This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Thursday 11 April 2019

My New Hobby

You must have thought I disappeared with no postings coming forth. As is the case every springtime, there are lots of things to do and clean up outside in our yard. Especially with this new acquired property of ours there will be much more time spent there. However, I got everything under control including inside our house and all is fine and in good shape. Got our income tax returns done, did lots of loads of laundry and have the travel trailer spick and span ready for more trips. Benno replaced the trailer’s two rear tires with new Goodyear Endurance pneus. The curbside tire was toast, but the roadside tire with only little wear (2000 miles) found a new place on the spare tire rim. And while I had Benno working on the trailer, he put a bigger heating duct into the bathroom, which is now toasty warm when we take our showers. He also relocated the sofa mounting in the slide 4 inches closer to the wall so we can now access the rear much better when the slide is in. Hey, every inch helps!

These are some of the quartz, minerals and igneous rocks I collected
I like when they show glittery mica

So now that I got a breather and start to relax more I will tell you about a new hobby of mine. While in the southwest this winter I became interested in rocks. I mean there were colorful and unusual looking stones and rocks all over the place wherever you looked. Every time when I walked with our dogs I would spot some interesting rocks on the ground that intrigued me and I started to pick them up if they weren’t too big for my pockets.

An assortment of Agate rocks some with cryptocrystalline silica

Many of the touristy shops in Arizona have barrels full of polished Agates in just about every color for sale. You just pick the ones you like into provided little cloth sacks until full and pay the price for the size of bag. Now these beautiful little stones or Agates as they are called, are not found that way. The rough stone doesn’t look like it at all and you would probably not even recognize one if you saw it. Only after a polishing process do those Agates become so beautiful.

Just a pretty conversation piece on the table

We met a Geologist in the RV Park in Arizona where we stayed who had a rock tumbler under his trailer. That little machine rotated or tumbled nonstop a pile of rocks he had found. We got talking and I was shown his little treasures. Not only did he use the tumbler to polish rocks, he also extracted in this method gold flakes that were hidden in some quartz.  He had me hooked!

The Geologist who experimented with the rock tumbler

For my birthday Benno got me a Rock Tumbler from the Harbor Freight store. They carry a variety of tumblers and also kits of polishing grit. Since this is all new to me, I started with a couple of kits that contain four varieties of grit and a polishing wheel. For sure I will find other sources where I can purchase grit for this tumbler and it is a learning curve that I am going through. 

My rock tumber

The kit of various polish compounds

I thought this will get me introduced to the process

Some bags of rocks I collected just because I liked them

The rocks I found and collected in Arizona are not Agates. They are for the most part Metamorphic and Sedimentary rocks, which are not suitable to polishing or will not change much after tumbling. I have tested some, using the coarsest grit and tumbled them for 48 hours. You can see the slush when I opened the drum afterwards. After rinsing the rocks and drying them this is what they look like now. Interesting and good enough for the garden but not for display indoors.

The rock tumbler in motion and not very loud

After opening the tumbler this is what it looked like

The rocks that came out after a couple of days tumbling
Their hardness is pretty high on the "Mohs scale", so they do not polish well

Apparently on the beaches of Lake Superior one can find many Agates. However, we live close to Lake Erie and I will have a look if any rocks will meet the criteria for tumbling. So stay tuned for my discoveries.

Rocks typical for Arizona

Wishing everyone a nice springtime and thank you for stopping by again.