Actually, it's just an excuse, at least for the moment. ;-)
In 1996 I bought an estate collection of rocks for $50. There were so many, they weighted down our little S10 pick-up to the point that I wasn't sure we'd make the 7-mile trip home. We did, however, and I've been having fun with these rocks ever since.
At the time, I didn't know what most of them were. Many were obvious -- obsidian, petrified wood, quartz crystals -- and some were nicely labeled, but most were unknowns. Over the years I've learned about more of them, but there are still mysteries.
One of those mysteries got solved today!
In the collection were a lot of miscellaneous small stones, obviously water-rounded. Whether they came from a lake, a river, or an ocean beach, I had no idea. I could easily identify some of them as agates and jaspers, but beyond that I knew nothing.
A few, maybe a dozen out of this truckload of stones, were orbicular jasper. They had little circular spots of red or orange or yellow in a background matrix material of black. There are lots of different kinds of orbicular jasper, and I didn't know any more about these than that. A few were polished, but most were just rounded.
Three weeks ago, I threw a couple handfuls of these mixed stones into the tumbler. I had no idea if they'd come out looking like anything worthwhile, but what the heck. Today I took them out of the third grind cycle, ready to go into the pre-polish cycle. Of course, I checked them over while cleaning them up in preparation for the next round, and I found some pretty interesting specimens.
I knew there were some of these orbicular jaspers in the batch, so I looked at them in particular. To my surprise, the black matrix was kind of sparkly, as though there were tiny crystals or specks floating in the black. Because they'd gone through three grind cycles, I knew this sparkle was inside the black matrix, not on the surface. That means it should -- should -- remain sparkly after the final polish.
Intrigued, I started some online research to see if I could find out more about these particular stones. And BINGO!
I went looking for some more of those pieces and found a couple that, even though they aren't fully polished, demonstrate that they're almost certainly from Rialto Beach, Washington.
Whoo hoo! I love it when I learn something new!
I especially love it when I can add some personal connection.
Rialto Beach, Washington, is just north of La Push, on the Olympic Peninsula. During a visit to my son and his family on Whidbey Island, WA, in 2009, we took the long drive to La Push. I can't say I was impressed with the Pacific Coast at that location!
The monstrous driftwood was impressive, but the beach sand felt dirty and oily, and there weren't ANY rocks worth picking up.
But in 2009 I didn't know there was orbicular jasper a few miles to the north!
Now I do.