One of the things that intrigues me besides hunting and the outdoors are minerals. I have a set of gold pans that I have used much to my dismay in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. About the only time I had ever obtained anything was a small rice grained sized sapphire in Idaho on one of my summer trips.
A while back I was watching a show on the Travel Channel hosted by Kirsten Gumm. This young lady travels all over in search of minerals and other collectable earth deposits. She had one show on a type of crystal found in upstate New York. Just north of Rte 90 is the sleepy town of Herkimer. This location is famous for it's quartz crystals called Herkimer diamonds.
I decided that Mary and I needed a vacation to that area and planned a simple camping trip. I made arraingements to stay at a KOA in that town which has the diamond mine. I know that Mary isn't too thrilled with tent camping so I opted for renting what are called Kamping Kabins. Basically this is a small log cabin without any amenities. You take everything you need to camp except the tent. I figured that this compromise would be the best of both worlds, not to mention cheaper than staying at a motel.
We drove to the site on that same day and set up our cabin. It was very clean and cozy. The way the system works is that you pay a day use fee to Herkimer Diamond mine and rent the tools. You have to buy the chisle as it gets a lot of wear and tear. What I learned is that this place is a working mine. The owners commercially mine it for the large crystals and then people are allowed to glean through the rest. I will be honest, it is a lot of hard work. You are trying to crack off peices of dolomite with a hammer and chisle. This takes a lot out of you and you will be somewhat dirty. I'd wear old work clothes when doing this. Quite a number of people went along with some school groups.
To make a long story short we obtained a small amount that is probably worth around eighty dollars. Again, you're not going to strike it rich as much as collect something to make some jewelry with or have a souvenier.