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. 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, 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
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) Ken why did we forget to bring our tractor…. You can see here that there is an area of lighter coloured earth, that is where we find STUFF.
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.
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
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)