Meteor Crater and Winslow Arizona – Vacation 2017!!

June often means vacation time for Lana, the grandchildren, and me. This year, we decided to do something different and go west for Vacation 2017. Not all the way to the West Coast, but to Arizona and the Grand Canyon! We started at Meteor Crater and Winslow Arizona!

For those who don’t know, I was born in New Mexico and spent my first 13 years in New Mexico and Colorado before moving to South Georgia. Thus, I had some experience with the Southwestern US. Lana, Aidan, and Maggie didn’t, and they didn’t know what to expect from the different landscape and climate. When we landed in Phoenix, it was 113F and went up to 118F. Now, I know what you’re thinking – it was dry heat. True enough, but it was still HOT. Think of the humid southern climate as a sauna. Phoenix was like an oven! So, we got our rental car and headed to Flagstaff (our base of operations) and started our adventures. Thank goodness it was only in the mid-80’s and low 90’s in Flagstaff!

In upcoming posts, I’ll tell you more of what we saw and visited, but today, I wanted to talk about Meteor Crater. You all know I’m a big geek about space stuff, so this was right in my wheelhouse.

Scientists call the impact site the Barringer Crater (named for John Barringer who was the first to suggest it was made by a meteor), according to what we learned at the site. Canyon Diablo Crater is another name (the nearby town of Canyon Diablo inspired the name though it is a ghost town now). Scientists estimate the meteor that struck was moving somewhere between 28,000 mph and 42,300 mph. The crater formed in about 10 seconds and was ~700 feet deep initially. It’s now about 550 feet deep due to sediment buildup over the last 50,000 years.

Here is a picture of the crater!

 

Meteor Crater

I know the picture can’t do justice to the actual site, but maybe it gives an idea of how big the crater is. One of the other things I found on display during our visit was tektite! If readers of The Gemstone Chronicles recall, tektite was one of the stones in the books. In Book Two: The Amethyst, Beebop buys a tektite necklace that turns out to be a telepathy stone. Now, I didn’t intercept any communications, but to see pieces of tektite up close was very cool! You can read the tektite post here! Sorry the picture isn’t so good…

Meteor Crater Tektites

In case you can’t read the text in the photo, the samples shown are Indochinites. If you look at the map, you can see the Georgia strewnfield mentioned in my book.

We also learned the astronauts trained here for the moon missions in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Maybe that was the beginning of the conspiracy theory of the fake moon landing. Maybe I’ll explore that in another post!

We left the Meteor Crater and continued on to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert (that will be another post), but stopped in Winslow Arizona. And yes, we took a picture standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona!

Meteor Winslow AZ

Just in case you missed it, in the window behind us is a girl in a flatbed Ford! We also had some great hot dogs and milk shakes at Sipp Shoppe before pushing on to the Petrified Forest.

There you have a small taste of our Arizona adventures. More to come!

Have you been to Arizona? Took a picture in Winslow? Leave me a comment and let me know. Connect with me on the socials, too! I love meeting new friends! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest! As always, I appreciate any and all shares and subscribers to the blog!!

 

Tektite – Glass Rock or Telepathy Stone? You Decide!

In The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Nana and Beebop buy a tektite necklace from an antique dealer. The necklace, as it turns out, has telepathic powers. I won’t tell you more, as it would spoil the story! Nonetheless, I’ll tell you more about tektite!

Tektite, for lack of a better description, is a glass rock. Similar to obsidian, tektite is mostly silicon. However, tektites are the result of meteorite impacts. Yes, that’s right, tektites are glass rocks formed when meteorites impacted the earth, sent molten particles into the air, and which fell back to earth in the strewnfields. Since tektites formed from the impacts, they have different characteristics compared to obsidian. Additionally, tektites might just have a little bit of cosmic matter in them! How cool is that?

Where can we find tektites? Across the globe, a few locations yield the majority of tektite finds. One of those locations, called strewnfields, is in Georgia! The Georgia tektites are known as Georgiaites and, just like the stone in The Amethyst, are green. Other strewnfields are in Texas, Autraliasia, the Ivory Coast of Africa, and Europe. Tektites from the different strewnfields have different characteristics which I will discuss next.

I’ll start with Georgiaites. Found principally in Dodge and Bleckley counties in Middle Georgia, Georgiaites are olive green and generally tear drop shaped. Below is a picture of a Georgiaite (Photo by Sean Murray, courtesy of FallingRocks.com). Beautiful and extremely rare, Georgiaites are 35 million years old!

Georgiaite Tektite

 

Moldavites are green, too, though a different shade than Georgiaites. Moldavites are typically found in Czech Republic in Bohemia (no singing of Bohemian Rhapsody, please). The stones are about 15 million years old. The museum quality pieces are gorgeous and often used in jewelry. Here is an example of a museum quality Moldavite. I particularly like the flaky appearance!

Tektite Moldavite

Moldavite

Australites spread across Australia and Southeast Asia. By far the most common variety, Australites are dark, usually black. Found across most of the southern half of Australia, these tektites have a unique disk or bowl shape. NASA (according to Wikipedia) used the shape of these tektites when designing the re-entry modules for the Apollo Space Program!

Tektite Australite

Australite

Due to the size of the impact, part of the same strewnfield reaches into Southeast Asia. The tektites found here – called Indochinites – are black like the Australites. Both Australites and Indochinites are much younger than Moldavites or Georgiaites, dating to about 790,000 years old. Here is an Indochinite.

Tektite indochinite

Indochinite

Lastly, we talk about Ivorite. Found along the Ivory Coast on the Western Cost of Africa, these stones are only about 1.3 million years old. Because of the unstable political climate in the area, I couldn’t find a picture of an Ivorite to include in this post. As a result of the instability, few have been excavated. The found Ivorites resemble Indochinites.

In The Amethyst, the tektite was from the Georgia strewnfield. According to HealingCrystals.com, tektite encourages telepathy and helps with lucid dreaming and astral travel. Sounds a lot like what Nana and Laura experienced, but you’ll have to read the book to find out more!

Obviously, I took some license with the properties of all the gemstones in The Gemstone Chronicles series, but I enjoyed learning about the magical and mystical properties the stones possess. And tektite was a great addition to the collection!

What is your favorite gemstone (or gemstone power) from the series? Aidan’s double-terminated quartz is my favorite. Laura’s invisibility power is the best power, too! What about your favorite? Leave me a comment and let me know! I look forward to it!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect on the socials, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can drop me an email, too, at bill@williamlstuart.com or subscribe to the blog (so you don’t miss a post)!

Suwanee Fest 2016 – A Great Weekend – Even With the Rain!!

Sorry I’m a little bit behind on my posts. Been a crazy couple of weeks! And the crazy weeks started with Suwanee Fest 2016!

Suwanee Fest? What’s Suwanee Fest? Well, as many of you know, I live just north of Atlanta, GA in Buford, GA. Just south of Buford is Suwanee, GA, Suwanee is a small city of about 18,000 people. Every year, the city hosts Suwanee Fest. The event website refers to the festival as “Two days of family, friends, food, and fun!” I can attest to the fact it was all of that!

There was a ton of entertainment (including my favorite Who’s Bad – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band), great food, almost too many amazing exhibitors to count, and The Gemstone Chronicles!

Yep, I was there with books in hand to meet and greet new friends and readers of the series. And it was a blast! Not only did I sell a few books, but I also met so many awesome people. I talked about gemstones for hours, referred a few to my favorite gem hunting spot (Gold n’ Gems Grubbin’), and got to spend a couple of hours with my brother John and my niece Aidia. Overall, not a bad way to spend a Saturday! Below is the picture of my booth before the fun began.

Suwanee Fest Booth

Book interest was at an all-time high, and my editor extraordinaire Abby (who doubles as the City of Suwanee Public Information Officer) tried to stop by a few times to say hello. Every time she tried to stop by, though, I was interacting with new friends! Like I said, not a bad way to spend a Saturday!!

Unfortunately, Sunday was not the best day. Despite the great entertainment, the rains came and wouldn’t go away! Nonetheless, The Gemstone Chronicles staffed the booth in hopes of meeting more new friends. Alas, it wasn’t to be as the rains kept visitors away. On the plus side, though, John came by (and helped me pack up during one of the few breaks in the rain) and I had the chance to talk with Abby for a few minutes.

Suwanee Fest 2016 was a great event and I hope to attend again next year! If I met you, sold you a book (or 4), gave you a gemstone, or simply talked about gemstones, thanks for stopping by the booth! I truly appreciate each and every person who took time out of their celebration to visit with me and buy a book. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! If we did interact, and you have my contact information, give me a shout and let me know.

Connect with me:

In case you didn’t pick up a card or a bookmark, you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, or Tumblr. You can also email me here at bill@williamlstuart.com!

My Collection – Gemstones and More Gemstones!!

After digging through a box the other day, I decided I finally needed to organize my collection of rocks garnered from my many trips to the North Georgia Mountains. I was surprised and excited when I went through my plastic bags and grouped the stones together. I didn’t realize all the cool stones I had!

Let’s start with hematite. If you recall a previous post on hematite, this stone looks like a dark gray lump, but, once tumbled, turns into a beautiful silver color. The cool thing about hematite is that when rubbed against sandpaper, it leaves a red streak (hence the name hematite, which comes from the Greek root word for blood). Hematite is one of my favorite stones!

Hematite Collection

Hematite Collection

Quartz is a great stone, too! It comes in many colors and I haven’t found one I didn’t like. In my collection, I have clear, rose, lemon (yellow), smoky, and the cool pencil quartz. I had clear quartz cut into round brilliant cut stones and they are gorgeous!

Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web

Round Brilliant Cut 3 Carats

 

Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz Pair

The stones below are quartz as I found them. I will start with the pencil quartz. It is a misleading name, as some of the crystals are much larger than a pencil!

Pencil-quartz-Jan-2016

Pencil Quartz Collection

I think some of these would look great just hanging from a chain, but a couple of them are too big for anything except maybe a paperweight! Below is a picture of one of the large crystals.

Large-Pencil-Quartz-Jan-2016

Large Pencil Quartz

 

Clear and lemon quartz are beautiful stones, too. I think I might send my gem cutter a couple of the lemon quartz to see what he can do with them. I expect they will be gorgeous! Here are some of each.

Clear-Quartz-Jan-2016

Clear Quartz Collection

 

Lemon Quartz Collection

Lemon Quartz Collection

Aventurine is another quartz stone and usually has bits of mica or other minerals that give it a shimmering appearance. Here is my collection of aventurine.

Aventurine Collection

Aventurine Collection

 

Amethysts and citrines are other forms of quartz. I have a nice collection of each and I have some large amethysts. Which are your favorites?

Amethyst Collection

Amethyst Collection

 

The two large amethysts are shown on the scale below. Using the conversion of 5 carats per gram, the first stone is 630 carats and the second is 575 carats!

Collection 630 Carat Amethyst

630 Carat Amethyst

 

Collection 575 Carat

575 Carat Amethyst

Both of these stones are too fractured to cut into gemstones, but I love the deep purple color of them.

The citrines are a golden version of amethyst. I like the lighter color ones, but the darker ones (second picture) are the ones I might send to the gem cutter to see if he can get anything out of them.

Citrine Collection

Citrine Collection

 

Collection Citrine Dark Tips

Citrine Dark Tips

I have a large number of emeralds, too. One of my all-time favorite stones, these are rough and ready to tumble. I might have a few that are suitable for gem cutting.

Emerald Collection

Emerald Collection

Collection Emeralds to Facet

Emeralds to Facet?

If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Laura used a moonstone to turn her friends and family invisible during a battle. Now, I haven’t tried invisibility with these moonstones, but I like them!

Moonstone Collection

Moonstone Collection

I find lots of garnets. The garnets are a deep red and its hard to show the color in a photo. I did manage to capture one, though. What do you think of them?

Garnet Collection

Garnet Collection

 

Collection Garnet Red

Garnet

Lastly, I wanted to share my collection of rubies and sapphires. Now, I don’t believe any of these are gem quality stones, but I like them anyway. I think when I start cabbing (making cabochons) in the near future, I will do a few of these just to see how they turn out. Stay tuned for them!

Rubies and Sapphires Collection

Rubies and Sapphires Collection

 

Collection Rubies and Sapphires 2

Rubies and Sapphires

Connect with me:

I have more, but these are the favorites of my collection. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, or connect with me on social media. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or Tumblr!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy 2016!!

Happy Holidays! I was in my living room last night, helping Aidan and Maggie (yep, the same two whose namesakes grace the pages of The Gemstone Chronicles series) decorate their Christmas tree (we have 2 – one that is the front window of our house where we place most of the presents and a second one we call the kid’s tree). We put many of our favorite ornaments on the kid’s tree, and it always spurs moments of recollection of when we got the ornaments, why they are special, and then we have to find just the right spot for the ornament to hang. It made me want to share some of our holidays with you, my readers and friends! Without further ado, then, here are some holiday images to share!

First, here is our house, well-lit for Christmas! This year, our relatively new boxwood shrubs are finally large enough to light.

Happy Holidays 2015-Christmas-Lights-Web

I really like our front door, too. Our snowman with his red hat and scarf are a great addition to the decorations!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Front-Door

 

As I mentioned above, we have 2 trees. This is the tree at the front of the that house shines with the rest of the lighted decor to lend our house a festive glow!

Happy Holidays Christmas-2015-Tree

The kid’s tree is beautifully decorated, too. Some of my favorite decorations on this tree are the Noah’s Ark ornaments.

Happy Holidays 2015-Kid's-Tree-Web

Here are my favorite Noah’s Ark ornaments!

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-1

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-2

 

Happy Holidays 2015-Noah's-Ark-3

To go along with the season, I want to thank all of you readers out there for visiting my blog, leaving me comments, and reading and reviewing my books. You have no idea how much your comments, connections, and feedback mean to me. Thank you all!!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, and Tumblr. You can always just drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com, too!

Have yourselves a safe and happy holidays and best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

 

Gemstones Again!! Faceted Emerald, Quartz, and Citrine!

Gemstones again! I haven’t done a gemstone post in a while (partially because I haven’t been gemstone hunting due to other commitments – like marketing The Gemstone Chronicles), but I now have some very cool stones to showcase! Before I get to the final versions of the gemstones, though, I wanted to show you what the stones looked like when I found them.

The first stone is an emerald. I sent this one over to my gem cutter friend because it had a great green color when illuminated by a strong light. And, the natural shape was pretty cool!

Gemstones Again Emerald

I know the picture doesn’t show the green color. It was difficult to capture…

The second stone I want to show you is a quartz crystal. I found this one and it was extremely clear. Now, I believe the stone is beautiful in its natural state. What do you think?

 

Gemstones Again Quartz

The final stone is a citrine. For those not familiar with citrines, they are the same stone as an amethyst, but with different impurities to give them a yellowish-orange color.

How did the gemstones turn out? I think they are amazing! Here is the finished emerald. While not as green as Lana’s emerald from posts past, or what I envision the Emerald from the Elven Bow in Book Three: The Emerald, it is a great stone!

Gemstones Again Emerald-Cut-Emerald-6.5-Carats-Web

If you recall from my Rubies and Diamonds post, I asked my gem cutter friend Gene to facet two round brilliant cut quartz stones. They are 1.25 carats each. Here is a picture of them!

Gemstones Again Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

 

To match these, I asked Gene to cut the quartz rough above in a brilliant cut, as well. I think he did a fantastic job! I can see this as a pendant or perhaps a really big ring!

Gemstones Again Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web

 

The last stone is the citrine. I have a bunch of citrines, but they are usually so fractured inside that they aren’t really suitable for faceting. The stone above seemed very clear and, as it turned out, it was!

Gemstones Again Citrine-Princess-Cut-1.7-Carats-Web

Apologizes again for the pictures as they really don’t show the beauty of the stones, but, as you can see, this Princess Cut weighed in at 1.7 carats and is a great yellow color!

I have to go through the stones I found this past weekend and see if I can find a few more to send to Gene! I also plan to start creating cabochons after the holidays, so stayed as I post progress on them!

What do you think of the finished stones? How do you think they should be mounted? Gold or Silver settings? Pendants or rings? Let me know how you would mount them?

Connect with me:

You can connect with me on social media, too, and let me know what your thoughts about the stones are. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just send me an email to bill@williamlstuart.com!

Happy Holidays!!

Christmas Offers from The Gemstone Chronicles!!!

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year (and I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was as amazing as mine was), the focus shifts to Christmas and gift giving. In the spirit of the season, The Gemstone Chronicles is proud to announce two Christmas offers!

Offer Number One (for US only): If you want to order a set of all four of The Gemstone Chronicles books in paperback (and autographed by me), the special price through December 15th is $45. You can also order individual copies of each book for $14 each.

 

  • Buy autographed copies of The Gemstone Chronicles for $14 each (and I will pay shipping and handling)!
  • Buy the entire 4 book series for $45 (which is $11 off the cost of buying the books separately – and I will cover shipping and handling)!

 

Just send me the ship-to address, who you would like the books dedicated to, and they will be on the way! Send the information to bill@williamlstuart.com. I will email you to let you know when the books ship (and I promise I won’t spam you or share your email address).

Offer Number Two: I decided to make the entire series, in ebook formats, $0.99 for the month of December. Not just the first book, The Carnelian, but also The Amethyst, The Emerald, and The Ruby. Perfect way to load up a new Kindle, iPad, or Nook for Christmas! And for less than $4! That is a hard deal to beat! And this one applies to my international friends, too, so check your country’s Amazon site, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, or other sites for the reduced price!

Christmas Offers The Gemstone Chronicles series

Take advantage of these two special Christmas offers and find out why Book One: The Carnelian was awarded a BRAG Medallion! And, if you are so inclined, consider leaving a review. I would love to know what you think of the series!

Christmas Offers THE-GEMSTONE-CHRONICLES-BRAG-for-Web 1

Connect with me:

As always, you can connect with me on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or just email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to meeting new friends!

I also want to thank all of my new readers and readers from years past. Your comments, reviews, and feedback have made me a better writer, and will be instrumental in making my next book better by far! So, thank you!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

Thanksgiving 2015 – What a Great Year It’s Been!!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 from The Gemstone Chronicles!! It’s hard to believe another year has almost passed, but it has! Like many people, I like to take a little time to reflect back on the year and list out wonderful things that happened (in no particular order), milestones and accomplishments, give thanks for all I have, and look forward to what the upcoming year might bring. If you readers will indulge me, here we go!

  • The Atlanta Writers Club is the first writers club I have ever joined. The lovely and adorable Lana presented me with a membership as a Christmas present last year and I was so excited to receive it! And, I have learned much more than I ever expected from attending the monthly meetings. I want to increase my interactions with the other members as I move forward in 2016, and learn even more!

 

  • The Augusta Literary Festival was my first (and hopefully not my last) visit to Augusta. The Augusta Public Library holds the festival annually. The festival is the home to the Yerby Award and was a lot of fun to attend. I met a number of great people, was a panelist for a discussion about self-publishing, sold a few books, and generally had a great time. The 2016 Augusta Literary Festival is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, so make your plans to attend and discover new books for your own reading pleasure! Below is the picture of Lana and me at the 2015 event!

Thanksgiving 2015 Augusta Literary Festival Lana and Bill

  • In April, I submitted The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian to IndieBRAG for consideration for a BRAG medallion. After about a 5 month wait, I was happily surprised to learn the book had been awarded the BRAG medallion! What an exciting day for me and my books! According to the BRAG medallion website, only about 10% of the books submitted are awarded the medallion, which puts The Carnelian in excellent company!

Thanksgiving 2015 THE-GEMSTONE-CHRONICLES-BRAG-for-Web

  • I was lucky to be included in the Oconee Chamber Fall Festival in Watkinsville, GA in October. A wonderful arts and crafts event held in a beautiful small town not far from Athens, GA (home of my favorite team the Georgia Bulldogs). The weather for the event was spectacular, the venue perfect for the festival, and the festival attendees were great. Books sold quite well, and I met tons of new people. A return for the Fall 2016 event is likely.

 

  • I saw a post on Facebook one day about the Ambercrest Little Free Library. I did a little research and thought the concept of the little free library was very cool, so I contacted the man who got it started in the Ambercrest subdivision (which is near my house) and donated a couple of my books. As a lifelong reader, I hope to help spread the love of reading to a new generation. If you look closely at the picture, you will see one of my book marks and, on the lower shelf of the library, The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst!

Thanksgiving 2015 Ambercrest-Little-Free-Library-Web

  • Lana and I took a weekend trip to Wilmington, NC. We had the opportunity to wander through the city, take a boat tour up the Cape Fear River, and visited the USS North Carolina (BB-55), a World War II battleship. For a submarine sailor, visiting the ship was an interesting experience. I was impressed by the amount of space (something at a premium on a boat), and the 16 inch guns were awesome!

Thanksgiving 2015 USS North Carolina (BB-55)

  • We didn’t take our usual spring or summer trip with Aidan and Maggie this year as Lana had back surgery. That didn’t stop me from building Maggie’s fort, though. Maggie wanted me to transform her play set in the backyard, so I did. What do you think of the finished product?

Thanksgiving 2015 Maggie's Fort Finished

  • There are so many more things for which I am thankful and there were some tough spots, too. Lana’s back surgery has been a resounding success and for that, I am forever thankful to the wonderful doctors and staff of Emory Healthcare. Lana’s grandmother (yes, we have 5 generations alive on Lana’s side of the family), Polly,  turned 100 this past April. What a blessing!
  • On a sad note, though, Lana’s Uncle Bud passed away as did her Aunt Virginia. Both were great influences in Lana’s life and we miss them every day.

There are so many other things I could discuss, like my continuing education in the ways of book marketing, the growth in my social media connections, or my WIP (an adult thriller). However, I won’t take up any more of your time for now. After all, there are turkeys to eat, presents to buy, and family and friends to enjoy! Do take some time, though, to be thankful for all that you have and for the family and friends who surround you. I know I’m truly blessed by Lana, Laura, Mike, Aidan, Maggie, and the rest of my family and friends too numerous to name here!

I also want thank all of the readers who have purchased the books this past year, those who have left reviews, and to my future readers, too! You have no idea how much it means to me when someone reads the books and leaves reviews or comments! Thank you!!!

Connect with me:

If you want to connect with me on social media, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, or you can email me at bill@williamlstuart.com. If you don’t want to miss a post, you can also subscribe to the blog! Drop me a note and let me know what you are thankful for this year!

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!!

 

Gem Hunting in the Southeast US – Where Will I Go??

Y’all know about my gem hunting hobby and how the gemstones are such an integral part of my fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles. You also know about my favorite gemstone hunting spot in the North Georgia Mountains. You might have even read about my trip to the Hogg Mountain Mine near LaGrange, GA or the trip to Hiddenite, NC. I hope the posts inspired you to go out on your own gem hunting excursions (or at least read and review my books)! Living in the Southeast, I decided to find new places fairly close to home and consider them for a visit, or share them with y’all in case you want to make a trip! To be fair, I didn’t look at other Southeast US states likes Florida, and Mississippi and Arkansas are a bit far for me (at least for a day trip).

Today, though, I want to give you an overview of places that I have researched on the Internet and where I might have to go for a visit over the next few months. Let’s start right here in Georgia, where I found this emerald and my brother John found the peridot that I had cut and set for a birthday present for the lovely and adorable Lana!

Southeast Lana's-Emerald-Web

Southeast Lana's-Peridot-Ring-Web

 

The North Georgia Mountains have many places to hunt for gemstones (and gold, if you are so inclined).

  • Graves Mountain (Lincoln County, Georgia): According to GeorgiaEnclcyopedia.org, Graves Mountain is a unique geological area filled with some of the finest specimens of kyanite, pyrite, pyrophyllite, rutile, and lazulite. They occasionally open the site to rockhounds, and I intend to be at the next dig!
  • Consolidated Gold Mine (Dahlonega, Georgia): A great place to visit to get an idea of what it was like to dig for gold underground. You can tour the mine and will end up about 140 feet underground. At the end of the tour, you can pan for gold and screen for gems.
  • Crisson Gold Mine (Dahlonega, Georgia): Another gold mine in Dahlonega, you can pan for gold here, too. If you want to, you can sign up to be a member of the Weekend Gold Miners at Crisson Gold Mine and gain access to the leased lands operated by the Weekend Gold Miners and prospect to your heart’s content!

South Carolina:

  • Diamond Hill Mine (Antreville, SC): The website for the Diamond Hill Mine says you can find quartz, amethyst (though rare), and other gemstones. For me, it would be about a 2 hour drive. Hours are 9-5 and no digging after dark. The website has some pictures of finds at the site and they look pretty good. I think I can foresee a road trip!

North Carolina: I have to say that North Carolina offers many opportunities for gemstone exploration. I will only list a few, but do your own research and find many more!

  • Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine (Franklin, NC): This mine sounds like my kind of place. While they do offer salted buckets, they also offer the opportunity to dig your own dirt and keep what you find. I think this is a place for me! They are open from March 1 – December 1 and a day of digging will cost $30. This is about a 2 hour drive for me, so easily doable for a1 day trip.
  • Cherokee Ruby Mine (Franklin, NC): Another mine that is now offering dig your own dirt option. This one comes with a little bit of a limitation: for the dig your own option, you can fill 6 buckets for $30 and you can fill 4 additional for $10 more. They do offer a flume to wash off the stones, but the fee seems a bit high for my tastes. The hours are 9 am – 4 pm Monday through Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. The mine is open May 1 – October 31. The mine is also cash only.

Tennessee: Other than copper mines around Ducktown and barite mines in other areas, I couldn’t find much about gem mines in Tennessee. Any of you Tennessee readers who want to give us some ideas, it would be greatly appreciated!

Alabama: Similar to Tennessee, I couldn’t find a lot about gem mines in Alabama, though I did fond some references to gold prospecting. As with the Tennessee folks, any hints you Alabama readers could give us would be appreciated!

For states outside the Southeast, please feel free to give us ideas about gem hunting opportunities near you. I can always try to plan a trip!

Connect with me:

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Suzuki SJ 410 – My Ride in Idaho!!

In previous posts, I talked about my path to and through Naval Nuclear Power School. I was looking through some old pictures the other day and found some pictures of Idaho Falls, and it sent me down a path of remembrance of my days in Idaho Falls, Idaho at prototype. Remembering those days reminded me of the house I lived in (the Roy House – so named for our landlord Roy), the snow, the lack of sleep, the relief of completing my qualification as a reactor operator, and the vehicle I drove to Idaho – my Suzuki SJ410.

Suzuki

For those who don’t know, the SJ410 was a small 4WD convertible. Many may remember the Suzuki Samurai that came after the SJ410, but this was the predecessor.

When I bought my SJ410, I was in Florida at Nuclear Power School. I saw the small 4WD at the dealership and decided to buy one. If I remember correctly, I paid just over $5000 for it brand spanking new! As you can see from the photos, it was red and black (UGA colors) with a white convertible top. No AC (but who needs one with a convertible), a 59.4 cu in motor (not a typo), and a ton of fun!

After Nuclear Power School, I was assigned to S1W in Idaho Falls, ID. I gathered up my seabag and a few others things, and headed west. I remember arriving in Idaho Falls on February 14th, 1985 to about 3 feet of snow. As I turned to head toward my rental house, there was a Ford F150 stuck in a snow drift. I graciously pulled the F150 from the snow bank and never even locked in 4WD. The F150 driver was grateful- but somewhat embarrassed that my little Suzuki (which he had never seen before) had to pull him out.

Working 12 hour rotating shifts didn’t leave much time for enjoying the Suzuki in the snow and ice, but my roommate had a Mustang that just didn’t fare very well in the weather, so the Suzuki became the workhorse of our house. I took it everywhere and had to park it in the driveway as the Mustang was in the garage. That meant knocking the snow and ice off the convertible top everyday so the weight wouldn’t tear the top. Here is a picture of my SJ410 parked next to a snow drift. And yes, that was the depth of the snow next to the house!

Suzuki SJ410

When summer rolled around, the top came off, and I cruised as often as I could. As the second RO to qualify, I got to change to 8 hour shifts earlier than most, and I rode a lot. Top down and radio blasting, I had a good time in the few hot days of summer. Below is a picture of the Suzuki with the top down!

Suzuki SJ410

Alas, I had to depart Idaho and report to USS Sandlance (SSN660) in Charleston, SC. I remember leaving on August 18th and it was 32 degrees that morning. I was a newly minted Reactor Operator, had a sizable reenlistment bonus, and was headed back south. When I got to Charleston, I bought an Audi 4000S (my favorite car ever). My brother John drove the Suzuki to college and he brought my beloved SJ410 to a tragic end when he totaled it.

Suzuki Wrecked 1

Suzuki Wrecked 2

I left the Navy in 1993, after 10 years of service. I married the love of my life, the lovely and adorable Lana, raised an amazing daughter, Laura, and have been blessed with 2 extraordinary grandchildren, Aidan and Maggie. My post-Navy career is brilliant, I’ve written The Gemstone Chronicles fantasy adventure series, and generally enjoyed life. I occasionally miss portions of my time in the Navy (mostly the people), and will always have a special place in my heart for the first brand new vehicle I ever owned – my Suzuki SJ410!

What was your special vehicle? A sports car? A truck? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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