Category Archives: Chocolate and Green Poker Chips
MFQ in August 2019
It was the first weekend in August before I had a chance to go to MFQ again…when Patty, Colby, and Gabriella came to visit the weekend of July 4th, they didn`t get to go there, so we kept in contact and she decided to drive up and meet me there on the morning of the 3rd. Gabriella was visiting Colby`s parents up north in Illinois and would not be back in time to come down with her on this trip. She had a three hour drive and arrived before I did with a two hour drive, however it was quite foggy when we arrived there at daylight…
We headed down to the pile and started up from the west side again, this time working several visible pockets along the wall..many filled with some nice calcite druse and some of those druse plates had some gorgeous and sparkley blades of clear calcite on them, sticking out at angles from the druse and later, when the sunlight captured them, they just sat there and glittered like sugar frosting….
Here are some of the first ones I pulled out of the pockets I began working along the wall and as you can see, there were some poker chips inside as well…
Here is Patty getting prepared to work the pockets along the wall….
She started out about 30 feet to my left, on the west side of me, and we were working our way along the wall to the east side. We had worked several small pockets and she passed me up and went around a corner sticking out from the wall, and called me over to look…I had been there about 20 min before that and discovered five to six nice looking pockets, at least one of them I figured was going to be a dogtooth pocket..I didn`t say anything to her as it was her first time there and I wanted her to find it on her own…she did, took to it like a duck to water, and here is what she started pulling out…..
…..of what turned out to be a HUGE pocket of blade plates and dogtooth plates !!!
Here are a few photos of the pockets before we began working them…
I worked the pockets in the 2nd and 3rd photos above while Patty concentrated on the huge dogtooth pocket, stopping only to walk a few flats down to her car and get more empties to fill. On one of these trips to her car, she told me to help myself to the pocket, so I did…I handed a few off to her when she returned and worked it for about 45 minutes and then turned it back over to her, and she worked it the rest of the time we were there. It went further back a few chambers, then up, over to one side or the other and down…I told her that many rockhounds work the pocket they find and then stop…to be completely thorough, a rockhound should explore for more pockets as there usually are more chambers that will open up as you remove crystals. She did a good job, but by the time early afternoon arrived, the sunlight, heat, and humidity were fast catching up with us and we came to a stop. Here is what the wall of pockets looked like when we finished…
the one on the left, with the much larger opening, is the one she was working much of the day…
She let me know that she got home okay, and then started updating me on cleaning up her plates of dogtooths….Patty used a few window screens to clean hers…I let her know she would likely only need to wash them off, as they normally come out pristine or a little dusty from those pockets, but normally nothing more. Here are some of her finds, enlarge these and you will spot the dogtooths where there are several clusters in one photo….
this next cluster of dogtooths and blades, has a bit of a purplish tint to some of the blades and crystals…I had a couple of plates with a similar color variation to them…a variation that I like….
My finds include a pocket of green poker chips I found as I was climbing down from the pile that day…they cleaned up rather nicely…one of those pockets that blasted out of the wall and fell to the pile, landing fairly intact, which is unusual for green poker chips as they fracture more readily than the other colors seem to do…
My purplish colored plates above….
and just to give you an idea, this is how they normally look dirty, coming out of the pocket….a little dusty is all….no need for a power wash either….
…and here is tired Patty climbing down from the pile, bucket and flat of crystals in her hands…
It was fun and we had a blast, pun intended, and brought home some beautiful crystals including some beautiful dogtooths !!
MAGS Annual Trip to Missouri May 2019
When I received the call from my Manager Shawn at Greenbriar Hills to come back to work this year, I let him know that I had a couple of rockhound clubs that wanted to come up and rockhunt with me…MAGS Club was one of those two clubs…one of three clubs I am a member of…he asked me for the dates of the weekends I needed off to take both clubs rock collecting and allowed me to take both of those weekends off. I was sooooo glad to hear that. 🙂 I do love working there and I will say…they did work me pretty hard the day before both of those weekends. 🙂
I had been in contact with Kim Hill, the Field Trip Director for MAGS, for at least a few weeks on FB, regarding the timing of each day, locations we were going to, and final details on the trip, helping them with lodging information after discovering that their normal stay location was booked solid. I made some inquiries and found out there was a major Ozarks Mountain Festival in Eminence that weekend, so they would have to book pretty fast there if they wanted to stay there…Kim got the word out to her members and they booked their reservations pretty fast. I then had a text from W.C McDaniels, the President of MAGS, and he was concerned because he wasn`t able to contact a good mutual friend of ours, Betty Marler, of Park Hills…they always invited Betty up to go rockhunting with them and now he was not able to get in touch with her. I began making some inquiries with friends in the Park Hills Gem Club to see if they knew another way to reach Betty over the next week…they let me know that they really missed seeing Betty and hoped she would soon return and tried reaching out to some of her relatives as well, by email.
However, I struck out…or thought I did, until W.C. texted on Friday and said he had finally heard back from Betty, that she was having phone issues and everything was okay. I was glad to hear she was okay tho…she and her late husband Lloyd have been good friends for years, they were very instrumental in not only starting the Park Hills Gem and Mineral Club, but the Park Hills Mineral show that is held annually at the Federal Hill Mine Complex and has grown to be one of the largest shows in the Midwest over the years, as well as one of the most enjoyed shows in the Midwest…many rockhounds not only talk about this show every year, but literally thousands look forward to it each year as well. It`s definitely one of my favorite shows to attend.
I was also contacted by Rockhound Bill from Chicago…I had rockhunted with him and his girlfriend Debbie, a few years before at Geodefest and a prior MAGS trip to Missouri, but then both of them went silent for the past few years since…so I was a bit surprised to hear from them all of a sudden. He let me know they were going to be in the KC area the week before the MAGS trip to visit family, then drive down for the rockhunting weekend a day ahead of time. He asked if I knew of any locations where they could rockhunt before the group arrived…I let him know that I did not know of any locations in that area that allowed rockhunting through the week, including the two locations we were going to that weekend.
This is advice I normally give to rockhounds all the time when asked…advice I hope that they take me seriously on and heed the suggested warning. We all know what can happen if someone decides to go into a location like that ahead of time, on a weekday no less…if caught by property owners…it can be bad not only for the person or persons who went there when they were advised not to, but can have dire consequences for clubs or groups of rockhounds afterward as well, such as the cancellation of a scheduled dig or collecting date and generally no invite back as well. Many clubs, including MAGS, also have rules for their members to abide by, regarding scheduled field trips…members attending field trips to quarries or other off road locations are not allowed to drive or walk into the location before the scheduled meeting time, within a time period of a few minutes to several days before the scheduled meeting time at the meeting place. It`s not fair to others waiting in the parking lot of the quarry or meeting place for a dig location, abiding by the rules waiting for everyone to show up and enter together, then all of a sudden they see a member of the club drive out of the quarry…their first thought is what was that member doing inside the quarry ahead of everyone else, and how long was that member inside the quarry…have they already done some digging and found some goodies that the rest of us would have had an opportunity to dig for as well…and even if nothing happened, it leaves those rule abiding members with a sense of violation, disrespect and a lack of trust for the member who violated the rules…no matter what explanation the violating member provided…so another piece of advice for anyone reading this….if you join a club to go to field trips, like many of us like to do…PLEASE FOLLOW THE RULES…they are in place for a reason…if you don`t understand the rules, ask for an explanation….and if you ask me for advice, PLEASE FOLLOW MY ADVICE OR GUIDELINES…believe me, mine are simple and I offer them for a reason…if you need to know the reason, you need only ask and I will provide it for you.
Kim and I had decided I would meet with the MAGS members at the area High School on Saturday morning, May 4th at 9 am…allowing Onyx and I to sleep in a bit longer than what we normally do when going rockhunting. We arrived at the parking lot just ahead of the main group, about ten minutes to 9 am…I figured most were prob at the nearby gas station using the bathroom. It was a little cool that morning, around 48 degrees and we had driven through some valleys with fog on the way up there, some misting as well…I sure hoped the forecast for clearing was correct.
The rest of the group arrived and soon we were on our way to the first location to do some druse quartz hunting…it`s alot easier to do with sunlight, because you can see the sparkles all over the hillside, but we made do once we arrived…..
…..this was the location I took them to last year and they loved it so much, they requested a revisit of it this year, you can find small pieces of druse and all the way up to small boulders of druse here…
….we spent about two hours there and then once everyone was ready, we drove down to the second location, where the smoky druse quartz could be found….it was a bit muddy down there…afterall, we had been receiving rain on a daily basis for the past couple of weeks…why I do not know….
I stepped over into the mud at the side of the road and picked up a nice plate of bubbley smokey druse quartz to show them what it looked like as well as a few small plates in various colors….
….once they observed how easy it was to find and how pretty it was, some in bubble form and some in soda straw form, some big, some small, plus all the other colors of druse available there…well, let`s just say they were nothing short of ecstatic !! They spread out on the tailing pile and began searching for pretty druse…easy to find as it was EVERYWHERE !!
…suddenly it seemed like the sky had lightened up quite a bit…I looked up to see the clouds rolling apart and could see some blue sky here and there finally…it even seemed to be warming up a bit….NOW, I was ecstatic !!
…and yes, I did manage to fill a couple of buckets of druse as well…here are a few of my finds…
It should also be noted that there are some lapidarists in this group and in MAGS as a whole too…lapidarists are those that like to use rock saws to cut slices of rocks like agates…and create cabochons to make jewelry…in the past few months of collecting here, we have found some pretty translucent pieces of what appears to be some form of agate or jasper or chert…whatever it is, it sure is pretty stuff !! Anne Pender Pinkerton was asking me about it and so I gathered up a few chunks of this agate for her….
My good long time MAGS friends Matthew and Carolyn Lybanon were able to make this trip, they both enjoy surface collecting and druse at this location was a good one for them as well, fairly easy walking…here you see Matthew walking down the slope of the tailing pile toward me in the green rainsuit….
…and Rockhound Bill sitting in the middle of the tailing pile collecting druse….
…and a few of the gals hunting as well….Kim Hill at the top of the photo in the tye dye shirt and Anne in the bright green/yellow shirt kneeling in the roadway……
…and then Carolyn came walking down the slope as well….
Soon after that, we drove on over to the SSQ and everyone spread out looking for pockets and crystals…I was able to find a couple of pockets in the hour we were there. The problem there was the amount of water in pools everywhere…making it difficult to get around to various places to look for pockets…it sure didn`t bother Onyx any, he looks at those pools as potential swimming pools. 🙂 Afterward, we drove down to see Miner Dave and see if he had any new Viburnum Trend crystals and minerals for sale…I was finally able to get in touch with him by phone just minutes from his house, he was cooking some chili and said sure, come on down !!
He def had some new ones, four tables covered by some of the most gorgeous crystals I had ever seen from a recent blast out of a couple of mines, however he already had that collection sold and was waiting for the buyer to come pick them up…we were able to look and drool, but that was it…out of respect for the buyer and Miner Dave, that is all we did, look and admire. He had some nice phantom calcites and some other nice ones too, and the MAGS members purchased some from him while there. They then headed south to Eminence to take in the festival there, while Onyx and I headed home.
Onyx and I were up by 5 am the next morning and on the road by 6:30 am, driving down to meet up with MAGS members at MFQ…the weather noticeably warmer that morning with a forecast high of 75 and sunny skies. We arrived about 8:30 with a meeting time set at 9 am once again, this time at the quarry parking lot. I had received word the week before that recent blast activity had occurred then, however I was unable to get down there to check it out.
As soon as everyone else arrived, we had a short safety meeting…I let those that didn`t bring their hard hats, know that they should stay away from the walls as there are some rocks way up high that do roll off the wall and fall….we then traveled down to the pile and spread out around it to look for goodies. The sun was out now in full force and the temps were beginning to rapidly warm up…within about five minutes, I spotted a couple of nestles chocolate brown poker chips and then a medium sized green poker chip cluster immediately after…I let out a loud ” Holie Cow ” and everyone came running to see what I was finding. I had brought samples of what could be found there, just in case they didn`t have good luck finding anything, but if what I was seeing in a short time was any indication of what we were gonna find, it was obvious those samples they selected earlier in the parking lot, were just gonna be some nice extras for their collections. Be advised, from this point on, things happened very fast and I had no time to take any photos, I left that up to the rest of the members there, as I was busy finding nice crystals, making more loud ” Holie Cow ” calls and then tossing them down to various members to take home with them….one was a nice small plate of chocolate dogtooth crystals with a golden colored stream through them…I handed that plate to Anne and told her she could only take it home if she wrapped it up before putting it in her bucket. The last I checked, she heeded my advice and put them in her vehicle. 🙂
Mike, one of the members, and I climbed up on the pile and soon started spotting some more nice crystals, and clusters, alot of calcite druse plates and even a few vugs in boulders full of crystals and druse. Pretty soon I had to go back down and retrieve my bucket as well as a couple of bottles of water, as the sun was really starting to warm things up. The others spread out around the pile and began looking for, and finding goodies, others looked along the walls for pockets and fall down material. Everyone was having good success finding nice ones to take home. Pretty soon Onyx and I were the only ones up on top of the pile and I was finding stuff laying everywhere, much of it in great shape, all things considered. Everyone else was looking for shade…I just removed my sweatshirt and then long sleeved shirt and kept drinking my water, and finding more nice stuff. I left some nice stuff in the pile in case some friends of mine from North Carolina, who were traveling to Missouri in the next week, might want to visit the quarry and find some nice ones to take home. Since the MAGS members had about a five hour drive home, they left about 1 pm…Onyx and I headed for home about 2:30 pm with a couple of buckets of nice goodies and a couple of yard rocks. I`ll post some photos of my crystals as soon as I get them all cleaned up. All in all, another enjoyable MAGS visit for sure. 🙂
New Rockhound Friends in July
Wow July was a busy month for me and really this whole year has been at times…I no sooner started my new job at the golf course and almost immediately found out I had three bosses that liked rocks…Nate who is one of my supervisors and has never been on a field trip yet, really likes them so I helped him get his collection built up a bit more since I started…Shawn, my Manager, really liked the looks of the orange dogtooths that I gave to Nate and then told me that his seven year old daughter, Miss Abby, really likes rocks and possibly fossils too…and then Dave, my Superintendent, came to me one day and started talking about geodes after I gave Nate a geode or two, and told me that he had driven past the old rock and mineral museum up by Keokuk several years ago on Hwy 61…I had to think about that one for a day, then figured out he was talking about the octagonal shaped building that Tim Scheffler`s parents had built as a rock and mineral shop, that Modot seized through eminent domain through the courts and pissed every rockhound in the country off by their shameful way of handling the situation just so they could expand Hwy 61 from a two lane to a four lane highway…I say shameful because of the way they treated Tim`s family over that situation…they could have easily gone around that beautiful rock shop and left it standing for the many generations of rockhounds that followed, to enjoy for years to come. When I asked Dave the next morning, he said yes, that was what he was thinking of, and then I gave him a geode from the Keokuk area that I had found at last year`s Geodefest, with some extra minerals inside it.
I think it was June when I found out that the seven year old son named Logan, whose Mom is one of my favorite Cracker Barrel employees, was interested in rocks, so I took his Mom Heather, a flat of druse quartz, poker chips, and some other pretties so she could give it to Logan…I did that for Miss Abby and Nate as well.
Last month in July, I found out from a local firefighter friend, that another seven year old daughter, whose Dad is a local Firefighter Captain friend of mine, was now collecting rocks and minerals, so I took him a flat of crystals to give to her and told him anytime they wanted to go rockhunting with me locally, to give me a shout. A few days later, another firefighter friend contacted me on FB and asked where he could take his new girlfriend rockhunting because she was big time into it, so I gave him some info as well.
On the 2nd of July, I received an email from a guy named Al, who lives just north of the golf course I work at, and asked if he could go rockhunting with me, after reading my blogsite about my trips and travels…I let Al know that my friend Chuck and I were going to MFQ on Sunday, July 8th and asked if he would like to go with me and Onyx, warned him that we would be leaving quite early and he accepted the offer. That brings me to this next trip to MFQ…Al arrived at my house by 3:45 am and we transferred his digging stuff to the bed of my truck and took off by 4 am….we saw a bit of wildlife on the way down, which I always take as a good sign of things to find. We arrived around 6:30 am….
…..and Chuck arrived an hour after us, I had Al working on a pocket with some poker chip calcites inside by that time…
…working the wall now exposed at the ground level after much of the last blast pile had been cleaned up and away…..
…when I walked over there, I discovered a beautiful mosaic pattern in the dried clay mud in front of Al`s position along the wall, so I took a few photos of it, never having noticed anything like that there before….
…he was hard at it, trying to get those poker chips out of the pocket too…
….while I was checking on Al, Chuck climbed on up to the second level to look for pockets up there, as soon as I let Al know to come on up and join us up above when he was finished to his satisfaction with the pocket he was working on, I went up and found Chuck working a pocket up there already….
…we both worked on several pockets and searched through a pile of crystals left below that ledge where someone had left a bunch of them behind…soon Al came up and joined us as well…when Chuck climbed up on this ledge above to work a bigger pocket, I walked behind and past him to the left and opened up another pocket in the vuggy rock wall…at first I was pulling out some beautiful druse plates, then they had poker chips attached to them, and then they immediately graduated to dogtooths attached and some were curvy plates and some were clusters…Al came over, sat down and started helping me with the pocket..I would hand one to him and he would wrap it and put it in his bucket, then the next one he would hand to Chuck, and anything I wanted I would put in my bucket next to me…we worked that pocket alone for at least an hour that way…it was chock full of beautiful crystals and druse….Chuck took these next few photos of me and Al working the pocket I found, when he returned for some water, gatorade for me, and some buckets and wraps….
…you can see the dark colored poker chips inside the pocket that I am trying to free up and pull out…the opening in the center of the pocket goes around a huge brown poker chip crystal that was probably two or three crystals blended together into one huge crystal of calcite, and that opening quickly turned to the right and went up, behind that huge crystal, so I was trying to enlarge that opening to get my hand in there easier…there was also an opening to the right of the hammer that went up as well…here is the center opening closer up….
I`m going to try and post a video here of our trip, to view it, simply click on the DSC_0357 and then click on the link that starts out with http://www.jwjrocks.com/ and ends with /DSC_0357.wmv, then the video will pop up, or should, in a windows media player box and begin playing automatically for you.
I wore out shortly after that and Chuck came down and chipped that big crystal out for us, here is the video on that, we had to take it out in pieces due to it`s size and placement in that pocket…
we headed back home shortly after removing that big crystal, with about three bags full each from that one pocket. all three of us very happy with our finds for the day….I think this trip made Al`s day quite well, too, for his first field trip outing as a rockhound. 🙂
CAGMAGS Returns to Missouri
I received a call from Arkansas David, who had attended the field trip to Missouri with the MAGS Club end of March…David called me a couple of weeks later and asked if his club, CAGMAGS, which stands for Central Arkansas Gem and Mineral…could come up and go rockhunting with me to the Druse Location and MFQ again…I let him know what weekends I was off from my new job and he decided on April 21st and 22nd…and since MAGS…the Memphis Club that I am a member of…had invited his club to go with them, he decided to invite them to go with his club…and they did, as I received notice from MAGS of same by email a few days later. The members of CAGMAGS decided to stay at the same area motel that MAGS had before, as well, so Onyx and I met them there Saturday morning about 8 am and led them to the Druse location. David and John headed off to the right of where we parked, looking for druse and more pyrite and marcasite….we again had cloudy skies to start and the members this time, wanted to leave and drive on to the quarry a little sooner than when MAGS was here….
…while others spread out on the other side of the road and farther back on the same side as where we parked…again we had peeks of sunshine that helped spot the druse a little faster and this time, a few more of us wandered down to the bottom of the hill to look for yard rocks of druse and poker chip combos….
…and after about an hour of looking for druse, we loaded up and drove on to the Secret Spot Quarry….
…where it appeared on the hillside behind the walls, that Spring was making its presence known…like the MAGS trip, this morning was a bit cooler and most of us were bundled up…once the sun finally came out, it warmed up quickly for us. I pointed out the potential areas for goodies and everyone spread out to look for them…
…and once I saw that everyone seemed to be finding stuff, I started looking for some pockets on my own…soon joined by John and a few others eventually…I usually have pretty good luck finding some and within 20 minutes I was working on one that kept going and going…deeper and deeper…producing some roof plates initially and then some nice single calcite crystals too….
…and some nice druse/poker chip combos as well, like this one…
…once John saw what my pocket was producing, he was hooked and sat down a few feet from me and started digging into an older pocket that soon produced crystals for him as well, once he tied into a couple of pockets that opened up for him…
After a couple of hours working pockets at the quarry, and several finding some nice druse plates as well, we traveled down to see my friend who sells Viburnum Trend minerals…we visited with him for a good hour and then the crew asked me if I knew of a good BBQ joint around…I told them about Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba and said they have a satellite restaurant in Steelville as well…so we saddled up and drove to Steelville for some good bbq. Only after walking inside, did we discover that it was no longer Missouri Hick BBQ…instead was a burger joint…the crew decided they really didn`t want to drive any further for food, so we stayed and tried it out…wasn`t bad for a burger joint. After a good hour of talk and food, Onyx and I headed for home and the crew returned to their hotel, and we decided to meet at MFQ the next morning.
On the way down there the next morning, Onyx and I stopped off for a few minutes to photograph Alley Spring Mill, as we pass right by it on the way there…
…and then we drove on to MFQ and were soon joined by the rest of the crew there. A few days before, I had received word from a good friend nearby that some recent activity occurred and so we were some of the first rockhounds to visit since then…it turned out to be great hunting for all of us….
..we donned our hard hats, steel toed boots, gloves, safety glasses, and headed up the new pile to check things out…David and I started seeing some nice crystals right away, from the very base of the pile all the way to the top and some big boulders with nice vugs as well…soon John was in the mix with us and after pointing out some nice stuff to him, he began finding it on his own too, we were finding crystals that were nestles chcolate brown colored, black colored, and some nice green/brown mixes, some even had some irridescence to them…we climbed higher to the wall and started spotting pockets all over the place…pretty soon we were cleaning out several nice pockets…we found out later that John located some nice dogtooth pockets on his own, producing some nice crystals, singles, doubles, twins, and clusters…
…I have to say, John was quite happy with his finds…as he should have been…as you can see below…he had some real beauties come out of a couple of nice pockets and he shared them with everyone there…
I`m pretty sure everyone there had a great time over both days and MFQ was a super hit with the recent activity prior to their arrival, making Sunday morning specially nice with more pockets of green and brown dogtooth calcite crystals to be found and collected. They left for home about noon, a five hour drive ahead of them, while Onyx and I decided to stick around another hour or so and check out the western side. I had no sooner climbed up on the ramp to the walls above when I came upon a huge chunk, consisting of a large single chocolate brown calcite crystal, encased in calcite druse and dolomite matrix, with several smaller poker chips surrounding the entire base of the large piece…measuring a good 24 inches high and about 15 inches wide. In order to get it down to the parking lot, I wrapped it up in my rain jacket and scooted it carefully over to the edge of the pile, then after placing it in front of me and wrapping my arms around it, I slid down the pile like a slide and then brought the truck over to it and loaded it up. I loaded up some smaller ones and then we headed for home, having our sandwiches on the way. 🙂
My Mineral Rock Gardens
I often get asked about my rock gardens, what I have in them and how big they get…last fall I planted several small beds of tulips and other spring flowering bulbs in all of my rock gardens and this spring I moved rocks around by type and location where found…and photographed the results when the spring flowers started blooming. This first image shows the rock garden on the west side of my shed, containing purple fluorites from western Kentucky, some of my wavellite from southern Arkansas, and many geodes from central Kentucky and the Keokuk area as well as a few quartz clusters from southern Arkansas mines…
…and as you can see, it mainly contains yard rocks…and some lillies at the top and on the west side as well….where my propane tank sits, I have Eminence yard rocks and some hybrid tulips….
the garden on the east side of the shed contains more flowers but starts near the shed door with a bed of lillies surrounded by a variety of beautiful crystals….
and on the far side of that garden is another bed of lillies surrounded by quartz clusters….
and just a little ways away in the curve of that garden is a nook of geodes….
…and more hybrids in yet another garden….
Hopefully that gives you a better idea of what my rockgardens look like. 🙂
MAGS & CAGMAGS Visit Missouri end of March for Druse 2018
During the MAGS Christmas Party in Memphis, my first one to attend in December 2017, W.C. asked me if I could take the members of MAGS rockhunting at the druse location again, and to MFQ as well…they were kicking around a few dates and he said he would let me know what dates they decided on. I heard from him again the end of February and they had decided on the last weekend in March, I let him know I hoped to have another job lined up by then but would see what I could do about that weekend. As it turned out, I did have a new job by then, but was off weekends til sometime in April, prob due to the weird weather this spring…weirdest weather I can remember in sometime, including cold and damp weather, as well as late snowfalls…def not your typical springtime. I think the flowers and trees had a harder time adjusting than we humans did.
It was decided that Onyx and I would meet the members at an area High School on Saturday morning, March 24th about 8 am and then lead them to the Druse location. Onxy and I got up about 6 am and were on the road by 6:45…and pulled into the High School Parking lot a few minutes early..finding several members there already and more enroute. Soon after arriving at the parking lot, I had a pleasant surprise to find my good rockhunting friend David Bruce, from northern Georgia, in attendance…long drive for him but he often goes with me to other locations I hunt at as well, like southern Arkansas and central Kentucky…he is a hard rock miner and dedicated to his hobby.
After everyone assembled in the parking lot, we soon headed to the newer druse location…not far away but we had to travel a few miles by road to get there…and I had to go the long way with the group because some were driving low clearance cars and suv`s…we arrived about ten minutes later and parked on the side of the road…
….and I explained to them where they could find some pretty druse in all sizes from miniature pieces suitable for making wire wrap jewelry to yard rock size pieces. Everyone spread out and began to look…we had cloudy skies which make finding druse at any location tough at best, but within the hour the sun was trying to peek thru and helped us out a bit better. I walked down to the bottom of the hill and found some larger and nice yard rocks, and pointed that out to some of the folks there, and soon more folks were also wandering down the hill to check it out.
…while on the other side of the entrance road, I had let David Bruce and Arkansas David know about some marcasite and chalcopyrite dumped in special places, so they wandered over to that side first to look around…..
…we stayed up there the better part of a couple of hours, folks were finding some nice drusies and a few poker chip clusters as well…afterward we drove to the quarry, known as the Secret Spot Quarry, and found a few pockets there that were full of nice calcite crystals. By mid afternoon, everyone was ready for a change, so we headed south to visit a friend of mine, at the request of MAGS members. We have visited with him a few times before, he is a mineral dealer of Viburnum Trend specimens and not only has great crystals and minerals for sale, but great prices and shares his knowledge on the minerals too…we arrived there about an hour later and everyone had a great time visiting with him once again. We had some new members along that not only made a new friend with connections, but purchased some nice crystals and minerals for their collections.
The next morning, Onyx and I met them at MFQ about 8 am again, some were running a little late, so the ones that were there, followed me down into the quarry floor, and I showed everyone where the most recent activity had been taking place and the more highly mineralized areas were located.
…and everyone spread out to look for goodies….some heading to the coved area right away…one of my favorite areas to look for pockets of dogtooth calcite crystals….
…and one member finding a pocket that I had described as chock full of goodies the week before when I was there..looks like he had the same fun I did in pulling them out of the pocket….real back twister there….
…and while everyone was down at ground level, the two David`s and I headed up the western ramp to the newer activity work area…where I had found some pockets full of green poker chip calcite crystals, singles and clusters…you have to be very careful with the green colored calcites, as they damage more easily than other colors, tend to shatter even when trying to remove them from vugs and pockets. I was able to borrow a ladder which gave us a little better access to some pockets on the wall not very high up….after working this pocket, I let David Bruce work it for a while….
…and he did well too….we were a bit bundled up as it was about 40 degrees that morning when we arrived and maybe warmed up to 45 when we started working the wall pockets…this one in particular, went back to the left and then straight up and then to the right…making it difficult to get your arm into, specially if you had a couple of sweatshirts on like David did…Arkansas David got up there next and worked it and found out just how difficult it was to get the crystals out…there were several still in there if you could just get your arm in there enough to enable you to reach them…and then pull them back out…..
…we managed to pull some nice ones out, single crystals and small clusters both…and while we were up there, Jim Butchko wandered up to see what we were finding and looked down the wall from us to see if he could locate some pockets too….
…about an hour later, the Memphis and Arkansas crew decided to head for home…they had a five hour drive in front of them…and even tho David Bruce had a nine hour drive home, he decided to drive over to check out the old wall where we first started digging and hunting about ten years ago….
….he and I found some nice beauties in the old wall where the material was loose enough to dig into…I was glad to see him pull some nice clusters out for all the effort we put into that side. Here is one of the beauties I found in the old wall too….
…and a cluster I found shortly after….
David pulled about six clusters out of the muck there, similar to this one in size…and then left for home shortly after…sure was a good productive weekend for us all. 🙂
Green Poker Chip Pocket at MFQ
Friday afternoon I received word from my buddy Jim, that more activity had occurred at MFQ that morning. Since I had to work that weekend, I let my buddy Chuck Reed know about it and he decided to drive down Sunday morning and see what he could find. I had driven down there the weekend before and discovered then, that more activity had occurred on the west wall of the quarry again, but they were drilling up on top of the wall between the cove and the west wall, and that wall had been full of dogtooth crystals pockets some years back. I let Chuck know this and wished him well. I called him Sunday evening on my way to work to see how he did, and he told me that he did pretty good, so I decided to take Onyx…despite the forecasted heat…and drive down Monday afternoon and see what I could find. After dealing with morons all Sunday night at work, I got a good five hour nap in Monday and then we headed down there. Here is what it looked like when we arrived…the cove is on the right side and to the left it tapers down to the ” West Side “, which you really cannot see in this photo below……
I parked about midway down and rolled the windows down, got my boots on, my apron on, and took the next few photos with my camera….
…and the next photo shows the activity on the newly created ” west side ” of the quarry…
…after that I started hearing some rumblings of thunder just to the north of the quarry, and started studying the clouds above…to see which way it was moving…took awhile to figure it out cause they were moving extremely slow to the southwest…too bad, cause that blast pile was extremely dusty looking and I would have had no problem sitting in the truck waiting for a good washing off. I also started seeing some neat sunbeams…aka windows to Heaven…all over and above the quarry…I took them as a good sign…and maybe more than that….
…everyone that knows me, knows I LOVE sunbeams, sunsets, and sunrises…pretty much in that order, rainbows too, but they are much rarer to capture….and my Dad knew that I liked sunbeams too…and here I was at one of my favorite places to rockhunt at and within a few minutes, sunbeams started popping out all over the top of that quarry….
…and I took that as a good sign of things to come and more…this happened yesterday and today is my Dad`s birthday. Onyx and I took a quick sashay around the front of the blast pile to see if we could find anything interesting, looked at the big boulders in the pile and checked for vugs…..didn`t see anything worthwhile, so I left my bag down near the bottom and climbed up along the wall starting on the west side to check the walls out for pockets….
…and moved to the east side along the wall…finding very little of anything but the calcite that looks either rotten or ill formed, or looks like it belongs in a cave. I moved all the way across the east side and then came to a point sticking out….
…and as soon as I rounded that corner sticking out, I spotted about four pockets, but only one really caught my eye, due to the content of it that was plainly visible to my eye…
If you can see my red handled mini mattox in the photo above, look to the left of that about ten feet to see the pocket I saw….if you still can`t see it, here it is below…
…filled with greenish brown poker chips nestled in red dolomite druse and several came out nice and intact, while some did look like they had some blast damage, which does happen from time to time. Shortly after cleaning it out, which took about 30 minutes to do, I looked back to check on Onyx in my truck below….
…and then pulled this huge center plate out of the pocket, revealing two smaller pockets behind it…which took only a few minutes to clean out each one of them, and then we headed for home, stopping off for ice cream at the Bourbon Family Center and then on home for a late supper. If you have any questions or just want to give me a shout, my email addy is firstname.lastname@example.org
Pocket City Wall at MFQ
Onyx and I had not been rockhunting for a few weeks, so we drove down to MFQ on Sunday May 29th to see what we could find there. My buddy Jim had been laid up recovering from surgery and so I had no information on the quarry down there, just figured we would drive down and check things out. We got a later start, and arrived about 10 am, finding that the entire west side of the quarry where they had been pushing the hilltop back lately, had been terraced and walls of rock replaced all the clay dirt…..
…the first photo shows the far west end of the area and the lower photo shows the right side of the new area going into the coved wall. I laced my boots up and grabbed my tools and gloves and started a surface hunt from left to right and when I reached the short wall on the right side, had quite a surprise…pockets all over it….
…and I don`t even know if the photo above even does it justice, as the pockets were hard to see until you walked right up on the wall. I was able to photograph several of the pockets as I worked on them as you will see from here on….here are a few of the first ones I started working….
…and pretty soon it was evident I was going to be there for quite a while, because after working several pockets that were visible, I discovered there were one to two pockets more behind the pocket I was working on, hence the name pocket city….so I grabbed another bag of cloths and a bottle of water and kept on pulling crystals from pockets….
…pulling plates of crystals like these out…
…including some nice black dogtooth crystals….
…and this unique pocket too…
All in all, after four hours, I had six bags full of wrapped crystals and plates, some gorgeous stuff, will post some more photos as soon as I can of them cleaned up.
MAGsters Rockhunt Missouri 2016
Members of MAGS, the Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society, a club I am a member of as well, came up to Missouri two weeks ago to go rockhunting with me at the SS and MFQ areas. Also on that day, I was contacted by a guy out of the Chicago area named Bill, who had his own blogsite….he had contacted me the week before by email, said he was an avid fan of my rockhunting blog site…this site….and that he enjoyed my stories and photos…I was floored, because I had been reading his site recently about some locations he had been to recently, and told him that I enjoyed reading his stories too. He and his girlfriend Debbie were up in the KC area at that time and would be traveling back to the Chicago area by way of the scenic route, they were planning to drive to Potosi to look for druse…I advised him that they might want to avoid that area, because recently many locations where we used to be able to go to and collect both druse and barite at, had become closed to rockhunters. Many of those areas are very rural properties, they have become infested with meth labs and overzealous rockhounds, so property owners in that area are no longer tolerant of rockhounds on their property there. I suggested that he instead join MAGS members on their druse hunt with me…he and Debbie stopped off at my home to visit with me and see my outside rock collection. Before heading on to Potosi for the night, they decided they would drive over the next morning to join MAGS as members and go with us to the druse hunt.
Many of the MAGsters drove up on Friday afternoon, April 1st, some camping out in various areas, some staying in motel rooms…. Onyx and I drove down early Saturday morning to meet them at the meeting spot. We arrived a few minutes before 8 am and soon after, Bill and Debbie showed up, and then some of the MAGS members started showing up as well. WC, the club President, had told me a week earlier that he was not sure how many were coming up for the trip, he figured it might be a small group, but as more and more folks showed up, I decided we had better relocate to a larger parking lot just north of where we were at now.
While waiting for some of the members who had spent the night in Park Hills, Bill and Debbie joined the MAGS Club and I was able to meet Charles Hill, the Field Trip Director for MAGS..I have been talking to him for months but had no idea what he looked like and vice versa I am sure for him…it was nice to finally put a face to the emails. My friends Carrie, Jeff, and Bentley from the KC area, arrived soon after, camping just north of the meeting spot, and I was able to visit with them as well. WC and a few other members arrived soon after from Park Hills, bringing Betty Marler with them…I hadn`t seen Betty in a couple of years and wondered how she was doing. One of her nephews brought her over to join us and she looked and sounded just great…it was a real joy to visit with her that day, she and her husband Lloyd were some of the founding members of the Park Hills Mineral Club, they host the Park Hills Show at the old Federal Mine each year, which over the years has become a well attended and well liked show each year in June.
We soon were all headed down the road to the druse location, everyone following me in single file and we soon arrived there…I pulled over and directed everyone into the entrance, some driving up a small hill to the right and others pulling in to the left side to park…we had several vehicles but had plenty of room for all to park off the road. From there, everyone booted up, grabbed tools and buckets and headed out in different directions to hunt for druse quartz….
…while there, one of the local neighbors, who lives on down the road, and had invited us to her property when we finished collecting there the year before. stopped by to visit with us and see how we were doing. After collecting there all morning, we drove to a second location, an area that I have often referred to as the secret spot. There were some MAGsters who had inquired about getting some larger druse, and so we drove there because as Onyx and I had discovered a few weeks prior on a scouting trip, there were several large chunks of druse quartz there, and the members that drove over there looking for them, found several nice ones to take home with them. We were there for a couple of hours and then I led a few of the rockhounds still with us, down to the home of a good friend of mine who is a Viburnum Trend mineral dealer…he doesn`t charge an arm and a leg and is very knowledgeable about the minerals that come from the area mines as well. He had several pyrite encased double terminated calcite crystal pieces as well as lead cubes…..
….and those who purchased from him left very happy. Most of the MAGSters headed to Salem to spend the night, while Onyx and I headed home, scheduled to meet them at MFQ the next morning at 8:30. Once home, I loaded up the bed of my truck with twelve buckets of grab bag material for the club`s annual show which is held the last weekend in April each year.
Early the next morning, a fire truck woke me up going by my house at 4 am, enroute to a house fire north of town…Onxy and I drove out to the location, where I photographed the fire for the local paper….which I do quite often. It was a devastating fire, the family escaping with only the clothes on their backs and had to break in a front side window to get their grandson out as well.
Forty five minutes later I was back home, editing up a few photos for the paper before heading south once again to meet the MAGSters at the MFQ. Onyx and I took Hwy 63 down there and came down Hwy 106 from Summersville…when we reached the top of the hill above the Jacks Fork River, there were some redbud trees fringing the side of the highway and down below, I could see fog rising above the water of the stream illuminated by the light of the rising sun….
…and soon we dropped down the hill and I decided to stop and stretch our legs a bit, see if there was some fog down at the spring pond by the Alley Springs Mill as well….
…lo and behold, there was a nice mist coming up off the waters there…..
..and then we headed on down the road, arriving a little after 8 am, to find a couple of members from Mississippi there waiting, and soon after, Charles, Mike, and the rest arrived and we all proceeded down to the coved wall area….
…..and spread out to look for goodies, which were high in abundance that day, including many dogtooth crystals found laying all over the place, prime for the picking….
I walked up on the knob in front of Charles in the middle of the center mass of rock and found a pocket at the base of it…everyone was busy with their own finds, so I grabbed my new mini mattox and was able to dig it out shortly after….
…soon after that, Chuck Reed and family showed up from the St Louis County area…Chuck and his daughter Mackenzie recently joined MAGS…he and I are also members of one of the St Louis area clubs, however MAGS is very proactive with field trips for its members where many clubs these days are not…field trips can be the very lifeblood of a club these days. We hunted there for another couple of hours before folks started heading for home…while I was out helping others find some nice crystals to take home with them…Bob Cooper, the Membership Director for MAGS, transferred the many buckets of grab bag material that I had transported down there in my truck, over to his heavy duty diesel truck to transport back to Memphis. If you find yourself down in the Memphis area the last weekend in April looking for something to do and see, The Earth Wide Open is a great rockhound show to attend there, something for adults as well as the kids. More info can be found on the show at www.theearthwideopen.com
We were finding alot of dogtooth crystals laying all over the floor of the quarry, as well as in several of the berms next to the walls…there were many pockets high up on the wall and it appeared the they had likely rolled out of the pockets and fell to the floor, many of them undamaged by the fall. Needless to say, many who found them, were quite happy with their finds, much easier to pick them up then to have to work a wall pocket to find them. Chuck and his family followed me up to my mineral dealer`s home shortly after everyone took off for home, and we purchased a few more crystals there before heading home as well. A long weekend for sure, but a very worthwhile and nice time visiting with good friends.
Lately, I have found out that several who read my blogsite stories, try to figure out where I am going to rockhunt at. Let me advise you first, that some of the locations I go to, are on private property and require permission to go there…I have that permission to go there and rockhunt there…if you do not have it, or you dont want to make the effort to get it, do not go and trespass there thinking just because I wrote about it, you can use my name to get access, or that it entitles you to go there as well. Those landowners won`t buy your story either, and you will wind up in jail for trespassing, or worse.
This is why I do not list the locations many times, because some assume that they can go there without permission. Do the ethical thing, abide by the laws of the land, make the effort to contact the landowner yourself and secure permission to go there and hunt. It`s not any different from any other type of hunting on private property.
if you have any questions, give me a shout at email@example.com