August 19, 2000

Today was very cold and rainy, I don't believe it got above 50 degrees. I think summer is over. Inside the mine was warm and comfortable, albeit, muddy and wet.

We accomplished a great deal today, some days are like that. Dave and I mucked out Mick and Lindsay's tunnel and put in another set and then lagged and cribbed them to the ceiling. The tunnel feels much better now and at the end of the day we were ready to drill and blast again. We haven't put in the posts as of yet, the caps are hanging on ledges for the time being. It's a safe method and we probably don't need the legs, it just depends on the strength of the wall rock the caps are wedged to.

The right hand wall is unaltered Limestone and harder than the Hinges of Hell, which is good from the stand point of strength, but there probably are no "flats" in this area. The mineralized vein abuts against a fault that has a water course running through it, so half of our tunnel has mineralization and half of it is hard, barren Limestone. We are curving through this section trying to avoid the purple pocket and the Crack of Doom and will eventually run tunnel back into the vein where the pockets occur. We intend to accomplish this before we leave this year, which means another 12 feet of tunneling. We still have a pocket to clean out at the face before we can blast on Monday. The color isn't great but the crystals are on the large side and the galena is dodecahedral instead of dipyrimidal (spinel twined). Each pocket is different along the vein, unlike the "flats". Actually, different cavities in the "flats" are different in luster, size and clarity, but so far they have been green in color. We now believe that the cavity we are into is not the same as last year's and not even an extension of last year's cavity. Time will tell, of course, 20-20 hind sight is always better and as I've been saying 'you can't see into the rock'.

Byron is sawing out the roof in the cavity now in preparation for a couple of lifters sometime early next week. Several beautiful specimens came out today and there is still a lot more yet to come. Looking at them hanging from the ceiling is incredible, but holding them in your hand after they have come out is even more spectacular. It is hard to speculate whether we will have the same number of specimens as last year, but the quality is definitely better.

We now have 2 weeks to wrap things up (no pun intended). If we clean out this cavity before time runs out, then we will put in a couple of lifters in last year's cavity so we can get to the rest of the pocket there.

Today is Sunday and Byron and I are going to a local's house and play in his blacksmith's shop. In the afternoon we intend to have a good 'ol California BBQ, even if it is raining.

You'll hear from me again on Monday.

Till then, Cheers, Jim

Part 2

Hi All,

Yesterday started with rain coming down in buckets but thankfully not much wind though the temperatures were quite 'fresh' requiring a jacket outside.

I drove up to Little Allercleugh about 7:00 a.m. to pick up Vitek and take him to the train station in Darlington, about 35 miles away. On the way there we discussed how much he had learned about mineral specimen mining and he hope to modify what their plans were in Tsumeb a bit to accommodate what he had learned here. I dropped him off about 8:00 a.m. For those of you who have never been to Darlington and in particular its train station this is a test of your road skills. You need to negotiate, correctly, 7 different roundabouts 4 of which have signs indicating the train station, the other three are at your discretion to make it interesting. Then using your psychic abilities you must know when to turn between two old railroad bridges up an unmarked street with an opening of about 30' on one side to make it easy to miss. Vitek was impressed with the indifference of the locals to outside travelers. From there I negotiated a different way out of Darlington (getting lost only once) to Bishop Auckland. The day before we had discovered that the lapidary trim saw was kaput till we replaced the small pulley that attached to the arbor on the motor. Local savior, Neil Fairless, had offered up a couple of pulleys that were inadequate bur had given Jonina the name of a business, Bearing Traders, in Bishop Auckland and she had called and received a set of 'English' instructions -- these are always correct for what is given but nearly always leave out a.) vital information and b.) local travel knowledge. True to form I was instructed to find the Bishop's castle and drive past and turn right, easy enough but there is only one sign in the market square indicating where the castle is but still a cake walk under normal circumstance except for the buckets of rain and a lorry that decided to pull a 360 in front of me and just missed cratering myself and one other vehicle. Anyhow, my directions read "turn right; 100 yards left on Railway street. After turning right how could you miss it?? Sounds super simple, check a.) & b.). Turns out that you actually go 1/2 mile to the next light, know to turn left at it away from town, wind around and turn right onto the unmarked Railway street and Bearing Traders is down a 100 yards on the left. Were it not for a kindly postman out early in the rain I would have taken the instructions and made a paper airplane of them and sailed them into the rain. Anyhow, Bearing Traders was open at 9:00 a.m. and had a sort-of fit to what we needed which need boring out but for 5 pounds and an hour of my time I just had to get something out of it.

I got home about 10:00 a.m. and neither Jonina (who had spent the night at the Drapery because of all the happiness going on at the Kings Head) or Stan Esbenshade were up. I had a spot of breakfast and about 10:30 Kerith decided to start the washing machine whether people were awake or not -- this machine guarantees your attention toward the end of its spin cycle when the building hits about 5.5 on the Richter scale. Everyone arose, sort of, by eleven and about noon Stan and I drove off to the Rogerley mine, things there were progressing nicely - Mick and Lindsay's tunnel is moving forward, albeit slowly but safely, and should pick up speed once the tunnel narrows to a more manageable size. Byron was, of course, in the pocket with the chain saw doing some collecting. We puttered around for a bit and picked up a couple of tubs to hike back to the car then back to the Drapery for lunch about 1:30. Kerith and Jonina wanted to switch cars for their drive to Consett for groceries and Stan and I bid them farewell and had lunch then drove up to Little Allercleugh for an afternoon of water gunning fluorite specimens and unwrapping a few of the many tubs full of specimens up there. We were getting ready to leave about 4:30 when Kerith and Jonina drove up just in time for us to have the opportunity to help unload the groceries. Back down to the Drapery and over to the Golden Lion for a beer and a chat with all. About 6:00 p.m. we packed it in to go and change and drive up to Allercleugh to go take the Rowe's to dinner up at Steve's in Rookhope. A good time had by all and we collapsed into the Drapery and the BBC news and bed.

That is about it from this place way way north of Lake Woebegone. Regards, Cal & Kerith

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