Sunday, October 19, 2008

Topaz Mountain

We just got home from spending the weekend at Topaz Mountain. Unlike Greenland, Topaz Mountain is aptly named. The mountain is just glittering with topaz. The colors range from yellow to orange to blue to clear. I have been told that there's "no topaz left". However, as I spoke further with those people, they reported finding topaz that were 2-3" long. Sure, if that's your standard, there isn' t much left. Most of what we found was smaller than my pinkie fingernail. But, it's extremely exciting to be digging around in the dirt and find a chunk of semiprecious stone that glitters and sparkles. Here are some of the topaz that I found:

The kids were out of school for Thursday and Friday, so we left Thursday morning. We planned to have both sets of parents join us, though my parents couldn't make it down til Friday. We met up with J's parents at the One Man Band Diner in Nephi, UT. It's our usual lunch spot when we're heading to Ephraim or other parts unknown. Usually it's really wonderful, but this time it wasn't quite as good. I felt like we were overcharged for our food, but I wasn't able to see where the overage happened. Having four kids and your inlaws around makes concentration a bit difficult.

We got to Topaz Mountain around dinner time. Our spot from last year was taken, but we got a nice spot right next to some tall rocks. The kids were lik
e a bunch of mountain goats all weekend. They definitely loved this spot better.

Some previous camper had made a Anasazi style shelter from one of the hollows in the rock, and the kids thought that was pretty neat, but I think I was more impressed.

We spent quite a bit of time looking for crystals. In the washes, all of the topaz has been bleached to transparent. However, when we found topaz within rocks that had been unexposed to sun, it was anything from a pale yellow to deep amber to orange. Here is a rock with some topaz still embedded in it.

On Saturday, we did a rhino/atv expedition to the Dugway Geode Beds. We attempted to go there last year, and tried to dig for geodes, but found nothing. This year, we did more research, got GPS coordinates and everything. Everything online assured us we would be successful and be constantly tripping over them. The ride out there was a lot of fun, except when Buddy, my inlaw's dog jumped out of our rhino. He wasn't hurt, though he is missing a bit of fur where his eyebrow would be. As we got there, a vanful of kids got there. The ladies accompanying them said their neighbor told them all of the kids would have their buckets full of geodes within a couple seconds. Unfortunately, we didn't have any better luck this year and neither did our new friends.

I've been told "they" come in with back hoes and turn the ground every once in a while. Maybe it had been a long time and the grounds were really picked over? Who are "they" anyway? Maybe we'll attempt it again, but only if we can find out when these backhoes are there, and go in soon afterwards.

We came back to camp where J's parents prepared to go home. We bid them farewell and took the kids and my parents back up to the excavation site where you are most likely to find the topaz. While we were preparing to leave, Z started throwing up. I stayed in the wash with S and Z while everyone else went to chip topaz out of stones. We found a bunch of pretty transparent crystals. Then S got diarrhea, and Z threw up on me again.

My parents also planned to leave Saturday. Given the unsettled digestive systems of our youngest two, we decided we would leave too. Nothing ruins a trip faster than vomit. I got the younger two bathed and cleaned up (vomiting and diarrhea are extremely messy while in a primative area that doesn't even have outhouses, let alone running water or toilet tissue) while J got camp packed up.

We drove without incident, stopping for dinner at Fazolis in Provo. It was extremely noisy in there, as the SUU ladies' softball (?) team was there. To tempt fate, I gave Z a plate of spaghetti with red sauce. Thankfully, it all stayed down.

We got home without incident. The younger two seem to be perfectly healthy today, but I am glad we erred on the side of caution.

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