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Seen Along the Strip
Tuesday January 30th - The weather was partly cloudy today with a high of 74 degrees.

This shot is looking west from the intersection of Congress Street and the I-10 off-ramp. This intersection is at the north end of a collection of motels and tents which are appropriately referred to as "the strip". This Show area extends south for a number of very long blocks to 22nd Street. It is a popular area to browse at the Show due to the diversity and high density of dealers situated here.

Note the large tent several blocks down Congress Street, which houses the Congress Street Expo. That's Tumamoc Hill in the background, which has a small astronomical observatory on top. The Show spins off a lot of money into the Tucson economy. That Carl's Jr. in the foreground may very well be the busiest fast food joint in Tucson during the Show. I'd really hate to be working the grill there for the next couple of weekends...

On the northwest corner of the intersection is the Desert Inn, which is the most northern motel on the strip. There wasn't much Show happening at the Desert Inn yet. There may have been a dozen or so rooms that were already set up or in the process of being set up.

In Room 132 I found MOLDAVITE mining putting the finishing touches on their displays of moldavites, tektites, trilobites and amber. One of the beds in their room was half covered with chunks of Colombian amber which they were offering at $350 per kilogram. There were small individual pieces priced at 4 bucks apiece and up. The other half of the bed was covered with Cambrian trilobites from the Czech republic. Among them were specimens of Ptychoparia at $75, Conocorgphe at $80 and Hydrocaphalus at $20. Other trilobite specimens ranged in price from a few bucks to a $100 or so.

I checked out several of the other rooms at the Desert Inn, and moved down the street to the Days Inn, which had a lot more activity.

Hey, who could pass up one of these nifty turquoise and malachite ashtrays? Almost makes me wish I hadn't quit...

I've never felt much of an attraction towards stone carvings, but some of the work Peter Muller had displayed in Room 128 at the Days Inn was rather eye catching. Here's a sculpture of three cockatoos perched on top of a base of smoky quartz with tourmaline and albite. The cockatoos are caved from rose quartz, with amethyst crown feathers, agate beaks and garnet eyes. All of the rocks were of Brazilian origin. Their feet were fabricated from sterling silver, plated with gold. An early bird rockhound had already snapped up this masterpiece for $2800.

In Room 262 at the Days Inn was this display of meteorites presented by Kilgore Southwest. On the east side of the room they showed irons, stony irons in the center, and stones on the west. Kitty Kilgore was offering specimens from many different falls. The lowest marked price I saw was 20 cents per gram. They went up from there to prices you might expect to pay for the rarest rocks on earth.

The traffic in this room was pretty brisk while I was there, and they weren't all lookers, either. Looks like it's going to be a pretty good Show for Kitty.

The next location I visited was Boatner's Garage, just down the strip from the Days Inn. There was quite a mixture of rocks available here. Rachid Adnane from Midelt, Morocco offered many Moroccan Atlas Mountain Range Ammonites and Orthocerius fossils from the east half of one of the tents at Boatners. Rachid had already sold the large, tan colored sheet of specimens in the background for $3000.

Sharing the west side of tent with the Moroccan fossil dealer was Aurora West, an Oregon importer of minerals and fossils. This Minas Gerais dogtooth calcite specimen was prominently displayed. That's a 3.5" floppy I placed on the stand in front of it for scale. $5000 takes this one home.

While I was inspecting this specimen, I happened to meet several of the folks from Amethyst Galleries. We had a pleasant chat, and made arrangements to meet at their room in the Executive Inn, which they had yet to set up. They'll have a machine on-line there to show off their website. They were definitely enjoying the Show. I'm looking forward to seeing them again and talking rocks and "shop"...

These flashy pieces of Mexican bornite were displayed along with many other reasonably priced Mexican specimens at the Charlie's Rock Shop tent at Boatners. The bornite was priced from $3 to $15 a chunk. I'll be back to do a little buying from owner Carlos Vasconcelos when I'm not lugging around all my video gear and have the capacity to carry some rocks. I guess I need an assistant...

At my next stop on the strip I saw these eye-catching pieces at the entrance to the Pueblo Inn. They are the work of Hovave Rappaport of Rappaport Designs. These illuminated pieces are constructed of slabs of marble, and used for display stands for sculptures, and works of art in their own right. This was Hovave's first year to exhibit at the Show. Many of those passing by while I was taping them commented favorably on his work. The lighting was a little more subdued and subtle than these pictures indicate.

Because of my work in electronics I've always been interested in the unique offerings of Mary and Bob Lewis of Gems Galore, Room 114 at the Pueblo Inn. These silicone crystal bookends, priced from $50 to $100, were a new item at their room this year. They also had IC wafers, microprocessor jewelry, and beads, cabs and chunks of polished silicone. Virtually all of their stuff are by-products of the semiconductor manufacturing industries. While they aren't guaranteeing any results, they even have some silicone that's reputed to have metaphysical properties... Bob and Mary send their greetings to the Net.

A tent in the courtyard of the Old Pueblo housed this Atrium Productions jewelry show. So far, this booth by MITZI Distinctive Jewelry and Accessories gets my vote for the ugliest booth at the Show. The blue, purple and maroon bunting around its perimeter was a spectacle to behold. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and I just calls 'em like I sees 'em... Sorry, MITZI!

In Room 122 at the Pueblo I found these great pieces of amber tipped calcite with sphalerite shown by Gary Fleck, owner of Inner Earth, Inc.. This material is from Elmwood, Tennessee, and priced from $25 to $2500. There was a lot of interest in this calcite exhibited by other visitors to Gary's room, and I'm sure he'll sell a lot of it this year. Everyone should have a mom as helpful as Gary's! They had many outstanding specimens, and I'll be back to this room with my 35mm later in the Show to do some high resolution specimen images.

In Room 187 at the Pueblo, Herkimer Diamonds from Herkimer, New York, showed this table top of, you guessed it, Herkimer Diamonds. These doubly terminated quartz crystals were offered from $5 to $1500. They also had specimens in matrix. I must say, from the look of the matrix, these little gems must require some hard labor to break out of the ground!

At Booth #6 in the Old Pueblo Ballroom I met brothers Joe (in back) and Terry Sick promoting GemZone. Joe and Terry brought their computers to the show and were offering dealers advertising at their web site. They were offering classified ads regularly priced at $50 per month (introductory 3 months for $30 Show coupon), on up to a home page launch with graphic and hypertext link for $250 per month. They'll provide graphic artwork for $900, product photography for $75/image, HTML programming for $65 per page, and optional secure order forms for $1000...

Now, why didn't I think of that! ;) Good luck, guys... I had an enjoyable conversation with Joe and Terry, who were still trying to persuade the Pueblo to get a phone line connected at their booth so they could connect to the Net from the Show. During our conversation, Terry confessed to raiding my hard-surfed link list for links. If these guys manage to get GemZone off the ground, I may have to seriously consider returning Terry's professional courtesy by raiding GemZone for a few selected, affluent customers! Nothing personal, Terry, just business...

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