It`s been a great winter so far, only about six weeks of normal cold weather and two weeks of very cold weather, and then in February, we started warming up like it does in May…we still have March to go thru, it may come in like a lamb as it did this morning and go out like a lion, but who knows…I just know that everyone really likes the weather we have now, we hit 76 degrees yesterday alone !! Last weekend, Nathaniel Reid and Chuck Reed joined me on a trip to MFQ to check out the quarry on another warm day, we had not been there since November last year, mainly because there had not been any activity down there. I received word from my good friend Jim a few days before the weekend that they had blasted the northwest corner of the quarry. In the past year since they began removing rock from the west side of the quarry, we never found anything more than the poker chip wanna bees on that side, but we had not been there in a while so we decided to go down and look things over…glad now that we did.
Onxy was in rare form that morning, rarin` to go do some rockhounding with me, cause he had not been with me on the St Louis County trip to look for Union Road Agates a few weeks before. Chuck and Nathaniel joined me on that trip as well, where we walked in a couple of creeks in the South County area and found quite a few of the geodes for the few hours we were there. There was a third location that we wanted to check out, but didn`t have time and instead went to a buddy`s home, where he sells geodes from the Keokuk area. I had purchased a few flats of geodes from Ken a few weeks earlier, to include in my bathroom remodeling project…have my tile guy place them into my shower walls with the barnwood tile. When I went there to pick them up, Chuck met me there and Ken showed us his private collection, this time we had Nathaniel along and he got to see it as well. We got up early on Sunday morning, Feb 19th to discover heavy fog outside…visibility was maybe quarter of a mile…thick enough Nathaniel got turned around on his way to my house to catch a ride with me to the quarry.
We got on the road about 7:30 and an hour later, the fog was starting to lift with sunlight burning it off. Thirty minutes later, the skies finally cleared off and remained that way til we were within two miles of the quarry, then the fog enveloped us once again all the way to the quarry. We arrived around 9:45 to find Chuck sitting on a rock up on top of the blast pile, cobbing down a boulder and wrapping up specimens to put into his bucket….
and some fog still hanging in the wind….
Nathaniel grabbed his tools and bucket and headed to the west side of the pile while Onyx and I started up the east side along the wall, toward Chuck….
About midway up to him, I spotted some green calcite at the base of the wall and stopped to check it out…there was some brown mixed in with it and pretty soon, I pulled a few dogtooth crystals out of the pocket, showing them to Chuck, and decided to park myself right there and explore some more….
…here is the pocket when I got about halfway down into it, after removing at least one bag of wrapped crystals and clusters….
…and some of my finds…I also passed a few of them off to Chuck as well….he came down and started looking closer at the wall below me at the same level my pocket was at….
In the meantime, Nathaniel started shouting to us that he had found some huge yard rocks and some nice smaller clusters over on the west side of the pile, some of them covered in what looked like aragonnite….here they are on my tailgate….
Soon after, Nathaniel and Chuck took a break and drove over to the other side of the quarry to check out the walls there, while I continued to dig out my pocket…an hour later and I had it cleaned out, all the way around the sides and down to the very bottom, which took awhile cause I just kept pulling clusters and doubles and triples out of the bottom of the pocket…for awhile I thought it was gonna be a bottomless pocket. Many of the crystals are dogtooths, a black or brown center inside a green or brown poker chip, and then I was able to remove a few of the top and side wall plates of clusters, as well.
By this time, I had three bags completely full of wrapped crystals as well as three large clusters that I had no room for in the bags, so had to make two trips down to the truck, where I took a short water break, got Onyx some more water in his bowl, and then took another bag with me, back up to look along the wall for more pockets. When I got to the top of the pile, I located more pockets and soon after, Chuck and Nathaniel returned from their exploration break. Nathaniel joined me up on the top wall where I had located four pockets close together. I worked one pocket and let him have the others, as I was beginning to tire already….before heading out, Chuck grabbed my camera in the truck and snapped a couple of Nathaniel and I working the wall too….
I filled one bag halfway up with wrapped crystals and then walked down the west side of the pile to take a look at the two huge yard rocks he found over there…he said they were too heavy for him and Chuck to lift and then carry to my truck. As soon as I got to the floor of the quarry, I spotted them sitting there…
I got my four pound hammer and chisel and cobbed down the plate on top of the first boulder, getting one large plate and a smaller plate intact. I remember someone telling me that calcite was only a hardness of four…sure didn`t feel like a four to me, more like a seven…seemed like it took a lot longer to hammer those two plates off than it should have…I was wore out by the time I carried them to the truck. The second boulder had a lot of damage to the crystal tops, many sheared off, so I didn`t even try to cobb it down. Nathaniel decided not to try either. Chuck left a few minutes prior headed home, so Nathaniel and I wrapped up our crystals, loaded up my truck, and headed to my dealer buddy`s house to see what he had in Viburnum Trend minerals. We hadn`t been to his place in a few months and he had let me know that he had some new stuff, buying a few collections in the past few weeks. We arrived there about an hour later and found that he did indeed, have some beautiful new stuff, and after about 30 minutes, we both had a flat full of some nice new crystals…the first two of mine were smokey calcite clusters from an old collection, the clusters from the forbidden crystal cavern at Brushy Creek Mine, likely removed from there over twenty years ago…..
here is the second smokey calcite cluster….
…plus when he purchased this collection, it came with a nice barite piece from an Iowa quarry that was super sweet looking, so I got all three for one price….
..and some chalco pieces on druse, one with a green crystal on the end of the plate….
…sure ended a very nice day of collecting, that`s for sure !!