With Oregon so close to our home state of Washington, we decided to plan a camping trip around a visit to The Spectrum Sunstone Mine in Oregon. Most of the Sunstone mines are located down around Plush, Oregon, in the middle of what feels like a vast, Road Warrior wasteland. It is, in fact, a desert, and (surprise!) Oregon has them. The drive to several mines takes about 2 hours off the main road on a dirt and gravel backroad riddled with potholes. NOTE: Do not take your nice car on this excursion. I confess our camper van was somewhat nicer before the trip.
The different mining operations out here offer simple camping options and several different ways to dig for treasure. One option, see photo of my husband, was to grab a shovel, pick axe, or crowbar and just dig. You can also pay for buckets that you pull from a pile of crushed dirt that has been run through a belt grinder. Alternatively, you can pay by time to sort through several piles of crushed dirt at your leisure. And, finally, then there's the conveyor belt run option.
I'm all about maximizing my time (i.e., maximizing my stone-finding) so we decided to try on the belt run. With this option you get two hours at the conveyer belt with two guys from the mine -- one to run the belt and help regulate the flow of material falling onto the belt and the other at the end of the belt to catch the sunstones we missed. Do you remember that famous Laverne and Shirley episode when they are in the factory with the candy rushing past so fast that things inevitably spin out of control? Right. Like that. It was a slapstick hilarious time and the experience was well worth the $200 price.
We walked away with a HUGE bag of mostly yellow Sunstone. Some had pink with schiller and a few had red tones (the more coveted type). When we returned home, I cleaned and sorted our haul. I will cut the larger pieces and include them in my work, use some of the medium sized chunks in their natural raw form, and I have plenty of extra that I can incorporate into the lapidary classes I teach at BARN.
Check out this link for link for more information on Sunstones and this link to see the huge haul of stones we collected.