All posts by Houston Wade

Geologist, Geographer, and Astrophysicist. Master of all he bothers to learn.

Make it to Portland to pick up a Viking

After a day of wrestling with a trailer and road construction on I-5 I arrived in Portland to pick up Aren and meet a geologist friend of his family’s.  Portland is full of hipsters and their Safeways are terrible!

We go to Safeway to pick up some wine for his friends and some toothpaste and brush for me (because that is the only thing I forgot to pack… believe me I managed to get everything else I own into that truck!), to find that only one checkstand is open leaving huuuuuuge lines for the self check lane–the worst inventions of all time!

There we are, with four items: toothpaste, toothbrush,  wine, and hair bands for Aren’s flowing locks.  Twenty minutes later the same hipster who rode to the grocery store on his fixed-gear is still trying to find the code for his organic avocado and the other remaining fifty single items from the produce department.  Self checkout stands work just about as well as self checkin stands at the airport.  We all know the glorious time saving device that has become.  “Why didn’t it print out my baggage ticket?  I just paid this damned machine $45 for a baggage ticket!

“Just give your card to me, ma’am, and I’ll check your bag.”

“Hell no!  I was just charged $45 bucks to check a bag and now you want to charge me again!”

“No I won’t, ma’am.”

You get charged again.

Why didn’t they just have the person behind the counter do it the first time?  Because they want to make sure you’re good a pissed off before you board.  That way they can send you to Guantanamo for finally losing it mid flight.

After pulling teeth in line at Safeway, Aren and I headed off to Paul and Maureen’s home for some pasta and petting dogs and cats.  They are some cool people.  We talked story and tried to get my trailer stuck in their driveway.  It was a good night.

In just a couple more days I’ll start talking about the rocks we find; but not until we go to my friends’ wedding in Sonoma.

I made Aren an account here, maybe he’ll post something.  He’s a better writer than I am anyway.

The great diamond hunt of 2011 looms!

Everything is getting packed. Tents, cots, Igloo coolers, chairs, shovels, rock hammers, picks, pry bars, dredges, sluices, gold pans, engines, gas cans, wet suits, hip waders, hiking boots, external-frame packs, towels, propane tanks… Freaking everything!

I hit the road and begin to collect my crew Wednesday morning and I don’t return from this adventure until August… hopefully rich and tan! Where am I going this year? Wyoming, of course! Our first stop is to a place I call “Secret Spot” to hunt for opals. Opals of all kinds; white, black, fire, precious. I don’t care. What I do care about though is setting a world record. Our goal: Find the largest opal boulder on record, bring it back to Seattle and polish it. It won’t take much to beat the current world record holder, the Galaxy Opal from Brazil, all we have to do is beat 5,000 carats polished. I don’t just want to beat it, I want to destroy the world record! I am shooting for 100,000 carats plus this year. Anything less will be a failure!

Second stop, and our shot at a second world record, Central Woming and the hunt for a giant iolite gem. We’re talking man-sized, hundreds of pounds. A real MONSTER. The goal: To find and facet the largest natural gemstone on planet Earth. The current record holder is the America Golden Topaz, also from Brazil, that weighs in at about 22,000 carats. I want to destroy this record too. I want a stone so big that when we cut it, the table of the stone can be used as an actual table!

Stop three, the Medicine Bow Mountains. Here is the main gold of the trip; to get as many diamonds as we can shovel and dredge. I chose a certain creek in the Medicine Bows for a good reason; for its historical gold production, and for the fact that 14 identifiable kimberlite pipes drain into it. If I’m not getting buckets of diamonds, I am sure as hell going to be getting some gold while I’m out there!

My crew will swell to as large as ten adventure hungry near-do-wells at times, and our backs will be breaking with the promise of riches that will await us in the rockies.

Opal, Iolite, and Diamonds 2011, Ho!