The long ways home…..

On our way home now, in fact I can see Canada from where I am sitting (at the border) We have had a great time in Oregon. Started out with 2 nights at Cape Blanco, one of our favourite spots for looking for beach agates.  We walk down from the Cape Blanco campground and walk the two miles to the Elk River.IMG_2965

We things have changed a LOT. Good news, and Bad news. The Elk River mouth is MUCH closer to cape Blanco than it used to be, an enormous amount of erosion and it appears that much of the bank has disappeared from when we were there last year.

The banks behind Ken in this picture used to extend to where he is in this picture.

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The BAD news is that (our guess) the soil from there high ridges came down and covered up all the agates. We only found a few with 3 days of searching.

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We had great fun and Tucker is looking so nice after his major swim in that river in northern California (mentioned in the last BLOG)

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We ran into a few “fellow” “Canadians” there.  They decided that they would not be heading home QUITE yet.

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NOW as well as bean sprouts we are also growing Pea sprouts. GREAT in tomato sauce on pasta

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We spent a few days in Bandon, where we used to live. We used to have pizza parties at our house when we lived in Bandon, we have a large living room and invited everyone over after political rallies etc. When we moved away, my great friend Gail, has graciously offered her home for these great get togethers.I had intended to go around and take pictures of all the wonderful friends who came out to listen to a few of our songs, hear our rock stories and just visit and share the love.  I miss all of these people so much after we moved away.  There is something very special about people who will take to the streets for a common cause, and I hold my commonality with these folks very dear in my heart. Women in Black, Usual suspects, Bandonistas, Fine Women are just a few of the names we went through back then.  MAN -OH- Man I DO love these folks.

But we are on a bit of a schedule, looking for a window of opportunity to get this motorhome home. British Columbia has had a HUGE dump of snow, and today (Saturday) appears to be the best time to try to get home without any snow…..besides.. we have just ran out of homegrown Raspberry jam.

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It is currently 2 degrees Celsius which is about 29 Fahrenheit. and So I will close from here, for now

Much Love to all

janet

A life in a day….

We have been camping out in the desert for about 6 weeks now, a few nights in campgrounds and a few nights with friends outside of Phoenix. It really is the most laid back trip we have ever had. We have been back and forth across the border of California and Arizona a lot and have been near the border a lot. So rather than change our clocks over and over, we just decided to pick a time zone and stick with it.  We like Arizona time.

Our motorhome is showing some signs of abuse, with us trying to get to places we likely should not get into.  I love to see the smirks on peoples faces as they drive by us in their 4×4 vehicles, out in the middle of nowhere. We can usually see civilization from where we camp, but are usually 2-3 miles or more away from it. Tonite I can see the highway and trains 2 miles from here.  Deserts are like that.

We found that the campgrounds usually had very poor internet, so are relying on our AT&T cards. We have found that it is a pretty good deal, 10$ for a GB.  We can buy the refill cards in the grocery stores. We are not streaming anything (and have turned off automatic stream) and are able to work on the blog, check email, news, and although these days we are trying to avoid it, Facebook. 🙂  So it is costing us 40-50 dollars a month for internet.  We fill up water and dump sani at stations after every 4-5 days out.  Our only issue is garbage, which we have very little of…..  We use all cardboard boxes to fill with rocks, 🙂   not really but some.  We bury all out compost out in the desert.

We often stay at the same places a few days and cover on average 60 miles every few days driving. We walk between 3-5 miles a day looking for rocks, and some days biking (one day we biked 17 miles, half up hill in sand. was not part of the plan)

When we get back we set up our table scrub off our rocks to find which ones are keepers and which ones are not.  We smash some to make sure.  🙂   We now have several reference books to help us ID stuff.

We have wine, stoned wheat thins, and watch the sun sets. (or suns set)    We have wonderful gourmet dinners, and some days leftovers of gourmet dinners.  Then we play crib. Ken usually beats me, but last night we tried out a different deck of cards and I started winning.   Nice days. OH and reading lots of books.

These are Chalcedony Roses.  Essentially the same stuff that make up Agates, with out the lines (bands) . We have some pink ones and some white as well…..They will tumble up beautifully, when we get back to our tumbler.

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This is a geode. We see them everywhere here.  We have yet to find an unopened one though we have smashed a lot of ordinary rocks to see if there were geodes.

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This is a rockhound.img_1506

This is an agate with some opal in it, with part of a geode???

img_1514This is jasper/agate that has formed within a seam (the space between two rocks layers).  I should add that these are my interpretations

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larger chalcedony rose wth an agate geode.

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This is an agate geode with some amethyst ? centrally, and some copper minerals around the edges??

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I am not totally sure what this is, but every piece of it looked like hunks of wood, but they were completely very fragile crystals.

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I know this looks like a hunk of rotten beef… it is rather complex and will take cutting etc to bring out the full beauty.  I am hoping my friend the gemologist will add to this and I will edit this then.

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This is an amethyst geode with some…?opal, chrysocolla  around it.

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We think that this is a jasper/agate with central brown jasper and some opal around the edges.

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an agate.

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Well it is 7:30, ARIZONA time…….

BLM camping in Arizona, and cool rocks.

I have to say we are having the time of our lives down here. I had always questioned the whole snowbird thing, go south, somewhere hot, play golf and hang around a swimming pool. Besides, I really hate the heat anyways. This year to avoid the dreadful storms along the Oregon coast that we experienced last year, we decided to go inland a bit, then a bit more and suddenly found ourselves down in Arizona.  Last year we stuck to the coast to avoid the freezing temps, our RV is older and not set up for really cold temps. This year the weather was good in early November, so we cautiously went down through Nevada, closely watching temperatures and elevations.  We took 95, which  runs down a long valley with mountains on both sides. Essentially high desert. We did not spend as much time as we would have liked to, as we were trying to stay ahead of a storm that was bringing colder weather. (Perhaps next year we will hit this area earlier).  Arizona is lower in elevation, and further south, and so warmer.  Even where we are (near Quartzite) it gets down close to freezing at night.

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We have also been staying out in the desert on BLM land. It is free and the views cannot be beat. Most of Nevada and Arizona are public land, and we have an APP, that shows is where BLM land is. Also signage usually indicates where private land is.  We are self sustained, with 3 solar panels and an inverter to convert the power to ac power. SO if our water tank is full, we can actually spend several days out in the desert quite comfortably.

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I had never really understood the beauty of the desert, but I realize it is more than something a picture can take. I am not even sure I can describe it in words. I guess it is one of those “you had to be there” things.  I would have to say “solitude” would enter into the descriptive terms.

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What has led us out here, has been the search of rocks, but we still love the days even when we find nothing.  We have “THE BOOKS”, rockhounding in _______.  You can get one for each state (and province by the way).  They give descriptions of places to find certain “gems”.  Then they describe how to get there. Usually they are at best vague, and at worst misleading. HOWEVER that just adds to the fun. I am up every morning studying the books, and have 3 different map types on my iPad. Oddly enough, often the RV camping app has the best maps.  Oh and google earth as well.

So I start with a place that is interesting, then I have to figure out if we can get there. Our RV is not a 4 wheel drive, although we do get as far away from the main roads as we can. THEN WE WALK, or cycle to get to the designated places that most people take ATVs or 4 wheel drives. WE GET MORE EXERCISE, and find more rocks on the way  TO the designated places.

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We likely also see more of the wild burros when walking. They were apparently let loose by  prospectors who had run into bad times or other issues….and they have multiplied out in the desert over the many years. I wish I could get a better picture of them.

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There is so much about all of this type of travel that I have found hard to find the info I wanted, so thought I would write a bit about it.

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The sun has just come over the nearest hill, so I had better get to the books and plan today out.

 

Rogue River Agates

The agates from the Rogue River.

We spent a night at the campground right down on the Jetty in Gold beach.  Ocean very rough, swells large, so we found a gravel area mid way up the jetty, where it was a little safer. Met one of the regulars, and he “educated” us about the local agates.

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They are much larger than the ones we have found elsewhere, and quite rough. He told us that is because they are coming down directly from Crater lake, so “Fresher” more recent agates that have not been churned and tumbled by the ocean. They have large pits, and our experience from last year is that these ones are much harder to tumble, perhaps we just need to use a different technique.  WE LOVE this campground, but not one you would want to be in, in a tsunami.  WE did in fact hear a siren and were madly checking the news…. but they DO have to test their tsunami warning sirens from time to time.

Since we have not had internet enough to post pictures I have gotten way behind in my blog, so am catching up now. (This is from over  a week ago, we are now in Carson City.)

Agates 101…….

We have left the cabin tarpapered for the winter, planted 1200 garlic, harvested our grapes,

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and other fruit, and got our motorhome ready for the trip down south. WE did bring 12 jars of homemade heirloom tomato sauce, 5 jars of Jam, several bags of frozen raspberries, and even delicata squash, which I looked into on the border (what can I bring) site and it is all allowed, so we have MUCH of our garden.  My only concern was several thanksgiving day dinner leftover dishes, because they had meat in them. In the end we left them with Kens uncle in Chilliwack, who had just got out of hospital and maintained that those dinners saved his life  🙂

We had a lot of problems last year with leaking and eventually the whole roof started leaking in a storm, so had to replace that while down here.  Ken has done a lot of other repairs over the summer. It is a 1995 motorhome, so par for the course.  We are in Oregon, where we lived for 13 years, visiting friends, walking beaches, mushroom picking and …

so….a rainy day on the coast, imagine that! Time to once again resume my blog, especially now that we are onto our next obsession: agates.  These are from last year, we learned also how to tumble them.

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Only thing is that this year is our second year of being rock hounds, and while last year we were adolescent rock hounds, going mainly for the shiny agates, the prettiest  ones we tumbled from last year were the Jasper. Our “repertoire” has essentially doubled.  We are now looking for pretty jasper.

Agates, from what we learned last year, are formed from silica bearing waters that fill the gas bubbles in solidifying lava,  creating a gel.  The water, being alkali, reacts with the iron in the lava, which when it dries leaves lines of iron hydroxide, which forms bands in the finished agate.  I have seen the layers described like the Russian dolls.

Last year we met people on our beach walks who told us what to look for, and so then we had to find out where to find more.   We have only searched on ocean beaches, but they can be found in many other situations. In general they tend to be near where rivers meet the ocean, bringing agates down from areas where volcanoes have erupted years ago.

They say that agates are found near where rivers meet the ocean, and so we fully investigated the Elk river, the Sixes river and the Coquille river.

Problem with the Coquille river is that it has a large jetty fortifying the mouth of the river. I believe that that complicates the agate journey, so very few agates near the Coquille. However the Elk river opens into the ocean a few miles south of the Cape Blanco lighthouse and some days we found agates. It is a 1.5 mile walk down the beach to get to the river, and you might find agates there one day, and the next day it might all be sand, but for us we love the walk anyways.  In many ways we just need a reason for the walk, we also love hunting for mushrooms.

This year we walked to the Elk river from the south side, Paridise point. It was about a 3.5 mile walk.

The thing about agates is that over the summer they lie deep under all the sand that the wind brings, and they are only revealed when the winter storms with the large swells drag the sand back revealing the hidden treasures.  There are some “agate beds” that remain hidden for many years, only becoming visible with the most severe storms.  We were amazed last year with beaches like Merchants beach. It is north of Bandon, which is a very flat beach, all sand. WE were wondering what the booklet said about finding agates there, as we found nothing but old car engines,

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but then one day it all opened up and it became a gravel beach with large stones.  Mostly jasper… more on that later..  The other thing that is interesting is how much the direction of the river changes day to day, and year to year. I guess that is part of the reason for the Jetties….as well as break waters. I mean one day you could be river frontage and then next day you could be IN the river.

The next thing is the tides. It seems that the really low tides in the winter are always during the night.  THEN the size of swells, which I did not fully appreciate until being out on a low tide day with large swells, might just as well have been a high tide. Also on a high tide day with no swells it is like a low tide.  So figuring out how to get down a beach that disappears during a high tide, is important to make sure you do not get stranded somewhere.  Rain and wind are only “relatively” important. Depending on how water proof your clothes are, and just how motivated you are. We have gone out on days we should not have….. not photos though.

It really helps, when you are looking for agates, if the sun is shining. The sun actually “lights them up” like little lanterns, so you will see a bed of gravel and when you are facing the sun, the agates will shine like little flashlights.

So an ideal day is sunny, lots of gravel and a favourable tide.  Here are a few that show the lines..img_1163