There is no doubt I found my calling at a young age, crawling under the bushes around my childhood home. I was continuously captivated by the yields of my explorations, which included spectacular silver "glitter rocks," "city rocks," and "sunray rocks." I wondered why more people weren't stopping to appreciate these tiny wonders beneath our feet. Something about these little gems intrigued me enough to then truck them around the neighborhood and sell them to all the neighbors.
I later learned the "glitter rocks" were specular hematite from the iron deposits in northern Michigan. The "city rocks" were Devonian colonial coral fossils showing orderly rows of hexagonal and square sections lined with dazzling drusy quartz crystals. The "sunray rocks" were actually Petoskey coral fossils. They were brought down from the upper peninsula in the landscape fill. I also found colorful agates, flint, and artifacts.
My interest advanced to the next level when at age 15, and someone I knew had a small mineral collection. I was shown a sharp, "perfect" metallic cube and was told it formed naturally. It was a cubic crystal of the mineral pyrite. This Spanish pyrite rocked my world like nothing else before. I was then determined to pursue a career in this field. I was off to study geology, joined all of the rocks clubs in the state, and started "rockhounding" in a more serious way. These conduit people were Al & Sean Balaythy, who also took me to my first mineral show, where I met my long time mentor, Jim Below.
In the last nearly 20 years in the field, I have bought and sold at hundreds of shows, taught dozens of classes and collected at 100 localities. Some of my favorite digs being Purple Hope Claims in Washington state, Zigras Quartz Mine in Arkansas, and Tynsky's Fish Fossil Quarry in Wyoming. My pictures/stories have also been published in several publications including Rock & Gem Magazine, and The Mineralogical Record. I am grateful to have found my calling and never regret tenaciously pursuing my passion. Hopefully you all enjoy the fruits of that.
It has been my greatest honor to be part of the Hallelujah Junction dig team on Peterson Mountain near Reno, Nevada. Working with Paul Geffner, Joe George, Rick Kennedy and the rest of the HJ crew has been such a pleasure! What a fantastic group of individuals that are passionate about minerals. I thank them for giving me the opportunity to work with them.
There I experienced the highlight of my career when Joe George and I dug the Epic Pocket. It contained several world class scepters, one of which was featured on the cover of the June 2022 Mineralogical Record. It now resides on display at the MIM Mineralogical Museum in Beirut. If I died tomorrow, I will have experienced what every field collector of minerals has set out to do. My passion has led me down a beautiful path. I give thanks!
In 2022 I was published in the Mineralogical Record's Eureka edition for self collected minerals. It featured fine mineral field collectors from around the world showing their favorite finds. Along with a piece from the Epic pocket, my entry featured ice crystals that I photographed near my home in Washington state.
Jim of Blue Chip Minerals, and I met in 2003 at my first mineral show. We became friends and he started providing me work opportunities in the field. We traveled the Midwest and the South doing mineral shows and field collecting. I worked for specimens, and eventually had enough to start doing shows of my own. I thank Jim singlehandedly for showing me a way to make a living doing what I love early on.
I owe a big thank you to Joe George for being such a great digging companion and friend. We have shared unparalleled experiences in the field together. All of those were made possible because he recognized my passion and dedication to the mineral world and invited me to work with him.
Having discovered minerals & mineral localities, publishing books, and doing microprobe mineral analysis, Bart Cannon (1956-2019) was a legend in the mineral world. He was the founder of the Seattle Mineral Market, which he entrusted to me in 2019. I am lucky to be able to call him a friend and mentor, and for that I am grateful.
Thank you to everyone else who along the way who have supported my business or lead me to a dig site.