Monday, September 28, 2009

Rockhound on the Road - Northern New Mexico

We decided to hit the road the week following the Show, in part to test-drive a Show purchase, the Falcon Guide to Rockhounding New Mexico, by Ruta Vaskys and Martin Freed. We based with friends and family in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and sought out a number of sites described in the book.

We bought the book, in large part, due to what appeared to be excellent directions and maps. We were not disappointed. We first checked out Site 10 Abiquiu Dam and found small pieces of agate as described in the book, but not the jasper. The view was spectacular, and we enjoyed the fall flowers.

The authors indicated that there are many good collecting sites nearby, so we took a short side trip down a side road to Cañones. Here we found big chunks of gorgeous agate. Working with Charlie Grimes these past few days, Alan has managed to cut some beautiful cabs from this material.

We traveled north as far as Tierra Amarilla, and enjoyed the beautiful rock formations near the Ghost Ranch.

Another day was spent in the Jemez Mountains where we particularly enjoyed the amazing landscape at Valle Grande, also known as the Valles Caldera Preserve. If you haven't seen this incredible place it's worth the trip. The caldera's geology is a story in itself.

Instead, I'll describe the book's Site 15 where huge chunks of obsidian are visible all along the road. We found snowflake and mahogany obsidian as well, and brought several chunks home. This photo shows a very large piece, probably 4 feet across, with interesting bands of color.

Our last stop of the day was at Site 12 - Soda Dam, also a very interesting geological formation. While no collecting is allowed here, it's very interesting to see the natural dam formed by mineral deposits of calcium carbonate from the waters of hot springs.

We look forward to exploring more sites in New Mexico with the help of this terrific book.

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