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. —
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. —
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 email@example.com and his website is https://pvsrocks.com. —
— 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.
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
— 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.
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. —
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.
— 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.
— 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
— 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
— 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.
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
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.
— 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.
— 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!
— 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.
— 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.
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.
I’ll be all over Quartzsite starting in one week. As long as I don’t have any more blanking out episodes. While trying to fill my own wish list, I’ll be providing some day to day coverage for Rock&Gem. Stay tuned. —