We do not have many new rock finds to report, we have had several things impeding our rockhounding, some I have pictures of and some I do not.  (for what will seem obvious reasons)

Several of these….. img_5779

My rock book is several years old and apparently .. THINGS CHANGE…..

THEN a few of these,…… dammed Tucker went after a cow, and then the calvary showed up. THANKS TUCKER!!!!


We DID come across a rattlesnake in an unexpected place (sorry no photo), it was a rather muddy field and we were trying to walk on the grasses, and Ken stepped on a grass and suddenly a rattler raised up in a grass next to him.  He backed away and did NOT take a picture.  We are NOT into risking our lives to get a good picture.

Later a coyote started howling and then barking, not far from us. (fortunately Tucker is not into chasing coyotes)

We even stayed at Rockhound state park and did not find ONE interesting rock, but quite a beautiful campground, sitting out on a lower ledge of a mountain over looking miles of flats.img_5729


I DID make the mistake of backing into a cactus plant and ended up picking barbs out of my butt for awhile.  I have to think that this  campground which has been set aside for rockhounds over 20 years ago, perhaps might have been over picked….but the plants were very healthy…. and pretty.img_5719

Of course the ROCKHOUND always likes to be the first one to see everything, while he drools all over us.



We found a great BLM site southern arizona, almost on the border of Mexico.


Beautiful hike along a creek, Mill Canyon trail.


We decided to camp here, looked like lot of people in and out of here. The book DID warn about it being a common drug drop off place……

but there was also the border control blimp in plain view…. we thought we MUST be safe ???

Image result for sierra Vista blimp

SOOOOOOooo as it began to get dark it did not feel quite as comfortable as it did in the day time, everyone had gone and we were alone……. alone except for one more car. Turns out that the guy with the other car, had lost one of his dogs, he came back calling for his dog, and Ken went out to help him look for dog.  I thought about taking Tucker, but he would only complicate the issue. So the guy with the help of Ken (and Kens Flashlight) were able to find the dog, she had chased after something and gotten lost.

The guy was extremely appreciative to Ken, and he left. and we sat there, suddenly feeling QUITE uncomfortable. SOOOOO…… we left. It was 7 at night, totally dark but we decided to move on.

So we headed for Sierra Vista, and none of the campgrounds had openings. We thought we would see what was going on at Walmart, and getting onto wrong road, we ended up in a unturnaroundable place in walmart.😬  WHOOPS

But suddenly a lady in the parking lot saw us and moved a barricade and let us through, Ken called her an angel.  We then headed north to find a spot.  My camping APP, directed us to another place that was very hard to find in the dark, but we arrived and there was no instructions on how  to get a camp spot (the way there usually is) We went into the place and there was a bit of a party going on, no one who worked there was present…… but a guy (not a worker there) directed us to a spot and told us when management would be there in the morning (another angel)


SO the third angel (karma, or however you see it) …. We went up to a site to look for rocks, 3.5 miles off main road. We left motorhome behind and went in a rocky road. Had a great walk, watching VERY carefully for rattesnakes. Did not find a thing, so took the jeep back to where we had left the motorhome.img_5784

We got back and Ken realized he had left his cell phone on the back bumper of the jeep where we had parked to rock hound.

He drove all the way back to find it, even went into a house in the area and told them about the missing phone, then came back to Motorhome. We decided to all go back and look for phone, and we even walked for part of the way searching for phone. Did NOT find it, so drove back to the motorhome and while Ken was hooking up the jeep to motorhome, a guy came by, with his phone. He had found it in middle of road face down. SO we had likely driven over it 3-4 timesimage  The phone’s screen was ruined, but we are able to get the SIM card so we can just put the SIM card into another phone and BOBS your uncle.

SO moral of the story,  DO help people find dogs……. not just so nice things will happen to you, but losing dogs is very sad.

Much love from Janet, Ken and Tucker, the back seat driving hound dog



Interesting day in a canyon


We have continued our search for fossils in canyons. Did not find much though, however we DID find that canyons can be quite interesting.


This whole area around Benson Arizona was once a sea bed, which in my take on it…. eventually dried up, then became covered up with other rock. Then the erosion of the rocks from the flow of water created canyons, the bottom of which the fossils from the sea bed become exposed. c8dabb64-8b09-4575-827a-8528a6a03ff0-2574-0000039ab9b76e2a_file “Limestone is formed in two ways. It can be formed with the help of living organisms and by evaporation. Ocean-dwelling organisms such as oysters, clams, mussels and coral use calcium carbonate (CaCO3) found in seawater to create their shells and bones. … The water pressure compacts the sediment, creating limestone.”

So the walls of the canyons are largely made of limestone, with all of the rocks held within the strong limestone. (theoretically this is where you would find the fossils, but we were not into hammering into limestone)(too much work)


Climbing down this canyon called Dry Canyon was a bit of a climbing feat (which Ken and I get into from time to time…..)  I wish I took better pictures to better illustrate the depth of the canyon.  So we had to traverse the sidewalls …. to keep our feet dry, and Tucker, well he just swam. You can see the limestone walls here.



Tucker did not WANT to swim, but he did not have hiking boots on so his feet did not do very well at gripping onto the rock.


But he dried off MUCH faster than our boots would have.

The canyon was very narrow in places, I am sure one would have gotten OUT of canyon very quickly should there be a sudden downpour.


Another interesting thing we found in the canyon were back packs…… we found 5 of them, badly damaged from the water. …. and  what was left of a tent… Bearing in mind that this canyon is about 20 miles from the Mexican border, we could not help but wonder about the back packs (really ..just day packs) ???

Well all good things come to an end and we figured we needed to climb up the walls of the canyon (or go back UP the canyon, which has been rather difficult), so we opted to climb up the wall of the canyon. you can see here…. about 100 feet and somewhat steep, but the biggest problem is that Tucker who was ahead of us, kept loosening the rocks sending showers of rocks down on top of us.img_5695

We eventually got to the top, and then were met with a whole NEW problem.  Someone was shooting a very large gun and we were hearing bullets whistling near us.

So this is the picture I took at that time, somewhere between where I took this picture and that mountain is 1) a massive canyon, 2) Our Jeep  3) a road going down into the canyon and over to the other side where the jeep is and 4) a guy with a gun.

We cannot see him and he OBVIOUSLY cannot see us, nor hear us (he was wearing hearing protection)  I have a VERY loud whistle, so I was whistling, Ken had a plastic whistle and eventually Ken remembered he had a air horn (we carry to scare away bears)  So he started honking with this.  We were  yelling at him to stop shooting.


Finally he heard us and yelled back that he was shooting west and we could come down road.  (which ever way west was???)

Tucker is just freaking out, ….. and we walked past these guys. They did not even seem fazed at all that they were scaring us to death……. SHEESH  what a day.

We do not go out LOOKING for adventure, we just go out looking for rocks, but we do find adventure….. often……

Back at the motorhome………. cutting rocks.


So just to say that rockhounding has many unusual ……sources of danger.

Much love from Janet, Ken and Tucker the  hesitant…. swimming dog



Where the heck are we now?

Thanksgiving was spent in Sun City,  a suburb of Phoenix, with friends I have known since I was a small child. We hiked the day before Thanksgiving, had wonderful dinner the DAY of thanksgiving and then hunkered down for a Huge storm the night of thanksgiving. Trees down, roads flooded…. Great time to be staying at someone else’s home…… or driveway


Since then, we have been travelling east with friends from Kamloops BC, a town near where we live.img_2101

It is kind of fun to “gather the wagons around”…. in remote areas, and not so remote areas….img_5645

This is where we are right now.  Somewhere south and east of Tucson, the mountains in the distance are Mexico, and we can see it from our kitchen window image

We have never really searched for fossils, and were not really sure what to look for, and as usual, the book was rather vague about how to get to “the collecting spot”

Well we walked and walked and walked and walked looking for a canyon.  It had never occurred to me that a canyon was different from a valley. 💡

THIS is a valley, and I guess I thought it was where  we were trying to get to.


Then I walked OFF the trail 50 yards and found ****** a canyon which by this picture does not look like much, and likely why we did not notice it..img_5650

But it was at least 100 feet wide, and at least 70 feet deep, and we had totally missed it…. AND had ended up miles away from the motorhomes.

So we took a shortcut back through the tall grass.img_5655and the beautiful Yucca’s…..



By the time we discovered the “canyon” we were tired and it was getting late, so we went back the next day and I believe after MUCH searching, I found a fossil, I believe it is a palm root, but will need to learn more to ID it



It is raining here now, and we think we are going to check out Tombstone….. and the OK corral

Much love to all, Janet Ken and Tucker.


I dreamed I saw Joe Hill………

Utah, a lot of ghosts here…..(more on that later)

Turns out that the road to get to the north rim of the Grand Canyon is closed in the winter.  We checked out 2 rockhounding places, but found very little…… other than spectacular vistas. WOW.




The cool thing about rockhounding is that the books tell you these extremely remote places to go and you get to see things that almost no one else does.


It turns out that you do not seem to have go far for spectacular views in Utah ( at least in the south west)



These pictures are OF and FROM the Hurricane Mesa.  We actually drove up the face of this, it is pretty hard to imagine a paved road up here.  

The REASON for this road is that on top of the Mesa, there is a test strip, which was used to develop that “high speed ejection seat”.  “ By the time of the Korean war, military jet fighters were flying at supersonic speeds at high altitudes. The pilot ejection seats of the day had not kept pace with the other aircraft developments, and about 80 percent of high speed bailouts ended with injuries or death.

🤔Kind of makes me wonder if all of the property of deserted old projects of the us Military were sold to developers….. I’ll bet they could pay for medicare for all.  A fancy hotel or something like that up where the test strip is would be amazing, yet it just  sits there with warning signs around it.

We are staying at Snow Canyon State park, itself an amazing site.  This picture is before the sun came up


Yesterday we left the motorhome and drove over to Zion. There is a very cute town that leads up to the opening of the park, many hotels and stores. Even Campgrounds. 



Zion has a scenic route that essentially a road that goes up the centre of the park….. about 2/3s of the way. You can only take this route in a shuttle bus, and they did not allow dogs, and we did not want to leave Tucker in the Jeep, so did not take this.  We did find though that just driving through the park heading east was extremely spectacular and there were numerous pullouts to take photos and walk around.

This would be a bit treacherous in the motorhome, there are limits to the size of vehicles allowed in park. Perhaps another time we might camp at one of the campgrounds and leave Tucker in the motorhome and take the shuttle.img_5606

Zion has an amazing tunnel that goes over a mile through the rock and you eventually end up in yet another amazing landscape.  The tunnel might also be a bit treacherous for a larger vehicle, you could hire someone to help you through the tunnel?  Not sure what that meant?



Zion only has the one road through it, and to get around it you have to loop down in to Arizona to get back. We could have just gone back the way we came, but thought it would be interesting to see the terrain heading east.

Not far to the east you get to Bryce Canyon National park, and then as the loop goes, you go towards the Grand Canyon, then looping west you get the Colorado city, and then back to Hurricane where the loop started.

Colorado city.


I believe it would take a photographer much better than my self to really photograph the beauty of Zion, much better to see it in person though.

Ghosts of Utah…..

One of the rock sites we went to suggested we visit the Mountain Meadows Massacre site,  so thought we would check it out.  Dreadful story of how the “mormon militiamen” and a group of Pauiute Indians killed 120 “emigrants from Arkansas. They were a wagon train headed to California.

First off who were Mormon Militiament?     click here. Mormon Militiamen


They recruited the Paiute Indians.

The memorial site includes a memorial to where the men and boys died, and memorial to where the women and girls died and the gravesite where the battle took place.img_2075

Where the first part of massacre took place…..


As to WHY the massacre took place I could only find this “Today, historians attribute the massacre to a combination of factors, including war hysteria about a possible invasion of Mormon territory and Mormon teachings against outsiders, which were part of the Mormon Reformation period. Scholars debate whether senior Mormon leadership, including Brigham Young, directly instigated the massacre or if responsibility lay only with the local leaders in southern Utah.

I guess the other thing about this attack is that the very young children were spared and dropped at a local ranchers home hours after the massacre.  The children eventually except one, were returned to other Arkansas family members with in a few years.

Here are the children names.


The very elaborate memorial was build in the 1990s by the offspring of both the victims and the perpetrators.   Very sad story, I had nightmares the night after seeing this.

Interesting that the massacre took place September 11 1857.

Yet another ghost of Utah.  Ken and I have always had a special interest in visiting Utah because of our interest in Joe Hill.  We recorded the song  called Joe Hill, made famous by Joan Baez at Wood stock. In researching the song, we found out more about Joe Hill and after reading his last will and testament, chose to include it in the song, with Ken reading it.


Our take on Joe Hill from stories we have read:

Joe Hill was a union organizer who was often imprisoned for his activities, he did find out that those who wrote union songs and performing them at events, were not arrested. So he became a song writing union organizer.

He was eventually arrested and executed for what have long been felt to have been drummed up murder charges.  One of his final wishes were that he body be taken immediately after death to the state line, because he would never have wanted to be “caught dead in Utah”.

Much love from Janet, Ken and Tucker the rock climbing dog.


WHEN in Rome……

Rome, Oregon is a small town in Malheur county Oregon.  If Malheur county sounds familiar, it was in the news 2 years ago when the Malheur wildlife refuge centre was OCCUPIED by Idaho ranchers….. you can read more here. OCCUPATION OF MALHEUR REFUGE SITE

To call Rome a small town is an exaggeration.  Rome has a cafe, RV park and gas station, and they are all one place. The cafe likely seats 12 people, 13 with a highchair. RV park has 8 sites and…. well gas station is Expensive.  The only OTHER place I could see what a farm in the distance.

rome station

I did not take this picture and it really does make the place look bigger than it is.  I was surprised, since we WERE in the middle of nowhere when I asked about camping for the night and she asked me if we had a reservation.  This time of year we NEVER get asked about reservations, and never make them.  What the draw was, I later found, was it IS hunting season, and none of the OTHER hunters appeared to be Rock hunting, and their dogs were NOT rock hounds.  We felt rather safe at this rather disheveled campground, because we knew that absolutely EVERYONE else had a gun EEEEK..

This next picture I also did not take image because we were in Rome for one reason and one reason only  ROCKS.  But on reading about the town later on, I found out how the town got such a unique name……… The Pillars of Rome


We learned a powerful lesson in Rome.

The place were WE went hunting was about 8 miles south of the Rome Station, and another 5 miles off the highway.img_5514

We were looking for Snake skin agates and green opal. BOTH of which were very beautiful, and while we did not find a lot of snake skin agates, we found lots of Green opal of a variety of shades….. ALL OF WHICH would look good on the floor of our new house.

So I offered to go back to get the jeep and bring it closer to where we were.  Only, turns out, I went totally in the wrong direction.img_5513

As you can see, not much difference either way.  No land marks.  No cell coverage. I walked for a LONG ways, eventually coming to the conclusion that I had somehow MISSED the Jeep.  So then I thought, I will walk in the direction of the road (OR at least where I thought the road was). Not much luck there either.  Finally, I decided to use my noggin(as my mother referred to it as) and go to the highest point I could see.  I should add at this point that I also had a GPS, but being a poor one, it only showed red dots and it was hard to know if I was getting closer or further way from them.

From the highest point I could see Ken (he has a way of wearing obnoxiously visible clothing and it was bright orange that day)  He was a long ways away, and did not see me, because I am MUCH more stylish than him image  I was wearing a lovely shade of red that was much closer to camouflage…..   Fortunately Tucker (remember him…) saw Ken and went racing towards him.  Tucker always likes us all the be together. Turns out I was at least a mile and a half from the Jeep, and when Ken went back to the Jeep, it was not much help because I had the keys….

Needless to say we had a joyful reunion and went back to looking for rocks.

Now these are not great pictures, it is 5 in the morning so not much light….. but they are common opal. “COMMON” opal is usually white.


The more valuable “Precious Opal” is a rainbow of colours and personally I think seem a little TOO bright, almost fake like.  However I found this…. “Because opal has the colors of other gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all. The Bedouins believed that opals contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. When Australia’s mines began to produce opals commercially in the 1890s, it quickly became the world’s primary source for this October birthstone.”

I do not have any “precious opal”,  but our property has lots of white opal and this is the first time we have found green opal.img_5543

These will all need to be cut to show their real beauty.

Much love to all, from Janet, Ken and our utterly useless (when you are lost) hound Dog Tucker.img_5548

Snake skin agates…..

Once again we are making a run for it through Nevada. Usually it is to avoid the low night temperatures, this year it is to avoid the low night temperatures AND the snow.

Joshua trees in the snow.


We have had a few days of doing jigsaw puzzles and listening to the impeachment hearings…..  We did venture out yesterday in Fallon Nevada to hunt for rocks in strong winds and rain, but it was NOT FUN.  

Green mountain on a very cold day


We are also being hounded by the CRA (Canada revenue agency) the equivalent to the IRS.  Not really sure why if we file our taxes in March, they wait until November when we head south to start hassling us.  They do this to us every year, and every year we show them that we did everything right, but yet they keep doing this every year. The GOOD thing is that I no longer take it very seriously, and don’t get all stressed out about it.  The hard thing is that each time we have called this week it has been an hour on hold on the phone. The classical music playing during the hold, then gets totally STUCK in my head for the next few days.  REALLY?  I think they need a few more phone answerers.



Just before leaving Canada I received my new Almond Cow, a machine for making nut milks.  It is saving us many trips to the grocery stores, AND trips to dump garbage. (very little recycling in campgrounds) We are using mostly cashews.  Pictures here of walnuts. One cup into the container…. plus one date.img_5338

The metal jug gets filled with water, you push a button on top and it goes through 3 stages, which takes less than a minute. VOILA..  You take the top off which contains the pulp (more on that later)


You get a big jug of milk


Then I pour the pulp into storage containers, there are a huge series of recipes you can make from the pulp.


My first attempt was to make granola, which you mix the pulp with other granola stuff and then bake in oven.



Next time I think I will try to make Hummus with the pulp. (just google nut pulp recipes)

I should note that you do not need a machine to make the nut milks, you just need a  food processor and a nut bag to squeeze out the nut pulp.  This machine is a bit tidier for me.

So yesterday we drove from Fallon (4300 ft elevation), where it was stormy, but not snowy.  We drove south on HWY 95, through Tonopah (6200 ft elevation) where it was snowing and extremely foggy.  NO stops for pictures, no stops for anything.  We have never had to negotiate this vehicle in snow, and do not want to.  We were a bit sad because Tonopah is one of our favourite places to rock hunt.


We drove on to Beatty, where we are now, 3200 ft elevation and the lowest it got last night was 6 degrees celcius ( 42 F.) Very black sky, only light rain last night.



Some of the coolest rocks we have found recently are called Snake skin agates.  They are extremely unique, and when cutimg_5542

Or broken in this case….. quite pretty on the inside


This is called wonder stone, it is quite pretty, but we have decided we prefer Jasper which is more dense. So these are more “catch and release” or catch, take picture and release.


This one, I believe is a limb cast agate, formed inside a tube in rock. Note the snake skin appearance of the underlying rock.


WE are thinking that this is variscite but will need to cut it to make certain.


We are thinking of heading over to eastern Nevada/Utah today, but you never know.

Much love from Janet, Ken and Tucker.



Chips and gravy….

Canadians, for the most part, had never heard of Poutine, until it was discussed as being a Canadian dish 10-15 years ago.  It was actually a Quebec dish that gained popularity there in the 1950s.

Image result for poutine

However, CHIPS and gravy are MORE of a Canadian dish.  In high school, it was a daily lunch dish at the cafeteria, and served in most restaurants that served chips (of french fries)

Image result for chips and gravy


The gravy differs from the US gravy found in biscuits and gravy there, in that it is a brown, beef gravy whereas the American favourite dish is made from sausage gravy, and a much lighter colour.

Photo of Easy Sausage Gravy and Biscuits by JimmyDean

During the 13 years we lived in the US, and all the travels to there, I am proud to say I have never had biscuits and gravy.  That being said, I have rarely had chips and gravy in the past 20 years either. This is mostly because the gravy is high in fat,  and the chips are deep fried and high in fat, and fat is something I have tried to minimize over the years. (family history of heart disease)

This past summer I grew a bumper crop of potatoes for the first time ever. We had buckets of potatoes to “use up” before leaving for the US, because they could not  cross the border with us, being a root crop.  So we had potato dishes almost every night for a month.  Scalloped potatoes, potato soup….. more scalloped potatoes, but as the title suggests, I have delved further into chips and gravy.

Potatoes are such a great comfort food, but have gotten a bad rap as being unhealthy.   According to the USDA, over half of all potatoes in the U.S. are sold for making French fries, and this is perhaps why potatoes have such a bad reputation.

“100-gram (g) or 3.5- ounce serving is a little more than half of a medium size potato. This much white potato, baked with skin

  • 94 calories
  • 0.15 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of cholesterol
  • 21.08 grams of carbohydrate
  • 2.1 grams of dietary fiber
  • 2.10 grams of protein
  • 10 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 0.64 mg of iron
  • 27 mg of magnesium
  • 75 mg of phosphorus
  • 544 mg of potassium
  • 12.6 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.211 mg of vitamin B6
  • 38 micrograms (mcg) of folate

Potatoes also provide niacin, choline, and zinc. Different varieties provide slightly different nutrients.”

I read a book a few years ago about the early gold diggers in the Yukon, and Jack London became well known writing of his experiences at this time. However the book I read was ABOUT Jack London and how closely he came to dying of Scurvy, a disease caused by lack of Vitamin C.  He (and many others) were saved by those who brought potatoes …. and even just potato peels contained enough vitamin c to save them. The book was “the gold diggers”Riverfront and London Diptych

Because of a “preexisting” medical issue, I have an increased need for Iron, potassium and calcium so it seems that potatoes are the veggie I need MORE of.

Thinking_Face_Emoji_largeSo given all of this information, I have decided to work on creating healthy ways to make chips and gravy.

First off, I had to experiment a bit about how to make the french fries.  My first few tries worked out poor, because without oil they stuck miserably to the pan, even the tin foil.        So then I tried 💡……… wait for it…. Parchment paper on the pan. VOILA!


Another issue is the size of our oven an only one rack, I got around this by putting the second pan crosswise over the first pan and it worked quite well.


Then for the gravy, I fried up the veggies I wanted to use, onions, garlic  broccoli and mushrooms.(this  part is TOTALLY open to  creativity.) Then added 3 cups of stock, (I used this stuff, but in the future will make more of my own broth with garlic)


Thickened this with a paste of flour and water, added herbs from garden, oregano, and presto.  Janet’s Chips and Gravy.



I thought it fitting since we are now in Idaho to tell my potato chips story here, Thinking_Face_Emoji_large I AM thinking, I COULD do a recipe book on healthy versions to make of chips and gravy.

We are camping on the beautiful Snake river, and likely heading to Nevada today



We have been blessed with warmer weather than is usually this time of year, but this is going to end soon, so we will need to get further south.

Much Love, Janet, Ken and our gravy loving dog Tucker.



Happy Birthday 65 Ken!

We have been in central Oregon for over a week now (long time for us) and were lucky enough to spend Ken’s BIG birthday with friends in Camp Sherman.  Over the years with all of our moves, and all of our friends moves, we have ended up with friends strewn all over the place, in SUCH a way that we have friends to visit all over the place.  Camp Sherman is a small “settlement” about 9 miles west of Sisters Oregon.  We have never been there, so it was a wonderful adventure with great friendly “tour guides”.

img_5467Since they (our tour guides) have read about “our gravel pit”, they felt obliged to take us up to “their gravel pit”, to look at a totally different, but nonetheless equally spectacular views.

There are a series of volcanoes running through Oregon, providing for beautiful  mountains to look at from almost everywhere here.




We also found the Metolius River extremely interesting. This is a picture of where the river starts, (or headwaters)  as a spring. I have never seen anything like this, a river that just quite suddenly comes out of the ground.


We checked out many spots along the river,  which being spring fed, is mighty cold any time of the year.  Also with it being  mainly spring fed, the depth of the river changes very little throughout the year.  Popular for fly fishing, (catch and release), and trails everywhere.img_5474

I found the colour of the river a particularly beautiful colour of blue, deep and very inviting.  Could not help but wonder if it was a very hot summer day if I might be tempted to jump in.  Apparently it would be brief.image


As part of tour we went to see the Santiam pass ski lodge which a group of interested people are “bringing back”.  We were fortunate enough to be there when someone was working on it, and he showed us around…. so we could see just where the restoration project was at.img_5493


Just a bit of information about the history of the lodge from the “restore oregon” site. Santiam Lodge was constructed between July 1939 and February 1940 as an element of the Three Fingered Jack Winter Sports Area development during the late 1930s. This development also included the original 1930s Hoodoo Ski Bowl. The two and one–half story Santiam Lodge building was originally designed as a ski lodge that could accommodate approximately sixty guests. Rooms within the lodge included dormitory quarters, a dining room, a lounge and specialized ski–related rooms such as a waxing room and storage for skis and related gear. Local stone from nearby Hogg Rock was quarried to construct the ground floor and chimneys. The second floor and attic story were framed with local timber in a regional version of the “Rustic” style.”

The floor has all been stripped down to the glue from the linoleum, and they are leaving it like that until project is finished, to protect the Oak floor that is under the linoleum glue. I am sure it will be beautiful when it is done.


Although most of the lodge was blessed with ” STRONG BONES”… good timbres, such that little is needed to repair the structure, this front wall is buckling, so they are putting strong beams in for support there.img_5490

So, sounds like a great project. You can find more information  HERE

Sorry some of my pictures have fuzzies in the corners… but my iPhone case is buckling at the edges and works its way into my pictures.  Perhaps it also needs new supports.

We are now in Vale Oregon, quite close to the border of Idaho.

We spent last night in the Town  of John Day, and (of course) there was the John Day hotel, the John Day restaurant etc etc….. it really is never ending.  We stayed at the county campground.  Got up this morning to see/(not see) an entire family dressed in matching camouflage outfits, loading up their guns from their RV into their truck. There were the typical teens  whining about getting up so early. It sort of reminded me of the matching pyjamas that people are getting for Christmas.image  So many new experiences for us.  Most of the towns out here have signs coming into town saying “welcome hunters”, and we think “how thoughtful they are to think of us ……..

Bye for now, Much love Janet, Ken and Tucker the rock hunting……. dog……

Thunder egg weather.

We have been very fortunate with the weather this year, and able to spend more time in central oregon.  Our travels are limited by the potential of snow, and temperatures much below freezing. The weather has been spectacular out  here, so we decided to travel east to take advantage of the weather and have a chance to hunt for the great oregon Thunderegg.


which DOES involve digging 😒

We are in the area of the Ochoco National forest, which is home to, according to the book, some of “the most beautiful thundereggs in the world” We were here last year, and have learned a few new things about Thundereggs.

First off  Definition from Wikipedia “A thunderegg (or thunder egg) is a nodule-like rock, similar to a filled geode, that is formed within rhyolitic volcanic ashlayers.[1] Thundereggs are rough spheres, most about the size of a baseball—though they can range from less than an inch to over a meter across. They usually contain centres of chalcedony which may have been fractured followed by deposition of agate, jasper or opal,[1] either uniquely or in combination. Also frequently encountered are quartz and gypsum crystals, as well as various other mineral growths and inclusions. Thundereggs usually look like ordinary rocks on the outside, but slicing them in half and polishing them may reveal intricate patterns and colours. A characteristic feature of thundereggs is that (like other agates) the individual beds they come from can vary in appearance, though they can maintain a certain specific identity within them.”

What we have learned is that they tend to be more perfect (not cracked open) when they are smaller, and what we can figure from the rocks that people leave behind at these digs… is that what more people are looking for are perfect ones.  This one below is sort of “perfect”, fairly round, bubbles on the outside. Usually you can see a seam run through the “waist” or “equator” of the egg.  The problem with finding perfects ones, is that you never know what is in them, until you can open them, hopefully done with a saw to make the  best cut (vs smashing them with a hammer which often ruins them).  I liken them to a walnut or a hand grenade.  Round, lumpy with a seam in the middle.


We took home a few of these small “perfect” ones last year, but our lives took off on us when we got home with selling house, moving and getting acreage read to live on….. that we did not have a chance to cut them open with a saw.  We DID however get an older saw this year, so have all we need now to open these babies up.

Many we find in the holes we did OR in the area around the holes (that others have discarded) look something like this.  Although the picture is not great, this has a watermark agate in the centre.



This one in the centre is a bit larger and the bubbly (botroidal) appearance, is what you are looking for, and more obvious as they get larger.  As they get larger they seem to be less round, I THINK largely because you get more than one amalgamating together.


Another thing we have learned this year is that to find the Thundereggs, you need to dig at least 2 feet down. My take on this, is that it appears that there are at least 2 feet of “top soil”,  or put another way, COMPOST, that the trees and shrubbery have created over the past hundreds of years, hiding the thundereggs.  I sure wish I could have taken that topsoil home….my new acreage does not have nearly this nice of topsoil.

So you can imagine what a back hoe would do in this situation image

Well, in fact, there are 2 privately owned “mines” near here that the owners do just that, they take a backhoe (or larger implement) and open up a whole new area, and people pay to come and hunt thundereggs.   The ones in the Ochoco national forest area are Lucky Strike mine and Richardsons rock farm.

We have wandered through this area for 4 days this year and a few days last year, and I am  convinced that the entire area has thundereggs lying under the topsoil..  WARNING:  I am not a geologist, I just play one, in the winters, (on my blog)image  Ken why did we forget to bring our tractor…. image  You can see here that there is an area of lighter coloured earth, that is where we find STUFF.img_5425

At this point one might wonder why we would take a winter holiday after finishing up all that work on our property, only to come and dig down here….hard to find a good answer for this, but we are self professed scavengers, I guess.

We are often asked…… what will you do with the rocks?  Which we have never had a satisfactory answer to, until NOW.  Now we have a plan, we are going to cut all these rocks and create designs in the floor of our new house.  Our plan for the floor has been to have a concrete floor and we will leave circles (or islands) in the concrete to place our beautiful cut rocks.  We can have one “island ” of cool thundereggs of a greenish colour and another island of  funky Jasper from somewhere else.

So with this in mind, we have decided that we are better off getting all the throw away pieces of thundereggs that others have discarded, because we can see the inside colours, and how the cuts (slabs) will look like on the floor.

As you can see Tucker LOVES looking for thundereggs…. NOT.  He does have fun checking out the entire area once we settle on a place to dig, then settles down for a nap.


We end up in some of the most gorgeous areas in our quest for rocks.  Apparently the air is still quite hazy, but we can see for miles and miles from up there.


Another very interesting this, is that the road seemed to be covered in fresh sawdust.???


But it turns out it was a forest with a large number of Larch Trees.  Larch are deciduous trees that loose their needles in autumn.  Beautiful. We do have these in Canada, but i have never really seen so many in one place, in autumn.img_5429

Another really interesting thing we have found in the area we have been rock hunting is that the entire area seems to have been burned by a forest fire in the past few years.  But everywhere we see these trees apparently burned badly at the bottom……….


But QUITE healthy at the top.


Another great day finished at a local Prineville brewpub, and dinner which was ho hum, but the beer was great. Ken has this rational that we eat SO healthy at home, that he might as well go all out in unhealthy in the restaurant, so as not to be as disappointed when I order the vegetarian wrap 😒…. he had the blue cheese topped burger image


Back home to scrub the rocks, “knowin what to throw away and knowin what to keep”


Trying to imagine them cut and on the floor.


a finished puzzle and time for bed….


Love to all from Ken, Janet and Tucker (the sleeping hound)


Who the heck was John Day?

Once again we are on the road and all the way down in Oregon, checking out the John Day river area. It does seem that everything in central/eastern Oregon is named after John Day. I have heard his name for years, and thought while we were in the area I would find out all about all the great things he did to get stuff named after him.  I started here at John Day National Monument :Site Clarno  (what this means is that there are more than one John Day National Monument sites.) This is one of 3.


At this site there was a plaque with the question Who was John Day?  I had not thought I would find the answer so quickly.    🤔  This is what the plaque said:  “John Day came to Oregon in 1812 as part of an overland expedition to the new Pacific Fur Company post in Astoria. The once large party split up into many small groups before reaching the Oregon Territory. While camped where the mouth of the Mah-hah River meets the Columbia, John Day and Ramsay Crooks were robbed of all their belongings, including clothing. Luckily they were rescued by a party of trappers also headed to Astoria.

John Day became well known at the trading post. Whenever others would pass the spot of the incident, they would point out where he had been robbed. By the 1850’s, the Mah-hah River had been renamed the John Day River. As far as historians can tell, John Day never found a fossil nor came within 100 miles of the monument that indirectly bears his name.”

SO the RIVER was named after him. How it all started……img_5414

What a lucky guy, get robbed and then have a river named after you.   Look at how hard the present occupant of the white house is trying to get a wall named after him Thinking_Face_Emoji_large

But wait, the story does not end here. . . .

It turns out that it was Thomas Condon who named the national monuments after John Day, not that John Day had ever been anywheres near the fossil beds in the area, its just it was the John Day river that had carved out the area, exposing the fossils.  Thomas Condon was an Irish presbyterian minister, and amateur  geologist who actually was the one who discovered the fossils.   info on Thomas Condon

I guess I was particularly interested in the town of Condon, as it is the married name of one of my sisters.  So I stopped to take a pictureimg_5400

Turns out there is another town just down the way called “Bates”. It seems that a lot more things should be named Condon, VS John Day 🤔


We have found plenty on the John Day river to explore, since this river winds through fossil beds, it also winds  through  a volcanic region, which is always great for agates and the things we hunt for.  The hard thing is finding gravel bars that are accessible. They usually seem to be across the river from where we are.img_5415

It really is a slow meandering kind of river, that suits us just fine.


This series of 3 hills appeared to be the same except that the closest one was more eroded, the second one less eroded and the third un eroded.



So these are the “palisades”. There are 3 sites that make up the John Day national monument and this one is called Clarno.  I found this info on it “The mostly grassy hillsides bordering the creek are interrupted for a mile or so by a line of jagged, eroded cliffs – the Palisades – which contain a large number of plant fossils, including leaves, sticks and trunks, plus less common animal fossils, all relics of a time when this region was moist and well vegetated, unlike the arid, high desert conditions that prevail today. Facilities are limited to a picnic area, interpretive notices and three trails; the unit is unstaffed, and there are no large towns nearby. It does have a research center (Hancock Field Station), facilitating ongoing paleontological investigations, but this, and the fossil excavation sites, are not open to the public.”

So pretty ho hum.  But we shall explore the other sites.

……Back to John Day…….. It turns out there is also a town named after him because the town is on the  John Day river.   Given the fame of his name, historians would attempt to find out more about him. It seems that there were 3 deaths he succumbed to as well, in 1812, 1813 and (perhaps finally) in 1819.    story of the city of John Day

Perhaps dying 3 times might be worthy of at least SOME fame……..True story……..image


We have been on the road for a week now, our last evening visit with Dylan, Sarah, and the very clever Talon.


Where other babies are working on mundane things like walking talking, crawling, Talon has mastered …….img_5363

…..chewing his toenails… clever boy.img_1321

Thats all for now.

Much love from Janet, Ken and Tucker (the ever present rock hound)img_5399