It all started in the RHS1 forums as just a bit of banter, a few zingers back and forth, and some playful boasting. I couldn’t tell ya when it all started to get serious but as the first weekend in June rolled around several members of the RHS1 forum loaded their rigs and headed off to the Burns, Oregon area for some digging, eating, and general silliness. We sure found a bit of all of those things – plus some pretty impressive stones, to boot. When push comes to shove though – the ultimate credit (blame?) for the first Annual RHS1 Meet-up belongs to Clyde ( RHS1 member, keystonecops).
A few of the group got a few days hop on the rest of us, but Saturday was the day that all were present and accounted for – at least here and there throughout the day. I was a bit apprehensive about meeting everyone for the first time. It’s been a tough couple of months so I knew I looked like a shar-pei havin’ a bad hair day to start with. Driving in (150 miles) on 2 hours of sleep wasn’t going to (and didn’t) help that at all. I did really want to meet everyone though and figured I could avoid most of the cameras, and actually requested not to have any pics taken. They mostly obliged – that I know of – but I did feel obligated to stand in on the actual group photo. The pic shows all the actual RHS1 members that were there. People accompanying the members stood off to the side. I didn’t know they were going to do that and would have welcomed them into the group shot.
Anyway, I was hesitant to get the pic online, but after tweaking the contrast, color depth and just a few other minor “adjustments”, I think that it really is a pretty good photo of us. Right guys?
The place we met up at belongs to Nate – (RHS1 member, nate) and his wife, Tammy (I sure hope I spelled that right). They own what is now probably the most notorious driveway in the Great NW. I’m sure there are others that are worse. Somewhere. Over a few days that driveway saw members from Oregon, Idaho, California, and even Texas maneuver the pits and rocks up to Nate and Tammy’s door. Made for some interesting comments throughout the weekend.
I arrived late to the party on Saturday morning. Dean (RHS1 member, boxofrocks) and his wife, Susan, were hanging out at the homestead and after a little chat, rock exchanging, and coffee slurping, they gave me a real rockhound’s idea of precise directions to find where the others had headed off to: back to the main road, hang a right and another right at the first road after the rock piles. They were good directions and took me straight out to the area that everyone was scouring for petrified wood. When I got to the top of the ridge where they were spread out in the basin in front of me hunting. Denny’s (RHS1 member, sheltie) bright red Jeep was my signal that I was in the right place. Of course, I had met Bob (RHSI member, coldwatergold) before, so seeing him with his rearside up and his head halfway into a hole he was digging was a pretty loud confirmation that it was not only the right place, but also that they had been finding the wood.
Sometimes I’m not sure if it’s the hunt or the toys that keep these guys going. They seemed to be having just a tad too much fun on those 4 wheelers for me to believe they had them there for utility alone. If you’ve been browsing the forums – the pictures in there tell much more of that story than I could do here.
The crew was getting ready to go out to the Warm Springs Reservoir area about the time I got there, so I just browsed around for a little while and gathered up some small pieces of wood. It’s really gorgeous wood. If I go back in that direction again (which is more likely than not to happen) I’ll stop and continue the hunt. Warm Springs Reservoir is an old favorite stomping ground of mine, though, so I was more than happy to head on out there and haul in some of those plume agates before heading back for the rock exchange and dinner.
The reservoir surprised me a little because there were quite a few people in the area. I used to be out for days sometimes before seeing another car. To see several was a bit of a surprise. The area was still fairly clean. It can be hoped that it is kept that way as the traffic out that way increases. We can also hope that the government doesn’t decide to put up a slab of cement and an outhouse and start to charge people for being there and install a requirement to keep their dogs on a leash.
By the time it was getting late enough to have to head back to the ranch, I don’t think anyone knew where anyone else had gotten off to, but by around 5:30 everyone was back at “camp” with the rocks they brought with them spread out on tables and tailgates for taking or trading.
Bob got pretty enthusiastic about this part of the trip and hauled enough specimen rock out to completely stock one of the Snyder Ranch Pow Wow exhibits on his own – including the red velvet to display them on. By the time he got his display set up, the crowd gravitated toward his display and it was Bob’s show for an hour or so. Everyone got some good stash from Bob’s display and wandered off wondering where they were going to fit the extra rocks in their rigs.
The guys tried to split up one of the rocks, but no matter how much manpower was put into the effort, the rock wouldn’t break. No problem for these guys. I’m sure we should have expected Tony (member, catmandewe) to be conveniently suited with a few small blasting caps and more than happy to show the guys how to commence breaking up a rock when hammers wouldn’t do it. Blasting the rock kept the men well entertained for a while.
Of course, 4 wheelers and blasting caps weren’t the only toys on the ranch the guys had fun with. There was also a rock saw that was kept pretty busy during the festivities.
I’d like to digress here a minute and give a public thanks for two gifts I received on the outing. Clyde (member, keystonecops), one of the members who is fairly new to lapidary made me the beautiful pendant in the pic below. You’d never know it’s a new craft for him by the looks of it. Thanks Clyde. I’m not one to wear my heart on my sleeve – but it looks great around my neck.
Also thanks to Dean (member boxofrocks) for the beautiful Mexican Crazy lace. It’s one awesome piece of stone and makes an impressive display piece.
When dinnertime arrived, we went in to find an exquisite banquet laid out by our host and hostess. There was both beef and pork bbq, salads, casseroles, and even homemade pies and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I might not be able to pack as many rocks as a man, but I can sure eat like one. It’s been a long time since I’ve attended such a well-planned and cooked banquet. Everyone was starving after a day in the field and we made more than just a dent in the food. It’s a good thing there was so much of it. I firmly believe that there might have been a nasty tossle over who got the last bites of anything had it run low. It was really just damned good eatin’.
Dark found us sitting around the fire pit telling more lies…..um….stories under the stars. It was incredible to look around and see how close and casual everyone felt with each other when meeting face to face for the first time. It almost felt more like a reunion of old friends than of a first time meeting for most of the members. A few of us had met one or another of the group before, but outside of the forums, most of us could more or less have been considered strangers. Anyone happening on the group would never have been able to tell that, though. I don’t think that there was much that could have awakened any of us as we all retreated to our sleeping bags for the night. Of course, some of the members actually brought their own homes with them. Lightweights!
The next morning we all made our plans for the day, loaded our rigs, and said our good-byes.
All in all, the only thing that wasn’t just perfect was the weather, and the company was enough fun that even that didn’t put much of a damper on the meet-up. We all came away with good friends, good memories, and some great finds. And — we’re gonna do it again next year because it was just too good not to do it again. If by then you end up being one of the members that are going next year – none of us will be a tad too surprised.
(Note to the meet-up members: Why did I get such an incredible urge to conclude each paragraph with “Except for Bob”?)