Imagine cutting open a thunder egg rock and finding Caspar, the Friendly Ghost, staring out at you. Caspar is one of the best known rocks at the Crater Rock Museum.
Date Day is a long-standing tradition in the Mekemson household. It began as Date Night in 1990. Peggy and I had just met and, shall we say, taken an interest in each other. But there were innumerable roadblocks to our blooming romance. Two teenagers were at the top of the list. (Tasha was dedicated to protecting her mom from the strange man. Smart girl.She made Peggy a sweatshirt that said “Don’t mess with the mama.”) But the list went on– jobs, family, friends, etc. We decided to declare Wednesday night ours, which was easier said than done. It took a lot of training. The kids and friends were actually easy. It was other family members and jobs that were resistant.
“What do you mean you can’t come to the family dinner on Wednesday night?” Peg’s sister, Jane, demanded.
“But Wednesday night is the only night I can meet,” the PTA President objected. (Peggy was principal of the school.)
In the end we prevailed. “I know, I know,” Jane would sigh dramatically, “it’s Date Night.” And the PTA Board would unanimously declare, “It’s Date Night!” as did all of the other committees and boards and family and bosses and friends. Once in a while we would make an exception, but it was rare.
Having worked so hard to train everyone, we decided to continue the tradition, even after we were married. And we still do– 24 years later. The major difference is that after we retired, we turned Date Night into Date Day. Why skimp on a good thing? Altogether, we have had over a thousand date night/days. What we do isn’t nearly as important as simply being together, but we use the day to explore new areas, peruse bookstores, go to movies, eat out, etc. Play is the operative word here.
Last Wednesday, our Date Day had a rocky start; we went to the Crater Rock Museum. It’s about 30 miles from where we live just off of Interstate 5 in Central Point, Oregon. Peggy and I had driven by the road to the museum several times and each time we would comment that we needed to visit. A new acquisition, Pterry the Pterosaur, moved Crater Rock to the top of our places-to-explore list. Pterosaurs were large flying reptiles that existed from 228-66 million years ago. Pterry now graced the ceiling of the museum.
We quickly discovered that the museum had much more than Pterry. There was Caspar, the Friendly Ghost, who resided in a thunder egg, a collection of student works of the world-famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly, Native American artifacts, and one of the finest collections of rocks and minerals in the western United States, all beautifully displayed. There was even a poignant reminder of why I exist; check out the photo on COPCO.
Pterry, a 60 million year old plus, pterosaur, swoops down from the ceiling of the Crater Rock Museum like a B-52 Bomber.
A close up of Pterry’s rather impressive mouth full of teeth. I prefer flying creatures to be much smaller and without teeth. Think sparrow.
Who doesn’t love agates that have been tumbled and polished. Rock hounds have been gathering them off of Oregon beaches for decades.
I had expected to find beautiful rocks at the Crater Rock Museum; it sort of goes with the name. What I hadn’t expected were student works of the world-famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly.
Peggy and I are great fans of Chihuly, having first come across his works in Nashville, Tennessee.
A final work by one of Chihuly’s students featuring woven glass.
Nor was I expecting to find this dragon at the museum.
This Suchomimus (meaning crocodile mimic) was keeping Pterry company. He was apparently a teenager some 100 million years ago– approximately 36 feet long and weighing upwards to 4 tons.
This might be an appropriate place to throw in this rock. Can you guess what it is? My bet is little boys are fascinated with it and little girls say, “Ooh gross!” To enquiring minds that want to know: it’s petrified dinosaur poop.
I was impressed by this fossil fish. Check out its eye. It looks like he was having a bad day. Or maybe he was just bad.
Speaking of bad, note out the canines on this Saber Toothed Cat. The canines could reach up to 19 inches in length. It’s beyond me to imagine how they could drop their jaws far enough to sink their teeth into anything. Maybe they just scared their prey to death. BTW: these guys are closely related to your favorite kitty.
Geodes can be large, as this photo with Peggy shows.
The difference between geodes and thunder eggs, I was to learn, is that geodes have an empty center while the core of thunder eggs is solid.
So this would be another geode…
And here we have a thunder egg. The ‘scenes’ inside of thunder eggs can be absolutely amazing, as was shown by Caspar at the beginning of the blog and in this one titled “the Swamp Thing” by the folks at Crater Rock.
A high voltage tale: My dad worked for COPCO in the 30s. He was on top of a 50-foot pole one morning and his ground man was teasing him about a date he had the night before. He turned to make a retort and came in contact with the live 11,000 volt line. Zap. Months later he was staying in Medford and still recovering when he met my mother. Without the accident, he wouldn’t have met her and I wouldn’t be writing this blog.
“Thar she blows.” The museum also has a significant scrimshaw collection, donated by David Holmes of Harry and David. The Harry and David plant is in Medford.
Petrified wood can vary dramatically depending on the minerals that have replaced the wood fibers.
Here is another example of petrified wood.
It seems appropriate to conclude this post with a photo of crystals, always a top draw at any rock show.
Next blog: I intend to start a three-part series on the tragedy of Liberia, West Africa, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1965-67.