Yesterday I decided to head out to the annual Pow-Wow and rock show Snyder’s Ranch in Valley Springs (located in Calaveras County, CA.) for my first time ever. This is the first time that it has been held over Labor Day weekend, due to rain and muddy conditions in previous years. I had not attended in these years, when it was held in May, because of a conflict with the Whole Earth Festival. This year with my son at his mom’s (too bad, he would have loved it), I made the hour-and-a half trek from Davis. From the point where I exited Hwy-99,the drive drive through rolling, golden hills was quite pleasant.
I arrived a little bit after noon (I had gone to the Davis Farmers Market first), and parked in a bumpy, dry cattle pasture, along with many others. Parking and admission to this event are both free, which is nice. In the less than 100 yards that I walked to enter the show, I acquired a nice coating of red dust. Free sunscreen, I suppose.
Once in, I was treated to booth after booth of rocks, minerals, crafts etc. I’ve never been to the Quartzite or Tucson shows, so this was impressive. Boulders, slabs, cabochons, spheres and other products of agate, jasper, jade and other lapidary materials (including man-made materials) were available in droves. Selenite wands and other metaphysical products were on display as well.
Most items were reasonably priced for what they are, though some seem expensive at first blush. When looking at an item, I always like to remember the advice of Joe, the president of the Sacramento Mineral Society. To paraphrase, he tells that once you’ve determined that the quality is there (that it is likely take a polish, that there aren’t excessive fractures or pits…), ask yourself, “how many cabs do I have to sell to make my money back?” If the answer is one or two, and that you will have sufficient material leftover for myself, then don’t feel too bad.
I decided to wander before purchasing. Off to one side, I saw a bunch of old-timers doing the “antique gas engine demonstrations,” which consisted mainly of the engines sitting there sputtering, but not really running anything. I don’t really see the point of this, but then I’m not any sort of gear-head or car buff.
Of the actual Pow-Wow, there was little evidence. Mainly, there was a booth selling fry-bread and “Indian tacos,” but little else. A healing ceremony was performed for a local woman with kidney issues who had apparently outlived the doctors predictions by several years, but that was the extent of it while I was there. I have attended Pow-Wows at UC Davis, and also at Deganawida-Quezalcoatl (“D-Q”) University, just outside Davis, before this Native American University was closed, due to financial and accreditation issues. Having been to these Pow-Wows, that portion of this event was a little underwhelming.
After some wandering, I came across the booth of the Sacramento Mineral Society, staffed by the usual suspects (Terry, Paul, Carrie, Mike and a few in-and-outers). They were giving information and cutting a few geodes.
After a while, I resumed my shopping. I, of course wanted far more than I could afford. I don’t know if it helped that nearly all of the dealers were willing make good deals for buyers of multiple items. It was nice, of course, but made deciding harder. I finally opted for a few slabs from J2B2 rocks. I bought a small slab of bumblebee jasper, which essentially looks like yellow tigers eye. Apparently the miner in Indonesia is not able to produce as much as he’d initially hoped, so there wasn’t much of this. I also purchased a slice of Prudent Man agate, which, while pricey, ended up being cheaper than what the mine itself sells it for. My favorite buy, however, is a slice of Indonesian orbicular river jasper. This stuff looks like Ocean jasper of a quality that is hard to find.
The orbs are floating in a lovely clear agate, and there are druzy vugs everywhere. There may make placement of cabochons on the slab a tad difficult, but the same vugs should also provide a nice sparkle-accent to cabs. One things I expect to see soon (if it isn’t already happening) is for this stuff to be passed off as OJ at a three- or even five-fold mark-up on eBay.
I also had a hard time resisting a milk crate of assorted jade pieces that sold for less than what the chunk of Clear Creek jadeite (probably nearly 15lb) is worth. The dealer, Sam Brown, was well aware of this, and was just happy to clear out some material he’d acquired at a recent estate sale. It probably didn’t hurt that we chatted for a while, and it turned out that he had previously worked and lived in Davis.
The other person I spent some time with was Adam “The Agate Hunter.” Those of you on Yahoo rock-hounding groups probably know of him. Not only is he an inveterate advocate for public lands access, but not too long ago, there was a standing invitation to his (and Theresa’s) wedding and subsequent rock-hunt in Afton Canyon (in the Mojave). From our conversation, I am quite sure that we are on nearly opposite ends of the political spectrum, but that through rocks and some other issues, we also found a great deal of common ground. From him, I purchased some Wyoming jade and a couple of agate slabs from his Sandy Mesa claim.
Luckily, by this time it was a little past 5:00, and time to head home, as my wallet was sorely depleted. Luckily, for each item I bought, Joe’s “rule” is intact: I should be able to more than break even if I sell a single cab, with enough material left over for Christmas gifts and such. Proceeds from any other cabs that are sold will be used to bolster my son’s college fund. Now, all that remains is to make and sell a few cabs….