Vacation photos: Part 2

Earlier this week I made a post about some of the things I did and saw during my vacation in May, but I knew that I had too much content to share on just one blog post. So, here are the rest of the photos from my adventures in northern California!

(Psst… if you haven’t read part one, you can click here to check it out.)

While my mom and I were staying at my uncle’s place in California, we were blown away by the impressive crystal specimens from his personal rock collection – one that sticks in my mind even now was a heavy mass of quartz crystals as long as my forearm. Even more exciting was learning that he’d found them near an abandoned crystal mine on his property, and, after hearing this, my new goal for the trip was to visit the mine and find some crystals for my own collection. Though he warned me that the hike would be strenuous – and was one that he himself only made about once or twice a year – my enthusiasm must have convinced him that I was dedicated to the idea, and so we set out one afternoon with my aunt and their dogs in tow, searching for the mine.

Clambering up and down steep slopes, traversing ravines by walking carefully across the trunks fallen trees, and ducking, climbing, and crawling through the underbrush was a full workout. It was a slow, sweaty hike through the forest as we tried to avoid both poison sumac and mosquitos, the latter of which followed us relentlessly, descending in thick clouds whenever we stopped for a break or reached down to knot untied shoelaces.

After nearly two hours of hiking, however, it all paid off!

Chunks of quartz crystal littered the ground as far as the eye could see, from white boulders the size of end tables to tiny, clear crystals no bigger than the nail on my pinky finger. The heat, humidity, and bugs were all worth it as we eagerly combed the landscape for crystals, loading our bags with as much as we could stand to carry before beginning the hour-long hike home.

Fully expecting our trip to the crystal mine to be the most rewarding in terms of expanding my rock collection, I was thrilled to hear my uncle talk about another of his favorite places only a few days later… one that was conveniently located along the highway we we’d be taking to get back to Arizona! So, on the last day of our trip, my mom and I made a stop at a little-known attraction south of Tonopah, Nevada called Gemfield.

While fairly unremarkable from the roadside, driving back along the dirt roads led us over and around desert hills to a welcome sign. Tucked away from the main road, Gemfield was laid out before us, seemingly bare and boring at a glance…

…but actually covered with all kinds of chalcedony and agate when you looked down!

Much like the crystal mine, I felt I could’ve spent days scouring the hillsides for beautiful rocks, but since we still had a lot of driving to do to get home, I gathered what I could in the time we had before continuing on our trip.

Luckily, the time constraint didn’t stop us from adding some more locations to both of our Atlas Obscura pages!

Back in Tonopah, my mom and I had caught sight of a terrifying-looking place called the Clown Motel, and after collecting rocks in Gemfield the next day, we explored the Goldfield pioneer cemetery to find the paste-eater’s grave. We also passed the abandoned – and reportedly haunted – Goldfield Hotel, and, sadly, were running late and could only admire the Angel’s Ladies Brothel and the Alien Cathouse from the car as we drove past. Contrary to the Atlas Obscura entry, which claims that it’s still open, the sign for Angel’s Ladies had the word “CLOSED” spray painted over the bit that used to say “MASSAGES,” and looked empty (though the plane wreck was still there). The Alien Cathouse, on the other hand, still seemed to be open for business, and was located next door to the Area 51 Alien Center. In spite of the “Free Tours!” sign that hung over the brothel door, my mom was significantly less enthusiastic about stopping to visit the alien-themed businesses, and since we were already behind schedule thanks to my rock collecting, I had to settle for making some jokes about “probing” instead.

(If you’re interested, you can check out all the places I’ve been to so far by clicking here to visit my Atlas Obscura profile.)

While there were many more Atlas Obscura locations in Nevada that we didn’t have time to see on this trip, it gave us lots of great ideas for potential future vacations… and I returned home with some excellent new additions to my rock collection.

These are just a few of the specimens I found on the trip, but they’re some of my favorites! I found all of these myself, with the exception of the two big crystal pieces, which my uncle picked up for me on our hike. I’m especially proud of the banded agate pieces – most of which have minuscule, sparkling crystals in their crevices – and the teeny tiny quartz crystals I collected in California.

While the crystal mine isn’t even remotely accessible to the public, I’d definitely encourage my fellow rockhounds to check out Gemfield, if you ever find yourself in the desert between Reno and Las Vegas with some time to kill. If you do plan on stopping by sometime, Gemfield is free to visit, but they ask that you donate $1 for every pound of rock you take, and there is no mechanical equipment allowed; in other words, you can use hand tools, but you have to be able to collect any rocks you find without the help of machinery. Still, it’s a very worthwhile detour for any rock-lover looking for something to do in Nevada, and one that definitely made my vacation that much more enjoyable!

So, now that I’ve finally gotten around to editing and sharing the last of my vacation photos, I’m hoping to get back into the creative saddle and start working on the next slew of projects slated for this year. Even though it’s still July, I’m already starting to plan for the annual Something Wicked gallery show, my Halloween costume, and lots of other personal projects that I can’t even talk about just yet. I’m not sure what’s going to be first on the list, but I’m excited to share everything I’ll be working on here on my blog, so keep an eye out for new photography, illustration, crafts, and more… coming soon to Katy Blogs Things!

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