Muggins mountain and the BIG canal

We moved further south a week or so ago. We have this wonderful book called “collecting agates and jaspers of North American”, by Patti Polk. I fell in love with one rock she has a picture of, that she claims, comes from the Muggins mountains. Unfortunately Muggins mountain is not mentioned in any of my rock hounding books. So I took to google to find out more information to find this.

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It took a lot of guess work to FIND THE SPOT….. but we got as close as we could with the jeep, then walked in.

So it was a wild ride in and parts of it Tucker and I got out and walked. He is not buckled in and so he tends to struggle when we rock and roll. The very clever Tucker has figured out that if he sits on the console and faces backwards that he does not get shaken up as much.

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Not sure what a muggin is?   but the landscape looks like it could be on the moon.

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Unusual flora, as well.

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Unusual rock formations.  We did find some rocks that could be like the picture shown in the book, but we need to cut them to show what they look like inside.

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The VERY best part of the day, is that we came across a friend for Tucker.  For the most part, we never run into anyone when we are rock hounding and we never run into hounds either. so what a very special day.  Tucker had a very fun romp with this chocolate lab, named Fury.  Looked just like Stella, a now departed dog of our friends, Irene and Paul.

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The area around Yuma is very flat and with extensive vegetable farming. Scallions above, and ? broccoli below. Looks much healthier than my veggies looked last summer.  We are currently quite near to the Gulf of California, and we have watched some storms developing south and west of us, which never seem to hit Yuma.

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Yuma only gets 3 inches of rain a year, and the incredible agriculture system was only made possible with construction of the first dam on the Colorado and completion of the Yuma Siphon – delivering water through a huge tunnel built under the riverbed – in 1912, the same year Arizona became a state.

“Now, of the 230,000 acres of land utilized for agriculture in Yuma County, 100 per cent are irrigated with Colorado River water delivered by one of the county’s seven irrigation districts. Every single field in the county is also laser-leveled and graded using GPS technology, making Yuma’s irrigation network one of the most efficient in the world.”

We had noticed how incredibly TIDY all the fields were, makes sense that they are all level.

ANOTHER irrigation canal, the All American Canal is a place we went rock hunting at. It is north 30 miles or so from Yuma.

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The All-American Canal is an 80-mile (130 km) long aqueduct, located in southeastern California. It conveys water from the Colorado river into the Imperial valley and to nine cities. It is the Imperial Valley’s only water source, and replaced the Alamo Canal which was located mostly in Mexico. These canal systems irrigate up to 630,000 acres (250,000 ha) of crop land and have made possible a greatly increased crop yield in this area, originally one of the driest on earth. It is the largest irrigation canal in the world.

The OTHER interesting thing about the canal is that “The All American Canal runs parallel to the Mexico California border for several miles. With over 500 people having drowned in the canal since its completion, it has been called “the Most Dangerous Body of Water in the U.S.”

So the areas we were directed (by the book) to find rocks were the large piles of “earth” you can see on either side of the canal, according to the book, these piles were made by the earth they removed 70 years ago to create the canal.  However to look at these piles there was no growth on them …. PLUS we found nothing there….🤔🤔

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I wandered further back and found an area that looked like it could have been there 70 years and we found LOTS Of cool agates and Jasper. So what I figured out, is that they MUST have to dredge the canal to maintain its depth over time. The piles you can see in the forefront of the pictures of the canal, MUST be the silt that they dig out of the canal, much more recently that 70 years ago.  SOOOOO back to google. What I did find was that the water from the colorado river is extremely high in silt, and there is an extremely complex procedure the get rid of the silt (at the imperial dam) . I found this great slideshow to illustrate the process….  slideshow of the imperial dam/all american canal

But apparently even with this whole process, they do still need to dredge the all american  canal about every 7 years, and I am certain that that is what the piles of earth were alongside the canal. In the slideshow (link above) there are some pretty cool pictures of the construction of the canal.

I find that our quest for rocks gets us into some very interesting areas, often much more interesting than the rocks themselves.

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I find that wherever we go we find things that are very interesting. Every place is different and things like the whole water system likely seem pretty HOHUM to the locals, is fascinating to us. I am sure there are some HOHUM things about where I live that would be fascinating to others.

Much love and thanks for following our travels, and happy New Year

Janet…. and Ken and Tucker.

 

 

beds of geodes…

I might be a rockhound…. but me… I would rather be chasing rabbits.

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We have been in the area of Wileys well for about a week, LOVELY place. REMOTE.          It is named after Palo Verde storekeeper and postmaster A.P. Wiley who, in 1907, deepened a shallow well dug in 1876 by a stagecoach company which frequented the nearby Bradshaw Trail. Wiley expanded the well in the hope of attracting business to his remote desert store; it was maintained by local ranchers and cattlemen for years afterward. However, the rapidly falling water table meant a drop of the water’s depth to 60 feet (18 m) within a dozen years. Today, the well’s original depth is only about 20’/6m at best after wet weather and is unfit for drinking.

I guess they dug a proper well here for the campground, in 1985,  but the water is undrinkable, as it contains arsenic and flouride.  The Bradshaw trail is an old gold road that bisected this part of California over the the LA PAS county of Arizona. We got here on the Wileys well road, which just comes down directly from highway 10 just outside Blythe Calfornia.  It was 3 miles of pavement and 6 miles of a very bumpy road, well maintained though.  This road is interesting in that they seem to keep it open much like we keep highways open in the snow. With big rains and winds, the sand begins to start to creep in to cover up the road. So they come through with big machines to plow the sand to the sides. There are big piles of sand on either side of the road.  So we are at the junction of the Bradley Trail and Wileys well road

Interesting aside. Our first night here (we thought we were in the middle of nowhere, when we started to hear loud cars and LOTS OF THEM) Turns out it was the  SoCal Gambler 500  

Which is:::   A huge rally where teams take a 500 dollar car and drives a 500 mile off road rally. Check out the pictures at the link. They came through at night, so I did not get pictures.  Apparently right next to where we are camping is a wide wash that they seemed to get stuff in. Ken went out and pulled out one team, and then several more came through, pulling each other out.  I pulled these pictures off their site.

Next day, back to maybe one car a day going by.

 

 

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SO this area is known for its GEODE beds, and we have been off in search of them. It has been a huge task to find them using GPS, google earth, maps I have downloaded and maps from 3 books, but that has been part of the fun, and I do think we have found them all.  Geode beds seem to be areas that are very dense with geodes, such that by digging in that area you are very likely to find one. That is my interpretation though. I try to imagine how these were found originally, I can only imagine that at one time the geodes were plentiful on top of the ground and someone thought about digging underneath for more. So this is a geode bed area, lots of holes with scattering of bits and pieces of geodes lying around.img_4109

Ken showing us how it is done….

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Me and Tucker showing how it is done…. You basically climb into one of the holes and start digging the edges. I found it most clearly compared to the slot machines in a casino. The last person to dig, leave the area open and the first shovel of dirt I make, I might find a geode, whereas the last person could have made ONE MORE SHOVEL…. and gotten the geode 🙂  We have not really decided if we like digging geodes. too much work.  This hole I was digging in, I thought might be LUCKY… because someone left a beer bottle in it 🙂

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We would rather walk for miles looking for stuff in the open (they call that FLOAT), which is what we usually do. A few days ago, Ken found a very nice pick ax out in the desert, which he is not sure whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, but it moves more dirt. We feel it was karma to make up for all of the pick axes I have left out in the desert. You put your pack down for something and a mile down the road you realize it feels lighter. :^)img_4094

The other problem with Geodes is that they are kind of ugly on the outside and they have a certain appearance that you know it is a geode, however some contain NOTHING, and so the only way to find out what it contains, you have to smash it open, and often when you do, you ruin it.   Sort of catch 22. You do not want to carry home a lot of nothing rocks. 🤔                 SO as you can see Tucker LOVES rockhounding… NOT.!!!! But  he is patient with us.

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Our other issue for the past while is that it WAS a rather difficult road getting in here, not one we want to more than twice with the motorhome, so we have 100 gallons of water to last 2 weeks. It is amazing how little water you need to have a shower….. no picture there 🙂

It is pretty amazing area, the beauty that you get into off on these adventures is really amazing. This area is very scenic.  This is one “geode bed” that we decided to give a miss to…too much climbing at the end of the day.

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Tucker is peculiar in that at home, he is not happy unless he is sleeping on the very best of our furniture, and out here…. well anything goes.

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Much love to all who follow our adventures.

 

Rockhounding and religion

I see rockhounding as a lot like religion.  We can spend hours out there climbing, hiking, getting lost….. anything.. as long as we BELIEVE there is something out there to be found.img_1944 (even when we find nothing)  🙂   Some days we even lose each other, like yesterday.  We have a loose agreement, and walk some distance from each other, and every now and then if we do not see the other we start loud whistling or calling out. Yesterday the wind was loud, so likely took our whistles and yells into the hills.   Another game we play is to ask Tucker where the other one is. I kept saying to Tucker, “WHERE IS KEN?”… and he kept looking….

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Don’t you love his bandana?  Although it really is his colour, it actually has a useful purpose. That is to cool him off. We keep it wet and it aids in cooling him.  and then FINALLY>>>>>>>THERE IS KEN!img_3947

Granted, this game DOES work better on the beach.

OTHER things one might find in the desert, are ………Gypsy wagons.  Friends/neighbours from Bandon, in Quartzite.  Amber and Elton are heading east, we are heading west, and we met in quartzite.

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Now this wonderful Gypsy wagon, Amber has built over many years and each year she continues to modify.

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She is holding her time machine, a box she has created from odds and ends of little brass bits that once had a totally different use. Inside this tiny wagon, they even have an old stove that they use to burn pine cones to heat them up on cold nights.

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How could you get cold in such a cozy spot?img_3929

“Celestine” is clearly a work of art.

Great to run into old friends along the way. We spent Thanksgiving just north of Phoenix with friends from Canada.

OTHER THINGS you might run into in Quartzite…..  ONE STOP SHOP for everything you could possibly need to show that you are___________________________  🙂

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But then you get out of town again…

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We have been on the road for almost a month now and FINALLY getting into the groove.

Much love to all, thanks for following our travels.

Janet

 

 

Beatty and Bullets AZ…

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“After a thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat, we didn’t wake up until the next morning ”  to head west.  Well north and then west.   We are in Beatty Az now, and we pulled up to our usual place off in the desert.  There was another rig there, so we gave them LOTs of space and parked a few hundred yards away.  We were just getting out and looking around when there was a series of gun shots.

Well we are kind of used to this having lived for 13 years in Rural Oregon, but not in this situation.  Our dog is petrified of the sound, and I think we are a bit uneasy…. SO we packed up and moved to the location, in these pictures. In retrospect, I was thinking…… what a great way to keep an area to yourself 🙂  Just fire off several rounds of bullets whenever someone else shows up.

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Tucker took all of his toys OUT Of the motorhome, and left them all around, he clearly liked the new “digs” better…..

We actually went to Wickenburg, on Black Friday, shopping for GEODES  🙂 (then we came to Beatty.

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Geodes are…. “a rock containing a cavity lined with crystals or other mineral matter.” this is a wonderful article with great pictures to show how they form    GEODES

What we are finding each year we rock hound is that each year we get better at spotting certain characteristics: You can see in this lower left one a bubbly sort of outside… “Botryoidal”, is the geology term for bubbly. img_3921

Sometimes only a few bubbles…

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SOME BIG bubbles…

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Then PRESTO…..beautiful crystals inside.  Some you crack open and nothing inside. For the most part, we are trying to leave them all intact, so we can cut them properly with a saw when we get to Quartzite… or when we get home.

We are getting back in to Cactus territory, so once again looking for booties for Tucker….. turns out what we are going to need to do is to order them and have them delivered to a USP in a town we are planning on getting to. They are a very specialty item and though stores SAY that they carry them, what they mean is that they can GET THEM IN…. which is not much use to travellers.

Although I failed to get a decent picture, we were recently at a gas station and while wandering around I found a series of bird nests in very prickly cacti… … Could not help but wonder how the little ones learning to fly must be VERY accurate taking off.

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Well expect to get some DAZZLING Pictures this year from Brenda. In previous years we could only get SO far out to find rocks, as the motorhome is NOT a 4×4, and we could only go SO far in the bikes, because Tucker would get TUCKERED OUT.

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Now we just leave the motorhome on one place and go to all the other places with the Jeep.img_3812

Quartzsite

Quartzsite is our short term destination. It is in Arizona, just a few miles from the California border. It is at the crossroads of highway 10 and  HWY 95. The population is 3600 people and it is often the hottest place in the USA in the summer time.

The winter is when all the action takes place there though. The population at any one time in the winter is 250,000 and they get 1.5 million visitors a year.

The weather is one attraction, but there is no way a town that small can host that many people. The key is that there are hundreds of miles of flat BLM land surrounding Quartzite and the “boondocking” or dry camping capital of the US. As one guy at a solar place told us last year “the only place where someone spends 300,000 on a motor home to go camping for free in the desert.”  We have been boon docking for 6 weeks now and are not sure we want to camp alongside that many people, after all part of the reason we do this is for the wide open spaces we get.

Back to the OTHER reason we are attracted to QuartzSite….ROCKS.

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Now is not the greatest time to be in Quartzite, so we just spent part of a day there and then left, there are a few rock shops open now, but the shows begin in January. THIS IS VARIETIES of quartz… I think.  HUGE.

During January, there are 3 major shows, that draw in sellers and buyers from all over the world.  Rocks and things made with rocks … jewellery and apparently many very unusual things. We have not been in Quartzite in January, so  will likely have much more to tell after we have been.  That and likely LOTS of pictures. What we hope to do is to learn more about the rocks we find, how to recognize them and how to work with them. We have some lapidary equipment at home, and each rock is dealt with a little differently.

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OH and I put this one in here for Tucker…. his goals are very different from ours. Imagine if HE was writing this blog. 🙂

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So for now, we left Quartzite and found some great places to camp 30 miles north east, with the plans to rent a car for a month, and camp out of town and travel in with the car.

We are thinking seriously about getting a tow vehicle, but it will be much more complicated and expensive getting one here, so we thought we would just get the rental for this year and decide when we get home, what to do.

I thought I would include a cute little story about our christmas day dinner.  Years ago when we first moved to Bandon Oregon, we had some friends over for supper and made something sort of fancy with Scallops.  The recipe was from a cooking light magazine and it was delicious.  I loved cooking light recipes and so over the years I collected the magazines and then the annual books.  I had them all. Finally they became an online entity, and eventually I was just looking up my recipes online so gave away all the books.

Well it turns out that you can no longer GET recipes from 1997 online. So Ken and I set out to try to remember all that was in that recipe. It is always funny how things come to you in the middle of the night. One night after letting Tucker out during the night he came back and said “Asparagus”…… and then ” I think there was asparagus in that recipe”. So we gradually pieced together that there was also lemon rind… and juice…..etc.

So we made the dinner for boxing day, and took all the pictures like they do on recipe blogs. So here it is.

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First you roll the scallops in corn starch,  then heat  up olive oil in pan,  fry them for about 3 minutes on each side, then remove from pan.

Add 3/4 cup of white wine, then the lemon juice, rind, CHILI PUREE (we used 1/4 cup of our homemade tomato sauce)   and asparagus. x about 5 minutes, then add the scallops to the dish. Heat x 1 minute or so.

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then serve over rice.

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my lousy selfie…… I still feel that there might have been something else in the dish, but it was still great. Now if only I could find a 1997 cooking light magazine.

 

Much love and Happy New YEAR

janet

 

 

Drive through red……

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It never ceases to amaze me the clever beer labels.  I always choose the beer with the funkiest labels.  🙂  Quite appropriate today, as I drove  through some teddybear cholla cacti and my poor tire suffered “the attack of the teddybear cholla”.  I hardly knew I had a flat tire until Ken HAD TO take the thorn out… and then the tire went down quickly. I also fell again damaging a few things on the bike so now it is in “KENS SHOP”, getting fixed…..

Lets see, we have spent a few days  at Burro creek area hiking 900 feet down a very steep bank that apparently cows manage to make it up, to search for some wonderful pink chalcedony that we remembered seeing last year.IMG_2398

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Fortunately there was water at the bottom, which is the first water we have seen on any of our hikes.

It was also the day of the election in Alabama, and I thought that perhaps this might have been what Alabama had to say to Trump.

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Then we went to Prescott, where we stayed in a campground to get all our laundry done and I managed to leave Kens clothes in the dryer…….  Then we went from Prescott to Jerome. I have seen the drive described on a motorcycle blog as “127 curves in 12 miles”. Now I can see that as being exhilarating on a Harley Davidson, but in a 35 foot motorhome… Well lets just say we are not going back for Kens Laundry.

Now Jerome is considered to be a vertical town (imagine the Popeye movie with no ocean). NOT a place for a motorhome. The town was a copper mining town and at one time, the 4th largest city in the Arizona territory. The town had its hayday in the 1920s, decline in the depression of the 1930s, and then a reincarnation in the WW2 times, then decline. The past 30 years have given the town a whole new direction with the tourist industry. My theory is that a town that is on a vertical cliff facing the grand Canyon (or at least that is what I think it is) is what truly attracts people. Of course none of my pictures will do it justice, …..

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In my defence, we WERE a little shaken by the trip there, but we both feel we would LOVE to go back to Jerome sometime and stay at a bed and breakfast, I am sure it would be impossible NOT to have the incredible view of the lovely canyon  from every window in Jerome.  (which MIGHT …..be the Grand Canyon).    There was apparently shopping there was well. They have a parking lot from the old mine, that they have a shuttle going back and forth to the town area, which on some level might seem ridiculous, but if you really see how steep this town is, makes sense.

We had planned to drive up a 9.7 mile road from Jerome to go searching for the “most beautiful agates in central Arizona”, but realized that our motorhome was not up to the journey and 9.7 x 2 was possibly too much for Tucker, … so we moved on.

So we are now in Carefree Arizona. We are having stir fry tonite from sprouts I have been growing in the motorhome, gardening on the road.

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First 3 days…

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6 days…. yum.

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Must 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.