Day Three In Quartzsite, Arizona – 2020

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Friday at the QIA PowWow and Desert Gardens

Day Three of the QIA PowWow greeted everyone again with perfect weather. Cool mornings and then long sleeve shirt weather in the afternoon. Wind picking up later in the day but no more than a breeze.

Day Three at The QIA PowWow 2020 from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Although I was trying to keep focused through the day, my mind kept returning to a location I discovered halfway between Parker and Quartzsite while investigating railroad ballast. (external link) My gold prospecting spidey sense kept tingling. Yes, I may be talking to you. But I’d rather leave to sample some black sand. Gold fever is a true sickness. (internal link)

I was at the PowWow only long enough to exchange a piece of eudialyte that I had bought the day before  from Alexander BlagulaAll of the previous night my purchase had bothered me. I had settled for what I could afford, not the cab I truly wanted. Before heading to Quartzsite I stopped at Wells Fargo in Parker to get the extra money I needed. Alexander seemed happy to see me, as I think he knew what I wanted to do. With graciousness he took back my first stone and gave complete credit for the new cab. In the way he talked and acted, I got the feeling that he was glad I was buying his best material. This video is from the day before.

Alexander Balagula of Unique Russian Mineral from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Desert Gardens

I took a few videos of the crowd at the PowWow and then moved across I-10 to Desert Gardens. To make it there, I used the frontage road as I had always done. Before you get to Desert Gardens, however, you have to pass through the Tyson Wells venue area. That venue sells a variety of things, not just rocks. It was complete madness, just looking at the teeming crowds put me nearly into a panic attack. I couldn’t imagine anyone voluntarily entering that swarm yet hundreds, if not thousands, seemed happy to do so.

Once at Desert Gardens things calmed down. The aisles are wider than the PowWow, making it seem more relaxed. The food, though, expect for the hot dogs, was limited and disappointing. I think the food is prepared by vendors who pay to be there, rather than cooked by happy volunteers. I’d bring your own food as you will probably be wandering for several hours. The big rocks are here, especially of rough of all kinds. Every vendor was from somewhere different, each had their own story and their own experiences. Each was an expert on at least several of the rocks or minerals they were selling. They all have their favorites, although they are often hesitant to name them. A number of fluorescent mineral dealers were at Desert Gardens. I didn’t see any radioactive minerals.

The first folks I met were at P.V. Rocks. Gary Peavy owns this business and he hails from Peoria, Illinois. He does some regional shows but once a year he gets out to Quartzsite. Wide variety of materials with much from the Midwest. E-mail is pvsrocks@aol.com and his website is https://pvsrocks.com.

PV’s Rocks at Desert Gardens, Quartzsite, 2020 from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


I was finally able to meet up with R.C. of Geological Specimen Supply (external link). He hand carried my latest order to me, rather than posting it as usual. Just what I needed, another box of rocks. He pointed out T-Cat in his van. R.C. always takes a cat collecting with him. He had been looking at PowWow for what I used to call peridot in vesicular basalt. I think he is saying it is actually peridotite xenolith in basalt. I think. I always have to read up on what R.C. says to me. It’s a great learning experience. He answered some of my pesky rock questions and seemed interested in the crazy looking railroad ballast I had seen near the La Paz County Fairground. Yes, rockhounds and geologists are interested in railroad ballast.

I also caught up with the Keadys of Rockchuck in Schurz, Nevada. (external link) I’ve written extensively on them before. Chelsea is continuing lapidary while awaiting the birth of her first child. I have their video on a previous page, but, what the heck, here it is again.

The Keadys of Rockchuck in Schurz, Nevada from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

After many tries, I also managed to find Laura Fitzpatrick, otherwise known as #geologistonboard. She is an Instagram influencer, who has thousands of followers. She writes extensively and in depth on geology and travels the world with her husband hunting and investigating everything rock related. She recently toured the Himalayas, reporting on each step of the way through Instagram. It’s all about the Gram. She agreed to an impromptu interview inside her well kitted Geo Mobile, a specially outfitted four wheel Mercedes van. She turned out to be a real gold bug and marvelled over my gold in quartz jewelry, insisting on taking pictures of the pieces. I tried not to bore her with my prospecting stories but she followed every detail of my accounts. Through the internet she is helping thousands learn about geology and to give people accounts and pictures of places most of us will never see.

#geologistonboard

Geologist on Board in The Geo Mobile AKA Flint from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


I also talked with David Bintliff of the Rock Broker. See the video below. My big regret was that I did not stay or ask that he light up these rocks. I tried to make it the next day but bridge traffic was terrible. If you meet David, he does have lamps on site and I am sure he will show you what is happening with these multi-mineral, multi-UV colored rocks.

David Bintliff of the Rock Broker. 605-593-6012.

David Bintliff of the Rock Broker at Desert Gardens in Quartzsite, Arizona from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


It was a treat, too, to meet the folks at Jim’s Rough Rocks who have a banner proclaiming Ocean Breeze Jasper. Their Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/JimsRoughRocks/Ocean

They are from Redmond, Oregon. Not the Redmond in Washington State, home to Microsoft, but Redmond, Oregon. I messed up on the video and misstated their business name. Apologies. Will try to fix.

Jim’s Rough Rocks at Desert Gardens in Quartzsite. 2020. from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


A few more hours in Quartzsite tomorrow and then I head off Saturday afternoon for Kingman, Arizona. Stay tuned.

Pow Wow Show Promoters
Mike & Carolyn Zinno
928-927-6325
PowWow@QIAarizona.org

Quartzsite Improvement Association
235 E. Ironwood Avenue, Quartzsite, AZ 85346
http://qiaarizona.org


You can read more about Quartzsite at Rock&Gem’s website and Facebook page. (external link). I was covering the day to day at the PowWow for them this year and I have written extensively on all things Quartzsite in the past.

 

Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

https://www.instagram.com/tgfarley/
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

Day Two of The QIA PowWow in Quartzsite, Arizona 2020

Thursday at the QIA PowWow

Thursday brought another day of beautiful weather to Quartzsite. A few wisps of clouds appeared from time to time, somewhat relieving the sun’s powerful glare. Temperatures rose into the high 60’s in the afternoon, shirt sleeve-weather but best taken in with a long sleeve shirt to prevent sunburn.


The day got warm enough that an alert went over the public address system about a few dogs that had been left in cars. Their owners were told to get back quickly to their vehicles before the police started breaking windows. This brings up the matter of dogs at Quartzsite – they are all over.

On a leash, hand carried, or in a stroller, big dogs and little dogs are all about the aisles at the PowWow. I’ve never seen a dog fight but there are occasional lunges and a few sharp barks. Young dogs are around that may not be used to crowds and there are tiny dogs that are vulnerable. Every owner I saw seemed to have a dog that was socialized or mostly so. The dog community is fully present at the PowWow as you hear constant compliments from people on each other’s dogs. Big dogs seem to draw the most likes.

I could only visit a few vendors as I got wrapped up in long talks with each about their materials and collecting. I met quite a few people who knew people who I knew. One example was Kirk Brock at Rock Solid Jade at space 490. I showed him my jade key fob to see if he could identity its locality. He thought it most probably nephrite from Mendocino County in California. I said I carved it in Hesperia at the Mining Supplies and Rock Shop during a jade carving class taught by Mariana Shoupe. “Oh, yes,” Kirk said, I know her quite well. I think she is here now at the show. ”

This video looked great on my phone but it and a few others changed from landscape to portrait layout. I’ve attempted to rescue it with a frame.

Rock Solid Jade with Kirk Brock from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


Another example was when I fell into two people who kept mentioning Utah locations for agates. I then noticed that one had a Southern Utah Rock Club hat on. “I’m a member!”, I exclaimed. “I know Lynn. He showed me a great place for field agates that I would never have found otherwise.” They smiled and said they knew this place near Cedar City well. The couple lived in Mesquite, Nevada and when the weather got too hot they would drive to that higher elevation to collect during the summer. This conversation took place at the space for Johnson Brothers Lapidary.
https://www.johnsonbrotherslapidary.com



I’ve written that you’ll never know who you’ll meet in Quartzsite. Proof of that was when I stopped at Mike Martin’s space, number 239 and 240. Lots of fossils. I am not a fossil guy but I know they are popular and I haven’t covered fossils. So, I asked for permission to photograph and started asking questions. He looked at my business card and started repeating my last name. “Farley, Farley, Farley.” I thought perhaps he had read one of my articles for Rock&Gem. Instead, he asked if I had any relatives in Humboldt County, California. I started to cry but held back my tears. “Just my late brother.” “That was Tim! Biff Barker! He worked for me when I owned the radio station in Eureka. He was great. Everybody loved him. Great sense of humor.” Tim worked a long time in radio and Eureka was where he found a home. He did morning drive and was absolutely fun to listen to. Mike allowed Tim to be himself and it was a very emotional time for me as we both exchanged memories of my past brother. Mike, by the way, does an enormous amount of self collecting and coin and relict hunting in England. Well worth a stop.

Mike Martin’s e-mail is paleomike@aol.com

Mike Martin / Detector and Fossil Sales from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


Inside the main hall are displays and, as always, the Ottesens. I didn’t get a chance to ask them about how they are restarting the fee digs but they are. I’ve been out to the Royal Royston for my first Rock&Gem article and also to their Broken Arrow claim last year. Both terrific experiences.
https://ottesonbrothersturquoise

Inside the QIA Main Building from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


Alexander Balagula of Unique Russian Mineral at space 326 provided me a chance to try out my rusty Russian. Alexander didn’t correct me on my “Good morning and how are you greeting?” I felt good about that. He showed me some beautiful free form cabs of eudialyte on which he said he founded his business. He lists Fort Lee, New Jersey as his business address and the stone I eventually bought comes from the Kola Peninsula in Russia. To add to that that sense of going around the world, Alexander is a Russian Jew who lived for many years in Israel.

When someone asked him about his sign, Unique Russian Mineral and what it was, he smiled and said it mostly refers to himself. I liked his sense of humor. He will be in Tucson. His business card lists a website and an Etsy page but they don’t easily reflect his offerings. The Etsy store is gemstoneworld. Try his e-mail or these phone numbers. E-mail: abalagula@verizon.net. Cell phone: 201-647-4211. I had buyers’ remorse about the stone I bought and Alex gave me full credit for the returned cab. I wanted what you see in the photo below but settled for something more affordable on Thursday. Don’t settle or you’ll go through a painful night of reconsideration. Yes, I got that piece with the plume of yellow sphene or titanite on Friday. I understand your jealously.



At one point I heard Pink Floyd being played on an acoustic guitar being played by a young man who calls himself DanTheCabMan. That’s an Instagram handle for those who don’t know. He played “Wish you Were Here” and I wished every rockhound could be there in Quartzsite, too. In the video he says he won’t sing. I promised I wouldn’t, either.

#danthecabman from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


Here’s a photo on Thursday of what I used to call vesicular basalt with peridot. Not particularly wonderful specimens but a teaching moment. I am now told this is more properly termed vesicular porphyritic olivine basalt. Of, course.


Practical points. I found my fabric and rubber hiking boots worked very well for walking the aisles. After all, I hike in them all day so it made sense they would work here. Whatever you use, make sure they are comfortable and perhaps have a backup pair in your vehicle in case they don’t. Also, I found getting in touch with people is extremely difficult these days because everyone has their own preferences. Some use a mobile phone, others e-mail, some text, some message by Instagram or Facebook. I don’t have advice on overcoming this but you may want to make arrangements before hand if you are meeting someone in Quartzsite. While the vendors will all be in a certain location, your friends may be bouncing all over towns at different venues. Speaking of which, tomorrow I will be going back to the PowWow for a little bit and then hitting Desert Gardens across the highway later on. Different material, bigger stuff, lots of rough.

Bonus footage! Non-Pow-Wow. I almost forgot Miner’s Depot, a Quartzsite institution. I did a video on them on this second day and they are worth a lot more in print than I have time for here. They are less than a half mile north of city center. Great people. Gold spoken there.

Miners Depot in Quartzsite, Arizona from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Pow Wow Show Promoters
Mike & Carolyn Zinno
928-927-6325
PowWow@QIAarizona.org

Quartzsite Improvement Association
235 E. Ironwood Avenue, Quartzsite, AZ 85346
http://qiaarizona.org


You can read more about Quartzsite at Rock&Gem’s website and Facebook page. (external link). I was covering the day to day at the PowWow for them this year and I have written extensively on all things Quartzsite in the past.


Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

https://www.instagram.com/tgfarley/

The QIA PowWow in Quartzsite, Arizona, 2020. January 15th. Day One.

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The QIA PowWow: Day One, Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

Perfect weather greeted everyone in Quartzsite, Arizona for the first day of the QIA PowWow. Not quite shirt sleeve weather but a light jacket or a long sleeved shirt served well. No wind, a blessing for all of the vendors with shade canopies that normally take sail in a strong breeze.



High clouds, bright sun. Sunscreen, big cap, and lip balm time. If you lack a cap, the Quartzsite Roadrunners Gem and Mineral Club will sell you one. Or a nice Polo. As everyone knows, all Roadrunner based apparel enhances life.



I got to talk to only a few vendors but I will be back tomorrow. Jeffrey Anderson of Dwarves Earth Treasures eagerly looked at my first self-collected thunderegg. Although he has cut thousands of geodes and thundereggs, his expression was that of someone truly in love with his trade, who couldn’t wait to cut my rock open and to polish it. He’s not cutting on site this year, but will get it done at his shop before his next show and mail it back to me. Jeffrey is deaf and communicates with a signboard and, as he once wrote me, with some acting. He was selling a great selection of polished and unpolished material. This evening I got an e-mail from him, putting in exact writing what he tried to communicate to me over his show table. He is at Booth 159.

http://www.sailorenergy.net/MineralMain.html




Jason Fabbi of Las Vegas was at Quartzsite for his seventh year. He is at Booth 330 and his business is called JHF Stones. Jason is a Graduate Gemologist (GIA). He does custom jewelry, often working with a stone a customer found themselves. He is also a lifetime member of the Southern Nevada Gem & Mineral Society which is quite an honor. (external link) Full disclosure, he made a wonderful bolo tie for me last year and this year he fashioned a ring for me that Ringo Starr would be proud of.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JHFstones



Geologist Wayne Holland was back again with his amazing collection of gold specimens, many he mined himself. His booth is right next to the main QIA building. He is a Total Gold Authority with an expertise that ranges far into a mix of other minerals, some local to the Southwest and exotic. He’ll appraise your gold for a reasonable fee, any money completely worth it to hear him hold forth on his specialty. When an expert like this starts talking, it is best just to listen, take notes, and try to keep up. You’re not getting this experience on eBay!

E-mail: dirtdiverexploration@gmail.com



I don’t want to stress the vendors too much in this recap. They are great souls but all the visitors seemed interesting as well and all in a happy mood. Striking up a conversation with a random stranger turns that stranger into a friend. For some reason, on Wednesday I ran into a variety of experienced world travelers. They could recount their adventures from China to Mexico to Switzerland. I met a charming lapidarist named Nina and I wish I was still talking to her. You’ll meet rockhounds and jewelry people and other folk who journeyed a long way to get this place. Everybody wanted to be there and it was clear they had been looking forward to the PowWow for some time.

David Walblom once again presented terrific dinosaur sculptures, both here and at Tyson Wells across I-10. David is a treat to talk to and if you are looking for an unusual lapidary tool, well, you came to the right place.

https://xpopress.com/vendor/profile/884/david-walbloms-lapidary-tools-supplies



The volunteers must not be overlooked, the hundreds of them the only way this event can happen. Particularly striking was a young man who was tasked with cleaning the men’s restroom, an awful job that he took on with a smiling face. I thanked him for his work because I have had to clean bathrooms in some of my jobs. He seemed surprised with my compliment as he appeared content to be doing what he could to help. Hours later he was still there, still cleaning with a an uplifted expression. That’s dedication and a testimony to a fine work ethic and character. Other volunteers were equally busy and yet never too busy to explain events, give directions, or hand you a freshly made hamburger. Food prices are very reasonable and there is even a buggy that drives the aisles, like a vendor working a ball park, bringing food and drink to you.


People with wheel chairs and walkers managed the gravel surface of the PowWow, with people helping whenever they needed to get their gear on board the shuttle service that takes people from the parking lot to the show. This is a passenger trailer towed by a tractor. I’ve operated a Kubota before but never towed people behind me. The trailer has stairs to mount but everyone pitches in to help people on board.

A dog named Holly. Probably a rockhound.

Admission free, parking free, experience free. What are you waiting for? See you tomorrow.

Pow Wow Show Promoters
Mike & Carolyn Zinno
928-927-6325
PowWow@QIAarizona.org

Quartzsite Improvement Association
235 E. Ironwood Avenue, Quartzsite, AZ 85346
http://qiaarizona.org


You can read more about Quartzsite at Rock&Gem’s website and Facebook page. I was covering the day to day at the PowWow for them this year and I have written extensively on all things Quartzsite in the past.

From Quartzsite, Arizona

I’ve been doing some social media reporting for Rock&Gem. I’m not sure when they will be able to post all of the videos I have made. I present a few here for now.

The Keadys of Rockchuck

The Keadys of Rockchuck in Schurz, Nevada from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

David Bintliff of the Rock Broker

David Bintliff of the Rock Broker at Desert Gardens in Quartzsite, Arizona from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

#geologistonboard

Geologist on Board in The Geo Mobile AKA Flint from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.


Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

https://www.instagram.com/tgfarley/

Update on All Things Benitoite

My etching experiment is not turning out well, the acid may be too weak.

Just got copies of the Mineralogical Record that write up benitoite.

Got a specimen in the mail the other day. A broken neptunite and a detached benitoite crystal were at the bottom of the box.

Which leads me to conclude that no collector will want to send their prized specimen to me to loan through the mails. And they shouldn’t. The only way this will work is if a collector hand carries it to the display case in Tucson by themselves. There may not be enough of those people to complete the display. I continue to ponder this.

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Quartzsite is Coming Soon!

Quartzsite in Arizona is coming alive for the season right now. Make plans now to get there, if you haven’t done so already. The culmination of rock related activities related in Quartzite will be the 2020 QIA PowWow, a four day show that starts on January 15th and ends on January 19th. But Desert Gardens will get started January 1st as well as lots of other venues. More below.

I recommend staying two full days in Quartzsite  if you haven’t gone before. Lodging is extremely limited in town, however, you can sleep in your car in the desert. Are there any other questions? Oh, okay.

The article below is the fifth piece I wrote for Rock&Gem Magazine. It appeared in the April, 2017 issue and it is here now due to the gracious consent of the current managing editor, Antoinette Rahn.

I’ve updated information where necessary and made good the links. There is additional material at the end of the article which comes from my Places to Visit and Collect in The Southwest file. Good luck, I will see you there.

Quartzsite: Rockhounds Gather in The Desert

by Thomas Farley

Quartzsite, Arizona is a town and a meeting place. In winter it is a gathering of the clan for recreational vehicle Snowbirds, flea market enthusiasts, ham radio operators, off-road motorists, geo-cachers, and rockhounds. Especially rockhounds. Quartzsite is rock and gem heaven.

While many Quartzsite locations sell rocks in the winter months, the biggest production is January’s QIA PowWow Gem and Mineral Show. In 2017 it featured over 550 spaces and 272 vendors. Put on by 300 volunteers, seller’s wares had to be 75% gem, rock, mineral, or jewelry related. Running concurrently with the PowWow at another site, the Desert Gardens Gem and Mineral Show concentrates mostly on rocks, with a little less jewelry than the PowWow. Then there’s the Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show. And the Prospectors’ Panorama. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Quartzsite is in southwest Arizona, 244 miles east of Los Angeles and 127 miles west of Phoenix. Las Vegas is 213 miles to the north. Located in the La Posa Plain, La Paz County, Quartzsite is bordered to the south by the Dome Rock, Castle Dome, and Kofa Mountains. In its heyday, 39 mines operated around Quartzsite. Mostly gold mines, with one or two cinnabar and lead. A profusion of old mines and collecting sites gave rise to Quartzsite in the mid 1960s as a rockhounding paradise. Quartzsite’s population now stands at roughly 3,000 people.

In 1856 Charles “Charly” Tyson dug a well that would provide water to cross country travelers, nearby ranchers, and to mine workers in the surrounding mountains. He built a small adobe structure and called it Fort Tyson. It eventually became a stagecoach stop on the route from Ehrenburg, Arizona to Prescott. By that time one building had become several, the compound taking on the fuller name of Tyson’s Well Stage Station.

Quartzsite owes its present appellation to postal naming conventions. The postmark “Tyson’s” served the town until 1895 when mail service ended due to the local postmaster falling ill. A new post office opened in 1896 at another location. The Postmaster General decreed that discontinued place names couldn’t be used and, further, only one-word names were acceptable. Quartz Site is what the townsfolk wanted, from all the quartz at a nearby stamp mill. The postal service shortened it to Quartzsite.

The PowWow Gem and Mineral Show first started in 1967 with 18 locals selling items at a small school to about a thousand people. The event progressed into what may now be the largest public rock and gem show in the country. Over these fifty years the entire town has become dotted with rock shops, auction houses, and trading posts of all kinds. While I was there a venue announced the sale of a pallet of American flag products, 4,000 helium balloons, and over 10,000 old Playboy magazines. Essentially, if something has been made, it’s probably been sold in Quartzsite.

Quartzsite’s popularity as America’s largest yard sale and winter retreat probably peaked in the year 2000. In January of 1999, Huell Howser, California travelogue producer par excellence, took his film crew outside the state for the first time to cover Quartzsite. In a warm and engaging hour, which is free to view online, Howser interviewed many townsfolk, mostly about the history of the community. Then, in 2000, National Geographiccame to visit. They called Quartzsite Nowhere, Arizona. Until November:

“Then, like a mob of chattering starlings settling into a too-small tree, the snowbirds start landing in November. By mid-January, the mechanical car counter at the Interstate 10 exit is ticking off 26,000 vehicles a day. Within weeks 175,000 RVs cram inches apart into 79 trailer parks, onto front yards, and spill out seven miles on either side of town. Every year more than a million people reset their internal navigation and drive from Everywhere, North America, to this western Arizona dot on the map. Luxury motor homes, fifth wheels, cab-over campers, trailers, and converted school buses plunk down on the same patch of land.” “America’s Largest Parking Lot” by Cary Wolinsky. National Geographic, January, 2001.

Things have settled down since then. My visit started on Wednesday, January, 18, 2017. Empty RV parking spaces in town seemed numerous. Space looked plentiful at BLM land outside of town. But since few venues charge for admission or parking, there’s no real way to keep count. The BLM did tell me approximately 28,401 people stayed at their free and pay areas in fiscal year 2016. And the Arizona D.O.T. says Main Street now averages 12,400 vehicles in each direction over the course of a year. The city website says 2,000,000 annual visitors. Whatever the numbers, the rock shows continue to draw vendors in record amounts, with waiting lists common for spaces.

As to the PowWow itself, Wednesday was ideal. Bright sunshine and short sleeve weather. I regretted not bringing sunscreen and I later bought a hat from the Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Club. More on them in a bit. To begin with, the PowWow is located just off Main Street at 235 East Ironwood Drive. Follow the cars. A parking lot doesn’t seem obvious, but keep moving along and you’ll find it; everything funnels to the main lot. Two tractor pulled shuttles take visitors to any entrance they like. Drivers give everybody time to get on, including those with walkers. Shuttle, parking, and admission are all free.

I came simply to look around, this being my first time in Quartzsite. Listing everything I saw would be like reciting a lengthy gem and mineral guide. Items varied from Bruneau jasper to lapis lazuli to malachite to Oregon sunstone. One booth sold “Hot Rocks”, with a Geiger counter next to them in case you had doubts. Another vendor had over a hundred sample boxes filled with different rocks and minerals, all arranged in alphabetical order. 21 boxes under “C” alone. That assortment ranged from Terlingua, Texas fluorescent calcite, to Coontail quartz from Magnet, Arkansas, to coyote teeth from British Columbia. And that was just one seller’s table.

A dinosaur sculpture greeted me on one aisle. On the next, oil paintings on marble. As I wandered, I came across Timothy Harned’s tables. He owns Bustin’s Glass and Minerals. I last saw Tim at the 2016 Logandale Fall Festival in Logandale, Nevada. The promoters advertised a Rock and Gem Faire at the event but Tim turned out to be the sole vendor. It was good to see him again and we talked. Again, Quartzsite is a meeting and gathering place.

The QIA building is PowWow’s center. QIA stands for the Quartzsite Improvement Association. Within their building is a limited number of dealers, display cases, and the kitchen and dining hall. Food is sold throughout the day, with all proceeds going toward supporting the QIA and its many community causes. The dining hall makes a great place to reconnoiter with your group, study the vendor list, and then plan what to see next.

The PowWow in 2017 ran from January, 18th until the 22d. As I mentioned, the Desert Gardens Rock, Gem, and Mineral Show was running concurrently and through February 28th. This venue is on the other side of I-10 at 1050 Kuehn Street. It has no parking lot shuttle service. A walk around Desert Gardens was similarly staggering, especially because of larger material. This is the place to find big pieces of rough. Need a spectacular garden rock? You’ll find it at Desert Gardens. The Desert Gardens venue was less busy than the PowWow and had a more relaxed feel. You should visit both. But the appeal of Quartzsite extends beyond the rock shows, to dedicated rock and gem shops and to the clubs that operate throughout the winter. First, the clubs.

The Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club is one of the largest and most organized rock clubs in the country. Membership is only $15 a year and they are active October through March. Field trips go every Tuesday through the season and twice a day during PowWow. Non-members pay $2 a trip. Roadrunners this year during PowWow went to find bacon rock, desert roses, geodes, apache tears, and green banded rhyolite. Among other things. Round trip mileage ranged from 40 to 162 miles over a variety of roads, many of them tough. http://qrgmc.org

The Quartzsite Metal Detecting Club consists of coin shooters and gold prospectors. Membership is a terrific bargain at $20 a person. This lets you in on the club’s 14 claims encompassing 280 acres of gold bearing ground. The club is most active November through the middle of March, however, you are free to work in summer if you can stand the 118 degree heat. If you are a coin shooter, you can participate in their many winter season hunts. $20 for each hunt.Do not mail your dues to them, instead, pay in person at the Miners Depot described further on.

http://quartzsitemetaldetectingclub.com/

I stayed in Quartzsite for three days, however, with so many club activities, a week would have been a better choice. And then there are the stores.

Quartzsite is peppered with stand-alone and pop up stores selling rocks, gems, and minerals. Quartzsite’s business and souvenir map reveals retail shops like Gem World, T-Rocks, Sunwest Silver, and, less obvious, Hardies Beads and Jewelry. That last store is a Quartzsite institution. While mainly selling collecting supplies and beads, they have an outstanding rock collection installed on their interior east wall. Their museum contains quite a few specimens from the Quartzsite area, including gold in quartz. See the image below.

For gold prospectors, make certain to stop in at Blake and Lisa Harmon’s Miners Depot on North Central Boulevard. Miners Depot is a desert prospecting store and the unofficial clearing house for gold information in the Quartzsite area. Inquire about the metal detecting club. As with everything in Quartzsite, hours are seasonal.

http://www.minersdepot.com/

While shopping, don’t miss a chance to visit the Tyson’s Well Museum. It’s free and enthusiastic volunteers will tell you the history of Quartzsite as a stage station and a supply depot for nearby mines. Speaking of which, outside in back, is the original assay office of the Mariquita mine. The many items speak to the everyday life of miners. The volunteer I talked to was also a member of the metal detecting club. He discussed at length the many mines surrounding Quartzsite. Be sure to notice the museum ceiling made of saguaro ribs.

Other winter shows include:

The Prospector’s Panorama:

(http://prospectorspanorama.com/),

Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show:

https://www.tysonwells.com/rock—gem-show.html

The Gold Show.

https://quartzsitegoldshowcom.wordpress.com/)

Desert Gardens — lots of big rough there, see picture below:

http://desertgardensrvpark.net/DGShowRGMShow.html

Quartzsite doesn’t take itself too seriously. The square dance club is called the Cactus Dodgers, a propane supply company is called Passmore Gas, and one street is named, well, No Name Street. Camel references abound and you should know the story of them and of Quartzsite’s most famous citizen before you visit.

In 1857 the War Department directed Edward Beale to pioneer a wagon trail from New Mexico to California. In his company were about 75 camels purchased from North Africa and the Middle East. This constituted a great experiment as to the worthiness of camels as pack animals in the great Southwest. Questions were many, such as, could camels swim the Colorado River? On this journey as packer and guide was one Phillip Tedro, born in present day Turkey and later a Syrian countryman. After converting to Islam, Tedro called himself Hadji Ali. The men in Beale’s company had difficulty pronouncing the name, however, and instead called him Hi Jolly.

After completing the journey, which Beale said went “without an accident of any kind whatsoever”, the troupe of camels were disbanded. (It Happened in Arizonaby James Crutchfield. Falcon Press, 1994) Speculation has it that the camel’s sensitive hooves, although perfectly suited to loose soft sand, could not endure the Sonoran Desert’s often rocky surface. A travel guide adds this, “The camels adapted well to their new environment but were never used successfully, partly because the sight of them caused horses, mules and cattle to stampede.” (AAA Arizona and New Mexico Tour Book, 2014)

Hadji bought a few camels from the company and returned with them to Arizona, where he engaged in various pursuits, including mining and acting as a government scout. He became an American citizen, married in Tucson and finally settled in Quartzsite. At a certain point he released his camels to the desert. He died in 1902 and is buried in Quartzsite’s cemetery. In 1935 the State of Arizona built the pyramidal Hi Jolly monument which you see today. According to the 2017 Quartzsite Visitor Guide , it is the town’s most visited spot. The legacy of camels echoes throughout Quartzsite in postcards, sculptures, and as ornaments in maps and guidebooks.

At any booth you’ll find miners who found and worked up material from their own property or claim. It is this direct connection that makes buying more personable than purchasing a rock through eBay or another second hand source. Two talks with vendors were memorable.

Karen Britton of Britton Apache Turquoise has been mining and working variscite and turquoise for 29 years in central Nevada in Lander County. Her late husband, Lee Britton, had even earlier ties to turquoise and turquoise like rocks. He first staked a Lander County claim in 1974. Their most famous property was the Apache Turquoise Mine. Karen mentioned a Rock&Gem article done by Mark Hatch where he described how he produced a stunning necklace starting from Apache Mine rough. (“Make an Apache Turquoise Necklace” by Mark Hatch Rock&Gem January, 1971). I read the piece later and it was indeed a tribute to the black included stones Britton regularly mines. I bought a cabochon from Karen, partly as a collectible, partly to support her continuing efforts.

After the show I read up on the Apache Mine. Two writers wrote that Apache Mine material once thought turquoise has now been identified as variscite. (Minerals of Nevada, Stephen B. Castor and Gregory Ferdock. Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 31, 2004.) What impressed me on that Wednesday, however, was Karen’s dedication to her beautiful rocks. She soldiers on with no web presence, appearing only at shows like those in Quartzsite. Besides talking to this veteran, I was also struck by a young couple just making their presence known in the rock business.


John Keady and Chelsea Thompson operate Rockchuck Gem and Mineral Gallery in tiny Schurz, Nevada. It’s just north of Walker Lake in Mineral County on I-95. The pair create cabs and jewelry, notably using turquoise and variscite from different Nevada locales. They also mine their own Hellsfire agate. Keady is by training a stone mason. I didn’t know all this until I came across their booth. I vaguely recalled a rock shop sign near Schurz but I never investigated it. And now, here were the owners. The shop had come to me. There’s more.

The last time I passed Walker Lake I stopped to read different information signs. They were installed on impressive monuments made of local stone. It turns out Keady built one. What were the odds I’d meet the builder of something I noted on a lonely road to Reno? And what were the chances I’d run into two such young and creative people almost six hundred miles from their home? As I said before, Quartzsite is a gathering and meeting place. For people you’ve already met. And for the people you will.

Some Quartzsite Tips

Many sellers and restaurants take only cash so be prepared. The only bank in town is the Horizon Community Bank. Take a notebook to keep track of purchases, vendors, and details. Bring sunscreen and a cap. A raincoat and a heavier coat for rain and wind that may well happen. Don’t forget your loupe and a camera. Remember, too, that Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time. Most things get going around 10:00 a.m. And look out for pedestrians while driving at night. They are everywhere and all dressed in black. One more thing. Bring your patience — you’re among friends.

Essential and mostly free publications to pick up around town:

Quartzsite, Arizona Visitor Guide

Quartzsite EZ-Guide (a map of vendor spaces for the four major shows)

QIA PowWow Gem and Mineral Show Guide (available at the PowWow)

The Quartzsite Nugget and Winter Visitors Guide

Where IZZAT Business Map (Absolutely vital for navigating Quartzsite. $2.00)

Desert Messenger News (Community paper)

Most publications won’t be available until the end of the year. Until then, keep abreast of Quartzsite happenings with the excellent Desert Messenger. Read it here:

http://MyQuartzsite.com

Consult the Quartzsite Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism: http://www.quartzsitetourism.com.

Lodging. Very limited in town.

Super 8, Quartzsite: (928) 927-8080. 2050 Dome Rock Road. Quite far from town but the biggest motel. Two stories. No elevator. Book before October.

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/super-8/quartzsite-arizona/super-8-quartzsite-az/overview

Quartzsite Yacht Club: (928) 927-5628. 1070 West Main Street.

http://www.quartzsiteyachtclub.com

Stagecoach Restaurant and Motel
(928) 927-8161
904 West Main Street

No true web presence. Call.

People also stay in Ehrenberg, AZ or Blythe, CA, about 18 miles and 22 miles away, respectively. Parker, AZ is about forty miles north on I-95 but the road crosses many washes and could be cut off in a rainstorm. Still, I like the drive and often stay at the Hampton Inn in Parker.

A Yelp list of RV Parks is here:

https://www.yelp.ca/search?cflt=rvparks&find_loc=Quartzsite%2C+AZ+85346

Camping in the desert? Here’s one BLM link:

https://www.blm.gov/visit/la-posa-long-term-visitor-area

MORE DETAILS!

Quartzsite, Arizona – City and Major Rock Event

Quartzsite comes alive in winter. January sees a gathering of rock, gem, and mineral collectors and sellers from all over the world. I’ve written about this extensively at my blog, https://southwestrockhounding.com. See you there in January.

Quartzsite Museum aka the Tyson’s Well Stage Station

161 West Main St
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
928-927-5229

33°39.971′ N 114°13.182′ W

https://www.visitarizona.com/business/quartzsite-museum

Mining artifacts and assay office. Seasonal hours. The Tyson’s Well Museum is a must-stop. It is free and enthusiastic volunteers explain the history of Quartzsite as a stage station and a supply depot for nearby mines.

Hardies Beads & Jewelry

1250 W. Main St
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
928-927-6381

33°39.754′ N 114°14.256′ W

http://hardiesonline.com

Outstanding rock, gem, and mineral collection on display. Most material collected locally. Not many rocks for sale, mostly things bead related. A Quartzsite institution.  Seasonal hours.

Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club

Headquarter Address:
65 Ironwood, Quartzsite, AZ (Quartzsite Improvement Association building)

33°39.925′ N 114°12.843′ W

Mailing Address:
PO Box 338, Quartzsite, AZ  85346
928-927-5531

http://qrgmc.org

The Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club is one of the largest and most organized rock clubs in the country. Extremely active, especially October through March. Field trips go every Tuesday through that time and twice a day during the QIA’s PowWow. Non-members pay $2 a trip. Roadrunners may go to find, among other things, bacon rock, desert roses, geodes, apache tears, and green banded rhyolite. Major shop facilities and classes.

Miners Depot

566 North Central Blvd
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
Messaging through their website

33°40.538′ N 114°13.033′ W

Miners Depot is desert prospecting store and a clearing house for gold information in the Quartzsite area. Detectors, tools, screens, lots of screens, the place to stop before heading out. Generally open six days a week during the main prospecting season, from about November through mid-March.

https://minersdepot.com/

Quartzsite Metal Detecting Club

Mailing Address
PO Box 3102
Quartzsite, AZ 85359-3102
928-927-7150
Meeting address (Miners Depot)
566 North Central Blvd
Quartzsite, AZ 85346
33°40.538′ N 114°13.033′ W

A club of coin shooters and gold prospectors. Membership is a terrific bargain at $20 a person. This lets you in on the club’s 14 claims encompassing 280 acres of gold bearing ground. The club is most active November through the middle of March, however, you are free to work in summer if you can stand the 118 degree heat. If you are a coin shooter, you can participate in their many winter season hunts. $20 for each hunt.

Of special note, they do not mail memberships. Sign up and pay dues at their club meetings, coin hunts, their table at the PowWow in January, and at Miners Depot. Really, though, get out to Miners Depot. It is well worth your visit.

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Rock-A-Buy: Rocks and Gifts in Duncan, Arizona

Update: I posted a link to this article at the Rock Connection on Facebook. It was pulled by the admins, all of them, as it was linking to a commercial site. “It’s in the rules. Read them.” People like Doug Barlow deserve the support of the entire rock and gem community because he supports them.

I don’t get any money for promoting him and he is totally unaware that I am posting about him. Rules are good to prevent chaotic behavior but I see nothing in this post to be alarmed about. My response from rockhounds on rock shop posts is 100% positive. The admins left up my post about Jim Gray’s Company, a much bigger outfit. Nothing makes sense from these admins and I have quit the group.

This is from my travel list:

Rock-A-Buy: Rocks and Gifts
809 SE Old West Highway
Duncan, AZ 85534
928-215-1641

32°42.791′ N 109°05.921′ W

http://www.rockabuyrocksandgifts.com/

Doug Barlow is the affable owner of this east-central Arizona rock shop in Greenlee County. Fire agate is the big draw in this area and Doug will show you samples of what to look for. He will even provide a map of promising locations for anyone who comes into his shop and signs his guest book.

BLM’s Round Mountain Rockhound Area is close and Doug has advice for anyone heading out. Ask, too, about Black Hills, another BLM rockhounding area. Call to make certain Barlow’s shop will be open when you visit. He’s a great guy. He gave me a piece of calcite he had named the “The Volcano.” Gifted it, mind you. It glows beautifully under short wave. I treasure that piece.




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Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company in Holbrook, Arizona

A monument to petrified wood allthough they have plenty of other material. That stock is not too focused on Arizona rocks and gems. A must stop in Holbrook which is in Navajo County. With all pet wood, test for “UV” and “U” if you can. Here’s what I write in  my travel list:

Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company

147 Highway 180
Holbrook, AZ 86025
928-524-1842

34°53.433′ N 110°09.581′ W

https://shop.jimgrayspetrifiedwoodco.com

Self-billed as the largest rock shop in the world, this store may qualify as such. Located on the way to the Petrified Forest National Park, the outside rock yard contains tons of petrified wood, a veritable forest of its own. Inside, polished pieces present themselves in all forms, from table tops to book ends.















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The Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, Arizona

This shop was closed when I visited in spring. I took a few pictures and rolled on. Apologies for not adding it to my travel list. A must stop. Call ahead to make sure they are open. Holbrook is in Navajo County, close to the Petrified Forest National Park.

Rainbow Rock Shop (Indian Rock Shop)
101 Navajo Blvd
Holbrook, Arizona 86025
928-524-2384

34°54.080′ N 110°09.528′

Google map link:

https://goo.gl/maps/Hgkjrv7QRccmofdZ7

Multiple dinosaur statutes out front. Do you need any more encouragement?







Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rainbow-Rock-Shop/146894192022374


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