Monday, March 10, 2014

Himalayan Tourmaline Mine Trip Gem Dig in California

So last week we sold clothes to make money, and before that, we went to Las Vegas. This weekend we visited the Himalayan Tourmaline Mine at Lake Henshaw in Southern California to try to dig up some valuable tourmaline gemstones. I've been looking for fun ways to make extra cash and gem mining seemed like the perfect mix of hard work, fun, and big-payoff if you are lucky.

It was $75 per person to dig at the Himalayan Tourmaline Mine. You can get the gate code to get to the mine at the Lake Henshaw Resort. 12 and under free and there are discounts for groups, military, etc. so check their site for all the details. We also purchased a bag of there high grade stuff to take home for $100.

We stayed in a cabin at Lake Henshaw Resort where tent camping is also available, but the mine is 2 hours from Los Angeles and only an hour drive from where we are, so it is an easy day trip for us. The apple pie, shopping, outdoor show, wine tasting on Sunday morning in Julian made this a beautiful weekend trip.

Here is where you do the actual gem dig.

Here is the pile we were digging from.

Did we make money? Did we get our money's worth? It is hard to tell. I really don't know much about this stuff, but it was a lot of fun. Our assessment: don't do this if you are trying to make money.

We spent 5 hours in the warm sun so hats, sunscreen, water are good to have, and pack your lunch. I recommend going in the cooler months and beginning of March was absolutely perfect.

There is no "mine" as in a cave where you walk in and chip away at rock and find stones. There is a pile of rocky dirt to dig into buckets, and tubs of water to screen the rock to see if gems pop out. Although exciting and fun, we didn't hit the motherlode. We got a few cool rocks and the toddler had a good time. Mostly.

Some of the kid's day was spent like this with the Kindle. We also packed lots of digging toys, cars, trucks, books etc. for the little guy.

Then there was some fun mud play.

Which turned into this...

Which of course was unacceptable. 2 outfit changes and the kid was naked for the rest of the afternoon, because he was not happy wearing mud covered anything. At least it was warm and he had a good time!

Here is my husband screening for gems.

He found a big crystal and a small heart shaped reverse watermelon tourmaline that I'm very curious if it will make a good stone for a ring. It is really beautiful!

But mostly, we found granite and quartz.

I suppose if I had more time, I would have collected more of the quartz. On the left is reverse watermelon that he found.

There is a local gem society that has classes right in my neighborhood, at the Gas and Steam Engine Museum, so I may try that out, one of these days. I feel like I could get into this, now...

Here's some of the little stuff we got.

Did we "Make Money" on this gem dig? I don't think we made much. All the pieces we found were small and not exceptional but what the heck do I know?! We did find some cool quartz crystals, but they are too large for jewelry, so I have no clue what to do with them. 

It was pretty cool to show see these amazing things that come from the earth.

We are still going through our bag of dirt we bought for $100 to take home an have found some larger pieces in there, but again, I know nothing about rough gemstones and there is nothing that could go straight to jewelry that I have found, just yet. So we will see. I HAVE to find something I can make something with!!!

These bigger gems are all from the bag of dirt, so so far, so good!

I will say that my hands are ridiculously dried out, as are my hair, face, skin. Our shoes were full of mud, our backs and necks were sore and we were super tired at the end of this trip. Thank goodness for amazing apple pie in Julian, a windy afternoon in town, and a short drive home.

This is what we are digging through, now!

I am still on my hunt for unique ways to make money while doing fun and exciting things. In this trip, we learned about rocks, minerals and geology, as well as another way SOME people may make money (not us... yet). This was a perfect outdoor family activity on a warm, early spring day. I'm sure if we knew a little more about rocks we would have done a little better. I will update if we strike it rich!!!

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