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The La Quinta Inn, Back on the Strip, The Executive Inn  
Sunday February 4th - It was a cloudless, sunny day today with a high of 74 degrees.

I stopped by the Ramada Inn this morning and purchased a few mineral specimens that I scouted out yesterday while I was exploring and shooting video of the Show. I picked up a nice little four point cluster of Herkimer diamonds, another Herkimer specimen with a diamond in dolomitic limestone matrix with associated dolomite crystals, and the better part of a nice little watery-violet Elmwood fluorite cube speckled with little dark purple spots. Total damage was about $30. I'll eventually get some images of these put up in the Shop's image collection.

I wanted to get back down to the strip and tape some more video in that area. I also hadn't forgotten the fluorescent halite I had seen on the strip and was determined to return and set right the mistake I had made in not acquiring some of it from the get-go. I caught a show shuttle van at the Ramada to go downtown. Just north of St. Mary's and I-10 the shuttle stopped at the La Quinta Inn, which is a show I had never gone to before. There seemed to be quite a bit of activity there so I got off the shuttle and spent a little while checking it out.

49er Minerals in Room 201 at the La Quinta had some flats of really blue, blue azurite from a new find in Chihuahua, Mexico. I'm afraid this picture doesn't even begin to show just how electric blue this azurite was. If memory serves me correctly (I failed to write it down in my notes) most of this material was priced between $100 and $200 per pound. Jim Vacek of 49er Minerals also showed some pretty gemmy azurite crystals that were offered at a considerably higher price.

Dehne McLaughlin from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia was showing these nice crocoite specimens in Room 129. They're from the Red Lead Mine, Dundas, Tasmania, Australia. The three pieces in this picture were offered at $180, $350, and $650. The dark piece is native copper in pyro-bitumen from Sandy Flat Pipe, Redbank, NT. Australia. It was offered at $400.

JCM-Hales Gems in Room 135 was showing a selection of fluorescent minerals among their offerings. They had a rather nice viewing box that would accommodate an entire flat and was SW/LW switchable. It sure beat the hell out of trying to view specimens in a cardboard box with a 4W portable... Here's some scapolite var wernerite from Ladysmith, Quebec, Canada fluorescing yellow and agrellite from Sheffield Lake, Quebec fluorescing magenta under LW. The wernerite was priced at $22.00 and the agrellite was $45. They offered specimens of other fluorescent species starting at a buck.

Some more shots of activity along the strip, taken along the several blocks between Boatner's Garage and the Pueblo Inn, which is perhaps a quarter to a third of the total length of the strip. Pictured left are just a few of the tents which were set up outside the Pueblo Inn. That's "A Mountain" in the background, so named for the white "A" that's formed from painted stones near the top of it. College students from the University of Arizona have a tradition of refreshing the paint every year. We also have a tradition of setting fire to this landmark every Fourth of July when the City of Tucson and other sponsors put on our annual fireworks display.

Even the United States Government sells rocks at the Show. This flag belongs to the Defense Logistics Agency. It would seem one of the "peace dividends" we get as a result of winning the cold war is that we get to buy our rocks back from Uncle Sam! ;) The DLA is part of the DNSC (Defense National Stockpile Center) which was first funded with our tax dollars in 1946. Part of the GSA (General Services Administration) until 1988 when it became part of DNSC, this agency annually buys, sells and issues an inventory of 3.5 million consumable items for the US armed forces and maintains stockpiles of strategic and critical materials.

As of September 1995 the DNSC had $6.6 billion dollars worth of 92 commodities stockpiled. Since we won, and times being what they are, Congress decided this agency needed to have an inventory reduction sale. Here's some of what they offered from their tent at the Pueblo Inn this year...

This light blue beryl rough was offered at $40.00 per pound. There was a sign on some of it labeling it as faceting grade. I'm not so sure about that... it looked pretty opaque to me. But, what do you expect for $40 a pound? The DLA had aquamarine, morganite and heliodor among their offerings of faceting rough, silky gem and cabbing rough, mineral specimen and tumbling grade beryls. The government stashed beryl because of its use in the production of beryllium metals and alloys.

These artificial sapphire and ruby split boules were acquired in the late 1940s for use in the production of jewel bearings. These boules were created with a heat fusion process and weigh a minimum of 35 carats. They were offered as rough for synthetic gemstones. You could buy two pieces of the sapphire for $5, a small ruby for $5, or a large ruby for twice that.

Here's some beryl specimens that you could take your pick of for $10 each. The hexagonal crystal form of beryl was quite evident in this material and I was tempted by several of these. However, I decided to wait and return in a couple of days when they had replenished their stock of natural soapstone blocks, which had been temporarily sold out. The government had acquired quantities of soapstone in the 1950s for use in electronic insulators. I wanted some for carving. It's not all that easy to find good soapstone at inventory clearance prices! Thank-you, fellow taxpayers...

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Tysons' Fine Minerals
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