Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nugget, Mad Dog, and Slick, Perhaps we have been Jade hunting to Long?

Perhaps we have been in the desert too long. We no longer refer to each other with our usual terms of endearment but we are now calling each other by our new nicknames. Renita goes by Nugget, Molly sometimes answers to Mad Dog and Renita now calls me Slick. Now there is a reason for this. See she found a jade nugget on  Beaver Rim and I found my first jade slick. I carry it in my pocket and now can really be called a jade hunter as all jade hunters carry a slick.
We had left Cheyenne and drove to Jeffery City. There we hoped to find a place to camp, so we wouldn't have to drive back and forth from Lander on our daily excursions looking for jade. We hoped to prospect on Green Mountain, Beaver Rim, and the Microwave Towers, three areas that are famous/well known to Wyoming's jade hunters.
Pulling into town, its a ghost town that had 5000 residents in the 1980's, we stopped at the Split Rock Cafe and Bar. There we met the mad potter Byron who invited us to camp at his pottery shop/house and said we could plug in to his electricity.
Setting up quickly we jumped in the truck and headed to Agate Flats where we planned on adding to our collection of Sweetwater Moss agates. Our first stop was ok, but it wasn't as good as last year and so we tried two other places before finding the agates we were looking for. I did find another piece of a machine gun clip from a Navy plane from World War Two. The pilots were trained in Casper, Wyoming and used to strafe the Granite Mountains as they look somewhat like a battleship rising above the flat desert.
The next day we arose early, ok I did and Renita slept in. Packing a lunch we headed first to the Microwave Towers area looking for some snowflake jade. Along the way we drove through the Graham Ranch area where we stopped to let them know who we were, but no one answered the door. The road in to the site was actually pretty good for a Wyoming back country road and I didn't even have to use four wheel drive.
Before long we arrived at the Microwave Towers. There we had to be careful to avoid the jade claims and before very long we found snowflake jade. Now jade hunters aren't impressed with the stuff but it does make pretty cabochons and we do love making pieces from rock we have found!
We glassed and spotted other claims and I pointed out where Ted Graham had the claim from which we got some pretty rock that we have in our collection,(Out friend Dick had bought it in the 1960's). It was so nice to actually see the country that had been the place of so many discoveries.
Returning to the highway we headed toward the Gas Hills and Beaver Rim. Now last winter our new friends Suzi and Warren Reeves had showed us the jade they had found there and they even gave us some slicks so we could throw them on the ground to see the "color", of a jade slick.
We didn't find any slicks at the first place, a campsite that was called Riggsville after the twenty jade hunters from Oklahoma who used to camp there, but we did find some green and pink jade. I was pretty happy about this as it makes really pretty cabochons and now we had our own, besides the piece I had bought from a Casper Jade hunter.
We stopped several more places and it finally happened, I found my first jade slick,(If you hold a quality piece of black jade to a strong light it shows green). Renita also found her jade nugget, which is actually a jade psuedomorph of a feldspar crystal,(It replaced the feldspar). Hence our nicknames, Slick and Nugget.
Our last day we headed up Green Mountain. We really wanted to check out the campsites and glass the landscape from the top of the mountain. The road was steep and rocky and we quickly decided we didn't want to take our house, fifth wheel, up there. We did find a piece of igneous rock that was filled with small fractured rubies and so we added it to our rock collection. The view from Wild Horse Point was spectacular, even though smoke from wild fires partially blocked the view.
Too soon it was time to leave Jeffery City but its a place where we will return. If you ever get a chance you should at least stop at the bar and grill and meet Vicki,(Order the cheeseburger and home made fries). You also must stop and meet the Mad Potter and see his beautiful art! Clear skies

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pretty Rocks, The 2011 Denver Gem, Fossil, and Mineral Shows

We left George and Vals and drove North across the McClure Pass. I had to stop once and let the tranny cool as I used lower gear to slow my descent. Connecting with I-70 we headed east for Denver. The drive was about as bad as I ever want, (heavy rains, heavy traffic, and super long climbs and downhills), and it will be a cold day in hell before I cross the Vail Pass again.
Arriving in Golden we parked and planned our next days excursion and we were both so excited that we had a hard time sleeping. The next morning we arrived at the Denver Gem and Mineral show and got in line with the other early birds,( The early bird gets the best rock don't ya know!).
Renita went left and I right so we could cover more ground before the other buyers snapped up all the best and cheapest specimens. I found Gursney agate and Morrisionite and Renita found some beautiful lapis. We stayed the whole day and left drained and broke but with beautiful rock for our lapidary wheels.
Another day and this time two different shows at the Denver Coliseum. There we saw the best lapis, turquoise, and sugaite that money could buy, but the price oh the price! At a dollar fifty a gram we didn't buy any and thats ok, maybe next year. We did find some Wyoming Jade, from the Rhodes collection. Its old jade from Green Mountain and Crooks Gap and we had to have some of this vanishing collection.
We bought some tuxedo stone, which we didn't know was actually sugar and acid treated Brazilian agate. Its made by soaking the plain white agate in honey for several weeks and then boiling it in sulfuric acid. We were so disappointed to be taken with treated stone, stone we try to avoid but at least we learned. We also leaned how to detect dyed lapis and so we decided not to buy any unless the dealers allow us to test it,(take a cotton ball and wet it with acetone and then rub it on the stone. If it turns purple its dyed stone).
The high light of the shows was when we met the paleontologist who made a guest appearance  on Jurassic Park, Dr Robert Bakker( He was eaten by one of the beasts). More famous for his theory of warm blooded dinosaurs and the book Raptor Red, he shook my hand and attempted to identify the tooth I wear as a pendant,(He told me how to clean it and said he thought it might be a creodont canine ocyeana, kind of an Eocene Hyeana).
We ended up getting what we came for which was not just more rock but more importantly contacts and new insights into our passion for stone. Its funny really how lucky we are to travel and meet so many people with like interests. Again we have been truly blessed. Clear skies.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fishing the Gunnison, Lessons in Flyfishing

"There is no was to fish this stretch using roll casting, you have to first cast downstream because of the willows. Then you can cast your line upstream and fish the edge of the break", George explained as I sat and watched him fish. He next watched me fish and said that I needed to learn to high stick and better mend my line and here I thought I knew how to fly fish!
We had left Wyoming and headed south to visit George and Val at their Colorado hay ranch near Crawford, Colorado. It was our second trip there as last year Val had lead us down the Gunnision in a kayaking expedition and this year George was going to take me fly fishing.
So on our first day there, we had headed to a lower stretch of the Gunnision where George showed me how to high stick and mend. He talked of fishing Alaska and how I didn't need to make long casts, like you see in the fishing shows, that by high sticking I could catch the fish I would see in the resting pools.
Val, an expert fly fisher herself, added that we would need to watch the bears and be ready to break off our lines as they had learned that the sound of the drag meant a salmon or rainbow dinner. She quietly watched us fish before asking George if she could use his fly rod to cast to a spot he had missed.
I didn't catch any that day but I watched as George caught a beautiful brown and Val handed the fish and then released it back for another day. It didn't matter as I had just had a lesson in fly fishing nymphs from two masters fly fishers on a beautiful river in Colorado. Clear skies

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Busy Week Rockhounding and Getting Ready to Head South

Note! I am standing in one of the tepee rings that dot the area.

From Gilllete we drove to Boysen State Park, where we got the last lake front campsite in the state park. It wasn't long after that the rest of the campsites filled and so we settled down for the Labor Day weekend,( when you fulltime holidays are a time to put up with the crowds).
Our plan was to rock hound in the Owl Creek Mountains for a few days and then pick up our Genie at Matt and Pattys house in Daniel. Finally, we needed to return to Flaming Gorge to license the fifth wheel and winterize the boat before starting the slow and round about journey to our wintering spot in Texas.
We spent three days scouring the ridges and draws along the flanks of the Owl Creeks. The problem here isn't finding good rocks to cut and polish but to be selective and only keep the best rocks you find. We concentrated on looking for green colored stone and found a coffee can full. The question is is it jade or adventurine? I did find some lepidolite and some amazonite and Renita found a large rock of beautiful Wyoming Bloodstone.
Leaving Boysen we headed to Flaming Gorge where we first winterized the boat. The next day we traveled to Matt and Patty;s house near Daniel, where they waited for us with hugs and kisses and a big pot of home made chili! There we also loaded our Genie Cabochon maker and rock saw which we had purchased on Ebay and after saying a happy goodby we headed back to the Gorge.
Our last day there we set up the genie and I ground and polished a few cabochons, which are the stones we wire wrap, and it worked great! Happy days as we now can work rock as we travel, instead of just collecting and hauling the rocks all the way to Texas. Oh, and I applied the one year rule and got rid of some stuff in our fifth wheel so we would have room for the new equiptment and more rock! Clear skies..

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 51st Escapade, Gillette, Wyoming

We had just left Gillette. The Escapade was over, and we were heading to the desert and rock hounding. About fifteen miles south of town Renita started to shake and mumble. I thought she might be sick but it soon passed and she told me we had just driven by the mine she had worked at. I understood at once as I start to shake when I pass a high school.

Tired and happy we talked about the Escapade and how much fun we had. The entire week had been hectic and crazy and tiring and fun and everything was as it was supposed to be. During the week we had been on the sound crew, helped to host two happy hours, attended presentations, held a star party, and participated in the craft fair’s show and sell. 

The sound crew meant that each morning we went in before seven and checked the sound systems. Later we would go to each presenter and make sure the sound system worked for them, even helping them with the head sets.

In the evening we moved equipment to the Central Pavilion, for bingo, and then moved it back for the next morning’s line dancing. Interspersed with all that we helped with the main room sound system and moved microphones during the Talent Show. Some days we didn’t get home till after nine pm!

We did find time to attend almost all the presentations. The fire safety and plumbing ones were great as were the Alaska and Pacific Northwest presentations by Mike and Teri Church. They were so good we wanted to leave for Alaska but it’s too late this year!

Happy hours are always fun. The new comers went smooth and of course the class of 2007 party allowed us to reconnect with people who started full timing the same year we started on the road. It’s called a graduating class as it’s all about the freedom of the road.

Our star party started a little rocky but it ended great as there were a lot of knowledgeable people who used the I pads I phonies and even ran the telescope. With all the help I could  move around and usemy laser to point out the constellations and stars.

Finally we were able to set up and display our lapidary and wire wrapping. Many people complimented our work and several asked if we would  teach a class at the next Escapade,(we had thought about offering a wire wrapped cross class as we are now making those but we just didn’t have the time).

The best thing about the Escapade is that it allowed us to reconnect with old friends and make new ones and if we had done nothing else that made it all worthwhile ! We are back on the road again and all is well!  Clear skies.