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DANCES WITH SNAKES

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Field Trip - Emminence, Missouri

    4:00 am Saturday morning. Man it's early! I didn't get to sleep until 10 pm. The truck is loaded light for this trip, just enough gear to bust a rock or two, nothing extravagant. The moon is still high in the southern sky, it's supposed to be a nice day, no rain in the forecast until tomorrow morning.

After the usual routine, the Tundra is ready for the road trip. She seems anxious to hit the road and unwind a bit. A short warm-up and we're headed for points east. The plan is to make the best time possible to Springfield, MO, then hit US 60 east from there all the way to Winona, MO. Our goal is Eminence, 12 miles north of Winona, and then to a quarry outside of town where I am supposed to meet up with James Johnson from Sullivan, MO and Docia, who lives about 30 miles away. The drive was pleasant and uneventful all of the way and we made good time, just over 4.5 hours to Winona.

As I turned onto Hwy 19 North at Winona, I decided it might be a good time to stop and get a few survival items, you know, water, chips, cup-cakes, crackers, smoked sausage, that kind of stuff. I would hate to let my blood sugar drop out on me whilst on top of a pile of rocks.... Not a good scenario... As I was going into the store my phone rang, of course it was James telling me he was at the quarry and picking up rocks in the parking lot already... Go figure....! Anyway, Docia wasn't far from there and I told James I would be about 20 minutes. I gathered supplies and headed north to Eminence post-haste.

It seemed that there must be some kind of livestock activity in the area as I passed what must have been fifty or more trucks pulling horse trailers in the 12 miles between Winona and Eminence. There was a bustle of activity as I came into Eminence. Keep in mind that Eminence is quite small. Nestled in the Ozark hills SW of St. Louis, It's claim to fame is the "Canoe Capital of the World" with easy access to both the Jack's Fork and Current rivers. As I came into town, I noticed a commotion up ahead, and then heard a loud metallic twang. As I got about a block on down the road I noticed a Subaru Outback that seemed to be sitting awfully close to a steel signpost near a building on the corner, across the street from a small grocery store. It seems the older gentleman driving the Subaru had made a hasty turn and, not seeing the pole????, drove straight into it... As I passed, it appeared he was backing up, and then continued around the corner to park at the side of the grocery store, his intended destination. What a town! I followed the directions James had given me earlier and headed east of town. The quarry wasn't hard to find, right on the highway and James' and Docia's trucks were the only ones there.

As I drove up I was greeted cheerfully by James and Docia, and we proceeded almost immediately into the quarry itself. As we drove down to the quarry floor, it was obvious that this was a working quarry, but on a smaller scale than I am accustomed to seeing in my area. There were a couple of windrows of processed material to the west side of the quarry, and on the east side was a high-wall of fair proportion, between 80 and 100 feet high. It looked quite unstable as there were large sheaves of rock ready to slip at any time. A slightly inward leaning posture made it that much more ominous looking.

We drove a short distance and parked between two windrows of unprocessed material that had been blasted from the high-wall, and moved out of the way for another blast event. As soon as we exited the vehicles, it was obvious that we were going to have a good day of collecting. There seemed to be calcite pockets and vugs in every rock! From poker-chips to nails-heads, dogs-teeth to rhombohedral masses, everywhere I looked I saw collectable material! Within a few feet of the truck, I got sidetracked wrapping calcite rhombs of translucent white and transparent olive-green colors, thinking these would make great prizes at the upcoming show in Tulsa.

Finally, I tore myself away from the spot to explore more of the area. Within a few moments of climbing higher up the pile of rock, I was confronted with what I thought must be the find of the day for me! Sitting there in a bed of soil amongst the boulders of limestone, was an absolutely wonderful cabinet specimen of a calcite filled pocket in a sandstone matrix... Dogtooth crystals protruded at odd angles, coated with hematite, giving them an almost reddish tinge, and on top of the hematite, a second generation of calcite in poker-chip form... Now that you have that picture in your mind, add a THIRD generation of calcium carbonate in a soft white, almost snowy coating! Add Limonite spheres, a generous bed of smaller poker-chip calcite crystals, and I bet you still can't put it all together in one double-fisted pocket! 

After all the teasing, I suppose I should at least show you a picture of it... Are ya ready?

 

 

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VIRGIL G. RICHARDS

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