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Old 01-03-2013, 06:08 PM   #1
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Boondock Geode Hunting - March 22-24

As the elected organizer of camping trips for many of my friends, it was about time I put another one together. Now that I have Airstreamer friends as well, I've decided to make an open invitation to this great community.

This time we are going to the desert- Wiley's Well Campground, between Joshua Tree National Park and Anza Borrego. The "campground", apparently a loose term, provides upgraded boondocking and nothing more. There are vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. A dump station is within 2 miles along the road.
It will be nice in March- highs of 80F, lows of 50F.

So why should you drive that distance just to boondock in the middle of a random desert? Because on Saturday we will be digging for geodes. What's a geode?



That's right, golf ball to grapefruit sized spherical rocks with crystals inside. And I guarantee you'll find some. Actually, not just some, but a lot. And you get to take them all home (legally).
Everyone will get to dig all they want! Even if you've never done it before, it's fun to do at least once. For reference, Marie originally had zero enthusiasm for this the first time we went. I practically had to drag her over there. But after we found the first one, a switch was hit, and she was deep in the rocks and dirt for the next 6 hours. It was dusk and I had packed up the car and she was still excavating layer after layer.

And if you don't like this idea, you can hang around, drink, eat, or read in the shade while the rest of us uncover crystals.

If you also join us on Friday or Sunday during the day, I have optional plans for various hikes with an assortment of friends who will be accompanying Marie and I. For instance, on the way out, we are stopping at the Big Painted Canyon/ Ladder Loop (7 to 10 miles) where we will hike through an awesome and colorful canyon, using rope ladders to get up and over obstacles while exploring to our heart's content.

Cost: $40 for Short Term Visitor Permit, payable upon arrival to the Camp Host by cash or check. This is valid for 2 weeks, one flat fee of $40 per trailer.

Items to bring:
1. Water. This is basically boondocking, so you should bring everything that you need to be self sufficient. The most important reminder I will make is that there is NO water at this campground. 1 gallon per person per day at a minimum, and likely much much more depending upon your camping style.
2. Clothing/protection from the sun. At 80F and in direct sun during the day, you'll want to make sure you are fully protected in the desert. Hats, sunscreen, umbrellas/awnings, and possibly even lightweight long sleeves and pants are all recommended.
3. Digging gear. Although we can all share equipment, you should have at least one type of excavating implement per person so that everyone always has something to use if desired. There are really three types of useful tools: Shovels/ Pick axes for doing basic digging, pry bars for breaking down large layers or quickly removing big-sized rocks, and rock picks for doing the careful excavation near the geodes themselves. Rock picks are simply fun to use for this task, and can be had for $20-30 at most big box home improvement stores. And don't forget a bucket or bin for saving and protecting your excavated treasures!!!
4. Access to the beds by vehicle varies every year due to how the weather has changed the desert. Almost any vehicle that can tow a trailer will have no problem getting there, and I saw everything from little Honda cars to big Diesel trucks at the geode bed excavation sites. However, if you are really apprehensive about the driving portion, please don't let that stop you. If necessary, I am willing to do a couple shuttle trips of people in my vehicle (which I guarantee is more than capable).

One final note/disclaimer: Reaching the Wiley's Well Campground from I-10 is achieved via a wide but sand/gravel road. It was not yet paved the whole way as of my last trip in 2011. Most of the RV's I saw (including 30+ footers) were having no problem but taking it nice and slow. Expect to go slowly on this last leg of the drive.

Send me a message or post here if you have any questions, and make sure to let me know if you are coming, so that we can exchange contact information.

Information on the most popular Geode Beds in the area

Information on the campground

Maps Location for Getting Directions
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:41 AM   #2
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We're there! (Excellent Post)
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:52 PM   #3
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This sounds like my idea of fun!

I know it's a SoCal meet, but can a pair of NoCal 'streamers come along anyway?
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:56 PM   #4
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Of course! Come one, come all. SoCal/ NorCal/ noncal, all invited.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:04 PM   #5
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Sounds like fun. Can we just show up?
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BamCamper View Post
Sounds like fun. Can we just show up?
Two ways to interpret that question. If you mean can you just decide a couple days before and show up unannounced, then totally! Yes! Not a problem!

If you mean can you just show up, or do you need to make reservations/ etc, this is a very simple boondocking campground, so no reservations are needed/ possible. This presents an inherent risk to trying to organize it as a "formal" rally, which is why this is just a camping adventure. If there isn't room, we can split the group over to a nearby Coon Hollow campground, and if that fails, there's always true boondocking in the desert (which is legal here and not much different than the "campground"). From conversation with the ranger office, there should be plenty of sites available this time of year.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:12 PM   #7
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Hey Peter, I'm still as excited as when we talked about the geodes at Rivernook. I will be their for sure. Javier called me and I know that he and his wife want to go as well. I can't wait to see you guys.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:34 PM   #8
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Awesome! Already a great response! Glad you guys are all coming.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:36 PM   #9
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What fun! Wish it was closer...
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:58 AM   #10
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World...Have you ever collected geodes in the area North of Topaz Mt in Utah? We were there years ago, and they are just laying on the surface...sized a bit smaller than a hardball to golf ball sizes...still got a couple around somewhere that we never sliced...
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:10 PM   #11
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How does one slice them?

I mean, is this a DIY operation or is the equipment too specialized?
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by webspinner
How does one slice them?

I mean, is this a DIY operation or is the equipment too specialized?
So far, all I've done is chisel and hammer, creating scoring marks around the edge, followed by one solid blow. The advanced method is a tile saw. If anyone wants to bring a generator and tile saw, that would sure be entertaining.

Some poeple also have reported success with an angle grinder and diamond blade wheel, keeping it wetted of course. I have not tried that yet, but may do so before te trip in order to hae some nice sample specimens.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:01 AM   #13
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We put together a 'slab saw' with a diamond blade & a 1/4 HP electric motor many years ago... wasn't that expensive - under $100 as I recall... heres some pics of commercial rigs:

lapidary saw - Google Search
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:56 PM   #14
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Wow, this is amazing. Count us in!

I was really excited about this, but then I showed my wife who was ..more.. Excited and thus we will be there ready to go. Friday, coming from LA..might get there when it's dark! Save us a spot!

Cheers,

Chris
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