July has just ended and the field collecting season is about half over. Can you count the number of collecting trips the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club has conducted or attended so far in 2014? Hint: you will need your toes. If you visit our webpage (wcgmc.org) and link to the calendar page you can count them. In the first seven months of 2014 (and we did not start until late March) our club has taken part in 15 digs! We did not plan every one of them: the Penn-Dixie Expert Dig, the Penfield Open House, and the Sterling Hills Super Dig were outside functions.
Five of these digs involved overnight stays. Two, including the recent 5 day adventure to the self-proclaimed “Mineral collecting capital of Canada” around Bancroft, Ontario, involved camping. We’ve been to St. Lawrence County 3 times. We’ve been to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We’ve collected fossils in seven counties in New York and two in Pennsylvania. We’ve explored the Precambrian in the Adirondacks and in Ontario, the Devonian and Silurian in western New York, and the Carboniferous in Pennsylvania.
No one has attended all 15 digs. I’m not sure who the leader would be in that department. I do know that I have attended ten including all the overnight trips. And I have enjoyed every one of them. Some trips and locations were better than others for specimen acquisition. Some were better than others for weather conditions; the four of us that ventured along the Erie Canal off Long Pond Road in March literally froze as we tried to find trilobites in the Rochester shale. But all provided fun, and camaraderie with fellow collectors who have become good friends. All provided good memories. I cannot think of too many locations that I would not return to in a heartbeat.
I suspect I am not alone wondering when and how I am going to sort, clean and organize my new possessions. Oh sure, some of the best, or the most interesting, have been taken out and cleaned, and some have even won lofty positions in the display case or cabinet. But many, many more from tourmaline to travertine, from fluorite to wavellite to scapolite, from brachiopod to coral, reside in their dirty collected state waiting for what, perhaps winter?
Right now it is far more fun to plan new trips and collect more than to head to the garage or basement with a bucket of soapy water, an old toothbrush and a dental pick.
If you enjoy rockhounding/mineral and fossil collecting and you have not been with us on these trips, shame on you. But don’t fret, we will have more trips and we will return to most of our favorite sites again, and probably again after that. But we also seek new sites. Our motto is “Always Looking for Places to Dig”, but I think many of us might wish to amend that slogan to read “Always Looking for New Places to Dig”. So, if you know of a site with fossils or minerals that doesn’t show up on our list, we want to hear from you. We will travel, within reason, Afghanistan or Ecuador are probably out of our reach. But most of all, we hope to see more of you on our future trips or at our fall/winter monthly meetings, the first of which will be Friday evening September 12th, right where it was last year, the Park Presbyterian Church in Newark.
Enjoy the remaining collecting days of summer.