Western Washington Get Together 2
July 29-30, 2006
By John Cornish

Wishing you were here too!
Right to left, Derryk, Emily, Me, Buddy and Austin.

Hi Everyone,

Almost as good as the good times themselves, the memories are sure a sweet, sweet intoxicant and as I sit here writing, the memories of this last weekend, July 29th and 30th, swirl and eddy through my mind and a smile forms, accompanying the collage of fun images spilling with a bit of luck from my mind, through my finger tips, recreating a small bit of the experience and hopefully teasing you from a far. We had a great gathering of friends and I must admit, I love these special times. And after spending so much time recently out in the wilds, what a nice way to be welcomed home!

Yes, a wonderful group of folks this year and yet we were all saddened that many of our friends were unable to make the trip (there's always next time gang!). Sharing the good times with them in spirit if nothing else, soon, we were all off and running! But, before I get too far along, I want to apologize for not taking more pictures and really want to thank Gloria for having the sense to take the shots we have from Saturday's beach/ fossil trip. Also, Jason really came to the photographic rescue here as you'll see when checking out his report! Truth to tell, after nearly two months on the road, I was still a bit off and truly, it was everyone else's efforts that really made this weekend buzz!

But now, back to the fun! Herb, his grandson Derryk and Jason arrived separately in town on the afternoon of July 28th, Friday, and out of the blue and unplanned, both of them ended up meeting and staying at one of our local Port Angeles motels. Using Herb's visiting from Japan as an excuse, we've had this Western Washington Get Together, now, for the second year. As I look back, it seems totally appropriate that these two should meet as this year, I had to cancel our part in the Get Together as I'd likely be out of state mining crystals. Boldly, Herb and Jason banded together to keep the Get Together going and happy I am for their efforts as at the ninth hour, I arrived home, just in time to come out and play too!

That afternoon, Friday, they all met up here at our place for a good ol' b.s. session where we entertained each other with tall tales and select treasures. Gloria arrived home soon thereafter and in the lull, we decided to all head out for dinner. There, we continued enjoying each others company until finally, our meals all done, we said our good-byes and headed our separate ways for home, vowing to meet again in the morning at our pre-arranged McDonald's hang out at 8:00 a.m.

We'd made pre-trip announcements through our friend Mike Streeter's McRocks.com website and while we all thought we had everyone accounted for, there was always the possibility of late comers showing and so, we stayed until a quarter after just in case. With the way clear, we all saddled up and hit the road west first traveling along Highway 101 and then branching off along the Strait of Juan de Fuca hugging Highway 112. As we traveled, I noted several times where folks had pulled over and were picking the large, incredibly yummy native blackberries which were hitting their peak this time of year. With a ghost rumble in my stomach of envy and longing, I forcibly kept the van headed west edging closer and closer to the beach where we'd have our fun today.

For a good feel of what's to come, consider reading last year's Western Washington Get Together report at mcrocks.com/ftr06-2/JohnCornishJuly05.html

Last year's trip went so well, that when asked, it was obvious that going back to the previous year's haunts was a-o.k. with everyone and heck, I wasn't about to argue, I liked these localities just fine!

Last year had been a fine hot and sunny weekend but for this year's trip, it was a bit more cloudy and overcast, almost chilly if the wind blew just right. Still, it was a glorious day. We pulled in and moved safely from the parking area to the trailhead and soon we were tromping through the lush thick greenery which so thrives along the shoreline bordering the Strait. This hike leads one through prime fossil collecting ground and were the allure of the beach not so strong, I'm sure many would be more distracted into spending more time here!

Our hike is an easy one and soon we were all dropping down to the beach. With a groan, I noted that the accumulated seaweed masses that I noted on past trips had not miraculously been pulled back out to sea and the beach lay partially covered in this thick rotting slippery muck. Undaunted, we took off west for clearer stretches and that's when the discoveries started being made. First a snail mold here and then a chunk of toredo wood there, then a piece of bone and a shrimp claw in a concretion and the fun just kept right on coming! We made it about a mile west all told and folks ranged out all along the stretch over the several hour period we were there. Gloria mentioned hearing the eagles crying and I remember hearing the barking, groaning growl of the seals. There were tall majestic silent herons way out on the flats closer to the surf and there was the continual squawking of the wheeling gulls. Tall firs, pines and alders stretched overhead and up the hillside while across the gray waters of the Strait, Canada's Vancouver Island's own forested shores beckoned.

Jason joins the photo, fossils
occur loose on the beach
and weathering from the cliffs.

Herb in a classic beach
collecting pose

There were some real finds made that day and heck, we even had a few exciting moments too; like when Jason climbed the cliffs knocking off big chunks of fossil bearing clay to break apart, crashing down to the beach below. Instantly, Derryk and Austin, the little boys in our group, their attentions riveted to the testosterone pounding excitement of it all (not little Amanda, she was way too captivated by the dogs to be distracted by any such nonsense!), they went right for the banks to begin their own onslaughts and following them, just like shadows, were the calls from Herb and Emily to immediately cease and desist! Chuckling, and I bet I wasn't the only one :-) silently laughing, I kept on searching for treasure...

Exquisite shelled Lucina
hannibali as found in the clay.

Solemya dalli, as collected
from the clay.

Aturia angustata, some of the
finest we've found. Agatized,
tumbled versions are real prizes.

Archohelia weaveri, a massive
fossil coral, comes from the
beach too with a bit of luck.

All too soon, Gloria and I had to make our exit and head back to the house to get everything ready for the gangs arrival. Last minute shopping, food prep, getting the BBQ ready, turning on the case lights, etc., it all took precious minutes. Joining our group for the afternoon/evening, were two other friends, Ed and Della, their arrival swelled our group to its ultimate number of fifteen. At dinner, we had just the perfect mix of salads, deserts and hot dishes and I think everyone found something yummy to "fill the void".

Full and happy, we all later enjoyed a Bonseki demonstration by Herb down in the rock room where he created another beautiful scenic display using gypsum sands of varying dimensions along with stones and fossils found from the beach earlier that day. In awe, we all very much enjoyed the thrill of his deft movements. An awesome time. And then sometime later, the evening winding down, folks began slowly filtering away, making their way towards home. Earlier, we'd talked about our collecting options on the morning and decided to go both for fossils and for crystals. Jason, Herb and Derryk all opted for points west and another trip to the beach, while four of us headed east to collect hoped for crystals in the quarries. Look for Jason's comments on their experiences in his report...

The tools of Bonseki.

More of Herb's Bonseki tools

And from modest beginnings...

Using treasures collected
from the beach.

Report continued . . . . . . .

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