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Opal Hunting
Glen and I went to northern Nevada in June 2006, the day after he retired from BLM.
Date(s): June 18, 2006. Album by Judy Miller. 1 - 133 of 133 Total. 12156 Visits.
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Here we are at the mine!  Take a right and go UP!

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Glen is on top of the tailings looking down at the tent where we sign in each day that we dig.

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We sign in here in the am and sign out in the pm.

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This is from the other side of the mine looking toward the tent.

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This is the mine shack.  They don't go underground any more.  Too dangerous, and besides, they have this big machine now.

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Just one view from the top.

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Petrified wood.  It has been opalized.

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Here is the first mine entrance.  Off limits now.

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This is the road to the mine.  We are in Virgin Valley Nevada, near Denio.  There are opal mines all through here.  For a fee, the mines will let you come and dig through the tailings.  Some have found wonderful things there.

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From the top, looking down the valley.  The millsite is down and about 5 miles to the right.

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You can see the mine shack on the far left.

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OK, now we are in business!  I am waiting for that big machine to clear the tailings that we made in the last couple of days.  

He will clear the tailings, and then dig up some more ground with those big teeth.

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This is the wall.  And that is the machine driver, Larry, who is bent over.  Mining.

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Most of these photos will have to be clicked on to see what is going on.

This is the wall.  Each share gets a 6 or 8 foot space on the wall to dig.  You can dig there the whole time, or you can abandon your spot and take another spot as long as there are no tools in that spot.  That means that the spot is occupied.  You can leave your tools for up to two days.  Then the spot is considered abandoned.

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And here I am ready to go!  You can see that I am using a handy dandy sharpened screw driver.  

And that's it folks!  That's how you opal hunt.  You dismantle a mountain with  a screwdriver.

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The machine has just cleared the tailings, so the shareholders can come in now and start back digging.

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There are tiny flags up on the bank where the tools have been stowed.  It is hard to see them, but these flags are what tells us where to dig.

Each share gets one spot, and only two people can dig that spot at the same time.  They have to be shareholders of that one share, as Glen and I are.

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Here is the wall with the tailing clearing machine at work.

The shareholders are on their honor to take the booty to the mine manager when we leave and split the opals with the mine.  That's how the machines and maintence is financed.  The mine sells the opals in Arizona in the winter.

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Glen took this photo of the unoccupied wall from way high on the tailing pile.

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Here is a serious opal miner.  We sit, and stand to do this.  The best way, is to have the sun on your back coming over your left shoulder.  The sun glints on the opals and you can spot them immediatley.

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Here I'm showing you my little pick.

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We are at the other side of the mine and Glen took a photo of me taking a photo.

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This is the millsite.  Our rig is the tan Tundra.  Our trailer is behind it.

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This is the other end of the site.  We moved our trailer after a couple of days to the spot where that Montana is.

The house is a shower house, and on the other side of it is the toilet with a sink.  It is nice in there.

We also have a washer dryer, an ice machine, a land line phone, water, electricity, and sewage dumps for the RVs.

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On Friday nights, there is a pot luck dinner.

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Saturday am we had an annual shareholders' meeting.

Afterwards, they had a general clean up brigade.  Everyone gathered up all kinds of debris and loaded up a truck to go to the dump in Denio.

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Our happy home at the millsite.

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The TV works, but no signal, no way.  We use it for DVDs and watch movies at night.

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This is a real test of our compatability.  So far we are doing great!!

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I took a couple of days off and beaded a necklace for my sis-in-law.  And one for me.

That painting is by Glens' mom, Mable Miller.  She is  a wonderful watercolor artist.

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This is Denio Nevada.  They had a great party there to raise money for the school library.

This is the community center.  Also in Denio, is a school, two bars, and a fire hall.

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Some of our group outside the bar, before a wonderful steak dinner.

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The community hall.  They had dinner in there, and a quilt show too.

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These boys are cooking the steaks in the fire hall.

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Well, just everybody comes to this event.

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There was music, and dancing too.

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When we parked the car, I noticed these beer bottles all over the place, jammed in holes.

I have no idea why this is done, never saw it before.

Denio is about 36 miles from the mine.

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And this is what you get!!  Maybe.

This is a neat opal that Glen found.  It is still in the mud here.

He took it out of a wet bank (on the wall)  So he has to keep it wet for a while.  So it won't shatter when it is dry.

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If you click on these photos, you will see the fire in the opal.

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Here you can see the fracture lines.  I'm not sure if this opal will make a jewel.

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Here is the same opal when the mud is gone.

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Lots of color and fire, just what an opal hunter is looking for.

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These are two opals that Glen pulled out.  They were one, till the pick found them.  :(

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If you enlarge the photo, you will see the color around the edges of the "glass".

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Now....these photos you will need to enlarge to see the fire.

This is a piece that I found in the tailings the first 10 minutes that we were there.

It is a piece of wood that has been mostly replaced with opal.

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This piece is considered to be a fine piece of opal.  As you turn the piece, the fire winks at you from all directions.

We are having a tough time trying to get photos of this piece.  Glen is thinking of slicing this piece and selling the slices.

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Again, you can't see the color unless you click on the photo.

This piece show well in a display case that is well lit.

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See???  You can tell that the opal is all the way through this one.

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Here you get a good view of the "glass" and the wood.

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A different view of the fire

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This is the back, and you can see the opal peeking through.

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Here is what I call "our opal" cause it is from both Glen and I.  You can see glass and color here, and there is fire shown in two of the little opals.  Both in the front.

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These are just some photos of the flora and fauna that we saw on our walks in the desert.

The mountain views were spectacular, and the clouds were great.  I have no idea what these flowers are, but Glen knows most of them. I just look.

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This was on our second trip to The Bonanza mine.  This is an opal that I found while digging.  Now I used a screwdriver and dug very carefully around this sucker.

At this point, I can't see any fire, but you never know what is on the other end of this glass.

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It is pretty big for an opal and hopes are high.

It turned out to be just one huge hunk of glass.  No color and no fire.  This is a big RATS!

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This machine is soooo huge.  It clears away our tailings, and it makes new walls for us to dig in.

That is our huge truck in the background, and just behind that to the right is the hole Glen and I were digging in this time.

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After a hard day in the pit....we can come here, just about a mile from our trailer.  This is a natural hot spring.  Not too hot though, just right.

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Lots of folks like to cool off here.

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These guys have to investigate you when you are in the water.  They swim right up to you.

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After a swim, we can come in this little house just next to the pool.  You can see two shower heads here on each side of the bath house.  They go all the time, never shut off.  It is a warm water shower from the spring.

I like to shower here cause it's a whole lot roomier than the shower at the camp site.

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And this is what we do after the swim and the shower!  That's my honey, Glen, and we are having a glass of wine.

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And this is the show that comes on at sunset.  Enjoy.

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This is what my darling husband bought for us.  :)  It is a 400.00 pile of dirt and rocks.  All I have to do is hunt through this pile of dirt and rock, find an opal, cut, polish and mount it......and I have a jewel!!!!

Well, we love this mucking in the dirt, I guess we are nuts.  This pile of dirt was experienced at the Rainbow Ridge mine, not the Bonanza.  It took about 7 hours to go through the pile, and the opal found was not good.  No jewel here.  :(

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This sign cracks me up.  It is a sign posted on the highway going toward Denio NV, which is about 30 miles from our opal mine.

You will have to click to enlage this one to see the reason for the funny.  People are such children, aren't they?

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This one is about 3 inches long, and that deep blue and green goes the whole length.  It is full of fire!

The brown stuff is mud, and I will take a photo of it when it is clean.

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Here you get an idea of the size.  This opal is a fantastic opal, and qualifies for the claim that our mine has...."Bonanza Opal mine has the brightest opals in the world."  :)

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This is the other end of the opal.  The green fire is at the top, and the red harlequin fire is inside the blackish part.

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Most of the mud is off now, and you can see that this one is color all the way.  Some clear opal on the bottom left.  

Looks like a living thing doesn't it?  Some kind of African worm or something.

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Just a photo of the red fire flashing.

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Here is a good shot that shows the part that is not colorful and not really useable.  It is the dark triangular shape that goes from left to right, not all the way up to the other end.

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Here is the other end of the opal.  You can see the fire in this end at the top.  The bottom part is opal, but not firey.

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Here is my latest present from Glen.  :)  He went off to hunt fossils yesterday, and this is one thing he came back with.  My present.

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This used to be a wild burro.  I guess I could decorate it with jewels.  Or maybe NOT.

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Sept 2011.  This is Don on the loader.  I don't know if you can tell, but the loader is high on the top part of the mine....you can see the whole valley below, and some mountains on the other side of the valley.  Miles away.

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Here is Glen hopping around the mine with his cane and using the pick as another cane.  You will have to do more than break his leg to keep him from rock hunting.  :)

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This is one happy rock hound.

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A beeeeg smile.  Yes, he hurts, and no, he hasn't found a bunch, but....he's having fun.

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Friday June 1,2012.  Glen and I went to hunt for petrified wood here.  We did find wood.....but I got distracted by the gorgeous scenery, which includes these fantastic clouds.

We are in Nevada, not far from the opal mine.

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Here goes Glen, and he loaded up that pack and the one on his back.

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Me and my clouds.......love em!

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Stay tuned........wild horses coming up and an antelope.

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I liked this line of clouds...one after the other in the center of the photo.

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One more cloud.

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These are just some of the wild horses here.  Glen counted at least 140 in the whole mess.

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Are these guys cool, or what?  Look at the foal....second from the right.

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Doncha just love the way they are eyeballing us?

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Here is another part of the pack.  They all seem to be healthy.

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Not a care in the world about Glen and I.

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These guys were getting a little uncomfortable with us.

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Just milling about, but some are wary of us.

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He was cool.

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I just love the flowers in the area.  They are tiny, but delightful.

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This guy held a nice pose for me.

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Uhohhhh, we are spotted and wondering what do I do now.

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What I do now, is get the heck out here.  This is an antelope refuge, after all.

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This is a pretty sad show of our fee dig check in site.  The mine is closed to fee diggers on Monday and this is Monday.  
The huge log at the foot of the table is petrified wood.

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Usually, this area is all spiffed up with things for sale, tools to borrow for digging, and lots of punch and water kegs for fee diggers.  The frame is covered so that diggers can lunch in the shade.  We also have opals for sale here.  I'll get a better photo when it isn't snowing at the site.

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These guys are just waiting for someone to hop aboard and start em up.

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We do have all the necessaries.

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This is Glen pretending to be a fee digger.  There are lots of piles here of tailings.  The huge machines deliver them here.  These are for the fee diggers to go through.  I have seen some nice opals come from here.

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We just stayed two weeks at the mine this time, and turns out we timed it right!  It started to snow on us the day we left.  I took lots of weather photos on the way home.

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We go from the mine (central Nev, north on the Oregon border, to Lakeview OR, Alturas CA, to Burney CA, and into Redding) through some great country.

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Snow on the weeds and in the background....on the mountains.

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Wild horses here.

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These guys were grazing right beside the highway.  #140 I think.  They are wild horses.

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Can you see the painted horse at the top of the photo?  I'd say that he is pretty well camoflaged in this snow setting.

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Ok, now we are out of Lakeview OR, on the way to Alturas CA.  Check the snow on the mountains.

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Looking back toward NV.

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This little store is in Pine Creek OR.  Full of stuff.

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On the way to Burney CA.

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Bonnie is doing well at the rock hunting thing.  She is really good at digging for opals.  Look at that dirt fly!!

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She dug this hole with no help from us.  She is good at it, but has not learned to recognize an opal.

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OK...she's a pooped pup.  Pondering her next move I think.

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This is the expression if I ask her if she is hungry.

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  Sign the Guestbook. Displaying 9 of 9 entries.
Wonderful! We've taken the Harley's through Nevada many times (Even saw "The Burning Man")and have been by some opal mines, but didn't go back in to see!(Dirt roads) But, I loved your pictures!!
Smile, Cricket
cricket, Tue, 5 Jun 2012 2:43PM
Looks like loads of fun! A wonderful post!
Norma Coney | lolcostumejewelry.com, Sat, 2 Jun 2012 4:34PM
Great posting.  Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to do it.
Linda Taylor, Thu, 26 Apr 2012 2:36PM
We will use some of these on the web -- they are great!  also, some in the 2012 advertising.
Sue Zabaldano | bonanzaopals.com, Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:35AM
I want to do that......it looks so fun......and away from here.  I always loved Nevada and Steve and I were going to do some exploring ourselves, but....Wilma
Wilma Petch, Tue, 14 Aug 2007 6:28AM
We spent the night at the hot springs you mentioned, last year in late spring. As we were leaving we noticed a deep rocky canyon that goes off to the south east (my guess, it's on the right as you are heading for the highway), and decided we would like to explore it someday. We live in Idaho and have family in Medford, Oregon so we pass that way fairly often. It's fun knowing someone from JC has an interest there... small world!
laura williams, Wed, 30 May 2007 11:08AM
How wonderful!  I'm an opal lover in Toronto and belong to a faceting guild.  I have a few friends who are "opalholics" and I'd like to show this to them.  Thanks for giving me a mini-trip to Nevada!
Dianne Strickland, Thu, 24 May 2007 8:21AM
I really enjoyed checking out your pics and the info. Got your link from the DJJ group email. Opals are awesome! Thanks for sharing.
Carmen, Wed, 23 May 2007 10:58PM
Lovely pictures, looks like much fun. Thanks for sharing.  
A jewelry lover at heart.
Devonna Esslinger from Gulfport Mississippi
Devonna Esslinger, Tue, 16 Jan 2007 7:10PM
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