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Techniques for CollectorsNCMA meeting report

10th Jun 2016 21:34 BSTHenry Barwood Expert

Report on the NCMA Micromount Symposium

I set out for the NCMA symposium early on Friday June 3. The counter at the Delta desk at Montgomery Airport only had one agent working so I had to stand in line for 45 minutes to get my bags checked in. After that I had another 35 minute wait at TSA. I got to the departure gate 15 minutes after the plane was scheduled to leave, but since half the plane was behind me, they decided to wait a bit!

My flight to Sacramento was supposed to leave at 8:31 AM Atlanta time and the Montgomery flight got in at 8:11 AM. As always with Atlanta Airport, I arrived at gate D23 and departed at Gate A3. I did my best imitation of a three legged race half a mile to the shuttle and then another half mile out to gate A3. I arrived at 8:32 to find the gate deserted. I did another race back to the flight board and found that it had been moved to gate A5. I arrived sweaty and winded at Gate A5 to find people still boarding (they only had one gate agent show up that morning). I was #13 on the standby list with 3 seats remaining. Then a miracle occurred! The lady kept calling for people to board and they kept not showing up. Over the next 10 minutes, I worked my way up from #13 to #2. I was the next-to-the-last person to board the plane! Unfortunately, that also meant I got to sedge into the center seat! Luckily the fellow in the window seat turned out to be an 80 year old retired photographer from Lawrence Livermore Labs, who also like minerals. He and I talked imaging and minerals all the way to Sacramento.

At the airport I decided to let them get me a wheelchair. They rolled me out to the rental car shuttle area and parked me in the shade (about 150 people in line). A wonderful lady spotted me and told the shuttle driver to get me on the next bus. I thanked her profusely and managed to get on board. I got a rental SUV and headed out to the back of the rental lot (it is always a half mile to where the vehicle I rent is parked) to space K-20. I arrive at K-20 and find it…empty!. Back I go dragging all my bags. An attendant heads out to locate the SUV. Finally I escape the airport and headed up to the Mother Lode Motel at Placerville. Couldn’t check in so went on to the meeting. Arrived at the Community Hall around 2:30 and set up my old beat-up scope and got out my bucket seat. Spent the afternoon checking out micros for sale and talking with everyone.

After dinner, we had Don Howard’s annual presentation “What’s Old in Minerals” about goodies from the previous year’s give-away table. Bob Housley gave a talk on the mineral wayneburnhamite from the Crestmore quarry that was fascinating. Brent Thorne followed with a presentation on new mineral species from the last year and showed images of a lot of them. Bruce Kelly showed a lot of images he had prepared, all excellent! Don Howard recapped his induction into the Micromounter’s Hall of fame and followed it up with his presentation at Baltimore on filiform minerals

Saturday, I visited the meeting briefly and then had to go back to Sacramento to pick up Adam. He had planned on coming up late Friday evening, but couldn’t make the last flight out of LAX. Unfortunately, I had to miss Paul Adam’ great presentation on the Silver Coin Mine. I had heard an early version back in January at the SCFM meeting, but would have loved to hear the update.

Adam set up a few spaces from me. The group had swelled until there were very few slots available. We spent the afternoon looking at give-aways and generally talking with other collectors. Both California micromount symposia are fascinating because of the number of unusual minerals that show up and the number of participants who have a mineral named for them! The afternoon silent auction featured some really nice items. Neither Adam nor I were successful in our bids. A large group of us went to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant that featured HUGE servings.

Saturday evening was the live auction. Tim Rose was the auctioneer and his always entertaining style was a hit with the attendees! Bids were brisk and a significant amount was raised for the NCMA. The most sought after specimen was a pauladamsite! By the end of the auction, everyone was pretty much exhausted and headed to the various motels

Sunday morning the die-hards all reconvened and poured over the remaining give-away material and the remaining $1 micromounts. At 10 AM Herwig Pelckman gave a talk on “Alfred Schoep, from Fred Flintstone to Bob the Builder”. Those of you who have never heard Herwig give a talk, you have missed something. His presentations are excellent and it was enjoyed by everyone. After his talk everyone pitched in to help break down the meeting and clean up. The extra give-aways were loaded up by anyone who could travel with them, good bye’s were said, and the meeting was over for a year.

I got some excellent mounts from the $1 table and also some really nice stuff from the give-away tables. I hope to have some images posted soon.

Sunday afternoon, Adam and I drove over to Nevada via Lake Tahoe. Neither one of us had been through that area before, so we enjoyed the drive. We arrived at Winnemucca around 6 PM and found a mid-price motel to stay in. We drove on over to the Silver Coin mine to check it out. It was raining in the desert and the normal brown was replaced by a vibrant green. Adam and I were both amazed. There has been a lot of prospecting of the Silver Coin area and several old adits have been opened. We would like to have explored, but it was getting dark. Adam got out of the truck to take a look at the phosphate stope and got eaten alive by mosquitoes! The entire adit was a cloud of the little biters! First thing on our shopping list was bug spray!

Adam devised a way to haul stuff up out of the phosphate stope so that I could collect. Monday morning we went shopping for parts to build a “Barwood Gizmo” (and bug spray!). We got everything done around noon and went back over to Silver Coin where we assembled our machine. It took a few test runs to get it working, but after that things went smoothly.

Here is a shot of the rain in the desert when we arrived (note the dust storm in the foreground):

Here is our Gizmo hauling potential specimen material:

Here we are sorting stuff:

The canned air was a necessity for blowing off the dust! We managed to recover about 3 buckets of decent specimens.

Late Tuesday we pulled out and headed back towards Sacramento. We had wrapped and packed specimens as we collected and hoped to ship them from Winnemucca, but the UPS place was only open from 8AM to 9AM each day, so on to Sacramento! We drove over on I-80 and even went through Donner Pass!

Wednesday morning we found a UPS store and shipped the boxes back to Troy, then headed to the Airport. We got checked in curbside thanks to Adam being an employee and then he wheeled me through TSA so we both got though with a minimum of hassle! My flight was supposed to leave at 12:38. At 12 noon they announced that the plane had a flat tire! I’ve been flying for 30 years and have NEVER had a plane get a flat! They called maintenance and changed the tire, which took 2 ½ hours! There was a question if I would get on the plane, but by the time it pulled back from the gate around 3PM, half the passengers had bailed out. Instead of being jammed in a middle seat, I got to sit with a space between me and the other passenger back to Atlanta. Only real problem was we didn’t arrive at Atlanta until nearly 11PM and the last flight to Montgomery left at 10:15. Jane and Shelby drove up to Atlanta to get me and we made it back to Troy around 2AM.

It was a great trip and with luck I’ll have some mineral image up soon.



11th Jun 2016 16:01 BSTD. Peck

Henry, that was . . uh . . .a memorable trip, and a great story. Wish I could have been there.

I got caught in the Atlanta airport once during an ice storm. There were (I think) thousands of people, planes all over the place, misplaced crews, and chaos. They couldn't put planes, crews, and passengers together, and the flights kept changing times and gates. Flying ain't fun!

11th Jun 2016 16:22 BSTHenry Barwood Expert

Thanks, Don

Traveling is always an adventure, but lately I've been a bit more adventurous than I would like to be!

11th Jun 2016 18:23 BSTRob Woodside Manager

Great Story Henry!

With all the security delays it is now faster to drive a couple of hundred miles than take a plane. If we ever get 500 mph trains, planes will be only for flying over oceans. Since the brilliant minds of security theater only close the stable doors after the horses have left and there have to date been no terrorist attacks on buses and trains, we don't yet have security theater (Bin Ladin's Gift) at bus and train stations.

11th Jun 2016 18:28 BSTHenry Barwood Expert

Hi Rob,

Traveling is certainly a problem these days. In spite of the problems, I actually like flying since the planes have a bathroom! It is ridiculous how there are so few rest stops anymore. All the state ones were closed some years ago and the interstate system is definitely not designed for old folks!

13th Jun 2016 03:23 BSTDana Morong

Great report. Does NCMA stand for Northern California Micromount Association?

13th Jun 2016 04:38 BSTHenry Barwood Expert

I believe it is Northern California Mineralogical Association
Should anyone be in Northern California next June, you would be very welcome to attend the symposium. Here is the official website for the NCMA. The site is currently undergoing some changes, so the gallery link is not live yet.

2nd Jul 2016 05:53 BSTHerwig Pelckmans Expert

The abbreviation is indeed for Northern California Mineralogical Association.

Their annual symposium is all about micro-minerals.

Next year’s symposium is scheduled for June 2, 3, and 4, 2017 at the El Dorado Community Hall in El Dorado, California.

Unfortunately I will not be able to attend; but if you can, you will not regret it.

Cheers, Herwig
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