Today was a great day and my second outing for the year, this time to the New Hope Amethyst lode claim as guests of the Canyon City rock club. I was with the Lake George Gem and Mineral club , there were 5 or 6 clubs on this field trip. Lots of eager Rockhounds wanting to get out find some amethyst quartz crystals!! The day was slightly overcast which was perfect for a day of digging–bright but not too hot or sunny.
I started the day doing some prospecting and walking around the claim and surrounding public lands. I found some epidote in quartz/granite which was cool; but nothing else per se. Richard, the field trip leader for the club, had given me a clue on where to find some calcite crystals so I went on a hunt for them. I was able to find the area he mentioned; but obviously someone had been digging there already and I didn’t see the calcite crystals he mentioned. The seam that had been dug out had some dried red clay and I figured I should see what that was about so I started digging in that carefully. I ended up finding a small plate of small calcite points which was exciting. Unfortunately the host rock was extremely brittle and even exercising great care it was hard to extract the plates without everything busting into tiny pieces.
Cute calcite cluster found in the maroon clay
I continued to dig into the clay and uncovered more small plates of calcite crystals, again they were very brittle but I was able to extract a couple 1.5 – 2″ pieces intact which was exciting! Continuing into the pocket I the clay turned iridescent maroon colored and that is where I found a couple of really pretty plates, one, the back/side of the pocket was able to be extracted intact that was rather large, 4-5″ long. Sweet! The below cluster was one of the intact small clusters which came from this area of the small pocket.
Calcite cluster without the coating of calcite
Awesome large cluster of calcite crystals intact!!
Once I got to the end of this small pocket I broke into a small but pretty smokey and amethyst quartz vein. It quickly pinched out and I decided to see what everyone else was finding and relax for a little bit. Overall the calcite pocket was about 3-5″ high, 1-3″ wide and about 4″ deep at the largest points.
"Zipper" Vein of Smokey and Amethyst Quartz at the end of the Calcite pocket
Everyone was having luck about two feet deep digging an amethyst vein. There was a lot of folks digging in a tight space so I decided to try and intercept the vein a little ways away from the crowd; 10 yards or so uphill. I dug and dug in all directions but did not find the vein…it either made a significant turn, went further down than I was wanting to dig (which was 3+ feet!); or pinched out. After a couple of hours I reclaimed my prospecting and just hung out and listened to everyone talk and enjoyed the stories and watching everyone find great little clusters.
Small amethyst, milky and smokey quartz clusters and points
I went through some of the tailings and found some cool little points, and after everyone was done they offered me a chance to dig in the excavated hole and I enjoyed about an hour of finding great small milky quartz covered plates before it was time to head home. It was a wonderful day with great people; I’ve really enjoyed visiting this claim and appreciate the opportunity to do so!
Needs a little more scrubbing; beautiful amethyst and smokey quartz!
Calcite crystals in close proximity to quartz vein
This year was a great year for topaz; my family and I had a couple of wonderful days with the Dorris family at the Topaz Mountain Gem mine. See previous posts (1, 2) for details on these trips. On May 5th I found a really nice (300 carat!) beautiful blue specimen topaz that Joe suggested I have his son professionally clean and seal some of the fractures using pressure treatment. I went ahead and took advantage of this and the crystal came back just beautiful. I’m not sure how many fractures were actually sealed as it is still fractured up; but the color is wonderful and crystal clean (probably where the term is derived?)!
I am very happy with the results, well worth the investment!
I am also very pleased with the cut topaz that came back from Joe’s cutter in China. These take a while to process, but well worth the wait. This year was about 4 months quicker than last year as well; so I was pleasantly surprised to see these just after the new year!
I found a really nice sherry stone and had it cut. Joe thought that for sure one nice stone could be cut; but potentially 2. Was surprised to see three stones were cut from this! Here is the original stone:
And here are the cut stones it produced:
The right stone was the surprise; it had some inclusions which are really beautiful. The left gem was from another clear stone I found in July; these will make a nice pair on some piece !!
And another smaller stone was cut from the large stone. Here are a couple of other stones I received, a total of 30 carats for 2012!
My daughter is in love with these stones and is now re-energized to spend the day digging for stones soon! Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to go back several times again in 2013! And I hope I finally dig an elusive stone at Devils head this upcoming year!
Headed up to Devil’s head today. Decided to dig around the Topaz Point picnic area as I have not yet dug around there. I went about 30 yards from the car and saw a cool mushroom on a tree stump; after looking at that I noticed the graphic pegmatite laying on the ground so I started digging. Immediately I started seeing some shapes on the pegmatite so I was pretty excited. Here are some of the examples of what I was digging up…
Shaped pegmatite I was digging up immediately after starting...
More shaped peg...
I was getting pretty excited for what I may find...
I ended up finding a couple of small smoky quartz and a couple of nicer ones; but the pegmatite was no longer graphic and produced no more shapes or crystals after searching about 10 feet in diameter around. So I picked up and took a walk…
I came across some good looking pegmatite on the surface so I started to dig. Immediately I found a couple of pieces of white quartz with one side faceted and then I found a nice pink microcline crystal. I started to dig up hill and ended up finding a long-gone seam…just quartz and microcline in the dirt (to start with); all less than 1 foot deep. I played here for a while until I had to leave.
Cool clearish smokey...should be a cutter...!
Found this one less than an inch below the surface...
I liked this microcline because of the way the crystals formed together. The bottom crystal in deeper on the right side because of the crystal on top of it. Found several other pieces of microcline too; include a full nice sized crystal.
Stacked microcline crystals Notice the space for a smoky on top!
Friday the 13th's Devilshead stash!
We’ve been wanting to do this trip for a while; so we decided to embark on a long 3-day weekend trip with my dad and my kids to go Selenite digging in the Great Salt Plains in North-central Oklahoma. I did some calling around and because of the oil boom and the Wynoka Rattlesnake Festival no hotels were available except in Enid; so we opted for a place in neighboring Anthony Kansas–the Anthony Motel & Cafe.
The Cafe was closed and I think we were the only non-oil industry guests at the motel; but it was nice enough…we got the Harley room so who could ask for more? Got there Friday evening and hung out in the room and went to bed early. Drove south to Cherokee OK on Saturday morning and headed out to the Salt Plains. Being a storm chaser as well; I was amazed that we were in the center of the high risk area; so we kept our eye open for building storms all day…
The wind was brutal; about a 30-40 mile southerly wind all day that picked up about 3:00pm…so we decided we had enough digging and decided to leave. Of course, like everyone else, we lost several things that blew out of the back of the truck and we couldn’t catch them it was blowing so hard!
We dug all day and found that the Selenites were a couple of inches below the ground. Hunter discovered that if you dug near the standing water you’d find crystals right away. They said to dig a hole in the sand, let it fill with water (we are at the water table) and then use a bucket or can to wash the sand from the walls. This did work and crystals did fall into the murky, sandy water; but we discovered that the Crystals exist right at the interface between the sand and clay usually; so we ended up just digging horizontal about 3″ below that interface and then pulling out the crystals on the top of the sand rather than in the water…seemed quicker and easier. You can either set out the crystals in the wind to dry; or just toss them in a bucket…we did both.
There appeared to be several types of crystals. Those that formed in the sand, we called them “Sandy”. Those that formed in the clay that were larger and brownish. Those that formed in clay that were bow-ties of sand in clear crystals, we called them “bow ties”. Those that formed in both sand and clay; we called them “changlings”.
Note that digging this way you have to be careful with your shovel as it is easy to break or bend it…we bent one of ours and another person there broke their metal shovel. The clay is stiff and heavy; so go easy. Daphne discovered the “motherload” of the day which put us into the great clusters and bow-tie crystals…of course this was just before we wanted to leave so we ended up staying an extra hour…but it was worth it.
We went home and saw the storms forming on radar…the ones that looked to impact our location of Anthony were at the time near Woodward, OK; which is where several folks died. The storm directly impacted Cherokee where we were all day (note that when we drove through every carwash and other bay was taken by cars already). I decided not to chase the storms given I was with the family and in Erin’s truck (hail damage was not an option; plus some of the side dirt roads would not be good in her car) so we decided to hang out in Anthony. About dark; the storm came through and we took refuge in the local funeral home basement; which was the normal storm shelter after the sirens started blaring! The kids got a good experience of what it is like to be a citizen in tornado prone areas (they’ve been on several chases with me prior…so they know that side too; which isn’t as scary). The twister went about 4 miles SE of town on its way to Wichita.
On the way home Daphne wanted to see “tornado damage” so I chose a route to put us through where I read there were touch-downs. We saw some damage near Hudson which was relatively minor; albeit still scary!
Overall a great trip, some amazing crystals and chased by a storm on a high risk day in the heart of tornado alley! Great fun!
The gallery below is best viewed full screen (click that FS option in the lower right)…
Did a bunch of prospecting this trip with my dad; we started by finding some nice large float pieces but could not find the source of these; which could have been a road. We ate lunch and then ran upon this spot which had been excavated prior; but we saw a couple of signs of Amazonite so we decided to dig. I was finding “okay” Amazonite crystals and my dad was working the larger pegmatite next to an existing hole. Dad finally ran into a small side pocket off of the side and pulled out some of the nicer, large smokeys of the day!
I found relatively few crystals but several faint Amazonite parts and so was having a good time. The Amazonites came from the hole above my head shown in the next picture. A few days later I came back and found a bunch of smokys in the unearthed area above my head into the side of the hill. The grey circle is where I finished the day and found the nice plate shown below.
Excavating Devilshead smokey crystals and Amazonite
Amazonites (uncleaned) from the first day at this location
Here is the plate from the small seam; it was neat to see how the seam opened up and the signs in the rock as that happened. Thanks to my dad for uncovering much of this evidence! That was hard work! The piece needs clean and trimmed; currently it is about 10 inches wide!
Find of the day, this plate with Amazonites and Smokies
After the exciting time with Dad last year, I took Hunter up to dig for Topaz on one of Joe Dorris’ open digs. We spent all day digging and did find some great specimens, but it was very slow going at first. Joe suggested a pile for Hunter and I and he found the first one of the day. We raked as normal there and eventually I pulled out a couple of small shards. The finds of the day were towards the end of the day for both Hunter and I where we found some incredible specimen crystals! Mine was blue and Hunter’s was really sharp and non-worn. Overall, a wonderful day; and as always great thanks to Joe Dorris for making these days possible!
Dave's topaz finds - hard to see the blue Topaz against blue sky...
Hunter's Topaz finds!
Bags 'O Dirt Topaz from Joe's prepared bags
Here are the specimen quality crystals Hunter and I found
Hunter's specimen topaz
What a great trip. Went camping on BLM land (thanks for the Tip on these sites, Tim!) with Tim and JD Isenhart and Hunter. Tim offered to drive and since I had never done that road before (and had been warned that the Touareg wouldn’t make it up because of lack of clearance) I was excited to finally go to this long awaited destination!
We left first thing and make the long journey to the top. I think I could have made it with the VW, but there were 2 spots that would have been tricky. The road was definitely rough and high clearance is definitely required. We got to the top and started looking through the old tailings from the days of mining Beryl. Right away we found traces of aquamarine and started digging. Hunter didn’t dig that much but had a keen eye as he found most of the great rocks of the day. His double-terminated phenokyte (with remnants of Aquamarine) is spectacular; his topaz was great as well!
The drive was great and I hope to get up there again soon!
Information sign at the base of the very rough road to Mt Antero
Beautiful Beaver pond at the stream crossing on the road to Mt Antero summit
JD Isenhart and the beautiful view as we were getting close to the summit
Hunter and the destination parking area (behind) of Mt Antero
Some Chlorite (?) and Blue Beryl from Mt Antero
Hunter's topaz crystal
I believe this is a piece of Galena
Hunter's double-terminated Phenokyte with Aquamarine
Hunter's double-terminated Phenokyte
We ended the weekend stopping by Ruby Mountain which was basically just a few miles away. Hunter and I had already scoped this area out and found a bazillion Apache Tears and found what the Rhyolite looked like with some Garnets. JD and Tim found this nice garnet before leaving to go fishing.
JD/Tim's Garnet find at Ruby Mountain
Ruby Mountain garnets
I had the opportunity to visit the famous Smoky Hawk claim with Joe Dorris with the Fort Collins Rockhounds club. Joe allowed us to dig in some recently excavated material and also in the piles of tailings.
Beautiful view from up here; Haymen Fire burn boundry
A look up at the reclamation area that was on the New Crystal Hunters video
I right away started digging on some quartz in a pegmatite vein and found some small pockets; filled with small coated Amazonite, Smoky Quartz and Fluorite crystals. Even though these were all very small (probably biggest Fluorite was an inch) it was fun playing in the small pockets and collecting mostly Fluorite and Amazonite which both have been elusive for me!
Some of the Fluorites found in the small pockets
Went on to dig in the tailings piles and found many cool Amazonite crystals for the rock garden and also a nice Fluorite!!! Had a great day and learned a ton!
Small Amazonite clusters from inside the pockets
One of the nicer Amazonite crystals from the tailings
Killer Fluorite crystal found in the tailings
With a 50 minute (minimum) commute each way to work, I have an opportunity to listen to audiobooks like I’ve never had before. Thus I was able to read more books in 2010 than pretty much my whole life combined! Some of the books go back to the latter months of 2009; I don’t remember exactly when I read which books; but I wanted to include them all so I didn’t forget about them!
Dan Brown Books:
As anyone who has read Dan Brown knows, he packs a lot of excitement into his books and also presents very interesting “historical” perspective (although how much is actual history is masked and center of heated debate! Awesome!) Ask your pastor to argue this point . I really like these books; especially Angels and Demons and The Lost Symbol. I actually really appreciate the “conspiracy theory” angle that Dan writes from as I believe it inspires some interesting soul searching and can challenge much of the basis of what people believe, regardless of what you believe! I highly recommend any of these books!
Terry Goodkind Sword of Truth Series Books:
I have finally finished off this series, a total of 12 books (so far). These are LONG books, over 6000 pages for the books listed above. For those that are unfamiliar with this fantasy series, a good synopsis of the series and each book can be found via Wikipedia. I really like Terry Goodkind’s writing style; the story offers a level of detail that keeps coming back and made me wonder how much time he spent mapping out all the fine details prior to writing the book(s); it all made sense and was quite intricate at times. He also had nice twist and turns in the story to keep things interesting.
I also watched the made-for-TV series based on these books (done by Sam Raimi which was awesome) called Legend of the Seeker which aired for two seasons. I actually discovered the TV series 2 weeks before it was completed; I was channel surfing and stopped on the fantasy-based show and recognized the story right away (although it was significantly different that the books, especially season 2, but still fun to watch). My kids loved it!
The Law of Nines books wasn’t part of this series, but definitely was linked to the series which was cool.
C.J. Box Books:
My folks bought me Blood Trail for Christmas as they thought I’d like it. I did, very much. C.J. Box is a writer out of Wyoming that writes rural thrillers. Blood Trail is one of the Joe Pickett series, much like Dan Brown always having Robert Langdon as the main protagonist. Joe Pickett is a Game Warden that get caught up in murders and other thrilling adventures. Blue Heaven was a stand alone book (not in the Pickett series) based on two kids that witness a murder and then have to run for their lives. Below Zero is about a environmental nut and Chicago mobster who kidnap a girl and take her along for their environmental redemption spree! I look forward to reading more C.J. Box this year!
Daemon by Dan Suarez is a cyber thriller about a video game tycoon that upon his death sends the video game objects into the real world. Erin read it too and said it is guy’s book; not much to offer from a girl’s perspective; and I guess I can see this in a couple of the scenes of the book; but overall I think this was a fun cyber-thriller!
The Demon Under the Microscope I really enjoyed as it talked about the drug industry before and during the invent of Sulfa anti-biotic drugs. This was a wonderful historical record of how medicine truly changed the world! Likewise The Last Voyage of Columbus was a great insight on what being a pioneer was all about!
My friend Natalie said I had to read the Book Thief and it was a wonderful book accounting the life in Nazi Germany of a adopted girl who had hard luck worse than anyone I know through hiding a Jew and learning to read while facing what was going on in Nazi Germany. A wonderful book!
Bill Maher’s book I have to admit I bought for the cover…I like propaganda and that was a spoof on a very popular poster! The book is quite good; well thought out and in the typical Bill Maher style.
Graffiti L.A. is a very comprehensive history of Graffiti in L.A. Lots of wonderful pictures as well.
Found Magazine is awesome; my sister gave me this for Christmas. These books are just found letters and such that people send to this magazine and they publish them. I have submitted some stuff I’ve found to the magazine; but nothing has been published as of yet.
The Peppers book was great as it told the history of cultivation of Peppers, search for peppers roots and where they came from, modern pepper genetics, and how Tasbasco company was lame early on in defeating its competition with politics rather than other means.
Mike Nelson’s Colorado Weather Almanac is an absolute must read for anyone interested in weather, especially Colorado weather. After reading the book you can understand how the weather guys often get the weather forecast completely wrong!
Tornadoes of the United States by Snowden D Flora is from 1958 (2nd printing) and is a great look at Tornadoes back when we knew nearly nothing about them. Great statistics and information about outbreaks in the first half of the 20th century. I’m currently reading his book Hail Storms of the United States.
Cloud Study is a neat old book reprinted in 1960 that talks about clouds and their formation. This has some great older photos and is a fun read.
Weather is an awesome coffee table book; I bought this at the National Storm Chaser Conference back in 2009 with the Hunt for the Red Sprite DVD. Adventures in Tornado Alley has wonderful pictures from Nebraska storm chaser Mike Hollingshead and is the UK version (Hardback was not available here in the US). Jim Reed’s book is also great and full of wonderful photographs.
Nancy Mathis book has a lot of information about tornado research pioneer Ted Fujita and details the F5 Moore OK tornado from May 3, 1999.
Between my dad and myself we were able to pick up many rockhounding books, a couple had several editions. It was nice to read the older editions as there sometimes was information available that was not available in the newer editions. The best guide of the lot was Voynicks Rockhounding Colorado, although I enjoyed all of them.
Kirk Johnson’s book Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway was a great book joining him on a “road trip” around the high plains in search of fossils. Great illustrations too.
I read several other mining and colorado rock books but don’t remember the names; I believe my dad has these so perhaps someday I’ll add them to the list.
Analog Days was a wonderful book taking a look at the early days of Robert Moog and the invention of his synthesizer. It followed the business describing the other companies and competition and gave an overall wonderful history of the evolution of Analog Synthesizers.
Theremin was an incredible book detailing the life of a Russian spy masked by very early electronic music! A must read for anyone interested in propaganda and electronic music!
The Cabaret Voltaire and Siouxsie biographies were a great look into the early days of these influential bands in the late 70′s England!
I was introduced to Freddy Fresh on his record label Analog Records. This was harder edged analog acid techno from the early 90s! He was an avid collector (like me) of analog synthesizers and modulars and I loved his work. I didn’t realize until reading through this guide that he was so versed in early hip-hop/rap music. Definitely a cool guide to records that started the genre.
That’s about it; and that’s a bunch of books; especially for me!