Tomorrow is Grandparent’s Day Happy Grandparents Day to all you grandparents out there
Heather and I ventured into Montana’s Pioneer Mountains to dig for quartz crystals at Crystal Park. I thought we could start off the school year with a geological field trip
I was told that September is the best time to go because it’s not too hot and you don’t have to deal with mosquitoes.
The person who told us about the park said that water is available there. I just wasn’t expecting to have to pump it It was kind of an off-color, too, so I’m glad we brought drinking water
The park is at 7800 feet in elevation. One of the locals told us that they have 6 weeks of summer and one month of that is mosquitoes
My mom met us there to dig around, too
She’s getting around pretty well after having a broken hip at the end of March.
Heather got pretty serious right away about examining every rock to see if it was a crystal
That’s what the bucket of water is for: washing your rocks to see if you have something special
After a while, she got the hang of what shape of rock to look for.
There is a paved path going in a circle around a hillside. There’s a honey bucket at the bottom and a honey bucket at the top. Heather refuses to use a honey bucket
There are big holes where people have been digging, and you just get in and started digging
Heather found a caterpillar
And some pretty six sided crystals
She is pretty excited about what she found and is all ready to go back next year
We also ventured back to the ghost town of Coolidge.
I think this was the mine, since it was a gold town at one point.
We met some people coming out of the walkway, who told us it was about half a mile back. No worries.
A ways in, we met another guy walking out, who said it was about half a mile back.
We discovered that Montana has really, really long half-miles.
About a Washington mile in, we finally found the ghost town My mom was sure that it was an Oregon mile and a half
This structure was situated right in the creek.
This was a really well-built house
The kitchen area…
The living room area…
There is a row of houses right along the walkway.
Behind each of the houses was an outhouse, or at least the remains of one
Some outhouses have been claimed
Maybe this is one of those $100 toilet seats they talk about
This was interesting to me how the house had fallen down, but the interior stairs were still standing.
I’m not really sure what this used to be – it was sitting right in the creek.
It’s a beautiful walk if you don’t mind walking a Montana ‘half-mile’
You do have to share the road with the locals
After digging around like little moles, and then walking a Montana ‘half-mile,’ we stopped at the hot springs, which was 3 miles from where we were staying.
I had some trouble convincing Heather that the water was going to be warm, even though it was chilly outside She held on to her jacket for a long time before I finally got her to at least stick her toes in
But after I finally convinced her to try it, I didn’t think I was going to get her out
Grecian style sauna with 3 little areas and a fountain Yummy warm on a chilly day
The next day, we ventured to Gem Mountain to mine for sapphires.
They don’t actually let you into the mine, but they bring the dirt out to you to sift through.
You give it a good wash in the sluice area and start looking.
Heather found 25.4 carats of sapphires, including a couple of nice sized ones.
In the gift shop, they will weigh your sapphires for you.
I was surprised to learn that sapphires are heavier than the other rocks, kind of like gold.
So after a good wash and shake, you flip your screen over and the sapphires are on top. They come in different colors, including green, blue and pink.
The buckets of dirt cost $20, and there are several screenings in each bucket.
My mom was thrilled with her bucket She found 3 nice sapphires and had them evaluated, which they do right there. One was 1.4 carats I guess sapphires have to be heat treated before they can be cut.
I did better at the World’s Greatest Candy Store in Phillipsburg
They have rows and rows of buckets of candy
They make their own taffy, fudge and chocolates there in the store.
The Guilt Free Zone was not very yummy, I’m afraid.
Loved the look of the buckets One does NOT discuss calories here.
My favorites were the dinosaurs and bear paws in the middle of the store: chocolate, caramels and nuts
Outside of Anaconda, close to Phillipsburg, was a huge stack. One of the locals said at one time it was the largest copper smelter in the world. I can believe it – it was huge!
Also outside of Anaconda was a great rest stop
Outside was a windmill
Inside they had individual rest rooms – not a mass stall area. Wonderful
They also had minerals and gems on display.
Heather was upset that someone had taken the malachite out of this one.
While we were there, we stayed at the Grasshopper Inn
The locals are friendly and laid-back
On our way back, we stopped to read about how they discovered gold in Montana
We also stopped at the 50,000 Silver Dollar gift shop and cafe. They really do have 50,000 silver dollars on the wall in back of the bar area
All in all, we had a really great trip and if you like to dig around for rocks and gems, it’s a great place to go
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.