Day 4 - Thursday, June 14th.
We had breakfast at the restaurant next door to the Guest House Motel we stayed. It was a small Mexican
place with very good food. After are good breakfast, we headed on our way. This morning, the trip meter in
the truck showed we had driven 1770 miles so far. We began driving again and on our way to Crater of the
Moons, we went past Big Buttes and snapped a quick photo. This is a very old volcano sitting majestically off
at a distance.
We stopped at Craters of the Moon visitors center to stretch our legs for about a 1/2 hour. Outside the park I
wanted to pick up a small piece of lava rock. The correct name would be Scoriacous Basalt, which means
lava with holes! All the lava I had ever see was lite. I only wanted a small piece for a shadow box that I was
going to make from our trip, but when I got out to get just a small piece, this one called my name. So I said, "
ok I will take you home." Much to my surprise it was heavy. Dave (laughing at me) jumped out of the truck
to help me load it, Judy and Colleen laughing as they pulled in behind us. After Dave helped me put it in
the truck. We were on our way again. Dave road with me to Boise. We talked all the way and the time went
quick. I learn a lot when Dave rides with me. This day I learned about volcanic activity and the creation of
agate. All the way across Idaho was lava fields. It was this day I truly understood how agates are formed,
and basalt was from the volcanic activity from many, many moons past. Thanks Dave!
We made it to Boise around 3pm, and stop for lunch or I should say dinner at Chili’s. We went shopping at
Coscos and then stopped at a local fruit stand. (Thank goodness we ate BEFORE going there!) We traveled on
to Nampa where we spent the first of 6 nights in a Budget motel. It was adequate and good for the budget, as
well as being fairly close to the mining area we would be visiting daily for the next 5 days
Oregon Trip - Part 2
Big Buttes Idaho
look how pretty the splatters are!
Day 5 - Friday, June 15th.
Today we had breakfast at Honker’s. (It had an old car logo, so maybe the horn was the clue to the name. We
never did ask so far as I know.) We were just in time to get the “hot from the oven” cinnamon rolls made
fresh each day at this restaurant (except when they were closed for Sundays). These rolls are so big we took
half with us for snacking later with our tailgate lunch.
We head for eastern Oregon after breakfast. This first day at the mine site we were to meet up with Gene (we
already know him.) We didn't have any problems getting to the mine. Gene gave us good directions. We crossed
the canal and on to the dirt road right up the mountain. We had to go about 3 miles, zigging and zagging.
We made it to camp and met up Gene, Jake, and Beverly. Jake and Gene does the mining and Beverly keeps
everything else going while they are mining. They shared good advice, and stories (present and past) of their
experiences mining. Gene and Jake showed us where they were working and encouraged us to take what ever
we wanted (to be weighed and paid for later) from the tailings pile. We spend the rest of the day with water
bottles in hand spraying off the dirt from rocks which look promising.
Dave was high grading right from the get go! Fearless Judy (you go girl!) climbed the piles where she spent a
fare amount of time, tumbling down plume for Dave to high grade. It was a blast. Its about 90 degrees, but
dry heat so very doable.
The tailings pile had wonderful chucks of nice plume. Gene and Jake had not gone thru this material. They
dug and piled till they found what they were looking for. You can see in the photos that they had dug down
about 30-40 feet when they hit a huge pocket of beautiful Angel Wing Plume.
In our tailings pile we found some nice tidbits of druzy quartz pieces, and some botroidal forms. Some super
nice specimens, and about 4 plus buckets of nice plume. After a long, hot, day in the sun we have supper at
Cookys (potato restaurant) near Lizard Butte on the way back to Nampa. Excited about tomorrows dig!
Day 6 - Saturday, June 16th.
Up early at 6:30am. We went to breakfast at Honkers and we couldn't get the cinnamon rolls this morning,
because they were still in the oven baking. After breakfast we headed for the hills.
We started on the tailings pile about 8 or so, after our morning greetings. We work couple hours fillin' our
buckets, when Dave and I found ourselves wondered down in the pit by Gene and Jake to see how they were
progressing. We chatted a while, and Gene offered to take a few swipes out of the side of the mountain just
above the blue agate to possibly expose some new material for us. So we took him up on the offer.
Over the mountain and thru the woods (just kiddin' there's no woods its all baron land.) Gene brung the
backhoe over and made a few swipes about 4-5 feet deep.... Dave checks the bucket for any signs of agate
material, (I was taking pictures of the event and staying out of the way) when low and behold there she was,
AGATE layin' in the bucket! Dave showed me a piece or two, and Gene came down off the backhoe to take a
look at the material. There was a fair amount of clear agate that had some small white and yellow plumes.
Dave and Gene both were confident that we had a good start.
Gene thought a big part of the material would be the blue agate with dendrites. He said at the bottom of this
hill there was an area that someone had previously dug, and they had exposed the blue agate with
dendrites. Dave and I were ok with dendrites. Heck dendritic agate is one of my favorites. We were as happy
as possums in a tree that Gene did this for us. Thanks Gene!
Dave started digging the hole and I started on the pile. (the hole wasn't big enough for 2 with out bumping
into each other.) We couldn't dig fast enough. We started tossing the agate in a pile, cause we couldn't hit our
buckets to save our lives. Figure we'd do the sortin' later. There were so.......many chunks of agate, and not just
the blue stuff. We started finding fist size chunks of pink plume agate. We dug for about an hour and I had
gone thru about 1/3 of my pile when I needed a break. Dave wasn't ready for a break he was busy diggin'
his way to China.
I went to the truck and got a bottle of water and then wondered over by Collen and Judy to let them know to
come on over, we were finding some good stuff. I found Colleen first, she was watering her rocks hoping they
wouldn't take to long to grow. Where was Judy you ask? I found her on top of the tailings pile, she was still
rolling them puppies down to be high graded. She was so busy on the hill, I didn't know if she realized
Dave was gone! We chatted a minute, she said she took a little spill. I laugh and told her I had taken
one earlier. We started comparing battle scars, and i'll get back to that later in the week. Anyway, they both
said they would be over in a bit.
On the way back to my pile, I stopped and chatted with Beverly for a few minutes. It was getting hot, (about
92 degrees) and almost time for lunch. By the time I got back over by Dave, he had it a small 4inch vein of
pink and yellow plume agate that ran about 8 - 10 inches long. He was just beside himself. Jackpot, cha
ching! This day couldn't have gottin' any better!
Dave cleared the dirt away and sprayed it down. Man, pretty stuff as you can see in the photo. Dave decided
to take a water break and chat with Gene on about how he would go about getting it out in one piece. Gene
and Jake both came over and couldn't believe how nice that piece was. Gene got down in the hole with Me
and Dave. (by this time the swipe was about 6-7ft. across and 5 foot deep.) Like I said Dave was diggin' to
China. Gene explain how you just keep chiseling on one side or the other cleaning the rock away,(in this
case, basalt) until you reach a natural fracture. It then should lift out. Then it hit me. Duh! I realized it was
just like digging for quart crystals. (Which I had done many times.) When you find a quart pocket or vein
you start chiseling the bedrock away. Well you do plume agate the same way. Once again, while working
with Dave I had just had another lesson about (plume) agate. I love hangin' out with Dave!!!
By this time was getting to be about 3 and we all had been worked hard on the pile and in the hole, when
we realized we missed lunch, so we decided to take a break to eat and to get re-hydrated. After our late
lunch, Judy and Dave took a walk down around to the bottom on the hill to see some of that blue agate Gene
had talked about this morning. Colleen went back piddling on the pile and I went over and took a chat with
Beverly up at camp. It was hot and my back needed a break. Beverly told me to wet a hand towel and put it
around my neck. It would help with the heat. I had some in the truck, and did just what she said. Boy did
it make a difference. (about 20 degrees) I wet a few more and carried then over for everyone else. I gave
Colleen a wet towel, she said Dave and Judy wasn't back yet. So I scratched around the dirt a little bit with
It was about 5 and Judy and Dave had been gone quite awhile, so Colleen went looking for them. When she
was gone for a while! I thought they must have found some good stuff. So I went looking for them all, with
an empty bucket in hand and a wet towel and camera around my neck. I reached the bottom of the hill and
found Judy and Dave.
As I started walking over by them I had kicked up a rock and a really cool lizard skidadled over my boot
and perched on a rock about 10 feet away. My first thought "Photo Op". I lost the bucket and focused on him.
I began to slowly walk shooting with my zoom. "I wanted this shot!" I totally forgot all about Judy and Dave.
When I got about 4 feet away, Judy ask what I was doing. I whispered lizard! I got down to his level and
pretty much crawled the rest of the way. I took about 50 shot in total. He sat so nice for me, and he seemed to
be posing. I got within 10 inches from lens to lizard for the last 20 shots. Between the lizard pictures and
the great plume we have collected in 2 days, the trip so far couldn't have been any better!
I didn't get any agate at the bottom of the hill, only the lizard pictures. Judy and Dave where just about to
head up the hill. (Dave wanted to dig a little more on his pink plume.) They had collected a 1/2 bucket or
so. We didn't know where Colleen went off too, but it wasn't to long before she was back up by camp. Colleen
and I decided we were done digging for the day. We left about 5:30ish. We wanted to do a little laundry
tonight. Dave and Judy stayed longer.
By the time we got laundry done and dinner we were back at the hotel about 8:30. Judy and Dave got back
to the hotel about 9. They had already had dinner. Dave was dog tired but pumped, his plume would be out
in the morning.
We all had a shower, watched a slide show of the lizard pictures and went to bed.
Todays pictures on page 3.
|A couple pieces of Gene's
Angel Wing Plume
Canal Crossing, Still in
|Dave and Gene
to the mine
|Looking into Jake's
and Gene's pit.
Daves talking to
|Jake and Dave
at the pile.
|Gene in his pit,
and a closer look at
his Angel Wing
Plume Agate veins,
5 to 8 inch in
in the right
Theres the Oregon Boarder! Now up
the mountain we go
camp on top
Judy climbing the pile, and Dave
Time for us to get
|One of the
|Colleen picking plume and
Lizard Buttes. I suppose it got its
name because it sorta looks like a
lizard. We pasted it twice a day.
To and from the mine.
|A small pocket of
Angel Wing Plume
in the wall of