how bad the weather had been to drive down there in…she told me it was raining off and on up there, sounded like the really heavy rains that we drove thru, had moved straight east across Missouri and missed Sullivan completely…I was very glad to hear that….although that would generate alot of rivers rising to the south as well and flooding would ensue. By Monday, after a few days of heavy rains, that is exactly what did happen in Missouri while we were gone, and with many main roads and highways closed due to flooding, many of my co-workers had to find alternate routes to work and back home each day. It truly seemed I had picked the right week to be on vacation.  

Soon after unpacking and settling in, Onyx and I drove south across Lake Hamilton and picked up some fried catfish and jumbo shrimp and fries at Bubbas Catfish Fryshop, then back north of the lake to get some homemade ice cream in a couple of my favorite flavors…chocolate chip and butter pecan, then returned to the condo and settled in to chow down and relax after the grueling drive down there. By ten pm that evening, we heard the wind begin to pick up as a lightning storm approached from the south, and soon the rain was blowing sideways across the waters, the waves were rolling across the lake, and the same stuff we had driven down there in, was now unfolding right before our eyes outside the sliding glass door and balcony railings…this time our viewpoint was a bit more relaxed tho. We stayed up til midnight and waited til the storms stopped before retiring for the night…waking up the next morning to see a little bit of storm damage from the winds…some shingles blown around on the roof of the condo building across from the one we were staying in, and a large tree limb down a few buildings up toward the entrance. I contacted April, who I rent the condo we stay in from, and she said she would make a phone call to that building owner to let them know…a few hours later, Onyx alerted to some activity outside, and it turned out to be the owners of that building, checking for leaks inside and up on the roof of the building..they spotted us and came over to thank me for letting them know about it…luckily they didnt spot any damage to the building despite half a dozen shingles blown out of place and across the roofline.

Soon after a late breakfast, Onyx and I drove over to visit with Robert, a local quartz miner in Hot Springs that I have been conversing with for the past year and a half by email…told him I wanted to see what all he had for sale, as some friends of mine were interested in purchasing some of his crystals. He had invited me over so after figuring out where he was, we headed over to see him shortly after noon. Robert is a good friend of my buddy Gary Fleck, who has been a mineral dealer for many years after doing some crystal mining at the original Southfork Mine with Ray McGrew years ago. Gary and Ray owned two mines back then, the Southfork Mine and Hogjaw Mine…when they decided to split up their partnership, Ray chose to keep the Southfork Mine and Gary took the Hogjaw Mine…later giving the Hogjaw to Robert because of time constraints. Robert showed me the beautiful crystals that he had mined from the Hogjaw over the years and then showed me the crystals he was pulling from another of his mining claims, the Forgotten Aye Mine…both were different yet both were beautiful too. He had some nice clusters for sale and after selecting five of them for sale, he offered me a price I could not refuse…here are a couple of them…

…I was totally amazed at the beauty of the quartz crystals and clusters that Robert had been mining over the years. We wound up visiting for three hours that afternoon, and arranged to meet again later in the week when the rest of my group showed up, as I was fairly sure they would not only want to see his crystals too but like me, would want to purchase a few of them as well. 

I was a bit hungry after that, so Onyx and I headed over to Outback Steakhouse to have a good steak and supper…one of my models works there and sure enough, he was working that evening. For a Sunday, this place was hopping so I sat at the bar and ordered their version of the pork tbone steak…even though Jake was working one section over, he still came by to talk to me briefly while I was there. The pork steak was thick and delicious, and after that, I headed over to Walmart and then the Scoops Home Made Ice Cream Parlor. We returned to the condo in time to capture a very pretty sunset….

 

…what appeared at first to be a short sizzling sunset, turned into a long drawn out affair that was worth every second to watch…the geese that flew into my images really added to it…had I known they were coming through, I would have shot some video of it as well….

…and then we retired to the condo for a quiet night on the lake and some great ice cream with tv. We slept in on Monday morning, had a late breakfast, and then I decided to drive up to Waldron to Sehorn Cemetery and replace the flowers for my Mom, on the graves of her parents, my grandparents Graden and Ida Thomas. Mom and Dad placed a Shepherd Hook there several years ago and hung a hanging basket for each one there each year before Memorial Day…when my Dad became sick, Mom asked me to take care of this for them each spring when I would travel down there for my vacation and I was glad to help them out…it was special for them and it is special for me as well. Sehorn Cemetery is a beautiful cemetery that sits up on a hill overlooking the Winfield Valley about ten miles west of Waldron in Scott County…my Dad was born and raised not far south of there, near my grandfathers homeplace and first farm…my friend Adam Lagaveen knows this cemetery well too, his Mom is buried there, she was a Sehorn before she married Adams Dad. Onyx and I arrived by 1 pm and we found no one there..my worry was that I would turn the corner and find a funeral service there, but thankfully there was not one. The huge pine trees that stand as silent sentinels there, were still showing damage from a tornado that struck the cemetery last year….

I changed out the hanging baskets and then we headed back to Waldron…the valleys were lush with beautiful yellow wild flowers…

…and I stopped off at Y City briefly to photograph the waterfall on the Fourche La Fave River that flows through there….

I could tell it was still rolling through there at a pretty good clip after that hard downpour on Saturday when I drove down there through it. I suspected many of the creeks, rivers, and waterfalls in the area were still running strong and full, much of that was confirmed later that day. As I arrived back in Hot Springs, I was contacted by a young man that was in need of some photos for a modeling portfolio, so I met up with him and photographed him at one of the local waterfalls that I enjoy shooting at when down there. I told him on the way out there to it, that I figured it might be up and running pretty strongly after all the rain received Saturday night…and once we arrived, my concerns were answered….normally the water at this location flows ten foot wide at the most,  down over a rocky ledge covered with grassy areas, into a four foot deep pool of water and rock, the pool carved out of the rock over the years by the action of the water alone.  The rock ledges there are made up of Novaculite, which is a very strong and hard rock, and what the Ouachita Mountains there are made up of…think Whetstones, that knife blades are sharpened on, and you will know what Novaculite is. Today the water flow was every bit of thirty feet across the rocky ledge, the normal waterfall on the far side joined back toward us by two additional smaller falls, which then joined up and flowed about 20 feet over the ledge to yet a second waterfall and drop into another pool, this one ten feet deep….

After a successful photo shoot at this beautiful location, I took him back to the meeting spot and then headed back to the condo, and while stopped at the intersection of Airport Road and Albert Pike, I heard sirens and got to see two of Hot Springs Fire Departments trucks responding to a motor vehicle accident about a mile down the road ahead of me. This Rescue Pumper and Pumper truck likely came from the Hot Springs Airport Fire Station which is on Airport Road outside the airport grounds…

After supper, we had what appeared to be a typical sunset shaping up, but sure didnt look typical thru the lens of my camera….

After a quiet night of tv and ice cream, as well as talking by email and FB to friends about the upcoming digs later in the week, Onyx and I retired for the night. We got up early on Tuesday morning to go check out an old mine north of Hot Springs, owned by a good friend…we met him there…I can safely tell you it was located out in the middle of the sticks, maybe even past the sticks, and I made so many turns on a narrow gravel road that I cannot even remember how I got there if I was looking at a map. I helped him measure out the length of his mining claim, down thru the forest and then we walked down to another old mining claim that has been reclaimed for several years…the reclamation process showed…there were hundreds of young pine trees growing everywhere and the fringe border of the old mine was a stretch of ugly dark colored shale rocks…we walked the perimeter and saw several massive quartz areas, but no crystals loose in the dirt anywhere. Shortly after returning to his mine, Onyx and I headed back to Hot Springs, which took 30 minutes longer due to all the slowpokes we caught up to on several roads that had very few passing lanes available. Luckily Jake, my friend that I was meeting up with, was also running late and it worked out well for both of us. After a good visit with him, I took him out to eat at the Hibachi Sushi Buffet across from the Mall. Ray had discovered that place a few years ago and we have been eating there several times on our trips down there, good food and service at a good reasonable price for buffet. Ray had driven up from New Orleans earlier in the day and came over to visit for a bit while we were eating.

There sure was a pretty sunset that night over the lake to finish out the great day…..

The next day, however, we had some hard rain showers return once again, so for the most part, Onyx and I stayed inside the condo all day long..some of the crew for the dig at Tony`s mine the next day were driving down today including Paul Tulejo and PJ from Southern Michigan, David Bruce from central Georgia, and John Oostenryk from northwest Illinois…Chris Keyme drove in from Nashville and texted me just as I was getting ready to drive over to visit with my mineral dealer buddy Gary Fleck, so I waited for him to arrive so he could ride over with me and Onyx. I was planning to purchase some crystals from Gary and take a look at some of his older material for some dealer friends, as well. Chris tagged along to take a look as well, and after visiting with Gary for a few hours, we headed back to the condo with a few more specimens for my collection….luckily for all of us, the skies cleared off shortly before dark to provide a fairly nice sunset….

Onxy and I got up early the next morning and headed to Mc Donalds for a good breakfast of hot cakes and sausage…then drove up to the Valero Station on Higdon Ferry Road to meet up with the others…many of them had arrived after 8 pm the night before, staying at various locations in Hot Springs.  We arrived to find John and David parked in line behind Chris, catching up on rockhunting in southern Illinois with me a few weeks prior at the blue fluorite mine…Paul and PJ arrived a few minutes later and then we were just waiting on Ray…who answered my call to say that he was at the wrong station and would be there shortly. As soon as he arrived, we headed down the road to Mt Ida, as we were scheduled to meet up with Tony at the mine gate at 9 am…I texted Tony to let him know we were running a little late and would get there as soon as possible. Tony drove into town to get some food at Subway and then met us on the highway south of town and we followed him to his Southfork Mine, his girlfriend and dog Trixie were inside the cab of his truck with him…as we pulled up behind him on the highway, he pointed to a turkey that was moving across a field to our left, however none of us saw the turkey…our minds were focused on quartz crystals and plates and clusters only. We pulled up and parked and then started getting our boots on, tools and buckets, flats, and bags out and ready to go…some went high and some went low…those going high walked up the road to the upper mine, which we can normally drive up to, however this morning there was a huge pine tree blocking the roadway, apparently the victim of the high strong winds during the storm on Saturday night. Tony didnt have his chain saw with him so everyone walking to the old mine on top of the hill hoofed it up the hill all day long….they all said the hike up there was definitely worth it…as Tony had stirred up the tailings and there were crystal points laying all over the place up there…PJ said it looked like Disneyland up there. The rest of us headed to the lower mine…John and I showed David the vein containing huge plates of crystals that were worked back in the fall by the Sorrells…after looking inside and all around, David decided to see if he could remove some of those big plates himself. Chris found a small veined area below David and decided to see what he could do in that spot….

…while John and I headed up to the back wall where we had worked several pockets in the rock wall last fall….

After popping a few plates and single crystals off the rock wall….

…I took a break and started seeing crystals sticking out of the clay on the back wall…I carved out some steps to climb up and take a closer look and began pulling crystal after crystal out of the clay and soon has my apron pockets completely full of quartz crystals…..

…I decided to work that wall for awhile and turned the rock wall over to John to work the pockets there…after consulting with Tony about the safety aspect of it, John lit into the wall with high energy….I took a break about mid day to go get some water and as I passed by Chris, saw that he had found a pocket in the rock and was working it pretty heavily….

…and David was working on extracting the huge plates of crystals from his vein pocket as well….

 

…I returned to find John with ten pound sledge hammer in hand, threatening to see if he could knock some of that large rock wall out of his way….

He also decided to climb up above and check his surroundings as well….

…to look around on top and sides above to see what he could find, which were several loose crystals in the dirt and a nice cluster up behind him where the rock meets the dirt of the forest floor of the hill above…he pulled that out and showed it to me…it was nice, trust me. David took a photo of John and I working the upper end of the hill on one of his breaks, too….

 I apologize for the lengthy delay getting back to finishing my trip story, took some honeymooners collecting this past weekend and had some new rockhunting friends stop by and visit today as well.

 By the time 4 pm rolled around,  we were all ready to call it quits and head back to Hot Springs and get some supper, making plans to meet up at Hibachi Sushi Buffet for supper about 7 pm.  Here is how the mine looked when we left….courtesy of David Bruce…thanks David. 

We had a great supper at the Buffet place and Onyx and I returned in time for this beautiful sunset over the lake….

Later that evening, Chuck and his daughter MacKenzie as well as his brother Michael and his daughter arrived at the condo where Onyx and I were staying at…they rented the lower unit below us. Onyx and I woke up early and headed to McDonalds for breakfast, then drove up to the Valero Station to meet up with everyone else…Fred had driven in early that morning from Texas, and everyone was ready to get back up there and find some more great stuff…I told everyone I was going to stop at the smokehouse sandwich shop called Burls Country Smokehouse, located on Hwy 270 at Crystal Springs, on the way up there and grab a sandwich for lunch. We took off from the Valero at 8:10 am and stopped there 20 min later…I let Tony know and asked if he and Blondie would like one too, and he texted me his order.  This place is great, kinda like a hole in the wall type of place, great atmosphere, friendly country staff, neat things on display while they are building your sandwich, great selection of meats, jams, jellies, wines, water, and soda. I walked in and gave the lady my order of a double meat smoke ham sandwich and two smoked turkey sandwiches and behind me, nine of my group walked in and placed sandwich orders as well….she got busy pretty quickly and soon we were on our way west again. We drove on out to the mine and found Tony and Blondie out there at the gate waiting on us, then drove up the hill and parked…Michael walked up the hill and helped Tony saw the downed pine tree and move it out of our way so some could drive on up to the top of the hill to the other mine. The rest of us returned to our digs from the previous day for a few hours of work…except for John…his work took him all day long…more on that in a minute tho….Chuck and Michael went up on top at first, then were down with David, John, Fred and I at the lower mine within an hour…Chuck and Michael checked out the spot Chris worked the day before and decided to settle in and see what more they could pull out of it. Chris decided to go up on top and work the walls up there.  John took a photo on one of his breaks of Michael down in the hole where he and Chuck were working the pocket, David above them, and me farther up the hill….

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…and one of MacKenzie taking a break and loading up some clay dirt into a bottle….

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…and Fred working on the wall above Johns pocket, where Fred was finding a few nice plates and clusters at….

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I continued to dig crystals and small clusters from the clay wall at the upper end of the lower mine area, til 11 am, then broke for lunch…everyone else was breaking for lunch at various times as well…Onyx and I retired to the truck and air conditioning for some smoked ham sandwich and water….

…just looking at this sandwich above makes my mouth water for another one…sugar cured smoked ham on homemade white bread with mayonnaise and minus the food you rabbits like to add to your sandwiches. 🙂

After lunch, Onyx and I drove on up to the top of the hill to check out the crystals up there…

….PJ said the day before it was like Disneyland up there, crystals laying everywhere…heard that Tony had stirred up the tailings so wanted to go up and take a look…folks I started finding so many right out of the truck and along both sides of the lane leading down to the piles, that I never got to the stirred up piles !!! I was finding so many small pristine needle clusters it wasnt even funny…I was walking the weedy area of pines between that lane and the main road up the hill and they were laying everywhere…I returned to the lane and started finding golden healers all over the place…gave a few of them to PJ and Paul, who were up there and not familiar with them…Fred joined us a few min later and we started finding some larger stuff…it got pretty warm up there and soon I was approaching exhaustion, so I took a break and got some water and cooled down some…put Onyx back in the truck in the ac as well…by then I had filled two bags and had a yard rock or two and was ready to return to Hot Springs…we drove back down the hill to find that others had already returned…now we just had to get John out of the mine so we could all return….by then he was trying to extract another burr cluster that he had located in the rock wall…same story as last year…and I have to say that the one he extracted last year was a beauty and I was sure this one would be too…thanks again to David for the next three photos of Johns pocket and the crystals inside he was working on….I was too tired to take photos by then….

Paul and PJ headed back to Hot Springs to get cleaned up and make supper reservations at Outback for us all…told them to ask for a server by the name of Jake, good friend of mine, cause we would be well taken care of by him…so they did that…while we waited for John to get his cluster out…that took some time, but he finally persevered and removed it as well as some large single crystals too…we got out of there about 5:30 pm, then headed to wide spot Joplin to see Bill and Faith…I had to stop and get some green chloride quartz crystals and sand inclusions they had for sale for a friend of mine…then we drove on down to Hot Springs for supper…I texted everyone else when I had a signal to let them know where we were going for supper, then drove to the condo and got cleaned up, before heading to Outback Steakhouse. I was the last one there, but they had a large table by then and we ordered soon after. I let everyone there know that we would have our rock swap after breakfast the next day and we all decided on Cracker Barrel for breakfast…then go see my new mine owner friend Robert and see what he had for sale from his mines, and then go see Gary afterward. I went by the Scoops Ice Cream Shop to get some more Turtle Tracks Ice Cream then back to the condo in time for a beautiful sunset….

We got up the next morning and drove over to Cracker Barrel for a great breakfast with several in attendance, then we relocated to the parking lot just east of the Barrel where we had more room for the swap…PJ and Paul joined us right after we moved over there and they headed for home soon after. The rest of us caravanned over to Roberts place where everyone was pleasantly surprised to see what all he had in clusters and single points…the two little gals were given backets and told they could scoop up all the loose crystals on the ground and take home with them, so they were delighted to do that. The rest of us fanned out to check the clusters and talk shop with him…needless to say, after about 90 min there, everyone left happy…Chuck and Michael took off for the St Louis area, and the rest of us headed over to visit with Gary on the west side of town. Soon after, David decided to head for his home in Georgia, while Onyx and I left to return to the condo for a nap, while John continued to visit with Gary. John texted me later to invite me to supper and we met up over at the Hibachi Buffet again. Robert had not been feeling well that morning, but told John if he was going to stick around a day, he might be able to provide him with something to do on Monday morning, provided Robert felt better by then, so John decided to stick around on Monday. Onyx and I returned to the condo where I repacked the bed of the truck, then finished packing the next morning before heading for home.

We returned via Little Rock and then north to Hwy 63…I was delayed going thru LR due to a motor vehicle accident on I-30 before I reached 440, I got tired of the bumper to bumper traffic and exited into LR, then got turned around and called the LRPD on their non emergency line to get directions out of there…the officer was able to get me to 630 where I then ran into I-40 and on over to Hwy 167/67 north…when I got close to I-630 I came upon one of the LRFD Hook and Ladder Trucks…big and beautiful trucks.  About an hour later, up around Newport, I started seeing alot of water out in the farm fields, often times the roads the only thing up above the waterline, many creeks and the White River well out of their banks. I turned northwest on to Hwy 63 and discovered the Union Pacific RR Maintenance Crews reinforcing their railbeds with heavy rock to keep them from washing away in the floodwaters near Hoxie and Portia, the rails were barely above the waterline there. 

I stopped briefly south of Hardy to photograph this old mill, called Morgan Mill,  and water flume with waterfall upstream a bit….

From there it was just a few more hours home for Onyx and I, arriving about 4 pm and then took an hour just to unload the truck of all the crystals and goodies, before we could go meet Mom for supper at Cracker Barrel. All in all tho, a very good trip with good friends, good food, good weather for the most part, and great crystals and finds !!  

You can email me at jwjphoto7@gmail.com if you have any questions about my trip. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Fluorite Machine Dig

This year I started planning for the machine dig at the Eureka Mine in northwest Kentucky back in January. From several trips last year it was apparent that I had several friends that were interested in joining my small core group this year, contributing to the cost of the machine as well as physical labor during the dig after the machine was shut down. We have always utilized the machine for a day and then the second day, any digging needed is done physically by hand and strong muscles. I stayed in touch with Bill Frazer, who was able to arrange the trackhoe from the excavation company that we again wanted to work with. Bill also let me know about six weeks out that he and his brother had purchased more land right down the road from the Eureka Mine and this year we could also dig into the tailing piles at the MaryBelle Mine. Bill also was able to acquire a backhoe that we could use for two days, which would keep our machine costs down quite a bit, so we decided to make a donation to the museum in addition to the investment in the trackhoe.

After a few months of getting things in place we set the machine dig dates for Saturday and Sunday, March 18th and 19th,  and I kept the other fifteen rockhound friends that were going to join me and my core group updated along the way, including the update that we would also visit the blue fluorite mine on Sunday morning, then return to the Eureka Mine to dig the afternoon….everyone was excited and looking forward to the trip, with some rockhounds traveling down from New York state, western North Carolina, northern Georgia, northwestern Illinois, and eastern Texas, to join us. Two of the New York state rockhounds would be instrumental on this dig due to the fact that they had both dug in the pit after we dug there last year with the machine, and they had removed quite a few nice plates of cubes during their digs. 

A few days out from the week of the machine dig, I received a call from Bill advising me that there were some legal issues that needed to be worked out on his end, before we could proceed with the machine dig, and it was going to take possibly the remainder of this year for him to work through those issues…so the decision was made to cancel all public and private digs for this year.  I know for a few seconds at least, I was at a loss for words or thoughts even, as many of us had taken off work and invested money in equipment that we planned to use all weekend at the dig, not to mention the reservations made at area hotels. Bill told me he was advised of this all of a sudden and that it had nothing to do with our group, but was something that they needed to work through and get back to the business at hand eventually.  He was very worried about us, knowing we had a large group coming to help them out, as we have done this for more than the past ten years. I told Bill not to worry about it, we would stand ready to go as soon as he was able to work through it and resolve the issues, and we would figure something out for the weekend.

I immediately reached out to one of my core group rockhound buddies on Facebook to let him know what was happening, and then made a phone call to the landowner of the blue fluorite mine, to see if my group could come to his farm both days instead. I explained the situation to him, told him the group would be a bit bigger than the group I had when we visited his mine last fall. I had secured his permission a few weeks before, to come to his mine on Sunday morning, March 19th and dig for a few hours, before returning to the Eureka Mine. After a few minutes of thought, he called back and gave us the go ahead to come dig at his mine on Saturday and Sunday all day instead. I told my buddy on Facebook that we could go dig at the blue fluorite mine instead and he was just fine with that. I then sent out another update by email to let everyone know of the change in plans and the reasons for it.

By the next day, eighty percent of the group had advised me by email that they still planned to make it down for the dig. That night, the northeastern section of the US was hit with a huge snowstorm, dumping over thirty inches of snow on New York state and beyond…despite all that, three of the four New Yorkers who had planned to drive down and dig, emailed to let me know they would still be there for the weekend dig. Talk about dedication !!  I told everyone to bring some rocks and minerals to swap on Saturday morning at the mine, and to bring some extras for the landowners daughter, to add to her budding collection, as we did on our prior fall trip, especially since the landowner was gracious enough to allow us back and wasnt going to charge us anything either.

I had taken a week of vacation as I usually do, giving me a few days to ready and pack the truck, so Onyx and I drove down on Thursday the 16th and stayed overnight at Marion, Illinois. I had been in contact for a few weeks before with a coal miner in the Harrisburg area, who had an old fluorite collection for sale. I visited with friends from southern Illinois Thursday evening and then drove over to his home on Friday morning to take a look at his collection and make an offer. He had some beautiful clusters of large cubes, some with barite attached to them, as well as some barite clusters, some calcite clusters, and some quartz crystals and clusters, even one smokey quartz crystals, all from mines in the Rosiclaire area, that his grandfather had left to him…his grandfather had been a miner at some of the Rosiclaire Mines about seventy five years ago. I had seen photos of some of the pieces in the collection and wanted to see them in person before making an offer. Here are some of the nicer pieces that were in the collection….

As you can see, he had some very pretty and unique pieces in his grandfathers collection, over 100 pieces, many were of the barite clusters, which I had never seen before as something coming from the fluorite mines of Southern Illinois. I have to say I was a bit skeptical that the large quartz crystals and two smaller quartz clusters came from the fluorite mines, especially the smokey quartz crystal..mainly because they resembled Arkansas quartz crystals, but he pointed out two small quartz plates, both of the type commonly sold in the spirit quartz genre, and he told me that he had purchased those somewhere because they appealed to him. It was verified to me later that day, that indeed, smokey and clear quartz crystals were found in several of the fluorite mines in the Rosiclaire area. I made an offer to him and he accepted it…while his collection was not extensive, he had to sell it due to moving to another house soon and no room for it there. I did leave him with a few key pieces with great sentimental value that tied him directly to his grandfather. After wrapping up each piece and loading them into the cab of my truck. Onyx and I headed down to see and photograph some waterfalls that I had heard about, also located in southern Illinois.  Burden Falls is located in the National Forest about a twenty minute drive south of Harrisburg, just west of Hwy 145 on Burden Falls Road…if there has been heavy rain in the area and one suspects the creek feeding the falls will be flooded, one can also come in from the south on Water Tower Road, which merges to the right with Ozark Road after a few miles, and then you make a right turn on to McCormick Road/Burden Falls Road. The creek runs across the road and the first set of falls is just a few feet from the creek crossing on the north side…

…and the lower falls are even higher than the upper falls near the road…this trip I chose not to shoot the lower falls from the base though…

Onxy finally got to stretch his legs a little bit…we didnt stray down the path very far, as I wanted to get on down to Gary Griffiths place and check out the beautiful new fluorite that he had told me a few days before, that they had been hitting in some new pockets where he mines it at with his son, Walter. He also told me that he had purchased an old collection of fluorite with some ” butterscotches ” in it…those are the cubes of fluorite that came from certain mines and are a butterscotch yellow color and are quite gemmy…these butterscotches that he purchased with the collection were quite old and had been buried in the forest on the guys property…Gary dug them out and cleaned them up and said they were quite pretty.

We headed south to Elizabethtown, or E-town as its called, and on the way,  came upon the Iron Furnace that my buddy, John Oostenryk, always talks about, on Big Creek…..Onyx and I stopped to check it out briefly…

…this was probably the neatest Iron Furnace location I have ever seen, mainly because someone went above and beyond installing a historical storytelling sequence of small columns around the front perimeter of the site, in color no less. We drove a few more miles south to Garys house, a few miles north of E-town and found he did indeed have alot of gorgeous fluorite for sale…this was without a doubt the prettiest fluorite I have seen for sale at his place since I started going there…

…the photo above and next few below of fluorite, include some of the ” Butterscotches ” that Gary purchased in that old collection….

…the clusters that are whitish and a lighter yellow are also butterscotches, just faded out by the sun.  Gary also had some beautiful two color fluorite cube clusters that were quite pretty, some from the old collection and many from some new pockets from the mine….

…he had a lot of clusters of cubes that appeared to be stacked one on top of another that were such a deep purple they nearly appeared to look black…he also had a whole area full of the raspberry colored fluorites…this color really appeals to me when thy are lit properly…

I purchased a few pretty crystals from Gary that day…even a couple of octohedrons that he chips out himself, one was a pretty small one with a pyrite chip in it, and another one was a two color octohedron..purple and clear or white colors…some call them fluorite diamonds, and they are very popular worldwide. Gary is a good ole country boy and great to visit with and purchase from, he always has some beautiful fluorite for sale.

Onxy and I took off shortly after, crossing the Ohio River on the ferry at Cave-In-Rock,  and drove over to the Clement Mineral Museum at Marion, Kentucky, where we barely caught Tina and Sherry before they left for the day. I visited with them for about 30 minutes, then we headed to the Days Inn hotel at Kuttawa…we always stay there because its a nice and clean hotel, rooms are always reasonably priced and a few doors down is the Oasis Southwest Grill, which is a great steak and seafood restaurant with great atmosphere and good food. Right before we got to the hotel, Slade Harvin texted me to let me know he had arrived from Hickory, North Carolina, as well as Dale Walker and his wife Barb from New York state, so I met up with them shortly after checking in. Fred Mahaffey was driving in from Eastern Texas but arrived soon after, and Chuck Reed had to wait til 3 pm before he was able to leave St Louis County, so we waited til 6:30 pm before we all headed over to the Oasis, joined there by David Bruce from northern Georgia, who was staying at the Relax Inn over on the north side of I-24. We had a great supper there, their menu offers a great variety of steaks, chops, seafood, and smoked bbq there, so if you go away hungry, there is definitely something wrong with ya. We all walked back to the hotel stuffed full and ready for bedtime…I let everyone know we were gonna meet on the south side of the hotel about 7 am, and then drive over to the mine to meet up with David and Janyce Sorrells, who were bringing their medium tractor with a backhoe attachment, and John Oostenryk and his friend Mary, who were staying at Harrisburg.

Despite a little fog on the way over to the ferry crossing, we made good time getting over there…I nearly struck a deer on the way there, coming around a curve in the valley to find a big doe tentatively stepping out into the roadway, but luckily for me she turned and hightailed it back the field, sailing over a barbed wire fence like it wasnt even there. We pulled up a few minutes later to the crossing as the ferry was coming back to the Kentucky side to pick us up….

…we picked up Matt, another New Yorker, in the parking lot on the other side of the Ohio River,  a few minutes later and drove on over to the blue fluorite mine, where we found David and Janyce as well as John and Mary, waiting for us. While David and Janyce were unloading the tractor and did some initial preparation digging into the tailing pile, the rest of us swapped crystals from our respective areas…an hour later, the rockhounds new to this mine, started sifting thru the dirt that David had laid out on one side, so they could get an idea of what to look for….

….sometimes you will pick up chunks of ugly chert that resemble the fluorite, til you hold it up to the light and figure out you cant see thru it and know that its the ugly chert instead. It takes a little while to get used to it, and the rest of us were helping them acclimate to finding the good stuff….although I have to say, I still make mistakes and bring home the ugly chert too. I just add them to the potholes in my driveway. 

Left to right on the front line are Mary, Dale Walker, David Bruce, Slade standing, Chuck Reed kneeling in the overalls, Fred Mahaffey, Janyce Sorrells carrying buckets, and far right is her husband David, they brought the tractor to help us dig into the tailing piles…this pile behind the tractor is the main one….David dug into the end of it where we left off in November, and where we were finding much of the pretty fluorite on that trip. Eventually everyone began moving around to look for fluorite in other locations, below you see Slade, John, and Chuck up on the right side of the large tailing pile…

…and soon after I joined Slade down there on the face of the tailing pile where I started digging in at the same lower level where we found several nice fluorites back in November…I showed Slade where to dig to find the better ones and he was soon finding as many good ones as I was….and soon others were gathered around us and digging in as well. Doug, the landowner, stopped by to check on us several times throughout the day and see how we were coming along, we handed off several minerals and crystals to him to give to his daughter for her collection as well.

Dale and Barb wound up over on the backside of the tailing pile by the creek and after digging there a long time that day, Dale uncovered  a very pretty plate of cubed fluorite crystals, giving the rest of us hope that more cubes could def be found there.  We just kept digging and finding beautiful blues…..

…well we dug all afternoon til we were too tired to do anything other than drive back to the hotel to clean up and get some more good food at Oasis….so we loaded everything up and headed out…this is how the tailing pile looked after digging all day Saturday….

….and as we approached the ferry crossing at Cave-In-Rock, I noticed the setting sun on the  Ohio River, turning the water to a shimmering bright yellow color….so I set the parking brake, grabbed my camera and walked down to the waters edge to shoot some images…

 

 

While I was down there shooting, Chuck took a photo of me shooting the sunset….

The ferry came in to unload and then load us all up for the trip back over to the Kentucky side….

…and once we were on the ferry, I kept on shooting that beautiful sunset…a first for me, shooting a sunset from a ferry, even shot some video of it….first one is looking upstream on the Ohio River….

We had another great evening at the Oasis, more good food…it seems David Bruce decided to try the marinated chops that I have been having their for years and he found out why I like them so much. The plan the next morning was to drive over to Gary Griffiths house and do some shopping first, then go back to the blue fluorite mine…at breakfast we were joined by Mark Bishop, who had driven up from northern Georgia early that morning. We all loaded up and headed out at 7 am once again, this time seeing deer once again on Hwy 91, but this time no close calls. We arrived to find the ferry making its way across the river to get us….

…and then drove on over to Gary`s place at E-town…his son Walter and his Dad were there as well and we had a great time talking to them….I purchased some more fluorite, another couple of flats, including a ” butterscotch ” plate…it has some holes in a couple of the cubes, with jagged edges…some of us thought that maybe they were from acid of some type with rain possibly washing out the acid and stopping the process of eating thru the fluorite. After an hour or so there, we all headed over to the mine and began digging once again.

It was a bit crisper temps this morning than Saturday morning, so many of us stayed bundled up a little longer, but we again had a great time digging for beautiful crystals. Some of us wandered up the hillside in search of other areas to dig into and David followed us with the tractor and dug into a few areas for us. However, we didnt find anything of any quality like we had been finding below, so we returned to the big pile and resumed our digging there. Above and below, you see Mark Bishop in the yellow rain pants, David Bruce in the blue pullover and white pants, and John Oostenryk in the bright blue pullover and blue jeans with a woolly hat on. 

Doug came by and suggested that we check out the creekbank along the field so after David and I started finding some nice blue crystals along that bank, a few of us dug in and started pulling several pretties out of the dirt. Fred joined us and within moments pulled out a huge pretty yellow crystal…I am hoping he will take a photo of it and send to me, when he held it up to the light it just glowed with a very pleasing luminescence !! Chuck had to head home that morning to get ready for a father – daughter dance, and Mark headed home that afternoon with a bucket or two full of blue fluorite. We stopped digging a little earlier on Sunday afternoon, tired and a bit sore yet from all the digging we did on Saturday, but we all left very happy with what we had found. David did a great job of widening the roadway we had created with the fluorite free tailings at the foot of the pile, as you can see here….

Most of us were driving home early on Monday morning, so after cleaning up, we headed back to the hotel to clean up and have yet another great supper at Oasis. I believe I was the last one out of the hotel Monday morning, other than Dale and his wife, who were staying in the area for a few days as part of their vacation. David sent me a FB message a few days later, letting me know that he found some nice crystals while washing off his tractor tires….

…and here is one of the pretty ones I found after I washed it off with soap and water only….

As to the situation at the Eureka Mine in Kentucky, I can only hope that they are able to resolve the legal issues soon and get things back on track…the Eureka Mine and the folks at the Clement Mineral Museum have been a bright spot in the lives of many rockhounds across the USA and around the world for many years, they provide a great service and location to go and dig for crystals in a time when its becoming increasingly difficult to find such places to go to. As I told Bill Frazer, we stand ready to return to help at any time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dynamite Dogtooth Pockets

It`s been a great winter so far, only about six weeks of normal cold weather and two weeks of very cold weather, and then in February, we started warming up like it does in May…we still have March to go thru, it may come in like a lamb as it did this morning and go out like a lion, but who knows…I just know that everyone really likes the weather we have now, we hit 76 degrees yesterday alone !!  Last weekend, Nathaniel Reid and Chuck Reed joined me on a trip to Eminence to check out the quarry on another warm day, we had not been there since November last year, mainly because there had not been any activity down there. I received word from my good friend Jim a few days before the weekend that they had blasted the northwest corner of the quarry. In the past year since they began removing rock from the west side of the quarry, we never found anything more than the poker chip wanna bees on that side, but we had not been there in a while so we decided to go down and look things over…glad now that we did.

Onxy was in rare form that morning, rarin to go do some rockhounding with me, cause he had not been with me on the St Louis County trip to look for Union Road Agates a few weeks before. Chuck and Nathaniel joined me on that trip as well, where we walked in to a couple of creeks in the South County area and found quite a few of the geodes for the few hours we were there. There was a third location that we wanted to check out, but didnt have time and instead went to a buddys home, where he sells geodes from the Keokuk area. I had purchased a few flats of geodes from Ken a few weeks earlier, to include in my bathroom remodeling project…have my tile guy place them into my shower walls with the barnwood tile. When I went there to pick them up, Chuck met me there and Ken showed us his private collection, this time we had Nathaniel along and he got to see it as well. We got up early on Sunday morning, Feb 19th to discover heavy fog outside…visibility was maybe quarter of a mile…thick enough Nathaniel got turned around on his way to my house to catch a ride with me to the quarry.

We got on the road about 7:30 and by the time we reached Licking, the fog was starting to lift with sunlight burning it off. East of Houston the skies finally cleared off and remained that way til we dropped off into the Jacks Fork Valley near Alley Spring Mill, then the fog enveloped us once again all the way to the quarry. We arrived around 9:45 to find Chuck sitting on a rock up on top of the blast pile, cobbing down a boulder and wrapping up specimens to put into his bucket….

and some fog still hanging in the wind….

Nathaniel grabbed his tools and bucket and headed to the west side of the pile while Onyx and I started up the east side along the wall, toward Chuck….

About midway up to him, I spotted some green calcite at the base of the wall and stopped to check it out…there was some brown mixed in with it and pretty soon, I pulled a few dogtooth crystals out of the pocket, showing them to Chuck, and decided to park myself right there and explore some more….

…here is the pocket when I got about halfway down into it, after removing at least one bag of wrapped crystals and clusters….

…and some of my finds…I also passed a few of them off to Chuck as well….he came down and started looking closer at the wall below me at the same level my pocket was at….

In the meantime, Nathaniel started shouting to us that he had found some huge yard rocks and some nice smaller clusters over on the west side of the pile, some of them covered in what looked like aragonnite….here they are on my tailgate….

Soon after, Nathaniel and Chuck took a break and drove over to the other side of the quarry to check out the walls there, while I continued to dig out my pocket…an hour later and I had it cleaned out, all the way around the sides and down to the very bottom, which took awhile cause I just kept pulling clusters and doubles and triples out of the bottom of the pocket…for awhile I thought it was gonna be a bottomless pocket. Many of the crystals are dogtooths, a black or brown center inside a green or brown poker chip, and then I was able to remove a few of the top and side wall plates of clusters, as well.

By this time, I had three bags completely full of wrapped crystals as well as three large clusters that I had no room for in the bags, so had to make two trips down to the truck, where I took a short water break, got Onyx some more water in his bowl, and then took another bag with me, back up to look along the wall for more pockets. When I got to the top of the pile, I located more pockets and soon after, Chuck and Nathaniel returned from their exploration break. Nathaniel joined me up on the top wall where I had located four pockets close together. I worked one pocket and let him have the others, as I was beginning to tire already….before heading out, Chuck grabbed my camera in the truck and snapped a couple of Nathaniel and I working the wall too….

I filled one bag halfway up with wrapped crystals and then walked down the west side of the pile to take a look at the two huge yard rocks he found over there…he said they were too heavy for him and Chuck to lift and then carry to my truck. As soon as I got to the floor of the quarry, I spotted them sitting there…

I got my four pound hammer and chisel and cobbed down the plate on top of the first boulder, getting one large plate and a smaller plate intact. I remember someone telling me that calcite was only a hardness of four…sure didnt feel like a four to me, more like a seven…seemed like it took a lot longer to hammer those two plates off than it should have…I was wore out by the time I carried them to the truck. The second boulder had a lot of damage to the crystal tops, many sheared off, so I didnt even try to cobb it down. Nathaniel decided not to try either. Chuck left a few minutes prior headed home, so Nathaniel and I wrapped up our crystals, loaded up my truck, and headed to my dealer buddys house to see what he had in Viburnum Trend minerals. We hadnt been to his place in a few months and he had let me know that he had some new stuff, buying a few collections in the past few weeks. We arrived there about an hour later and found that he did indeed, have some beautiful new stuff, and after about 30 minutes, we both had a flat full of some nice new crystals…the first two of mine were smokey calcite clusters from an old collection, the clusters from the forbidden crystal cavern at Brushy Creek Mine, likely removed from there over twenty years ago…..

here is the second smokey calcite cluster….

…plus when he purchased this collection, it came with a nice barite piece from an Iowa quarry that was super sweet looking, so I got all three for one price….

..and some chalco pieces on druse, one with a green crystal on the end of the plate….

…sure ended a very nice day of collecting, thats for sure !!

 

 

 

Blue Fluorite in Southern Illinois

My apologies to all of those who have been watching for my story on my latest trip to Southern Illinois to dig blue fluorite a couple of weeks ago…between catching up and my schedule at work increasing in the past few months, its been tough to find some free time to work on my story…and getting the photos edited up is half the battle as well, but here goes….

I had taken off the entire second week of November for my annual fall vacation to Arkansas for the elusive quartz crystals, and had been talking to a landowner in Southern Illinois by email all summer, who has an old fluorite mine on his property. The trip to Arkansas was a success and by the time I returned from there, I had about a week to prepare for the trip to Southern Illinois, but luckily with the help of good friends who were going to join me there, it all came together quite nicely.

Joining me on this trip were Chuck Reed, David and Janyce Sorrells, John Oostenryk, Pete Stoeckel, and Virgil Richards. Pete had the longest drive in, 14 hours from Philadelphia, Virgil a close second with an 8 hour drive from Tulsa, and John in third with a 7 hour drive from Fulton, Illinois…talk about dedication and a love for fluorite !!

When I began looking at lodging in the area back in October, Chuck and I were able to book the last two log cabins close by, just down the road from Garden of the Gods. Unfortunately there was no pet friendly lodging in that entire area, so I left Onyx with my Mom this trip. It worked out for Chuck to bring his entire family with him, while I was able to offer John Oos and Pete a place to stay as well, since they are two bedroom cabins with a sofa bed couch as well. I also researched a few places to eat at nearby…nearby meaning at least 15 to 20 miles away where the closest towns were located from where we would be, deep in the sticks. Luckily there was a gas station closeby that had a little convenience store and warm food and sandwiches served daily, where we could meet each morning for breakfast. Chuck arrived on Friday afternoon, Nov 25th, about 30 minutes before I did…I was taking the scenic route getting there, going through some of the old coal mining areas on my route, while he skirted around Harrisburg to get there. Soon after pulling up in front of my cabin, Pete called me to let me know he was nearby and would arrive soon…little did I know that he was up on top of the nearby hill at Garden of the Gods, til we all drove up there to catch the last rays of the setting sun and found him at the entrance gate. We got up there with a cloudy sky and just enough light to allow me to shoot a few photos at 400 speed ISO….

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Trust me, the images look like I shot them mid afternoon, but thats what good editing can do for you and a good editing program as well. it was dark up there and luckily the paths going to the rocks are brick lined and nicely put together, so you arent tripping over rocks and tree roots all the way down there and back…we had just enough ambient light to see our way in and less on the way out. Garden of the

Gods is one of those magical places that just has to be seen to be appreciated tho and it never fails to amaze me…

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( Well I am having problems once again with my local server keeping the internet connection, not sure if its a Windows 10 issue or some problem with the server, but its getting to be very aggravating, just spent thirty min writing up the intro to the first day digging and lost the entire thing. so bear with me while I try this again, just called my server, and I think they now know how ticked off I am about this on-going issue. )

Trust me, the images I shot at Garden of the Gods look as though we were there in mid afternoon, but as it was, we had ony ambient light to walk to the overlook, just enough light to see the path in forest that the US FS created with bricks so that one doesnt have to trip over rocks and tree roots to get there. Thanks to an amazing editing program, my images just look great in low light sometimes. Garden of the Gods is an amazing place to go to, magical in the right light, thankfully we had enough ambient light to see that evening, mainly due to the cloudy skies in place all day. Had the skies cleared off, we probably wouldnt have been able to see by the time we arrived.

We drove back to the cabin and got Pete settled in, then headed to Harrisburg to have supper at Morellos Italian Restaurant on Main Street…highly rated for fine dining there. Finding a parking place proved to be a challenge and after driving into the third lot, located across the street, we were able to find one finally. We walked inside to find a fairly well packed dining area and we were greeted warmly by staff and seated quickly. I had every intention of having Italian food that evening, but when I found out they had a special on filet mignon, I changed my mind and ordered the steak instead. Everyone else ordered Italian and said it was all good, as was my steak and food. Afterward, on the way back to the cabin, Pete and I stopped off at DQ so I could get a blizzard for dessert…shortly after we arrived at the cabin, John showed up and moved his stuff inside…Chuck came over shortly after and we had a pretty good mineral jam session til it was time to retire for the night.

The plan was to meet up with David and Janyce at Harbisons Country Market the next morning, they were bringing up their tractor on a trailer to assist us with digging into the tailing piles at the old mine. John rode with me to save parking space at the mine, so we drove over to Harbisons at 7 am, and after Virgil showed up, we all went inside for some breakfast…the place has a deli inside and can grill up biscuits, gravy, and eggs, plus they have sausage and egg sandwiches too. Afterwards, we drove down to the landowners residence, so he could lead us down to the old mine. I had stopped by to see and visit with him earlier this summer on my way to a dig at the Eureka Mine, and he had offered to allow me to bring my group to his mine and dig into the tailings to see what we could find. We stayed in touch and he let us bring and use the tractor as well. He led us down to the location and helped us with parking, directing David to a flat spot so it would be easier for him to unload the tractor. After introductions, we all gave him some nice crystals and minerals from our respective areas and he then showed us where we could dig and hazards to avoid, and soon after we had all spread out all over the huge tailing pile in front and began there…I brought a rake with me and used it to rake down the heavy carpet of forest leaves from the pile…John had offered to bring a gas powered leaf blower to make things easier, but I told him it would take up a lot of room in his car, and possibly deprive him of space in case we hit the jackpot in goodies there.

David unloaded his tractor and started digging around in various spots up and down the hill around the main tailing pile….

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…and pretty soon we were all finding some pretty blue colored fluorite in the pile….

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David continued to move up the hill digging in various spots with his backhoe attachment, while Virgil and Janyce combed the dig areas to find the elusive fluorite pieces. Pete, John, and I were mainly working on the back side of the tailing pile, concentrating on the lower end where it met up with the creekbed on the other side from the others, while Chuck and Mackenzie were digging into the top of the pile….

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…and by noon, after a break for food and water, we all wound up down at the northern base of the tailing pile looking for goodies, which seemed to be naturally just falling out of the dirt and into our hands each time David made a pass with the bucket into the pile…David spotted me taking photos and said I had better get down there cause everyone was finding some nice stuff….

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We all got a good workout in that day, digging out the loose dirt and pulling out the gems hiding inside, covered by the clay, discovering not only blue fluorite, but colors of green, yellow and clear as well. David would dig into the hillside of the tailing pile with the bucket and drop it out at our feet, and then we would rake it back and spread it all out to find the hidden gemstones…lots of fun and lots of hard work..we dug this way for about four hours, stopping as it began to get dark. Here is some video on the dig above….click on ” Download File ” then double click on the file name below and it will pop up in a separate window for you to view it….

The landowner stopped by to check on us a few times and see how we were doing, we showed him our finds and he was happy as well. We loaded up the tractor and tools, to head back to the cabins to get cleaned up before heading to Golconda for supper. Virgil headed back home before that, antsy to see his new grandson and wanting to stop off at Eminence on the way to check out the quarry there. Since John had never seen Garden of the Gods, I drove him up there to see it at sunset and snapped a few photos of it again as well…

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Over on the left point, above image…there were some guys from Texas that were admiring the view and in front of us, below image…there was a young couple admiring the view…

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…and an entire family on the point to our right…below image….

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By the time John and I returned to the cabin, everyone was ready to go get something to eat, so we followed David and Janyce to the small town of Golconda, which is about a twenty minute drive south to the Ohio River. While researching places to eat at, I had come across a bar and grill named Diver Down, located on Main Street in Golconda, known wide and far for their catfish fillets, chicken fingers, and steaks, all fresh food prepared and cooked to order. We arrived soon after dark and walked in to find the place nearly empty, the staff seemed a bit surprised that we had a group numbering nine but quickly seated us and provided us with menus. I discovered that they had a special on prime rib that night as well as catfish fillets…so naturally I ordered the prime rib and everyone else decided on nachos and chicken fingers. The wait was long and there were a few smaller groups that came in after us that seemed to get their food quicker than we did…but the food was good when we did finally get it and true to their word, it was definitely fresh food, not frozen at all. The chicken fingers at this place are large, but they dont come with fries or anything else, so you have to order fries or anything else with it, possibly because they are so big. I helped Chucks wife Lynn, who wasnt able to eat all of her chicken fingers, that is how I know they were freshly cooked and good tasting. We tried to get back to Harbisons before they closed, to get some hand dipped ice cream, but I made the wrong turn and we got there just a few minutes too late. We headed back to the cabins and had another mineral jam session, this time John bringing in some crystals and minerals to share with us from the Iowa quarries that he goes to collect at, and some barite specimens to buy from his dealer friend Craig….

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We woke up the next day to a very frosty cold morning, a bit on the froggy side too and frost so heavy it looked like a dusting of snow everywhere….

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David left the tractor and trailer with us at the cabin, so the next morning they arrived about 7 am and then we all drove down to Harbisons for breakfast again. After arriving at the old mine and digging for about an hour, still finding alot of blue fluorite pieces during that time, we decided to stop and head over to Elizabethtown and visit with Gary Griffith, who mines fluorite in yellow and purple colors at the Hasty Mine nearby….Gary also sells the fluorite and makes octohedrons by hand as well. I met him and his son at the Eureka Mine Show earlier this year and found out they have some beautiful stuff that they sell by the flat. David has bought from them as well so he and Janyce led us to Garys house. Gary had several pallets completely covered by purple and yellow fluorite, plus he had some raspberry colored fluorite as well, so we all grabbed a flat and started selecting what we would like to buy from him. While we were doing that, he chipped out a couple of octohedrons for Janyce….

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I shot some video of Gary creating these octohedrons for David and Janyce….click on ” Download File ” and it will come up and play in a separate window for you….

 

…that is Gary`s dad in the background he is talking to about lottery tickets while he chips away at the fluorite piece….and carrying on a conversation with David as well. Here is a video showing a pallet full of beautiful purple fluorites that he has for sale there….

 

When we got back to the mine, Chuck headed home, leaving Pete, John, David, Janyce, and I to continue diggging for a couple more hours..

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David and his tractor made the work much easier for all of us and helped us enjoy the dig and hard work we all put into it as well….thanks for bringing your tractor David….

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We thanked the landowner once again before heading home. I arrived home about 7:30 pm Sunday evening and by midnight had heard from everyone but Virgil and Pete…luckily this time John made it home safe and sound without any mishaps along the way as he did on the conclusion of his journey home from Arkansas…Pete arrived home about 4 am safe and sound, and from the looks and sound of it, everyone was pretty happy they had made the trip down there as well. Here are some of my cleaned up goodies….

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and one of the only ones I found with any cubes on it in deep blue color no less….

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…another successful and enjoyable trip to wrap up 2016 very well….if you have any questions, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com 

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Years !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Springs Arkansas November 2016

Onyx and I were up and at em as they say, early Tuesday morning, Nov 8th, preparing to south to southern Arkansas for our annual fall vacation…as we stepped outside to finish packing the truck, I noticed a gorgeous sunrise in the skies above…..

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….my Mom always travels with me down there and we drop her off at Fort Smith, usually to stay with one of her ” little brothers ” to visit with everyone in the area, but this year we dropped her off at the airport to pick up a rental suv so she could stay at the Marriott and visit with her older sister who was driving in from California.  One of my Springfield area friends was going to go with me on this trip, but he was mugged the night before, the thief stole everything from him including his phone, and I was unable to contact him once we got down there, so had to continue on without him. He was in need of a good vacation before that and we motored on down the road hoping that he could borrow someones phone and call me before we got too far down the road to turn around and return to pick him up…unfortunately, that never happened and still to this day, I have not been able to contact him, so can only hope for the best. I have discovered that its nearly impossible to find out anything about anyone in that area, for some reason.

We arrived in Fort Smith around noon and after dropping Mom off, Onyx and I drove over to Sallisaw, Oklahoma, to see my buddy Adam Lagaveen. Adam and I have become good friends in the past couple of years, he is into quartz crystal collecting, and while he likes other pretty rocks and minerals too, his passion these days is for knapping Native American knives and arrowheads out of native rock…he also uses glass too but he is especially talented when it comes to rainbow and mahogany obsidian and novaculite too. He heat treats this material which really brings out the colors and makes the minerals easier to work with, from what I have gathered over the years about knapping. It has taken over his garage and work area at his house and slowly but surely, he has allowed me to take over his older collection of quartz crystals and minerals to make more room for his knapping collection. Today he was a bit tight on his schedule, so I picked up some more quartz from him, some wavellite as well and a tub of Iowa geodes that he had laying around, as well as a big chunk of petrified wood that was in his way. It was great visiting with him again, as always, and we were soon on our way back to Fort Smith to pick up Hwy 71 south.

After stopping off in Waldron to fill up my truck at the Phillips 66 there, we headed on south to Hot Springs…Waldron is the area that my Mom and Dad were both born and raised at…on dairy farms about ten miles west of town out near the Oklahoma line in the mountain valleys. Its an area that I have become fond of visiting when down there and we have many relatives and friends in that area. Onyx and I arrived at the condo that I rent each time I go to Hot Springs, located on Lake Hamilton near the Sunbay Resort, just after sunset…I dont mind getting there in the dark anymore since I know the area pretty good now…it was a little daunting the first time there, but am very comfy with it these days. Onyx seems to remember it well too, he runs around the area lawns there very knowingly and seems to remember we are going up the stairs to the upstairs unit as well. I dont even put him on a leash there anymore, he is so used to it. I really enjoy this condo, as it has a balcony that is right out over Lake Hamilton and the view out there during the day and the nighttime, is just phenomenal…here is the standard night view….

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As soon as we unpacked, Ray Roth, my friend from New Orleans who meets me there each year to go quartz crystal collecting with me, texted to let me know that he had snacked all the way up there on his trip, so he wasnt going to join me at supper. Onyx and I soon headed to Habachi Sushi Buffet, near the mall in Hot Springs…not for the sushi, but for the great buffet they have there, serving American and Chinese food, plus a sushi bar if you are into that type of food…I am not…and one can eat there for ten bucks a meal. Afterwards, I stopped by the Scoops Homemade Ice Cream Store to pick up a couple of pints of ice cream and then we headed back to the condo to settle in for the night.

For what was prob the first time down there, I actually slept in til 8 am the next morning, missing the gorgeous sunrise, which is totally a first for me, but I def needed the rest too. The next two days there, I scheduled a few model shoots and planned to visit a mineral dealer friend as well. Ray and I had breakfast at the Best Western Hotel near Oaklawn, where he was staying at, they have probably the best continental breakfast I have seen at a hotel in a long time, serving not only muffins and cereal, but scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, and biscuits and gravy, albeit the wrong flavored gravy in my humble opinion. Later that morning I had a photo shoot scheduled and another one the next day, but also wanted to go by and see a mineral dealer friend of mine. Ray decided to take his little dog and head up the mountain in town to the tower to see the view. I texted Justin, my rockhunting buddy in Hot Springs and made plans to meet him later and take him to see my mineral dealer friend Gary, who had some Elmwood pieces that I wanted to see and possibly purchase from him. I knew Justin would appreciate this type of visit and he brought along some of his crystals that he had been finding lately to show to Gary, and Gary was able to give him a good appraisal on them as well as give him some good solid information on them as well. I let Gary know that I would be joined by about a dozen friends later that weekend and he said we could come by on Saturday evening to visit. Soon after getting back to the condo, I shot this sunset over the lake to the west with some fishermen boating by…..

 

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…and then the Belle of Hot Springs coasted by on their daily night tour of Lake Hamilton as well….

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Onyx and I woke up at our traditional vacation time the next morning at 6 am, in time to catch the beautiful rays of sunlight illuminating the wispy layers of fog floating across the waters of Lake Hamilton outside the window….

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Onyx and I met up with Ray at 9 am for breakfast at Best Western again and then we did some shopping before returning to the condo. I usually drive around the area looking for pretty spots to photograph, but the color down there was nearly non existent, the leaves had already turned brown in many places and simply fell off. I had an email from a rockhound that had been down to the area back in September, who said that he had found some baskets of quartz crystals, clusters, and plates, at one of the area mines, so I decided to drive over to both of the Coleman mines and check on it. I found one dirt basket at Ron Coleman`s mine that looked like a lot of broken quartz crystals, so I called ahead to Miller Mtn Mine, which was under new management this time, and was told they had fifteen baskets there. I decided to drive on up and take a look at them…Ray and I both have purchased baskets from there in the past when Bill and Faith were operating the mine for Jim Coleman, however since they had retired from operations there, things had not been going so smoothly there since. The new caretakers were a country couple and were very nice to talk to, however the baskets there were full of broken crystal plates and not worth the asking price at all. I did find a couple of burr clusters for sale tho that were bargain priced so I purchased them instead, paying what I would have spent on two baskets, they were coated on both sides with quartz crystals and many burrs of crystals as well, both of them beach ball sized. I was happy. I didnt know it til later, but my good friends David and Janyce Sorrells were over in the tailing piles at that time digging for quartz there…I found out the next day when they joined me at the Southfork Mine.  I headed back to the condo for another shoot and shot this gorgeous sunset…..

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Later I met up with Ray for supper at the Outback Steakhouse, everyone else was traveling in and arriving later that night, some not arriving til Friday night to go to the quartz mine with us…..think it is going to become my new steakhouse favorite, it was delish !!  

Onyx and I retired early, as Friday morning was going to be an early one, meeting up with everyone who was going with us to Southfork Mine. We woke up just before 6 am again, to some gorgeous hues of red filling the eastern skies…like the sunset last night, this appeared to be a gorgeous duplicate of last night and just got better and better every few minutes….

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…and a few minutes later, it morphed into this stunner as well….

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..and just kept getting better as the skies lightened up….

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…simply gorgeous is all I could think that morning….one of the best sunrises I have seen there for sure. Onyx and I drove up to McDonalds to meet up with Chuck and MacKenzie there for breakfast..they were already there waiting on us. We then drove over to the Valero Gas Station on Higdon Ferry Road just south of Hwy 270 to meet up with Jon and Ray, and then motored west to meet David and Janyce at the pull off spot across from the Crystal Inn, before heading on west to Mt Ida. More folks would be joining us the next day.

We met Tony at the entrance to the mine road and he led us down to it and thru the gate, that he had already opened for us…he had acquired a newer truck, this one a full size Dodge pick up with a flat bed on it, giving him more power and more cargo room than his older model Toyota pickup, which his girlfriend told me later that he still has. Chuck and MacKenzie went on up to the top of this mountain to start up at the older mine while everyone else walked into the newer mine to check things out. Janyce walked past and then backed back up a nice vug that was chock full of plates with large points all over the sandstone rock…

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Janyce was so excited, she called David down from the top wall to check it out and then he got excited and called John down to take a look at it, that was fun to watch and listen to….

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…after that John came up to my location on the upper wall to check out the vertical pockets in front of me and was quite impressed with this potential area right below me…

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…hard to see in the photo above but there were crystals laying everywhere in that clay mud…I climbed up higher on the wall and worked another area that was chock full of crystals as well…while David and Janyce set about trying to liberate the crystal plates from that pocket down below…

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…and John appeared to be trying to figure out where to start on his wall section…..

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…and here is what I was looking at in front of me….

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After prying several crystals from the pockets in front of me, an area including this pocket above and then an area above and below it about 2 feet wide by 8 feet high, for about four hours, I decided to get up and go get some water, and then do some surface collecting up on top. I let John know he could work the pockets if he wanted to, and Onyx and I headed up to the top of the mountain. Tony and his girlfriend had headed into town and locked us in, locking the gate behind them so we would not be disturbed by anyone else. He had some friends camped out nearby so we were definitely not going to be bothered by anyone. I got up on top of the mountain and parked down by Chuck, found him chiseling plates from a wall up there while Mackenzie was resting up……

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…he told me that he had found some great plates and was able to liberate quite a few nice ones…I checked out the wall and saw some great little burrs of crystals all over the rock as well as some big points that were two to three inches in length. While he continued to hammer, I decided to walk the entire area up on top so I would have a good idea of what to tell everyone else when they returned with us the next day. Onyx and I walked down to the area right above the newer area where John, David, and Janyce continued to work…

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…and then I turned around and began to look for crystals…finding several all the way back up the hill to the tailing piles above….they were literally laying all over the place, just like back in July when we were there and last fall when Virgil, Doug, and Ray joined me there for our first dig there….here are a few that I spotted, some I dug up and took with me and some I left for others…

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…the last one above is a yard rock that I dug out the rest of the way, then rolled it over, the top of it was really nice, so I grabbed my four lb hammer and chisel, then popped the top of it off, came off very nicely, too. After that I took a few minutes and wrapped up my finds and downed another bottle of water…by then it was starting to get warm up there on top of the small mountain…course wearing a long sleeved sweat shirt didn`t help either. We loaded up and drove back down to the lower area to check on the rest of the crew, finding them tuckered out like we were, and ready to head back to Hot Springs to get some supper.

We did just that and had some great time at Habachi Sushi Buffet, David and Janyce stopped off at their camper to clean up and then drove down to join us there. Alan and Debbie had made it into Hot Springs by then, driving in from Memphis, so they joined us as well a few minutes after we started eating. Afterwards, Onyx and I headed to the Scoops Ice Cream Shop again, got another pint of chocolate chip and then headed to the condo to rest up.

The next morning, I grabbed a sausage and egg biscuit at McDonalds, then drove up to Valero to meet up with the rest of the crew including the Tyler, Texas folks that drove up Friday night to join us for the Saturday dig. As I pulled in and parked to lead out, Fred Mahaffey, the Field Trip Director from the Tyler Club walked over and let me know that he had a few folks along for the dig. Chuck and Mackenzie joined us soon after, as did Alan and Debbie, and John. Ray decided he had too much fun the day before at the quartz mine, and was going fishing that day instead. We loaded up and headed west to Mt Ida, picking up David and Janyce at the gas station on the west side of town, then drove on out to the mine. When we stopped at the gate this time, those of us not wearing neon orange or green shirts,  donned our orange protective vests and proceeded up the hillside to the mine…this was the first day of gun deer season and we wanted to make sure no one mistook us for a deer.  Fred, Jim, and Sydney, Jim`s daughter, Alan and Debbie, followed Chuck and Mackenzie up to the top of the mountain to search up there, while Janyce, David, and John returned to the new area to work the wall some more. Onyx and I drove on up to the top to see how everyone was doing and after the strenuous day before, I decided to simply help everyone new get started on finding some nice quartz. By the time we arrived, Alan and Debbie were doing pretty good surface collecting and the Texas crew was moving around finding some nice ones as well. I showed Fred, Jim, and Alan the wall that Chuck had been working and let them know that there were literally crystals laying all over the tailing piles as well. I spotted a few and handed them off to Fred, who started surface collecting in the piles near me in the middle….

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….then noticed that Chuck and Mackenzie were surface collecting the old pit wall today…she was all decked out in multi colors today, in addition to her orange vest….

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..in the meantime, Alan and Debbie were surface collecting…Alan down by the walls where Chuck was located the day before, and Debbie up on top of the hill…

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After I could see that everyone was finding some nice stuff, I took a water break and then grabbed a bag and my mini mattox and set off in search of crystals once again. I started in the pit, found Jim and Sydney working the crystal wall and Fred looking around the backside of the wall…

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…and then I climbed up on top of the hill to check out the boulders up there. Lo and behold, once up there, I discovered some nice clusters of small burr like crystals embedded in dirt in the top of a small boulder…small but not so small that I could get it into the bed of my truck…so I walked over to the truck and retrieved my hammer and chisel….here is what they looked like up closer….

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…and here they are in the dirt on the boulder up close….

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…I took a stretch break and looked around, spotted Janyce walking down into the old tailings area and Mackenzie and Sydney were working together at the bottom of one of the piles….

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…Alan and Debbie came over to check out the clusters and I gave them a couple of them…then after clearing the boulder I decided to do a little surface collecting at the top of the hill piles and spotted some smokey colored crystals, so I sat down and started digging in..within a few seconds, I pulled out a big ball of clay that turned out to be a gorgeous burr cluster the size of a baseball in my hand. After I pulled out yet another one, Alan decided to sit down and dig into the huge pile next to me..within seconds I had a third one removed…all in all, I think I found about half a dozen of them…not all of them were smokey colored, but they were definitely pretty…I gave Alan a couple of them too. It was now approaching 3 pm so I wrapped up my clusters and then drove down to the new area to check on everyone down there. I found Janyce and David ready to pack up and head out, and John had a big smile on his face…

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…..he was working on removing a huge burr cluster at the top of the vein he had been working all day. I let him know that he had about 20 minutes to do so and he started working on it a bit more earnestly…Chuck and I helped him as much as we could while he worked on getting it out intact….I found out later that he had a good reason for not having removed it earlier, he was also able to remove a couple of big points while we were there with him as well….

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….and here he is trying to chip those out….

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…and after removing those, he then started prying out the huge cluster above…within a few moments he had liberated it from the confines of that clay pocket and that smile on his face moments earlier now turned into a huge grin….

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…soon after getting this wrapped up, I carried his tools down to his car, Chuck helped him carry the goodies to his car, and after he wrapped everything up safe and secure, we headed down the hill and out the gate, and down to Gary`s residence…to look over some beautiful Elmwood calcites, fluorites, sphalerites, and barites combined into gorgeous specimens. Gary has been collecting for 44 years, at one point he had a quartz mine of his own in the Mt Ida area and not only is a neat guy with a wealth of information but has a great collection of crystals and minerals as well. He enjoyed the visit with everyone as we did with him, and soon we were all headed back to Hot Springs for supper at various locations. The Texas crew headed to the Purple Cow and then headed home to Tyler…Chuck and Mackenzie headed to one of the Mexican Restaurants, David and Janyce headed back to their camper, and the rest of us, Alan, Debbie, John, joined me at the Habachi once again. We made plans to meet up again at the Valero the next morning about 7:30 am to drive down to Magnet Cove for a visit to one of the novaculite quarries. Onyx and I picked up a pint of butter pecan at Scoops and then retired back to the condo.

The next morning we had yet another foggy sunrise over the lake…

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I decided not to eat any breakfast that morning as I would be leaving about 10:30 am to drive up to Waldron for our annual family reunion at the Thomas Family farm, my uncles and cousins cook and prepare a huge feast up there for many friends and family members who show up by early afternoon there.  Onyx and I drove over to the Valero and found David, Janyce, Mackenzie and Chuck waiting for us, they were browsing inside when we pulled up…I checked my gas gauge and decided to fill the tank…as I was doing that, Alan and Debbie pulled into the next pump over to fill theirs as well. Now we were just waiting on John…I knew Ray wasnt going to make it cause he doesnt like novaculite like the rest of us do…I tried to call John a few times, called the hotel where he was staying and there was no answer so we decided to just give him a few minutes…and oila…he suddenly appeared…he had to load up the goodies he had brought for me to purchase from him and to trade with the others. He was also going to trade with Gary later that day for some luna agates from Mexico that Gary has in his collection. I called Mr. Parker to let him know we were running a bit late and he said he would wait for us at his shop in Magnet Cove. We took off and luckily the fog that was up on the hill in Hot Springs did not extend down into the valley of Magnet Cove, so we made good time and arrived shortly after our agreed upon meeting time of 8 am…then followed Mr. Parker over to his quarry, that required a bit more time as it was over some rough and super dusty gravel roads to reach it. Soon after arriving, he led us up to the area where they find many colors of novaculite and gave us a short history on the area first….

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Mr. Parker is a super nice guy, he has owned and operated the Magnet Cove Stone Company for many years, it has been in his family for many years beyond that as well, operated by his father and grandfather both. He allows rockhounds and mineral clubs to come and collect there, as well as knappers, and sells much of the beautiful colored and translucent material to commercial markets, some of them overseas. Some of his material has also gone up in space on one of the space shuttles, used in the protective heat shield of the shuttles. There are about ten colors at the quarry in different sections there…I prefer the gray blending into the deep reds, found in the location we were standing in….

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…and when we arrived, we met one of his employees who was cleaning out the rock in one of the new pits they had just dug out up there, he was also his best jackhammer man….

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…we then all divided up and began looking for some pretty stuff to take home…Chuck and Mackenzie were finding some nice stuff pretty quickly….

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…I picked up a couple of pieces there and then wandered over to the area on the other side of the vehicles, where I found John in the gray and red section…I found several nice pieces there that I wanted to take home. Mr. Parker only charges fifty cents a pound which is a good price for collectors and knappers alike.  John broke out some of the material he brought down for me to look through, and some of the others came over to look it over too, and pretty soon they were all trading and buying from him. I was soon out of time and had to head out…I led David and Janyce a different way out, shortcut over to Hwy 70 where we turned west and headed back to Hot Springs, they going back to their camper to load up and head home to Paducah, and me on west to Waldron to my family reunion. Chuck and Mackenzie left about 30 minutes later headed home to St Louis County, Alan and Debbie headed back to Memphis, and John drove out to talk more with Gary and do some trading with him, before then heading on home to Illinois. Onxy and I arrived at the family farm about noon and visited with family members before the meal.

I had cousins there that traveled in from California that I had not seen for a few years, two sets of Korean cousins, of the four, my cousin John is a rockhound while cousins Marilyn and Carolyn are simply quartz crystal fans. It was about 2:30 when everything was done and everyone was fed and beginning to leave…I wanted to get back before dark if possible, so Onyx and I headed out soon after.  I heard from Chuck by email when he and Mackenzie got back to the St Louis area safe and sound, and John kept me updated on his progress as well, he had the longer drive, ten hours at least. About a week after, he told me that when he was close to home, he struck a huge raccoon that came out into the highway in front of him, leaving him no choice…this thing was soo big that it took out a chunk of his bumper and also completely damaged his radiator…he spent the night in a gas station to keep warm and then his parents brought a flat bed trailer down to transport his car back home the next morning…his parents sound just like my parents…ready to help whenever needed. Onyx and I were relaxing down in the condo watching tv when I looked outside and thought things really looked bright out on the water…I walked out on the balcony and looked east and saw the moon rising up over the lake, looking HUGE….

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…it doesnt look like it in these photos but it sure did look big there…it was super bright out there for one thing…I had been seeing it about five nights in a row by then and I didnt remember it being that bright the other nights…I shot some video of it that night as well and then shot some closeups of it as an airplane passed by it….

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…we were now in relax and wind down mode, I had scheduled my vacation to include a few days of it, some at the beginning and one full day of it at the end…I really intended to sleep in the next morning but for whatever reason, was unable to do so..in fact we got up before the sunrise this time… I took Onyx out and saw the super moon dropping down to the horizon in the western skies right over the lake once again….

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…and a few minutes later, the sun did come up in an orange glow at the other side of the lake….

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Since I didnt hear from anyone else, it was a safe bet that by Monday morning that Onyx and I were the only ones left down there, so after repacking the truck for the return trip home….I visited with friends all day and one even drove up from Camden to have an early supper with me that evening at Outback…soon after he left for home, I took this pretty sunset photo….

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…and after yet another relaxing evening with ice cream and tv shows…Onyx and I retired to bed and got up about 8 am to finish packing the truck, then we were on the road by 9 am headed to Fort Smith to pick up Mom and head home from there. I had four large yard rocks and three bags of wrapped quartz crystals, a flat of wavellite, a tub of geodes, and some novaculite pieces, and just enough room left over for all of Moms luggage…all in all, another great Arkansas vacation. If you have any questions, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com 

 

 

 

Eminence and Park Hills Show 2016

I forgot to complete my story on the weekend of the Park Hills Show, the weekend that David and Janyce Sorrells came up for the show and then went rockhunting with me at the quarry in Eminence…and my buddy Travis from Tennessee came up to meet us there and rockhunt with us as well as his two sons. David reminded me this morning and so here I am, three months later, completing the story on the weekend, my apologies to all….that was a rough week and a rough month…as my Dad passed away that week as well and I went to the show on Saturday and rockhunting that Sunday to give myself a break…something that I took a bit of heat for later on, and knew would happen, but sometimes you have to listen to your heart and mind and do what is best for you.

David and Janyce were camping out south of Park Hills, so they met me in the middle of Eminence at the junction of Hwy 19 and 106…I had been in touch with Travis, let him know what time we were meeting there and he was there soon after Onyx and I arrived. I then led them over to the quarry, and we found a huge blast pile waiting for us on the west side, to check out…it didnt take them long to get their gear on and head up the pile of rocks to do just that….

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…if memory serves me correctly, we found some of the deformed dark calcite chunks, they were laying all over the place, and alot of massive calcite as well…I honestly have not been impressed with that side of the quarry since they started blasting over there, much of it plain looking rock and massive calcite layers, very little crystalization like we have seen in the other areas. Here lately tho, we have been finding some of those longer dogtooth crystals, brown and black colored, that I always refer to as not knowing what they wanted to grow up to be, cause they have great form but on the outside, are rough edged and pitted much of the time, but still in a classical dogtooth formation. Whatever David and Janyce were finding, they seemed happy with and filled two buckets pretty fast….below you see David carrying them to the truck while Janyce keeps on digging into a pocket….

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I had told them to check out the walls in the coved area, because we find many more nice pockets there, plus in the heat of the day, its cooler there as well, the high walls retain that cooling shade longer and there is a cooling waterfall there too, that you can stand under and get soaked and cooled down fast if needed. So soon after working the western pile, we moved over to the coved area and found Travis and his two boys already there. David found some big boulders there that had some vugs of calcite druse with some poker chips inside and began to work them while the boys were working the small piles to the left side looking for goodies…

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…and pretty soon, Travis was up in the cove corner looking for pockets where the 07-travis-works-the-corner-of-the-covewaterfall was located…while David continued to work those boulders….

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…pretty soon the boys wore out and it was down to Travis, David, Janyce, and I to continue looking for goodies….

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I told Travis to check out the wall behind David and Janyce, cause we had found several pockets full of nice dogtooths in there a few weeks earlier…

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…and pretty soon he was scrambling all over the pocket wall to look for goodies…

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…despite the heat, we had a pretty good time and everyone found some nice crystals…by the time 3 pm rolled around, everyone was done in from the warmth of the day and headed home. It capped off a great weekend of rockhunting, starting out the day before at the Park Hills Show where the old Federal Mine and Mill is located….

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Some of My Geode Finds at Geodefest and Keokuk 2016

Finally had some free time to get some of the geodes I found at Geodefest a few weeks ago, at Keokuk, cleaned up…used Super Iron Out, also now known as Iron Out, to clean the gunk off some of the ones that were discarded by others and left to rot I suppose..I was quite pleasantly suprised at many of them, how gorgeous they were once cleaned up, even found that one of them was a citrine colored snowball half. I`m also posting below, some of the beauties that my good friend John Oostenryk brought and traded with me, some gorgeous brown irridescent calcites that shimmer in purple, pink and green colors and some gorgeous brown barite clusters from a few of the Iowa quarries that are no longer accessible by rockhounds…thanks again John….

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…this set of geodes above and below, I purchased at Geodefest this year from Ken Vaisvil…he is a dealer I always see at the Park Hills Show and he always has some gorgeous geodes big and small there…this one appeared to have a poker chip calcite crystal in it, and it was the only set he had like this…since I am known as the Poker Chip King in some places…I decided I had to have this one for my collection….

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…and here are the goodies John brought me to trade with me for the goodies that I brought him…

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Thanks again John, was great to finally meet you, rockhound with you, and trade goodies with ya as well…look forward to seeing you again in a few weeks. 🙂

 

Joplin Mineral Show, Field Trip, & Geodefest 2016 All in Same Weekend

On Friday, Sept 23rd, Josh Click joined me for a full weekend of mineral shows and rockhunting field trips at two different locations at opposite corners of the state of Missouri. The third weekend in September is utilized by both the Tri State Mineral Show in Joplin and the Geodefest Show and Digs at Keokuk, Iowa and Hamilton, Illinois, so we were going to take in both shows and sets of digs, splitting the weekend up and traveling from the southwest corner of the state to the northeast corner of the state in a matter of hours.

So about 10 am Friday morning, Josh and I headed west on I-44 to Joplin, to take in the Mineral Show there for the first half of the weekend at Schifferdecker Park, with plans to join some members of the Kansas City Mineral Club in a joint field trip with Friends of Mineralogy as well on Saturday morning at some tailing piles that were still hanging around the area. I say hanging around because in the past few years, the EPA has been active in remediating many of the left over tailing piles from many old lead mines, scattered all over kingdom come in the tri state area, which is where Joplin is located, smack dab in the middle of that lead mining district. Many of the mines folded back in the 1960`s and the rest were pretty much done ten years later, yet the tailing piles remained for many years, wasting away, some creating a blight of the area even after the EPA created the Superfund plans to clean up the blighted areas and remove the piles to restore the lands. Here recently, those plans have started to see movement finally in terms of action from the EPA and only a few of the tailing piles remain, many of them located on private land, sometimes those lands entail many owners and co-owners, permission to look thru the piles a daunting challenge to any rockhound or group of rockhounds that would like to comb thru them in search of buried treasure. We visited with some friends Friday afternoon on the way down there and then I took him and one of our friends to Grand Falls on the west side of town to show him one of the prettiest waterfalls in Missouri and the Midwest. 

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A friend of mine named Carrie, is a member of the Kansas City Mineral Club, she told me of a friend of hers named Bruce, who was heading up a group to go to some of the old tailing piles to look for galena, sphalerite, and calcite on Saturday morning, said they would be meeting at the Tri State Mineral Museum in the park, where the Mineral Show is also held at, and going out from there. She contacted Bruce and secured permission for me to join them on their hunt that morning. Bruce had contacted all of the owners of this tract of land where the piles were located and obtained permission to hunt there that day.

Josh and I arrived at the museum…..

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….by 8:45 am Saturday morning and met up with Bruce and a few of the members who were already there. I gave Bruce a couple of flats of poker chip calcite crystals and let him know the members there that day could have as many of them as they wanted. One of the members who showed up, was Larry who owns the Rock Shop in Rolla…I have hunted with him on some of the MAGS sponsored trips as well. Larry is a geologist and works in the oil fields of central Illinois quite a bit.

By 9 am about twenty rockhounds had showed up and Bruce gave us a run down on what to find and what we could expect to find over there and then we headed out, following him to the northwest side of town. Bruce stopped briefly to let a deputy sheriff who lives nearby, know what we were doing and who we were. We then proceeded to the first tailing pile on the property, right across the driveway from the deputy`s home and we spread out trying to find some pretty stuff to take home. Bruce had been to this location before and said that galena cubes had been found there in some places…there was also some massive calcite chunks spread out all over the place as well. A few people did find some sphalerite and some galena there, but nothing real spectacular, so after about an hour, we drove on down the drive….01-nw-corner-of-joplin

 

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…..into a larger area where huge tailing piles and even a very large pile of rocks awaited us…Josh and I hiked over to the huge pile of rocks with Larry and a few others, including some new rockhounds to the group, while Bruce and some members of the KC Club drove on down into the valley to check the piles down there for goodies. 

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…our group checked out an old tailing pile in front of where we parked on the other side of the brush line from the parking area, first….

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…and then on over to the huge pile of rocks, when no one found anything but crushed gravel on the pile…the huge pile of small boulders was under the canopy of forest and next to some old concrete foundations of what appeared to be an old mill with a water race possibly next to it. The new younger rockhounds, including a few gals and a guy, began climbing up on this huge pile, every bit of 60 to 70 feet high, small boulders stacked up on top of each other, similar to pyramid type structure…the base was several yards around it…and it appeared someone had cut some trees down in an attempt to create a road around the huge pile, possibly preparing for remediation very soon. Josh climbed up on this huge pile with the newby rockhounds and pretty soon I heard him call out that he had found some nice chunks of calcite up there…most of the rocks and small boulders appeared to me to be leaverites. I checked the time, because he and I had to leave by 12:30 to get back to the hotel in time to clean up, then go to the mineral show for a bit, and then head home…where I would repack the truck for the trip to Keokuk, Iowa and we would get a few hours of sleep and then hit the highway headed north by 3:30 am Sunday morning. We had a little time left, so I left him with the folks on the huge pile and I walked down to see what Bruce and the others were finding before we headed out. Bruce and his crew were up on a tailing pile in the valley and were finding some nice galena cubes and sphalerite down there as well…

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…here is Bruce showing me some galena cubes they found on top of some boulders at the base of this pile in the valley…they were finding even more boulders with them as well….

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…I let him know that Josh and I were headed out and that we enjoyed hunting with them, we wished them great success on the remainder of their hunt that day and hoped to visit with them again sometime. Josh and I headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up, change into fresher clothing, and then after checking out of the Candlewood Suites, which I might add, was a very nice hotel to stay at…we drove over to the take in about 90 min of the Tri State Show. I parked under the shade of a huge hedgeapple tree there…

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Mike Shumate had asked me to say hi to a couple of dealers for him, so I looked them up while there and passed on his salutations to Marv and Jimmy…I remembered buying some Brazilian Quartz and Southern Illinois fluorite from Jimmy several years ago when I first visited the Joplin Show. I purchased a pyrite sphere from a dealer there that was a Marine veteran and visited with him for a few minutes, he had some very nice stuff for sale at his table…he pointed out Marv to me as well, who was just across the way from him. After visiting with Marv a bit, we walked over to see my buddy Virgil Richards who had a booth there as well, manned at the time by my Tulsa rockhounding buddy Doug Cunningham, and his wife, while Virgil was doing his normal routine at shows, working the room and gabbing with other dealers. Doug gave me some cracoite from Australia and a Fulgarite from California that Virgil had set out to give me when I arrived there…he also had some very old minerals from the Tri State District that he had picked up in an old collection. I visited with Doug and Virgil for a bit and then we headed for the front door…stopping briefly to look inside the neat Tri State Museum there….

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 We stopped off in Lebanon to fill the gas tank and had supper at Bandannas BBQ as well, before heading on home. We arrived home about 7 pm, I quickly repacked the truck for the Iowa trip, and we headed to bed soon after…3 am would arrive soon enough….and did, believe me…but luckily after six hours I was good to go, once again, and didnt even have to drag Josh out of his bed either. I checked with Chuck, as soon as we got to Hwy 109 and started north..he was two hours north of us on Hwy 61…said he wasnt able to sleep so he got an earlier start on the road, than we did…we made one pit stop for gas at Bowling Green, then as we approached the turn off to Keokuk, I stopped for this sunrise photo…told Josh to look for a water spot on the right side of the road…he spotted this small pond and it worked great for a good reflection of the gorgeous sunrise that morning…

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..and then soon enough, we were turning on to Hwy 61 to continue northeast now to Keokuk, as the four lane continued as Hwy 27 up into Iowa. We stopped a few min later on this bridge over the Fox River when the sunrise deepened….I shot a few photos of it and had to wait a few minutes while a dump truck crossed the bridge from behind me, the weight of his truck caused the bridge to sway pretty good…

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…we arrived in Keokuk just a few minutes later, and drove across the Mississippi River by the Lock and Dam, into Hamilton, Illinois and then north a little ways to the Chaney Creek Access Parking Lot, where Geodefest 2016 was being held. Arriving about 7:20 am, we quickly spotted Chuck`s truck and parked. Very few folks were stirring yet this early, we had arrived early so we could get registered and pay our fees for the last dig of the weekend, however we soon found out that registration would not open til 8 am on the last day, so we had some time to kill, so we went looking for my buddy John Oostenryk, who I had been talking to online for about six months, introduced to him by my KC friend Carrie…John is a museum curator at his local college in Rock Falls, Illinois and also a huge mineral collector too. John and I agreed to bring each other some goodies..to trade with later today and then he would take us collecting the next day as well. He told me that he would be operating a 600 lb geode cracker under a blue and red canopy, which we found easily enough, but discovered that John had not yet arrived and was due any moment. We decided to wander around the booths set up already and see what we could find…I quickly spotted Ken Vaisvil at his booth about two down from John`s booth and we walked down there to see what he had for sale…I always see Ken at the Park Hills show and he always has some nice geodes of all sizes for sale. Within minutes, I spotted one with some citrine colored quartz inside it and a medium sized gray colored poker chip calcite crystal inside as well…I purchased it from him and everyone was impressed with it…it was the first one I had ever seen with a poker chip crystal inside.

As we were wrapping that up, someone at Johns booth pointed to a silver van that had just arrived and said that was John arriving. After introducing him to Chuck and Josh, we were soon talking about prior emails, Carrie and her son Bentley, Bruce, the Joplin show, and past trips I have taken to collect minerals, as well as some upcoming trips too. John also told us we should forget the location for Rods, due to the fact that not very many good geodes were being found there this year as opposed to years past, and he recommended another location, so we went over to the registration booth and signed up for that location instead…which is located on Railroad Creek just outside of Hamilton. Rockhoundblogspot Bill and Debbie showed up soon after and we made plans to go rockhunting later in the day after the initial dig with the Geodefest folks. A little after 9 am, we followed our guide, which happened to be John`s friend Diane and headed south out of town to a nice farm. We parked next to the creek in a huge creek valley area….

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….and started unloading buckets and tools, getting my boots on, grabbed gloves and gave Josh a mini mattox to use, then listened to the guide on directions regarding the creek and a ditch nearby that was full of geodes as well. Rockhound Bill had advised us to go upstream to the railroad bridge, so we started that direction after another guide showed us the path leading there….for some reason, he told us we had a mile walk up the creek to the bridge, but as it turned out, it was more like a quarter of a mile…not sure how they were so far off on distance like that much….

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…we crossed the creek back and forth in a few spots and went up thru the brush in a few spots to avoid deeps spots and slippery rocks, making record time…finding another couple up there ahead of us searching on up the stream….

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…and they may have been looking for certain types or certain sizes of geodes, yet they were laying literally everywhere in the creekbed…we were told there was a discard pile up by the bridge as well, but we never saw one…could have been already gone thru by the time we arrived on the third day, too. This location is known for snowball geodes and most of the geodes we were seeing were from baseball to grapefruit sizes. I was finding several that were already cracked open, halves if you will, that appeared to have some interesting centers inside them, some that were shaped like snowballs too. Within five minutes, I had my bucket half full….Josh and Chuck spread out in the creek bed and began hunting as soon as we got there….

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Pretty soon, all three of us had some nice geodes in our buckets and we decided to turn back and search more diligently going downstream…there was another railroad bridge upstream, but we were not sure how far it was up there and we only had about 90 minutes before we had to be back to the parking lot, per the male guide. Chuck was the first to head back in that direction and by the time I got back to the bridge, he was already fifty feet down below the bridge and on the other side of the creek…he let me know that it was shallow if I hugged the left side of the creek and then crossed over a set of rocks that stretched all the way across the creek to where he was located…the first thing I noticed when I came out from under the bridge was this beautifully curved tree stretching out across the water and creating a beautiful reflection in the water….

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We were back at the trucks within the hour and found we had at least another hour left to hunt if we wanted to…apparently the big male guide didn`t know nearly as much as he claimed he did…after a water break and loading up the geodes we had collected upstream, Chuck took an extended break while Josh and I wandered over to a branch that went up into the woods off the main stream. I had talked to a guy in the parking area who said that if we walked up that streambed, dry for the most part, there was a bend and high bank up there that was just geode city he said…I wandered over to the bank and found these two geode halves just sitting there….

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and then I didn`t go far before finding these two halves…sitting there waving at me…

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…and was stunned both times because all of them had pretty crystals inside…okay, I reasoned, they didn`t have snowballs inside but they were PRETTY !!!  I was bewildered as to why someone would leave pretty geodes behind….so in my bucket they went….I called out to Josh to see how he was doing and he said the guy was right, there were geodes in the bank that could be dug out and laying all over the place upstream in the creek bend. Here is a shot of the streambed at my feet….

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…and the forest floor where I found several more just laying around…

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After loading up another half bucket, we loaded the truck bed one more time and then paid our bucket fees to Diane before heading back to the parking lot at Chaney Creek Access. Some dealers were starting to pack up to head home, so we did some more shopping…then discovered that John had suffered a traumatic injury while we were out that morning…he was cracking open a large geode for someone with his hydraulic geode cracker, when a large rock splinter came off the geode and penetrated the towel he had the geode wrapped in…likely speared thru that, and then penetrated the heavily padded welders gloves he was wearing and lodged inside his ring finger. He told me that they were able to remove the splinter, and he applied a copious amount of neosporin to the wound, and then wrapped it well. i told him he had done well in that respect and it appeared he had controlled the bleeding as well. Others were pushing him to go to the area hospital and get stitches, but he was hesitant to do so, asking my opinion of it, I guess due to my experience as a firefighter. I let him know that in my experience, I never had stitches for wounds like that, and I had had plenty of them…that I had merely done what he had done..applied neosporin heavily and then wrapped up the wound….neosporin is some great stuff and works wonders on healing up such types of injuries. I asked him if there were any medics on scene, and he said there were some in a trailer a little ways down in the parking lot, but they had both gone into town for some supplies, he said he would have them look at it on their return. They returned about an hour later and gave John the same prognosis I had….he was relieved because he really didn`t want to have to go get stitches. 

In the meantime, Chuck decided to lend his muscles to one of John`s hometown friends, Jamie, and they continued to crack open geodes for folks that brought them to John. This continued most of the afternoon until everything wound down and then we were able to load up and head over to Macomb to check out some areas for rock and mineral collecting. We had about 90 min left before the sun set…Rockhound Bill and Debbie went with us as well as a female friend of Johns named Abigail.  I didn`t shoot any photos til the sun started setting there, here you see a pile in the middle that Bill and Debbie were checking out….

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From here we bid John and Abigail goodbyes as they were heading back to Rock Falls from there and we headed back to Keokuk to our hotels to get cleaned up and then go find some place to eat at…problem is that Keokuk rolls its sidewalks up on Sunday nights. After checking in to the Super 8, where Chuck, Josh, and I were staying, we discovered that the place next door, the former Golden Corral, was now a bar and grill called Vs…so we decided to check it out instead of going to a fast food place. We called Bill and Debbie, who met us there instead…lo and behold they had great food there. I had the chicken fingers and fries, and let me tell you, they believe in feeing you there, plus it was not high priced either. We decided to sleep in a bit the next morning…Bill and Debbie were going to take us to a private location nearby…I woke up around 8 am and went down to clean up the truck and re-arrange the bed load too. Josh woke up about an hour later and we met Chuck over at V`s for a hearty breakfast, leaving us enough time to gas up and get Josh an extra pair of jeans at Walmart, then head to the meeting spot, which we amended to a different location soon after. Bill and Debbie soon showed up at that location and we followed them down to the creek location that they were taking us to…we quickly parked and headed down to the creek with them to see what we could find…

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…we walked upstream past this wall and to the railroad bridge over the creek, watching a passing BNSF Industrial Lead train pass by overhead…..

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…..Josh and Chuck walked up above the bridge to see what they could find while Bill, Debbie, and I walked back down to the wall…I found a couple of softball sized geodes in the bank on the way to the high wall. Pretty soon Josh and Chuck returned and we all decided to work the wall and see what we could find…here you see Josh up above us checking out the higher part of the wall…

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…and Bill checks the lower wall for geodes, while Chuck watches from the creek…

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…here are some of the geodes we were looking for…in a line down low on the wall and another line of them up higher, out of our reach….

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..some were whole and nearly out of the wall, so we had to get our hammers and chisels out to chip these out of the wall…as we did, the sun really began to warm up and this wall was going to be in the sun all day long…needless to say, we got a good workout in getting a few nice ones out of the wall..mm

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..and here is Chuck patiently working a nice geode half out of the wall….

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…we decided to wrap it up shortly after this…here are a couple of Chucks really nice one that he chipped out after a lot of patience and hard work….looks like a small snowball of quartz inside it….

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..and a couple of my finds as well….

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we decided to go north to another creek location or two, but after driving over there, we discovered that the 14 inches of rain received by central Iowa locations the day before, was making the Des Moines River rapidly rise to bank full in many places, which in turn was going to make it nearly impossible for us to collect in those areas…we finally found one creek where we were invited to search by local residents in the Bonaparte area…while we did find a few, none of us have cracked any open to figure out what is inside them…I will keep you posted on that tho. From here, Chuck and I decided to head home about 3 pm, so we loaded up and took off for our respective homes…stopping off in Hannibal at the Caseys Store, across from one of Hannibals Fire Stations….

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…..to gas up and grab some eats…Chuck texted me about 7:15 pm to let me know he had made it home safe and sound, five minutes before Josh and I rolled into my driveway. We were soooo tired that we left the truck loaded til the next morning. After a good long soak in the hot tub, my bed never felt better and I was sound asleep soon after. We did manage to sleep in the next morning tho. 🙂