July 20, 2001

Hello Everyone:

It is a cool semi-cloudy day here in the valley. We have been having wind and rain from the northeast. It always gets quite cool here when that happens. Not the best weather, but it is what it is. This is looking like it may be on the way out. That means it should get warmer. We have had all kinds of exciting things happening here. First we had a changing of the guards. Jesse and Bill flew home and Cal & Kerith arrived. So the social part of the summer has arrived. Next week the first of the girls arrive. I have a nice young lady named Ayla Pamukcu, coming from Philadelphia, via France. She is on a school trip to France, and then will spend three weeks with us in the Dale. She is exploring the idea of being a geologist. I think she will enjoy this experience. We also have a return visitor by the name of Richard coming to help as well. He is brave, coming back even after we worked him to death last year. But as dedicated rock people, this is a working vacation. As Bill says a worthy way to spend your few vacation days.

Now on the mining front! The Solstice Pocket is still producing drips and drabs of good clear clean material, but it has actually taken a back seat to the stuff coming out of the face of the East tunnel. Previously, I mentioned the green seam that was running in the face of the of the Eastern tunnel. Well the upper plates are producing the most amazing crystals. They are big clear and gemmy. Easily on the same level as the Height's Quarry material. The pocket was named the "Birthday Pocket", in honor of Kerith's Birthday (7/19). Today I will try and get a picture. Byron is saying there are two problems with the pocket. First the quality, he is amazed and happy with the quality. The second problem is that he can actually stand up and work this pocket. It is at shoulder height for him. As you know the general rule of pocket digging is that it will ALWAYS be in the most uncomfortable position or place, as possible. For once Byron is not jammed in to a tiny space. He is still shaking his head. Now for the bad news. This area is not large, and it may already be pinching down. But it was right behind the area that had the Dragon Tooth Pocket. So maybe there will be another behind it?! Hope so.

Meanwhile, Dave and Lofty have been timbering and mucking all over the place. They were even shanghaied into wrapping minerals yesterday. As Byron has materials from the Birthday pocket everywhere. Eleven buckets came home yesterday. Byron is keeping them really busy. Last night they drilled and blew a side tunnel to the West of the Black Sheep Pocket in the West tunnel. We need to see what is going on over there. So this morning will be important. I managed to get eight buckets out of the garage the day before yesterday, but am thoroughly impacted again. Have my work cut out for me today. Cal has been trimming and water gunning for me. If it weren't for him I would be land locked. I really appreciate the help.

Anyway its time for work. Talk to you all tomorrow.

Cheers,

All of Us (Byron, Cal, Kerith, Jonina)



Part Two:

Greetings from the North,

Yesterday was a very pleasant day in more ways than one. We awoke to scattered clouds, blue skies and warmer temperatures.

Kerith and I made a quick trip to Bishop Auckland to get supplies to fix the desk we are using as a computer cum office cum phone area etc desk. The house comes with a very nice drop front desk but the front drops at an unacceptable angle and the hinges on one side are broken and going on the other so you cannot rest your arm while typing or writing. We were successful in acquiring the needed supplies for that, tubing to modify the Kreb's water gun, cash traveler's checks etc, etc. etc. and home by 11:00a.m. I then drove up to Little Allercleugh and Jonina and I did a tag-team water gunning and sawing effort to clean out a few bins so that Byron could fill them again. Now officially (we're the officials) called the 'Birthday Pocket' since Byron got into it on Kerith's 16th 39th birthday. There were some very fine pieces that we cleaned up as good as you could ever hope for, no photograph will do them justice. Because the crystals are so gemmy and dark, particularly the twins, they have almost unbelievable color change fluorescense to them.

About 3:00 p.m. I scooted down the hill since our good friend Simon Harrison from Bath was due by. He was already there when I got back to Burnbrae and we quickly said our hello's and changed for travel to the Rogerley mine for a quick tour.

We got to the mine to find Byron still digging in the almost unheard of standing positing with the pocket at eye level -- trust me on this one, this NEVER happens in real life mineral collecting. You are always at some bone-cracking, muscle-cramping positing that leaves you looking and feeling like a potato curl at the end of the day. Just as we arrived he pulled out a fine 4" plate covered with gem twins to about 1" and handed it to Simon.

In the western or Mick and Lindsay tunnel, Dave and Lofty had put a short shot in opposite the old Black Sheep pocket to see if there is a possibility that the flats run to the west as well as the east. While there is lots of alteration and small pockets of galena and what can only be described as truly small and ugly fluorites it is encouraging and we will continue in that direction. They had also mucked out the Black Sheep pocket from the last blast so it is again ready for a few lifting rounds to get us closer to the area that may still have a few of the stalactites specimens.

Going back to the eastern tunnel or Byron's tunnel, he showed us a water course he exposed heading north lined with fluorites and used the Estwing 3' scoop to pull out a small plate of glassy fluorites, you can look forward about 4 maybe 5 feet. This is exciting and we will have to see what develops or fizzles here.

Anyhow, we left excited and breathless and made a dash up to Little Allercleugh to see how Jonina was coming along. She had unpacked one bin from the Birthday Pocket and we helped her do another. All I can say is that in our third year of effort and after nearly 50 years as a sceptic I now believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, even if it is only for a day or two.

Anyhow, thats it from this place way north of Lake Woebegone, Cal

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