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…..
…..so 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 a newer private location, 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… called Ory`s Spud….they are huge…
….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 that is when 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….
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…
As you can see, we had our hard hats on, and we wear safety glasses when we use our saws, hammers, and chisels, and we wear boots as well, usually steel toed boots which are required by many places. We like to work safely and go back home in one piece. We also follow safety rules at the places we rockhound at, we don`t want to cause any landowners any problems, that is a good way to be uninvited back.
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. 🙂
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…
Well it has been so long since I updated my site, and six months past Geode Fest, that I have forgotten much of what happened end of September there. I remember having a good time, weather was a little cooler, and I remember spending much of my digging time at Josh`s Railroad Creek location…mainly because he brought in a mini trackhoe that weekend and dug out several areas along the creek to make it easier for rockhounds to find geodes…
….a fact that was not lost on hundreds of rockhounds there, who not only went there in droves but let everyone else at Geode Fest know about it, so that they too could go and experience it.
Onyx and I stayed at the Budget Inn this year, just north of the Casey`s Store on Business 61/Main Street. We usually stay at the Super 8, which is across from the Geode Fest Venue, but this year I had a problem booking it in the spring, thru Expedia…it was supposed to be pay at hotel, but my money was removed from my bank account a day after I booked the reservation…Expedia blamed it on the hotel and I later found out that Expedia not only lied to me, but they were the ones that removed my money and held it for the hotel. I found this out after contacting Kirk, the Director of Tourism for the City of Keokuk, told him what had happened and asked if he had any pull with the hotel owner there. He stepped in and contacted the new owner of the Super 8, let her know what was going on, she contacted Expedia and had them release my money back to my account, which they did finally do…I had to threaten them, that I would get the Missouri Attorney General involved in it as well, and then amazingly, they returned my money in a matter of minutes. Needless to say, I am done with using Expedia for anything, anymore. By the time I got that snafu straightened out, the Super 8 was booked solid, so I discovered the Budget Inn was under new ownership as well, and had been remodeled, so I booked a room for Onyx and I there, and it was a very nice and quiet place to stay at.
Bob and I arrived early on the 23rd, as Bob had made arrangements with a local guide to take us to the Fox River and see what we could find…he took us to a section of the Fox River near Wayland, told us he had taken some folks there a couple of weeks before and they found several large geodes there…as you can see in the photo below of Bob walking the river, there was definitely no large geodes to be found in the same area when we were there that day….
…we never saw much of anything in the several sections of the Fox that we had to wade and cross back and forth…at least half a mile section of the river…neither one of us filled the bottom of our buckets…we both felt we had been screwed over, especially after giving this guide some very nice finds from our respective areas in exchange for his time. Bob brought him a huge box of beauties and I gave him a flat of nice wrapped calcites from MFQ.
Friday was the first morning, so Pete, Bob, and I drove down to Josh`s place, and parked down on the field hillside, and waited for everyone to arrive before walking in…Marla Moore and her family from Cape Girardeau area, joined us…we walked up to the upper end of the gravel bar on the east side and started digging into the bank, where smaller geodes up to cannon ball sizes are normally found. In the past, some of these geodes have had pale amethyst centers…we had more luck pulling them out from around the tree roots, and it didn`t take long to fill a bucket or two….this is Bob walking the creek…
I normally stay at the Geode Fest venue in the afternoons, as I don`t handle the heat well up there, plus it gives me a chance to roam around and visit with several of the vendors I know there. John Cain and Duck were there for Haunted Ridge Druse Quartz this year and were doing pretty good on sales.
My good local rockhounding friend Bob Steele came up this year for his first Geode Fest experience, too…he is a retired Deputy Sheriff from St Francois County and decided to camp out at Hickory Haven Campground on the north side of town…a campground that has served hundreds of rockhounds well for many years. Bob and I hung out with John and Duck quite a bit at their booth. I asked them where they were staying at, they didn`t get their reservations in soon enough to book rooms again at Quality Inn, so they were staying at the Baymont Inn this year instead. I told them good luck…they looked at my funny and said, what do you mean by that ? I told them in years past the Baymont had a reputation for bugs…they still didn`t get it…so Bob and I had to explain to them what bed bugs were and how some hotels took them serious and addressed the problem, while some did not take the matter seriously. I told Duck that the ratings were higher recently, and reviews were much better this year for the Baymont, so I guessed that they had finally eradicated the bugs from their hotel. We told them where they could check inside their rooms to make sure it was okay.
Marla told us later on, that they had torn their beds apart once they arrived in their rooms at the Baymont, as they had heard the same thing, and they found no evidence of bedbugs and slept just fine. Apparently, John and Duck decided that was too much work, so they slept in their truck instead.
As usual, my buddy John was set up in a booth along the first row, closest to the parking lot of the church, and he was busy selling rocks and cracking open geodes daily. Two booths down were good friends Charity and Jamie Moog, with Jerry Mazur helping them crack open geodes while Charity sold rocks..unless they got really busy with customers, and then Charity would operate a third geode cracker. My buddy Ken Vaisivil is always set up in the middle of the vending area, he has ALOT of geodes, a HUGE variety of colors and variations and sizes, and he often sits on the pavement and cracks some open for the kiddos. I also have to visit the Amish booths, they have delicious food booths, like the pastries, pies, and cookies booth, which is next door to the home made ice cream booth.
I also get to visit with the paid firefighters for Keokuk, who always bring their older model Telequirt pumper to the vending area..it has an onboard generator which is used to power up the trailer with the modern men and women`s restrooms. They return in the evening to take their truck back to the station, then bring it back in the mornings.
On Saturday, the second morning, after I photographed the gorgeous sunrise at the Des Moines River Bridge on Highway 136 just south of Keokuk…
….Pete Hahn and I often drove there direct and dug at one spot, where Josh had taken the nose of a hillside off and made it much easier to dig out geodes from golf ball size to cannonball size and up to basketball sizes…many of the bigger ones were solids, while the cannonball sizes were mostly hollows. We were joined there initially by Shell and her friend Caitlyn, who were digging into the nose of the hillside to the right of Pete and I…
This is Caitlyn, showing me what she was digging out of the semi muddy bank…Shell had already filled a bucket and then moved up a dry wash to our right, up the holler to see if she could find some bigger geodes. Caitlyn stayed with us and we made some huge progress that morning, digging at least 3 feet into that nose bank….have to say, I don`t know a lot of gals that like to get muddy and are happy about it, but Caitlyn sure fits that mold and seems to enjoy it…
I still don`t have any of mine cracked open, except for the few that I cracked open on the spot with my rockhammer, like this one….
Have to say the City of Keokuk has a huge dining business district up and down Main Street, and there are good restaurants all up and down the street, with a few hole in the wall places just off the beaten path as well. Since last year, I try to get at least one evening in at the Italian Restaurant in the old part of downtown, because the food and atmosphere there are excellent. However, they also have a great Dairy Queen, just off Main Street and it has not been remodeled, looks like something out of the 50`s and 60`s, and they have 30 blizzard flavors, including nestle crunch…I cannot get a blizzard at my DQ with nestle crunch, yet in Keokuk, Iowa…I can !!
On Sunday morning, the last day, Pete and I drove back down to Josh`s, having had great luck there in digging out some great geodes the day before, and returned to the nose hillside again, and began digging in…Caitlyn joined us again for a few hours, took some photos of us too…
she caught us taking a break from all the work of digging and filling at least two more buckets full of light geodes. 🙂
After that, she had to head for home…once I had my two buckets full, I headed back to the Venue to say my see ya later`s to my friends…discovered that John and Duck had sold out the rest of their druse to some gal that had been buying several the day before…she finally decided to make them an offer and they accepted it, helped her pack the crystals into her vehicle and then they headed south back to Washington County. We still kid them about the bedbugs. 🙂
I talked to my buddy John Oostenryk and then visited with Jamie and Charity….took a photo of a guy that brought Jamie a nice geode to crack open for him…
…filled with smoky quartz no less….