Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rockhound on the Road - Rockin’ the Surf - Installment 1

by Kyle Meredith
The day after the January Rolling Stones meeting, Josh and Kyle headed west. We got up a lot earlier than we wanted to and drove a long day to the Desert Gardens Gem and Mineral Show in Quartzsite, Arizona.
We arrived about 2:30 in the afternoon with enough time to hurry through the booths, finding the great deals we have come to expect in Quartzsite. One note concerning the various shows: the other big rock show is the Tyson Wells Show. It’s larger than Desert Gardens, and we spent all our time there last year. Although either show is worth going to, we seemed to find the best deals at Desert Gardens in the north end of town. We also encountered Fuad, whom some of you may remember as a vendor at our Show last year.

For those of you who may consider camping there, we chose a secluded area off I-10 at Exit 26, Gold Nugget Road, before dropping down into town a few miles away. You can drive a ways in either direction and find a nice place for a night or two without the congestion you find nearer to town, AND it’s a lot more beautiful with plenty of saguaros and teddy bear cholla. One thing: you’re probably going to still hear the noise of I-10 which seems to get busier at night!

The next day we drove to a friend’s house in Rancho Mirage (near Palm Springs), then on the Sunday of Martin Luther King Weekend, ventured forth in our camper on the Interstate system out of San Bernardino. I think we picked the best possible day to travel—not even as much traffic as Albuquerque on an average day—and we arrived at Plaskett Creek Campground (south of Big Sur) where we met our Colorado camping buddies, Edie and Michael, in time to take a short hike to the bluffs above the ocean where the sun was beginning to cast long shadows.

We began rockhounding in earnest the next day. Jade is what we were there to find, and we were at the northern extremity of the jade collecting area. We had done a little research and learned that a lot of what LOOKS like jade is actually serpentine, but you can easily tell the difference with the scratch test—a knife blade will cut deeply into the serpentine, but hardly scratch the jade. The problem was that many rocks resisted the scratch test and yet were not likely to be jade. We’re still not sure how much jade we actually collected, but there were so many beautiful rocks that it was hard to not pick up each and every one. One of our favorites was definitely not jade.

In doing research for the trip we learned that you are only permitted to collect below the mean high tide line, meaning that we had to know the tide schedule. We felt lucky that it corresponded with the hours we wanted to be out. We started in the morning as the tide had about half receded, and wandered among the cliffs and crags as it ebbed further into the ocean. We also learned to never turn your back on the ocean. If we didn’t pay close attention, an unexpectedly exuberant wave could get our pants wet or try to claim our shoes on the beach. 

We had been worried that it might be foggy and wet and cold, but the weather cooperated beyond our wildest expectations, even though it was a little windy from time to time. Even having to wear jackets, though, we still were able to walk barefoot in the surf the whole time we were at the beach. We spent most of our time scrambling over the boulders pounded smooth by the relentless ocean. Just getting down was tricky verging on treacherous, climbing down the vertical dirt trails with serpentine steps as slick as talc. On the sandy beach it was a different matter, ambling along looking for rocks and shells laid at our feet by a generous surf.

No comments:

Post a Comment