Luckily, I had the weekend off for Geode Fest, but had to work Friday, so I drove up early on Saturday morning, arriving about 6:30 am, which gave me some free time to register and get signed in for it before the crowd arrived. I also had a little time to walk around and visit with the dealers there that I knew…Robert Kuhn was there from Hot Springs with his new girlfriend, Solara, so I got to meet her and visit with them for a bit…..
…..Ken Vaisivil was there as well and visited with him for a bit…love his geodes display he had in front of his booth too….
Soon after that, my buddy, John Oosteryk, arrived along with Charity and Jamey, set their booths up, and then Abbi woke up in her Jeep in the parking lot and joined us after getting registered to dig that morning too. We all soon left for the Barrow Pit for the morning dig…this is a location we went to last year for the first time it opened and it was a pretty good site with geodes laying all over the place. The landowner had brought in machinery and dug out a good sized area near a pond, about ten miles south of Wayland on Hwy 61 and there was speculation that it could be the old C-61 site as well, or close to it. Prior to going up there, I had made contact with a landowner a few miles south of the Barrow Pit that had an open area on the hill above his house, where it appeared there was a small quarry…he told me that was an old map view on Google Maps and that it was just a big open field now. That information led many of us to believe the Barrow Pit could very well be the old C-61 site. Pat and Alina Klein and their boys, Finn and Coen, came to Geode Fest as well and had brought a few extra boys with them…they decided to go to the Barrow Pit and join up with John, Abbi and I there…we started surface collecting on the northeast side of the digging area and found a few nice ones that were pulled up by the bucket on the trackhoe and in good shape. Eventually we moved over to the northwest side and dug into the ground to find even more of them, this year many of them had a gray, white, and black colored calcite crystals inside that had a poker chip look to them in some and thin fan like blades in others, pretty neat looking stuff !! I didn`t take any photos at the Barrow Pit this year, but we sure had a good time there…John and I helped the boys and their friends find some nice ones and then pretty soon after, Finn and Coen were finding some nice ones on their own, as well as their friends G and Taylor. John returned after a couple of hours and the rest of us stayed at least an hour more before returning to the parking lot. By this time, even more rockhounds were arriving for the event….
…and when I returned, I saw John was busy with customers galore at his booth….
I walked over to the other side of the lot to talk to Charity and Jamey, found Charity breaking open geodes for customers like John was doing….
Afterward, Pat and Alina and the kids decided to go to Jacob`s Geode Mine with me for the afternoon dig…we had heard good things about it and there was supposed to be a new mine area there as well, so decided to give it a try. I had not been to Jacob`s in at least ten years…wish now we had gone to St Francisville instead….when we arrived we were directed up to the old mine on top of the hill and because I had four wheel drive, I was directed to cross the creek and drive up there. Parking on the hill at the old mine was scarce and there were no signs on where to go to park, so I just grabbed the first spot on the right that I came to and others went past me and made a right on the way to another spot for parking on up above..however someone in an out of state suv blocked that entrance to the hill parking lot and created a huge bottleneck instead.
Eventually, that owner was located and the suv moved to where others could park as well…one problem solved but another one presented itself shortly after and the host for this site, decided not to come up and help any of us solve any of the problems up on the hill, prob due to the fact that he had created those problems in the first place. After parking, grabbing our buckets and tools, we walked over to the walls…the lower wall at the old mine on the hill was the only one that was producing geodes, albeit smaller than expected geodes…and the lower wall was completely covered by diggers from the morning group…they had not left the site, they were still on site and digging away, shoulder to shoulder….
There was absolutely no room for anyone from our group to get in between any one and start digging out our own geodes…so we all had to go up on the upper ledge to the upper wall and start digging into that wall. After about 20 minutes of that, I heard a few comments from people strung out down along the ledge we were on, asking others if there were actually any geodes to be found up there because NO ONE was digging any out…one guy even commented that he believed all we were accomplishing was someone`s excavation work in the upper wall.
We found out later, that the host was not making anyone from the prior group, leave or return to the parking lot, they were allowed to stay as long as they wanted and dig where ever they wanted to, so when those of us in the afternoon group arrived, there was no productive areas for us to dig into…just unproductive areas like the upper level wall….and for the first hour, many of us found absolutely nothing to put into our buckets. I guess this is a good thing from a public relations angle, but it did nothing for those of us, or those coming in later groups for that matter and actually it just ticked quite a few people off…several of them left within two hours of arriving. When I left after three hours, I found the host sleeping in his pick up down by the creek, unwilling to do anything other than collect his bucket fees from diggers.
I called John to find out from him where the newer mine was located there, told him where we were at and he advised we were at the old mine. I told him what had happened so far and like he said, that was a CROCK that no one was directing us to the newer mine nor up there trying to make things better for the newer diggers. We walked down to the bottom of the hill, crossed the creek and then walked up the side road off the lower parking lot to the newer mine area, however there were several up there digging and they were finding very little as well, so after about an hour there, I decided to go back to the parking lot and visit friends and shop. I felt like had Pat, Alina, and the kids not been there, much of my time at that particular location that afternoon would have been a total waste of time.
Needless to say, I won`t be returning to this mine anytime soon, I didn`t have more than a few geodes in my bucket…however, Finn, Coen, and their friend G, were digging into the lower wall when I left, after others had finally vacated those areas, and they were finding several golf ball sized and marble sized geodes, and Alina and Pat were working the right side of that lower wall and finding geodes as well…..
…and since many of the prior diggers finally left, others were able to tap into the far left side of the hill mine as well…
As I was walking to my truck, Finn turned to ask me where I was going and show me what was in his bucket now…..he, Coen and their friend G, were putting in good effort there and producing quite a few geodes…and I was simply wore out….
…there were a few geodes in the wall nearby that had been struck by hammers accidentally and broken open, leaving half an opened geode in the wall….
…that Coen is a real hoot to dig with…when I was headed to my truck, he started pulling his boot off…I asked him if he had some rocks in it, he said yeah, he was collecting geodes with it. 🙂
On my return to the parking lot, I spotted this huge geode in the pick up truck parked next to me, plus some basketball sized ones as well….
I stayed overnight at a home rented by Charity, Jamey, and John, just north of Keokuk along the Mississippi River…I appreciate the roof over my head as it rained a bit that night and was a bit cool…I slept like a rock despite a certain person sleeping not too far away that was cutting down timber and sounding like a McCulloch chainsaw in overdrive. 🙂
As soon as I headed up the road toward McDonalds for breakfast, I stopped in the middle of the street and tried to shoot the sunrise….
After breakfast, I shot a more enlightened sunrise as I crossed the river headed to Hamilton….
I picked up a few goodies to take home with me from a few dealers before heading home, one was a friend of John`s who had several types of agate on a blanket for sale…they were very pretty and I purchased several from him….
I also had a good visit with Dennis, another dealer who is another friend of John`s and hopefully soon, will be joining us on some of our group digs…I also purchased a few smokies from Dennis that were collected at Hallelujah Junction, a famous location for smokeys and scepters. Dennis is a great guy to talk to, he has a lot of great stories about his adventures too. I would have made good time going home, but had to take a detour off 61 at Bowling Green by the Fire Department, due to a gas tanker overturning on 61 near Eolia. I wound up taking Hwy 161 down to Montgomery City and taking Hwy 19 there on down to 50 and coming in the back way, adding about an hour to my trip home. From the perspective of seeing good friends and visiting with them and one good collecting location, it turned out to be a pretty good weekend after all.