Collecting Geodes–How to Not Use Your Brain

My wife and I love rocks. We used to collect rocks. Since both of us love science, we collected rocks that had some scientific significance (at least to us.)

Throughout our married life, we loved tent camping. Every year for our vacation, we would go tent camping. I don’t think we ever stayed in a motel while on vacation.

One year, when our four kids were in the age range of 8 to 14, as I remember, we decided to go to Geode State Park at Keokuk, Iowa, just across the border from both Missouri and Illinois.

Geode State Park was named after the fact that there was an abundance of geodes in the state park, at least when the park was named. Over the years so many had collected the geodes, that you no longer could find a geode in the state park and it was then illegal to take one from there, if you actually found one.

If you don’t know what a geode is, it is a rock, kind of a very ugly rock, which on the surface is so plain that no one would want it. Except that when you break one open, you find a beautiful set of crystals lining the hollow interior. I’m sure you seen these in museums, rock shops, and other specialty shops that sell items that most people would love to display prominently. Not all geodes form beautiful interiors. Some just barely have a hollow area, but you must collect and open a lot, to find the very pretty ones.

Since we could not legally collect geodes from the park, we decided to go to the back roads near the park and look for old dry creek beds, full of rocks, to hunt for some. I was also a Boy Scout leader and had a very nice back pack with the full frame used for hiking with all your equipment on you back. Not the simple little back packs used for book bags these days.

So we set off down an old creek bed, with all four kids and my wife, each collecting rocks. Now here is where the BRAIN did not kick into gear. As soon as we set out, one of the kids grabbed a rock and put it in my empty back pack. Then another, and another, and many more as we walked the old creek bed.

When my back pack was full to the brim, I realized that we had made an HUGE mistake. We should have walked in the approximately mile and a half that we had gone. THEN started collecting rocks on our way back. But NO, we didn’t do it that way. As near as I can estimate, when the return hike back to the beginning was done, I had well over 100 pounds of rocks in my back pack. Talk about being exhausted.

Moral of the story—if you are going to collect rocks on a hike. Don’t start collecting until you have gone as far as you intend on going. THEN start collecting on your return trip.

When we were done, and had opened the geodes, we did find some very pretty ones that I still have on display. NOTE: Over the years we have moved a lot and every time we moved, our friends that helped us always wanted to know why we had so many boxes labeled “rocks.” They always asked if there were really rocks in those boxes, and we had to say, yes they are really full of rocks.


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