Kentucky Central Trip 2020

Back in May or June, after first checking with Slade to make sure the Hickory Club intended to make the trip to Kentucky again on Labor Day Weekend this year, and confirmed with both Quarry Managers that we would be welcome to return to their locations again,  I put the word out to all my rockhound friends in my group, that the Central Kentucky 2020 Trip was a GO !!

In the past six months, I have picked up another half a dozen or so new rockhound friends and invited them to come along with us if they wanted to, and many decided to do just that. Some from as far away as Virginia, obviously wont be able to make all the trips due to the distance, and timing of them all, but the Central Kentucky trip is usually very central for most of us to go to, from any direction. The next trip after it is the southern Arkansas trip and plans are already in the works for it, one location being a new quartz mine down there.

In years past, I have stopped off and picked up some beautiful fluorite specimens available for purchase, on my way down to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and this year was even better, with the recent discovery of a huge pocket of purple and yellow fluorites in the Cave-In-Rock area. I stayed in touch with my contact in Southern Illinois and was able to visit him a couple of times before the Kentucky trip, purchasing some beautiful cubes of purple and yellow fluorite in all sizes, as well as some hand cut octohedrons. He had also sawed some slices of the purple and yellow specimens, so I picked up 30 slices from him as well.

This year I split the trip down there into two days, so I could do a little visiting on the way without being pressed for time, as I lose an hour going east. This year, I was also requested to bring some Viburnum Trend minerals and crystals, some Missouri Druse Quartz in various sizes, and some Washington County Quarry specimens that have three different colors of druse quartz, blue, grey, and maroon red, as well as DT calcite crystals, snow white bladed barite, chalcopyrite with brilliant blues and purples, and sphalerite balls, big to small on them. So I had several flats of each in the truck. It took me 12 hours to pack the truck, leaving just the front seats for me and Miss Onyx, my new lab mix dog…she usually has the entire back seat to stretch out on, but this time the back seat was completely full of flats of my Missouri crystals, from door to door and floorboard to the cab ceiling…

So Onyx and I left about 11 am and drove down to visit with Gary and Walter on Thursday, September 3rd. She never gets to ride up front with me, so it was a real treat for her this time. We had a good trip down there, went through some small towns like Carrier Mills, Illinois…a historic coal mining town, to get there…beautiful country down through there, not far from Garden of the Gods, too.

 

 

 

And the truck bed was pretty full as well…I had reserved a few feet in front of the tailgate in case Gary had some yard rocks worthy of picking up too…

My first trip down to see him on August 12th, I had purchased a couple of large yard rocks with quartz, calcites, some small purple fluorite cubes and some veins of azurite and malachite running through the entire rock matrix of each one…yes, you read that right, azurite in a bright blue and green malachite !!

 

 

 

 

 

And he had several nice purple and yellow fluorites as well, so naturally I picked out several of those on this first trip too…

..but one that really caught my eye was a big one, beach ball sized..wish now I had purchased it from him, he had a good price on it for the quality it had, large cubes on both sides, purple on one side and yellow on the other….one of those you kick yourself for not getting later on….

On the next trip down there, Thursday, September 3rd, I was asked to get some more smaller sizes if possible, so that was on my mind that morning…he had several in all sizes making it much easier on me to pick out some good ones for everyone…

 

 

 

 

Once I had the small ones selected, I had to make some hard decisions on the bigger ones…he had several nice ones…with large cubes on them…2 to 4 inches square in size…and each piece had some dings on them…you have to remember, these come out of a mine, they blast much of the time to find the spar, the ore that they mine is called spar…these specimens here are the pretty rocks, the perks…they are not what is being mined, the  massive / solid stuff is being mined, the perks are sold on the side…when you are blasting, crystals inside pockets get tossed around and so you have dings on them…anyone that thinks crystals come out of blast pockets in perfect condition, is either not thinking well or is delusional about it. Here are some of the bigger ones I selected…

…this one was a beauty, selected by a friend for purchase, love that yellow center spot in the purple crystal that Gary is pointing to….as you can see in the next photo, he had several nice large pieces available that day…the next day, he told me later, everything was purchased that was left…

…that piece in the upper left corner in the photo above, is completely covered by barite and quartz….the next photo shows one he pulled out from between two limestone seams, it was in a clay pocket…

…this next one is one that I wound up taking home to add to my collection…my friends thought it had too much damage, they chose another one and this one came home with me…I like it…i has a triangular window on the corner of a big purple cube that is phenomenal to me..Gary is holding it up so the sunlight shines through to show me the colors in it….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onyx and I crossed the Ohio River on the ferry…her first on a boat, too…and spent the night in Eddyville, Kentucky at the Super 8…great hotel there, clean immaculate rooms, very comfy, but it was a ghost town that night there…we were one of three guests in the two story hotel. I left her at the hotel to rest up after that ferry ride and headed over to one of my favorite steakhouses, Oasis Southwest Grill on the south side of I-24 a couple of miles south of the hotel in Kuttawa…and as I walked out the door and got in my truck to leave, I ran smack dab into this GORGEOUS sunset….

 

I had to go down to the Dollar General Store first to get Onyx a leash, I had driven off and left hers at home, and when I came out of the store, the sunset had deepened and widened, so I shot it again from the parking lot, showing how wide it had spread across the sky. This would have been a great sunset to have shot from the east side of Lake Barkley, which is just a few miles south of Eddyville….

I had a great meal at the steakhouse, ordered my favorite there, two large boneless pork chops, they both fill up one whole plate…marinated in their BBQ sauce, and cooked medium…with a big baked potato and steamed broccoli…and yes, it was DEEEE-LICIOUS !!

We were up and on the road by 7 the next morning with a little light rain falling, and some humidity…for some reason, I was having trouble getting the fan to work in the truck, wanted a little cooler air, so I cracked the windows open once we turned on the Western Kentucky Parkway and headed east toward Lake Cumberland. A few miles down the parkway and my fan started working again…first red flag of the trip.

I had been talking to a young man who had gotten into some modeling work a month before my trip and he was in need of some new photos for his portfolio. He was having trouble locating someone to photograph him and had asked if I could help him out…at one time, I knew a photographer down close to him, but found out he had moved out to Arizona recently, so I told Connor that I could drive over and meet him at a beautiful restored mill on the south side of Lake Cumberland and photograph him there. I had done the same thing ten years ago, similar circumstances, and a good friend in Stanford took me to that mill back then…I lost my friend two years ago to a stroke after a bout with cancer and another friend from Harrodsburg last year to cancer. 🙁

We drove through a few short light showers of rain down by Bowling Green that morning and by the time we reached Somerset, I had the ac turned on…we reached the Mill and no Connor there yet…I had been talking to him on the way down there by phone and figured he would get there first. Turned out, he had come in a different way, the county highway the mill is on, circles through there and neither of us realized it…he eventually got there and we were able to take advantage of the nice weather to get him some good portfolio photos…there are some beautiful waterfalls at the bottom of the hill below the old mill where the millrace water dumps into the lake…ten years ago, you had to fight your way through heavy brush just to catch a glimpse of them…this time, they were much easier to find and view…

.and the old mill with a steel water wheel as well…

After a couple of hours at the mill, visiting and photographing Connor, Onyx and I headed north up Highway 27 to Stanford and then turned northwest toward Danville, arriving at the Baymont Hotel in Harrodsburg, around 2 pm. It took a little longer to check in because the desk clerk, new to me, was conducting personal business on her cellphone instead of attending to her work. She kept giving me room keys that did not work, nothing more aggravating than having your hands full of luggage and you cant even get into the building at the side door…much less walk up the stairs to your room. After the third trip back to the front desk, I was pretty aggravated and I am pretty sure she was able to detect it…she kept blaming it on everything but the inattention she had given me the first two times…this time she got it right after putting her phone down and going through the steps she should have taken the first time…and yes, I did note this in my review of the hotel after I returned home…and yes, the hotel owner read my review and assured me that he would take care of that problem. Once I got my luggage inside, I returned to the truck for Onyx, having left her in the ac while I went through all that BS…not long after that, my buddy David Hodge showed up at the hotel too, and I think his check in went a lot smoother than mine had.

He and I drove over to the Bright Leaf Golf Resort Hotel, where most of the crew was staying at, around 5 pm…an hour before supper so we could visit a little with Slade and new friend Randy Gentry from Nashville, his friend Gerard, as well as Tammy and Todd Bromley from Michigan. It has been several years since I had seen Tammy and Todd, think the Eureka Mine was where I had last rockhounded with them, so was great seeing them again. We eventually walked over to the Bright Leaf Restaurant where we found everyone else already at the tables and having supper…they have a buffet every night or you can order something else as well….great food and great service there, and we eat breakfast and dinner/supper there daily on this trip. After a great meal, we paid our tabs and walked back down to the parking lot and got ready for the tailgate swap and sell event…we do this on Friday evening and Saturday evening after dinner/supper…this is what I had  my truck loaded down with so many flats of material for…that and some extra flats for Slade as well. 🙂 While I was unpacking my flats, I got to meet Sam Linton and Aaron Baker from Virginia…they had started toward Kentucky a couple of days before as well, to do some rockhounding on the way and had stopped at a couple of roadcuts on the way down to get some neat stuff, too. Sam showed me some of the material that had worked the bluffs to get the day before and that morning, before they drove on down..some brachiopods with vugs of calcite crystals inside…gorgeous stuff. I gave them each a box flat of some Missouri stuff that I had brought for them and they had brought me some nice goodies too. I think everyone had a good time that evening, fun and fellowship, and then headed back to our hotels for the night to rest up for the quarry on Saturday morning.

Onyx and I were up by 6 am and drove over to the Bright Leaf to join everyone for breakfast…as we drove south down the bypass around Harrodsburg, I looked at the orange glow coming up on the horizon to the east…it was going to be a great sunrise…the closer I got to the Bright Leaf, the more I wished the speed limit was a little higher. I pulled into the parking lot to find Slade waiting to meet Miss Onyx…while he and her were getting acquainted, I took some photos of the STUNNING and GORGEOUS sunrise…

There is a large farm up on the hill across the highway from the Bright Leaf, with nice wood fences surrounding it, barns and other outbuildings, that make a great backdrop for the sunrises there….

…this was one of the best sunrises I have seen there, it just kept getting better and better every minute…as I was shooting a video on it, Onyx about wandered out into the highway traffic, luckily Slade was able to snatch her out of harms way very quickly…thanks again, buddy…

Central Kentucky 2020-0905 AVI 774 Sunrise Sat Morning at Harrodsburg

After a good breakfast, we gathered out in the parking lot…Sam, Aaron, and Dawson Barrott with his buddies Thomas and Mike Hewlett were all waiting for us when we came out, soon we were lining up and heading south to Danville for our morning field trip at Caldwell Quarry.

Always a roll of the dice for this place, never know if you are going to find a little, a lot, or nothing at all there…there is a small seam of calcite when you look at the big picture there, ten stories deep and this seam only extends from the very bottom of the pit to nearly the second level, and you do not want to get near the walls of this quarry due to the height and safety risks associated with them. We arrived to find Clay, the Quarry Manager, driving a front end loader, and headed down into the pit to load up a dump truck making a delivery to a customer that morning…talk about a talented guy. 🙂 He gave us waiver forms to fill out and sign before he took off to the pit and then on his return, gave a brief history on the quarry and safety talk too. We were all outfitted with our hard hats, steel-toed boots, and safety glasses, ready to go find some treasure. Since Clay had to leave soon, he assigned one of his top guys to look after us while we were there and Jeff took care of us very well, nice attitude and very safety minded, he stayed right with us the entire time we were there. I think he learned a little bit about rocks from us, too. We took a group photo at the big boulder by the office…..

…and then followed Jeff and Clay down to the initial staging area, where all parked…Clay pointed out some obvious changes from the year before. We normally parked at the lower level or the first floor up, last year there was a huge pile of blasted material on the right side between the lower and first level, where we found many plates of calcite…dogtooth calcites I might add…but this year the first level consisted of a three story high pile of limestone rock that had been brought down from higher levels to clean them off….

…so using the photo above, the road in the middle going down, leads to the lower level…normally, as in years past, we would have driven straight into where that huge pile is now located, to the first level and parked, then spread out from there, but this year that huge pile was completely covering up the first level. Those that had been here before in my group, knew that if they could not locate anything within an hour, they could walk to other areas where they had found vugs and pockets of pretty stuff before…they were armed with their saws and after I walked around a while to help others, I soon heard their saws and knew exactly where they were at. Onyx, in the meantime, found all the waterholes down there and was exploring those…I mean, what else would a dog do while on vacation. 🙂

One thing we did see alot more of this year here, was Petroleum Calcite…Calcite that is normal colored and then a petroleum base on top and mixed in, looks just like it sounds…

we also saw a lot of pink calcites on the boulder surfaces too…haven`t seen calcite in that color there before…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At any rate, I shot some video of David Bruce doing something he enjoys, cutting up boulders to extract pretty vugs of crystals….

Caldwell Quarry 2020-0905 AVI 804

I received an email from Clay back about mid summer, letting me know they were finding a lot of corals this summer at the quarry, Two years ago, we found some huge plates of corals down at the lower level near a drain pipe, and I was able to get a couple of those before they disappeared…I still have them, they survived the last couple of harsh winters here in Missouri just fine. I found this one down in the area Slade and David were working at….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and a huge boulder or two of it nearby as well….

As I had walked down there, someone was telling me they found a nice calcite vug in a small boulder with a fluorite cube inside…

….the small boulder also believed to have some bryzoan fossils on it as well…here is a close up of the calcite vug…

…something else we find there occasionally, this year quite a few of, is chalcopyrites and pyrites…Slade found this rock with a whole ribbon of it about 8 to 10 inches long and at least half an inch wide going all the way across the rock….

and here is another rock I spotted that had several smaller spots of chalcopyrites and one larger section covered in it…

…and here is another fossil plate that was found this year….and a close up of the fossils too….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was about that time that Miss Onyx came to let me know she had taken another mud walk through some puddles…

 

I wasn`t worried too much as I knew our next location would take care of any and all dirt she acquired without any problem whatsoever…

Geode Creek Junction City KY 2020-0905 AVI 833

This is one of my favorite creek locations for geodes and the landowner here is one of the nicest Kentucky gentlemen I have met. The Hickory Club has been going to this location for years and they always bring him some jams and jelly jars as a token of their respect and appreciation. Some members of my group also left some gifts for him as well. One thing I really like about his creek frontage, is that you can search the banks as well as the water for good geodes, as Mary is shown doing here in this photo….

The week before we were there, this area received about four inches of rainfall from the remnants of a hurricane and this helped wash some geodes out of the clay dirt banks upstream…the ones you see in the photo above that Mary is looking through tho, are from the huge flood they had last year before we arrived, those floodwaters deposited many geodes high up on that side of the creek and the landowner had to have that whole bank graded to about a 45 degree slope to make it easier to walk up and down it. We were able to pull down into his backyard and right up next to the creek as well, and there was some good shade to park in as well. The water there is crystal clear too….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty sure everyone there had a great time looking for geodes and those that cracked the ones they found, open on the spot, and liked what they saw…well they definitely had a great time there…I was one of those…I found a couple of really nice ones and have a bucket full that I need to crack open at some point later on. When I finally got time to walk downstream, I saw Gerard working the bank and he was rolling some basketball sized geodes out of the bank, offered me one and I chose one and cracked it open right there…turned out to have an internal chamber of dark orange and yellow sunshine quartz…meaning from the outside rind inward, was two inches of solid rock to the internal hollow chamber…I have never seen one like that but I definitely like it. When I get a photo of it, I will post it so you can see what I am talking about. Here are some photos that show everyone having a great time searching and collecting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even Onyx had fun there….she got all cleaned up and loved looking around…that look says it all…” we need to come back here again Daddie…this is a GREAT creek !! ”   🙂

We drove back to the hotels and got cleaned up, and then met at the Bright Leaf Restaurant for yet another great meal, then relocated to the parking lot for another evening of Tailgate Swap and Sell. Breakfast came earlier the next morning, as we were headed to Irvington, a 90 min drive west of Harrodsburg, for a field trip at Liter Quarry. We were on the way shortly before 7:30 am and had a good drive there, much less construction along the way to deal with this year. We arrived a little after 9 am, mainly due to a few red lights we hit midway through the convoy, and had to wait for everyone to catch back up. We entered the gate and lined up at the office, spotted a car coming toward us from the back of the quarry, and discovered someone had entered ahead of us. Once I straightened that matter out, I led the group down to the first pit, which had given up alot of nice treasures last year and the year before…this year we found it to be a few feet deep in water….

…that island on the left side out in the water…is actually a big boulder field that has a lot of vugs in them full of pretty crystals…those that ventured out there, were once again, not disappointed in what they found there. Luckily for others, the left wall was accessible for a ways and many were able to find some nice pockets to work pretties out of…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and some were working the boulders up where we parked on the next level up as well….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…that guy in the yellow hard hat center photo two above, is Thomas Hewlett, friend of Dawson`s…I think he was doing the eenie, meenie, miney, moe thing…said he was having a difficult time making a decision on some vugs he found in that boulder field up by the parking area….the guy in the white hard hat in the bottom photo above, is Gerard Richmond, he came down with Randy Gentry from the Nashville area and turned out to be a nice guy like Randy.

While some were not finding much at the first pit area, some were and we stayed there a little longer so the ones finding some nice stuff, had time to get as much as they could…we then loaded up our vehicles and drove over to the next pit. Most clubs and groups work within safety rules that include staying with your group and not venturing off by yourself or selves, especially without asking the field trip leader about it first…when we arrived at the next pit, I discovered someone had done just that…I dont feel it is fair to others when that happens, so I drove down and had a little discussion with the rockhounds about that, and explained it was a safety rule and what could have happened had one or more of them become injured in that other area while the rest of us were in the first location and had no idea anyone had wandered away. Since they told me they were new to rockhunting, I truly hope they learned something from that, but I didn`t get a strong impression that they had. Believe me, I have found out the hard way that some clubs do not do any training or provide any safety instruction when it comes to newbie rockhounds and quarries. Communication is key, but that is often overlooked by many new rockhounds.

Everyone spread out and started looking for some vugs in boulders and many found some pretty quickly. I decided that since I have a lot of nice stuff from this quarry, I was going to mainly make sure that everyone had a good time and found some great stuff there this trip…Onyx and I walked down to the center field of boulders, which was huge and extensive, and found Sam Linton carrying out a nice chunk of calcite from it right off the bat….

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…we hadn`t been there ten minutes and he had already found something nice !!  talk about a lucky guy. 🙂  turns out he and Aaron Baker had zoned in on the center area of that extensive boulder field and were finding some nice vugs in there…he showed me another nice one he found in there as well….a nice vug with a beautiful yellow calcite crystal in the vug….

….I decided to go see what they were finding…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all of these are the ones they were looking at, some were just some I randomly found around the area. We started collecting at 9:30 am and by noon, it was getting pretty warm out there…problem was, when I turned off my truck at the first location and then started it back up, the fan was no longer working for the air conditioner…I wasn`t worried about me as much as I was for Onyx…

…her being brown and black in color, I was watching for her to come to me and let me know when she had had enough of the heat…maybe she was able to sense that the truck fan wasn`t working…whatever it was, she handled the heat of the day by searching out the cool spring fed water pools there and plopping down in them, and I was just fine with that. That is what factored in to my decision to head back to the hotel a little earlier than the rest did, as did David Hodge…before we took off tho, we climbed up to higher level in the back of the second location..a couple of guys had gone up there and found some nice bigger vugs…we climbed up and spotted them as well as a few more behind some bigger boulders…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…we pointed out those vugs to David Bruce and Slade before we took off…many others had already left ahead of us…I intended to take a nap on our return to the hotel but wound up repacking my truck instead. I am pretty sure David was able to get a nap before supper and Onyx did as well…I had just enough time to clean up before driving over to the Bright Leaf for supper. Slade texted to let me know they were on their way back and might be there by 6:30 pm for supper…we had a great meal once again and then walked out to see what all David and Slade were able to harvest at the quarry with their saws….these are some of David`s finds…

 

 

…that last one is a close up of David`s fossil plate from Caldwell Quarry the day before…he and a few others decided they were going back to Liter Quarry the next morning while many others were going to head for home…I decided since the fan was not working consistently, that Onyx and I would head for home a day early. I understand that Dawson and the Hewlett brothers joined David at the quarry the next morning and did quite well finding some pretty calcites…here are some photos they took and shared with me of their finds…first one is Dawson`s nice plate…

the second is Thomas Hewlett`s find….a 3 foot long calcite and dolomite plate….

…and a calcite sculpture he found there as well…

…and a calcite sculpture plate found by Michael Hewlett….

Onyx and I took off at daylight and made pretty good time going home, through Louisville and across southern Indiana and Illinois on I-64…not a stretch I enjoy driving to tell you the truth, but this trip, the time seemed to go by rather quickly for us. This time, I also drove through East St Louis and St Louis City on my way home, avoiding I-255 and the road construction nightmare there. Sure hope they get that work done soon, tho, for the sake of many that depend on that route on a daily basis.

Hope everyone had as great a time as Onyx and I did !! 🙂

 

 

Thanks for Visiting My Site….Contact Me For More Information…

Thanks for visiting my site, I am a rockhound in east central Missouri and I have been rockhounding for 50 years…my Mom and Dad got me started and I am glad they did, it`s a great hobby to get into and enjoy, digging and finding new treasures that God created millions of years ago can be as much fun as meeting new people that share that same love and interest, turning into long lasting friendships. I go rockhunting as much as time permits me to, sometimes in state and locally, as well as out of state trips to other locations where other great treasures can be located. I have a core group of friends that join me on many of my travels out of state and I am often asked by others if they can join me and my group. My answer is yes, as long as you meet a few requirements…I am often asked if I am willing to take others rockhunting with me and my answer is the same, yes, as long as you meet certain requirements.

My parents raised me to be a law abiding rockhound, meaning I do not trespass nor steal from others, I have great respect for others and their properties, I ask for permission before entering property of others and if denied permission, I respect that and go elsewhere. I am easy to get along with and I take my dog with me often on my rockhunting trips…if you don`t like dogs, then do not ask me to leave my dog at home, he is a big part of my life and a joy to be around much of the time. Many of my core group of friends are hard rock miners, we put in long hours at locations, digging and breaking rock to find the goodies, we practice safety in doing so…some of my group of friends are more surface collectors…we all wear the appropriate safety gear no matter what role we are in at the locations, basics are hard hats, gloves, steel toed boots, and safety glasses, not all are required at each location, but each person comes prepared just in case.

Some of the locations I go to, are open to other rockhounds, some at no charge and some charge a dig fee, some require rockhounds to wear safety gear and practice safety while rockhunting there, staying off the high walls, behind berms, and following local rules and regulations to avoid injuries. If you are the type of person that can abide by rules and regulations, then you are the type of person I can take rockhunting or provide information to. 

Some locations are privately owned and I cannot take anyone else there, nor provide information on them…. some where I did the legwork to gain not only access to that location but the trust of the owner, and I will not provide that information to anyone else at the request of the owner.

I am a big believer in keeping my word, and I have seen the end result when one does not keep their word on other locations…I have seen many locations once accessible to other rockhounds, lost because someone failed to keep their word and gave out the information to rockhounds who had no respect for the property of others, damaging the property in their pursuit of pretty rocks and minerals. 

In my fifty years of rockhounding, mainly in the last twenty years, I have seen and experienced many of these different types of people, mostly good people and some bad, some I never care to meet or deal with again…I`m a pretty good judge of character but sometimes I have to rely on the word of others til I find out differently about someone…been there and done that too. I do screen folks I have never met or heard of too…there are many tools available these days to do just that. I have worked in law enforcement and the fire service for many years, and worn other hats as well. 

So if you believe in good ethics, following rules and regulations, practice safety, and can meet my simple requirements as a good rockhound, then I would be happy to take you rockhounding, provide you with information on available locations, or add you to my core group of friends. For more information and to get started, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com and tell me about yourself and we can go from there. My name is James…Onyx and I look forward to hearing from you…

Eminence and Park Hills Show 2016

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

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

01-new-blast-pile-on-west-side020304-david-janyce-climb-the-pile

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

05-two-buckets-full-already

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

06-david-finds-goodies-cove-wall

 

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

08

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

09

10

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

11-working-the-boulders

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

13-travis-searches-for-pockets

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

14-old-federal-mill-park-hills

 

 

 

 

Quartz Crystals and 4th of July in Arkansas 2016

Never has one of my previously planned trips to Arkansas come at a better time than my first week of July 2016 mini vacation trip. I remember letting my Mom and Dad know about six weeks ago that they were welcome to make the trip with Onyx and I if they wanted to take a few days off to rest and relax, as I would be staying at the condo on Lake Hamilton that I often stay at on my travels down there, and it`s a great place to stay and simply recharge your batteries at. Two weeks later, I lost my Dad to a massive heart attack, he collapsed in their front yard. 

Jim Johnson, Honorary Firefighter

For the past four years, Dad had suffered from Vascular Dementia, a condition that means in addition to dementia, he was also prone to his body trying to form blood clots all the time, which is likely what caused the aortic anneurism problems that he went through two years ago and required lifesaving surgery. We laid him to rest three weeks ago with full fire department and military honors, and a few days after I returned to work, the mini vacation that I had set up back in December last year, finally arrived. Mom and I were exhausted and mentally drained from trying to get back to a new normal, adjusting to the loss of his presence in our daily lives. Mom decided to go spend a few days with her brothers and their families in Fort Smith and Waldron, while Onyx and I drove on down to Hot Springs to spend time with several rockhunting friends looking for quartz crystals. After dealing with alot of drama and stress during Dad`s funeral and in the few weeks afterward, we were both ready for some rest, relaxation, and fun digging for quartz. We had a nice drive down there, stopping off briefly in Fayetteville at a flea market where I purchased a nice pyrite cube cluster from Spain. Onxy and I dropped Mom off at Aunt Dorcas and Uncle Harleys house in Fort Smith and then drove on down to Hot Springs, arriving there by mid afternoon. After cleaning up a bit, Onyx and I drove up to the Hibachi Sushi Buffet location near the Mall for a nice evening meal, then I stopped off at the Home made Ice Cream store called Scoops and picked up a quart of Butter Pecan to take back to the condo. I stopped off and replenished the ice in both of the coolers I brought down, filled with my spiked water, gatorade, and some snicker bars. While kicking back and relaxing on the balcony watching the speed boats go by….

01 Speedboat & Skiers Lake Hamilton02 Speedboat & Skiers Lake Hamilton03

….I called Chad, one of my friends who lives near Hot Springs, shortly after that and let him know of my plans to check out an old mine the next morning…he was interested in joining me and Andrew, a new rockhunting friend in Conway who was driving down the next morning as well to meet me at the Mall. Chad said he would meet me at McDonalds, where I normally eat breakfast when down there, on Friday morning.

04

Since we had started our day early that morning, Onyx and I were in bed soon after the news and up again Friday morning by 6 am. After taking Onxy on a short walk around the condo complex, meeting a few of the other renters walking their pets, we headed to the McDonalds Restaurant just north of the Mall for breakfast…Chad arrived soon after and then we drove down to the Mall to meet up with Andrew Stauber from Conway.  Andrew and I had been talking for a few weeks online after he found my website and discovered that I travel to Arkansas a few times a year for quartz crystals…he told me that he was new to rockhunting and would like to go rockhunting with me. I told him I was driving down the first few days of July and we agreed to meet up this morning to go check out an old copper/lead mine that he found out about online and secured permission to check out with the owner, since it was on private property. He arrived at the Mall shortly after Chad and I got there, and from there we drove south to the property, arriving a little after 9 am. We talked to the owner for about 20 minutes about the history of the old mine and then he told us that he had walked down to it a few days before and had to kill a water moccasin that popped up out of the creek water…a creek runs next to the old mine…and that he had seen a few copperheads there as well. I told Andrew I really didnt want to be messing with any poisonous snakes on this trip and would prefer to come back in the fall when it was much cooler and we didnt have to worry about such things. Chad agreed, mainly because Chad was wearing shorts and sandals, instead of boots and jeans like Andrew and I were wearing. We asked the owner if it was okay with him for us to return in the fall and apologized if we had wasted his time, but he was very nice and gracious, telling us that if it were up to him, he would rather we came back in the fall as well.

From there, not really having anything else planned out, I called another guy I had been talking to for quite some time online…Gary Fleck, a mineral and quartz dealer who lives on the west side of Hot Springs…and found out he was home with some spare time and we were welcome to go and visit with him for a bit. I had an appointment at 2 pm, so we had some free time and headed over there to meet and visit with him. Gary used to own a quartz mine near Oden and has been a quartz and mineral dealer for many years, lives on Lake Hamilton and has many beautiful crystals and minerals in his collection and many more for sale as well. We visited with him and his wife for about 90 minutes before I had to take off…before leaving tho, I did purchase a nice dolomite piece from the Elmwood Mines with some small fluorite cubes on it for my personal collection, and I gave him some nice double terminated calcites on pyrite and chalcopyrite from the Viburnum Trend mines, too. Later that evening, Chad and I met up with Virgil Richards, a good rockhunting friend of mine from Tulsa, at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant for supper…Virgil had driven in that afternoon, the first of many friends that would be digging with me the next couple of days, for quartz crystals. We had a great supper and then all three of us split up for the rest of the evening.

Onyx and I were up early once again, this time catching the sunrise over Lake Hamilton right off my balcony…..

05 Sunrise Saturday Morning

…we got ready and drove up to the Courtyard Marriott Hotel to pick up my St Louis County buddy Chuck Reed, who was staying there with his family, he wanted to leave his truck there for his wife and two daughters so they could go visit downtown Hot Springs while we were digging for quartz that day. We then drove over to McDonalds and had breakfast and then drove over to the Mall to meet up with Alina and Pat Klein and their two sons Fen and Coen…they had arrived late the night before driving in from Indianapolis…Chuck and his family arrived around 11 pm. Everyone else had texted me the night before or earlier in the morning to let me know they would meet us at Mt Ida, including Virgil since he was staying at a motel on the west side of Hot Springs, so we headed west soon after in order to meet everyone in Mt Ida by 8:45 am. On the way up there Chuck texted Tony, the mine owner, to let him know we would arrive at his mine a little after 9 am, we were slowed down by heavy traffic outside of Mt Ida…weekenders driving 45 mph instead of 55 mph. We soon arrived in Mt Ida tho, getting around the slowpokes in the passing lanes of Hwy 270 about ten miles east of town, and shortly after pulling into the old Exxon Station we met up with Justin from Hot Springs, Virgil from Tulsa, and Chris and Kim Bryant with their son Preston, from Birmingham… soon we were driving over to Tony`s mine.  We arrived about 9:15 and found Tony waiting for us by his trackhoe at his new digging area…he showed us some gorgeous small clusters that he had pulled out of some pockets in the new area and we were soon off to the races, looking for quartz…Chuck found a nice yard rock not five minutes after walking up into the dig area…

 

..so soon after photographing Chuck with his find, I walked up into the dig area and was seeing crystals laying all over the place, picking up several and placing them in my bag before I even got to the back wall of the new area….from there, I turned around and snapped a few photos of everyone else searching the tailing piles for crystals and every few seconds, someone was calling out that they found something nice….

I set up shop next to Virgil who was already hard at work digging out crystals in the clay on the back wall, using a flat head screwdriver….

16 Virgil Digging Out Crystals

 

 

..and here is one of his finds soon after….

 

Pretty soon the heat of the day began catching up with us, so we started taking breaks and drinking our fluids…along the wall we were in the shade for a while that morning, the canopy of tall pines presenting a great cover for us for much of the day….when I looked back behind me the next time, I saw people spread out digging all over the place…

 

…and Justin was off to my left on top of one of the tailing piles pulling out some nice crystals..he and Fen were searching for the single points and they were finding some nice ones…

 

…and through the morning hours, Onyx did well in the shade next to me, stretched out on the cool…to him…clay dirt….

 

…Chuck was behind me and Virgil looking for plates and yard rocks during the morning hours….

 

…and everytime I looked over at Justin, he was pulling crystal after crystal out of that tailing pile he was working on…

19 Justin Looks For Crystals

 

…Chuck was soon joined by Coen, while working behind Virgil and I, and they began discussing minerals and quartz while taking a break from the heat….

 

 

…and then I saw Justin walking around and surface collecting some more…

 

…and then shortly after noon, more took breaks from the building heat while Chuck and Justin decided to head on up the mountain to the old mine and see what more could be found up there….here you see Pat and his dog Toby have decided to join me and Virgil on the back wall area…

25

…and here comes Alina and Preston surface collecting as well as Chuck walks back to my truck with his tool bag full of crystals in the photo on the left and Fen surface collecting on the right….

 

…Fen was relentless in his search for single crystal points…had I known that`s what he was after, I wouldnt have handed him all those little clusters I found….

 

…by the time 3 pm rolled around, Virgil and I were getting tired, mainly of the oppressive heat…

 

….we were still finding a lot of crystals, even pulled a large piece of rock away to reveal a nice pocket of crystals and worked that for awhile and Virgil found a huge yard rock too….

31 Yard Rock

…most everyone else had gone on up to the top to the old mine and were finding some nice ones up there, so we decided to follow. As we were packing up and getting ready to head up there, Justin showed me a super nice single point that he found up there, as he was getting ready to head out…if you have heard of one but never seen one…this is what a happy camper looks like……

 

Chuck walked back down, having found several nice crystals up at the top and so rode with me to the top, Virgil following soon after, and we stayed up there awhile and looked for a few more, finding some nice ones up there too…here Chuck caught me surface collecting up there…….by that time, I had my floppy hat on to keep the sun off the back of my neck….

34 Me Searching Upper Pit

35 Upper Mine36 Me PIcking Up Crystals

37 Upper Mine Loading My Finds

…Virgil, Chuck, and I were the last ones to leave…we were all out of there by 4 pm and although we were exhausted due to the heat, we were all very happy with our finds…I had four bags full of wrapped crystals and some of us also had some nice yard rocks. Tony was a great host once again, and we look forward to returning to his mine again this fall. We headed back to Hot Springs to get cleaned up and have supper…this was the night that the entire Hot Springs area celebrates the 4th of July with their huge fireworks display over Lake Hamilton. I no sooner arrived at my condo after dropping Chuck off at his hotel, then I discovered a major parking issue…I had to park at the next condo building up from the one my condo was located in. Chuck and his family were going to come down and watch the fireworks while I photographed them, as we would have front row seats to the display…they are set off at the Power Boats Business across the water from the Clarion Hotel, a quarter mile east of the condo. About an hour later tho, the parking situation lightened up and everyone was able to come over to watch and enjoy the fireworks with me….by 8:30 pm, the boats were starting to accumulate out in the channel behind the condo….

0205

…and right before the display started, some folks about two buildings up had their own private show down next to the water with some pretty commercial grade fireworks….

07 From Pier Next Door            08 From Pier Next Door

…and then soon after that, the huge display started and lit up the night skies over Lake Hamilton….

09 Yellow Starburst1013

 

 

 

 

 

141519212324263132363841424345464850525363

This year I was able to capture over a hundred nice images of the fireworks and I know that I stood there and snapped over 200 photos during the display, shooting some video as well, once again, it was a GREAT show there !!  I dont know who sets them off there, but JOB WELL DONE FOLKS !!!

Sunday morning, our plan was to drive up to Twin Creek Mine and dig in a private pocket there. I had set this into motion on June 19th when I started talking to Miss Dixie on FB, letting her know that we would be there on Sunday, July 3rd and would like to dig in the special private area to the right as you enter the mine area, not the public dig area…four of us had dug there back in November and did quite well there. She started telling me that they had expanded their operation  and were now digging 75 feet up the hill from the public dig area and had hit a ten foot wide quartz vein up there…and that they were going to let us dig there, that it was going to be their private pocket dig area for the next few years…she said that pocket would cost us from $ 300 to $ 500 for those of us that would be there that morning and she said they were finding blue phantoms up on that ridge as well. I told her that would work for us and I would contact there the day before to firm things up. I emailed her again on FB the evening before driving down to Arkansas to let her know we were looking forward to digging there again, and she responded by letting me know that everything was looking very promising for us.

So Saturday evening, before everyone arrived to watch the fireworks with me, I started texting Miss Dixie to make sure we were still on for Sunday morning in the private pocket area…I kept all my texts and emails on my FB page to refresh my memory on this….she said Bobby had been working hard and would meet us at the mine in the morning to show us the possibilities…said there was more than one spot and more than one side of the mine to choose from as to where we could dig…then I asked her about the price…a few weeks prior she told me the price would be $ 300 to $ 500 for the group of us and that is what I told me crew so they would know how much money to bring with them for this dig…we had 7 to 9 adults and four children 10 years of age and younger.

She texted me back and said $ 100 per person is the special dig price and Bobby is seeing 3 or 4 pockets worth $ 300 to $ 400….one may open bigger, but the price stays the same and Bobby can show you…I texted her back, to confirm she just told me that the cost was now $ 100 per person, and she confirmed it…told her we could not afford to pay $ 100 per person, that she had told me prior that the cost would be $ 300 to $ 500 for the group…she came back with, okay what were you thinking…told her back in the fall the price was split up by four people for the special pocket location, that was what we were figuring on doing this time too…she said she didnt know what Bobby had set up for us last fall. Bobby had given us a pocket price for two different pockets back in November, when one didnt work out, he let us have the other pocket for a lower amount. She said we could work something out, give her a few min and she would get back to me….a few hours later, she came back to me and said $ 450 was the best she could do for a private dig area, and if Bobby had not made the deal with us the last time, she would not even consider that, she said Bobby would meet us at the mine at 8 am.

Chuck and I met up at Mc Donalds the next morning at 7 am and shortly after, met Alina, Pat, Fen and Coen at the Mall, and we took off to the west to meet the others at the parking lot across from the Crystal Inn on Hwy 270. Virgil was just ahead of us and let me know there was a bad vehicle accident on 270 on the west side of Hot Springs, head on collision and only one lane open. We had to stop briefly when we arrived and observed a pickup with heavy damage to the front, but no other vehicle in sight…I did notice half a dozen Hot Springs firefighters standing on the bank above the lake on the other side of the guard rail, looking down…which indicated to me that the other car was in the lake below, not a good sign. We found out later that evening, that the two young men in the car were pronounced fatally injured at the scene, they crossed over the center line and struck the truck head on, then caromed off the pickup and went flying thru the air landing down the embankment and in the water of the lake…prob a good thing most folks couldnt see the end result.

When we arrived at the parking lot across from Crystal Inn, we found Chris, Kim and Preston, and Virgil, waiting on us…two of the adults who were going to go with us, didn`t show up, so I let everyone else know it was going to cost each adult $ 60 plus $ 12.50 for each of the kids.

We drove on over to the mine and met our hostess, Jennifer, at the gate, she was arriving at the same time as we were, and we followed her down to the camper office where we found Bobby greasing up his new trackhoe. I let him know that we were ready to go up the hill to the new private pocket area and he looked at me like I had lost my mind…told him that was what Dixie had told us, we would be digging up the hill where the ten foot wide vein was found and he said he was confused…told him I had been confused as well, even showed him the texts that she had sent me, he read those and decided that she had lost her mind… so he decided to call her to see if he could clear this all up. He came back a few min later and told us that we would be digging in the small commercial mine where the four of us dug in November, not up on the hill in the new private pocket area. We walked up there and he showed us the expanded work area, more wall exposed with crystals in plain view on the wall, pointed out a few other areas where pockets were located and offered to bring the trackhoe over there after dinner to stir things up even more. He let us move our vehicles over there as well, which would free up parking for public diggers. We paid Jennifer our fees and started searching for crystals as the heat and humidity began to build….

38 Sunday Morn Twin Creek Mine

39 Twin Creek Mine40 Working In Shade As Much As Possible

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer was a great hostess, she came over to check on us frequently, brought some water bottle spritzers over with her a few times to spray us down due to the heat and humidity being so high…even brought us some umbrellas for shade….

41 Looking Back Toward Trucks42 Looking Back Toward Trucks

…and here she is looking pretty hot herself…..

43 Jennifer Our Hostess

…with her awesome assistance, we endured the humidity til about 1 pm…we were still fairly wore out from the day before, when a couple of the kids went down from the heat on Saturday and Virgil had taken a fall and hurt himself as well at the end of the day, and the rest of us were just a little sore in places. We thanked her with a big tip for her awesomeness and sparkling personality, and headed up the hill and out of there. Chuck said he would lead the way to the main road and once we got out on the gravel road and started down the hill, he came to a sudden stop half way down that steep hill….and started veering to the right into the ditch…anyone that has traveled Forest Service Roads in the past few years, knows that these days they are all narrow, and the gravel is slanted down to a 45 degree angle into the ditchline on both sides of the road…what happened is we met Miss Dixie coming up the hill in her 4wd pickup, all duded up in red, white, and blue, and so we all moved over to the ditchline and passed by her truck…as I passed by she smiled and waved, and I waved back.

Once we hit the main road, I took the lead and led everyone over to Bill and Faiths Blue Moon Crystal Shop on Hwy 270, a few miles east of the turn off to Mountain Harbor. Bill and Faith have been good friends of mine for several years, Ray Roth and I met them years ago when we began going to Miller Mountain Mine each year in the fall…they were the most honest, reliable, dependable, hard working and friendly mine operators I had ever met down there, and now they operate their rock shop out of their home in the same manner. Just great down to earth folks with very affordable quartz crystals, jewelry, and minerals from other states and countries as well…we were all shopping inside and I was looking at some spirit amethyst crystal clusters from South Africa when my phone started blowing up with texts…from Miss Dixie….the first one wasnt too bad, read ” Didnt want to say hi in the road ? “

While I was typing out my answer ” we were all hot and tired and didnt want to block the road, so I waved and smiled and drove on “, when her next text hit me and the look on my face when I read it, concerned a few of my group and they came to look with me…..it said ….” Prolly best you didnt “…so I added on to my first message back to her and asked her if I had offended her in some way….and she answered ” Yes sir I believe so “…so I asked how I offended her and she answered that ” she felt that I had mislead her intentionally about the pricing on the pockets and said I was not honest with her “….so I told her, figuring she didnt know, that we had paid $ 470 that morning, $ 20 more than the $ 450 she had asked for…and then she came back with ” its all good and said she would pay better attention to detail the next time “.  However by the time all of my group read what she was texting me and getting an attitude with me about it, it wasnt all good and no one had any desire to return there to dig again.

We all headed back to Hot Springs shortly after that, I set Virgil up to meet a good dealer friend of mine in Hot Springs on his way home in the morning, Gary had some good Elmwood Mine material that I was sure Virgil would like to see, and I told Bill and Faith that I would stop off the next morning to see them on my way home too. Virgil and I met up later at the Hibachi again for another good supper and then I headed back to the condo to relax down. However folks living on the other side of the lake drew my attention outside on the balcony, many were setting off their own fireworks shows….

44 Sun Evening Private Fireworks Show4549525355565759

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning, Onyx and I tried our best to sleep in, made it to sunrise…..

59A Sunrise Monday Morning

….and then again at 7 am, so we got up that time and started packing the truck. Once I filled the gas tank and re-filled the coolers with ice, we headed west on 270 to Bill and Faith`s Rock Shop again, where I stopped off to get a few crystals…they had a couple of the spirit amethyst crystal clusters and I selected one of those along with some glassbacks and small clusters that I really liked. From there, we headed west to Hwy 71 and then north to Fort Smith, where I stopped off to pick up Mom…discovered my cousin Sherry with her two boys Derek and Seth, so after a short visit with all of them, Mom and I headed north on 71 to Missouri. We made one pit stop along the way, stopping off in Fayetteville briefly to photograph the Johnson Mill, which was restored several years prior and converted first to an Architectural Office, then it became a bed and breakfast, and this time we discovered it was now a hotel with an old brick house across the street converted to a bed and breakfast…called the Johnson House appropriately enough….

60 Johnson House

 

…and then while Mom took Onyx for a short walk,  I photographed the old mill, with the huge water wheel and water flume and waterfalls…..

62    6567    68

We arrived home safe and sound by 6 pm…in time to rest up and get ready to shoot the fireworks that evening at the fairgrounds. Check my blogsite for that story…www.jwjphotoblog.com

 Here are some of the crystals I found down there….

70 Clusters From Twin Creek Mine Wall71 Small Clusters & Glassback Twin Creek72 Small Glassback Twin Creek72A Small Glassback Twin Creek

 

 

 

The first four were found at Twin Creek….starting with the fifth one,  the rest were found at Tony`s Mine on Saturday….I still have a few more to clean up and post, too….

73 Small Cluster Tonys Mine74 Small Cluster Tonys Mine75 Fist Sized Cluster Tonys Mine76 Smokeys From Tonys Mine77 Smaller Ones Tonys Mine78 Tonys Mine79 Big Single Points

 

 

 

Waterhole Pocket End of May

Well I am now officially four stories behind…thats what I get for traveling so much I guess, going to have to take off more time to catch up after I return I guess.

I decided to return to the secret spot and see if I could find more of the dogtooth crystals, so I drove down one evening mid week and took a look around.  After examining the pocket more closely, I was only able to pull a few more out and decided to leave the embedded ones for Docia to chip out, cause she is better at chipping those little crystals out than I am. I scratched around the surface on either side of the pocket to see if I could locate a back way in, but had no luck. I also attempted to drain the waterhole above the pocket since it seemed to drain well into the second and third waterhole, so I expanded the little trench to do so…felt like a kid again, playing in the water….

02A  Trenched Water Below

…I found a few small pockets down below the dogtooth pocket but nothing to write home about……

03A   Found Few Small Pockets Below

….I felt the big waterhole calling to me so I went up to explore it further and after scratching around and finding potential calcite, I decided to do some tamping around a bit on the dome rock…. it sounded hollow so I decided to dig and explore as much as I could…

04 Lots of Potential

…and so I dug in and pretty soon the bottom dropped out and this hole appeared….

06A   Hole Appears

I decided if this wound up being a pocket, I sure didnt want to flood it, so I backed off and dammed off the waterhole so it wouldnt flood it…..

07A  Backed Off and Dammed off Water

…after I got that done, I started working on exploring the hole more…

08A   Deeper Sounding Hole Appears

…and let me tell you, everytime something fell down into that hole, it sounded deep, could hear water below and the rocks were splashing so I figured it must be a deep pocket of something, which didnt surprise me since the dome of rock to my left side sounded hollow. I started removing some thick plates of druse and pretty soon had the pocket expanded to this….

09A   Hole Expanded to Water Pit

…I pulled about six plates out as I was expanding the pocket and several poker chip crystals from the bottom…all too soon, the sun started setting on me, and Missy and I decided to wrap up what I had collected and head home….

10 Sun Starts to Set

 

 

 

.

A Nice Three Day Weekend, Part 2….

Sunday afternoon, after another photo shoot, Missy and I loaded up and headed back to the secret spot to see if we could work on those other potential areas I found late the day before…this time we got a late start and arrived about 2 pm…..

01 Back to Bulldozed Area

knowing I only had a few hours of light, I quickly started working the first area with my hand rake…..

02 Starting Here Today

and pretty soon I was seeing signs of calcite, always a good sign of potential pockets nearby….

03 Calcite Shows Potential

and pretty soon I had a few nice crystals dug out of the beginnings of a pocket…

04 Crystals Found Initially

and pretty soon I was finding one pocket after another, usually one leading to the other by way of a narrow trench filled with crystals and small druse plates. Just as you would think the pocket was going to open up into a bigger pocket, you would come up against a wall of rock and nothing more from the pocket, an abrupt end to the pocket. Then I would move a few inches over and find yet another pocket forming and more crystals…here is what it looked like after the first thirty minutes of raking and digging….

05 Pockets Forming Up

and I had the same problem as the day before, piling my crystals up in the wrong place…of course today, it wouldn`t have mattered where I piled them up…the pockets expanded in every direction and I wouldn`t have been safe anywhere with them….after hitting a dead end quickly on the left hand pocket above, I moved over and started digging out the pocket on the right….

06 Explored Pocket on Right

 I cleaned it out and moved more to the right where I found even more small pockets….this area just kept expanding with one pocket after another….

07 Expanded to Right

and here is the pile of crystals that just keeps growing….

08 Crystal Pile Growing

and I kept moving to the right and digging down and finding even more pockets with crystals coming out right and left….

09 Upper Bench Pockets

this one pretty much came to an abrupt end when I came up against a solid wall of curved rock on the far end of the right side…but if you look under that pile of crystals, which by now I have moved back three times, you`ll see the makings of more pockets under those little bluff walls, and yes, you guessed it, I had to move the crystals once again to explore under those plates…plates of druse as it turned out….

10 Pocket Starts Toward Pile

so I took a few moments and high graded the crystals and plates, moved the rejects back about two feet and piled the rest over on the right side of the solid rock wall and started working those druse plates, til I found yet another pocket ….

13 Upper Bench Pocket

here are the druse plates and crystals that I took out to get to this point….

12 More Crystals Found

and here is the pocket up close, and you can see a few crystals inside it….I dug those out fairly easily and reached back a little further and pulled even more out…

14 Inside Upper Bench Pocket

as I was digging this one out to enable me to get my hand in there further, the top of the pocket came down and this druse and poker chip combo plate came down with the dirt….

15 Druse and Chip Combo

I took as many crystals out as I could and then took a break and wrapped up the nicer crystals and druse plates and carried them to the truck…I had about 45 minutes left and decided to check out one more area, where I had raked around earlier on a break and while raking, a hole opened up, that appeared to be quite deep….\

16 Next Pocket Started With Hole

found this hole about twenty feet from the original pocket from Saturday and closer to the truck actually. While raking, I came across an area of calcite that really looked promising and then I pulled a chunk of druse out that was hanging upside down and this hole opened up underneath it…..

17 Hole Surrounded by Calcite

I really need to start taking my flashlight with me so I can look into them and see if they bear exploring further…this one just appealed to me though, it seemed to me that it was deep and might contain another cavern and boy did it….

18 Deep Hole As it Turned Out

I pulled these druse plates out and the hole opened up even more…

19 Druse Plates From Hole Pocket

however, even though I could get my hand down in the hole and started pulling some beautiful crystal singles and twins out, the opening wasn`t large enough to get some bigger ones out, so I pounded on a large chunk of druse to enlarge the opening more and this nice druse chunk with poker chips is what came out….

20 One of the Plates

there are some neat looking hematite balls all over the druse on that chunk too. The next photo shows the enlarged opening of the pocket…

21 Plate Removed Expanded Hole

about a foot wide at this point and the next one shows better how deep the pocket is…or at least how deep it appeared at this point…

22 Hole Expands and Deepens

after a few more minutes of pulling one crystal after another, out of this pocket, including a few plates of druse with poker chips attached, and twins and triples, I sat back and shot this photo and it shows a nice few poker chips attached to druse on the ceiling of the pocket near the opening….

23 Crystals and Plates From Deep Pocket

and this also shows the pile of crystals growing on the left side…you cant tell here but the pile is about fifteen inches tall, mostly singles here, as I put the more delicate crystals and plates on the right out of view of the camera here…the next photo shows that nice ceiling plate still in the pocket….

24 Plate of Chips and Druse on Ceiling

I ran out of light soon after and wrapped what I could quickly and then packed everything away in my truck. The sun was setting rather nicely again, as Missy and I started up the hill….

26 Sunset Looking Nice

and then at the top of the hill as we headed home….

27 Sunset From Top of Hill

 

stay tuned for part three….

 

Welcome to JWJ Rock Hunting blog

Welcome to my new site, jwjrocks.com

People always ask me, what types of rocks and minerals do you look for and collect ?  I always tell them, pretty rocks.

I started collecting rocks around the age of ten, thanks to some friends of my parents, who worked at the local Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine south of Sullivan, they were able to bring me some pretty quartz crystals, calcite crystals, and hematite and magnetite specimens covered in pyrite and marcasite, often found in goodie pockets or pretty pockets deep down in the mine.  Hence my quest and journey began for  pretty rocks and minerals.

I remember my parents taking several trips each year and would always work in a rock collecting adventure along the way whenever possible, or at least a rockshop visit in the area.

I had to make a decision when I turned eighteen, my parents told me to choose between collecting rocks and photography. I chose photography at that time, having started photographing fire calls at the age of sixteen for the fire department as a volunteer firefighter, and also enjoyed shooting sunsets and weather and steam trains. After college and a few years in law enforcement dispatch and police work,  I opened my own photo finishing store and portrait studio and operated it for several years, and continued my journey through the fire service, my vacations often consisting of working as a firefighter at the Missouri State Fair in August each year, and photo shoots in pretty places.  After twenty years in business for myself, I returned to emergency dispatching work for Union Pacific Railroad for a few years and then switched back to police and fire dispatching work in the St Louis area, where I presently work primarily as a fire dispatcher. It can be a stressful job at times and after a few years there, I returned to my first love of rock and mineral collecting.

I met and made some great friends on an online rockhound board, called the McRocks and from those initial contacts, have been able to travel to various places both locally within Missouri as well as surrounding states and find some beautiful crystals and minerals to add to my ever growing collection.

People ask me all the time, what do you enjoy the most about collecting rocks and minerals..I used to think it was displaying beautiful crystals and minerals…however I came to realize soon after taking the pastime back up, that the enjoyment is truly realized when hunting and finding the remarkable and beautiful treasures created by God, who created many great and beautiful treasures on and in our earth. While I enjoy looking at my treasures inside and outside my home, it`s the memories of actually digging and finding those treasures, while in the company of good friends, that make that enjoyment even sweeter.

So, I hope that as you browse through the many blog stories and photos in my new site, that you enjoy what you read and see as much as I do, and if I can assist you in any way in your journey as well, please do not hesitate to contact me.

James W Johnson