New Mexico Trip 2023

John O and I normally start researching the New Mexico trip around the first of December each year, we at least start talking about it, where we would like to go, return to, and check on mines in other areas. We traded a few notes back and forth, but then I became sick about mid December and was out of it for about four weeks. I started out with congestion and a sore throat ensued shortly after…I initially thought I had a bad cold coming on, started getting a serious headache, which is a rarity for me, and a fever of 103 to 104, so I went to see my doctor…it was kinda weird tho, cause from the time I woke up with the fever, to the time I arrived at her office and they took my temp there right away, my fever had reduced itself to 99 degrees.

My doctor still to this day, has no clue what I had then, she told me after I tested negative for Flu A and Flu B, that I had all the symptoms for the Flu, she was shocked that I had tested negative for either one. I told her those tests have not been reliable since 2021, tainted by the Covid Crap/BS as far as I was concerned, and you will never be able to convince me otherwise. She agreed and is not surprised at how many people besides me, believe that, she said the several in the medical field believe that as well. She asked if I wanted to take a Covid test and I said no, because here again, they have been tainted, and no matter if a person has NO symptoms whatsoever, they will still test positive for some form of Covid, because that is how they were designed and set up to do. I know some do not believe that, some still have faith in the medical community all across this great nation of ours, and I say to them, you are entitled to your opinion, just as I am to mine.

She then asked me to let her know my symptoms each morning when I woke up, by email, and she would treat me on a daily basis on that information, so that is how we proceeded…and two days later when I felt worse, she called in a script for a antibiotic called Azithromycin, which is used to treat colds and viruses. I was taking a few supplements several times a day, known for fighting off colds and congestion, one is Black Elderberry, another is Echinacea, and was taking OTC Allegra, which I take alot for allergies on a daily basis usually at night, and Golden Seal which is a supplement that I also take daily, during the daytime hours, for allergies. They were holding their own but my congestion was not improving, started getting worse and so when I took the first dose of the antibiotic Azithromycin…within 5 minutes, I could feel it working…my congestion started clearing slightly, my sinuses started drying up…the Zithro was allowing my supplements and Allegra to do their thing…and my headache disappeared by that evening and never returned. I took the Zithro with my supplements and Allegra each day for 5 days and by that 5th day, I was on my way to recovering from whatever it was, that I had.

I still have no clue what it was…she told me when I visited her office, that they were treating people here locally and across the country for 30 some odd viruses, some didn`t even have a name, some were assigned a number…she said many people had one called RSV, but my symptoms didn`t match that one…she did say that a gal came to see her the day before that had the same exact symptoms I had, and she tested positive for Flu B, yet I had not the very next day, and that is why she was surprised.

It took me two weeks to get over it total, and two more weeks to get back to normal…I lost my appetite during that four week period, took  me a while longer than the 4 weeks to go from eating like a bird to eating for two again. 🙂  I lost 15 pounds while I was sick, which isn`t necessarily a bad thing since I am still on my KETO diet, and it brought me back to my desired weight range. I slept alot the first two weeks, some days I didn`t get out of bed, did not want to nor feel like it, some days I had to crawl to the bathroom or kitchen to get a bottle of water out of the fridge. One thing I truly took notice of, was how Onyx stayed right with me the entire time, sometimes she just sat in my room and kept an eye on me…they know when something isn`t right.

When I got better, I started on my research and started sending John the info…he was having computer problems and when he got those fixed, he started having cellphone problems, so our communications were a little off, but it all worked out and it all came together about two weeks out. I had kept in touch with Ray DeMark and he said we could go to his Blanchard Mine again, offered us two days of collecting there again, as long as White Sands wasn`t testing missiles then.

I let everyone interested in going this year, to make their reservations at both Deming and Socorro for the dates, because I had to wait til later in February to check with White Sands on their testing schedule to select the two days to go to Ray`s mine. That is the tricky part of going to Bingham, is the military schedule…it all hinges on when they are testing, and it is not something to take lightly or get mad about. I have nothing but the highest respect for our Military men and women, and at White Sands, they are testing the capabilities of our weapons daily to ensure our safety 24 hours a day, seven days a week !! Bingham happens to fall within the north side of that huge testing range…contacting the mine owner for permission to go, is the easy part.

While I was waiting to call White Sands, I also made contact with another mine owner, Eddie DeLuca, who I was told, owns a few mines in the Orogrande Mining District, which is south of Alamogordo, but not affected by White Sands. Eddie is a good friend of another of my rockhound friends, so I made contact with him by phone as well one evening, and we talked for a good 90 minutes, at least, during which time I discovered that he owns or has access to 47 mining claims in the Orogrande area, plus a few in the Bingham area !!  I found out also that he is a US Air Force Veteran and retired Professional Bodyguard, and Martial Arts Expert. These days he teaches 278 school children in the area, all about rocks and minerals…he uses rocks from his mines and donated rocks, to teach with and to give to the children. He was asking if my group could bring him some rocks from our respective areas to give to the kids as well. I told him we would be more than happy to do that. He told me that he would take us to his Playground Mine, where over 180 minerals have been found so far…he asked what we were looking to collect in that area, and I told him the usual, brown anhydrite garnets, azurite, malachite, chrysacolla, quartz, calcite, fluorite, and anything pretty basically. He just laughed and said he had all of that and more at this mine, so we set a date and time to meet near Orogrande, and I told him I would stay in touch.

I finally called and made contact with my friend Mickey at White Sands, and he let me know it was my lucky day…that the first ten days of March, there was not going to be any major testing going on that would affect our trip to the Blanchard Mine. He said there would be some gun training going on in the southern area of the range the first few days, but that would not affect us in any way. So we set the first 2 days of the trip for the Blanchard Mine, and I updated the crew so they could make the changes to their lodging reservations.

I obtained some other info on a couple of the other mines through field trip reports and from good rockhound friends in New Mexico area clubs. I also talked to a few officers of the El Paso Club to get some insights on mines and collecting in the Orogrande area, as well as some rockhounds who have been to a few of those mines. We usually look at the BLM website to get mine or claim owner info, but their site was down the entire time we were researching, with no idea in mind as to when it would be back up in the forseeable future. Mindat does not have that info and other sites that do, are not always current or accurate so we relied heavily on our ground contacts this year.

John wanted to return to Round Mountain this year to collect more chalcedony rosettes, some with fire agate in them, so we worked that in for later in the week, with a possibility of going to the Lordsburg area as well. He was finally able to make contact with the guy at Retro Ranch again, so we pencilled it in for Sunday the 5th, which would also be a relax and rest day after digging two days at Blanchard Mine.

The schedule we came up with was this :

March 1st and 2nd are travel days to New Mexico

March 3rd and 4th     Blanchard Mine

March 5th                  Rest Day or Retro Ranch  Bucket Fee Dig

March 6th                   Apache Mine  for Chrysacolla, turquoise, calcite

March 7th                   Macy Mine  for Vanadinite

March 8th                  Orogrande Mining District  for Garnets, Copper                                                                                   minerals, Quartz

March 9th                   Round Mountain for chalcedony rosettes, fire                                                                       agate, possibly geodes

March 10th                 Pecos Diamonds and then head home


Those that went on this year`s trip included David Hodge, Randy Gentry, Mike Mangrove, John O and Dan, Alina and Pat Klein and their boys Finn and Cohen, Logan Sparks and his grandfather, Mike Messer, Beth Merrell with her husband Terry and son Ben, as well as Onyx and I.

John continued to have problems with his cellphone right up to the day of leaving for New Mexico…think his old one just up and stopped working, which meant he had to go and try to find something better and newer…that is never an easy task, nor is learning how to operate one much newer…I can safely say, the learning curve on my Android phone, which was supposed to be the easiest phone to learn, was a bit longer than I expected it to be. For one thing, these cellphone companies do not make those little ” lets get started ” manuals anymore, you have to go online to find those and then read them about ten times to get acquainted with your new phone. John also found out how tough it was to transfer all your contacts and phone numbers to new phones…that used to be real easy with the sim card, but nowadays, you basically have to do that by making a list and then manually entering each and every one of them yourself. I guess you can make deletions easier that way, but still, that takes a few hours to do.

I started cleaning my truck cab and bed on Saturday, then loaded the five grab bag buckets I was taking to Eddie, two were loaded with poker chips for the kids, along with some Magnet Cove pyrites, MFQ calcites, and some quartz from Arkansas as well. John took Eddie several flats of small geodes for the kids and Randy Gentry brought some as well. Some folks gave Eddie some gas money, he said in the past he never took gas money, but with New Mexico`s 40 cent gas tax, he would not turn money down this time.

Onyx and I went to be early on Tuesday night, Feb 28th, and were up early Wednesday morning, March 1st to get on the road. I had planned to take and wear my extended wear contacts on the trip, but was getting over a small ulcer in my right eye and completely forgot to take the contact with me…I had several of my daily wear contacts tho so was okay. I only made four stops for gasoline on the way down there, where the gas was around $ 3.00 a gallon or less, and we made pretty good time getting to Tucumcari, New Mexico just before sunset. After settling Onyx into the room and cleaning up a bit, I headed down the street to Del`s Diner. I had befriended a rockhound from Tucumcari a few weeks before, who had been able to provide us with some good info on rockhounding locations in the state, and met him there for dinner. We had a good dinner and then I headed back to the room for a good night`s rest, but had to check the forecast first because the news on the way down was talking about a huge snowstorm approaching from the west.

My cousin Larry Moore, who I was going to have lunch with the next day in Albuquerque, told me that the forecasters were all over the place on the forecast, and that some of the harsher predictions usually turned out to be nothing burgers for Albuquerque…I was hoping for a nothing burger on this one, cause it was going to be coming in right as we were all getting to that area. Alina, Pat, and their sons, were up in Durango, Colorado on vacation, skiing no less in the mountains just north of there, and the forecast for their area was even worse, predictions of up to 36 inches of snow falling there from this storm coming in. I sent Alina an email to let her know they may need to get on the road and out of there before that storm hit. We were up early the next morning and I sent her a text message as well, as it looked like the storm was coming in a little slower than first thought, but they would still need to get a move on or the roads to the south thru the Mountains around Farmington, would be snow covered and slick, fast. She received my text soon after and began making plans to get out of there soon.

Onyx and I were on the road soon after, our drive to Albuquerque from Tucumcari is about two and a half hours, and we made it in pretty good time. We noticed the wind picking up as we sailed thru Santa Rosa and started climbing the mountains and gaining in elevation…going from 4, 616 feet elevation at Santa Rosa to 6, 322 feet at Tijeras…then you start downward thru the Rock Canyon from there and it bottoms out at the east edge of Albuquerque, which is a thousand feet lower…the locals call that canyon ” the wind tunnel ” and it was def a wind tunnel that day. The only problem I had was with some of the truck drivers wanting to use it as a speedway instead of holding their speed at 65 or 70 mph as posted…it is three lanes thru there in places, but many of them wanted to use all three lanes and the heck with us other drivers. Luckily, the New Mexico State Police were waiting at the bottom of the canyon where you enter Albuquerque and they were pulling the speeding truck drivers over right and left.

I actually arrived in Albuquerque a little early, so filled up my gas tank first, took a bathroom break, and then drove over to Ray`s house right at 10 am. Ray was as gracious as always and we had a good visit, he showed me some more of his collection….


….and he asked what other places we were going to visit, When I mentioned Pecos Diamonds on the last day, he opened one of his cabinet drawers and showed me his collection of Pecos Diamonds…he had very small diamonds and big ones…as big as my medium sized poker chip calcites…they even looked like calcites with smooth sides to them tho…most were a red clay color and some were brown colored, some tan colored…he had found the smooth sided ones on a private ranch and then he showed me some that looked like big stars, they were tannish/brown colored and he told me where he found them near Roswell too.

I also let Ray know we were going to Orogrande and Eddie was going to take us to one of his mines there, and we talked a bit about Eddie. Ray is a US Air Force Veteran as well and he told me about one of Eddie`s tours in the Air Force in Special Forces, during the Panama Conflict.

We also talked briefly about vanadinite in the Hillsboro area and mentioned a couple of mines to him, he let me know some info about a few other mines there, too. I didn`t want to keep him too long, as he is usually on his way to meetings regarding the upcoming Albuquerque Club Show, so I picked up the liability release form from him and started out the door. He let me know that he would see us Saturday at the mine, he was going to take the New Mexico State Geologist there for a tour of the mine…I told him my crew was lookinging forward to meeting him and had brought some mineral specimens from their areas to give to him.

I headed over to the Chili`s Restaurant next, to meet my cousin Larry there, for an early lunch. He arrived about 11 am, right after I had walked Onyx up the street a little ways. Last year I had to leave the truck running and the air conditioner on for Onyx while Larry and I ate inside the restaurant, as it was pretty warm that day. This year was dramatically different, high was about 55 when I got there, so the truck was warm when I left her inside with the windows cracked open a couple of inches for her.

About 90 minutes later, the temps had dropped and what looked like small snowballs,  started coming down from the sky like hail…I ran out to the truck and rolled the windows up for her…could not believe what was falling out of the sky…

….it stopped shortly after but did not warm back up. Roads were wet but not slick, we headed south to Socorro shortly after that…about ten miles south of I-40, we hit some brief snow showers….

…blowing in from the west in waves, but again, nothing sticking to the road, just the ground and only then a dusting of snow. The temps however did continue to fall as I headed south.  Onyx and I arrived an hour later to the Red Rood Inn at Socorro, where we had a room for the next two nights. While I was checking in, the desk clerk told me that Deming was receiving some snow showers as well. I knew anything that stuck to the ground would not stick around long, as the forecast for tomorrow, our first day at Blanchard, was predicted for 50 degrees at least. John let me know he may have been infected with something, thought one of the students must have come to classes last few days with a virus possibly, was just now affecting him. Felt like he was losing his voice but was taking some otc stuff to combat it, would see how he felt tomorrow.

Randy Gentry and Mike Mangrove had arrived from Nashville shortly before we did, so once I got Onyx settled in, I walked down to visit with them, and then David Hodge arrived soon after and joined us. David was staying at the Economy Inn as was John O and Dan, and possibly Logan and his grandpa. Alina and her family were staying at the Holiday Inn I think, they arrived later that day, too. The four of us decided to head down the street to Yo Mama`s Grill for supper…since I had a big lunch, I just had a glass of tea there.

We weren`t able to locate a restaurant there that served real breakfast…you know, eggs, bacon, ham, or sausage, and hot cakes…so everyone decided to wing it on their own…I had a big box of cookies from Clark Street Cafe to eat yet, so I was good and my bottle of KETO Maui Punch for later if I got hungry. We lined up in front of Red Roof Inn and headed to Bingham about 7:30 am…Mike Messer had driven up to meet us at San Antonio, right in front of the fire station, so he got in line as we headed east from the interstate.

The road leading to the base of the mine mountain….that you cannot see in the photo below…

….was a little rougher this year so it took us a little longer to get to the bottom of the mountain. As we turned the corner and approached the mine road going on up, there were two guys next to an suv on a concrete pad, looked like they had camped out for the night, one waved and we waved back, and continued up the road…..

I thought the mine road going up the mountain was alot rougher than last year also, but John didn`t think it was as bad as last year. 🙂 I do know it took us about ten minutes longer to get up there to the mine. I parked in the general parking area….the one with the spacious view below….Mike, Randy, Pat, and Logan joined me parking there….

…..while some drove on up to the small bench parking area. I let Ray know we were there and about the guys camped out at the bottom in the silver suv. He wasn`t sure if he knew who they were or not, he thought we should be the only ones up there today. A few hours later they drove up the hill, stopped to say hi and told us they were going up above to another mine, said Ray gave them permission, gave us their names and then drove on up.  I texted  Ray with that info as well….he said it sounded like a couple of guys he had talked to a month ago, he thought they were going to be there a month ago.

We all fanned out and began working the bench area, as we had last year…it produced so much good stuff last year that we figured we would start there once again. The photo below shows John up on the hill above us, above the bench, where he, Dawson, and David Bruce dug all day last year….

…he decided to work that pocket again and see what else could be pulled out of there. The rest of us were spread out along the bench from one end to another…Randy, Mike, Logan, and his grandpa, worked the pockets on the north end where Pete had dug last year….

…and over the course of both days, they pulled some big plates and clusters out of those pockets, they never left that area both days. David Hodge, had the spot with the great view all day long…both days…he could stop digging, take a break, stretch, and had this view the whole time….

…he began digging in here and by the time we finished the next day, his pocket hole was about four feet deep and five feet wide…I think even Ray, who saw it the next day, was impressed with what David by himself was able to do there. 🙂

I wanted to walk over to that quartz pocket when I first got up there, but I was soon wide eyed with wonder and felt like a kid overwhelmed in a candy store, because there was gorgeous color with quartz and fluorite cubes laying all over the place from one end to the other, like a hundred feet across there. I helped Alina, Pat, Finn, and Cohen get started as they had never been there before and I think they were overwhelmed as to how much was there as well. It was a lot of fun watching their sons start collecting and I was helping Cohen a lot…Finn was soon distracted by a vein of Chrysacolla and got busy digging some plates of that out…Cohen liked the barites so I was helping him find some nice blades…both of them soon went up to help John O work the pocket above, at his request, because he was getting tired quicker. He still had no clue what he had, but it was making him weaker, so they traded off and helped him dig the pocket back out so he could get down to the goodies….which he split evenly with them…..

After helping Cohen get a good start on his collecting, I began working a barite ridge along the east edge of the bench…had to really watch my footing and where I was sitting on the edge of that ridge, because there was a good drop off there. Onyx was stretched out right above me in a sunny spot…

..and in the area above my blue bucket in the above photo, Mike Messer began digging into a pocket back toward that wall, and then found better plates of blue down in the dirt below. I was pulling some beautiful blue cube plates out of that barite ridge I worked, some with barite on them, some with quartz on them, and since some had quartz on them, I didn`t continue down the bench looking for that quartz pocket, I stayed right there and filled 2 buckets lickety split.

Alina and Pat were working another barite spot to the right of me and we were talking back and forth, when I heard a loud roar above, looked toward Pat and saw a huge Military aircraft behind and above Pat, filling the blue sky big as could be. Wish I could have been able to get my phone camera out and snapped a photo and video of it…I thought it looked a little smaller than a C-130, it was making a hard turn to the left and climbing higher…we were joking that maybe the Military boys were curious as to what we were doing and rolled it to the left to take a closer look at us…who knows for sure, but sure was neat seeing them up close like that…we all waved…love those types of moments !!

We had been hearing some big guns all morning way to the south, a rapid fire boom, boom, boom, boom, boom…sounded like a Gatling Gun but much bigger…wondered if the Army had rapid fire cannons these days…that is what it sounded like to us. I recalled what Mickey said, that there would be some activity way south of us that would not affect us…this must be that activity we were hearing.

 Only then did I take a break, go get two more buckets, and move my truck up to the other parking lot….

All of us were finding so much good stuff, that we really didn`t stop to take many photos. Here is one of my finds that day….

We were off the mountain this time by 4 pm and headed back to Socorro for some dinner, this time several of us going to Jackson Ranch Steakhouse to check it out…have to say, I have had better steaks that cost less and were properly cooked as well. In my humble opinion, Texas Roadhouse would blow this place away on quality of food and price value both !!

The next morning we arrived at the same time, this time Mike waited for us at the mailbox loop by the road we turned off on…Beth Merrell was going to wait for us there as well, with her husband Terry and son Ben coming too, but they were not there when we arrived. We were running a few minutes late so I thought maybe she had changed her mind and we headed on down the road. The cell service out there is spotty at best…Bingham is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere…but about a mile down the road, my cellphone pinged and rang, and Beth was calling me, she had tried to text me but I didn`t receive it til I was up by the mine.  She said they were at the gate, told her to come on down the road and we would stop and wait…which we did, but then I thought maybe I had better turn around and go get them. Problem was, that where we stopped to wait, the road was narrow and I couldn`t turn around to return, so Mike Messer, being the last one in line, volunteered to go get them…I couldn`t even send her a message saying Mike was coming to get them in a silver pick up  because by that time, I had no more signal. Luckily, she had Terry drive on down the road and they met Mike soon enough and he led them back to join us. When we got to the base of the mountain, I stopped and walked back to say hi and let them know about the road going up the mountain. Terry was driving a newer Colorado pickup, I told him he was in for a treat with four wheel drive.

I stopped at the first parking area again, let them know what they would need and what to expect as well…Beth and Ben took off and headed up to the bench. Logan had parked his truck there again, and Terry spotted something leaking from it, smelled like antifreeze and coming out in a steady stream. We walked up and I let Logan know about the leak, then we got settled in and I showed Beth, Terry, and Ben, the pockets we were collecting and digging at, the amount of quartz and fluorite all over the place…Beth was as amazed as we were the day before…they started in finding beautiful stuff, Beth loading up the buckets they brought and Terry taking them down to the truck. I let him know he could park up where the rest of us were parked if he wanted to, but we had to keep the road open for Ray and his crew coming up mid morning with the State Geologist. I don`t think Beth has done a lot of rockhounding out in New Mexico, even though they now live in the Cloudcroft area, moving there after Terry retired from Fire Chief of Maplewood Fire Department in St Louis County. Maplewood Fire Department is one of the cities I used to dispatch for, mainly fire dispatch, and Terry is one of the Fire Chiefs I occasionally had to wake up late at night for structure fire calls. I had seen Beth out at Haunted Ridge and a few other druse quartz digs, so when I saw that they had moved out to New Mexico, I let her know she was welcome to join us on our NM trips. I know she had a blast that morning and so did Ben, think that was his first time doing some major collecting….

Pretty sure most of us filled at least two more buckets today at the Blanchard Mine…I also loaded up some yard rocks in my truck bed, putting them as far forward in the bed as I could, and wrapping them heavily, as they had both quartz and fluorite cubes both all around them. My larger fluorites went into the floorbeds after heavily wrapped, too…most of them had barite and quartz with the blue fluorite cubes. Here are some of my finds on the second day there…

About 10 am, I checked on David`s progress at his pocket was huge and deep by then….he was still pulling out purple and blue fluorite plates and clusters tho….

Ray and his crew came up about mid morning, stopping off along the way to show the State Geologist some of the lower areas of Ray`s mine, several adits that were gated off and secured to keep trespassers out. Ray led them on up and over the top of the mountain, and a few minutes later, they were driving along the rim above us…Ray looked down and spotted David`s pocket hole and hollered down, ” hey what are you guys doing down there ? “…then waved and drove on. I told David he was prob quite impressed with your work ethic.

We visited with Moses, a former FT Director with the Albuquerque Club, and a few other members of the Club, until Ray drove back down to our location…I walked down and gave Ray a deep flat with specimens from my crew, including some Linwood Barites from John,  and the signed release form. He asked if we were going to the Rockhound Roundup Show in Deming later the following week, and I told him we hoped to go Thursday afternoon when they opened. He said he would be there later in the week as well.

By 2 pm, it was just David and I at the mine, everyone else left at noon or 1 pm, headed to Deming. John and Dan left earlier to see if they could find a doctor and find out what was going on with John. Logan and his grandpa left earlier, after Ray and his crew came up to our level,  to see about the radiator leak and we had not heard from them since.

David and I wrapped things up about 2 pm and headed to Deming around 3 pm, arriving just as the sun was setting. We got checked into our hotel and then headed to Denny`s to get some dinner, found out they have great hamburgers and fries there.

The on-duty paid firefighters and EMS crews of Deming Fire Department were there as well, so I walked over to talk to them for a bit, they let me know a couple of their favorite Mexican restaurants in town…La Fonda was one we had been thinking about trying out, they confirmed it was a good place to eat. When they found out I was a retired volunteer firefighter with nearly 40 years of experience, they offered me a position with their department….said they were always looking for good help, and with the 48 hours on, 96 hours off shifts, I would still have plenty of time to go rockhounding there. 🙂

Our food arrived shortly after and we took care of it in short order, as we were chowing down, two New Mexico State Troopers sat down at a table behind us…we visited with them when we finished our dinner. They told us we picked the right time to visit, as it had been cold and snowy the past few weeks before we arrived. We made sure to thank them for their service before we left.

The next morning we were able to sleep in a little, five of us meeting up at Denny`s for breakfast, the rest had breakfast elsewhere. Dan and John decided to keep their distance from us, to be safe. John had discovered a Medical Clinic in Deming the day before when they arrived, and sought out treatment…the staff there provided him with some meds and they seemed to be having a good effect on him, but we all decided to maintain our distance from him as well.  After a good hearty breakfast, we all loaded up at Denny`s and drove out to the Retro Ranch…John introduced Jeff to everyone in the group, and then after a brief discussion with Jeff, the per bucket price for collecting there, was set at $ 125.  I stuck around a little while, walking with Randy and Mike, and then checked on David to see how he was coming along on thundereggs. He and Mike Messer decided they were going to stick around and see what agates they could find. I decided I was going back to the hotel and take a nap, but before I left, I gave Brutus, Jeff`s yellow Lab, a couple bags of dogfood, because he was skinny as a rail and def could use some extra food. He wolfed it down fast, testament to his dire need for some nourishment. We had set Sunday for the Ranch for those that wanted to collect from the material still there, and to rest up from the first two days of digging at Blanchard. I returned to the hotel with Mike and Randy, and decided to re-arrange my truck bed, before taking my nap. Later on, we went to Irma`s Mexican Restaurant for dinner, after David and Mike finished up at Retro.

Monday morning, Onyx and I woke to a beautiful sunrise…the top floor of the hotel facing east or west has its advantages if you like sunrises or sunsets…..

….most of us again, went to Dennys for breakfast, then the others came over and waited for us to finish up, before we headed west to the Apache Mine, near Hachita. Last year was our first trip there, it`s an old mine dating back to the days of Geronimo and his Apache warriors mining it for turquoise. We have found chrysacolla, calcite, pink quartz, and other copper secondaries there, lots of small pieces of blue and green color there, all over the ground and in the many tailing piles. John and I found a lot of reading material on this location plus good info from rockhound friends as well.

There are several vertical shafts on the property, most have a raised berm around them, one or two do not, so one has to be very vigilant and careful when walking around there. Onyx and I were walking around a big tailings pile on the backside of the property….

….came up over a raised area of the pile and like two steps from there, was a four foot square shaft opening, lined with heavy timbers and no berm around it…was very glad I had Onyx on a short leash that morning. We didn`t find anything up there and re-joined the others shortly after that…..

……at the open pit with horizontal adits going off in different directions. I picked up several nice pieces of calcite with seams of bright green, blue, and teal blue running thru them….like this calcite bluff….

….that overlooks a dry wash that runs thru the middle of the open pit area….

…that wash above is about a hundred yards long, running north to south, and I found several chunks of calcite in the pile of rocks there in the middle, with the seams of color…just a matter of what you liked and wanted to take home with you. Up at the north end, there are a few more washes that branch off to the right side and can be checked as well. We were there til about early afternoon, then decided to drive on down the road leading in, to see if we could find the area with quartz crystals laying on the desert floor…the quartz there erodes out of the limestone in the hillsides, there are reports of scepters, single points, and clusters found in certain areas…we drove the rough road down to the old Chapo Mine, checked the tailing piles there, found some color again, but nothing spectacular enough to take home with us, then turned around and headed back to Deming.

Tuesday morning, we woke to another beautiful sunrise….

….and met at Dennys again for another hearty breakfast. From there we drove north to Hillsboro Mining District in The Black Range…we drove up a scenic two lane highway up and over a small mountain range to the little village of Hillsboro. We spotted some of the snowcapped mountains off to the west and north as we drove through this area…

Most of the mines there are north and east of Hillsboro, so we turned east, passing a neat little museum with an old fire truck sitting outside, that looked to be about the age and style of Sullivan`s 1941 GMC Central Pumper…this one was sitting outside and rusting away. Our main objective this morning was the Macy Mine, located above Percha Creek a few miles east of HIllsboro, where Vanadinite plates and calcite have been found. Again we found alot of reading material online on it and a few private collector field trips as well. The road leading to the mine is very rough, took us a while to reach a good parking area, and then we had to hike from there….


…in the photo above, you see Mike Messer taking a detour around the main road…we had to do that because there was a ledge on the main part of that road that had at least a two feet drop off…where you see the three pickups in the foreground above, was prob the smoothest section of the road that day. We parked here and then hiked down this hill first….

…this is looking downhill, at a fairly steep angle…the red dirt area in the middle is where we were headed, the Mine sits at the top of that and to the right a little ways…here is a better look at the angle on the hill we hiked down from the parking area…

…we are parked out of view at the top of this ” little ” hill and to the left of that rocky bench up there…David Hodge and Logan Sparks are over on the right side checking out the openings along the bottom of that other rocky knob…they didn`t find anything worth checking out there, tho. On the topo maps, there are mines dotting the hillsides in that area all over the place. When we reached the bottom of this little hill…..

… leveled off, and then we had to hike down a steeper angled rock covered slope to the bottom floor where we found a fairly wide, brisk moving stream of water…Percha Creek…with several LARGE diameter trees on both sides of the creek…

We build a bridge of large round, smooth creek rocks but then didn`t like the looks of it because the rocks got wet and would likely be wet, so some waded across the creek, which was about a foot deep at most, and some of us went upstream a hundred feet to a more narrow spot with an island in the middle, to cross over. John and Logan used a steel pipe cattle guard suspended over the creek, to make their crossing over. Then we had to climb the ” little hill ” on the other side of the creek and most of the trail up there was perched right above the right side of the red wash…which was very deep…we could have walked up that deep wash but would have been tough to climb up out of it. This hillside required a couple of rest breaks to climb, the angle up was pretty steep…once we got to the top, we had another commanding view of the valley and hills around us….

…the entrance to the mine is just to the left of this photo, and by the time I got up there, John and David Hodge were down in one of the adits…I asked Mike Mangrove if he and Randy would watch Onyx and then I entered the adit as well. I caught up to them pretty fast, they were looking at a pocket that had been cleaned out recently, found several lithium batteries laying all over the place in there…John said that was not a good thing to do with lithium batteries, either. We checked all the way to the end of the adit and then checked a few side shoots off of it….

…this one above led to another vertical shaft, likely one of the two we saw above…needless to say, we did not find anything worth checking out further inside, so we decided to go out and look around a bit. As I came out of the mine, I looked up and there was Onyx, sitting patiently waiting for me. Mike and Randy told me that she sat down and stared intently at that adit opening…waiting for me to come out…


We fanned out and made a quick search around outside….

…but did not locate anything at all worth taking home with us…so we decided to go to another mine and see if we could find anything at it. First we had to hike back down this little hill, cross the creek, and make our way back up the other little hill to the trucks…luckily we didn`t have full buckets to carry up the hill. Once we got back to the trucks, at least thirty minutes later, after making a few rest stops along the way…we had to look for Dan, who had wandered upstream from below the parking area. Luckily he came back up the hill about 20 minutes later and we were able to head back to the highway and then over to the other mine, but a 30 minute check of the tailing piles did not turn up anything so everyone decided to drive back to Deming and take a nap.

I re-arranged my truck once more, before taking my nap…the evening we arrived at the hotel in Deming, I had removed 3 of the 4 buckets I brought for Eddie, and relocated them to my hotel room, which freed up room in my truck bed for more collected material, then had to go get a few new buckets at Tractor Supply…love their red five gallon buckets. So now I was bringing those buckets in my room, back to my truck bed, because we were going the next morning to Eddie`s mine in Orogrande Mining District and I would off-load them at the meeting spot. After the nap, Randy, Mike, David, and I went to La Fonda`s Mexican Restaurant for dinner, our first time there. We had driven by it several times and always saw a lot of vehicles parked outside it…the food and the service was very good there, they have an American food menu and a Mexican food menu, both.

The next morning at Denny`s, everyone was looking forward to the Orogrande Mine trip…based on what Eddie had to me could be found at his Playground Mine. Alina, Finn, and Cohen were going to meet us at the meeting spot, as well as Beth, meeting time as requested by Eddie, was 10 am, so we were actually able to sleep in a little and left just before 8 am, driving east to Las Cruces, taking a shortcut east from I-10 over to Hwy 54, and then north on 54 to the little town of Orogrande. I wonder now, if they use that stretch of four lane highway thru town, as a speed trap, since they bring you down from 65 mph to 35 mph for a half mile stretch of highway, where about all that is there to slow down for, is a post office and a gas station.

We arrived at the meeting spot to find Eddie parked near the highway, presumably to flag us down in case we were somewhat lost, but I had plotted the mileage from Orogrande town to the turn off and it was right on the money. We had to wait a few minutes for John and Dan to catch up, they had stopped a ways back for a bathroom break. Eddie gave us a talk on the mine he was taking us to, as well as some safety information, letting us know that due to the unseasonably warmer weather they were enjoying now, coming in much earlier than normal, the rattlesnakes were now out and we needed to be more vigilant especially around bushy and rocky areas, and be sure listen for the rattle warning, be careful turning over rocks too. He also let us know that he had a complete survival pack in his truck in case anyone did get bitten by a snake, he could provide initial treatment and then transport us to the Border Patrol Station a few miles north, where they had medics on scene. Eddie is a Military US Air Force Veteran, Martial Arts Expert, Retired Professional Bodyguard, and Survival Specialist as well, from his Special Forces work with the Air Force. We soon discovered that he is also a super nice guy and rockhound and Mine Owner. 🙂

After the talk, we unloaded the goodies we had all brought him, and transferred them to his truck, he was very appreciative as he uses everything given to him for the teaching that does for the 278 school children each year. He had told me that the kids really like geodes, so he was very happy with the geodes John and Randy brought him.

Soon we took off and he led us to his Playground Mine, named because of the wide variety of material and minerals that he finds there on any given day. Once we had all parked at the mine and exited our vehicles, we immediately looked down and started finding great stuff, it was laying all over the place. I got out and let Onyx out, and I started picking up chunks of green colored rocks with brown or black anhydrite garnets all over them, plus there was a huge spread out pile of them in front of my truck, that had a lot of good color in many of the rocks as well…..

…it was starting to get warm already, most were wearing their short sleeve shirts by now, and John and Mike even had their sun hats on now…talking to Eddie dressed in his camo fatigues…standing in front of one of the larger spread out tailing piles of garnets and color….

I should emphasize tho, it was only about 70 degrees and there was a nice cool breeze blowing, too. I let Onyx out to stretch her legs too and I began picking up even more garnets…I liked the ones with the Chrysacolla, bright green, and bright blue colors added in and began picking more of those up…. here is one of my smaller piles…

and a couple of close ups….

We collected for a couple of hours and then he allowed a few of us to drive down one of the mining roads to yet another of his claims, a quarter mile away, where he had dug into a hillside and then created a few smaller tailing piles. I had misunderstood what he said, thought we were in the wrong spot, because initially we were talking about another area and then he pointed out this spot, so we drove back to make sure we were at that spot, and then we tried yet another road going around the back of the hill on the other side of the hillside dig spot. Luckily Alina called to let me know that we had passed it up and we were able to come back to that hillside dig spot. Once we got there, we found out that Mike Messer had been up on one of the smaller tailing piles, turned a rock over, heard the rattle warning sign, and was able to back away without any trouble, avoiding a rattlesnake encounter. Mike was raised in San Antonio, Texas, where they also have rattlesnakes, so he is familiar with that situation and knows what to do.

We all drove back up to the Playground Mineand talked to Eddie again, some wondered if we could go to another of his mines there, so he suggested we drive over and check out one of his turquoise mines, and that is where he took us next. After parking there, we walked up the road and wash of a small canyon to several tailing piles at different levels going up the hill. I was in the second group with Randy and Cohen, walking up a dry wash at Eddie`s suggestion, looking for turquoise that washes down with rainstorms…with Alina trailing behind us with Eddie, David, and Beth…I was helping Cohen find some turquoise pieces, most of them were flake sizes, a couple of pebble sizes were found too…Randy was searching for them as well. I have a bag of Kingman turquoise at home, so really wasn`t concerned about collecting a bunch more…I did pocket a couple of them but that was it. What we found at the top of the hill 20 minutes later, was much more interesting to me.

Once we reached the top of the hill, we came up on a bluff made up of rock, it was a white and layered rock bluff wall….I can`t remember the name of the rock tho…Eddie told us what formation it was, but I cannot remember what he called it.  Mike Mangrove was walking around up there and told us that there was some selenite and gypsum up there in boulders. As it turned out, there were also thin layers of gypsum or selenite in the rock wall, a few inches wide to several inches wide. David discovered it after Cohen and I missed seeing them,  and we were able to pull some nice sized pieces of it out, after breaking up the white rock and brushing it out of the way. Some of the layers had turquoise blended in with the selenite, some were transparent and some were not….

Pretty neat stuff tho, plus I actually found a couple of good sized pebbles of turquoise up there too…in a light blue and white color.

While we were collecting those selenite/gypsum layers in the white rock wall, this little guy climbed up the rock wall between David and I and let me take a few photos of him….

Pretty sure everyone left there pretty happy with our finds and we all thanked Eddie for a great day of collecting as well. He also sent me some info on a secret spot for Pecos Diamonds in the Roswell area for our Friday morning dig.

Alina and her crew, and Beth, all headed north toward Alamogordo, and the rest of us turned south on Hwy 54, stopping off at Orogrande`s only gas station to fuel up…we watched a beautiful sunset blossom right in front of us….

We stopped off in Las Cruces at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant for dinner, as no one wanted to wait til we reached Deming to eat…Randy spotted the sign for CB and then John looked it up on his phone to find the exit and address for it…turned out it was on the right side of the exit ramp, made for a fairly easy stop for us. We had a good meal and rest stop there…said our ” see ya laters ” to John and Dan in the parking lot afterward, as they were heading for home the next morning. John was doing somewhat better, even sounded much better, taking the meds the Clinic Staff provided him with earlier in the week, but Dan was not getting better and John wanted to get back and see his doctor. His employer was now providing him health insurance but were dragging their feet getting his insurance card to him, without it, he was fairly helpless away from home without it.

The next morning Logan joined us at breakfast at Dennys and we left shortly after heading west to Lordsburg, then north on Hwy 70  24 miles to the turn off to the Lazy B Ranch…a left hand turn off Hwy 70…then four miles west on the Ranch Road, which is also referred to as Road AO28…crossed the railroad tracks, and continued west 2.5 miles to the left turn on to a dirt road that takes you to Round Mountain BLM Rockhounding Site. There is a wood sign as you approach the dirt road turn that points south as well.

I am listing the mileage here because for some reason, the large BLM sign that used to be out on Hwy 70 is no longer there…and there are a few other ranch roads in that area that might be mistaken for the turn off. However, the Lazy B Ranch is the only one in that area that has a rock wall on each side of the road entrance, as well as big timbers framing the gate above the rock wall with large metal letters spelling out LAZY B RANCH and a little metal windmill on top of the timber across the top of the entrance. Would be very hard to miss all of that.

This is a great and free location to take pebble pups and adult rockhounds alike, because the chalcedony rosettes, some of them with fire agate inclusions, are all over the ground at this location, a location you cannot fail to find great stuff to take home !!

So you turn left from the dusty gravel road to a two track dirt road, going south…I believe the sign said 11 miles to the BLM Rockhounding location from that spot in the road…you will come to a Y intersection soon after making this left turn, and you want to bear left at this one…the right fork takes you around the right side of the hills, supposedly makes a loop, but when I looked at the map, going around there, I was not able to see any connection around the very south side to the left loop. There are also a lot of pull off areas along the roads, where one can camp out if they want to, we spotted several people camping out along the left loop road on our way to the rockhounding spot. Several miles down this dirt road, you will come to a sign that says Loop Road, and you want to stay right at this sign, the road to the right will take you to the corrals, and that is the start of the BLM Rockhounding Area, indicated as such on Google Earth Maps…however, you want to continue to the left down the dirt lane, you will cross two washes and then continue south and down the valley…we drove about two miles and the valley opened to the right where there was a sloping hillside to the left. We parked on the right and began searching from there…you will see the chalcedony rosettes on the ground all over, as soon as you get out of your vehicle, too !!

This is how it looked when we arrived that morning…had it been warmer in the days before we arrived, it prob would have looked more like this….

That is how beautiful it looked to us in 2020, when our good friend Anita Williams took us there to rockhound…bright yellow flowers in every direction for as far as your eyes could see. There were just a few flowers here and there this year.

I didn`t take many photos that day, so here are some closeups of the cleaned up rosettes I collected back in 2020 to show you what they look like…some look like little ornamental eggs, some look like ears, some look like roses…some have fire agate swirls in them….

…personally, I like the ornamental egg rosettes. 🙂

We collected all morning and then headed back to Deming to go to the Rockhound Roundup Show, put on by the Deming Club each year, and this was the first year were were able to actually go to it, most of the time it starts after we have left, but they opened a day earlier this year. There is a building full of vendors and a huge area outside the building with many vendors, so we were able to see a variety of material for sale, some was very high priced, and some was affordably priced. Logan and his grandpa were able to be a vendor that weekend and were set up by the time the rest of us got cleaned up and drove over there. I took a few photos of some items inside the building, like the gal from Florida that had some corals for sale….some absolutely floor dropping, gorgeous corals….she was affordably priced, had this first one tagged with ” Make Offer “…

and this next one was priced at $ 225.00, and it was a good sized one like the first one…and just as beautiful…

and she had some smaller ones, still basketball sized and one is only marked $ 60…

From there, we drove over to a restaurant that Mike and Randy wanted to try out, it was in an alley behind Wells Fargo Bank, over by the Deming Fire Station…operated by an older retired couple and reminded me of a hole in the wall spot, which often, those places turn out to be great places to eat at. They had good food there and were pleasant to talk to as well. It`s called Elisa`s House of Pies…they had pies too but it is definitely a good place to eat at, too. We then returned to the hotel and I once again, repacked my truck bed for the last day tomorrow, which would partly be a travel day toward home, too.

We had a four hour drive to Roswell, so we decided to leave at 6 am, which would put us there at 10 am and give us a couple of hours to collect Pecos Diamonds. Mike Messer was driving to Carlsbad to visit family before he headed home to Iowa, so it was down to Randy Gentry, Mike Mangrove, David Hodge, Onyx and Me. The drive took us across the White Sands Missile Testing Range, passing by the entrance to White Sands National Park, through a corner of Alamogordo, through Tularosa, and then northeast across a mountain range between Tularosa and Roswell, that was quite pretty….

I wish now that I had shot some video of the drive just east of Las Cruces, where we climbed to the top of the peak just east of Organ on Hwy 70 and then literally dropped to the very bottom floor of the high desert where we started across the missile testing range…I basically coasted all the way down that mountain and we were moving along at a pretty good clip…just coasting !! It…was….something…else !! 🙂

We arrived on time at Roswell, stopped for fuel in town and then drove out east on Hwy 380 a few miles…going by info that Eddie provided me for a secret spot location for Pecos Diamonds…found out there were no road signs out there so turned around, returned to a road named on the west side of the Pecos River, then drove to the next road and parked, and we fanned out to look for the diamonds…Randy found one very small red colored one, but David and I found nothing. There was massive white gypsum in that area, but we found no diamonds laying all over the place, so I texted Eddie for confirmation and from what he told me and what we were seeing, I dont believe we had the right GPS location and we were not in the right area. It looked pretty futile for us, so we all decided to head for home instead, maybe return next year and see if we could find the right location then, or go to another spot.

David and I drove back thru Roswell and then east on Hwy 70 to Amarillo, while Randy and Mike drove east on Hwy 380 to I-27 in Texas, then north to Amarillo…I wish now I had taken 380 to the interstate as well, it was a little faster that way…the fact that 380 is only a two lane highway where 70 is a four lane is what convinced me to take 70. However, what I didn`t take into account was that 70 goes thru several small towns along the way and you have to slow down thru each one, that slowed us way down. I stopped in Amarillo for fuel and David continued on toward Oklahoma City…not sure where he was stopping at, but Onyx and I had reservations for a hotel at the west edge of Oklahoma City and we pushed on…I called the hotel and told them we would not arrive til about 8 pm and that is exactly the time we did arrive there. We had a south to north tail wind pushing us along til we turned east on I-40 and then it was hammering us all the way to the hotel. Randy and Mike continued east on I-40 thinking they would stop at Fort Smith for the night.

Onyx and I slept well after such a long day on the road with just a few stops for fuel and rock collecting. I decided to drive over to the NE corner of Oklahoma City at 7 am and get some breakfast at Cracker Barrel there…as I was making my last trip up the stairwell at the hotel to get Onyx and her stuff, I noticed what looked like dancing flames under the window of room 222, like flames do in the incipient stage of ignition…I couldnt see flames but it was an orange glow for sure, so I put Onyx in the truck and walked over to find the office closed and locked. I then called the hotel number and wound up waking the owner of the hotel, told him what I saw and he said he would go check on it. As I drove away, I wondered if he would truly wake up and go check, so called 911 and talked to the Fire Dispatcher and told him what I saw, what the hotel owner told me, and he said he would send a truck company over to check it.

Had a great breakfast at CB, heard from Randy soon after getting done that he and Mike had just arrived home…he sent the text at 6 am, but I didn`t receive it til 7:42 am Sat morning. Onyx and I then we headed up I-44 EB for home…got about 30 minutes east and observed a silver four door car pulled over at an exit ramp, and a man forcibly removing a young girl with long bright red hair, in a strange way, from the back seat of the car and placing her up on the curb and grassy area…it looked weird to me so I made another 911 call, explained to a county dispatcher first, he then transferred me to the State Police, and I explained it to the State Dispatcher…I think the County Dispatcher was more understanding, he asked questions and listened to what I had to say…he said he would get an officer there as soon as possible and I had the impression that the state dispatcher didnt care.

I said a couple of prayers between there and the Missouri state line for the welfare of that little girl, don`t think I will ever forget the wide eyed look she had nor the rigid stance she had as he was placing her on the grassy area…it just didn`t look right to me. Both agencies had my call back number, but I never heard from either one.

Onyx and I arrived home safe and sound about 2:30 pm on Saturday and I heard from David Hodge that he got home safe and sound as well. All in all, another great trip in the books. Now comes all the catching up and cleaning up to do. 🙂


My Group Travels to Missouri Nov 2022

After updating my group about the dismal outlook on quartz collecting in Arkansas in November again this year, many decided they would like to travel to Missouri instead on the same dates and rockhound with me again instead, for the second year in a row. Some have traveled here on their own at various times of the year and like the places I like to go rockhounding at. I decided I would take them to the new druse location at Mineral Point on Friday the 11th, since Haunted Ridge would be shut down for deer season by then, and then we would go to MFQ on Saturday the 12th and the SSQ on Sunday the 13th.

Sam Linton and Aaron Baker came in a day earlier this year, arriving on Wednesday, the 9th, so I took them to a new location in southeast Missouri, that my buddy Bob Steele and I had been talking about scouting for druse. I had received good info from a firefighter friend that druse was practically all over the place at this location, so we drove down there on Thursday morning and Bob joined us as well…he had the easier drive, as he is only like 20 minutes from it.

There were a few spots at this location that we wanted to check out, but were unable to get to one of them that day, likely due to deer season opening on Saturday, so we went to the first location and pulled off the road, then wandered over to the other side of the roadway, where I immediately started seeing sparkles on the hillside….

…then I spotted this one higher up on the slope above the ditchline…

…and after searching that side of the road for about fifteen minutes, I had added two more to it….

…while Bob, Aaron, and I were searching that side, Sam crossed the road and down the hill on the other side to a wash below, where he began finding some larger plates with beautiful colors. We continued down the hill on the same side, while Sam stayed on the other side.

After trying to get to the one spot we wanted to check out, after looking at the satellite maps, discovering our access was blocked, we decided to drive over to a friend of Bob`s, south of there, and see if we could find any druse there.

Aaron was the only one of us that found a decent druse there…..

… we drove back toward Potosi, thinking we might go scout one more location before returning to Sullivan.We also stopped off briefly at Bob`s house, where he showed me a druse plate he found with a ball of barite perched on the druse….

We stopped off at one more spot, that was on the way, another of Bob`s friends, after Bob made a call and obtained permission for us to stop there. It is a little ways off the road, Bob and I discovered it a couple of weeks prior, and pleasantly discovered calcite crystals there in vugs of limestone boulders that had been dug out of a field, in preparation for a basement to be poured there….

…Bob found a huge dogtooth calcite crystal there, which I am sure, made his day….


By now, I was getting a lot of text messages from the rest of the crew who were arriving in town and wondering when and where supper was going to be at, so we packed it in and headed to Sullivan. I think we ate at El Nopal that evening.

The next morning I drove over to America`s Best Value Inn and led my group down to the Mineral Point location, let everyone know the boundaries and we all dispersed into the forest to look for druse and barite. Both can be found there separately and together, and are quite beautiful. This is a beautiful rose colored druse bubble plate I found sitting in the leaves…

…and here is a beautiful bladed barite that Aaron found there….

…this location also seems to have a lot of blue colored druse quartz, which all by itself can be quite pretty, but when you combine the druse found there with the bladed barites found there, those combination pieces really come alive…..

this is one of Sam`s bladed barite finds, prior to him cleaning it up….

…we stayed there for the morning and then drove over to Robinson`s Bluff, paid our fee, signed the waiver, and dropped it in the dropbox, then walked down to the wooded area at the far side and began finding and collecting beautiful druse quartz. We collected for a few hours and then returned to Sullivan. Dinner that evening was at Missouri Hick BBQ for the all you can eat catfish….

David Hodge and I had the catfish…it was excellent…Aaron decided to try the stuffed baked potato dish…Ory`s Spud….

….but not everyone made it up there that evening due to a traffic snafu and that was partially my fault for not letting everyone know where we were going and providing directions.

That night, snow fell in the southern part of Missouri, and it sounded like the roads may have been ice and snow covered in the area of MFQ, so I decided to take the group to the SSQ instead. I had heard the main roads down there were just wet…we found out when we got close that the ground and trees were covered with some snow, maybe an inch or two at most, but the roads were in good shape….

..I should say, when we first started seeing the snow, it was a dusting, and then the further south we progessed, the deeper it got…but we never saw more than a couple of inches on the ground and only the dirt roads were covered….

…snow really sets the pine trees off well, very pretty…we arrived to find the quarry floor with a dusting of snow here and there. Everyone did a little walking around, looking for various goodies, as there is a wide variety found there…holie rock druse quartz, plates of soda straw druse quartz, poker chip calcites, dogtooth calcites, the latter two usually found in wall pockets, so some were looking for new wall pockets, some checking out older wall pockets, and then began looking for floor pockets, and then the work began….

…it was a little cold that day, but as long as we were staying busy, we really didnt notice the cold that much….and boy, did we stay busy….

…then they started pulling the loose crystals and clusters out of the bottom of the pockets…yes they are wearing gloves because the water was very cold….

While the guys were working the pockets with their saws, Sam found a huge pocket of his own and began working it…it had actually been there for awhile, and everyone thought it was played out, but he opened it up, crawled into it, and began pulling poker chips and clusters out soon after…

…and while that was going on, I was looking for other floor pockets myself…only found a few but filled a bucket or two like everyone else. 🙂

…and soon Sam came over and showed some the dogtooth calcites he began finding deep inside his pocket….

….and here is the loot that the other guys found….

The next morning, I led everyone down to MFQ and the roads were good and clear, there were a few areas at the quarry with a dusting of snow, like the point where David Hodge and Don Lapham started working….

…we found several pockets of calcite blades down there…a few of them even produced some nice calcite poker chips and dogtooths…

Some headed for home from there and the rest of us returned to Sullivan for dinner.

All in all, it was a great weekend, everyone went home happy with their finds. Slade, Sam, and Aaron had the longest trips home, so they started home about 4 am Monday morning and everyone had safe trips home. I took Monday off and rested up before returning to work on Tuesday. 🙂



Nashville Club Comes to Missouri Nov 2022

Shortly after letting my group know that the state of the Union in Arkansas was again in bad shape, as far as the quartz collecting goes, deciding instead to have my group come to Missouri to rockhound the second weekend of November, Randy Gentry called me to inquire if the Nashville Club could come to Missouri and rockhound with me on the first weekend in November. I told him they were definitely welcome to do so and as luck would have it, he had already checked with Greg Coleman at Haunted Ridge to see if they would be open on Saturday the 5th. Greg had decided to remain open until Nov 7th,  so Randy and the Nashville Club were in luck. Randy also wanted to take his club to the new location I am taking groups to, the Mineral Point location, so we decided to go to Haunted Ridge on Saturday morning and Mineral Point in the afternoon, and then a quarry on Sunday.

Randy and Gerald came up a day early and I took them to one of my favorite roadcuts, where a different type of calcites could be found.  Randy and Gerald decided to check the wall, and wound up climbing up on a ladder to check some pockets about ten feet up…they were having good success while I did some surface collecting and found some pretties hanging around in the ditchline…

…this roadcut produces some nice dolomite plates with Williamsville Calcites and this is the pocket I pulled them out of….

The next morning I drove over to America`s Best Value Inn in my town, where Randy`s club members had decided to stay at, and led them down to Haunted Ridge Druse Farm.  I had taken my rockhound Don Lapham there earlier in August and discovered that Greg had created a new driveway into the huge parking area on the south side of the big lake behind his house…..

He had also lined the new entrance with huge boulders covered in different colors of druse….

…and built a pay station as well, it also serves as a souvenir and t-shirt stand for them….

usually manned by Judy Coleman and/or Ronnie`s wife, who is a family member as well. During the machine digs, they usually have an ATM stationed along one of the walls of it for the convenience of customers.

We arrived around 8 am and after visiting with Greg, Duck, Johnboy, we were soon transported by Greg and the guys in various side by sides to the popular rootbeer plate dig spot that Greg had discovered and dug out to make it easier for everyone to dig out nice plates and knobs of pretty quartz. I am pretty sure everyone found some beautiful plates of quartz there, rootbeer color as well as other colors…

And about 1 pm, we left Haunted Ridge and I led them to the Mineral Point location and the Nashville Club members dug in and started finding some bladed barite from the get go, from small to huge plates….like this big one…

…if I remember right, this one was covered with beautiful blades of barite on both sides, it had about eight inches of matrix in between as well and was quite heavy for its size. While they were having a heyday in the trenches, I scouted around in the wooded area and located a couple of druse bubble beauties…

The next morning I led them down to My Favorite Quarry and we had a great time there…the day warmed to the point that short sleeves felt alot better. By mid day most had left for home already, and Randy and Gerald were the last ones to leave for Nashville. They found a nice large calcite in the middle of the quarry before heading for home…

Geode Fest 2022

Well it has been so long since I updated my site, and six months past Geode Fest, that I have forgotten much of what happened end of September there. I remember having a good time, weather was a little cooler, and I remember spending much of my digging time at Josh`s Railroad Creek location…mainly because he brought in a mini trackhoe that weekend and dug out several areas along the creek to make it easier for rockhounds to find geodes…

….a fact that was not lost on hundreds of rockhounds there, who not only went there in droves but let everyone else at Geode Fest know about it, so that they too could go and experience it.

Onyx and I stayed at the Budget Inn this year, just north of the Casey`s Store on Business 61/Main Street. We usually stay at the Super 8, which is across from the Geode Fest Venue, but this year I had a problem booking it in the spring, thru Expedia…it was supposed to be pay at hotel, but my money was removed from my bank account a day after I booked the reservation…Expedia blamed it on the hotel and I later found out that Expedia not only lied to me, but they were the ones that removed my money and held it for the hotel. I found this out after contacting Kirk, the Director of Tourism for the City of Keokuk, told him what had happened and asked if he had any pull with the hotel owner there. He stepped in and contacted the new owner of the Super 8, let her know what was going on, she contacted Expedia and had them release my money back to my account, which they did finally do…I had to threaten them, that I would get the Missouri Attorney General involved in it as well, and then amazingly, they returned my money in a matter of minutes. Needless to say, I am done with using Expedia for anything, anymore. By the time I got that snafu straightened out, the Super 8 was booked solid, so I discovered the Budget Inn was under new ownership as well, and had been remodeled, so I booked a room for Onyx and I there, and it was a very nice and quiet place to stay at.

Bob and I arrived early on the 23rd, as Bob had made arrangements with a local guide to take us to the Fox River and see what we could find…he took us to a section of the Fox River near Wayland, told us he had taken some folks there a couple of weeks before and they found several large geodes there…as you can see in the photo below of Bob walking the river, there was definitely no large geodes to be found in the same area when we were there that day….

…we never saw much of anything in the several sections of the Fox that we had to wade and cross back and forth…at least half a mile section of the river…neither one of us filled the bottom of our buckets…we both felt we had been screwed over, especially after giving this guide some very nice finds from our respective areas in exchange for his time. Bob brought him a huge box of beauties and I gave him a flat of nice wrapped calcites from MFQ.

Friday was the first morning, so Pete, Bob, and I drove down to Josh`s place, and parked down on the field hillside, and waited for everyone to arrive before walking in…Marla Moore and her family from Cape Girardeau area, joined us…we walked up to the upper end of the gravel bar on the east side and started digging into the bank, where smaller geodes up to cannon ball sizes are normally found. In the past, some of these geodes have had pale amethyst centers…we had more luck pulling them out from around the tree roots, and it didn`t take long to fill a bucket or two….this is Bob walking the creek…


I normally stay at the Geode Fest venue in the afternoons, as I don`t handle the heat well up there, plus it gives me a chance to roam around and visit with several of the vendors I know there. John Cain and Duck were there for Haunted Ridge Druse Quartz this year and were doing pretty good on sales.

My good local rockhounding friend Bob Steele came up this year for his first Geode Fest experience, too…he is a retired Deputy Sheriff from St Francois County and decided to camp out at Hickory Haven Campground on the north side of town…a campground that has served hundreds of rockhounds well for many years. Bob and I hung out with John and Duck quite a bit at their booth. I asked them where they were staying at, they didn`t get their reservations in soon enough to book rooms again at Quality Inn, so they were staying at the Baymont Inn this year instead. I told them good luck…they looked at my funny and said, what do you mean by that ? I told them in years past the Baymont had a reputation for bugs…they still didn`t get it…so Bob and I had to explain to them what bed bugs were and how some hotels took them serious and addressed the problem, while some did not take the matter seriously. I told Duck that the ratings were higher recently, and reviews were much better this year for the Baymont, so I guessed that they had finally eradicated the bugs from their hotel. We told them where they could check inside their rooms to make sure it was okay.

Marla told us later on, that they had torn their beds apart once they arrived in their rooms at the Baymont, as they had heard the same thing, and they found no evidence of bedbugs and slept just fine. Apparently, John and Duck decided that was too much work, so they slept in their truck instead.

As usual, my buddy John was set up in a booth along the first row, closest to the parking lot of the church, and he was busy selling rocks and cracking open geodes daily. Two booths down were good friends Charity and Jamie Moog, with Jerry Mazur helping them crack open geodes while Charity sold rocks..unless they got really busy with customers, and then Charity would operate a third geode cracker. My buddy Ken Vaisivil is always set up in the middle of the vending area, he has ALOT of geodes, a HUGE variety of colors and variations and sizes, and he often sits on the pavement and cracks some open for the kiddos. I also have to visit the Amish booths, they have delicious food booths, like the pastries, pies, and cookies booth, which is next door to the home made ice cream booth.

I also get to visit with the paid firefighters for Keokuk, who always bring their older model Telequirt pumper to the vending has an onboard generator which is used to power up the trailer with the modern men and women`s restrooms. They return in the evening to take their truck back to the station, then bring it back in the mornings.

On Saturday, the second morning, after I photographed the gorgeous sunrise at the Des Moines River Bridge on Highway 136 just south of Keokuk…



….Pete Hahn and I often drove there direct and dug at one spot, where Josh had taken the nose of a hillside off and made it much easier to dig out geodes from golf ball size to cannonball size and up to basketball sizes…many of the bigger ones were solids, while the cannonball sizes were mostly hollows. We were joined there initially by Shell and her friend Caitlyn, who were digging into the nose of the hillside to the right of Pete and I…

This is Caitlyn, showing me what she was digging out of the semi muddy bank…Shell had already filled a bucket and then moved up a dry wash to our right, up the holler to see if she could find some bigger geodes. Caitlyn stayed with us and we made some huge progress that morning, digging at least 3 feet into that nose bank….have to say, I don`t know a lot of gals that like to get muddy and are happy about it, but Caitlyn sure fits that mold and seems to enjoy it…

I still don`t have any of mine cracked open, except for the few that I cracked open on the spot with my rockhammer, like this one….

Have to say the City of Keokuk has a huge dining business district up and down Main Street, and there are good restaurants all up and down the street, with a few hole in the wall places just off the beaten path as well. Since last year, I try to get at least one evening in at the Italian Restaurant in the old part of downtown, because the food and atmosphere there are excellent. However, they also have a great Dairy Queen, just off Main Street and it has not been remodeled, looks like something out of the 50`s and 60`s, and they have 30 blizzard flavors, including nestle crunch…I cannot get a blizzard at my DQ with nestle crunch, yet in Keokuk, Iowa…I can !!

On Sunday morning, the last day, Pete and I drove back down to Josh`s, having had great luck there in digging out some great geodes the day before, and returned to the nose hillside again, and began digging in…Caitlyn joined us again for a few hours, took some photos of us too…

she caught us taking a break from all the work of digging and filling at least two more buckets full of light geodes. 🙂

After that, she had to head for home…once I had my two buckets full, I headed back to the Venue to say my see ya later`s to my friends…discovered that John and Duck had sold out the rest of their druse to some gal that had been buying several the day before…she finally decided to make them an offer and they accepted it, helped her pack the crystals into her vehicle and then they headed south back to Washington County. We still kid them about the bedbugs. 🙂

I talked to my buddy John Oostenryk and then visited with Jamie and Charity….took a photo of a guy that brought Jamie a nice geode to crack open for him…

…filled with smoky quartz no less….



Labor Day Weekend Annual Trip 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and some honeycomb formation calcite or something….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Cleaning and Cutting in August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How I Spent My Birthday Weekend July 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

BE Clement Mineral Museum Annual Show June 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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


Unique Bladed Barite Piece

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

Pretty neat piece for sure !!

Geode Fest 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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