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…

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 !!

Barites From Washington County

Well I am finally getting some time off, boss decided to trust the weather forecasters and believe this winter, Nov 2022 into March 2023, is going to be harsh and snowy, and laid all of us part timers off for the winter season. Now I have some time to catch up on some of my trips and stories and photos. I am reminded weekly from readers how much they like to read my blog site…thanks for your patience. My email is if you want to send me any additional comments.

These are some of the barites I have collected in the past year in Washington County, near Potosi, on private property locations. I heard about Blue Barite long before I ever saw it in person, and so far, I have only found it at one location in Washington County…before this, I had only found Bladed Barite and thought it to be the prettiest barite I have seen…I can now safely add Blue Barite, Crystalline Barite, and Turtleback Barite, to that list of pretty barites.

Here is a flat of Crystalline Barites that I found earlier this spring, I need to clean them up a bit more, however I like the clay coloring on the barite to some level…this level at least, as it makes it easier to distinguish the texture of the crystalline…….

the second photo shows some on my tailgate after cleaning them in Iron Out, so you can see the difference between clean and cleaner. Some of these are crystalline barites on druse quartz and some art turtleback barites on druse quartz, these were found at a newer location in Washington County.

The next photos show blue barites along and some on druse quartz, from the same location as those above….

Some of the best Bladed Barites I have found, have come from a tailings dam location at the north end of Washington County, and from an old mining community near the south end of Washington County….

…and one plate I found at the newer location which is what I would call northwest Washington County…a small section of the barite attached to some beautiful rootbeer colored druse….

Recently my group and I discovered some really pretty Bladed Barites at a new location…stay tuned for the new story on that location…


New Mexico Trip 2022 Part 2

On our arrival back to Deming Sunday evening, we drove directly to the Italian Restaurant, because we weren`t sure if they were going to close early or not. We were inside and seated by 6 pm and figured we would be okay, but then another smaller group or two came in behind us and the attitude with staff seemed to change a bit it seemed like…food was still good but our waitress seemed a bit edgy for a bit there. We discussed going to another historic mining area the next day, again west of Lordsburg and south of the interstate in the Gage area. The mine on the side of the ridge below is where we started our exploration on Monday morning….


We climbed up to this old mine, with the ore chute, and then climbed on up to the tailing piles on the hill above it…

From the height on the hill, we had quite an advantageous vantage point…to the north was the newer quarry, where it is quite obvious they have a lot of material on hand to blast and work for years to come…

…something that struck me when I saw the campers out there between us and the newer quarry…I had looked at Google Earth maps the night before, and Google has the camping area posted inside the quarry area, when in fact it is just south of the quarry fencing in a wash area…I wonder how many people think it is truly at the quarry, which is all fenced in and gated at the entrance…the next view is looking due west and the dirt roads you see going up the sides of those hills, all lead to other mines…


…mines we did not go to after this one…despite an extensive search by the guys along the top of the ridge while I was taking photos, nothing really spectacular was found…David Bruce found a few calcite crystals up there…this location was noted in one of the rockhounding books as a good location for quartz and calcite clusters, but we were unable to find any of them….

At this point, John decided we would be better off going over to Fluorite Ridge and checking out some of the old mines over there instead. Pete and Nic decided to go check out another mine to the north, they had made contact with a mine owner there and he was going to take them to his claim and let them do some rockhounding there. I will include that part right after our exploration at Fluorite Ridge. 

The rest of us drove back to Deming and then north to Fluorite Ridge, and stopped at this first mine…..

….and walked around looking for some pretty stuff. Take a look at the next photo, you will see what the thorn bushes and trees look like in the Fluorite Ridge area and why you have to keep a sharp eye out while walking around the desert floor landscape there at all times, these are all over the place there…

Despite an extensive walk around, checking a couple of adits that were closed off for safety, we continued driving north on the main road, and stopped on the other side of the historic ore chute. From our vantage point up high on one of the trails, we were able to see a quarter mile north, where there was an old ore chute, there was someone working at the top of the ore chute with a small excavator, so we drove down there to look around and check that out as well. We had been to this location in 2020 and searched the area extensively, not finding anything but massive fluorite there, but we did find hundreds of colorful red jaspers there as well as a lot of puddingstone. Virgil was along on that trip and he spent a few hours checking out a huge petrified tree trunk that was exposed in a wash nearby.

John walked up to check out what the contractor was doing with the excavator, and we all wound up walking up there eventually as well, turned out he had dug out the vertical shaft opening and was preparing to seal it on top with a concrete lid…always nice to see people doing things like that, with a concern for safety of others. From there we searched about an hour across the road for pretty stuff…a few of us located some loose fluorite cubes but we were not able to locate a source for them. John then wanted to drive over and check out an old manganese mine, however, after a lot of driving, we were unable to make it to the mine due to unstable road conditions.

We then tried to drive on up to the upper reaches of Fluorite Ridge, but again, experienced more road problems, AO 18 Road was shown on the map to go up there, but after driving out a few miles, we ran into a gate, cattle fencing, and a NO TRESPASSING Notice there, so we turned around and returned to Hwy 26. 

After all that, everyone was ready to stop for the day and grab some supper, so we headed for our other favorite Mexican Restaurant, Irma`s. It`s a bit smaller in size and sometimes a bit noisy in there, but they always have great food there. I took Onyx back to the hotel and then returned to the restaurant. By the time I got back, the guys were starting to get their food, and it took a fe minutes for our waitress to see I was at the table, but she made up for the delay and got my tacos to me pretty quickly, and they were delicious. After the dismal day of collecting, we decided we wanted to go to the other historic area of mines, near Hachita the next day.

In the meantime, Pete and Nic were having a great afternoon at the old mine in Sierra County. A former Zinc Mine that produced alot of secondaries and Nic told us the next morning, that they found some nice vanadinite there.  He did take some nice photos of the mine while they were there…

Nic said the white material on the mine all above and to the left in the photo above, is an ore body seam of willemite and wulfenite….he said the willemite is fluorescent blueish white under short wave. He said they also found  Hemimorphite there. 

…and here are some of their finds that afternoon….


Tuesday morning, John decided we didn`t have to be on the road early, so we enjoyed another leisurely breakfast at Denny`s again and then headed west to Hwy 146 and south to Hachita. John had told me before the trip, that on this trip, we should be traveling the speed limit in that area, because the Border Patrol officers were always thick in that area and they do run radar…a speeding vehicle means something entirely different to them than normal officers…so we were well within the speed limit going there and coming back. As we approached our turn off to the old mining district roadway, I noticed a few BP pickups with horse trailers parked on the side of the highway and officers getting ready to go horseback riding…something was up apparently, but they were on the other side of the highway and at least a few miles from where we would be. At the same time, I felt safe and protected, the whole time we were out there rockhunting, too. John opened the gate and then we headed down a very dusty, dirt road toward the ridge with several old mines dotting the landscape. Within a mile of the gate, we came upon some road construction equipment and two water tankers…another half mile down the dusty road, we came upon the road boss going toward his equipment base, we stopped to talk to him and he let John know that they were widening the dusty road with a grader and would likely be west of where we intended to be. I can safely say they did a great job widening it to the point we had to turn off. We drove up a slight hill and round to the left and parked just off the road amongst the sagebrush, grabbed our buckets and tools, headed up the hill to tailing piles we could see up on top of the hill….

The pile on the right in the photo above, turned out to be a turquoise mine, there were little pieces of it laying all over the ground and some of the guys dug into the white colored rock walls to get more…I have a lot of turquoise at home so I kept on searching…apparently Nick did as well cause he was out in front of me looking around too….

I know he wasn`t finding much cause I didn`t see him putting much in his backpack…one thing about our elevation up there, we had great views of the scenery in all directions around us…looking west in the first photo and northeast in the second photo, below…

and southeast of us here…

…we didn`t locate much of what we were looking for, pretty color and copper secondaries…so after talking to Nick and Pete about another mine right over the horizon to the east of us, we got into our trucks and headed in that direction, the others following me soon after. When Pete, Nick, and I pulled into the second old mine, we discovered several adobe looking building remains, and some rock walls and pillars that appeared to be an old mill site…as soon as we looked around the parking area, we spotted specular hematite…I first thought it was magnetite, but once John got there, he was able to determine specular hematite instead…it was all over the ground there….

There was mine machinery still fairly intact there at the old mill, like this piece…Dawson said it was a neat looking old Trommel….we spread out to search the grounds for anything pretty…I found some pretty crystals on some matrix rock near a couple of old shafts that were fenced off…showed them to John and he said, ” wow, where did you find these ?  ” and I pointed out the location, he said they were garnets…so several of us headed over there and I pointed out a few more and we found a few more beyond that…a pleasant surprise he said. 🙂 

We decided to head over to the old mine at Hachita that had been highly recommended to us by a few clubs that go there…we drove south on yet another dirt road…this one, unfortunately, had not been graded or smoothed out in places, but we eventually arrived at it and started fanning out to search again. This one was much more promising, there was good color on the ground all over the place as soon as we got close. This mine has a lot of colorful history, worked by the Apache Indian Tribe for many years, they mined turquoise there, back in the days when Geronimo was their Tribal Chief, back in those days the Apache lands stretched from southwest New Mexico west and deep into Arizona. I`m not sure if we found any turquoise there that afternoon, but we sure found a lot of chrysacolla and malachite there…there were several tailing piles there to look at and several washes that were nice, the walls were stuffed full of color in each one of them…the grounds of this mine produced quite a bit of color……we parked and walked in….

….checking out the first big tailing pile and then moving on to a second, they both were so tall they blocked out the view of the mine adits and shafts in the background behind them…..Nic and Dawson took more photos than I did at this location…

Once we reached the back of the second tall tailing pile, there was color laying all over the ground in front of us…everywhere…and just beyond that…there was also this huge and wide wash that encompassed several adits….

….during later exploration of the wash near the back of it, I discovered  some nice chunks of a pretty pink druse quartz, some of it with the chrysacolla, stuck in the banks of that wash on both sides…yes I brought some of those chunks home with me, these 2 for sure….

We all walked around picking up colorful stuff all over the grounds…and then started exploring a little more in depth…there were horizontal adits about fifteen feet down with some entrances easy to get in to them and some were not…so the guys explored the easy entrances and were able to get some beautiful chrysacolla from them….I`ll just let the photos Nic and Dawson took, do the talking….


Pretty nice photos, right ? I didn`t venture down there so much appreciated that Nic and Dawson could share them with me so I could share them with you here…this next photo shows David Bruce standing up above the horizontal adit they are in…I did walk over there and look down, in time to see David Hodge climbing up the ramp out of there with two full buckets.

About an hour later, we were packed up and headed back to Deming for supper at the Italian Restaurant again. This would be our last night of supper as a group, we had received word of a snow and ice storm bearing down on Missouri, Iowa, and  Arkansas, so we were all going to head back home the next day to get ahead of the storm.

We had another great breakfast the next morning at Denny`s once again before heading out in separate directions. David Bruce even  surprised us by having a milkshake as part of his breakfast…

…figured it must be a Chef thing. 🙂

I found out later that David Bruce and Dawson hit a checkpoint roadblock near White Sands National Park, due to a missile test and Dawson was able to capture some video footage of it. Told him they were lucky, as all I got to see on the way back was another big brush fire. 🙂

John stuck around a little while to visit with some friends and do some research as well at the Retro Ranch. I heard from him later when he finally made it to the storm, had to drive thru it, believe he dealt with alot of ice, but made it home safe and sound…his car told the story….

Onyx and I headed north toward Albuquerque…I had called Ray to see if he would be home late morning and he said he would, so I could drop off the release forms with him and thank him once again for allowing us to dig at his mine. After filling the tank once again, we headed east on I-40 and didn`t stop for the night til we reached Shamrock, Texas…stopping for the night at a hotel being remodeled, called the Irish Inn. Onyx and I were up early the next morning and headed home, arriving about mid afternoon and ahead of the storm. I heard from Pete and Nic, David Hodge, and Dawson, letting me know they had made it home safe and sound as well.

Another great trip for the record books…resulting as always from the combination of great locations, great weather, great minerals found, great food, great lodging, and of course, great friends to rockhound with. Really sorry that more couldn`t make this trip…believe me, you and your company were greatly missed by all of us.

Really appreciate your patience with me getting this entire story and photos sorted, edited, and arranged, sorry for the delay in putting it together…my right eye is finally beginning to heal properly as of today and I should be back to 100 percent by Friday. 



New Mexico Trip 2022 Part 1

After a long mixed bag of winter this year, a few more snowstorms, one big storm with nearly 16 inches of snow on the ground and 3 inches of ice under the snow, I was ready for a break. Around Feb 1st, I asked John about going back to New Mexico, since we hadn`t been able to even think about it last year, due to New Mexico`s Governor shutting down the entire state to travelers over the Covid BS. I think he was as tired of that charade as I was and was ready for a change of scenery. He started checking with Jeff, at the Retro Ranch, to see if we could return there and dig some more treasures…took a while for Jeff to return John`s calls but he eventually heard back and all was good for us to go back there for a day or two.

After the trip out there in 2020, John and I had talked at Geode Fest this year, we wanted to go to some old mines, including the Blanchard Mine,  where plates of blue fluorite cubes and bright blue linarite crystals could be found, possibly wulfenite crystals as well. Most of those mines are in the central area of the state around Bingham. The Blanchard Mine, for many years, has been producing common primary minerals of galena, barite, fluorite, and quartz, with secondary minerals of linarite, anglesite, brochantite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, and pyrite. While wulfenite is not mentioned in that list, it has been found there before, along with other minerals such as aurichalcite, cerussite, chrysacolla, malachite, smithsonite, and rosasite…and we did find a few of those at many of the mines we went to this trip, not laying out in the open, but usually located in vugs of boulders.

The mines in the Bingham area, are located in the Hansonburg Mining District and worked from the early 1900`s to around 1985…after that, the mines were primarily worked for specimens only. Many other old historical mines in New Mexico, that are no longer actively worked, have had the same result, many under claim ownership and being worked primarily for specimens these days. Sam was assisting us not only with maps imagery, but helping us check for active claim ownership on the old mines, so that we would not be trespassing on those claims.

I had some friends, that I had taken rockhounding to some secret spots over the past ten years, and had told me that anytime I wanted to go to the Blanchard Mine, known to produce beautiful plates of blue fluorite, let them know and they would put me in touch with the owner. By mid Feb, I called and talked to Ray, and obtained permission to go to his mine with a small group of my rockhound friends. I called him back a week later at his request and he offered us two days of collecting there, asked me to stop by his home on the way to Deming, to visit and pick up some release forms for his mine.

While I was setting up the Bingham mine visit, John was busy researching a few other historical mining districts to visit. Pete and Nic were doing some research on the Kelly Mine area along with John, who has some contacts there as well. Nic was able to contact a lady in Magdalena that was able to grant us access to the Graphic and Nitt Mines, that are higher up the mountain above the Kelly Mine.

Sam helped us with satellite map imagery research and provided alot of good information on the Bingham area mines, as well as the other mining district areas John was researching. By the time February was coming to a close, we were pretty set on our schedule from Thursday March 3rd, to Thursday the 10th, when we would be all set to head home.

I decided to take Onyx with me on this trip…as I didn`t want to leave her at the Vet Clinic Lodging, nor any of the local Puppy Palaces either. I decided that the places we would be rockhounding at,  that had the cactus landscaping, I would simply leave her in the truck and she would be fine with that…and luckily for me, she was. 🙂

New Mexico can be a long and daunting drive for many…Pete and Nic drove down there from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, so they had the longest drive, nearly 30 hours of drive time. My drive takes about 16 hours so I split it into two days and try to do a little sightseeing/rockhounding along the way to break up the drive some. Onyx and I spent the night at Tucumcari, NM, once again, the Budget Inn there has been remodeled very nicely and is a very comfortable place to stop for the night in a very quiet section of town, and for a very reasonable rate as well. I had dinner at Del`s Diner once again, great restaurant with great food there…had breakfast there, the next morning before heading east on I-40 once again to Albuquerque.

I noticed a Union Pacific Train traveling westbound on the north side of I-40 as soon as we left Tucumcari and stopped to photograph it with the NM landscapes a couple of times….

As soon as we climbed up on top of the mountain range halfway between Tucumcari and Albuquerque, I called the White Sands Missile Testing Range, to check and see when they were going to be testing missiles. The mines in the Bingham area are about 300 feet from the boundary fence of the Testing Range and the Military folks really don`t like anyone to be up there when they are testing the missiles. As luck would have it, I was able to talk to a soldier who had once been a fire and police dispatcher himself, and he told me that it would be in our best interest if we could go rockhounding in the Bingham area the very next day, Thursday, the 3rd, because every day after that for the next week, they would be shooting missiles and rockets at the base. On the days they shoot, roadblocks go up on the major highways very early in the mornings around there, and you cannot proceed past one til they give the all clear…that can range from a few hours to the next day.

This year, instead of rockhounding along the way, I stopped to visit with Ray at his home in Albuquerque, pick up release forms from him, and I gave him a beautiful large Southern Illinois purple and grey fluorite cluster with galena, to thank him for being a gracious host. During our visit, he explained the layout of the mining grounds to me, and let me know that while we would not be able to go inside the mine, he pointed out two areas outside the mine that have been very productive the past few weeks and assured me that we should do quite well there…more about that later. He also showed me some of his collection from his mine, and all I can tell you, is that I am sure my mouth was hanging open the entire time and I just hope I didnt make a mess on his floor with any drooling, while looking at the many stunningly beautiful specimens he had on display.

He had another appointment to get to that afternoon, a committee meeting preparing for the upcoming Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Show, so I didn`t keep him very long there. Onyx and I left to fill the gas tank at a nearby Phillips 66 station, let her out to stretch her legs a bit, and then I called my cousin, Larry Moore, who now resides in Albuquerque as well, and met him for lunch closeby. We had a great meal and visited for over an hour…I had not seen him for several years. Larry was born and raised in Orange County, California, his Mom was my Mom`s oldest sister…he has traveled all over as an Archaeologist for the Army for several years, and now works for the State of NM managing Reclaimed Mines, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

Afterwards, Onyx and I headed south on I-25 and soon we were Deming bound once again. On the way down there, I saw the results of a vehicle pursuit on the northbound side of I-25…we popped up over a hill and there was a pickup truck at a 45 degree angle, the bed of it up on the guardrail, cab smashed in, looked like it had rolled several times before coming to a rest in that precarious position on the guardrail…police cars everywhere, at least 20 of them….fire truck and ambulance on the shoulder by the pickup, and nb traffic backed up at least two miles…maybe a quarter mile south in the median was a vehicle pulling a trailer, whatever had been sitting on the trailer was now flattened so I am guessing that the pickup may have either struck the trailer and began rolling from there or rolled over the trailer. There were two officers out with the driver of that vehicle and all appeared okay…saw several vehicles crossing the wide, shallow median to turn back south and go around it. A few miles further south, we topped another hill and spotted 3 NM State Police Officers, one with a Canine, searching an area to the right of the interstate, with several civilians following and appeared to be assisting in a search as well…something possibly thrown out of the pickup there…I was listening to a radio station at the time that was giving traffic reports for roads in that area, but nothing advised about that incident. The reporters were talking about a state officer that had been fatally injured on I-25 near Santa Fe tho, and I immediately said a prayer for his family and Law Enforcement in that area.

About 15 miles further south, I began seeing a large cloud of black smoke ahead, which made me think of that large cloud of black smoke we saw in 2020 as we were headed home from Deming and approaching Albuquerque…that turned out to be a huge brush fire along the west side of I-25, flames higher than the interstate itself producing heavy black smoke that could be seen for 20 miles as we approached from the south that day. As it turned out, I was seeing this smoke cloud for at least 15 miles as we traveled southbound and appeared to be east of the interstate down in the valley south of San Antonio, appeared to be heavy brush on fire as well….

We arrived about three hours later and got checked in at the La Quinta Hotel on the east side of town. I knew David Hodge was already there, as I heard from him the day before and then he let me know when he arrived in Deming as well. Took awhile to get in touch with Pete and Nic to see where they were at due to the mountain range near Ruidoso, and weather…David Bruce and Dawson let me know when they made it into Deming earlier that day as well, and John was expected to arrive by 6 pm, so we decided to meet up at the Si Senor Mexican Restaurant for dinner. By the time David Hodge and I got there, John had arrived earlier than expected, and was sitting with David Bruce and Dawson. I had a tea only, still full from a big lunch with my cousin, while they all chowed down…except for John…didn`t find out til five nights later, when John told me that Si` Senor Restaurant had problems with their cooks a few weeks before, and the food was terrible that evening…as a result, we did not go back while there that week. There are about ten Mexican restaurants in Deming, we like one of the other ones, about a block away, called Irma`s…great food and a bit noisy atmosphere, but very friendly folks there, too. I found it kinda ironic, the Mexican restaurant I frequent here in Sullivan, my hometown, they were having problems with their cooks during the same time frame as well…and when I returned home, their problems had been resolved with a cook terminated and the food has only gotten better here. 🙂

We had a good discussion that evening, regarding going to the Blanchard Mine the next morning, everyone was as excited as I was after telling them about my visit with Ray at his home. We decided we wanted to arrive about 8 am so we would leave about 5 am the next morning. As we were approaching Hatch, the sky indicated that we were going to have one of those exceptionally BEAUTIFUL sunrises to enjoy….this one photographed by Dawson who was riding with David Bruce and John….

…and mine….

Around 8:30 am, we arrived to the entrance dirt road leading to the base of the mountain…could see the mine above…and immediately had to slow way down due to the rough entrance road along the valley floor…go to my FB page and check out the video I posted on March 4th to see how rough that was…then we started up the mountain road…Ray was definitely right when he said it was a rough road and 4 wheel drive would be needed…there were stretches where you were driving on smooth limestone and 4wd helped with traction alone…we came upon some good size rocks in the roadway as well as a couple of narrow spots…couldn`t go faster than half a mile an hour most of the time….deep ruts too….

I am guessing those ruts are some that Ray told me he and friends of his filled in with large rocks to make the road much smoother a few weeks back….the road in the photo below looks fairly smooth and even….far from it tho…that is the first leg below…

…this was also on the first leg up, beautiful scenery there for sure…


Took us a while, but we finally made it to the top of the mountain, and the guys were so excited to get started, they grabbed their buckets and tools and took off in search of buried treasure. I told Ray I would call him and let him know when we made it up there, so I took care of that first, then let Onyx out for a bathroom break, then got my tools and bucket and headed out in search of treasure. We were at the first spot that Ray suggested looking at, the place he assured me we would find some nice stuff at….boy was he right and then some !! 🙂

I walked up to the spot where Pete is seen in the video above, and started looking around there…at the other end of that bench, I spotted John, David Bruce, and Dawson, working in a pocket that Ray told me that some folks worked for a few hours, a few weeks back, and pulled some nice plates out of. I walked up there and took a closer look at it.

The area previously dug out, was about ten feet long and at least two feet wide, but appeared to have been filled back in, so the three of them were preparing to dig it back out and see what they could be found. It appeared that would take awhile so I ventured down to do some prospecting and figured I would check back on them later.

I wandered down to the area below them and found Nic dug into what he figured was going to be a pocket, unbeknownst to him at the time, he was pulling out some nice chunks covered with blue cubes and white bladed barite…

…and here is what he was pulling out of there…all cleaned up now of course….

and here he is holding a couple of larger ones he pulled out of that pocket….


While down there talking to Nic, I made note of where Pete was located as well, just about 20 yards south of Nic…so I wandered over there to see how he was doing…he had a nice large pocket going and was doing quite well too. He stood up to stretch his legs a bit and I shot him with the view behind him, reminded me of something about ” working in the office with a view “….

…just look at all that color in the rocks around him…pretty sure he had a hard time choosing what to take home that day, as we all did…I know I did. 🙂

I then wandered back over to the other side of Nic to see what David Hodge was working on…found him head and shoulders inside a pocket….

…and started pulling out one plate after another…I should prob step back and clarify, pulling out one large plate after another….every 15 minutes for a while there…with cubes and barite on them…the area we were working was almost like a very large area of white bladed barite, some of it in a honeycomb pattern, some of it just big blades…and the cubes were attached in small vugs between the blades and combs…I should also add, and if you scroll back up and take a closer look at Nic`s cleaned blue cube chunks, you will note that the host rock here appears to be beautiful quartz…..

…and one other thing I should add, is that everywhere around us, there was gorgeous seams of color running thru the rocks surrounding us…bright blues and greens, pale greens, light yellows…as I was walking around behind David`s pocket, I came upon a huge pocket of quartz…I could easily call this multi-colored druse quartz because the crystals resembled druse, and they were tightly packed into this pocket on top of this bench we were walking around on. This pocket was about 25 feet across, at least 15 feet wide, and every bit of 8 to 10 feet deep…still kicking myself for not collecting at least another bucket or two of smaller pieces of the quartz out of this pocket…the bright green hues of brochantite and azurite running thru the quartz was nothing short of AWESOME and AMAZING….I did manage to take home several yard rocks from this pocket…some were just sitting on top waiting to go home with some lucky guy….here are a couple….

keep in mind…this quartz completely goes around and totally covers the rocks, every nook and cranny included…just totally mind blowing !!

Yes, I did work that quartz pocket, filled a bucket…wish I had filled at least another bucket or two as well…it was that nice !! Some would say, you were there for the fluorites…and I would say most of the crew was…me, I`m a bit different…my rule is anything pretty that strikes my fancy, goes home with me…heck I even brought home some of those honeycomb barite pieces !! 🙂

I did finally wander up and find a pocket to the right of Nic and then later, over near Pete too, and worked both of them, pulled out some nice chunks of that barite with pretty blue cubes attached to them…size of a football for the most part….

I took a break and walked down to check on Onyx, let her out of the truck on the leash and let her stretch her legs and get some water…I drank a bottle as well…then moved my truck up the hill a little ways like David Hodge did with his, closer to the pockets we were working…little less distance to carry those buckets as we were getting more tired…I parked at an angle so Onyx could continue to benefit from the very nice breeze we had enjoyed all day up there. Here is the view to the northwest in front of where I parked up the hill….

…and to the south….

It warmed to at least 75 degrees but didnt feel like our wet heat here in Missouri…the dry heat feels much more comfy out there and that breeze made it even more comfy. We also had a visitor come up the road on a razer and visit with us for about 20 minutes…he was camped out on the main road near the entrance and just enjoys riding around that area when he has time to do so. After he took off back down the mountain, I decided to get some of those yard rocks and started carrying them to my truck two at a time, wrapped them up and then placed them in the tub in the bed. I then got another bucket and walked over to the pocket I was working next to Pete and started filling it up too. My next break I walked up to check on John, David Bruce, and Dawson, found Dawson down in the pocket pulling out pretty cubes….

I met David Bruce on the way down to his pickup with a plastic crate filled up with a big fluffy white piece of snow…it sure looked like snow…like frozen snow no less…turns out it was likely gypsum per Ray…I checked with him later and he figured it was prob a form of gypsum…some thought maybe arragonite…sure was pretty and unique looking….

…and this is how this gypsum looks in the bottom of the pocket they were working on all day….

and this shows David Bruce and John wrapping up their finds as we are getting ready to get down off the mountain before darkness…

…can you imagine looking at all this razzle dazzle inside the pocket they were up there working all day long ???  wow…just WOW….talk about major distraction…

The advice was to be off the mountain before darkness set in…by 5 pm, Pete and Nic, David Hodge, and I, had our trucks packed and so we drove on down to the bottom of the mountain, where we waited for John, David Bruce, and Dawson. I photographed Pete and Nic coming down the road behind me in my side mirror….

…and we wound up down here at the bottom of the mountain…as the sun was starting to set…

While down there, we photographed the sunset which was very pretty, one of those sunsets that hangs up in the skies and changes every few minutes, getting prettier each time…


It was pretty close to full dark when they came down the mountain and we headed out of there…being our first time there, the landscape and roads totally changed as the darkness took over and I got a bit turned around at the first intersection, but realized it a quarter mile down the road and turned around. Soon we were back on the main road and on our way back to Bingham, and then west on 380 toward San Antonio. David Hodge, Pete, Nic, and I discussed stopping off in Truth or Consequences for supper, while we were waiting on David Bruce, Dawson, and John to come down the mountain,   as it would be late before we got back to Deming and most everything would likely be closed by that time on a weeknight.

We stopped off at the Denny`s at T or C and had a pretty good dinner meal, then headed on south to Deming. Afterward,I stopped off at a Conoco station a few miles south at Williamsburg just as it started to rain, but their pumps were not working well so after spending 20 min there and only getting 5 gallons, I headed on down to Deming, getting in by midnight. John had texted and said they were gonna head to Magdalena the next morning for the Graphic and Nitt Mines by 5:30 am again…I was literally wore out and there was no way I was going to be able to do another long drive and long dig day on 4 hours of rest.

So Onyx and I slept in while the rest of the crew drove up to Magdalena the next morning early, and then we went to breakfast at Denny`s about 9 am…then went to Tractor Supply and picked up a few extra buckets…theirs are bright red…can`t lose one of them. I told the guy at the cash register that and mentioned to him that I needed them for rock and mineral collecting…he mentioned to me that an uncle of his had a mining claim out on Fluorite Ridge and after a bit more small talk, provided me with his uncle`s name and number. I called him on the way back to the hotel and we talked a bit about his mine claim…located between two silver mines but no silver on his claim…told him we weren`t really interested in silver, just pretty crystals and minerals, like secondary minerals, and that is when he told me that he had ALOT of calcite and quartz on his claim, small and big sizes. We had a good talk, but he wanted to think about letting us go to his claim and asked me to call him back the next day.

After getting back to the hotel with my new buckets, I decided to re-arrange my bed load and see if I could make more room. That had been the topic of discussion at dinner the  night before…we all did SOOOOO well at the Blanchard Mine, we were all a bit worried about having enough room for anything we found the next five days. I was able to move my wrapped yard rocks from the tub in the bed, to the front and passenger floor boards in the cab, which freed up room for 4 more buckets in the truck bed. If needed, I could also transfer the cooler to the front passenger seat and that would give me room for at least one more bucket. Everyone talked about the Blanchard Mine visit and how tough it was going to be to top the collecting there !!  🙂

By about noontime, there was a dust storm just outside Deming, could see clouds of dust fairly high up in the air across I-10 from the hotel to the northeast….

….and the dust was settling into the business district as well. Since I wasn`t tired after sleeping in, I decided to go check out the Luna County Museum that John had suggested, he said they have an extensive collection of geodes and thundereggs from Paul Colburn`s personal collection…Paul was known as the Geode Kid in those parts. John and Mary had visited the  museum a few years ago on one of their trips down there to collect rocks and minerals…John was right, it was a pretty neat and very extensive collection, located in the Western Room, which was a treat by itself as well. Paul`s collection of thundereggs and geodes is contained in about ten huge wood framed glass cases, that are well lit to show off the many agate and crystal lined eggs and geodes….sorry for the glare on the glass…

…Paul`s collection spanns many years of collecting from all over the United States, there was even a few large geodes in one case from Alexandria, Missouri, the very extreme northeast corner of Missouri…and there were thundereggs lined up along the very top of each case, as if they were taking advantage of every inch of available space in and on, each case in that section of the Western Room. While there, I ran into a guy looking around the museum as well, that is from St James, Missouri, just 30 miles west of me on I-44…he was doing some research on a guy named Huston, not sure of the spelling, he and his wife originated in my hometown of Sullivan and he was a Mining Engineer…they moved to the Deming area where he purchased some property outside of town and may have done some mining out there as well. Pretty small world to run into someone else from Missouri, let alone my area, while out in southwest New Mexico. 🙂

From there, I drove over to the Deming Fire Station, located in City Hall…wanted to visit with the firefighters there and check out their white colored fire trucks.  I had seen some photos of their trucks online and thought they had an antique truck too. As it was, they were still working under Covid Restrictions and visitors were not allowed inside their station, they invited me to come back another time under more ” normal ” conditions. Maybe next year.

In the meantime, I had texted the guys to let them know about the dust storm down in the Deming area, which had been elevated to a Dust Storm Warning by 3 pm…I wasn`t sure how far out it extended, but the forecast in the Magdalena area had included a Wind Advisory. Pete told me later that while it was a bit windy up there at times, they didn`t have the dust storm and never did run into a dust storm on the way back to Deming, either. Nic took a lot of photos while up there and sent me several neat ones…Pete, Nic, and David Hodge left Deming at 5:30 am and arrived at least 30 min ahead of John, Dawson, and David Bruce. They found a couple of mine entrances open and were able to do a little exploring while waiting on the other three to arrive….

…and Dawson took a few photos while there as well…think this one above is the Nitt Mine, where pyrite can be found in the tailing pile…next photo taken by Dawson shows the scenery up on the mountain side surrounding the mine shown….

If I recall correctly, the guys did not find much in the tailing pile they dug down into at the Graphic Mine and it may have been that they were not able to get deep enough to find the layer where the nice stuff is found there. I believe everyone was back in town early enough that evening to have dinner at Marie`s Italian Restaurant…they took over an old Bank Building and serve really good food there…and boy do they believe in feeding people there…at very reasonable pricing. Luckily for people like me, that don`t eat rabbit food…aka salads…they have an out of this world delicious baked potato soup with Italian Sausage slices that is served before your main dish arrives…YUM !! 🙂 

Our destination the next day was the Retro Ranch for an easier day of digging and collecting. This is a secret location that John and Mary discovered a few years ago on one of their hunting trips, while fixing a flat tire on the road next to the ranch, in the cold and rain, where they were befriended by one of the ranch owners and invited to a warm cup of coffee after he finished changing out the flat tire. The following information is from my 2020 trip story —

About six weeks after my fall trip to Arkansas, I had an email from my buddy John Oostenryk about his recent second trip to New Mexico, regarding his opportunity the year before, to go to a property where much lapidary material, with some mineral specimens, had been stored…the family that offered him that opportunity was cordial but firm that he not publicize the site. John had returned a second year and cleaned out another chunk of the material and then had a stellar idea, that he had first checked with the family about…and they were receptive to the idea, that he invite my group and I to join him this spring, going to this secret location to get even more of the material there..out of there…and the price the family offered us was $ 50 a bucket. 

Digging was easy because the soil down there is mainly a mixture of sand and dirt, kind of a loamy material and easy to dig through. Their first few days there, they were picking up thousands of chips and pebbles and marbles, bits and pieces of every mineral imagineable, then they started digging in. Family was able to give them a good idea of where some things were buried to give them a start, and then from there on, they just searched everywhere til they got a good grasp of everything themselves. He brought back 11 tons the first year in a large commercial truck he rented. The second year he rented a similar truck, but better than the first one and he was also was fortunate to be able to hire a friend of family that knew how to operate a tractor and had a tractor to operate, to dig for them…machinery in good hands can make all the difference between backbreaking labor and not wearing yourself out daily. Knowing John as well as I do, I know he and Mary brought back some very nice lapidary material, nice crystal specimens, nice mineral specimens, nice fossils, nice slabs, and a mixture of nice everything else that one finds in buried treasure…over 20 tons of it in two trips over two years time. “

So in 2020, John advised everyone going, or even thinking about going on the trip then...”  not to talk to anyone about this particular location. For one thing, it was a secret location and we didn`t want anyone and everyone finding out about it, trespassing into the property to steal stuff there, causing the family there even more grief.

Number two, if they did break in and start stealing, they could very easily get dog bit, shot, injured by either means, killed by either means, or both…I sure wouldn`t want that on my conscience. As I told everyone, there are guard dogs on the property 24/7 and the residents and neighbors are armed at all times, plus they saw deputies and state troopers all the time down there in the area, as well as BLM officers and Border Patrol Officers. I forwarded John`s email to everyone and advised them to read it a few times before making a decision and let me know how they felt about it. ” 

So in 2020, everyone was on board with the warning and advisory about keeping this location a secret, and as far as I know, the advisory is still the same, keep this location to yourselves…if you need a reason besides the request by John…. it boils down to the way this family was treated in the past, the short story is they were not treated well by folks in southwest New Mexico. This family has been gracious to us and treated us well, and I think it only fair that we respect their wishes and treat them just as well in return. 

We didn`t have to get up extra early the next morning for our trip, so after a leisurely breakfast at Denny`s, we arrived mid morning at the Retro Ranch and began searching and then digging for buried treasure. The price per bucket this year turned out to be $ 100, and the price was not set til after we arrived that day. Due to the fact that most of us were closely watching how much we collected after our bonanza day at Bingham on Thursday, we were careful in what we collected and most of us filled one or two buckets at most. Afterall, we still had a few more days of collecting at different locations to go. Here are a few photos of collected items at the Retro Ranch….starting with a chunk of Wonderstone, which is found extensively in a few spots of Southwest New Mexico and prized by many for yard rocks and lapidary projects…

If you like Agates…this is a good location to find a wide variety of them…

…including this beautiful Kentucky Agate that David Hodge found there….and there were piles of agates, minerals, and wonderstone laying everywhere…

…the dirt there is loamy, mixture of sand and dirt, very easy to dig down into….

I should include here, that Pete came upon several geodes and Mexican coconut geodes in the dirt he was digging through, one geode was quite large and heavy, thought to be a thunderegg instead of a geode, and due to the weight of it, Pete decided not to take it home with him. Soon after, someone was able to pop it open, turns out it was hollow after all and filled with beautiful crystals inside…

I believe he and Nic had already taken off by then, and since no one else wanted to take it with them, I decided to take it home with me. 

By mid afternoon, we were done and looking for a new place to explore. Pete and Nic had left an hour before and drove to Fluorite Ridge to check out some locations there…about 3 pm, the rest of us drove to Fluorite Ridge to see if we could find them and check out a couple of spots as well….the road leading to it was very dusty, you either had to stay right behind the vehicle in front of you, or a ways behind it…I was behind David Hodge and I chose to stay back a bit….

Fluorite Ridge is a huge area, only accessible by a few roads, one really needs to go there much earlier in the day to do that area any real justice in searching for spots to collect at, if you are looking for fluorites that is. If you are looking for colorful red jaspers,  puddingstone, and pet wood….they are all over the desert floor in that entire area….sometimes you can find entire petrified trees in the washes in that area.

We were unable to find much, and unable to locate Pete and Nic, so we headed back to town shortly to get some dinner, returning once again to the Italian Restaurant for some more great food. We discussed our trip for the next day to the Lordsburg area, one of John`s favorite areas to go to. Part of the discussion is about a ground nest of bees, once thought to be African bees, not the good kind…not sure John was ever able to confirm what type of bees they are, but people like me, tend to avoid mean bees and since we had some new people along this time, John let everyone know about the bee nest and where it is located there. 

The next morning we went to our go to spot for the Super Slam breakfast again…holds you pretty much all day…and then headed west on I-10 for Lordsburg…an area rich with old copper mines to the south of the interstate. There is also an old ghost town there called Shakespeare for anyone that likes tourist attractions like that, it is just south of Lordsburg and down a gravel road by the cemetery, Road AO22, take the first right hand turn to go to the ghost town.

We went further south and then down a dirt road to the old copper mines…the landscape on both sides of the main drag is dotted with old mines and tailings…you just have to be careful you are not claimjumping down thru there. John has been to the area we go to, several times over several years and knows the safe places to go to, and the places you have to pay thru the nose to get into as well…we didn`t go to the latter places. We started looking around in the old trench mines first…where the bee nest is located…luckily we when we arrived, it was windy and pretty chilly, too cold for the bees most likely, and once we started collecting and got down into the trench area out of the wind, it wasn`t too bad for us, either. 🙂

Nic snapped this photo of David Hodge, Onyx, and I, all bundled up for the wind and cold…it wasn`t anywhere near as cold in 2022 when we were there.

that is David Bruce, John O, and Pete in the first photo in the trench, looking for crystalline azurite and malachite pieces, then David Hodge searching, and the photo above here is Dawson trying to move the big cracked rock off the wall to see if there is any pretty stuff underneath…I didn`t stick around to see how successful he was in moving it off, but I bet either way, he did get a good work out in. 🙂

When we finished up at the trench area, we drove on down the road to another spot and checked out some boulders that were completely covered in bright blues and greens….


I should prob point out, that I don`t have alot of videos posted on this story, most I shot with my phone camera and those are on my Facebook page, so if you would like to check those out, send me a friend request because generally they are only available for my facebook friends to see. My FB link is 

From where we parked at the second spot, this was the view looking back to the northeast towards I-10…

…lots of cactus out there, some you really have to watch for and watch where you step…the main reason I didn`t let Onyx out to run all over the place…these are the ones you really have to watch out for and there are some even smaller than this one…

I took a couple of walks around the entire mine area, started below where we parked and found a lot of nice smaller rocks covered in druse quartz with malachite azurite coated on top of the quartz….

the darker blue is normally the azurite and John said the lighter blue could be chrysacolla or cerussite, both are excellent secondary copper minerals..pretty soon I had my tailgate completely covered with them…

…when I started walking the hillside above, I ran into Pete who had just cobbed down a nice chunk of rock covered with crystalline malachite…he told me Nic was up on top of the hill and finding malachite up there, so I headed up that way next…

…and David Bruce showed me some of his finds too…


I walked up on top of the hill and found some pretty stuff up there as well and then walked past the guys working the boulders, and past the framed structure, to the front drive of the mine, and spotted this boulder about 20 feet up on the hillside…could not miss this one unless you were blind !!

and here it is even closer up…the sun was on it and it was bright !!

…I walked back down toward the truck and met Dawson wandering around, asked him if he had his hammer and chisel with him…he did and then asked him if he would like to see some bright blue and green, told him it looked possible to chip some plates off of it, so he followed me over there and was able to chip a few off…he liked the bright boulder too. He gave me one of the plates and we walked over to the other side of the road to look at some old mines that dot the landscape to the northwest….

I then walked back to my truck to wrap up my plate…and heard the guys were finding some wulfenite blades in some of the vugs they were working on in the boulder field above….David Bruce sent me this photo of one he found in a sea of color….

…it wasn`t long after that, that we loaded up and headed back east on I-10 toward Deming, ready for supper at the Italian Restaurant once again. 🙂

Annual Labor Day Weekend Trip to Central Kentucky

I normally take a spring vacation and a week off around July 4th, however this year, after my early retirement from nearly 16 years of fire / police dispatch work at East Central Dispatch in St Louis County, and picking up a seasonal job at Greenbriar Hills CC, I decided I would scrap my spring and summer vacations to show my bosses that I was truly dedicated and serious about working there, something I feel is important to do as a new employee in your first year of work. Doing so also allowed me to save up for my September Labor Day Weekend trip to Central Kentucky to join with good friends and members of the Catawba Valley Gem and Mineral Club there, on their annual trip to Kentucky for geode collecting. This year, as in the last year or two, we would be joined by members of two mineral clubs from New York state.

During my interview with my employers of the Golf Course, I mentioned that while I had taken five to six week long vacations in years past, there were specifically only two that were important to me, the Labor Day Weekend trip and my annual fall vacation in Arkansas…they told me that they would work with me on both trips, and despite being somewhat short handed this time of the year, having lost the college and high school guy`s help during the summer by mid August, they were true to their word allowing me to take my trip. I feel fortunate to work with bosses who have an interest in rocks and minerals….my Manager and one Supervisor with children that are starting to collect rocks and minerals, and another Supervisor that is interested in collecting and building his collection. I have helped them out with flats of different crystals and minerals from my collecting trips, and brought my Superintendent a few pretty drusey quartz yard rocks to dress up the front door entrance and garage entrance. A couple of my co-workers have also expressed an interest in rocks and minerals too, one even showed me some drusey quartz pieces in a box that his son had collected over the years and some cabochons used for jewelry that I was able to identify for him.

Onyx and I got up about my normal time of getting up for work, at 4 am on Friday morning, August 31st, and finished packing the truck for the trip…having packed it much of the way the evening before. I had actually been packing a little each afternoon after work for the entire week before, and sorted through several crystals two weeks before, to take down there for the buy/sell/swap tailgate event. I had the truck packed by 4:45 am and we hit the road shortly afterward, headed down to first visit with Gary, my fluorite miner friend in Southern Illinois. I wanted to see what new material Gary might have now…he indicated back in June when I visited with him at the Clement Mineral Museum, that the family mining work had been pretty sporadic after Gary lost his Dad to cancer, and then shortly after, lost two more family members, and the heavy rains had slowed them down as well, but he was sure they would eventually get back into it. He had let me know Thursday evening that he and his son Walter, had been remodeling his Dad`s house alot lately as well, especially during the hot weather spells recently, and would be around that morning. I was going to miss talking to his Dad, he was a super nice guy to talk to and had a lot of interesting stories from his days as a fluorospar miner all over Southern Illinois. About 20 miles down I-64 after Belleville, Illinois, the sun began to light up the sky and clouds that were hanging around, proving once again that God is a very creative artist of sunrises….

…this one hung up in the sky for about 20 minutes and just got prettier each second….traffic was light and we made it down to E-town four hours later, giving me a few hours to visit with Gary and purchase some beautiful fluorite. He came out of the house as I pulled in his driveway, told me to let Onyx out to stretch his legs…he had put his dog, Buster, up in his cage so Onyx could roam freely. We visited while I roamed around looking at the material he had available…one particular flat of material really caught my eye…he had told me about a fairly lrge cluster the week before, that he and Walter had found in a pocket, attached to the wall and just staring them in the face like a big flower in bloom, as they opened the pocket up…he said Walter got into the pocket and worked his way behind it as best he could and used a hammer and small chisel to lightly tap behind it and remove it from the wall in three places where it was attached, as Gary held on to it and hoped for little damage to it during this delicate process. Walter was careful and successful in removing it without any damage to the cubes, which were big and lustrous in appearance, the colors were dazzling as well and in the right light it really just sits there and shines very well….

…my images really do it no justice, but will give you an idea of its beauty…and the image below shows it with two additional smaller clusters that came from the same pocket….I purchased everything he had from that pocket thinking it would likely not be there for long. He told me on the phone the other night that several dealers from across the country were calling and coming by to see what he had on nearly a daily basis lately, and purchasing everything they were getting out…they didn`t even care if it was clean or dirty…crystals were going that fast lately…..

He had another longer specimen on matrix with some nice cubes and then several the size of the two small ones above, and several smaller pieces, from this one pocket. He also had some nice quartz pieces, some with fluorite cubes, deep purple color…so purple they were nearly black looking…embedded in the quartz crystals…and a few multicolor fluorite cubes with stair-steppng cubes….after looking at everything he had, which was not nearly as much as he usually has on hand when I am there…I purchased a few flats of material, the most gorgeous ones shown on the table in the next image….

…the oblong piece behind the Coke can is the next largest specimen from that pocket, the one to the left of the peanut butter jar is a gorgeous cluster of dark purple cubes with smithsonite in between the cubes on top…I really liked it…and the one in line with it near the edge of the table is another beauty…covered in quartz on top and one side…and there are some smaller beautiful clusters on the other end of the table there…Gary helped me load them up and after carefully wrapping them up, especially that huge cluster, carried them to the truck and safely loaded them into the floorboards. I wish now I had checked to see if he had any octogons…Gary chips them out of pieces of fluorite himself and is very good at it…some people call them fluorite diamonds…and they have also made some jewelry lately with the fluorite octogons, so maybe I should have checked on those too.

Onyx and I got back on the road soon after Walter arrived to work on the house some more, and I headed east to Cave-in-Rock to take the ferry over to Western Kentucky….we got to the crossing just in time to board and go across the muddy Ohio River…..

...I drove over to Princeton, intending to stop at the A & W Restaurant to get some lunch and a big cold root beer…grew up on A & W during my childhood…Dad drove a schoolbus and after we dropped the last kids off at their homes on the rural route north of town, we would always stop off at our local A & W, owned back then by Don Lakebrink, one of our fellow firefighters, and we would get a mug of frosty A & W rootbeer before heading home…Dad always got a big mug and I got a little guy`s mug !!  Talk about hitting the spot every time !! 🙂 

Well I was a little disappointed to find out that the A & W there had closed recently, so we drove across the street to Mc Donalds and got lunch there instead and then hit the Western Kentucky Parkway eastbound. About ten miles down the parkway I noticed dark clouds forming up ahead of us….

…and pretty soon, as we approached the turn off to Hopkinsville, we came upon wet pavement where the storm had passed over ahead of us….soon after that, it was one storm after another and rain showers every ten to twenty miles all the way over to Danville…three hours later, as we were passing St Catherine College in the valley by Springfield, we saw more clouds forming just south of the college….

…I checked some creeks on the way across the valley, having come in the back way from Bardstown, but they were running pretty high and full from recent rains, so I pushed on to the hotel at Harrodsburg. I received a text from Slade a few minutes later, he had just arrived at his hotel, the Bright Leaf Golf Resort Hotel, where most of the members were staying…however it`s not a dog friendly hotel so Onyx and I were staying at the Baymont Inn on the north side of town, and conveniently I thought for us, it was located right behind the Dairy Queen. 🙂  My good friends Fred Mahaffey from East Texas, and David Bruce from north Georgia, were also staying at the Baymont. The Hickory Club had switched hotels this year, after some of us met with some attitude from the owner`s son of last year`s hotel…in the past couple of years we have ate breakfast and supper both at the restaurant of the Bright Leaf Resort, great buffet food there, so it was a natural decision to stay there as well. Had they been pet friendly, Onyx and I would have stayed there too. I let Slade know we were probably about 30 minutes out still and would give him a shout when we headed to the Bright Leaf for supper after checking into the Baymont. Slade is the Newsletter Editor for the Hickory, North Carolina Club…the hosting club for this trip…we have been good friends for a couple of years now and he is a member of my group as well. 

As we approached Perryville the clouds once again started darkening down…I was able to get through the beautiful old town square area in good light and then once up on the hill on the other side of town, it really got dark and ominous looking….

…this storm could have done something with the temps now about 85 degrees, but luckily for all of us I am sure, it did not do anything more than drop some rain showers on the south side of the highway. We rolled into Harrodsburg 20 minutes later with ease, found Fred`s jeep parked on the south end of the hotel, and after checking in for a three night stay, and freshening up a bit, I soon headed over to the Bright Leaf Restaurant to meet up with everyone for supper…as I approached the hotel there, another storm appeared just east of the highway behind some horse farms there…

Slade was waiting for me outside as I arrived…I left Onyx at the hotel room since I figured he was ready for a change of scenery. We found most of the group already inside the restaurant chowing down on the seafood buffet and joined them. Everyone was rested up from their long trip down there from North Carolina….the New York crews wouldn`t arrive for another couple of hours as they were collecting at roadcuts on their way down there…so it was decided to postpone the tailgate event til the next night when it was certain that everyone would be present for it.

We had a great meal, fried catfish strips, jumbo shrimp, clams, scallops, and about six veggies to choose from, as well as cake slices and cobbler to choose from….they used to have a soft serve ice cream machine but no longer, so I decided to get some DQ when I returned to the Baymont. After supper, we all wandered out into the parking lot to visit further, and I took that time to give Slade a couple of flats of material I had brought for him..he gave me some nice stuff as well…one a HUGE smokey quartz crystal that he got at Adam`s Farm Site near Hiddenite, North Carolina. The crystal is at least five or six inches high and wide too and a few inches thick, just beautiful…I will get a photo of it soon and put on here so you can see it as well…I haven`t yet opened the box that he filled with crystals to see what other treasures he brought me. As we were doing this, the New York Club members arrived and they were asking me to come over to the other side of the parking lot to let them know what to expect at the quarry the next morning…it was then, that Fred, Slade, and I noticed the beautiful sunset forming after the storm passed through an hour prior, and at the same time, a large half rainbow was forming straight east of us, so I first grabbed my camera to record it….

…and then turned behind us toward the golf course to photograph the sunset…it was gorgeous….

…then swung back around to shoot the pink clouds east of us….

…then back to the golf course side….

…which just kept getting better by the second….



…I then walked over to let them know what time we were leaving for the quarry and what to expect, that we would have four hours of collecting time there as long as everyone got out of bed in the morning and were lined up to leave by 7:15 am. Then Fred and I headed back to the hotel and me to DQ for a blizzard and small cone cup for Onyx. We were in bed soon afterward, after a long day of driving through storms, getting up at 5 am the next morning. 

Onyx and I were up at 5 am Saturday morning, I had to get some breakfast at the Bright Leaf and before that I needed to ice down the coolers, as it was looking like a warm day ahead….sunrise sure was pretty as I arrived for breakfast tho….

…I had parked in the first slot of the parking lot next to the exit to the highway…Slade was right behind me and then everyone else lined up behind him…everyone was standing around chit chatting when Harry and Larry pulled up and said let`s get going at 7:13 am…I had told Clay, the Quarry Manager, we would be there around 8 am if we could get everyone moving early…and driving through all the stoplights on the bypass around Danville is no easy task either…we made it through the first four just fine without losing anyone and then lost half the line at the 5th one…there was a mile stretch between stoplights there so we were able to slow way down in the right lane and wait for them to catch up…I couldn`t believe it when we got to the main intersection close to Walmart…we were all able to get through the green light just fine, which was amazing by itself !! 

We made our turn at the last stoplight and drove across the hills and dales to old Business 150, where the quarry is located, and entered through the open gate to park in front of the scale house/offices. I got out and lined everyone up in rows and then we waited for Clay to arrive. He had let me know enroute that he had a guy working the front end loader, loading up a dumptruck there that was making deliveries to a customer, and he let them know we were on the way…he just didn`t tell the guy how many vehicles we were traveling in. 🙂 

About ten minutes after we arrived, I called everyone over for a safety meeting, checking to make sure we all had hard hats to wear, steel toed boots on, safety glasses for those using hammers and chisels, and good gloves… then I went over the history of the quarry, and background of our field trips there in the past three years as well as what happened several years ago that kept many clubs from gaining access to the quarry for about the last fifteen years.

In front of the office/scale house, there is a huge boulder that has beautiful fluorite cubes on it in amongst bladed, weathered barite, and some nice calcite crystals as well. About 15 yrs ago, some knothead that was with a mineral club and there on a field trip one day, decided to venture up to that boulder and start chipping crystals off of it. He was caught doing so by the Quarry Manager…not Clay at the time…and removed from the quarry, as well as his club, and no clubs were allowed back into the quarry for quite some time….several years of time. About three years ago, I came upon information about the quarry and former field trips there, saw photos of crystals found there,and while at work one night in dispatch, I emailed the Quarry Manager on a form on the quarry`s website…Clay answered me a few days later and we started talking about me bringing a few close rockhound friends to the quarry to look for specimens and he was fine with it, with some safety conditions attached. After I published my story on that trip on my blog site…this site….Harry Polly sent me an email and asked if I could help his club, the Catawba Valley Gem and Mineral Club,  get into this quarry for their annual Labor Day Weekend trip…I had talked to Harry a few times on the McRocks board site and always enjoyed talking to him, he is a very nice guy and knowledgeable on many things as well. I let him know that I would do my best to help them get in there, and after talking to Clay and getting his permission, I let Harry know and he invited me to join them and anyone in my group that would like to come along, too. A few of my guys were able to join me that trip and then it just grew from there.

I let everyone in the group on Saturday morning, that I didn`t want to catch anyone doing anything that selfish or stupid, because not only would we all be removed from the quarry, but no other clubs would ever be allowed in there again either. Mindless actions of morons like that, is what hurts us the most as rockhounds trying to enjoy our hobby…I think everyone there agreed and assured me that they would not do anything like that….we took a group photo in front of that boulder….

…Clay arrived soon after, got waivers for us to all sign welcomed us and  gave a short safety talk with some history as well. Clay is a third generation Quarry Manager there, and works with his Dad and his sister as well. Larry gave Clay a big box of work socks for his work crew, while Richard, one of the Hickory Club members, gave him a big jar of honey, and then I gave him a few packages of Missouri gifts as well. Clay then led us down to the ground floor of the quarry and pointed out where we could wander around to and areas to stay away from, and everyone then took off in different directions…..some to the left side….

…some to the right side…..

…some walked down into the small pit in front of where we parked….

…and some worked the piles in the middle of the ground level where we parked at….

…I walked around a bit to see how everyone was doing, shot this video….


….and took this photo from up the road a bit, looking back down to ground level where we all parked and spread out from there…

…the bench right behind our vehicles, is the bench with the most calcite in it…those white splotches on the wall indicate that…no other bench there has as much calcite as that one does…so if you are looking for calcite, and most of us were, this bench and below is where you will likely find it…Laura, Richard`s daughter, was working to the left of where we parked, in the boulder pile and found a nice dogtooth calcite vug in one…

…and soon after I walked over to photograph it, she found some more and her Mom, Shelda, helped her carry them back to their truck….

….and here is Laura working on yet another one in the same spot….

Way to go Laura….those are some beautiful dogtooths inside that vug !!  Not too far away from her, were a couple of the New York rockhounds, one with the same name as me…James and the gal with him I am not sure of her name…perhaps Slade can help me out again…they were working hard on some boulders over behind Laura…

…I then found Cheryl from New York petting Onyx and talking to him…by then he was a little bit muddy, having discovered a few mud and water holes to wallow in….

…and then I wandered down the interior boulder pile behind our vehicles, and found Harry working over a small boulder that had not only a nice vug in it….

…he also discovered a nice fluorite cube after cobbing down the boulder a bit more…

…I looked up and saw Larry Huffman not too far on down the rocks, working on a big boulder…he found some nice crystals on top and figured there had to be pockets inside the rock as well, so he decided to cobb it down and find them….

…from there I spotted David Bruce going after his saw, so I followed him over to a cove in a pile of boulders up above the lower pit area….by the time I relocated him, he was using his saw to remove some of the heavy dolomite matrix from around a beautiful vug….

…that somewhat resembles a big sparkley smile. 🙂

While I was up there, Slade came over to see it as well…and we spotted Fred down below in the lower pit area…Jim Hurd, a Hickory Club member who lives in West Virginia, was down there in the lower pit area also, said he was spotting several pieces of brown calcite…so I got my truck and drove down there to the lower level and walked back over to the area where Jim had been searching. Fred joined me shortly after and we began finding some nice pieces of calcite, as well as some stunning pieces of white bladed barite….

Kurt…another Hickory member, was down in the lower pit as well, on the left side…while Fred and I were working the right side…

I showed Kurt, who is new to rockhunting, what the white bladed barite looks like so he could look for it as well over on the left side….soon David Bruce joined us down there also….

After finding some nice bladed barites and a few calcites too, I decided to wander on down the lower pit canyon, which leads to an old blast pile at the very end…framed with cattails, it looked quite pretty….

After searching down there for calcites or fluorites, I wandered back up to the lower pit and found Fred loading up his Jeep suv with various finds…some of them were fossilized coral plates…I had heard others referring to them but had never seen any…Fred showed me some of his coral plates and I asked him where he found them…he told me they were in the lower pit over by the culvert pipe that feeds the lake down there with fresh rainwater runoff. I hiked over to that area and located about five nice plates myself…Slade then told me where there were some more…back down the canyon several of us went…we had thirty minutes left on the clock to dig there so we made good use of it and found some beautiful big fossil plates down there in the boulders by the wall…here George, another Hickory Club member and Kurt, work to get some of the fossil plates out….

while David and Slade were finding fluorite cubes in vugs in the huge boulder pile behind us…

…and Fred was finding more fossilized plates back up the road leading to the lower pit through the canyon….

After about fifteen minutes, we all headed out of the quarry so that the workers could close the gate and go home to enjoy the holiday weekend…many of the members had already left ahead of us and headed to south on 150 to the roadcuts near Stanford, where pink dolomite vugs could be found…we were soon headed there as well…

…and arrived to find many rockhounds spread out down along the roadcut on both sides of they highway looking for some accessible vugs to pop out of the walls…not an easy task mind you…some are weathered and some are so tight in the rock that they do not offer much accessibility to a chisel or hammer, so sometimes you just have to peel back the surrounding rock and hope they come out intact….

…while we were there, a small storm popped up about a half mile south of us and passed by to the east without so much as one drop of water falling on us…

…whoever received that rainfall was very lucky, because most of Kentucky is in dire need of rainfall as much as Missouri is…I wandered up and down both sides of the highway looking for some nice ones that had already fallen down to the ground, giving them to the new rockhounds from New York state that were close by…like New York James, who was talking to Jim Hurd on the other side of the highway…I noticed Jim was wearing a special hard hat this afternoon…what appeared to be a Flower Child Hard Hat….

…in amongst the pretty Black Eyed Susan flowers no less…and on the anniversary of his wedding to his wife as well…Congratulations again Jim to the both of you….I had heard of him but never met him til this trip…turned out to be a very nice guy. Soon after, I spotted another New York Club member helping James out with some vugs on the wall, trying to get them out….

…and believe me, every little bit of help…helps in this type of situation…..I then wandered back over to the north side of the highway again and found Slade watching David try to get a vug out of the wall, finally had to bring it down and hope for the best on damage to it….

…check out the video of it below….I think he was able to salvage some of it….



Slade showed me a piece of pink dolomite rescued from the wall, shortly before we headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap before supper later…

After a good three hour nap that afternoon, my phone alarm failed to go off and wake me up…thankful for Fred for calling to wake me up for supper, and it was a good supper too, fried chicken and at least ten veggies too…after my good workout earlier, I made two trips to the buffet to take advantage of all my favorite veggies….and yes the chicken was good too. 🙂  Afterward we returned to the parking lot for the buy/sell/swap tailgate event. As soon as I started unwrapping my double terminated green/yellow calcite crystals encased in pyrite and my orange dogtooth calcite clusters from Missouri locations, I had a crowd all around me…I don`t mind trading minerals for them, but you have to have some nice stuff to trade evenly for my nice stuff, or be willing to compensate with cash…luckily there were several prepared to compensate…I did pretty good for the second year in a row…last year with fluorite and this year with the dogtooth clusters and pyrite encased calcites from the Viburnum Trend mines, both are big faves of mine…and fluorites I picked up from Gary on Friday did well too. The huge crystal cluster was purchased by Harry and Larry to showcase in their annual show next year and I traded the remainder of the fluorites with them for some of their beautiful treasures. Thanks again to Slade, Fred, and David for watching my truck when I was away dealing with the traders.

The next morning we would be able to sleep in a bit, as we were not going to leave for White Oak Creek at Junction City til 9 am, so I stopped off at Dairy Queen once again after the tailgate event and got Onyx and me some ice cream for dessert, then hit the hay after the 10 pm news, forecast was for a bit warmer on Sunday. We slept til 7 am and then headed to breakfast once again at the Bright Leaf. I cheated on my diet once again and had the biscuits and white gravy…and scrambled eggs…funny thing is the Manager there knows how to make chocolate gravy so I could have had chocolate biscuits and gravy, that my Mom made for me during my childhood…a recipe of her Mom`s handed down to her and her brothers and sisters. However, the Manager was not able to find any cocoa there at the restaurant to make it for me and the others to try…told her if she ever put it on the menu or buffet bar, their breakfast business would likely double or triple…she agreed. 

We headed out at 9 am and arrived at the creek about 30 minutes later, found that Mr. Phillips had brought in a bulldozer to straighten out the house side bank of his creek, due to the high rolling water nearly washing the bank away on Friday, after heavy rainfall. The dozer operator did a great job of sloping it down to the creekbed….

….and from the edge of the grass to the water, there were geodes laying everywhere, all you had to do was pick them up and weigh them in your hands, and if light enough, crack them open on the spot…within ten minutes of arrival, several were out in the shallow waters of the creek looking for the big ones in the dirt bank on the opposite side…..

…that is the New York crowd above…Fred Haynes on the far left sitting down…my buddy Fred on the right side in shorts and Matthew to his left…


I cracked a few open right there in front of my truck and then grabbed a bucket and my crack hammer and walked upstream…Slade and David had gone way upstream and I met them coming back with several nice ones already collected…I came upon Harry on the second gravel bar above and Larry was further upstream from him…both were finding some nice ones. Harry rolled one basketball sized geode over that was sitting next to him and found a crack in it…he said someone had been striking it with their hammer just moments before but apparently didn`t roll it over to see the crack and moved on…so Harry cracked it open to find beautiful orange-red quartz crystals inside…STUNNING would be the word for me when I saw them….here they are on my tailgate about 20 min later….just so I could photograph them…

I then photographed a couple of nice ones that I found upstream too….

…I grabbed another bucket and went back upstream, meeting David and Slade on their way back downstream again, this time they told me to go upstream to the log across the water…they cracked open several up there that had double terminated quartz crystals inside…so that is where I headed….it was easy to find the spot they were in, geodes cracked open all over the place, some with the double terminated crystals inside too….check out this video of it…


…and the photos aren`t bad either….

..that`s Harry sitting on the gravel bar down below working on cracking open more geodes..that is where he found the orange-red crystal lined one too…

…shortly after I filled a second bucket full and returned to my truck, we had a nice rainshower come down and soak us even better than we already were soaked in sweat…this one was really refreshing tho…so I was okay with it…and after that, Harry, David, Fred, and I headed to the Green River out of Stanford to check out recommended collecting sites there…we secured permission from nearby landowners before accessing the river in two spots…the first spot was pretty barren of geodes so we didn`t stay long there. The second spot was much better and we found quite a few, but most were solids, so we opted to find yet another location for Monday morning`s hunt….we drove back to the Bright Leaf where I dropped Harry off, he said we would discuss Monday`s location at supper that evening, then Onyx and I headed to our hotel to clean up and rest up a bit before supper. 

I decided to try and call the Quarry Manager of the quarry northwest of there, and his wife answered the phone on the third ring and handed the phone to him…he told me it would be okay if we came over there on Monday morning and said he would meet us at the gate at 9 am…I told him what I would be driving and told him there would prob be around ten of us. I then called Larry Huffman and let him know, he said he would let Harry know and they would check with everyone at supper to see what they wanted to do. I then let Slade, David, and Fred know too. When I arrived at the Bright Leaf for supper, Slade met me out in the parking lot and told me that some wanted to go to Kings Mountain and some wanted to go to the quarry, so seven of us got up the next morning, met at the Baymont Inn, and headed out at 7 am, figuring we had at least an hour and 45 min drive to the quarry…we made it there just fine, arriving at the gate about ten minutes before Dorsey the Quarry Manager arrived. He asked us what we were looking for there and we let him know we were interested in crystals and pretty ones if possible…he laughed and said there were plenty of crystals to choose from in at least two pits of the quarry. He took us to the first pit, which looked alot like limestone quarry walls here in Missouri… we were driving down a gravel slope into the pit, a bright red fox took off across the pit from left wall to right wall like a streak of lightning, bounding up and over the boulders and over the wall…he was moving on and too fast for me to grab my camera and shoot him….but this is the wall that he flew up and over like it was nothing…

…as we pulled up and took a closer look at the walls, we were able to spot  some large calcite vugs in the wall, as well as boulders on the ground….Dorsey pointed out a few large ones and then turned us loose…

…Slade and David headed over to the small blast pile in the left corner and started finding crystals almost immediately, mainly in boulders on the ground…

…here are a few I spotted and photographed in the wall on the left side….

…and discovered some were pink dolomite and there were some with small quartz balls…here is the first video I shot there…


Slade let me know I should walk over and photograph the small boulder that David spotted with a nice vug…when I got over there, David said the vug that Slade found was even better, so I photographed it first next to a blue five gallon bucket for a size comparison…

…and closer up for effect….

WOW…is all I could think of….way to go Slade !! 🙂  David helped him extract it with his saw and then used the saw on his boulder to get his vug out.

In the meantime, Richard was moving along the wall back toward the entrance, and Laura and Shelda were checking out the wall on the right of where we all parked….

…and here is a plate that she found checking out the wall over there….

…and while I was checking out the wall to the right of the entrance slope…I discovered several chunks of calcite, orange in color…including this huge and thick plate…it did not go home with any of us…

…I did however take several smaller chunks home with me and they were just as pretty. After about 90 minutes in this first pit, Dorsey took us over to the second pit and pointed out the lower walls, which were dark brown in color, contained many vugs of several different crystals…

…while Slade and David headed initially to the boulder piles in the middle, I headed to the walls to check out the vugs…they were much more accessible in this pit, easier to reach for one thing, and very pretty with some loose crystals inside that I could reach into and pull out…within minutes I had my apron completely stuffed full of them…on the way to the boulder pile, Slade and David came upon this huge calcite vug in the top of a boulder near the wall….


…and a pink dolomite vug nearby as well, that was also not accessible to us….


…while they were then checking out the boulders in the center pile, I walked on down the wall and found a huge pink dolomite vug in the wall, and was able to pull out several pieces and one big ball of pink dolomite crystals…


….then I called Slade over to work the pocket so he could take some home to his daughters who were not able to make this trip…

…he got what he could get out of it and then it looked like this…..


…I then wandered over to the boulder pile in the center where David was trying to saw off a corner of a boulder where a vug was calling to him…and found several boulders with nice dogtooth crystals inside them in boulders nearby….



…and soon after that, Richard asked David to help him cob down a boulder that he found with some nice vugs, so we headed over to the parking area….

…where we also found Fred cobbing down some nice vugs in boulders that he found in the blast pile in front of our vehicles…including some calcite crystals that were orange and white and very irridescent looking….to the point they were almost jumping off the rock right at ya…

…I spotted another boulder with a vug of the same looking crystals…way too big a boulder to take home and unable to extract the vug as well…so I settled for the photo of them instead….

…and here is the second video shot at the quarry…..


…by now it was noontime and getting very warm and humid out there…Slade decided he needed to get on the road headed home to North Carolina…Richard and his crew felt the same way…and Fred needed to head toward Texas…Dorsey led us over to the bathrooms and break room where they could change into dryer clothing to make their drives home…

David and I decided to check out one more pit that was available before we headed for home…so Dorsey led us over to it….

…..and we walked up the small hill on the right side of this photo below to check out the berms and walls….

….and yes that is a boat in the photo down the hill a bit…Dorsey said they had monsoon a few months ago and that pit below filled with water, nearly forty feet deep, and took three months to dry out….not far up the berm David spotted a rectangular black rock with small yellow fluorite cubes on it, very pretty, they were bright yellow…I didn`t have my camera at that point with me, so I did not get a photo of it…hopefully David will take some and send to me so I can put in here. We walked on up to the high walls, discovered a cave that appeared to be pretty good sized, in the middle of the high wall…no we did not go over to check it out and that was mainly because we were getting tired fast due to the mounting heat and humidity…the sun was really beating down on us by then, and maybe due to the fact that a huge vulture came flying out of the cave as we walked up to it…nahhh that couldn`t be the real reason….:) 

We decided we were not going to be able to find anything better up there, so we returned to our trucks and drove back to the break room to thank Dorsey for allowing us to rockhunt there…I gave him a sack of work socks that Larry Huffman had provided to me on Saturday morning at the Danville Quarry…and he invited us back next year…I think we are going to take him up on that offer. 🙂

David and I headed home afterward, he driving back to northern Georgia and I headed toward Missouri…Onyx and I got home safe and sound about 4:30 pm, and I heard from everyone else that they arrived home safe and sound as well. Now to catch up and clean up and post some more photos soon !!  🙂