Tucson Gem Show Trip - 2018    Page 3
March 07, 2018
1:45 PM Eastern
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One of the places that I like to go while at the massive Tucson Gem and Mineral show is the
market that is mostly Moroccans. Beside them across an alley is the folks from Madagascar.
Last year, there was many Moroccan dealers that had some of the relatively new find of
Moroccan amethyst that came out a year or two ago.  This year, there was only 3 tents in total
with it, and only one tent had good amethyst, with only 2 flats left.  Me and a buddy split the two
flats.  This locality is known as  "Boudi"  but is probably more accurately Bou Oudi, Tata
Province, Morocco.
The 2 flats that we got didn't have any bad or damaged crystals in the flat at all.  Also, the price
had dropped in half. It's just not supposed to work like that?
This was near the beginning of Oracle (near where Granada ends) and just past the banner that
hangs across Oracle road.
This was either Lester street or one very close to it off of Oracle. The Madagascar folks were
just across the street from them.   Perhaps now is a good time to explain that the "Tucson Show"
is actually a combination of many shows ran by many different promoters and business owners.
They all start at different times but the key deciding factor is the END of the show which
culminates in the "MAIN SHOW" or otherwise known as the "CLUB SHOW" at the convention
center,   All the other shows base their start and end dates on that key show.    Many vendors,
and I've done this myself when I used to vend in Tucson, sell at the hotel shows and then before
the  last weekend they move everything over to the main show.  That is major work (and
expense) and the first day of the main show turns the once bustling hotel shows into ghost towns.
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Click here for info on the Georgia Rock shop : The Mineral Gallery in Mcdonough, Georgia. Just South of Atlanta
I ended up getting some phenomenal star rose quartz eggs with
good strong 6-ray stars.  The one with inventory # 9867 I sold for
$34.  This is one of the highest quality and I sell these in the $30
range. I have some with lessor degree of asterism of $25 and $20,
Anyone interested in one can contact me from my contact page or
simply use the "go to" drop down menu to find my ebay page.
I also was able to bring back quite a
few  of the polished POLYCHROME
JASPER from Madagascar.
One unusual thing that I saw was
"Red Grape Agate" from Utah.
Thiis was especially interesting to me because I had
gotten a piece in an estate collection from a professor in
Alabama that looked just like this.  At the time I didn't know
what it was, had never seen it before, and had figured that
I would never be able to figure out what it was or where it
came from.
Well, mystery solved! Photo below:
Another thing that I got this year per usual was some opal for my Rock
Shop in McDonough, Georgia.
Now at this point  in my trip, I depart Tucson and head toward Holbrook to dig some
petrified wood.   I headed from Tucson to Holbrook via Globe, Show Low, and the
scenic Salt River Canyon.  This is an obscure route and one of the hidden gems of
Arizona! It was important to leave Tucson early enough to see the sights and also not
to have to go around those curves in the dark.  It is a serious gain in elevation in a
short period of time. Some grades were 8%.  Many folks have never even been on an
8% grade road before.
North of Salt River Canyon is the mountains of the Apache
Reservation. There is an awesome scenic viewing area after a
very steep and winding climb.  I think the elevation is about
seven thousand feet here. Shown in panoramic shots with my
Galaxy S7 phone which does an awesome job!
I'll take some pictures of the Payson
Diamond quartz crystals that we dug
and post them here
I left Payson and headed towards Blythe, California.  Our group, the 4 of us, were going to overnight in Blythe and visit a mine
the next day that was $100 per person per day.   Since there wasn’t a sign for the blm off-road track to the mine, we ended up
making a wrong turn.   The road got rougher and rougher but we could see the gps waypoint for the mine even though we didn’t
have a data signal for maps.   The gps seemed to indicate we were headed towards the mine. The road got rougher and
rougher but I then could see the mine so we kept on.  When we got to the valley at 9am, we rode around until it finally became
obvious that there was no way to get from where we were at in the valley to the mine up in the hills.  We didn’t have a signal but
finally got in touch with the caretaker who told us we had taken a wrong turn.  Not having a sign for the mine will do that, I
guess.   But on the way back we were crawling over some rocks and the truck slid and slammed sideways into some boulders
and this blew out a tire.
We had to unload the bed and the cab (and both were packed with tools, rocks, gear, etc) in order to get to the tools to change
the tire and to drop the spare down from under the bed.  Thankfully everyone pitched in and we made relatively short work of it,
all things considered.  We had texted the caretaker about the blow-out but were we were had no signal.

We finally arrived at the mine at 2pm.   I asked the caretaker if we could get a reduced rate or a half day rate or something since
there was only 3 hours of daylight left and since we were in the valley looking for the mine at 9am and had a blow out and had
made every effort to be there at 9. It was obvious with my blown-out tire resting in view on top of my gear in the truck bed that
we  had run into problems.
The caretaker informed us that it was $100 per person per day to dig, even if we were late, and even if it was beyond our control
that we were late.  I then said that I thought we should just come back the next day and have a full day for the $100 per person.  
  As we were about to go, the caretaker had some rocks in a dish of water that he was showing off.  I asked could I hold it and he
said “NO”.  I just looked at him.              Then, after a moment of silence he volunteered an explanation and said that “ the
specimen that you asked to hold is worth five thousand dollars and if you dropped it, it would be nothing but a bunch of ‘I’m
sorries’ and ‘I didn’t mean to’s’ which meant nothing to me”.   
Now, I began dwelling on that later that evening and I just decided that I didn’t want to encourage behavior like that by going and
paying to dig.
In review:
If there had of been a sign – even just a cardboard and magic marker sign – at the turn off to the mine, he would have gotten
$400 for the day for our group.
If he had of negotiated a cheaper or half-day rate, he would have gotten $200 for our group.
But instead, he got Zero Dollars.
I know and am friends with the person that bought the claim and that is why I am not specifically naming the mine or trying to
bash the place.  That caretaker though, is not doing him any favors.
I totally understand that it’s a very remote place and the claim owner has to just work with what and who he has.  But if he had
someone that would go out and hang a cardboard sign every day, and who would talk to people reasonably, I am sure he’d be
many thousands of dollars better off, possibly even thousands of dollars better off
per month.
After all, our deal was supposed to be  four hundred bucks for just one single day!
The next day we went to Quartzsite to see the vendors there.  I hadn't been here since 2005 or 2006 and the
time that I came the place was packed and the QIA show was going on.  But on this visit the Tucson show was
going full bore and about half the vendors had headed on to Tucson or to home.  There was still a lot of
vendors and lots to see.  I ended up buying 36 pounds of geodes for my shop.   About half are duds but the
other half has amethyst and sometimes bigger crystals or packed full of amethyst crystals as single crystals or
as surprisingly good amethyst scepters!  I figure that for $1.50 a piece that people will have fun with them even
with a 50% failure rate.
I may post more pictures of the Payson Diamond Quartz Crystals that we dug
up.  It has been cloudy with not much chance of sunlight to take good pictures
Left Photo: Somewhere in the middle of nowhere on a pig trail off of Wiley Wells Road.   The road is
infamous for being in rough shape and of course, we had took a track off of the main road. A track (not
really a road) that is for rock crawling and that doesn't lead anywhere really.
In the summer the "gem trails" books recommends having TWO or THREE or MORE spare tires in case
of flats.  That's because in the summer heat the tires are softened and much weaker.

In my case, I was on a huge rock and slid sideways on it and slammed into some boulders on the
downhill side.  It hit so hard that I wondered if I still had a wheel attached, much less a tire!
The Desert Gardens show is really good, even after
Tucson has opened.  When the Q.I.A. show is
running it is good and it's a toss-up as to which
place to go to first as they both have different
Tyson Wells leaves a lot to be desired.  I'd still run
through it fast just in case there is something new,
or something marked down, or someone setting up
there just not knowing any better.   A couple of the
Tyson Wells buildings were closed and there was
probably things worth seeing in them - like the
Brazilian amethyst building and Arkansas Quartz

For it to be the first half of February it was really hot
in Quartzsite.  The ambient air temp reading was
81°F but in the sun it sure felt a LOT hotter.  I think
that due to there being less pollution and no clouds
or haze that the sun is a lot stronger there than in
my current home state of Georgia.
Just to get my story straight:    I ended up passing back through Tucson after going off digging for 4 days.  A lot of the things that I got the next week on
a second pass I have already mentioned on a previous page.    But, I did miss posting a picture or two, one of which that is so crazy that I want to be sure
to post it.

I had went into a room that had Australian gold nuggets and it was a sight to see! It is easily one of the most valuable rooms in the place.  I'd estimate
that there's millions of dollars worth of inventory in the room.  Gold is $1300 per  31 gram troy ounce and specimen gold is worth a good bit more than
that per ounce, so one look at these photos will show that I am not exaggerating even a little bit!  Regular gold - $1300 for 31.1 gram troy ounce or about
$42 per gram.

Most places I don't bother to ask if it's alright to take pictures, but in this case I thought that I had better ask.  They said a curious thing: "Yes, Sure, we
do ask that you don't post on social media".    That makes no sense because if you are selling something, people PAY to have things posted on social
media!  I'd think they would encourage posting on social media instead of discouraging it or in this case prohibiting it.  The only thing that I could think of
is that it was a security issue and they were worried that the pictures would bring them Zero Buyers and a ton of would-be shoplifters and thieves!

Just look at that one plate:  I'm not sure if they are selling by a US 28 gram ounce or the traditional 31.1 gram Troy Ounce that precious metals are
usually sold in. The prices below I figured at 28 grams, so  the prices and values below may be a little over 10% more if  they use Troy Ounces.

I've done the math @ $62 per gram and these cost between $870 to $1740 EACH depending on exact weight of the individual nugget.
There's about 40 nuggets here, so (35 x $870 = $30,450)  + (5 x $1740 = $8700) = $39,150  this means this plate has approx FORTY THOUSAND
DOLLARS in nuggets.  And the shelves were lined with plate after plate of gold and there were several display cases! So over 2 million $ in that room for
Some of the plates had gold at $100 per gram.  This I suppose was based on locality and type of nugget. The ones with less wear that may show signs of
crystalline or crystal faces undoubtably cost more.     Another complicating factor is that these are a natural product and aren't 100% pure refined gold.
These probably contain a significant amount of metallic impurities such as silver, copper and platinum!   It's worthwhile to click and expand these photos.
Here are two totally random street scenes that I took to send a friend via whatsapp just to show what I
was seeing at that exact moment.  Tucson is in a valley ringed with mountains so in any direction that
you look you see mountains in the distance.  It’s totally cool!  In February, that is.  In the summer
months, not at all!   I wouldn’t want to live in Tucson or Phoenix in the summer as it reaches 115°F
every day, and even at 11pm at night it is still over 100°!
The towns at or above the Mogollon Rim don’t have that problem though and I really like the low
Some Tucson Trivia:  When in Tucson you may look up and see a F-15 or F-22
fighter jet, a B52 Bomber, or huge military transport planes.  No, you're not going
crazy -  Tucson is home to Davis-Monthan Air Force base and a military aircraft
BONEYARD   where all old, spare, retired, damaged military craft go from all
over the US and even from overseas US bases.
The reason they are in the air is that some are being delivered, some are being
tested and sent to where they are newly needed at, and some are repaired and
tested before being stored.  I took the photo (LEFT) the first ten minutes that I
was in Tucson as I spotted one immediately. This was some kind of military
transport plane, I think.  The fighter jets are really cool to watch as they test
them, meaning they take off at full bore!   As you may imagine with old planes
that are on there way to be dismantled for spare parts, or have just been
repaired or pieced together, they crash here about TWICE A YEAR.   I've seen
on the news about every 6 months where one will crash and sometimes the pilot
ejects successfully and sometimes they die in the crash.  There was a fatality
last year, I believe.    There is also an extremely interesting aircraft museum in
Tucson. I suppose they figured that if they were going to store some and put
some out to pasture that they may as well display them.  I have pictures of this in
one of my other tucson trip reports.
BEARS!  They are a real traffic hazard and road kill obstacle.  But not in
Tucson, of course.  I keep meaning to take a picture of the sign warning
about bears on the highway  on Interstate 20 near Waverly, Louisiana.   
Usually, by  the time Im ready to take the picture the sign is 3 miles past
me already.  But I was on my game this trip -See 'bear on highway'
warning sign (LEFT).    I didn't get a picture of the "Watch out for bears!
Billboards that they have up, though.

One year I did see one dead on the road and this was before I had seen
the warning signs.  I was like, "Woah, I need to pull over and rest
because I am hallucinating and seeing dead bears on the road!"   I was
convinced that I was seeing things that wasnt there and that it couldn't
have possibly been a dead bear on the road.  Then, a few miles down
the road I saw the warning sign.  I was really tempted to turn around and
go back and take pictures, but I didn't know how far the exits were apart
and how much extra time that would take.

But yeah, Because.......................   Bears.  (that should be read in your
best "Because, Aliens" inner mental voice).
So, I'm totally riding down the highway and
thinking about boobs.  It's gotta be because
of the mountains around here.
"I think I done told everything that I can tell".
It seems that I did leave out a couple of photos.  Seen at
left are Pietersite slices for $400! If you look close, one
is marked $735! (that one has glare so you can't see
the color or pattern but the price is VERY easy to see!)  
Awhile back I sold a 8 pound chunk for $400.  I guess I
should have turned it into forty thousand by slicing it up!
I actually had TWO 8 pound chunks and I believe I have
pictures of those on one of my "African Adventure"
pages and on my
I took this photo at the 22cnd street market.  Also,
below, are pictures of assorted blacklights.  There was
someone there at 22stmkt that was selling them.
And lastly, a picture of my garmin GPS showing that the
round trip - doorstep to doorstep - from my house to
Tucson, digging in various places (including Blythe,
California) and then back through Tucson, and then
back home was
5,036 miles!  I think some people think I
am exaggerating when I say that I have to use Mobil1
synthetic motor oil because the trip is longer than a
standard oil change duration!
Now I use Mobile1 full synthetic extended performance
oil: 1 year or 15,000 miles - whichever comes first. I do
yearly oil changes right before the show in my 2013
Tacoma 4x4 and it works out well. Mobile guarantees
the engine so I do that on my 2015 Yaris also.
Below are pictures of a water-clear "Payson Diamond Quartz Crystal" that I dug in early February during my trip to Arizona.