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Fossils, Minerals, Gemstones and... Oliver Treasure Hunting What's That?

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We have our trailer for one particular purpose... dry camping Off the Grid AND... looking for fossils, gemstones and whatever looks interesting on the ground.

Often, when camping, something unusual catches your attention... no, not another Oliver.  Or a tree laying across a National Forest Service road... but something that the local Geology produced and is now weathered out onto the surfaced waiting to be discovered.  

Sticking out of the grass, or most often weathered out of a rock ledge.  When "something" is discovered, the finder may pick it up and wonder if I should just drop it and keep going.

What's That?  Is it worth picking up? Is it valuable?  Does it belong here? Are there more of this things?  Experience will immediately answer those questions after you have a large Rock Garden of... What's That?

A Geologist is prepared to look at something, determine what it may or could be, make the decision to pick it up, write down the location, maybe take a photograph of that area.  It could be attached to the mountain, or on the side of a limestone and shale outcrop.  It could be in the middle of an ancient Caldera, like the active Yellowstone Park and have minerals and crystals formed millions of years ago and now weathering out.

I am going to 'assist' those who are curious about Nature and the unlimited amount of undiscovered and now unknown... What's That?  My wife and I have hundreds of miles hiking into the back country.  We look around and tell you if the area is Sedimentary, Igneous or Metamorphic.  Is there anything to be found... right there?  The solid surface of the Earth erodes unlimited 'treasures' over a year or million years.  Just for you to discover... and

I will provide a beginning of a What's That and see if anyone also knows what it is.  There is no right or wrong answer... as we are just beginning to understand.

For those who have a What's That laying in the garage or on a table top... take a photograph and say Where it was found and the kind of Rock it appeared to be.  I am offering the first and lets have some fun, understanding that there is an Unlimited Supply to discover.  If not picked up... it will be reburied or weather to dust.

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Love this idea! Please continue to post these.

BTW, everytime I drive by our newest university I think, trilobite. Perhap that is what the architect, Santiago Calatrava, was going for. Screenshot_20220125-153636_Chrome.jpg.6ea3f3f394b29c848a45c23c82c2ba0d.jpg


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Where is this well known Archaeological Site... ?

 It is also a real 'hoot' to get there from the south entrance or north entrance.  How were the roads when YOU drove to the site?

Have you camped at the 'End of the world for the Anasazi'?

Camping is Off the Grid with park facilities at the office. There is NOW water available next to the park office.  

You will need... two and even better, three days, to wander around. Where is this WONDERFUL site?  If you know... what did you think about the dirt roads to the Site, the walking self tour into the ruins and the camping, having only what you brought along?

What was OUR Opinion? FIVE STARS and Ahhhhhh.  Wonderful. ' Stary, stary night'... at times telescopes are available form those coming to setup viewings of the crystal clear sky.






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No, not Tuzigoot. It’s Chaco. They’re dreadfully understaffed and ripe for vandalism and pilfering - which is one reason why they don’t improve the access.  If you go, it’s definitely NOT a place for collecting anything.  But there’s at least one Ollie that doesn’t mind the roads, we’ve been twice…

It’s been hit and miss the past few years - no access due to tribal Covid rules, washed out roads, and an impending rock slide in the campground that’s keeping half of it closed.

I was told that Airstream at the entrance is permanent. Someone drove it in and didn’t want to drive it out so they gave it to the park for camp hosts to use. 

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Overland is.... Oliver Correct! Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico.  Photos were taken May 2008. The Airstream is mine.   The three days we were there, not one Park Ranger to be found. You are free to roam around and explore.  This is not as good as Mesa Verde in Colorado... but a close second in my opinion. Been there twice.  The North entrance was easier...

Now... some clues. Sapphires and Gold panning along the Missouri River.  Blue to Green Sapphires.  At one time you could go and pan at the gravel quarry, but today you pay for a bucket of 'gravel' and pan for Sapphires. They are heavier than quartz, and easy to spot.  The Sapphires were original found panning for Gold in this area.  There is also a Mine in this general area. The local Home Owners get part of the Mining Claim, go into the open quarry and hunt Sapphires.  They were famous throughout the World for the Deep Blue color.  Many were 'heat treated' to get a darker blue.

WHERE is this area, State.  Which town is nearest?  Have you Panned for Sapphires there? We did the Gravel Mine in the mountains when you could do it.  Great exercise.  Most of the Sapphires panned are too small to cut and facet.  But... you WILL find Sapphires... Blue and Green.

If you keep going UP into the mountains... you will see this sign. There are Gold Placers miles ahead.  We did it with a 23 foot Airstream... no problem. But... this was over 15 years ago. Great camping in the Forest and our Blue Heelers helped...








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Boondocking Airstream:

Thanks for posting all those great pictures. Maybe will will visit that location next winter.

We did some panning for gold in the Swift River near Rangley, Maine this past summer. Nothing in comparision to what you show but it was fun anyway.

We camped at a nice campground (except they charged for the not water showers) that is along the river. The campground is also alongside a bunch of ATV trailes so the permanent trailers have a bunch of ATV's.

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Dew... add some photographs. "Nothing in Comparison"....?   Fresh air.  Exercise.  Great Boondocking... and the chance you may find something of value.


I found my small Sapphires and Garnet panning. These were from the first site which was on top of a hill, overlooking the Missouri River. What are these small stones good for? Something that some will know from using a well known product in a workshop (hint). Today... manmade as it is less expensive to make than using natural Corundum / Sapphire / Ruby Hardness of 9 out of 10.

What is harder than Sapphire with a hardness of 10. These are found on the Colorado / Wyoming border, south of Laramie, Wyoming.  Yep... and Union Pacific Railroad owned the property from 1867... from what I heard.


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Chaco looks beautiful.  I looked at the Facebook page. About 30 posts in the last six months, of which 5 were road closures or warnings, and three or four were soliciting help. I see what you mean about the road, @Overland and boondocking airstream.  


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If you go back to my oldest posts here, you'll see that the Chaco road was one of our guides in deciding what kind of trailer and tow vehicle we needed.  It's one of those roads that pretty much any decently maintained vehicle can do if you don't mind the wear.  But if you're unlucky, or not careful, or just go at the wrong time, it's also a road that has multiple ways to take out even the toughest truck.  Water crossings, sand, clay, ruts, holes, washboard, soft shoulders, etc.  

Regardless, it's guaranteed to rattle you around for an hour or so.  But worth it if you're a romantic - Chaco has a scale and mystery that are unmatched by any other archeological site in the US.  It's a place that will stick in your mind.  


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