Moving Out and Up!



A Quick Two Hours in The North Nopah

Last week I discovered some outbuildings to an old mine on the east side of this particular hill in the North Nopah WA. Today, I was trying to find some clues to the west side claims that make up the old Nopah Group. No luck today, the heat too great to stay out too long.





Update on Railroad Pass, Clark County, Nevada

My investigation of that area has somewhat stalled.

I was hoping that the fluorescent properties of alunite might guide me to that mineral on the hill. It is said to be extremely difficult to identify using physical or chemical means. Unfortunately, further research says its UV characteristics are uncertain.

The alunite examples I got from Minerals Unlimited are from  Marysvale  in Piute County, Utah. Mindat confirms that the mining district there indeed has alunite.

The host rock is richly pink, possibly from feldspar. The florescence the rocks show is confusing.

I read originally that alunite fluoresces orange under LW. Another website says it glows white under SW. Another authoritative site site says yellowish-white under both SW and LA. A hardcopy book I have says alunite is not normally a fluorescent mineral but when it does, it appears white to grayish.

The problem is that the specimens I receive glow softly green under SW and not at all under LW. Some of the rocks don’t light up at all. I have one rock from the hill that also lights up green under SW but it is much brighter than my reference samples and it has an afterglow. The ones from Utah do not.

Not all minerals are well researched for all the characteristics they may possess in all localities. For example, extremely few fluorescent mineral list mention that some benitoite glows red. But some small pieces do. UV may not be helpful after all but I have found a few other things lately in my self-quarantining.

I have Castor’s well respected Minerals of Nevada in my library. He says alunite is “abundant with pyrite at Railroad Pass.” Okay, as a gold prospector I certainly know what pyrite looks like. And two Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Examination reports mention quartz and alunite veins. Another mention of quartz. While I have found only one piece! Something is wrong.

In one of those examination reports are clear directions to another site on the hill, in the opposite direction of the area I was looking at. Armed with this information, I think I am now better positioned to find some well mineralized rocks. Just wished my back and leg were getting better.

I am now in physical therapy but and not making any progress, indeed, I having set backs. Still, I will probably make it back to the hill soon. Gold fever trumps all illnesses. Even when you are only looking for colors.


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Darwin, California. Inyo County.

Night time fluorescent mineral hunt with Pat Dolan in the hills above the remote hamlet of Darwin, California.

No services, no businesses, no gas station, no cell coverage, nothing, save a Post Office and 42 people, all of whom rely on water delivered by a gravity fed pipe from a spring on the the property of the China Lake Naval Air Station.

Darwin was a major mining district back in the day. The area does have electrical power and hard-wired phone service.

Lone Pine to the west has the nearest hotel, the Panamint Springs Resort in Death Valley has lodging and a campground as well. I don’t know if either is still open during the this virus crisis. Panamint Springs is only 23 miles away but it will take at least 40 minutes of driving to cover those twisty miles. Lone Pine is 38 miles away and maybe 40 minutes, too.

I found a room at a house in Darwin through Airbnb.com. The owner’s name is Lawrence and his entry at Airbnb is called “an unexpected paradise.” He is an entertaining and engaging host, however, he does turn off the heat at night, so be prepared. Darwin is near Death Valley but it is also high in the mountains at 5,000 feet.

You won’t have WiFi, cable TV, or anything internet at Lawrence’s house. I knew all of that, though, going in. He does have a fine book collection, though, and can talk about Gore Vidal at length. He is not a rockhound but he knows the country.

I think a link to my review of his place is here:

https://www.airbnb.com/c/thomasf46698?currency=USD

My hope is to return when the days are warmer so I can camp up near the mines. Perhaps for two or three nights. It is all open BLM land.

I am only now looking over what I collected.








“Darwin / The town was named after Darwin French who explored the area in 1860 giving his name to the Falls, Canyon, and Wash. First recorded mine [unreadable], was discovered in by Rafel Cuervo October, 1874. Darwin was the center of activity of the new Coso Mining District. By 1877 three furnaces were in operation, the greatest producing mines were the Christmas Gift, Defiance, and Lucky Jim . . . .”





This is BLM managed ground with unmaintained and often narrow dirt roads. A full size pickup might get its paint scraped. 4-High only on our trip, no 4-Lo or lockers needed. Surprisingly, my on-pavement Garmin Navigator showed all of these BLM roads on its screen, although it did not name them. I was not traveling as an arrow on a blank screen. I did not have to use my handheld Montana 650 to navigate,  although did I set waypoints with it. In the end, with the Garmin, I had a clear route highlighted on my screen at night to get back to pavement. Very unusual.

There is absolutely no cell phone coverage anywhere near Darwin. Preload your cell phone or come with sat based navigation like the Garmin and the Montana.





Pausing to set a waypoint at this intersection: 36°18’3.20″N 117°35’33.71″W. My low slung Nissan Frontier (about 8.5 inches at the pumpkin) and Pat’s Jeep Trailhawk did fine, I did not hit my skid plates. Heavy fog that day came and went. Over 5,000 feet in elevation; lower 40s that night.

Random assortment in a not so dark room under SW. Better in person.



Three rocks thrown together under SW. About eight inches across. Accurate color and true to what I see under my lamp, which is an 18 watt Way Too Cool.


Single rock under visible light. Color fairly accurate but a little too pink.



Same rock under SW. Accurate color.




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A Quick Search for Camptonite

Why don’t more rockhounds collect rocks? I don’t know. As to me, I like rocks, the odder the better. Today I’ll spend a little time looking for camptonite south of Las Vegas. I have some specific coordinates so I shouldn’t be wandering too much. This particular spot is not within the LMNRA. The rock will be there or it won’t.

Camptonite might win a prize for strangeness, with Mindat.org classifying it as an “Exotic crystalline igneous rock.” It looks better than the rocks I have which are peppered with black tourmaline.

Here’s a picture of my reference sample, a display quality piece I got last year from RC at Geological Specimen Supply. It’s out of stock right now but you should check his website frequently to keep building your reference collection. Yes, of rocks.

“The lessons of geology are clear and it is foolish not to take advantage of them: to be successful in hunting for minerals and gemstones, the collector and prospector must know not only the minerals themselves, but the rocks in which they are most likely to be found. He must also learn what minerals make up the various kinds of rocks and the rock formations which appear favorable for mineral deposits.”

John Sinkankas John. Prospecting for Gemstones and Minerals (Van Nostrand: New York. 1970)




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Beyond Books

It was recently recommended on an FB page that I read some field guides on rock and mineral ID. This was in response to some specific observations I made with material I had collected and with reference specimens I had bought. The suggester offered no further advice or any response to my observations which he didn’t read through. At least five people gave him a thumbs up. That’s extremely discouraging when all I was trying to do was help.

Well, I have a few books. Quite a lot, actually. But you have to go beyond books to learn more. You can’t teach a geology course without lab work or field trips. Books are fine but rocks and minerals and prospecting are also hands on.

To make specific, this poster stated that, among other things, that some sedimentary rocks do not fizz under acid. But he didn’t tell me which ones. Nothing of his personal experience with this, just an admonition to read some books. None of the books I have read list the sedimentary rocks that do not respond. I was trying to learn, not sure what he was trying to do. I was sharing my experiences and observations, he was sharing nothing but negativity.

This is a look at part of my reference collection of over two hundred rock types and various minerals. They are mostly hand or teaching specimen size. All labeled in detail. At any time I can pull something out to test or experiment it using my hardness picks, my acid, my metal detectors, my UV lamps, my black and white streak plates, my super magnet, my microscope, or my geiger counters. No, I don’t have something for specific gravity. I’m working on that. If I can’t identify something complex, which is too often the case, I send it on for lab results. I’m not a know-it-all, I am trying to be a know-it-all.

As a footnote, I’ve quit that group. This is the second major rock related group I have quit in the last year. If you think I can help you, give me an e-mail. I may not have the right answer but I will try to help. Without insulting you.



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Mineral Habit in Tucson (another mineral show)

Mineral Habit is setting up in Tucson right now. It’s a collection of vendors focused primarily on minerals. Address is 1920 North Oracle Road in Tucson. Their billboard website supplies the map below.

Wendi “Ace” Elkins will be there, she of Minerals Unlimited in Ridgecrest, California. (internal link) If you haven’t met her, visited her store, or wasted enormous sums of money at her website buying obscure minerals that leave your family cursing you for flagrant, wanton, and irresponsible spending , then your life has been pathetic and small. Redeem yourself by visiting Mineral Habitat starting on February 4th through the 10th.

As with every show, go with cash in small bills and lots of them. Not all vendors take plastic. If you do use credit cards in Tucson, call your credit card company ahead of time. Dealers come from all over the world so charges may appear from Nairobi, Indonesia, Malaysia, or Murmansk.

Please tell Wendi that Thomas Farley sent you. With luck she won’t jump back or call 911. My past purchases mark me as insane but as a madman with a little money, I am tolerated.  Ace has been working in the same shop in Ridgecrest since she was eight and is a delight to talk to. I have rarely stumped her with my requests and all things come neatly labeled.

I’ve built my rare earth mineral collection nearly totally from her inventory. So, if you yearn for  xenotime (Y) with biotite  from Iveland, Setesdal, Norway, then you need to talk to Ace. And if you don’t need that, talk to her anyway. You’ll find something.





Some of my rare earth mineral collection, recently depleted a bit.





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Day Three In Quartzsite, Arizona – 2020

NB: Short URL for this page: https://wp.me/p9Ykms-Mn

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.

 

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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/