Kentucky Central Trip 2020

Back in May or June, after first checking with Slade to make sure the Hickory Club intended to make the trip to Kentucky again on Labor Day Weekend this year, and confirmed with both Quarry Managers that we would be welcome to return to their locations again,  I put the word out to all my rockhound friends in my group, that the Central Kentucky 2020 Trip was a GO !!

In the past six months, I have picked up another half a dozen or so new rockhound friends and invited them to come along with us if they wanted to, and many decided to do just that. Some from as far away as Virginia, obviously wont be able to make all the trips due to the distance, and timing of them all, but the Central Kentucky trip is usually very central for most of us to go to, from any direction. The next trip after it is the southern Arkansas trip and plans are already in the works for it, one location being a new quartz mine down there.

In years past, I have stopped off and picked up some beautiful fluorite specimens available for purchase, on my way down to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and this year was even better, with the recent discovery of a huge pocket of purple and yellow fluorites in the Cave-In-Rock area. I stayed in touch with my contact in Southern Illinois and was able to visit him a couple of times before the Kentucky trip, purchasing some beautiful cubes of purple and yellow fluorite in all sizes, as well as some hand cut octohedrons. He had also sawed some slices of the purple and yellow specimens, so I picked up 30 slices from him as well.

This year I split the trip down there into two days, so I could do a little visiting on the way without being pressed for time, as I lose an hour going east. This year, I was also requested to bring some Viburnum Trend minerals and crystals, some Missouri Druse Quartz in various sizes, and some Washington County Quarry specimens that have three different colors of druse quartz, blue, grey, and maroon red, as well as DT calcite crystals, snow white bladed barite, chalcopyrite with brilliant blues and purples, and sphalerite balls, big to small on them. So I had several flats of each in the truck. It took me 12 hours to pack the truck, leaving just the front seats for me and Miss Onyx, my new lab mix dog…she usually has the entire back seat to stretch out on, but this time the back seat was completely full of flats of my Missouri crystals, from door to door and floorboard to the cab ceiling…

So Onyx and I left about 11 am and drove down to visit with Gary and Walter on Thursday, September 3rd. She never gets to ride up front with me, so it was a real treat for her this time. We had a good trip down there, went through some small towns like Carrier Mills, Illinois…a historic coal mining town, to get there…beautiful country down through there, not far from Garden of the Gods, too.

 

 

 

And the truck bed was pretty full as well…I had reserved a few feet in front of the tailgate in case Gary had some yard rocks worthy of picking up too…

My first trip down to see him on August 12th, I had purchased a couple of large yard rocks with quartz, calcites, some small purple fluorite cubes and some veins of azurite and malachite running through the entire rock matrix of each one…yes, you read that right, azurite in a bright blue and green malachite !!

 

 

 

 

 

And he had several nice purple and yellow fluorites as well, so naturally I picked out several of those on this first trip too…

..but one that really caught my eye was a big one, beach ball sized..wish now I had purchased it from him, he had a good price on it for the quality it had, large cubes on both sides, purple on one side and yellow on the other….one of those you kick yourself for not getting later on….

On the next trip down there, Thursday, September 3rd, I was asked to get some more smaller sizes if possible, so that was on my mind that morning…he had several in all sizes making it much easier on me to pick out some good ones for everyone…

 

 

 

 

Once I had the small ones selected, I had to make some hard decisions on the bigger ones…he had several nice ones…with large cubes on them…2 to 4 inches square in size…and each piece had some dings on them…you have to remember, these come out of a mine, they blast much of the time to find the spar, the ore that they mine is called spar…these specimens here are the pretty rocks, the perks…they are not what is being mined, the  massive / solid stuff is being mined, the perks are sold on the side…when you are blasting, crystals inside pockets get tossed around and so you have dings on them…anyone that thinks crystals come out of blast pockets in perfect condition, is either not thinking well or is delusional about it. Here are some of the bigger ones I selected…

…this one was a beauty, selected by a friend for purchase, love that yellow center spot in the purple crystal that Gary is pointing to….as you can see in the next photo, he had several nice large pieces available that day…the next day, he told me later, everything was purchased that was left…

…that piece in the upper left corner in the photo above, is completely covered by barite and quartz….the next photo shows one he pulled out from between two limestone seams, it was in a clay pocket…

…this next one is one that I wound up taking home to add to my collection…my friends thought it had too much damage, they chose another one and this one came home with me…I like it…i has a triangular window on the corner of a big purple cube that is phenomenal to me..Gary is holding it up so the sunlight shines through to show me the colors in it….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onyx and I crossed the Ohio River on the ferry…her first on a boat, too…and spent the night in Eddyville, Kentucky at the Super 8…great hotel there, clean immaculate rooms, very comfy, but it was a ghost town that night there…we were one of three guests in the two story hotel. I left her at the hotel to rest up after that ferry ride and headed over to one of my favorite steakhouses, Oasis Southwest Grill on the south side of I-24 a couple of miles south of the hotel in Kuttawa…and as I walked out the door and got in my truck to leave, I ran smack dab into this GORGEOUS sunset….

 

I had to go down to the Dollar General Store first to get Onyx a leash, I had driven off and left hers at home, and when I came out of the store, the sunset had deepened and widened, so I shot it again from the parking lot, showing how wide it had spread across the sky. This would have been a great sunset to have shot from the east side of Lake Barkley, which is just a few miles south of Eddyville….

I had a great meal at the steakhouse, ordered my favorite there, two large boneless pork chops, they both fill up one whole plate…marinated in their BBQ sauce, and cooked medium…with a big baked potato and steamed broccoli…and yes, it was DEEEE-LICIOUS !!

We were up and on the road by 7 the next morning with a little light rain falling, and some humidity…for some reason, I was having trouble getting the fan to work in the truck, wanted a little cooler air, so I cracked the windows open once we turned on the Western Kentucky Parkway and headed east toward Lake Cumberland. A few miles down the parkway and my fan started working again…first red flag of the trip.

I had been talking to a young man who had gotten into some modeling work a month before my trip and he was in need of some new photos for his portfolio. He was having trouble locating someone to photograph him and had asked if I could help him out…at one time, I knew a photographer down close to him, but found out he had moved out to Arizona recently, so I told Connor that I could drive over and meet him at a beautiful restored mill on the south side of Lake Cumberland and photograph him there. I had done the same thing ten years ago, similar circumstances, and a good friend in Stanford took me to that mill back then…I lost my friend two years ago to a stroke after a bout with cancer and another friend from Harrodsburg last year to cancer. 🙁

We drove through a few short light showers of rain down by Bowling Green that morning and by the time we reached Somerset, I had the ac turned on…we reached the Mill and no Connor there yet…I had been talking to him on the way down there by phone and figured he would get there first. Turned out, he had come in a different way, the county highway the mill is on, circles through there and neither of us realized it…he eventually got there and we were able to take advantage of the nice weather to get him some good portfolio photos…there are some beautiful waterfalls at the bottom of the hill below the old mill where the millrace water dumps into the lake…ten years ago, you had to fight your way through heavy brush just to catch a glimpse of them…this time, they were much easier to find and view…

.and the old mill with a steel water wheel as well…

After a couple of hours at the mill, visiting and photographing Connor, Onyx and I headed north up Highway 27 to Stanford and then turned northwest toward Danville, arriving at the Baymont Hotel in Harrodsburg, around 2 pm. It took a little longer to check in because the desk clerk, new to me, was conducting personal business on her cellphone instead of attending to her work. She kept giving me room keys that did not work, nothing more aggravating than having your hands full of luggage and you cant even get into the building at the side door…much less walk up the stairs to your room. After the third trip back to the front desk, I was pretty aggravated and I am pretty sure she was able to detect it…she kept blaming it on everything but the inattention she had given me the first two times…this time she got it right after putting her phone down and going through the steps she should have taken the first time…and yes, I did note this in my review of the hotel after I returned home…and yes, the hotel owner read my review and assured me that he would take care of that problem. Once I got my luggage inside, I returned to the truck for Onyx, having left her in the ac while I went through all that BS…not long after that, my buddy David Hodge showed up at the hotel too, and I think his check in went a lot smoother than mine had.

He and I drove over to the Bright Leaf Golf Resort Hotel, where most of the crew was staying at, around 5 pm…an hour before supper so we could visit a little with Slade and new friend Randy Gentry from Nashville, his friend Gerard, as well as Tammy and Todd Bromley from Michigan. It has been several years since I had seen Tammy and Todd, think the Eureka Mine was where I had last rockhounded with them, so was great seeing them again. We eventually walked over to the Bright Leaf Restaurant where we found everyone else already at the tables and having supper…they have a buffet every night or you can order something else as well….great food and great service there, and we eat breakfast and dinner/supper there daily on this trip. After a great meal, we paid our tabs and walked back down to the parking lot and got ready for the tailgate swap and sell event…we do this on Friday evening and Saturday evening after dinner/supper…this is what I had  my truck loaded down with so many flats of material for…that and some extra flats for Slade as well. 🙂 While I was unpacking my flats, I got to meet Sam Linton and Aaron Baker from Virginia…they had started toward Kentucky a couple of days before as well, to do some rockhounding on the way and had stopped at a couple of roadcuts on the way down to get some neat stuff, too. Sam showed me some of the material that had worked the bluffs to get the day before and that morning, before they drove on down..some brachiopods with vugs of calcite crystals inside…gorgeous stuff. I gave them each a box flat of some Missouri stuff that I had brought for them and they had brought me some nice goodies too. I think everyone had a good time that evening, fun and fellowship, and then headed back to our hotels for the night to rest up for the quarry on Saturday morning.

Onyx and I were up by 6 am and drove over to the Bright Leaf to join everyone for breakfast…as we drove south down the bypass around Harrodsburg, I looked at the orange glow coming up on the horizon to the east…it was going to be a great sunrise…the closer I got to the Bright Leaf, the more I wished the speed limit was a little higher. I pulled into the parking lot to find Slade waiting to meet Miss Onyx…while he and her were getting acquainted, I took some photos of the STUNNING and GORGEOUS sunrise…

There is a large farm up on the hill across the highway from the Bright Leaf, with nice wood fences surrounding it, barns and other outbuildings, that make a great backdrop for the sunrises there….

…this was one of the best sunrises I have seen there, it just kept getting better and better every minute…as I was shooting a video on it, Onyx about wandered out into the highway traffic, luckily Slade was able to snatch her out of harms way very quickly…thanks again, buddy…

Central Kentucky 2020-0905 AVI 774 Sunrise Sat Morning at Harrodsburg

After a good breakfast, we gathered out in the parking lot…Sam, Aaron, and Dawson Barrott with his buddies Thomas and Mike Hewlett were all waiting for us when we came out, soon we were lining up and heading south to Danville for our morning field trip at Caldwell Quarry.

Always a roll of the dice for this place, never know if you are going to find a little, a lot, or nothing at all there…there is a small seam of calcite when you look at the big picture there, ten stories deep and this seam only extends from the very bottom of the pit to nearly the second level, and you do not want to get near the walls of this quarry due to the height and safety risks associated with them. We arrived to find Clay, the Quarry Manager, driving a front end loader, and headed down into the pit to load up a dump truck making a delivery to a customer that morning…talk about a talented guy. 🙂 He gave us waiver forms to fill out and sign before he took off to the pit and then on his return, gave a brief history on the quarry and safety talk too. We were all outfitted with our hard hats, steel-toed boots, and safety glasses, ready to go find some treasure. Since Clay had to leave soon, he assigned one of his top guys to look after us while we were there and Jeff took care of us very well, nice attitude and very safety minded, he stayed right with us the entire time we were there. I think he learned a little bit about rocks from us, too. We took a group photo at the big boulder by the office…..

…and then followed Jeff and Clay down to the initial staging area, where all parked…Clay pointed out some obvious changes from the year before. We normally parked at the lower level or the first floor up, last year there was a huge pile of blasted material on the right side between the lower and first level, where we found many plates of calcite…dogtooth calcites I might add…but this year the first level consisted of a three story high pile of limestone rock that had been brought down from higher levels to clean them off….

…so using the photo above, the road in the middle going down, leads to the lower level…normally, as in years past, we would have driven straight into where that huge pile is now located, to the first level and parked, then spread out from there, but this year that huge pile was completely covering up the first level. Those that had been here before in my group, knew that if they could not locate anything within an hour, they could walk to other areas where they had found vugs and pockets of pretty stuff before…they were armed with their saws and after I walked around a while to help others, I soon heard their saws and knew exactly where they were at. Onyx, in the meantime, found all the waterholes down there and was exploring those…I mean, what else would a dog do while on vacation. 🙂

One thing we did see alot more of this year here, was Petroleum Calcite…Calcite that is normal colored and then a petroleum base on top and mixed in, looks just like it sounds…

we also saw a lot of pink calcites on the boulder surfaces too…haven`t seen calcite in that color there before…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At any rate, I shot some video of David Bruce doing something he enjoys, cutting up boulders to extract pretty vugs of crystals….

Caldwell Quarry 2020-0905 AVI 804

I received an email from Clay back about mid summer, letting me know they were finding a lot of corals this summer at the quarry, Two years ago, we found some huge plates of corals down at the lower level near a drain pipe, and I was able to get a couple of those before they disappeared…I still have them, they survived the last couple of harsh winters here in Missouri just fine. I found this one down in the area Slade and David were working at….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and a huge boulder or two of it nearby as well….

As I had walked down there, someone was telling me they found a nice calcite vug in a small boulder with a fluorite cube inside…

….the small boulder also believed to have some bryzoan fossils on it as well…here is a close up of the calcite vug…

…something else we find there occasionally, this year quite a few of, is chalcopyrites and pyrites…Slade found this rock with a whole ribbon of it about 8 to 10 inches long and at least half an inch wide going all the way across the rock….

and here is another rock I spotted that had several smaller spots of chalcopyrites and one larger section covered in it…

…and here is another fossil plate that was found this year….and a close up of the fossils too….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was about that time that Miss Onyx came to let me know she had taken another mud walk through some puddles…

 

I wasn`t worried too much as I knew our next location would take care of any and all dirt she acquired without any problem whatsoever…

Geode Creek Junction City KY 2020-0905 AVI 833

This is one of my favorite creek locations for geodes and the landowner here is one of the nicest Kentucky gentlemen I have met. The Hickory Club has been going to this location for years and they always bring him some jams and jelly jars as a token of their respect and appreciation. Some members of my group also left some gifts for him as well. One thing I really like about his creek frontage, is that you can search the banks as well as the water for good geodes, as Mary is shown doing here in this photo….

The week before we were there, this area received about four inches of rainfall from the remnants of a hurricane and this helped wash some geodes out of the clay dirt banks upstream…the ones you see in the photo above that Mary is looking through tho, are from the huge flood they had last year before we arrived, those floodwaters deposited many geodes high up on that side of the creek and the landowner had to have that whole bank graded to about a 45 degree slope to make it easier to walk up and down it. We were able to pull down into his backyard and right up next to the creek as well, and there was some good shade to park in as well. The water there is crystal clear too….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty sure everyone there had a great time looking for geodes and those that cracked the ones they found, open on the spot, and liked what they saw…well they definitely had a great time there…I was one of those…I found a couple of really nice ones and have a bucket full that I need to crack open at some point later on. When I finally got time to walk downstream, I saw Gerard working the bank and he was rolling some basketball sized geodes out of the bank, offered me one and I chose one and cracked it open right there…turned out to have an internal chamber of dark orange and yellow sunshine quartz…meaning from the outside rind inward, was two inches of solid rock to the internal hollow chamber…I have never seen one like that but I definitely like it. When I get a photo of it, I will post it so you can see what I am talking about. Here are some photos that show everyone having a great time searching and collecting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even Onyx had fun there….she got all cleaned up and loved looking around…that look says it all…” we need to come back here again Daddie…this is a GREAT creek !! ”   🙂

We drove back to the hotels and got cleaned up, and then met at the Bright Leaf Restaurant for yet another great meal, then relocated to the parking lot for another evening of Tailgate Swap and Sell. Breakfast came earlier the next morning, as we were headed to Irvington, a 90 min drive west of Harrodsburg, for a field trip at Liter Quarry. We were on the way shortly before 7:30 am and had a good drive there, much less construction along the way to deal with this year. We arrived a little after 9 am, mainly due to a few red lights we hit midway through the convoy, and had to wait for everyone to catch back up. We entered the gate and lined up at the office, spotted a car coming toward us from the back of the quarry, and discovered someone had entered ahead of us. Once I straightened that matter out, I led the group down to the first pit, which had given up alot of nice treasures last year and the year before…this year we found it to be a few feet deep in water….

…that island on the left side out in the water…is actually a big boulder field that has a lot of vugs in them full of pretty crystals…those that ventured out there, were once again, not disappointed in what they found there. Luckily for others, the left wall was accessible for a ways and many were able to find some nice pockets to work pretties out of…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and some were working the boulders up where we parked on the next level up as well….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…that guy in the yellow hard hat center photo two above, is Thomas Hewlett, friend of Dawson`s…I think he was doing the eenie, meenie, miney, moe thing…said he was having a difficult time making a decision on some vugs he found in that boulder field up by the parking area….the guy in the white hard hat in the bottom photo above, is Gerard Richmond, he came down with Randy Gentry from the Nashville area and turned out to be a nice guy like Randy.

While some were not finding much at the first pit area, some were and we stayed there a little longer so the ones finding some nice stuff, had time to get as much as they could…we then loaded up our vehicles and drove over to the next pit. Most clubs and groups work within safety rules that include staying with your group and not venturing off by yourself or selves, especially without asking the field trip leader about it first…when we arrived at the next pit, I discovered someone had done just that…I dont feel it is fair to others when that happens, so I drove down and had a little discussion with the rockhounds about that, and explained it was a safety rule and what could have happened had one or more of them become injured in that other area while the rest of us were in the first location and had no idea anyone had wandered away. Since they told me they were new to rockhunting, I truly hope they learned something from that, but I didn`t get a strong impression that they had. Believe me, I have found out the hard way that some clubs do not do any training or provide any safety instruction when it comes to newbie rockhounds and quarries. Communication is key, but that is often overlooked by many new rockhounds.

Everyone spread out and started looking for some vugs in boulders and many found some pretty quickly. I decided that since I have a lot of nice stuff from this quarry, I was going to mainly make sure that everyone had a good time and found some great stuff there this trip…Onyx and I walked down to the center field of boulders, which was huge and extensive, and found Sam Linton carrying out a nice chunk of calcite from it right off the bat….

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…we hadn`t been there ten minutes and he had already found something nice !!  talk about a lucky guy. 🙂  turns out he and Aaron Baker had zoned in on the center area of that extensive boulder field and were finding some nice vugs in there…he showed me another nice one he found in there as well….a nice vug with a beautiful yellow calcite crystal in the vug….

….I decided to go see what they were finding…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all of these are the ones they were looking at, some were just some I randomly found around the area. We started collecting at 9:30 am and by noon, it was getting pretty warm out there…problem was, when I turned off my truck at the first location and then started it back up, the fan was no longer working for the air conditioner…I wasn`t worried about me as much as I was for Onyx…

…her being brown and black in color, I was watching for her to come to me and let me know when she had had enough of the heat…maybe she was able to sense that the truck fan wasn`t working…whatever it was, she handled the heat of the day by searching out the cool spring fed water pools there and plopping down in them, and I was just fine with that. That is what factored in to my decision to head back to the hotel a little earlier than the rest did, as did David Hodge…before we took off tho, we climbed up to higher level in the back of the second location..a couple of guys had gone up there and found some nice bigger vugs…we climbed up and spotted them as well as a few more behind some bigger boulders…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…we pointed out those vugs to David Bruce and Slade before we took off…many others had already left ahead of us…I intended to take a nap on our return to the hotel but wound up repacking my truck instead. I am pretty sure David was able to get a nap before supper and Onyx did as well…I had just enough time to clean up before driving over to the Bright Leaf for supper. Slade texted to let me know they were on their way back and might be there by 6:30 pm for supper…we had a great meal once again and then walked out to see what all David and Slade were able to harvest at the quarry with their saws….these are some of David`s finds…

 

 

…that last one is a close up of David`s fossil plate from Caldwell Quarry the day before…he and a few others decided they were going back to Liter Quarry the next morning while many others were going to head for home…I decided since the fan was not working consistently, that Onyx and I would head for home a day early. I understand that Dawson and the Hewlett brothers joined David at the quarry the next morning and did quite well finding some pretty calcites…here are some photos they took and shared with me of their finds…first one is Dawson`s nice plate…

the second is Thomas Hewlett`s find….a 3 foot long calcite and dolomite plate….

…and a calcite sculpture he found there as well…

…and a calcite sculpture plate found by Michael Hewlett….

Onyx and I took off at daylight and made pretty good time going home, through Louisville and across southern Indiana and Illinois on I-64…not a stretch I enjoy driving to tell you the truth, but this trip, the time seemed to go by rather quickly for us. This time, I also drove through East St Louis and St Louis City on my way home, avoiding I-255 and the road construction nightmare there. Sure hope they get that work done soon, tho, for the sake of many that depend on that route on a daily basis.

Hope everyone had as great a time as Onyx and I did !! 🙂