In The Field: First Days at the 2020 QIA Pow Wow

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    Jeffrey Anderson, owner of Dwarves Earth Treasures, happily greets all who visit his booth at the QIA Pow Wow.

    By Thomas Farley

    Editor's Note: Thomas Farley, life-long rockhound, author, prolific blogger (www.southwestrockhounding), graciously agreed to share his observations, experiences, and photos of the time he will spend at this years' Quartsite Improvement Association (QIA) Pow Wow Gem & Mineral Show. 2020 marks the 54th year of the QIA Pow Wow.

    Day 2 — Thursday, Jan. 16

    Thursday brought another day of beautiful weather to Quartzsite. A few wisps of clouds appeared from time to time, somewhat relieving the sun's powerful glare. Temperatures rose into the high 60's in the afternoon.

    The day got warm enough that an alert went over the public address system about a few dogs that had been left in cars. Their owners were told to get back quickly to their vehicles before the police started breaking windows. This brings up the matter of dogs at Quartzsite – they are all over.

    On a leash, hand carried, or in a stroller, big dogs and little dogs are all about the aisles at the PowWow. I've never seen a dog fight but there are occasional lunges and a few sharp barks. Young dogs are around that may not be used to crowds and there are tiny dogs that are vulnerable. Every owner I saw seemed to have a dog that was socialized or mostly so. The dog community is fully present at the PowWow as you hear constant compliments from people on each other's dogs. Big dogs seem to draw the most likes.
    I could only visit a few vendors as I got wrapped up in long talks with each about their materials and collecting. I met quite a few people who knew people who I knew. One example was Kirk Brock at Rock Solid Jade. I showed him my jade key fob to see if he could identity its locality. He thought it most probably nephrite from Mendocino County in California. I said I carved it in Hesperia at the Mining Supplies and Rock Shop during a jade carving class taught by Mariana Shoupe. "Oh, yes," Kirk said, I know her quite well. I think she is here now at the show. "
    A familiar site at the QIA Pow Wow is the ferocious dinosaur statues beside David Walblom's Lapidary Tools & Supplies booth.

    Another example was when I fell into two people who kept mentioning Utah locations for agates. I then noticed that one had a Southern Utah Rock Club hat on. "I'm a member!", I exclaimed. "I know Lynn. He showed me a great place for field agates that I would never have found otherwise." They smiled and said they knew this place near Cedar City well. The couple lived in Mesquite, Nevada and when the weather got too hot they would drive to that higher elevation to collect during the summer.

    I've written that you'll never know who you'll meet in Quartzsite. Proof of that was when I stopped at Mike Martin's space, number 239 and 240. Lots of fossils. I am not a fossil guy but I know they are popular and I haven't covered fossils. So, I asked for permission to photograph and started asking questions. He looked at my business card and started repeating my last name. "Farley, Farley, Farley." I thought perhaps he had read one of my articles for Rock & Gem.

    Instead, he asked if I had any relatives in Humboldt County,

    Holly the dog and her owner were two of the many dogs and dog parents present at the QIA Pow Wow.

    California. I started to cry but held back my tears. "Just my late brother." "Tim! Biff Barker! He worked for me when I owned the radio station in Eureka. He was great. Everybody loved him. Great sense of humor." Tim worked a long time in radio and Eureka was where he found a home. He did morning drive and was absolutely fun to listen to. Mike allowed Tim to be himself and it was a very emotional time for me as we both exchanged memories of my past brother. Mike, by the way, does an enormous amount of self collecting and coin and relict hunting in England. Well worth a stop.

    Alexander Balagula of Unique Russian Mineral at space 326 provided me a chance to try out my rusty Russian. Alexander didn't correct me on my "Good morning and how are you greeting?" I felt good about that. He showed me some beautiful free form cabs of eudialyte on which he said he founded his business. He lists Fort Lee, New Jersey as his business address and the stone I eventually bought comes from the Kola Peninsula in Russia. To add to that that sense of going around the world, Alexander is a Russian Jew who lived for many years in Israel. When someone asked him about his sign, Unique Russian Mineral and what it was, he smiled and said it mostly refers to himself. I liked his sense of humor.
    I'm now a member of the Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem & Mineral Club, having signed up on the spot during my travels at the show this year.

    At one point I heard Pink Floyd being played on an acoustic guitar being played by a young man who calls himself DanTheCabMan. That's an Instagram handle for those who don't know. He played "Wish you Were Here" and I wished every rockhound could be here in Quartzsite, too.

    Practical points
    • Fabric and rubber hiking boots worked well walking the isles I found my fabric and rubber hiking boots worked very well for walking the aisles.
    • Make plans to meet with others ahead of arriving at Quartzsite, with so many ways to communicate these days, it helps to know people's preference (call, text, email, social media).

    Day 1 — Wednesday, Jan. 15

    Perfect weather greeted everyone in Quartzsite, Arizona for the first day of the QIA PowWow. Not quite shirt sleeve weather but a light jacket or a long sleeved shirt served well. No wind, a blessing for all of the vendors with shade canopies that normally take sail in a strong breeze. High clouds, bright sun. Sunscreen, big cap, and lip balm time. If you lack a cap, the Quartzsite Roadrunners Gem and Mineral Club will sell you one. As we all know, any Roadrunner based apparel enhances life.

    Dwarves Earth Treasures was among the first stops I made. (All photos by Thomas Farley)

    I got to talk to only a few vendors but I will be back tomorrow. Jeffrey Anderson of Dwarves Earth Treasures eagerly looked at my first self-collected thunderegg. Although he has cut thousands of geodes and thundereggs, his expression was that of someone truly in love with his trade, who couldn't wait to cut my rock open and to polish it. He's not cutting on site this year, but will get it done at his shop before his next show and mail it back to me. Jeffrey is deaf and communicates with a signboard and, as he once wrote me, with some acting. He was selling a great selection of polished and unpolished material. This evening I got an e-mail from him, putting in exact writing what he tried to communicate to me over his show table.