Rockhound Buddy Ray Roth Visits

True to his word, Ray Roth came up to see me on his way to Keokuk, Iowa last week, and stopped off for a few days to go rockhunting with me.

I had a rough week before he arrived, tooth pulled on Tuesday, thought it was gonna be cut out but the oral surgeon was able to get ahold of it and it came right out…or at least it felt that way…after all I was very numbed up and could only feel the pressure thankfully. The week before that, somehow, I re-injured my right arm…yes the arm that I injured in a fall while rockhunting earlier this year, but also injured it thirty some odd years ago as well while at college, and still have no idea how I re-injured it two weeks ago..memory isnt what it used to be any longer.  Original injury was a tendon injury, from helping a trooper friend chip out his ice covered driveway so he could get his patrol car out, treated back then with a sling and tylenol,  and doctors orders to rest as much as possible for two weeks…so I treated it this time with pain meds, arnicare salve, a tens unit, and lots of rest when possible…I say possible because the tendons are in my elbow joint and I have to use my arm everyday, and no matter what you do with your right hand or arm, the tendons come into play no matter what you are doing, whether you are moving your fingers like typing, or moving your wrist or arm. Between the arnicare and pain meds alone tho, if I had something I had to do with it, both products sure made it feel quite normal….course when they wore off, it was quite a different story. 

Ray was on the road most of Saturday and stopped off in Van Buren for the night…he told me he would be off the road by 6 pm and eating supper while watching the LSU football game, lol….so we made plans to meet in Eminence on Sunday morning around 8 am. St Louis Ray and I got up early Sunday morning and drove down to meet Ray at the junction of Hwy 19 and 106 in downtown Eminence, and led him to the quarry. It was a little froggy when we arrived….

01 A Bit Froggy on Arrival

02 A Bit Froggy on Arrival

…but it soon burned off and we were left with a gloriously beautiful day of normal temperatures and sunshine all day long, with nice cool breezes as well. As we pulled into the cove area, we discovered the knob that we had been working the past several weeks, was all but gone…..

03 Cove Pile is Gone

……now just  a few piles of rocks left at the bottom of the wall…we checked the piles first and found a few remnants of clusters, then checked the wall pockets and St Louis Ray spotted a pretty crystal cluster sitting about ten feet up in situ matrix…and was able to climb up and retrieve it without any problem. For the next couple of hours, we scraped along the wall and found a few pockets of small clusters….

04 Pockets Found

After checking this wall, we moved on down to the east to the other blast zone and while St Louis Ray wandered down to his special place further east, to find more vugs in boulders, Ray and I searched the remainder of the blast pile and found some goodies…Ray checked along the edge and I up the slope a bit, found a pocket that had apparently blasted down from the high wall intact, and buried near the top of the pile. After pulling half a dozen small clusters out from under some small boulders, I went back to retrieve a few bags and wound up filling two with wrapped goodies alone ! After another hour of this, we decided to head to the secret spot and see if we could find anything there…Ray had never been there but had heard about it from several of my posts. It hasn`t been blasted in a while there now, but we were able to liberate some goodies from some older pockets there and found some vugs in some boulders that had some nice druse and poker chip combos as well. The water spots there made for some great reflections late in the day there, too….

05 Secret Spot Next 07 Secret Spot Reflections

After digging all morning and into the afternoon a bit at Eminence and then a few hours at the secret spot, Ray and I wore out by 4:30 pm and decided to call it quits….my right arm was ordering me to stop now….I hadn`t overdone it again yet, but it was telling me it was time to stop for the day and I decided to listen.   We were covered in dirt and dust, and had several goodies to clean up yet from our digs, plus Ray needed to check in at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba and get cleaned up for supper. We checked with St Louis Ray and he was ready to call it a day as well, so we loaded up and headed home.  

After taking St Louis Ray back to his truck at my place, I cleaned up quickly and headed back to meet Ray at Mo Hick for some fantastic BBQ in Cuba. I had to stop off at my parents house and drop off some goodies that Ray had brought up with him for them…cooking goodies and some great brownies from a company in Louisiana too.  When I got to MO Hick, he was already sitting inside admiring the beautiful cedar wood interior that the owner had made on his own. 

The next morning, Ray drove down to my place to get one of his tires fixed, he had picked up a nail somewhere along the road up to Missouri and while it wasn`t leaking, he wanted to get it repaired before driving on up to Keokuk and then back home. I took him over to Harry`s Tire Service in Sullivan, where I always get my tires serviced at, and after about 20 minutes, the guys there had him in good shape once again and ready to travel. We decided to head to my house so he could see my collection and while there, decided to have breakfast at Cracker Barrel before heading out to hunt more. My parents met us at CB and paid Ray back for the cajun cooking goodies that he had brought up with him and given to them the day before. After a great brunch, Ray and I headed to the new druse spot to check it out…it had rained pretty good a few days before and as I told Ray, that`s the best time to search there.

08 Druse Spot


We walked up to the top of the hill as seen in the photo above, first…as I explained to Ray after arriving and getting our boots on…I have had better luck finding beautiful bubbles up there. We each grabbed a couple of bags and tools and headed up the hill with Missy in hot pursuit. I stayed to the left  and walked up a trail that had been drastically eroded by heavy rainfall and Ray went up the little road going up the hill to the right….within thirty minutes, I spotted a pile of dirt and on closer inspection, found several plates of smokey colored druse quartz…one of my favorite colors there…I walked back to the truck to get more bags and wraps and returned to wrap them up. 

About two hours later, we both had three or four full bags each and were a bit tired, but we managed to take a water break, then walk over to the other side and check the drainage ditches and filled yet another bag each. By this time, we were both done in for the day, and we headed back to town. After cleaning up, I met Ray over at our Chinese Buffet Restaurant and we had a great meal there…Ray topping off his meal with two huge dips of ice cream.  Here are some neat sunbeams I shot on the way to the restaurant….

09 Sunbeams on Tuesday Evening

We were gonna go horseback riding the next morning, but my friend who has the horses, got called into St Louis Tuesday morning so we postponed to Wed morning instead and spent the day goofing off and cleaning up our finds from previous days. Ray decided to also give his suv a good wash and then re-arranged the rock load so that he would be sure to have some room for geodes once he got to Iowa. 

Ray came over to my house bright and early on Wed morning…ready to go horseback riding…..I asked him where his jeans were cause he was wearing shorts, and he said he figured he would be okay in shorts…lol…he rode with me up to my friend`s horse farm out of Bourbon, the Meramac Farm Bed and Breakfast Horse Farm….its a Century Farm, over 100 years old, they have a few horsebarns there, one is over 125 years old and built with wooden pegs instead of nails…you can see them in the huge loft beams. They have several horses there and easily accomodate groups for trail rides with over 900 acres of farmland and forested hills. This is a view of their farm back in 2009 from one of their hilltop views….

Farm from hilltop


...and it shows both barns and the original farm house where my friend Carol, has lived much of her life, the farm in her family for many generations. Tragically in 2010, during a severe storm, the farmhouse was struck by lightning and burned to the ground despite the best efforts of several fire departments who responded. Despite the tremendous loss, Carol and her family and staff, bounced back from it and built a new farmhouse, a North Carolina style farmhouse, complete with a bright copper colored metal roof…

Carols House Finished


…and a beautiful white picket fence surrounding it….it`s like a bright beacon from the roadway and is just as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. We arrived at the farm a little after 10 am and found Carol and Jerry saddling up horses for us…Ray was no sooner out of my truck and walking across to meet Carol…..

10 Horse Back Riding Wed AM

….when she asked Ray, if he had any jeans to ride in….I just chuckled when he gave them his answer…they shook their heads and said, okay…they were waiting on a lady that wanted to go riding that morning as well and she was running late, having trouble finding their farm. Carol pointed out an Eagle perched high in a dead tree top way across their north field, about three hundred yards…I put my camera lens on it, but it was still way over there…

11 Carol Spotted Eagle


and my lens wasn`t able to pull it in sharply at all….

12 Carol Spotted Eagle In Tree


13 Carol Spotted Eagle In Tree

We signed the releases and got saddled up while waiting for her to arrive. Here you see Jerry adjusting the stirrups for Ray as he is sitting on his horse….

14 Jerry Fits Rays Stirrups


…and soon after, we were on the way…we rode down into that north field first, as Carol wanted to see if we could get closer to the Eagle, but as soon as we got into the bottom of the field, we saw that the Eagle had flown off. This is a pretty pasture, I go there often in the spring when bluebell flowers bloom all over the place on the river side….

Bluebells Fenced In


…and we soon were up on the main road, on our way to the back side of the farm where more pretty trails awaited our arrival…here you see Ray and Jerry bringing up the rear of the trail ride….

15 On the Road and Trail Riding


16 Ray and Jerry Riding


17 Ray  Riding


…all in all, we had a great two hour ride…it had been ten years since Ray had gone horseback riding and only four years for me. He texted me the next day to let me know he was out looking around and finding geodes, but was being picky as to what he was going to take home with him due to the restrictions on space.  He  was a bit sore while up in Iowa geode hunting, but had a great time while here. 

James 🙂


MFQ Early September too….

Sure is a beautiful day today….Thursday, September 12th, that is….weather forecasters have been telling us all week that today we would break the hot spell and cooler weather would return…..while I had my doubts, I knew last night that something was coming our way cause my sinuses were out of whack again…had to take half a zirtec and some alleve for my toothache and arm pain….the zirtec worked and cleared up my breathing, the alleve alleviated the pain, and combined, they both put me to sleep early last night, giving me a good ten hours of rest.

Woke up this morning to a nice cool refreshing breeze from the north, and while it has dissipated somewhat this afternoon, it sure is a lot cooler than it was yesterday…we haven`t even hit the projected high of 86 today, so far it`s only 82 out there and we still have the occasional cool breeze. Rain is forecast for this evening and I`m looking forward to that as well…and they are telling us now that we wont hit the mid eighties again til late next week. I think our cool down has finally arrived…Ray Roth will be glad to hear that as he is coming up for a visit soon and was dreading the hott temps as much as we were. We can still rock hunt in the hott temps, just have to adjust our schedules and get up earlier in the morning to drive to the location to arrive at daybreak and leave earlier in the day when it begins to heat up, plus stay hydrated through the morning while digging. Missy and I went down to MFQ again the last couple of weekends and brought back some great stuff again. I`ll combine both hunts in this story, along with photos. 

The first trip down was on Labor Day itself…I had taken off the day before from work to rest up, and we rose early Monday morning to drive there and arrive at dawn…because it was due to be a bit warm that day. We took the easy route down and as I was making a highway change, the sun was just starting to rise in a big yellow fireball in the red predawn skies….

02 Sunrise near Yukon


We arrived about thirty minutes later and it was fairly cool, so I wasted no time in making a surface search of the area…the knob was still intact for the most part, but it looked like the machinery had been up on it dragging some of the bigger rocks at the base, back away from it, which is good because they could be a real hazard to walk over and around,specially with your hands full of beautiful crystals…..

03 Knob Still There


…after a surface search, which turned up a few nice chocolate brown twins and triples that someone had obviously left behind for whatever reason, I started cleaning out the pockets in clear view. After clearing some of the loose stuff in plain view, I began digging back into the pockets and pretty soon, I had my hands full and my pocket apron full as well. I always wear a carpenters apron when I go rockhunting, it has two large pockets in the front of it, so I call it my pocket apron. After filling it up, I took a break and wrapped up the better ones and then continued digging. I was concentrating on these pockets to the right of my bags….

04 Lots of Pockets


…which took about an hour to clear out…then I concentrated on the pockets to the left of my bags…

06 A Few Pockets on Left Side


…and after cleaning them out, I stood back and looked at the knob once again, and spotted what looked like a few more pocket possibilities on the right side, and explored them….

05 Lots of Pockets on Right Side


…and as it turned out, there were alot more pockets there than I originally thought, so I cleaned them out as well, finding some very nice goodies in them. Not only that, but the pockets I was finding here, were much deeper than pockets previously found there….

07 Pockets Are Deeper Now


…after digging for a few hours there, the heat was beginning to catch up, so I put Missy back in the truck with the ac on, changed into dryer clothes and then packed up. I had five bags full of beautiful wrapped crystals, a few dogtooths in them, and was quite happy with my finds. I then drove over to the new blast area to check it out….

11 New Blast Pile


…they had worked it back to almost the wall by this time…

12 New Blast Pile Below Upper Bench



Not even a week later, I was off for the weekend, and missed a chance to go rockhunting on Saturday, which would have been a little cooler, so Missy and I got up early on Sunday morning and took off for MFQ once again. There was a chance of scattered showers and after checking the radar, it appeared that there was a line of showers moving to the south from the north and hovering around Columbia as we headed out the door, so I figured we would have at least four hours of clear skies before rain would move in. We took the smooth and clear sailing route again, stopping off for a sausage and egg biscuit and  fuel, before driving on….this time we arrived shortly after dawn and found that the knob had been worked over with the machinery, and the entire right side was basically gone….

01 Knob Worked Over


…quite a change, but as it turned out, for the better because there were quite a few pockets exposed and just waiting for the right collector to come along and harvest the bounty inside them….…and harvest we did…there must have been twenty pockets alone in the face of the newly worked over knob wall, many of them just staring me in the face when I walked up to take a closer look at it…so I went back to the truck and retrieved five bags and started pulling cluster after cluster out of the pockets, wrapping them up and placing them in the bags. Within about thirty minutes, I had one bag full and was working on the next one…but I`m getting ahead of myself. I had made a short walk around the trailing end of the knob pile before starting on the pockets, and then climbed up to the top of the pile above the knob. I found several pockets along the wall up there and pulled some nice crystal clusters out of those pockets too….

02 Pile Left of Knob Worked As Well


…enough to fill one bag…and while up there, a local guy drove up and set up an archery target on one of the gravel piles below me and sighted in his crossbow. I carried this bag back to the truck and grabbed another couple of bags and then climbed up to the face wall of the knob to start exploring the new pockets there…

03 Working Right Side of Knob


…after pulling out what I could find, I dropped a few boulders down out of the way and found even more pockets behind them….in the photo above, you can see where I have done just that…

04 Blk Poker Chips From Here


…and after pulling a couple of nice twins, joined at the hips, out of the large hole that resulted in this maneuver, I started pulling some uniquely shaped black poker chips out as well….

05 Two Very Nice Crystals


…at any rate, I quickly started filling one bag after another because at times, these things were rolling down the hill out of this large pocket, like chips from a slot machine…

06 Pulled From Pocket on Right


07 Pulled From Pocket on Right


…I was trying to find the source of the black poker chips and clusters, but was unable to pinpoint where exactly they were coming from. Within the hour, though, I had filled two bags with wrapped poker chip beauties and then I decided to trigger a slide or two to get some heavy boulders hanging above me, down and out of the way….

09 Preparing to Trigger Slides


…and within a few minutes, I was able to safely trigger the slide and get the large boulder down and out of my way…

12 Large Slide Completed on Right


…and bringing down quite a few more above and to the side as well….

11 Large Slide Completed


…and after filling two more bags full of goodies, I decided to take a break and get some food and water down, then go check for more goodies elsewhere…I wanted to scout out a couple of other locations while there as well…noon was fast approaching and the cloudy skies were beginning to clear off…the rain never did materialize…. and I knew as soon as the clouds cleared, the humidity and heat would return. After a short break, Missy and I drove over to the new blast wall area to check it out some more too.

I climbed back up to the top of the pile to check the area I had found a crystal or two the weekend before, and only found a short shelf of crystals, so I climbed back down and walked along the wall looking for pockets. I rounded a small corner in the wall and came upon a likely looking spot and pretty soon, I had exposed about ten pockets. I could feel the heat coming on strong, so I began to pull crystals out of the pockets and wrap them and place them in bags as fast as I could…Missy had decided to stay in the air conditioned cab and within a few minutes, I couldn`t blame her a bit….

13 New Blast Wall


…in one section of this area, I found ten pockets, small and shallow, but lined with some of the most gorgeous druse I have ever seen and some very nice poker chips as well….

14 New Blast Wall Pockets


…I cleaned them out as well as I could, requiring the use of my hammer and chisel, which only served to completely wear me out with the heat really building up by this time. I changed clothes and decided to head for home, stopping briefly to snap this photo of the wall I had just worked….

17 New Blast Wall Whats Left