Saturday, June 8, 2002

Good Morning;

For the past few days we've had a lot of thick wet fog around the Dale. This morning looks no different. The weather has been coming from the southeast rather than the usual west, so I suspect the air is a little warmer, and without much wind we get fog.

Yesterday Dave was off so Byron and I spent the day at the mine collecting. Byron also got to try out his new toy, the power washer. As hoped, this thing cuts through our mud much quicker than using the water hose. The down side is that it creates a shower of mud and debris that flies everywhere, including back in one's face. This effect is, of course, only accentuated when working in a confined space such as a pocket. Byron found it impossible to work with his glasses on as they get completely covered with mud almost immediately. I found that if you leave your mouth open even for a moment, you end up chewing on bits of sand. If a mine timber happens to be handy, you can hide behind it and shoot from around the side, but they you can't really see what you're shooting at. After we finished a bit of this, both of us looked like we had very good tans, due to a fine, evenly distributed covering of mud. Perhaps there's a new business opportunity here in giving people that tanned, healthy look without the risk of skin cancer. Then again, maybe not. A clear plastic face shield like the sort machinists and woodworkers use might help, but we'll have to find something that can be worn along with a helmet and light. Oh well, I guess every good idea has to have some draw-back, otherwise we would all become far too pleased with our own ingenuity. I tried to take a photo of the above process in action but the result was no different than trying to photograph sheep on the high moors on a day like today, so you'll just have to trust my description.

We managed to collect a number of good specimens and a bunch of "bottom rock", but all faces are becoming rather tight and in need of blasting before much more can be done. Last year the local officials were fairly prompt in getting our blasting permits processed. Let's hope that wasn't just an anomaly. Byron finally got frustrated with the lack of anything good to pick at, so we fired up the saw and trimmed up some of the larger specimens. Yesterday was the first day I had driven into the quarry through our new gate, and though there are a couple mud traps along the way, it was sure nice not having to carry out our lights and tubs of specimens.

On the way back to the cottage we stopped at the Golden Lion and found Dave, our Irish philosopher in good form. Unfortunately, Byron and I were a bit tired out from a late night with the Belgians the night before, so we didn't get too many of the world's problems solved. Back at the cottage we found Jonina in recovery after a day of bookkeeping, so we put on a quick dinner and most headed to bed early.

Today Jonina has her apprentice Sarah for an introductory lesson in specimen cleaning. Byron has the table saw to work on, and I am planning on cleaning a few more specimens destined for personal transport back to San Francisco. Tomorrow I will head down to London and then back home, leaving Jonina to carry on these reports. Both Byron and Jonina are well-practiced in our routine by now, so despite the occasional road bump, I think we are on track for another good season.

Today's photo is of our marvelous new gate. I know, it doesn't look like much unless you've had to carry out a load of rocks by hand.


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

Our wonderful new gate.

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