Wednesday, September 29, 2010
We headed to the fort after lunch and because it was mostly outside we were able to take Molly along. We drove there so we could use our state parks sticker and there was actually a gate person who would have charged us had we not had the truck and stickers. Parking our truck, we headed to the first set of buildings, among which were a school house, a pony express stable, an ice house.
Many of the original buildings had disappeared when the fort closed in 1890. It was a pretty common tale in Wyoming as when something was abandoned it was usually hauled off for the materials. We did see several old buildings around town that looked suspiciously like buildings in the fort.
Further down we crossed the creek and there the old fort had been reconstructed. The original fort had been burned when Johnsons Army approached in 1857. It had been appropriated by members of the Church of the Latter Days Saints,(there are several different versions claiming legal ownership and sales papers), during the Mormon War.
Inside the stockade we were treated to a demonstration and talk by the volunteer blacksmith. I was surprised by the simplicity and design of the double bellows that fed air to the forge. I wanted to start beating iron but it was not to be. The next buildings we visited were the museum, officers quarters and commanders house. There we saw the antique love seat that was an identical match to the one that used to be in Renitas family home.
The next day we left for Kemmerer, first getting back on interstae 80 and then heading north through the samll town of Carter, Wyoming. Just north of Carter we found the agate site but didn;t stop as we were going to return the same way. A little further down the road we were halted by a cattle drive of about 100 cows and calfs and three cowboys and cowgirls. It seemd like a commercial from the Wyoming tourism board as so we stopped and waited while the cattle were pushed past us.
Arriving in Kemmerer we found Bobs Rock shop. Bob's speciality is local petrified wood and he has about as fine a display as we have seen anywhere. We discused methods for removing rind from Blue Forest Wood and so now we have heard of four different methods from four different collectors.
Unfortunatley Bob chained smoked and we left the shop smelling like we had been in a bar or casino, but it was still worth the visit to see such a fine collection,(He has the largest blue forest tree and root ball specimen we have seen so far).
We enjoyed our trip to the fort and a brief view of life on a fort during the 1880's. The rock shop and agate hunt was also another good excursion. If you are ever on interstate 80, crossing the high desert, you might consider staying a couple of nights at Fort Bridger. Clear skies.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
So we loaded up the picnic basket and the dog and headed out, accompanied by the every present Wyoming wind and I had mixed feelings about the whole trip. See I had fished Seminoe for six years competing in walleye tournaments and while we had won it and the team of the year it was one of the hardest and most challenging places to fish I have ever been,(The first year we fished it we caught seven walleyes in 6 days and five of those were the first day prefishing. The year we won it we caught four walleye but two of them were 31 inches long!)
The road quickly deteriorated and we bounced down about as washboard a road as you could find anywhere. Renita pointed out a sign that said the road did not meet public standards which was really a disclaimer by the powers that be that they didn't want to maintain the road.
We reached the bottom and then passed up and over the Seminoe Mountain, finally reaching the area called the Miracle Mile.
Now the Miracle Mile is really a five mile stretch of the North Platte river that runs between Kortes and Pathfinder reservoirs and got its name from the blue water quality fishing for brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Well know by any fly fisherman its one of those places where the trout population reached over five thousand fish per mile and so I couldn't get my fly rod out fast enough, knowing that the fish would jump all over my flies!
The fish seemed to have developed a severe case of lockjaw and so I moved up stream. Again I cast and re cast, but the only excitement was the snake that moved next to my foot. Screaming a bit, I don't like unknown snakes next to my foot, I called to Renita to warn her of the reptiles presence but she told me that she had heard my initial yelp. I hadn't realized that I had shouted that loud and it was really just as scary for the snake as it crawled into the tall grass as I carefully skirted around it.
Rejoining Renita and Molly, Renita showed me the green rocks she had collected, jade perhaps, and I decided that the fish were being too snobbish for me to waste time fishing and so I started to rock hound.
However no jade boulders or cobbles or even pebbles jumped out and so we got back in the truck to drive back to the lake for lunch.
We relaxed and strolled along the shore and it was really nice to be able to show Renita the sights of a place where I had fished so hard, a place filled with its own beauty, and a wild sandy place so typical Wyoming.
The drive back to Rawlins went quickly and the local rock shop was open so of course we had to stop and admire the jade. I was pleased that I hadn't brought much money and so we left with three small slices that demanded we buy them. Clear skies
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Seeing as that was during my birthday and seeing as we didn't have enough rocks in our fifth wheel we of course had to make reservations and head to Denver for the shows. Getting online we found a spot at Cherry Creek State Park, in the middle of Denver, Colorado, and although it was expensive we decided to treat ourselves and so reserved the spot.
We arrived early, 30 minutes before check in time and the volunteer in charge was clearly flustered as she said, "Check in time is 12 noon,", and so we waited by our fifth wheel as she and her husband went to the spot, returning to tell us that it was open and we could proceed, but only after telling us again that we were early, talk about anal campground hosts.
Our pull through was actually huge and the spots were far apart from one another. Added to that they had full hookups and great Internet and cell phone service and we felt like we were basking in the lap of luxury!
(It really doesn't take much after spending the summer in the Red Desert).
We walked into the Denver Coliseum Show and were greeted with rows of tables filled with gems and minerals and miner's ores from all over. Tourmaline and turquoise, jade and jasper, beryl and and beryllium all shone and glittered and begged us to take them home. Five hours later we staggered out with a four pound piece of rhodonoite and slabs of Missouri hexacoral and Utah Lace Opal. I couldn't believe I had bought more rhodonite.
The next day we were two shows behind our schedule and so we headed back to the Denver Coliseum to check out the tents outside. These tents held the Miners Cooperative show and we hoped to find a few pieces to add to our collection. Five hours later we staggered back to the truck carrying ruby zoicite, Creede sowbelly and ameythystine, riccolite, purple jade and chrysophase. I wondered at our sanity but hey we had actually weighed the fifth wheel and we found we could hold another thousand pounds of rocks before we reach our limit so.......
The third day was the opening of the Denver Gem and Mineral Show at the Denver Merchandise Market. We left early and quickly got stuck in a traffic jam. We arrived just after buses had dumped hundreds of school children and their teachers loose on the show. Oh no not school field trips!
We found a supplier that had the the wire wrapping pliers we had hoped to buy in Albuquerque and even found cases and tumbler grit at really good prices. Diamond Pacific had a room filled with their equiptment and it was the first time we were able to see side by side comparisons of the three rock grinders and polishers we were hoping to purchase.
Another table had some slabs, slices of rock to make into jewelry, and the lady told me that she had three more boxes full under the table. She invited me to pull them out and look and I had hit the jackpot! Morrisonite, adventurine, Alaska and Canadian jade, tanzanian zoicite, an entire boxfull of slabs all went into my backpack and best of all they were all priced cheap. Renita arrived to see my paying the vender the last of my mad money but it was worth it!
The last year has been full of learning and we feel lucky to be able to pursue our new dream of rockhounding Clear skies.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Letting it warm up a bit we headed up the pass and fought strong winds that buffeted the truck. Near the abandoned Atlantic City Taconite Mine, we turned onto the road to Atlantic City and South Pass. Our goal was to find the ghost town called Miners Delight.
The campground only costs six bucks and had quite a few spaces large enough for us to fit, an unusual thing for a small campground in a pine forest. We drove further on a nice four wheel drive road, with gold claim posts.
Renita did spot another campground sign, Atlantic City BLM campground, and we did check it out but most of the spots were too small or too crowded with trees for us to fit in. We decided to drive to the old antique store where we had purchased some rocks last year but it was closed as was much of the towns of Atlantic City and South Pass. Tourist season is over.
We returned home, planning to return next year and find Miners Delight. It was obvious that I would need to do some better research, but that is a good lesson for me, proper planning prevents piss poor performance, the rule of the six p's. Clear skies.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Knowing full well that jade has been hunted in the area for 60 years and yet you still dream of finding a newly eroded piece and please please please let it be the bright green apple. So it should be no surprise that Renita and I were heading to the jade fields and like fisherman everywhere, or any prospector, full of the eternal hope.
Parking the truck off the road Renita headed south and I north as we hunted a ridge formed from a terrace of alluvium, ancient stream deposited rocks. We combed the area and did find some lined green rock that we had found last year. It had made a beautiful cabochon, but it wasn't jade. We looked at our samples and decided we probably hadn't found any jade and so we headed for another spot, Bull Canyon.
We took a four wheel drive round down to the canyon and we did find lots and lots of good agate, but it wasn't jade and so we kept on looking. Tired we finally took a break and decided to go to Agate Flats and look for more Sweetwater Moss Agates, and maybe some small pieces of jade. At least it was a place where we knew we would find something of value.
We ended the day with a huge pile of agates and another pile of rock that wasn't quite jade, but had still tantalized us. It really didn't matter what we had found as the time together was the real treasure. See it really isn't the finding but just the looking that makes life worthwhile. Clear skies.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
A day earlier we woke up to see a dusting of snow on the Uinitas and so it was almost time to head to a lower elevation but we still had a few days left and we still wanted to prospect for diamonds on the southwest face of Cedar Mountain. The book, Gemstones and Other Unique Minerals and Rocks of Wyoming, had told of the discovery of brecciated volcanic pipes on the southwest face and the discovery of diamonds in one of the pipes. It also told of diamonds being found in an alluvium north of the DK spot and so we had to look for it.
Quickly our road became rocky as we crossed ridge after ridge but the rocks weren’t large enough to cause any problems. I concentrated on the driving, either missing the large ones or driving over the top of them so I wouldn’t hit one with my sidewall and have to change out a tire.
The road alternated between rocks and dirt and luckily it was dry as it was pretty obvious that this was not a road to be on in the rain. Another fork and this time we went left as we wanted to continue southwest. Smaller ruts promised a way to the top but they weren’t really meant for our truck as most of the roads were from the fifties, having been made by old small jeeps.
I didn’t find any indicator minerals and I could see Renita below as she checked out the rocks. Sure enough she had a pile of specimens she wanted me to look over and so we had more agate for the trip to Texas. We are definitely going to be busy with the rock saws!
It reminded me of the quote on one of the displays at the Arkansas Diamond State Park, the one that says you have to pay your dues and we are certainly doing that! The thing is that it is just plain fun to be in such beautiful country, much better than being stuck in a windowless classroom with twenty eight teenagers. Clear skies.