Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rock Hounds at home!

Here is a sure enough warning........... it's too darned easy to catch rock pox out here! Chuck and I have become very serious about our new hobby!

We have rocks everywhere outside our trailer!

In the rocks above are samples of copper, pyrite, silver and possibly a gold fleck in the quartz in the lower left.

Our Rock Pox has gotten so bad, we can't even barbecue anymore! The grill is covered with rocks!

Chuck bought a 3 chambered tumbler to tumble some of the rocks! Shucks, we need 4 more of these just to tumble the ones we got lined up and waiting to be tumbled! Linda, we should have our first batch totally tumbled and polished when you come out in a few weeks!

We can't even sit down outside, every available space is covered with rocks!

Rocks, rocks and more rocks! But this is a fun hobby that Chuck and I can do together! We go out and roam the country side. We got lots of rock books on where and how to find what. That helps! Plus there are several good rock shops around to help identify what we find.
Ryan, Kyle and Denae......... you need any good rocks for show and tell at school? We will be glad to send you some! Linda, you need any mineral samples for your science classes? We can go explore one day when you come out in a few weeks or you can just pick and choose from our collection!
Read on below and you will see where we go exploring! Hope you enjoy the journey!
Geri and Chuck !!!

Rock Hounds !!!!

Chuck and I have to finally admit it, we have become rock hounds! Well, Jeeze Louise! There are rocks everywhere out here! Big ones, small one, flat ones. round ones, ugly ones, pretty ones and we can't seem to resist picking them up and looking at them! Then we started bringing them home! Sheeeeeeeeeesh! Then Chuck bought a rock tumbler with 3 chambers so we can tumble 3 bunches at once! Are we hooked or what?

One of the nice things about becoming a rock hound is all the neat back roads you get to travel. On one such road, we were on our way to Copper Flats when we found this old rock house!
Probably built by some early prospector who lived there before the big copper mine moved in. I found some neat lavender glass around this place and we intend to go back with a metal detector and see if we can find anything interesting here.

The landscapes we find on our explorations are beautiful, here is a Jumping Cholla cactus in bloom, and a close up below.

One of the places Chuck and I like to look are in dry creek beds, or washes. Lots of rocks to sort through in these places.

Then Betty, the lady at the local rock shop, told us about this old copper mine out on a place now known as Copper Flats. The mine closed a few years ago, but left behind a lot of interesting equipment!

While in one of the creek beds, I looked up and saw another rock house! Smart builders back then.... more rocks out here than anything else! Cheap building materials. Easy shelter!
As we drove on..... trying to find this Copper Lake she told us about, we passed cows and calves and a few long horned varieties. As we went up and over a hill..... suddenly this amazing turquoise lake appeared! As you can see from the photos below, the water color was intense.

But as hot as it was, no way would I consider jumping in! All around the edges of this lake are weird crystal formations, like a crust circling just above the water.

We parked on a dry flat area and started exploring.

This lake is the most unbelievable color I have ever seen. But it is the result of being the run off for the copper tailings piled all around it. No telling what chemicals they used to extract the copper from the rock!

But the color is almost hypnotic! When you look this way, you see just mountains in the distance!

But when you look this way, you see all the tailings from the copper mine! The rains washes over these into this lake.

This is Chet Carrera, caretaker of the old copper mine property. He came over to check on us, wondering if we were lost way out here in the middle of nowhere. He is the nicest man! Told us we were welcome to look for rocks, in fact a big Albuquerque rock club comes down quite often to search! Chet says every once and awhile he has to chase out swimmers from the lake. DUH! Makes me wonder where their brains are! Sure the water is pretty and looks mighty tempting on a very hot day........... but it ain't worth dying to cool off !!!

Chet and Chuck talked a long time while I took pictures and picked up rocks! Yep, Chuck and I have become real rock hounds! We went back out to Copper Flats yesterday and found lots of pyrite, copper, some silver, one rock might even have a gold flake according to Betty our local rock lady! I hope you enjoyed this visit to Copper Flats and this beautiful turquoise lake as much as we did. Geri

Friday, July 3, 2009

Lake Valley NM, a ghost town of interesting history


Lake Valley sits on Highway 27, South of another mining town called Hillsboro. From the humble conditions Lake Valley finds itself today, it is hard to imagine that it had such a colorful past! Prior to the turn of the century, Lake Valley was a booming mining town! Silver was first found in Lake Valley in 1878, but it wasn't until 1882 that the big discovery was made. That was the year The Bridal Chamber was discovered! Silver ore found just 40 feet from the surface, ore so pure that it was cut from the mine and sent directly to the mint in Denver. 99.9% pure!
A single piece of ore was displayed at the World Exposition held in Denver in 1882, it was valued at $7,000 at a time when silver was selling for about a dollar an ounce!

In 1884 the railroad was extended to Lake Valley and it became the typical boom town with plenty of saloons open around the clock!

This stone building was first a school, then a saloon and later a general store and gas station. The main street business district burned to the ground in 1895. Story goes that the fire was started behind one of the many saloons by an inebriated patron. Once the fire started, there was no stopping the inferno from engulfing the entire business district! All that remains are the foundations of the buildings and pieces of twisted melted glass.

If you click on this picture of the sign, it will become full sized and you can read it.

This building is the final schoolhouse. It is adobe and built in 1904. This land is now all managed and protected by BLM (Bureau of Land Management.) The lady you see on the steps is a workamper like Chuck and I are. She and her husband volunteered for a year and they get a month off sometime during that year. She was like a walking talking history book, very knowledgable and interesting!

The schoolhouse shot from the back of the room, notice there are 3 styles of school desks.

mmmmmmmmmm, I fell in love with the old wood stove. There were 2 in this building! The beautiful old organ was recently brought back to the school. As former residents and/or relatives of former residents realise that the BLM is caretaking the land, people are bringing back items that used to belong to homes in the town.

As you look from the front to the back of the school house, you realize how large it is. The other 1/2 is now the museum where the above mentioned items usually end up after being brought back. I also mentioned the 3 styles of school desks. The earliest styles were from the first silver boom. After silver devalued and the town almost went bust, WWII started and maganese ore was discovered and mined. Then again the town almost went bust when the Korean War started. So the town had 3 booms and each time new school desks were bought!

This is called Lizard Mountain and it's easy to see why!

There were several bottle dumps around the walking tour. I was fascinated by all the lavender glass everywhere. You are not allowed to collect anything from Lake Valley. It is held in "arrested decay" for posterity.

I loved this old building with it's washing machine sitting outside!

A lot of the buildings had been patched and repaired with many kinds of materials. The houses became a patchwork !
We took about 2 hours to walk around Lake Valley and I took over 100 photos. It was hard to narrow it down to these few! The next set will be of a beautiful old 1935 Plymouth that we found rusting gracefully in the sun there!
After Chuck and I left Lake Valley we headed to Hatch NM, the chili capitol of the world. It was pretty amazing to see how green everything was there compared to the stark, parched browns of Truth or Consequences! We found a great little Mexican restaurant called The Pepper Patch.
It was started by 2 sisters who came to Hatch from Mexico many years ago to pick peppers. They stayed, became citizens and opened this great little restaurant. Cash only but nothing on the menu was over ten bucks! Then we headed home, exhausted from our adventure! I hope you enjoyed it too!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

1935 Plmouth, WOW!

One of the very real reminders of what life used to be like in the now ghost town of Lake Valley NM is this beatiful old 1935 Plymouth! Now..., taking up residence in the back seat is a family of birds. You can tell from all the sticks arranges just so.

Also taking shelter from the desert heat is a cotton tail, cooling his heels under the wheel well.

Sitting outside the car, is the old engine, a flat head 6 cylinder, waiting for someone like Jay Leno to breathe life into it again!

Sitting out in a field, all but forgotten, this car is rusting ever so gracefully under the New Mexico sun.

The lines are still beautiful..........

The steering wheel dreams of guiding someone down the road again.

The body is still in very good shape, just a few dings

and a few dents but this beauty could be restored and brought back to life.

The trip to Lake Valley was really amazing! I will add more photos of the town itself next. I was just so impressed with this old beauty, I just wanted to devote a whole section to just this. I hope you enjoyed it. Chuck and I loved visiting this town! ~ Geri