Weird and Dead Stuff

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We visited the amazing Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado (near the Florissant Formation where many dinosaurs have been excavated).  Link to the  Virtual Tour of this Museum on  Fossils page 11:

Virtual Tour Dinosaur Resource Center



National Park, Colorado Springs, CO

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Pike's Peak, and the Kissing Camels, among other peaks and passes described on the chart at the gift shop:

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Solid rock hill, a precursor of what would be a beautiful journey of iron red rock formations

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Halfway through the loop of the Park, we came upon the gift shop.  Lovely items for sale, and very educational as well.  A trip to Colorado would not be complete without seeing GOLD, and Fool's Gold.

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Made especially for this gift shop, these aspen wooden vases are made from standing dead aspen trees.  Of course, we purchased one!

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The view from the parking lot of the gift shop

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Pike's Peak behind Heidi

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and the rest of the loop through the park back to the highway, where Heidi is photographed next to the entrance rock

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Glenn and Frank, brothers reunited after 24 years, and met his delightful wife Diane, first in the hotel room, then a visit to Goldfield, and then their home.  We also met  Darian their grandson.

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Friends and new business owners Dale & Renee on their way to their first Gem Show, also first time flying!

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 Enough rocks to satisfy any rock hound at the Quartzsite show

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A great turquoise chunk

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Glenn trying on a goofy hat

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A very large ammonite from Canada, called Ammolite, the Canadian national gem

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This is what strawberry quartz glass looks like in the rough, made in Australia

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This figurine is carved of pure ivory, the fire in it was beautiful but does not show in the photo

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A rare species of fish fossil

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Fossil gharial crocodile skulls from Morocco

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Fossil jellyfish

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Fossil rhino heads & skeletons

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What a fuzzy woolly mammoth Glenn found!

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A huge fossil turtle shell

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An incredible collection of lingam stones, including the LARGEST we have ever seen

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Okay, when we pronounced this, we laughed our heads off

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A beautiful crystal formation

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Who's growling more, the carved tiger, or Glenn?

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He smiles!

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Taking a load off, in a carved burl wood chair

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The African Market - metal works, blankets, beads, woven baskets

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Cube pyrite in matrix, from Spain, some of the best in the world

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Large quartz crystal formations

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An extremely large quartz crystal skull

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Dreadlocks hair style are VERY common in Tucson

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So many amethyst cathedrals, more than one person can imagine

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A tourist Old West town

Gift shop & town

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Glenn probably telling Dale he is a wuss about something (smile), all just having a good time

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Dale, panning for gold, he couldn't resist:

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Oops, a goofy Saguaro cactus formation, you can draw your own conclusions of cactile dysfunction

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The scenic drive around the Superstition Mountains to the Salt River, Canyon Lake and the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, the largest masonry (brick) dam 300' tall built in 1911

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A small graveyard near Apache Junction, where Frank found several small gourds for Renee to use.  We all had a good time.

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Near Globe, Frank took us to an area with plenty of apache tears, we all got the fever.  This area is no longer open to the public.  The apache tears are a form of obsidian that is created within the perlite matrix.  We have these for sale on Rocks, page 6 . Even the huge light-colored boulders you see were FULL of apache tears.

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How can I get this on the plane?

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Okay, so Heidi photographed lichens brave enough to grow here too:

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A beautiful view of the setting sun over the mountains, a fitting end to the fruitful and fun day:

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A nasty mesquite tree with hard thorns the size of ten-penny nails, in Frank's front yard

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Ocotillo cactus, also VERY thorny

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Typical Joshua Tree

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A sumptuous and colorful Southwestern meal in Mesa Arizona at the Rancho de Tia Rosa Restaurant, with a great Mariachi Band:

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The Superstition Mountains, Frank and Glenn

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Our last breakfast together the next morning, off we fly!  What a memorable and long overdue visit.

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GOURD SHOW, February 2007

Wuertz Farm, Casa Grande, Arizona

Pinal County Fairgrounds

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Link to info on current gourd show dates:


PHOTO CREDITS to our friends Dale & Renee Lee, who experienced the show themselves, we regret we were not with them!  Enjoy the fantastic amount of creativity, color and themes using gourds as the medium

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BARROW, ALASKA (October 10-21, 2006)

This group of photos  is SO comprehensive that we have opened a new category just called "Alaska" to view this trip and the June-July 2006 trip, here is a link to it:





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Here is a link to the full page needed to display his incredible collection, on Sharks page 15:

Dr. Gordon Hubbell Shark Museum




Andy Griffith town, note this car dealership featuring the police car made famous from this television series, what a hoot!

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JUNE 21 through JULY 8, 2006

This group of photos and description is also so large that we moved it to the "Alaska" category starting on page 3 here:

Alaska Page 3


JUNE 2006

1105 S. Ocean Blvd. and 12th Avenue South,

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Shown from Ocean Blvd., and from the ocean side.  Young friend Josh is digging to China, it appears:

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Yes, you read that right.  This "Latest Travel" is just 20 minutes away from our house.  Yet, because we live here, we rarely visit the beach unless friends come to visit (Frank and family from Virginia):

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So we experienced this family beach resort and were impressed by the 10 pools & hot tubs including a Lazy River.  The first pool is just outside their room (they chose the first floor for this reason).

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Frank's youngest son Noah posing here near one of the pools...

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 bowling alley

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indoor fun room for kids

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pinball and arcade games.  On a subsequent visit with friends, we played till we were hoarse and they closed the arcade for the night.  Worth every penny we played there.

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outside (and inside) restaurants

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and those to-die-for views of the 60 miles of perfect beach that we love so well...

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Frank's family had a full suite with kitchen that was quite affordable...

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Back at our house, final photos of the family with Glenn and with Heidi.  What is that strange headdress you're wearing, Frank?

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APRIL 21-23,  2006

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina

North of Charleston, SC, you will see small roadside stands where the famous Sweet grass baskets are sold.  They are truly works of art.  They used to be made from South Carolina grasses, though development has paved over many of the areas they used to collect.  Most of the sweet grasses now come from Florida.  We are proud to have a collection of these from several weaving artist basket makers.  Here is Ophelia Betty Burch and her husband from Mt. Pleasant, showing off her work:

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Billed as the "Smallest Church in America", a pleasant place to stop.  I believe this was in Florida:

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Here's something you don't see every day...man rides steer!

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MARCH 2006
ATLANTA, Georgia
March 3, we visited the new Georgia Aquarium exhibit in downtown Atlanta.

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The most humorous thing we saw was the entry signs forbidding knives, guns, lighters, or FISHING POLES.  The guard confirmed that indeed, since Day 1, people have been trying to get in with fishing poles, evidently thinking they could catch fish, and have them cooked to order.

The huge viewing tank with two whale sharks, hammerheads, sawfish, guitarfish, stingrays, Port Jackson sharks, and countless other species of marine life was a real treat.  Here are the whale sharks and hammerheads:

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and a hammerhead with a whale shark in the background:

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Here are the stingrays flying in squadrons, you can get a sense of the size of the tank from the silhouette of the crowd:

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and looking like a kite flying contest:

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And one flying solo:

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A view of the tunnel through the large whale shark tank which was spectacular, including the swarming of the yellow fish that was delightful:

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and the groupers that were often flanked with the yellow fish:

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Two views of the sawfish in the whale shark tank:

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 and of the Japanese spider crab tank:

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The other treat was to see the second large tank with the five white Beluga whales.  They enjoyed ogling us as much as we did them.  Plus, their graceful movements in the water were truly an underwater ballet that we could have watched all day.

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Here is a view of the entry to the gift shop with their mascot Deepo the orange fish, and an interesting wave photo we took for you:

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We recommend a visit there, on a weekday, at 9:00 a.m. to skip the largest crowds.  Otherwise you must go online to get tickets to be sure of getting in on the weekend, and the crowds are large.  Here we are in 6:30 p.m. traffic on Friday night on the Atlanta 285 circle trying to get on to 85 north towards Helen, lest you think every trip is a dream come true:

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HELEN, Georgia
On Saturday March 4 we visited Helen, GA north of Atlanta as we were looking at properties in the area of NE Georgia in the mountains, a lovely area indeed.  However, the number of chicken farms and rendering plants we found there, in view of the bird flu issue, made us think twice.
This German themed town would not have been complete without a Heidi sign which we found:

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Picturesque homes, horse-and-carriage rides:

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Hurricane Katrina did not stop at Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.  It came north and created a horrific freak tornado here in northern Georgia that flattened a third of the trees on this hill, swooping below to demolish a series of gift shops that are even now trying to rebuild.  The prestigious home on the hill now has little forest cover:

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A historic Nacoochee Indian Mound outside of town:

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A surprise Rock & glass shop outside of town, we bought a few chunks of brightly colored glass for window decorations:

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On Sunday March 5 we found a large antique store near Clarkesville that had an incredible find:  a 180 year old five piece display shelving & mirror mantel piece set that came from a pharmacy in Louisiana.  The center mantel piece is 16 feet tall.  It is the kind of item that we would find a house to fit it, or build a house around it.  No kidding.  This place is earmarked in our come-back book.

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A busy trip first to Maryland to purchase a great white shark jaw from a private collector on Thursday Feb. 16. 

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Then we found out about an International Gem show in Chantilly VA starting the next day (Friday), so we spent the day there and found a knock-dead Boulder opal-gold-diamond ring for Heidi:

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Saturday we visited with third-generation customers Frank & Kathy and their two boys Josh & Noah, and learned more of the Civil War landmarks in the area.  It happened to be George Washington's birthday weekend, so there were fireworks at the Ferry Farm Home we happened to see while at a restaurant.  Make your own fireworks here! 



On Sunday we surprised our fossil guide friends in Aurora NC with a visit, and snapped a few photos while we were there.  If you've read on Fossils page 9 about the phosphate mine there, you will know about the pile of phosphate in the center of town that you can dig for sharks teeth & other fossils and keep what you find.  Here's Glenn on top of the pile, across from the Museum:

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and near Chocowinity is another pile we visited again, though the best tooth was found right next to the car!

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A nice ending to an eventful four days.


We discovered TOM'S CYPRESS in Waldo Florida that had driftwood & swamp roots of cypress and cedar GALORE for sale! (yes, they ship).  Notice the width of some of the boards and slices of the trunks and whole trunks. Okay, so we did buy a cedar trunk root and strapped it to the roof for the rest of our 5 day trip to Ocala, Tampa, Titusville and home to South Carolina.  It sure drew a lot of laughs from other drivers!
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You can see the cedar trunk root on the top of our van here

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What we didn't expect to also find there was this incredible stash of vintage soda bottles, all brands, still with the liquids inside.  They will be selling these on their website and on Ebay soon, they told us.  What a fortune!  This was only a little of the inventory that was out for public view:

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And beautiful pocket chests they make right there too from the wood, lovely stuff.  This one is about 3 feet long x 14" tall, a beauty with an expectedly high price:

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We also traveled on to Tampa to see "Bodies-The Exhibition" exhibit at the Science Museum, certainly worth the trip!  (No photos allowed, so here are two photos of the book we purchased afterwards, and a link to their website).  The real human bodies were not behind glass so they could be inspected at close range.

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We marveled at the human body and at the technology that made this display possible.  The bodies were preserved through "polymer preservation".  Tissue water is removed by submersing in acetone.  The acetone is then removed in a vacuum chamber.  At this time the tissue spaces formerly filled with acetone are filled instead with liquid silicone rubber.  Lastly - curing - the silicone rubber is treated with a catalyst and hardened.  There is now no chance of deterioration due to natural decay.


  Then to the Atlantic Coast to Titusville to visit friends there.  We'll have a virtual Cape Canaveral tour on another travel for you.


NOVEMBER-DECEMBER photos are on the About Us page of our visit to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, and Christmas at home.  We were too busy shipping packages to travel otherwise!


Florida, Atlantic coast
A visit to the colorful Dixie Crossroads Restaurant while visiting Titusville FL was a must.  The seafood was great!

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And an unusual "Dogs R Us" Restaurant there too:

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A lovely mural and painted overpass near Titusville:

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Paul's Seafood Restaurant in Titusville, we recommend it!flpaulseafoodrest.jpg (38706 bytes)
On a visit to one of our gator sources, we discovered some wonderfully unusual items Dale and his wife make.  Photo of Dale and Kathy, a sweeter couple you could not find:

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Their gator skute mats are weird and they WORK to scrape the mud & sand from your shoes!flgatorskutemat1.jpg (40412 bytes)

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Since they collect all things gator, this piece of tree bark was ideal for their collection!flgatorwood.jpg (40647 bytes) As well as this remote controlled gator - note even the REMOTE is a gator:

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A gator hide with head, drying on their garage wall

 A gator skin belt and buckle (using the skutes):

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Gator foot handle knife

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a Gator skin axe sheath

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A superior quality gator purse

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Hand made bone handle knives

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A horn knife with gator skute end

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A barracuda head, the perfect home decor (?)

A gator dragon - Dale loves combining body parts to make fantasy critters!

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For the other gator products and photos, navigate from the left to the Gators pages 3 and 4
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This is our 2nd visit to Metropolis.  There's a great memorabilia store, cut-outs where Glenn did a little cross-gender playing, and there's a great big statue in the center plaza

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Let's not forget Big John at the grocery store, a great attraction in itself:

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One family in Metropolis went all out for Halloween, from aliens to monsters to graveyards to skull edging!
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A stop in Rockingham NC where we found some great Kudzu overgrowing an old mill, with the sound of a river away in the distance:

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One formation even resembled a woolly mammoth!

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Another visit to Seagrove NC (one of the most concentrated towns for pottery artists) brought us to Uwharrie Crystalline Pottery.  Heidi's had her eye on this style of pottery for some time, because crystals literally grow on the vases during firing!  Here's the two Heidi started with:

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Crystalline pottery is the art of growing crystals in the firing process.  They use 25% zinc, add ground natural quartz to make it a glass, and a third mineral for color such as nickel, copper or cobalt.  Mixed with water, glazed, fired at 2300 degrees, the glaze melts down the sides of the vase.  Zinc crystallizes at 1850 to 2150 degrees as it cools, the same way crystals grow from molten rock as it cools, so the kiln is set at 2000 degrees for 6 to 15 hours (a LONG time compared to other pottery glazes) during which time they peek in to see the crystals grow and spread over the surface of the pottery.  What fun, you never quite know how they will end up!

Here is a spectacular, rare occurrence of a single crystal growth on one vase that artists William & Pamela Kennedy have been unable to duplicate.  It is on display at the North Carolina Pottery Center there in Seagrove:

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View some of their other exquisite work here in their store:

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and on a website showcasing their work:


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They also shared with us a specimen of "propolite" also known as "cotton stone" because of similar crystals that grow within the rock.  We still need to research this further, as there is very little on the internet we have found.  This mineral is found only in a few places in the U.S. - and this county in Seagrove is one of them!  Here's a photo of a specimen:

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Here is William with a new face pot we like, we'll have to see when it's finished:

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Speaking of face pottery, we have been thinking of collecting it for some time .. evidently that time has COME - because here's a link to the new collection! Face Pottery


We continued on to Virginia where we made a Virtual Tour of the Fairy Stone State Park, hunting for fairy stones thanks to our friends Dale and Renee and digger Pete:

Fairy Stone Crosses


Dale and Renee drove us "20 miles" - more like 50 - (smile, Dale!) from their home to the Blue Ridge Parkway where a historic Mill is located.  The 2nd picture, thanks to Dale, of Glenn, Heidi and Renee:

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Heidi found the fencing and sluice photo-worthy:

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And the picturesque Philpott Dam on the way back:

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One of the more humorous stops in Roanoke was when we saw the billboard "Home of the Trunk Monkey" shortly after leaving Dale and Renee's and telling them about these humorous video clips:

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So we found Berglund Used Cars and spoke with Darrenn Clark, who gave us 2 souvenirs (we added the "Trunk Monkey" necklace):

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Darrenn directed us to the dealership in Salem, where we got the rest of the story...this dealership bought the East Coast rights to use this ad campaign.  They put Trunk Monkey decals on a new Ford Mustang car, filled the trunk with these stuffed monkeys, and made a contest of guessing how many were in the trunk.

Skip Larrington of Roanoke, Virginia, a chemistry and computer science teacher at Hidden Valley High School, mathematically calculated the capacity of the trunk at 403 - there were 404 in the trunk.  So he WON the car on September 2nd!  CONGRATULATIONS!

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He kept the decals on the car to teach kids that applied math does pay!! and drives it to school every day.  He kept 40 of the trunk monkeys - one is always in the car with him, of course.

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Here's his story:

Back in early June, there was a "teacher appreciation night" at a Salem Avalanche game. Teachers received free tickets to the game. We enjoy going to a couple of games a year at the park, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to go. The weather was very comfortable, so we were looking forward to a very pleasant game.

Our two daughters listen to the 94.9 Star Country radio station, along with one other station exclusively, so we were well aware of the Trunk Monkey promotion that was going on. It just so happened that the car was going to be at the game so this was our opportunity to enter the contest. Of course, we never imagined that we would win the Mustang, but it was a fun thing to participate in anyhow.

My training is in software engineering, a fancy term for computer programming. I left the computer field a few years ago and am now a teacher of Computer Science and Chemistry at Hidden Valley High School. As a teacher, and as a software engineer, I decided to put my skills to use.  I got on the internet and determined the cubic footage of the trunk; however, I had no idea how large a trunk monkey was, so I was no closer to an answer than I was before.

We arrived at the game a little late and the 94.9 crew was packing up, but they still had a Trunk Monkey on display. Based on that one Trunk Monkey, I was able to estimate how many one could pack into a cubic foot. I then multiplied that number by the number of cubic feet in the trunk.

Now came some "seat of the pants" estimation. They would not let you look in the trunk to see how full it was, or how tightly they had stuffed the monkeys in. I surmised that the trunk might not be stuffed full since when you opened the trunk, many Trunk Monkeys would fall out. I also surmised that the monkeys had been thrown in randomly instead of placed in to maximize density. For this reason, I removed 20% from my calculated number. I wrote down that number, and went in to enjoy the game, never expecting to hear another word about my guess. My wife, whose guess was about 150, told me that I was crazy to have guessed such a large number. "Oh well", I responded, "It is turned in now." I think we might have been the last people to enter the contest that evening.

Fast forward more than two months to late August. School was again in session, and we received a phone call from 94.9 Star Country inviting us to attend another game on September 2nd. At that game, the top 94 finalists would be invited onto the field to learn who the lucky winner was of the car. Wow, it was down to 94 people, and I was one of the last 94. This would make a great story for my students at school, just making it to the last 94 people out of all the thousands of entries they must have had for the car. Using math really does pay off.

We paraded onto the field, and waved at the crowd. Brett Sharp of 94.9  Star Country explained that we were to be eliminated in groups, and the last person remaining would be the winner. The first two groups eliminated were groups 20-29 and 40-49 . the two groups closest to me. They proceeded to eliminate groups until there were only 4 of us left. Two of them were eliminated, leaving just two of us standing. The rest of the world no longer existed. Time stood still. The crowds were gone, the players were
gone. There were only three people in my world at that moment . the other contestant, Brett Sharp, and myself. After shaking hands with the other contestant, the time was upon us. The other contestant was eliminated, and
the car was mine!

We picked the car up on Tuesday evening, and I drove it to school on Wednesday morning. The car was parked in front of the school all day (starting at 7:00 AM). The car was the talk of the student body all day. An announcement was made in the morning about the car, stating that a teacher had won the car and encouraging students to ask their math teachers about how the car was won. All the math teachers had a Trunk Monkey in their possession, along with a description of the mathematical process followed to come up with the winning number.

Each day the car is driven to Hidden Valley High School and parked in the teacher lot. The stickers remain on the vehicle, and hopefully will remain there for a couple of months to remind the students of what math can possibly do for them. (We do not know how long the glue will hold them on.)

The following is a link to Star Country, where there are a couple of pictures of the actual give away at the game.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Trunk Monkey, and sorely in need of a belly laugh or two, we suggest you check out the official website.  Click on the KATU Report on the making of the videos, and the Windows Hi Res versions of "Thrown off the bridge", "Want a Donut", and "Throwing Eggs 1 or 2":



APPLE FEST, Chilhowie VA

The smell of apple butter permeated the fairgrounds from a bubbling cauldron of apples,  the sound of Bluegrass music filled the air here in Chilhowie, near the western tip of Virginia, close to the Tennessee & Kentucky border, the furthermost stop for this trip.

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Of course we walked away with Virginia apples and apple butter enough to last us awhile.

A roadside sign in western Virginia:

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Hungry Mother State Park?  Watch out, kids!

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