I got these little and now treasured pieces from a fellow rockhound and miner in Mariposa County. I was writing an article on Mariposite at the time and the two of us fell into a deep discussion of gold at his rock shop.

I later sent him a gold example of mine and he in turn sent me this from his collection. He found these at the Diltz Mine in Mariposa County, collecting them by permission in 1995. If you look closely you’ll see what might be called a chevron pattern; gold exists in many forms.

The pieces are so small, and consequently so hard to photograph, that I commissioned Ethan Beckwell of Timewell, Illinois, to produce this image. Total width is a scant  1.5 mm. Ethan routinely photographs grains of sand and you can see his work on Facebook. Instagram: 1of1snowflakes

Click on this link for a larger picture or click on the image below.

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At Least I Got to Go

I’ve been thinking of my dead friend, time spent, and Cinderella.

There are many versions of the Cinderella story, some dating back hundreds of years. The version I recall had her doing a good deed for a beggar, although she lived in poverty herself, beset by evil sisters who kept her in rags to work at miserable chores. The stranger turned out to be a fairy, rather something more, a fairy godmother.

In this telling, the fairy godmother arranged for Cinderella to go to a glamorous ball. She gave Cinderella a fine dress and a horse-drawn coach with footmen to take her to the affair. The ball ensues but at midnight Cinderella returns to squalor. She is eventually rewarded for her good deeds but not before she despairingly asks questions of her fairy godmother.

Cinderella asks why the ball has to end, the music to stop, the laughter no more. Why does the coach disappear, the horses vanish, the merriment end? “Everything ends” her fairy godmother replies. “But at least you got to go to the ball.”

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Field Trip in California’s Mojave Desert Coming Up!

I’ve been to this rock shop several times and gone out on one of their field trips. Highly recommended to do both. If you can’t catch this trip, check out their schedule for future events. Only fifty people permitted on this trip. Have fun!

Field Trip March 23d

Mining Supplies and Rock Shop and Hesperia Recreation and Park District are sponsoring field trips for $10.00 per person paid in advance, in our store.  If you wish to pay through our website it will be $11.00 per person.  Go to, choose field trips and buy the field trip you wish to attend by clicking the “add to cart” button. Paying at the sight is $20.00 per person. Everyone paying in advance will receive an email explaining where the gathering site is, what time to meet, what we will be finding, what to bring, approximate times, etc. You are welcome to join up with others at the site who may have 4-wheel drive. We will be accepting only 50 people for this trip.

Saturday, March 23rd, North Cady Mountains – 4-wheel trip

Hi all, we will be meeting right off the Basin Rd exit on I-15.  We are meeting at 8:00am and will be leaving the staging area by 8:15am sharp!  This is a location that never fails to please.  Collecting areas exsist for fluorite, many colors of agate, Sagenite, nodules and so much more. At this site there are many options to choose from.  Collecting can be done in the parking area or we can hike to any of the many locations all with 1 mile or so of the parking area.  This is an advanced 4-wheel drive out to the site. All vehicles going must be high clearance 4-wheel or all-wheel drive. Deep sand and a few very rough hills are included in this drive.  There is a gas station one exit past Basin Rd, but it is not cheap!  Those who want to go and do not have 4-wheel drive may try to team up with people who do at our gathering site, but this is not a guarantee.

You will need to bring a rock hammer and a bucket to carry your finds in.  You may also want to bring extra tools such as a heavy hammer, chisels, protective eye wear, and a pickaxe, in case you want to try and pry loose some of the agate seams still locked in the hard matrix rock.  Make sure to have plenty of water, some snacks, sunscreen, and a full size spare tire (or two) for your vehicle.  Some of the sites require a bit of a hike to get to and the ground can have a lot of loose rocks so please where some good shoes!  Hope to see you all there!!!

For further information please call: Mining Supplies and Rock Shop 760.508.1080 or William A Johnson Trip Leader Cell: 760-267-1333.


Lois Papner
Mining Supplies and Rock Shop

760 244-9642


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Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Non-collecting area but a nice place to spend a few hours near Las Vegas. Went looking for an old mine but had to turn around when the road changed into a Jeep trail. Managed to make it back. Many interesting volcanic features.

This is looking North.

Rock stacking. It’s a thing.

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A Good Man Gone

Another good friend has died a stinking, low, miserable death. I believe in God and that another world exists, only sometimes glimpsed. But I have difficulty understand suffering. Even a man as steeped in faith as the Reverend Billy Graham found himself unable to explain it after 9/11. At a sermon at the National Cathedral a week after that day, he said this:

“I have been asked hundreds of times why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I do not know the answer. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering.”

A  Presbyterian minister I once knew explained suffering this way, and I can only poorly put his remarks. Accepting this requires a Christian view, closely adhered. I know many can’t follow. But this is it in brief.

We live in a broken world. It has been that way since The Fall, when Man rejected God at the Garden of Eden. We have been cast out and are now living in a fallen world. Brother turns against brother, children get terrible diseases, drug addicts die alone in filthy alleys. Even the physical world is broken. Hurricanes rage, earthquakes kill thousands, fires burn the land. We live in a world emotionally, spiritually, and physically broken and we all suffer as it falls apart on us.

That minister also told me something hopeful. It addresses the Christian assertion that no one can get to Heaven except by way of the Cross. That an acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior is the only path to God and salvation. Billy Graham maintained this necessity throughout his ministry. And yet my minister, perhaps more conservative than Graham, presented another possibility.

He was often asked why good people who did not believe in Christ should be denied the afterlife. I asked what he told them. He smiled warmly and said that just as God’s love is immeasurable, so, too, is His grace. I’ll never forget that, as he failed to recite the principal tenet of Christianity. This despite all the formal education and training he had received on his path to becoming ordained.

We suffer. But eventually grace relieves and redeems. As the old spiritual puts it,

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home

It’s all a damned mystery. But death has always been the ultimate and final mystery.

I am thinking of my friend.

Ken and Bandit. I pray they are together again. With His Grace, they are.

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Fallbrook, California

A volunteer named Mary shows off newly installed display cases at the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Museum in Fallbrook, California. The displays are so bright they overwhelmed my camera. Of course, that brightness makes the minerals and their descriptions very easy to see. The museum contains noteworthy displays of San Diego gems and minerals as well as a fine gift shop. More in my book!

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Back on The Road Again for My Book

I’ll be traveling soon to San Diego County, although I haven’t decided on the exact date. I may be encountering rain and I am packing my rain clothes. Rain. Here’s what I’ve learned about working and hiking in it.

Rain coats are typically never long enough in the back. When you hunch over they ride up and let your back get wet. If you have a light backpack on underneath your raincoat, the back of the jacket will ride up even more.

Rain pants are great and necessary but in heavy rain or if you are doing a great deal of exertion, most slide down. Constantly. Suspenders, yes suspenders, will fix almost any sliding but otherwise well performing rain pants.

Waterproof bib overalls are a good choice for heavy rain. They rise up high in both the front and the back and they have suspenders over the shoulder to keep them up.

Most rain gear bought at REI or other outdoor stores feature fairly lightweight materials that rip easily. Only the most expensive rain gear from outfitters like Cabela’s stand up to actually working in the rain. Like kneeling down on rocks and hammering away on same.

Many highway road crews used to use rubberized canvas clothes. That bright yellow stuff. Bulky and heavy, it got the job done and resisted tears. Most yellow rain gear today, though, seems to be PVC based. That might be acceptable if the PVC is thick enough.

Something I haven’t looked into is marine clothing. Probably pricey.

I won’t write about waterproof boots. No model has been comfortable for me while remaining waterproof. Lightweight wool socks keep feet tolerably comfortable while wet, as long as temperatures are moderate and not anywhere close to freezing.

With luck, rain will be light for me, requiring equally light rain clothing.

Book details:

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