Washington Weekend; A Gathering Of Friends
July 29-31, 2005
By John Cornish

Hi Everyone,

Over the weekend of the 29-31th of July, 2005, we were honored to organize a gathering of new and old friends to share in the fun of mineral and fossil collecting coinciding with the visit of our internet friend Herb Bastuscheck from Misawa, Japan. In coordinating his visit, Herb and I discussed and made plans for a get together which was announced through several online message boards and one mineral list (see http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/mb/mcrocks and http://www.rockhounds.com/rocknet/index.shtml and http://lists.drizzle.com/mailman/listinfo/rockhounds). Folks responded and we all counted the days until the big weekend. Following is a decidedly one sided accounting of the adventure (I just had way too much fun!), I hope you enjoy!

Smiles abound in this gathering of friends, left to right, Jerry, Hilmar, Heidi,
Bill, Herb, Derryk, Chris, Jacob, Wes, Gloria, Lynn, Jeff (and Kodi the dog!).

For Gloria and I, the adventure began days and days before the actual date when everyone was to meet at the Port Angeles, McDonald's. We planned and jumped through a few hoops and then finally, the golden day arrived when Herb would arrive, the 29th of July. I figured Herb would call prior to coming over and was surprised while in the midst of shaving, just prior to jumping in the shower, by a knock at the door and the millisecond delayed response of Buddy's barking. I grabbed my bathrobe, smearing shaving cream all over it and then scrambled to the door half dressed to find... Herb! I'll spare you the horror of what met Herb and his grandson Derryk's eyes as I opened the door (believe you me, this is one picture just way too scary for this report... poor kid!), but what could I do, "Come on in"! I think Herb was as surprised as I was! It seems the place they were staying at doesn't have a telephone in the room (remember, you're in Port Angeles now and out on the edge of the known world!) and thus he just came on over knowing I'd be home. No problem... I just needed a few minutes! Herb was gracious and politely over looked my disheveled state and patiently awaited my return while checking out the collection. Soon thereafter I was out, fresh and ready for anything, including a proper greeting!

Afterwards, Gloria, Herb, Derryk and I, all went out to dinner and enjoyed some more visiting until finally sleep beckoned and we parted company until the morning when we'd meet the entire group at the McDonald's parking lot in Port Angeles. What fun, meeting up with so many folks, and the majority of them for the first time. It was great, Herb from Japan, Hilmar and Heidi from Canada and the rest of us from Washington, we had quite the crew! After introductions, we all loaded up and headed out to begin our first field trip of the weekend, it was 6:40 in the a.m. The drive out west was uneventful and quiet with just a few cars out on the highway. Our next little stop would be in the small community of Joyce where we'd be meeting up with Jerry and Karanne who had opted to stay at the Salt Creek campground, a very nice place right down on the water. With them gathered among our little flock we again set off west. Not long thereafter we pulled over to park and unload about 3/4 mile from the actual beach we'd be collecting. With everyone assembled we began our hike, cutting through the woods on the overgrown little trail that runs above the beach west a ways until it descends down towards the water. As we walked, we noticed where several of the cliffy exposures beside the trail had been shedding material among which were the remains of a few fossils of less then quality. Neat to see among the bushes and trees.

Down on the beach, the first hundred yards or so of gravels were covered in massed seaweed piles up to 3 feet thick. Nasty, rotting stuff that is heaven for the garden and stinky to the nose. We sloughed through this mess and then finally hit a solid beach that didn't squish out slippery from beneath your feet and it was here that I called everyone together to give a little intro as to where we were, what we were seeing and what we could hope to find. Several folks kind of milled around within earshot as I did this and lo and behold, within the time it took me to complete my rant, several nice things had already been found!

We've just arrived on the beach and
are beginning to break away after a little what's
up intro to the treasures we can find. New
to the picture are Karanne and our dog Buddy.

... and the hunt begins!

This beach is quite near a locality that had been one of our State's finest producing fossil localities. This a working quarry that had produced clay used in the manufacture of Portland Cement. Fossils were abundant in the clay and operators of the quarry were extremely friendly towards collectors, often offering advice as to where to collect and even going so far as to work an area so that folks could find treasure. And treasure we found! As an example, Gloria found a brand new species of crab on our very first visit to the locality (now in the collection of the Carnegie Museum) and then later, in 1993, I found a 12 foot long 90% complete fossil whale, which is also an undescribed species which was donated to our Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Burke Museum, and can be seen there on full time display. Fossils produced from the old quarry and this particular section of beach are from the Pysht formation dated at 28 million years.

We all ranged far and wide and while everyone had a good time, the whoops and cries of the two boys, Derryk and Jacob as they ran around tossing rocks into the water, bespoke of an entirely new level of enthusiasm that I just didn't see mirrored by any of the assembled adults in our group. So while they screamed and laughed, all us old fogeys sloughed around and found a bounty of treasures. We did this under a blazing early morning sun until at a point half way through our collecting day when the fog descended upon us and one by one we all slowly disappeared into the swirling vapors.

Gorgeous views looking west as the search continues!

We started out in blazing sun until the fog descended over us offering a short lived cooling
blanket with 50 yard visibility

One of the things I really enjoy about this locality is that there was a lot of silica around which has helped to offer some pretty neat fossil scenarios. Among these are clams (pelecypods) and snails (gastropods) which yield up delightful agatized interior molds. The snails we hope to find whole and weathered of any remaining shell material, while the clams can be found as same or as my favorite, a complete uncrushed specimen which I then split to expose rare crystal lined chambers displaying a glittery array of calcite, quartz and barite, or solidly infilled with interlocking quartz crystals attractively. Petrified wood can also be found. Some of the best pieces have abundant agate as an infilling of tubes bored by a tiny clam and can be very nice displaying fine grain structure accentuated by soft blue or white colored agate tubes. Add to this fossil bone, shrimp claws, crabs and a bit more of this and a dash more of that and you've just stirred up one sweet fossil collecting locality! However with that said, I need to also mention that truly exceptional finds are rare for this beach, and yet this reality pales with the abundant fine material scattered about in such high percentages that I'd venture so far as to say that during this period in time, it is impossible not to find something neat here, in addition to the exceptional experience that is getting out and enjoying the beauty of nature.

We collected for several hours until the incoming tide forced us up off the beach and had us hiking back towards the vehicles.

An example of treasure, here a
fossil whale vertebra lies among the
beach gravel and tumbled glass.

Examples of fossil clams (Lucina hannibali)
split apart to reveal agate and
crystal filled centers.

A split concretion and its
agatized snail fossil treasure.

Fossil toredo wood, the smaller
specimen is still partially encased
within a concretionary blanket.

This was an intermission point for all of us as Gloria and I had requested a couple hours to get everything together at the house before everyone arrived. And so we all took off in separate directions vowing to meet again later for the BBQ. And the time just flew by until seemingly moments later everyone started to arrive. Boy, I'd like to say everything was calm and unhurried as we prepared for the meal, but it was hectic and we were flying! And then finally things quieted down as we all loaded up on the goodies. Hamburgers, smoked salmon and halibut, cheese cake and lemon cake, fruit and vegetables, fresh cooked corn and chips and dips and yum, yum, yum! There was a little something for everyone and I think I'm o.k. to say that no one appeared to be wasting away from lack of food!

Relaxing after a fine BBQ with all
the fixings in the backyard. Doug is new
to the group in this photo.

Jacob (on the right) and Derryk
sure had a ton of fun!

During the course of the afternoon and evening we had a fine time, talking and reveling in good company until finally the kids had had enough and they were ready to have some fun... cracking geodes! Gloria and I have been cracking Mexican coconut geodes for several years now and decided to share the fun with everyone. We were fortunate that our good friend Rosie ordered up a bunch just prior to everyone's arrival and as such, I decided to wait to crack them to share the fun with everyone. And what a blast it was, the smiles sure came out and everyone wanted their chance to crack that poor little ol' geode! Oh, the kids broke the majority of them (the young kids), but the older kids sure had fun too. These are such pretty things all sparkling with their interiors lined with quartz and calcite... a rock with a surprise inside! This took awhile as we had 20 geodes to break and really proved to be a fun and exciting entertainment for all of us.

In action, a geode popping good time...
fun on a grand scale!

Heidi gives geode cracking a try.

Report continued . . . . . . .

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