|Tucson Gem Show Trip - 2018 Page 1
February 23, 2018
10:20 AM Eastern
Every year for the last 14 years I have been going in late January/ early February to the Tucson Gem
and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona. I see the sights, see old friends, buy crystals and minerals for
my rock shop in McDonough, Ga , for my ebay sales and the gem shows that I do a few times a year. I
also do some digging every year, at some regular places and then I try to try a new spot on occasion.
It's always incredibly fun! Since Tucson is a college town there is an unusually large selection of
restaurants. It seems that college towns have so many visitors that it can support a lot more
restaurants than usual.
I'll share some of the things I saw and the places that I went to. Some years I take a lot more crystal
photos than other years. This year I didn't take a whole lot of photos except of the things I was buying
- but I did take a few very interesting pictures of crystals and some of the crazy rooms at the old
InnSuites, Tucson City Center.
It is almost a given that all the hotels change their names every year. The InnSuites held its same
name for many years and built up a reputation of being THE place to be to see, buy or sell the very
best in minerals. Then, they sold and changed names, and to a stupid name at that. I am almost
out of the habit of saying "InnSuites" but it just feels so right to say it, and so wrong and downright
awkward to say "Hotel Tucson - City Center". To illustrate how stupid the name is - before it you
wanted directions to the InnSuites you'd put the name into google and open the map and go. But just
try Googling "Hotel Tucson". LOL. You get FIFTY results, because Google thinks you want hotels in
Tucson in general and not simply a hotel named that. Jeez.
You probably want more pictures than words so keep in mind that there WILL be rock and mineral
photos soon but I will start with my road trip pictures on the way there first.
I had places to be and people to meet on certain days so I had to leave on January 30th. That
means I would be just West of Central Texas on the morning of January 31st and that meant that I got
to see the complete lunar eclipse just before it dropped below the horizon! I was tired and had a late
start on the 30th but I was sure to drive far enough to be able to see the full eclipse when I woke up
the next morning. I had checked earlier to see how far West I would need to be for that to happen.
It was pretty wild to see a full moon at 5:30 am Central time and by 6:45 it was just a sliver and then it
vanished. I was on I-20 and the plan was that when it looked to be close to full eclipse I would stop
somewhere with a good view to watch it. When the time came I passed several not-too-good exits
and saw one at the top of a hill. It was a real rural exit and I kept making turns off the ramp looking for
a good spot. I found the perfect spot in front of a cow pasture. The pictures below I snapped with my
Samsung Galaxy S7 6:45am January 31st, 2018. They are prob not worth clicking on. The ones with
my camera (lower down) however, are worth expanding as they are pretty eerie.
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|Canon Rebel Eclipse photos below. It was worth the effort pushing myself to get to central Texas for this.
|Well, after the eclipse excitement after hitting the road at 5:30 am Central time - which isn't as early as it
sounds because to me it was my regular 6:30 am eastern time - I was headed to my first rock hounding stop.
Some years,on my trip out West, I stop by Llano, Texas to dig Llanite . Google maps shows that the detour
adds one hour of driving total. Llanite is really pretty and really unusual. Here in the Southeast, we just
don't see phenocrysts of blue quartz in porphryitic Ryholite!
The material is called Llanite and is also known as "Texas Blue Eyes" or sometimes "Blue Eyes of Texas".
When wet the blue quartz shines an intense crazy blue color. The blue color is thought to be caused by
ilmenite in the quartz. You'd better have a 16 pound sledge hammer and lots of ass, or you'll get
nowhere with the boulders of Llanite. Fortunately, I brought both and had my way with it. Pictures of the
rock that I got on this trip is below.
|It takes extreme effort to break one of
the boulders. Then when it breaks,
you're only half the way there. The
boulders break with a downward root -
every single time! It's not a simple
thing to pry the piece out. In fact, it
took about an hour to break pieces
around it to finally get it out.
I figure this piece weighs about 200
pounds, even though it may look small
in the picture.
|When you're digging by yourself it can be a real challenge to get the large 200+ pound
boulders loaded into the truck. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so awkwardly shaped and
hard to grapple. I usually set a 2 x 4 board against my tailgate and roll them up the plank.
With the board being between my legs it is a real challenge at the end because if you are not
careful the board will see-saw upwards and "hit ya where the good Lord split ya". So at the
end it's a grunt and a high dead-lift to lift it off the board and over just a bit.
Any miscalculation could prove to be painful.
If you are not familiar with Llanite you may be wondering just why all of the effort. These
pictures of the rough and a polished piece will answer that easily.
|Some of the pictures of the Llanite
from Llano, Texas is shown wet but in
it's natural rough state. Some photos
show a piece that was polished on the
end to show a polished example. The
blue quartz in these are beautiful.
Blue Eyes of Texas indeed!
|I always stop in Llano to eat BBQ at
Coopers. You walk up and select your
meat right off of the pit! They will cut
off as little or as much as you want &
then you take it inside and they weigh
It is unique and incredibly good, but
also expensive. I got a very small
portion of 2 ribs, a piece of pork loin
and a small sausage, mac and cheese
(with Jalapenos and bacon) and pecan
cobbler and it was $24. There really
wasn't any left overs either.
|This wraps up Page One. Check out Page Two
|A standard sledge hammer weighs 8
pounds but these just bounce off of
the Llanite! It takes a minimum 16
pound sledge to cause any breaks in
the rock. And to get it to break you
have to really follow-through on the
|One last Texas thang:
I remember my first road trip out West and being amazed to see huge
dead boars as road kill on the highway. It's no different now, with some
stretches having a dead hog on the road every single mile!