Friday, August 19, 2011

Greetings from Weardale,

Yesterday we had half a sunny day. Clouds moved in and we had rain over night, but this morning dawns clear and bright again. For the past two days there has been a distinct chill in the air signaling that the short (and this year wet) northern summer is on its way out.

And with the departure of summer from the North Pennines comes our annual migration back to California. The final specimens from the mine were given a preliminary wash and then packed away in the last of our blue shipping bins on Wednesday afternoon. The last of our four pallets for this year was then assembled for the scheduled pickup by our shipper on Thursday. Our total take from the mine this summer is about the same as last yearís, but in general, it looks like the overall quality is much higher. When we began the summer there was nothing to collect showing in the mine, so we were faced with driving tunnel and hoping that something new would turn up. Fortunately for us, a new section of flats showed up in early July, which has given us some good material. Work in the new pocket zone has been difficult and slow due to a combination of a very solid layer of rock just below the pocket and a lot of very loose rock above it. As if to compensate, the general quality of the specimens recovered has been higher than any other pocket so far except for the Jewel Box/Blue Bell zone. Signs are good that the zone continues, so everyone is already talking about what to do next summer.

Yesterday morning our compressor was picked up by the rental company, and shortly there-after our shipper arrived to pick up the four pallets of fluorite. In the past we have sometimes had scheduling problems with our shipper but this year things came off as hoped for. If all goes well, our summerís harvest should arrive in Los Angeles in about six weeks time, and then the cleaning and selling parts of the yearly cycle begin. After pickup, Cal and I spent several hours at the mine putting away equipment, pulling in the water line, and oiling up our beloved chain saw. Fortunately, the rain held off until we had finished. After our ritual end-of-day stop at the Blue Bell, we treated ourselves to dinner at the Manor House pub. A bit if a drive from the upper dale but worth it as they do some of the best food in the area. I had a risotto with fresh peas, bacon, basil pesto and parmesan cheese along with a glass of a very nice, dry Spanish rose.

Today will be spent packing up around the cottage, and cleaning all the accumulated mud and muck off the rental car. Saturday everyone departs for their respective trips homeward. Ian and I will head to London where Iíll meet Joan on Sunday for a week of vacation, which will include some museums and a music festival. Cal and Kerith are planning a couple stops to visit some friends before heading home to get ready for the upcoming Denver show.

So this concludes year thirteen for us at the mine. No one ever thought we would be at it this long, but the story continues. To borrow a phrase from someone else, ďwhat a long, strange trip itís been.Ē Hope to see everyone at the shows this fall. The final photo for the season is of a peaceful summer evening in St. Johnís Chapel.


Jesse & Crew

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