Bakersfield California’s 11th Annual ROCK AND GEM RENDEZVOUS 2012

Filed under: Coming Events — Gary November 14, 2011 @ 10:40 am

Bakersfield California’s 11th Annual
Kern County Shrine’s
700 South P. Street
Bakersfield, California
Friday , Saturday and Sunday
March 16th , 17th and 18th 2012
Friday 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Saturday 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Sunday 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Demonstrations through out the show on sphere making, cabochon
making, silversmithing ,wire wrapping ,mining, gold panning , knapping, Hands on geology and much more for children and adults to do.
Grab Bags , Wheel Of Fortune,
End of Show Raffle for great Prizes
Tickets$1.00 each
We will have a silent auction, with many great pieces of material
The General Store with many unusual gifts
Dealers from all over the U.S. & abroad selling many unique and unusual gifts from Mother Earth.
Dry Camp Available for club and visitors Indoor bathroom .***
For information about the Rendezvous or our becoming a vendor
Please call Lewis M. Helfrich
(661)323-2663 or e-mail me at or
We have a variety of out door spaces available to meet your needs from 12‘x 12‘ to 50‘x 50‘ and larger. There are dry camp facilities available or you prefer or special rates have for our show at a motel .

Filed under: regular postings — Gary October 19, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

A shout out to the Agate Lady.  Very interesting/artistic pictures she has posted on her blog.

After more than a million miles of corporate travel, I moved to my family’s home town of Grand Marais, MI in 1994. I now operate the Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum as well as earn a living as a mineral artist. I hope that this blog will help me share my adventures and art with family, friends, museum patrons, and customers. You can learn more about the museum at


Check out all her pictures here:

American Opal Society- 44th Annual OPAL & GEM SHOW

Filed under: Coming Events — Gary @ 10:11 pm

The American Opal Society proudly presents its:

44th Annual OPAL & GEM SHOW

Come visit the Biggest Opal Show in the USA!!!

Opal and Gem Dealers from around the USA and Australia
Rough and Cut Opals and other gemstones; jewelry & supplies
Hugh Raffle with prizes of gemstones, jewelry, tools
Free Gem Seminars with Paid Admission
Free Demonstrations on gemstone cutting, jewelry making

Saturday, 10am-6pm, November 5, 2011
Sunday, 10am-5pm, November 6, 2011

White House / West Wing Event Center

White House / West Wing Event Center 1238 S. Beach Blvd. Anaheim, CA 92804

Located within the Hobby City / Adventure City complex,
at the southeast corner of Beach Blvd. and Ball St.

Plenty of Free Parking

Admission $3.00, children under 15 FREE.
One FREE raffle ticket is included with each paid admission.



Click here for Google Directions

Contact: Pete Goetz (714) 530-3530

Dealer Inquiries welcome

The American Opal Society is a 503(c)3 educational non-profit organization, whose primary purpose is promoting interest and knowledge of the precious gem opal.

National Fossil Day

Filed under: Coming Events — Gary October 12, 2011 @ 10:57 pm
National Fossil Day

National Fossil Day

Happy National Fossil Day !

Go here for the official website-

October 12th, 2011

MISSION: National Fossil Day is a celebration organized by the National Park Service to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values.

Graves Mountain, GA

Filed under: regular postings — Gary @ 12:44 pm

Anyone ever been to Graves Mountain?  If not here’s your chance!  I wrote about this place waaay back in 2006 -Click Here for that article-

Graves Mountain

Graves Mountain

Graves Mountain Map

Graves Mountain Map

Graves Mountain Field Trip 10/29-30/11

To All Rockhounds –

I am hosting a field trip to the Graves Mountain, GA area on 10/29-30/11.

We will spend Saturday, 10/29/11,  collecting at Graves Mountain.

You can keep everything you find.

The cost is free but a small donation to the caretaker is appreciated.

We will spend Sunday, 10/30/11, collecting at Jackson’s Crossroads Amethyst Mine starting at 9AM sharp.

You can keep everything you find.

No children under age 12 allowed.

The cost is $25/person/day, cash only. Please try to have exact change.

Headquarters will be the Jameson Inn in Washington, GA, (706)678-7925.

Rooms are $69/night and they have a washing station for rock hounds out back.

This field trip is open to anyone who wants to go.

You can attend one or both days.


Ed Tindell

2011 Field Trip Coordinator

Clear Lake Gem & Mineral Society

Free Geology Books!

Filed under: Free Books — Gary September 9, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

I found this site offering free geology books.  51 books on this page alone:

And 18 books on this page:

Samples of the books below:
















Montana/Idaho RockHounding Trip

Filed under: field trip reports,Great Finds-specimens,Rockhound stories,Rockhound Travel — Gary September 1, 2011 @ 10:54 am
Hi Gary,
The article for my Montana/Idaho trip is attached.  I look forward to seeing it on your blog. Thanks!
Thanks Jim for submitting!  Here it is!
Montana/ Idaho Adventure
June 1st – 12th, 2011

Hi Everyone!

Our big adventure of the summer was a trip to Montana and Idaho. I had planned this trip for 2010 but scheduling problems forced us to postpone it. This time everything fell in place, and our trip was on! My wife Litha took detailed notes along the way.

June 1st

We left at 7:30am on a warm Wednesday morning, and drove all the way to our first campground near a lake which turned out to be a mosquito nightmare. We spent about two hours killing the little vampires inside the van before we could get some sleep.

June 2nd

The next morning we drove into Wisconsin where a deer almost darted in front of our van, but wisely turned at the last minute. There was lots of road construction in Duluth, and I decided to take US2 to 200 west which seemed like a much more peaceful drive than through the Minneapolis area. We drove through the north woods of Minnesota, and on through Fargo all the way to Bismarck, North Dakota, where the campground I had planned to stay in was right next to the now flooding Missouri River. We found a hotel for the night instead.

June 3rd

I told Litha that this would be a ‘day of wows’. Neither of us had ever been to the Rocky Mountains, and today we would see them for the first time. West of Bismarck we started seeing the buttes that the west is so well known for. Driving in western North Dakota the buttes continued until at one point the road curved and the amazing badlands formation of the Painted Canyon opened up before us. We couldn’t help but stop at the National Park overlook area and get some pictures. This area was in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
NOW we knew we were out west!

On into Montana where the road passed the Yellowstone River, known for its Montana Agates. You could tell the river was much higher than normal. Trees don’t normally grow in the river like that. Here the hills started looking more like mountains until just a little way west of Billings we had our next ‘wow’ moment. The snowcapped Beartooth mountain range came into view.

snowcapped Beartooth mountain range

snowcapped Beartooth mountain range

Our campground for the night was about 50 miles east of Butte, called the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Another beautiful area surrounded by low mountains with a river, train track, and lots of cattle.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
June 4th

The morning sun warmed the eastern side of the mountains.

Eastern side of the mountains
Eastern side of the mountains

We drove on past Butte and over the continental divide at an elevation of 6393ft for the first time. On into north west Montana toward the Idaho panhandle. Lots of snow capped mountains. Near the Idaho border we stopped at a rest area, had lunch and fed some very tame prairie dogs (at least I think that’s what they were).

Near the Idaho border

Near the Idaho border

Practiced the art of downshifting on the long steep “Lookout Pass”. Saw signs for a street fair in Wallace, Idaho and stopped to walk the town. Beautiful historic little mining town.

Beautiful historic little mining town.

Beautiful historic little mining town.

After shopping around for an hour or so we moved on and found State Highway 3, “White Pine Scenic Byway” which is an adventure in itself; lots of blind curves, hills, steep grades, lakes, and even an area called ‘Hell’s Gulch’. This two lane highway led through Fernwood to the logging road to the Emerald Creek Garnet area.

Much of this logging road was washboard bumpy, and I got a bit concerned about the van being rattled to bits this far from home.

We got our site at the Garnet Creek campground and then drove down to the parking area for the collecting spot. We were surprised to see spanish moss hanging from the fir trees and realized that this must be a temperate rainforest.

Garnet Creek campground

Garnet Creek campground

I knew it was a little late in the day to start sluicing for Garnets, but I wanted to go up and get acquainted with the place, so we walked up the road which is gated making it a foot path only, stopping once to catch our breath, and met the young forest service people who were running the sluicing area that day. I saw the big stock pile of yellow sandy clay that the Garnets are found in; and checked out the sluicing area. It looked pretty simple, and I was eager to get started the next morning. We returned to our mosquito infested campsite, where I found a stack of firewood a previous camper had left, but recent rains had made everything wet. I had a heck of a time getting a fire started to cook dinner. Eventually, with dinner finished we escaped back into the van to get away from the little bloodsucking monsters.

June 5th

We were awoken early by some little critter chewing on the van. I stepped out to scare it away but never saw what it was. We had breakfast and drove down the bumpy road to the parking area.

Emerald Creek Garnet Area

Emerald Creek Garnet Area

We hiked downhill from the parking area for about an hour. Trilliums and trout lilies were blooming, and spanish moss hung in the cedar and fir trees. We returned just in time for the sluicing area to open up and took the half mile uphill road to the check-in area. The forest service staff were friendly and helpful, and in no time we were sluicing like pros. Here’s a picture Litha took of me in the sifting area.

Here's a picture Litha took of me in the sifting area.

Here's a picture Litha took of me in the sifting area.

You can see the clay stock pile on the right, and the sluices on the hillside at the left. We sluiced through the morning and returned to the van for lunch, then
hiked back up and continued. Fill up your buckets, sift, sluice, dump your tailings in the proper spot and repeat. We were told that this was a slow day, but at times people were elbow to elbow at the sluices. I met a nice guy named Harlan, told him our next stop was Gem Mountain in Montana, and he showed us a typical Sapphire you might find there. He had just been there the week before. He told us about hunting for Sunstones in Oregon, and even gave me a little Sunstone he had with him. I continued sluicing until about 4:00 when my back decided it was time to quit. Between us, we found 13 ounces of Garnets that day and found at least one ‘woo hoo’ as Harlan would say.

Emerald Creek Garnets

Emerald Creek Garnets

Our plan was to return for a second day of sluicing, but my back would be the judge of that. At camp I found some drier firewood and made a decent cooking fire. The mosquitoes soon drove us inside for the night.

June 6th

We woke again to the sound of a critter chewing on the van, and I got a bit concerned. If whatever it was chewed on the wrong wire we could be in trouble. That and my sore back made me decide to head back toward Montana, but first we would make another stop in Wallace. On the way from the campground to hwy 3 I stopped to get a picture of this blue flower I later would learn is called a Camas Lily.



Back in Wallace, we got some groceries and found a laundromat to do some washing up, and while the loads were running we shopped around town. Wallace is right in the middle of silver mining territory, and there was an investment office that sold silver stock and other investments called Pennaluna & Co.

Investment office that sold silver stock and other investments called Pennaluna & Co.

They had silver ore samples in the window for sale, and being a silver lover, I couldn’t help but go in and get a few specimens.

Silver Ore

Silver Ore

Silver Ore Lucky Friday Mine

Silver Ore Lucky Friday Mine

He even sold me a vintage mine stock paper he had in the window.

While in town I found a t-shirt for the local school sports team, the “Wallace Miners”, and at an antique shop I found a nice antique miners lamp for my collection. When the laundry was done we headed back to Montana. Lookout Pass with its long uphill slope gave all six cylinders in my van a work out. Lots more road construction. One thing we noticed was that just about any gas or fueling station in Montana has a casino of sorts. Still some wild in the west…

From expressway 90 we turned south on hwy 1 toward Philipsburg, and on the way we saw a unique sight. This area, like most of Montana, is cattle land, and in one village there was a dead tree COVERED in cow skulls. I wish we had taken a picture.

In Philipsburg we stopped at the Gem Mountain shop and got directions to the mine, and we were told there was free camping right at the mine. We bought some dry firewood in town and drove the 17 or so miles into the mountains to the mine. On the way we had one of our best wildlife sightings of the trip. Right on the steep cliff beside the road we saw this Bighorn sheep.

It looked like it had found a spot in the cliff that had some tasty minerals. We moved on and found the drive to Gem Mountain mine.

Gem Mountain mine

Gem Mountain mine

We picked out a campsite and I started to prepare a fire for dinner, when a very talkative older couple from Washington came over and introduced themselves. Long story short, we now have new Christmas card trading friends. Eventually we were able to get some dinner and retire for the night.

June 7th

We were up early and running low on good water, so we drove back into Philipsburg and found a grocery store, and did some shopping in town. We stopped at Opal Mountain Gems and talked to the guy in there. I bought a couple bags of potential Sapphire gravel from him. I mentioned that we would be going to Spencer, Idaho for opal, and he knew the town well and suggested the best places to shop. After that we drove back to the mine and got our introduction in sluicing for Sapphires.

Sluicing for Sapphires

Sluicing for Sapphires

I caught on quickly and soon we were finding several nice small corundum and sapphire gem stones in each screen. I also found one lime green stone I was told is called Limetite, and decided to keep it.

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine

Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine

At one point on this cold rainy day, a bus load of lucky school kids pulled in and they all got their chance to sift for Sapphires. After sifting two buckets we had found four small vials of Sapphires and other corundum. When finished, we drove back into town to the Gem Mountain shop and found a sweatshirt my size, and then took hwy 1 southwest through a winding mountain pass with steep cliffs, and then on to the city of Anaconda, where we found a Subway and got our dinner. This town is a story in itself with a huge mine including a giant smoke stack and great architecture down town.

From there we connected back up with expressway 90, and then south to 15 which would take us down to the eastern part of Idaho, and the Opal town of Spencer. On expressway 15 we stopped at a rest area to eat our subs where we saw a sign about the history of that part of the country.

The sign reads:
“Along in the 1840s the Americans were like they are now, seething to go somewhere. It got around that Oregon was quite a place. The Iowa people hadn’t located California yet. A wagon train pulled out across the plains and made it to Oregon. Then everyone broke out in a rash to be going west.
They packed their Prairie Schooners with their household goods, Gods, and garden tools. Outside of Indians, prairie fires, cholera, famine, cyclones, cloud bursts, quicksand, snow slides, and blizzards, they had a tolerably blithe and gay trip.
When gold was found in Montana some of them forked off from the main highway and surged along this trail aiming to reach the rainbow’s end. It was mostly one way traffic, but if they did meet a back tracking outfit there was plenty of room to turn out.”

After eating dinner we continued south past Dillon, and north west of Monida we must have been climbing in elevation because there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground. Garfield Mountain and the Lima peaks were beautiful, classic snow capped visions of what you expect from mountains in the west.

After re-entering Idaho we found the Targhee National Forest and Stoddard Creek Campground with its fantastic valley scenery. It rained throughout the night.

June 8th

After breakfast we drove into the small town of Spencer, and following the advice we got in Philipsburg, stopped at the first rock shop on the right called “Hot Rocks” where I found a type of Opal called ‘Ice Cream Opal’, white with swirls of pink, which should make some very nice cabs. I also found a couple of Opals with some thin layers of fire, some blue agate from Montana, and an unnamed type of picture Jasper. We moved on to the Spencer Opal Mine and Cafe and tried our luck digging in their stockpile without much luck. I found one small piece with a little fire. Next we moved up the street to the Opal Mountain Mine owned by Bob and Susan Thompson, who are trying to sell their shop and mine. There I bought a jar of pre-lapped rough Opal, each stone showing really nice fire. I’ve also learned how difficult it is to photograph the fire of a good Opal. Here are my best attempts.

Opal Mountain Mine

Opal Mountain Mine

I also got some quartz caps for the future triplets I intend to make.

From there we went to the south side of town to High Country Opal ‘The Opal Store’ and bought a nice specimen with many layers of fire.

Unfortunately none of the Opal mines in town currently allow digging at the actual mine, so after that we drove back to Dillon, Montana for some lunch, where we decided to drive up into the mountains and give Crystal Park a try. Crystal Park lies along the Pioneer Mountains National Scenic Byway, south of Wise River, Montana. It is operated by the National Forest Service, and during the summer months there is a minimal fee to use the parking area. I had been warned ahead of time that even in early summer you might encounter snow at the park. At an elevation of 7,800ft the snow can last quite a while. Up and up we drove, seeing more snow as we went. Wonderful mountain landscapes! Eventually we located the park, but there was about two feet of snow blocking the entrance to the parking area! Still, there was enough room to pull off the road, so I decided to give it a try.

Crystal Park

Crystal Park

Crystal Park lies along the Pioneer Mountains National Scenic Byway, south of Wise River, Montana

We walked into the park, over slippery ice covered snow drifts. Breathing is noticeably more difficult at that elevation, and for us lowlanders it can be hard to catch your breath even standing still. I found a likely spot where someone had started a hole and dug into the wall.

I must have spent a couple of hours digging in that spot and found a few nice crystals including one very nice little scepter.

Quartz crystals

Quartz Crystals

The day was getting on, so we left to find a campsite, intending to do some more serious digging the next day. That night it rained most of the night, but early in the morning the rain stopped tapping on the top of our van, so I had my hopes up about the coming dig…. until I stuck my head out of the sleeping bag. It was COLD. I got up to start up the van for some heat and got a shock looking outside. The rain had just turned to snow, heavy snow!

This changed everything. I didn’t intend to get stranded up in the mountains during a snow storm, so we quickly ate breakfast and, as much as I hated to leave, got the heck out of there. Here’s what the road looked like going north to Wise River.

By the time we got down to the elevation of Wise River the snow had changed to rain, and it was time to make new plans. While researching the 2010 trip that didn’t happen, I looked for other Sapphire mines in Montana, and one place I found was the Spokane Sapphire Mine near the state capitol of Helena. Going on two year old memories, this was my next planned stop. After a bit of searching I located the sign that led to the mine.

Going on two year old memories, this was my next planned stop. After a bit of searching I located the sign that led to the mine.

Going on two year old memories, this was my next planned stop. After a bit of searching I located the sign that led to the mine.

Spokane Sapphire Mine near the state capitol of Helena.

Spokane Sapphire Mine near the state capitol of Helena.

Here they sell different grades of Sapphire gravel starting at $75.00, so we bought the cheap one and began sifting our gravel.

 began sifting our gravel

began sifting our gravel

It was a cold, raw, windy day and I only had the tolerance to sift one bag of gravel, but we found a few nice Sapphires. When finished, the attendant inside separated out the best faceting grade stones, pictured here.



… and the rest of the Corundum and Sapphires we found.

... and the rest of the Corundum and Sapphires we found.

... and the rest of the Corundum and Sapphires we found.

At this mine there is always a slim chance of finding gold nuggets in your gravel, but we didn’t find any in our bag.

When we were done, we drove back into Helena and found an International House of Pancakes for lunch, one of the best meals we had on the whole trip, and then headed back in the direction of home. East of Helena we saw an antelope in a field next to the road. Outside of Billings the mountains turn to buttes and mesas. We stayed at a Sleep Inn in Billings for the night.

June 10th

We awoke to a sunny 51F degree day, and were out of Billings by 8:00am. All the rivers we crossed were over their banks. Near Forsyth we saw a hand made sign along the expressway selling agates, so I pulled off and we found the house of a very nice man named Perry. He had literally tons of Montana agates filling old bath tubs and around some small buildings. I found a small box of pre-cut agate slabs and bought them from him.

Here are some of the nicer ones I’ve found in the box so far.

Montana agates

Montana agates

He also had a few antiques for sale, and I found a few interesting pieces, including an old 1950s bug sprayer made in Saranac, Michigan that wanted to come back to home with me. We thanked Perry and headed back east.

When we first came west through Montana, we saw a sign for the Glendive Dinosaur Museum and decided that if we had time we would stop, so on our way back east we stopped to check it out. It turns out to not be a real scientific museum at all, but I will save that discussion for another time and place…

At 1:47pm we passed back into North Dakota, and stopped again at Painted Canyon for t shirts and photos, and right in the grassy area in the parking lot there were two beautiful Bison resting in the grass, and I got this great picture out the window of the van.

These wild beauties can get up to 2,000 pounds and sprint 3 times faster than a human. NEVER approach one on foot!

Driving through Bismarck Litha snapped a quick photo as we drove over the now flooding Missouri River.

My outdated road atlas showed a campground at Lake George, near Medina, so we turned off to find it, but its not there anymore. Driving back to the expressway a Fox crossed the road in front of us, being chased by a Deer! LOL!

We drove on to Jamestown and checked into a Holiday Inn Express and ate dinner at the neighboring Pizza Ranch; good food and a great hotel to rest for the night.

June 11th

East of Jamestown there were no more buttes, just flat agricultural land with lots of standing water. We were back in Moorehead, Minnesota by 9:56am, and stopped at a nice park in Nevis to eat lunch. It was a lakefront park with a changing house and playground from the 1950s. There were even some hardy folks swimming in this cool weather (it was only 62F degrees out). At 3:17 pm we passed through Duluth and over the bridge into Wisconsin. In Wisconsin we stopped at two antique shops to hunt for goodies. Next we stopped at a Subway for dinner, and an A&W drive-in for rootbeer floats. We made it back into Michigan to our campground by the lake I’ll refer to as Mosquito Hell. This time I was ready for them and not so many followed me into the van when paying the camping fee.

June 12th

We awoke to cold temps in the 40s, with the Mosquitoes still active outside the van and left at 7:15am.  Along US2 we saw a Coyote, and with no traffic behind us, I slowed down. The little guy co-operated for a photo shoot.

We were over the Mackinaw Bridge and back to our ‘palm of the mitten’ home by 7:30pm. I drove 4,664 miles and we experienced some less than perfect weather, but had no serious problems with the van, and did everything we had intended and then some. It was a trip Litha and I will always remember.

Thanks for checking out my report!

Jim Adams

Humboldt Coast Rockhounding. Agate Beach and Trinidad Beach Jasper

I bumped into Stephan and asked him if he would let me put his adventure on my blog.  Here it is…enjoy !!!



Vacation on the Humboldt Coast, August 2011

Patrick's Point/Agate Beach

This year, for our vacation, my son, Justin, and I decided to explore a portion of the Humboldt Coast. The siren songs of Agate Beach and Trinidad Beach jasper have been in our ears for some time now. Additionally, a dear friend and fellow photographer has been extolling Trinidad’s virtues ever since I have mentioned a desire to visit. Her pictures of the area certainly piqued my interest further….

For my pictures, please see:


Justin returned from his mother’s house at 8:30 AM. I finished packing the car, and we (including Buddy and Buster, the wonder-wieners) were on the road by 10:15. Heading north in I-5, we were filled with excitement. In spite of the mild summer we have been experiencing in Davis, the air was hazy, and it became quickly evident that the northern valley (which does not receive the cooling Delta Breeze that we do) has not enjoyed this to the same extent. Within an hour from home, the temperatures were in the mid-90s (Davis had a forecast high of 88°F for that day), and the Coast Range, quite close to the freeway, was not clearly visible. The Sutter Buttes, also, were only visible in silhouette. When we reached Redding at 12:30, it was a sweltering 99°F, and the only thing I could see of Mount Shasta was a fuzzy outline of its snow-capped peak.

We turned west into the Trinity Alps. The three hour drive through the mountains on highway 299 was gorgeous and surprisingly hot. The temperatures hovered in the mid-to-high 90s until we were within about 10 miles of Arcata, at which point they dropped rapidly.

For lunch we stopped at Bagdad, on the Trinity River. I wanted to do a quick search for jade, but the area was designed for boat access of the river. Reaching the rocks would have required a swim.

All along the drive I saw numerous possibilities for future camping trips along the Trinity River (jade hunting kayak-trips, perhaps?). I imagine near Willow Creek will be the place, as it closer to the coast and somewhat cooler.

We arrived at about 5PM and set up camp. The campsite was nice: large and relatively private, secluded in ferns and bishop pines.

After set-up, we took a quick trek to Agate Beach (about a mile from our campsite), and found some goodies – mostly jasper.


I woke up at about 6:00, mainly to the sounds of crows, ravens, Stellar’s jays, spotted owls and woodpeckers as well as a few unidentified birds. There were very few human sounds. The noisy revelers were still asleep and the early risers respected the quiet. I stayed in my sleeping bag, listening, until about 7:00, and then got up for breakfast. I realized then that I’d forgotten to bring my coffee (d’oh!), but green tea was just fine.

At 9:00, Justin woke, and had his breakfast. Afterward, we proceeded to Sumeg Village (a model Yurok village), where a program was put on by local Yuroks. A tour of the village was performed by Skip: a Yurok as well a Park Ranger, which provided an interesting perspective (and one that was more accurate than the usual anthropological approach, I imagine). We learned, for instance that Yurok houses have small round door designed to keep bears out. Yurok tools were chiefly constructed of elk horn, rather than stone. Also, since Yuroks consider all things alive and imbued with spirit, represent physical features in things they build. For instance, every Yurok canoe has structures representing a nose, heart, lungs and kidneys – the essential organs.

Following the tour, we were treated to Yurok songs and prayers to prepare us for a salmon feast. The salmon was delicious, slowly spit-roasted over a redwood charcoal pit. I even partook of what is considered a delicacy – the head, which was moist and quite delicious, particularly the cheek meat.

Well-fortified after lunch, Justin and I biked into Trinidad, about 5 miles away. This turned out to be slightly more challenging than I imagined. Although Justin and I are both avid bikers, I did not have my regular bike – a cargo bike is too large for my roof rack. Instead, I was riding Justin’s “spare” bike, which even at its tallest setting is too small for me. Unlike Davis, Trinidad actually has hills, which are quite tough to bike when your knees are nearly smacking you in the chin.



Upon returning, we headed to Agate Beach for our first serious agate hunt. We hit a beach packed with agate hunters, over half of whom were armed with “agate scoops” – essentially three-foot-long slotted spoons. Most of these were identical and presumably purchased. A few, though, were creatively home-made: one was constructed of a golf club handle and a small kitchen sieve, another of a wooden dowel and a kitty litter scoop. These folks had a distinct advantage as they were able to reach agates that were further away without diving for them. Most of these folks also seemed focused only on agates. Many had pint-sized Ziploc bags significantly filled with agates.

I, on the other hand, found two agates. This is probably due to several factors. I do not seem to have “the eye.” Many of the hunters have been coming here for years and know what to look for, and take only agates. I, on the other hand, was distracted by the amazing array of jasper and jade that can also be found (in fact, they are more plentiful than agates). Also, without a scoop, I simply could not reach many of the agates that I did spot, since they do not remain in one place for long before the next wave moves them again.

Blue Trinidad jade

Blue Trinidad jade

Speaking of jasper, I found one piece of classic brecciated tan and pink Trinidad jasper with a gorgeous seam of agate running through it. More common are pieces with brown or tan landscapes and blue sky in colors reminiscent of Rocky Butte jasper from Oregon.


At Justin’s insistence, I woke him up early for some just-past-sunrise, low-tide “agateering.” The beach already sported the hard-core hunters. As we searched, I chatted with a few of these old-timers. One was a San Francisco man who has been coming with his family every year for 40 years. Amazingly, he was not aware that there is also an Agate Beach in Bolinas. In any case, he shared some of his hints: the area where the water is an inch or two deep is best. The agates are briefly still, and give off a blue “glow.” This did not help me greatly, as every blue glow I saw was either 20 feet away, in someone’s scoop, or a “false positive” – grey chert. I again found jasper and jade more frequently than agate (once again, I found two agates, which were slightly larger than the previous day’s finds).

By about 10:00, the morning fog had almost completely burned away making all the stones on the beach sparkle in a very distracting manner. Nevertheless, after lunch, Justin and I joined a ranger-led hunt. Her presentation confirmed my suspicions about two brown stones I had found in the morning – they are petrified wood. During this hunt I actually found three agates (!), two more pieces of petrified wood (okay, auto complete just tried to turn that into petrified woodpeckers, which would be an extremely cool find), and a fairly large black piece of whalebone (a piece of rib, perhaps?). Justin found several agates and an egg-shaped piece of Trinidad jasper that makes me drool (see the pictures link to see it).

Petrified wood

Petrified wood

That night, our campfire was slightly less relaxing than usual since we had some new neighbors: one family began arguing the moment they pulled in, another had three small squalling children that went on shrieking for hours…


Monday morning dawned perfectly clear. Justin once again slept in. After a short morning agate hunt (I again found two), we opted for a road-trip to Fern Canyon. On the way, we stopped for pictures of one of the local herds of Roosevelt elk. They were amazing to see, but at about half a mile distant, so I don’t think we got a full appreciation of how huge these beautiful critters are. Getting to Fern Canyon involved driving along eight miles of bumpy and dusty, but decently graded, dirt road and making four water crossings. The ranger assured me that my car (not a four-wheel drive) could make it, but the first one made me a bit nervous. Luckily the crossing contained sufficient gravel that tires did not sink into mud.

The short hike (no dogs allowed) at Fern Canyon (where parts of the Jurassic Park movies were filmed) was totally worth the bouncy drive. We first crossed a meadow with a very clear creek, tall bushy horsetails, prolific wild-flowers and dozens of dragonflies (black saddlebags, I’m fairly sure) that absolutely refused to land and pose for pictures. The canyon itself is only half a mile long: a deep trench lined with four different species of ferns (so that’s how it got its name) and waterfalls. Downed logs were decorated with mosses and unusual fungi, including one growing a red, brain-shaped jelly fungus of some sort. At the end of the canyon Justin and I opted for the loop hike ascending what one kid described as the “endless stairs” for a small wood-land like. We crossed another meadow with numerous dragonflies (some sort of darner this time, I believe), which were equally camera-shy. This is a perfect flip-flop hike: wet and not at all difficult.

After this hike, we decided to head to Big Lagoon, a dog-friendly beach. One of the Patrick’s Point rangers had told us that nearly every beach in Humboldt County, with the exception of Agate Beach is dog-friendly. She had also told that many local search for agates there when it isn’t sandy, since there are fewer people. It was sandy. A sign sported a very amusing typo in reference to dogs (see pictures).

The beach excursion did not last long, since the dogs were being brats, escaping their harnesses repeatedly. Justin and I opted for a hike at the camp-ground instead. We toured the Yurok ceremonial rock, and then explored Mussel Rock, Lookout Rock and the Wedding Rock.

At night the kids across the way cried and screamed for three hours. Lovely.


Another early-morning agate expedition. It started off foggy, but by 9:00 the fog was down to thin wisps. This was apparently good for Justin’s “agate-eye,” as he found a good 20 pieces, including two that resemble faces. I found four agates, but struck an absolute jade-jackpot. I talked with an old-timer couple, who, like me, had a more eclectic focus, also pursuing jade and jasper. The man told me that the blue and brown Oregon-jasper-like pieces I had been finding could often be cut to reveal black agate in thunderegg-like formations. I will have to try it.

After brunch, Justin participated in a Junior Ranger “slug slam” program where we learned that slugs breathe through a hole in the side of their heads, and we also made artificial “slug-slime” – yellow oobleck.

Next on the agenda was a trip to Trinidad. We arrived to perfectly clear weather and headed to the lighthouse overlooking the bay. I have to say that this is one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. This place seriously gives Kauai a run for its money in terms of sheer, breath-taking scenic beauty. I vowed on the spot that we will return next year. Since the dogs had been brats on the beach the day before, we decided that they would not be going to the beach today. To make up for this, we took them for a nice hike of Trinidad Head. This was a long enough hike to tire them out (Buddy, the 14 year-old, had to be carried for the last bit). The views were stunning, and I saw many wildflowers with which I am not familiar

The next item on the agenda was exploring Trinidad State Beach which contains spectacular boulders of multicolored jasper with tafoni-like features, caves and off-shore sea-stacks, one of which is 10 acres in size and covered in bishop pine. The beach also contains a creek that is the source of Trinidad Beach jasper. I managed to find three pieces. Two look promising, but one revealed many fractures after I cleaned the creek-slime. No worries. We will return here! When I know whether I picked well, I can get more. I also lugged a few 30-pound landscape boulders through a half mile of deep sand. A very good work-out.

Trinidad jasper

Trinidad jasper


Our last full day dawned to weather that is more typical than what we had been experiencing: heavy fog. Our last agate hunt lasted only about two hours. The fog wasn’t burning off, and Justin was thoroughly chilled. During our time there, I did have the time to speak to an old-timer, who claimed that agates are getting more rare with more people coming. He claimed that it used to be possible to find 100 – 150 agates in an hour, and that he is lucky to find 20 or 30 a day now.

After warming the boy up with oatmeal and green tea, we decided that an inland hike of the big trees would be in order. Once 101 turned inland after Orick, it soon became sunny.

Parking at Big Trees, we found a nice, shady spot for “the boys,” since dogs are not allowed on the trails. We picked a nice 6-mile hike off the map and got going. Evidently this map marked trails “as the crow flies,” since it did not show switch-backs, which expanded the hike to at least 10 miles and made it moderately strenuous. It was Justin’s first exposure to totally wild, dense vegetation, and he became convinced that we were lost, and was visibly relieved with every trail-marking sign.

This hike earned us a substantial dinner, so we headed to eat at the Trinidad Eatery and Gallery, which had been recommended by a friend (the same friend who raved about Trinidad itself). Justin and I shared a plate of calamari for the appetizer, followed by clam chowder for him and an excellent cioppino for me. For dessert we split some dynamite blackberry cobbler.

Justin fell asleep by 8:30, and I read by the campfire. The screaming, sobbing kids were gone!


Homeward-bound. The last day of vacation is always a melancholy event. I am usually blissful from the experience, but sad to be leaving. This time was no exception. After one last hike of the campground trails, Justin and I packed and headed out, opting for the highway 101 to 20 route, to make the trip a loop. Just like 299, this is a beautiful drive, though much of it seems studded with tourist traps (Bigfoot themed and redwood themed). I saw many possibilities for future explorations of the area, and also managed to lose count of the number of times we crossed the Eel river (Justin insists it was 29).

Much of this drive was quite a bit cooler than the trip in, until we neared Laytonville, and from there until past Clear Lake and Williams, temperatures hovered near 100°F. As we drove south on I-5, it cooled very gradually until we hit Woodland, which is apparently as far as the Delta Breeze reaches.

Justin’s favorite hot-and-sour soup welcomed us back to town. Everyone (including the dogs) took a thorough shower and relaxed in our own beds.

The dogs are still sleeping as of Sunday….

I am very grateful for this experience.

Happy Hunting,

Stephan in Davis, CA.


Filed under: Coming Events — Gary August 22, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

August 26-28, 2011

Lecturer: Walt Wright, Paleobotanist

ABOUT THE SEMINAR: This is an opportunity to learn about the complex and beautiful world of petrified wood. Become more knowledgeable about the woods in your own collection and about what and where to collect and buy. Learn about the fossilization of wood: it’s age, origin and occurrence. Learn how to identify different kinds of petrified wood yourself with simple tools. The intensive 2 1/2 day seminar will emphasize identification of petrified wood, with samples from Walt’s extensive collection as well as those brought in by
participants. You may bring a few pieces of petrified wood for Walt to
identify. You should plan to bring a good 20X magnifying lens.

Recommended reading includes the following book: Bruce Hoadley: “Identifying Wood: Accurate Results with Simple Tools.” Walt will bring a selection of books on petrified wood as well as 20X lenses for purchase at the seminar. There is much to learn about Petrified Wood: more than can be covered in just one seminar. Each of Walt’s seminars is a little different. Each one contributes more to your understanding. So, even if you have attended prior seminars, you will improve your knowledge of this fascinating subject.

ABOUT THE LECTURER: Walt Wright, a renowned paleobotanist, has probably identified more petrified wood than anyone else in the world. For the past 20 years he has been conducting Petrified Wood Identification Seminars. Walt’s career has included being an educator, naturalist, geologist, botanist and paleobotanist.

Dates and Times: (May run later depending upon participants.)
August 26Friday 6:00 pm. To 9:00 pm.
August 27Saturday 9:00 am. to 9:00 pm.
August 28, Sunday 9:00 am, to 5:00 pm.

Ventura Community Service Center
420 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura, CA 93001
Cost $85.00
Contact: Ron Wise

ADA, OKLAHOMA- Mineral & Fossil Club- Show- “A Festival of Gems, Minerals & Fossils”

Filed under: Club Rollcall (hello's),Coming Events — Gary March 21, 2011 @ 9:45 am

OKLAHOMA Rockhound Club

March 25-27


A Festival Of Gems, Minerals & Fossils 2011 !!!


Swap, Show and Sale

March 25,26 & 27 2011

Free Admission.

The show will feature various demonstrations and displays of fluorescent rocks, minerals, fossils, lapidary and jewelry. Silent auctions of materials donated by dealers and members will be held  hourly.

** A raffle Drawing on Sunday Afternoon at 3 P.M. For all Ticket Holders, need not be present to win**

Special Kids’ Event: Fossil Dig.

Petting Zoo

Hours: Friday 10 AM till 6 PM.

Saturday 9 AM till 5 PM,

Sunday 10 AM till 4 PM.

Admissions & Fees: Free

Dealers: Dealers from the surrounding states (Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, & Texas & Indiana).

Event Location: Pontotoc County Agri‑Plex, Ada, Oklahoma

Main Building #1 (Western Side of Agriplex)

At the N.E. Corner of the intersection of State Highway 99 (U.S. 377) and the Richardson Bypass (SHwy 1 & 3E)

Information Mailing Address:  Ed Vermillion, Show Chairperson

P.O. Box 782

Purcell, Ok 73080


Show Committee:

Bill Rushlau

Melody Ulanowski

Ovetta Vermillion

Web site:

**Check out their field trip gallery!  One pic from there…

Dogtooth Calcite

Dogtooth Calcite