In August 2014 I took a ride on a Road King (Harley Davidson) around Flathead Lake, Montana. See prior post on the whole motorcycle trip! I intended to visit all the rock shops in the Flathead region that I had found on the web. The route was Whitefish to Columbia Falls, south on Rte 206 to Kalispell, on to Polson and then back to Whitefish. What I found along the way is listed here for rock hounds and others who might be interested in purchasing finished or unfinished Montana Agate.
Montana Agate (from the Wiki site)
Montana agate is also called moss agate, because of the black moss-like inclusions, which are oxides of manganese or iron, usually on a milky white quartz background. It is a form of chalcedony. It is formed from volcanic rocks and abundantly found in the riverbeds of the Yellowstone river and it’s tributaries.
Montana Agate – outside skin of the rock
Montana Agate (see above) cut in half.
1. Junction Rock Shop (just east of Columbia Falls). Some really nice finished slices of Montana Agate and lots of other pieces including fossilized dinosaur bones. Not much unfinished rock in the shop. The owner helped me out and I bought a very nice piece: black moss in a clear to white slice with no cracks. It is a small shop with limited selection but great customer service.
2. Montana Within Rock Shop LLC. Sandra Dahl and her husband collect rough Montana Agate in large quantities. This is a great place if you are looking for rough rock to cut yourself. They collect their rocks along the Yellowstone River, which is quite far away. They know what they are doing! They are difficult to find as they run their shop from their home, south of Columbia Falls. Call because you will need directions!
3. Kehoe’s Agate Shop in Big Fish MT. Well advertised and easy to find, this shop has mostly finished rock slices. Nice selections.
4. Meneralholics LLC, on Melita Island Rd, near Polson MT, on the south end of Flathead Lake. Definitely call before you visit them (Velvet Philips-Sullivan). They are hard to find. They do mostly B to B whole sale. They have loads of rocks in large mounds in their back yard! I bought as much as I could carry.
5. The Treasure Outpost in Whitefish. This is a small rock shop (in the basement of another shop) in downtown Whitefish. They have mostly finished pieces and very few pieces of Montana Agate. Helpful staff. Caters to tourists rather than hard core rock hounds.
6. Rocks and Things.. Metaphysical, in Whitefish. Small shop with mostly finished pieces, some rough rock. No Montana Agate. Nice owner who also runs a Yoga Studio next door. As I could not find what I was looking for, she gifted me a piece of rough rock quartz. Thanks 🙂
Check out our latest pendants made with Montana Agate here!
The trip started off as usual: an annual visit to Doha (Qatar) where I teach a course in medicine, see my prior blog posts. It has become routine. A five star hotel, this time “The Four Seasons”, excellent food including the local fish “hamour”, a visit to the souk to buy curry, fresh from Sri Lanka, and to buy a few gem stones: spinel and hot pink topaz, both quite expensive.
A few days later I was in Lucinges, a small French village just across the border from Geneva Switzerland. There is a great little hotel/restaurant in Lucinges “Le Bonheur dans le Pres”, which translates literally to ‘happiness in the fields’! It is run by Ludyvine & Cyril. The hotel is an old stone farmhouse in the midst of hay fields. Their food and wines are exquisite. There is just one menu offered with several courses and the matching wine is served freely. Cyril is the chef. He has many years of experience as the cook in a high quality Indian restaurant in Geneva. I gave him some of the curry from Doha! From Lucinges I visited family & old friends in Geneva and in Neuchatel.
Next was Zurich, where I stayed with my brother and sister. There was a visit to an excellent exhibit of German and French expressionist painters at the Kunsthalle. Also, a walk through the old town and a look at a highly controversial “piece of art”, an old crane on the Limmat river in center town! Finally I hiked up the mountain Rigi with my brother, amidst unexpected snowy and icy conditions. On a nice day the view from Rigi can be exceptional:
Roland reaching summit of Rigi (photo courtesy of Zhu Sunny, Shanghai)
Then came a few days with another brother in Edinburgh, Scotland. He had just bought a huge 150 year old house: 19 rooms he estimated, and 14 chimneys. It had never had central heating and each room seemed to have a fireplace! They were undertaking a huge renovation project. The house was a “manse”, a house occupied by a minister of a Presbyterian church in earlier times.
Old Scottish Manse
Finally there was a visit to a cousin’s daughter near York: Nicky Milner. She is a professor of archeology and an internationally known specialist on the Mesolithic period (stone age around 9000 BC). She and her colleagues have unearthed an entire settlement along an ancient lake. The place is called Star Carr. I was treated to a visit of this “dig”, quite an experience.
Star Carr Archeological Site
Lastly, there was a visit to a hospital in Oxford where a friend is being treated. As an MD with some knowledge of the specific problem, I was impressed. Top of the line medical treatments and all covered by the British National Health Service. How civilized.
On July 27th I flew to San Diego and rented a 1200 RT BMW motorcycle with 4 in line cylinders, a powerful bike with which I was going to cruise 2600 miles across California. My friend Manu lives in San Diego with his Kawasaki Versys 650. He picked me up at the airport and we went right to the beamer rental shop. The next day we set out early, the first leg of a 12 day journey, all the way up to Arcata, CA, on as many scenic routes as possible and then back down along the coast. We crashed overnight at the cheapest motels in town or at a friend’s house, but we had dinners every night at the best restaurant we could find on Yelp!
On our way south, in Carlotta, CA, we stopped at Chapman’s Gem and Mineral shop on route 101, also called the Redwood Highway. This is paradise for rock hounds. For a couple of dollars I bought snowflake obsidian, jasper, rhodonite and much more. Here are some samples.
We stopped in Fort Bragg, CA, and we took the trail to “Glass Beach”. This was a dump site for local residents, until 1967. Now, in stead of sand, the ground is composed of small shards of smooth glass, ground extensively by the sea waves. I had read about the place. But we found the pieces of glass to be too small to use for jewelry.
Rarely, one finds a piece that is larger than 2 cm.
We had passed places called ‘Topaz’, ‘Diamond Valley’ and ‘Emerald Bay’. Each time I took note and looked for some explanation for the bejeweled name. No success. Not until we discovered ‘Jade Cove’ in Big Sur! It lies protected
Cliffs of Jade Cove
within a National Forest. It is easy to get to from Highway 1. The green cliffs are composed of nephrite (a type of jade) and also serpentine. Nephrite is a soft stone (Mohs 6) which is easy to carve and when polished it is vitreous and has an oily luster. It can be very elegant with white to green to grey hues. It was considered an imperial stone in chinese dynasties. Here are some of my samples. And a finished piece with banded agate, from Chapman’s Gem shop, see above.
There is more to come about other adventures on this trip, although they have little to do with lapidary or jewelry. Stay tuned!
Before I set out on this trip, my 17 year old gave me a penguin stuffed animal – a talisman to keep me safe. Penguino, as we called him, became a pro at riding the motorcycle…
Banded Agate in Silver
Posted in Beach, Gemology, Jewelry, Lapidary, Travel
Tagged beach glass, beaches, Gemology, gems, jade, jasper, Jewelry, minerals, obsidian, rhodonite, sea glass, travel