Gorgeous Sunrise at Work Sept 28th

As I walked out the door at 7 am Sept 28th, 2017, I noticed the clouds tinged with a beautiful bright red color and grabbed my camera from the truck to snap a few photos of the beauty….

…then I stopped at the end of the parking lot behind City Hall and walked around the corner to shoot the sunrise clouds over Interstate 64 looking east….

…and the radio tower behind me….

…and then I drove south on Big Bend toward home, noticing the sunrise just hanging up in the sky, so I stopped at the Sunnen fountain to shoot it as well…

sure was pretty….

Geodefest 2017

Geodefest is held in Hamilton, Illinois each year, which is across the river from Keokuk, Iowa and Northeast Missouri, on the third weekend of September. This year there were about nine locations where rockhounds could sign up to go and collect at, some in each of the three states where geodes abound. Rockhounds who like to collect geodes, come from all over the USA to collect on this weekend at Geodefest, this year there were more than 2500 rockhounds there for the three day weekend. Chuck Reed and I drove up on Thursday to join up with friends John Ootenryk from northwest Illinois and Abigail Evans from Nashville. Robert, our mine owner friend in Hot Springs, was up there this year as a vendor selling Arkansas Quartz and he did real well in sales over the weekend. We were able to go to a sand and gravel pit on the last day with members of an Iowa Club, where we found not only geodes, but some great agates and horned coral heads too. Here are a few photos of my trip up there, can see the entire story at my rockhunting blogsite, www.jwjrocks.com 

…this was an Amish owned farm where we hunted for geodes in the Fox River…this young Amish family makes their farm river access available to rockhounds each year on this weekend, his wife bakes pies, breads, cookies, and other food items to sell at the parking lot, and let me tell you, she is a very good baker…I purchased a couple of loaves of bananna nut bread from her and they were very tasty..I took one loaf home to Mom and she liked it too. Her husband and son helped us rockhounds with our heavy buckets full of geodes, hauling them from the river to our vehicles with his cart and beautiful blonde Belgium horses…

Sure was a great weekend and we all had a great time up there, brought home lots of goodies !!  jwjphoto7@gmail.com

Van Fire on I-44

I was about to lay down and take a nap on the 19th of September when I heard Sullivan Fire Department get dispatched to a van on fire, on EB I-44 near the 224 mile marker. Onyx and I headed west on the South Service Road and discovered the van even with Ditch Witch, so I parked next to a Crawford County Deputy at the log church next door and walked across the grassy area over to the van on the shoulder, finding the drivers side rear tire on fire extending to the cargo area of the van. Sullivan Fire Pumper 854 had to go west and then turn around at Crawford Electric to return moments later…

Flames Showing Behind Walmart

I was strongly considering going to bed and watching my Captain America movie about 11 pm on Sept 2nd, when the tones dropped for Sullivan Fire Department and my plans changed fast. They were directed to respond to a report of flames showing to the rear of Walmart, so Onyx and I headed that way, parking near Snap Fitness and walking across the grass to where firefighters were about to spray down a large area of pallets of cardboard boxes that were stacked two high and fully involved…..

…here you see Firefighter Davey Sumpter on the hoseline….

…and then joined by Captain Dave Konys to back him up on the line, waiting for additional firefighters to arrive….

…firefighters had their hands full trying to put enough water on the boxes to extinguish this fire, especially the way they were tightly packed together, similar to fighting and extinguishing round hay bales stacked together…

…the great scene lighting provided by Sullivan PD allowed me to get some great extra photos of the firefighters until the big flashlight could be activated on top of the pumper…

…I left soon after, and as Walmart personnel were moving in with a forklift to separate the pallets of boxes, making things easier on firefighters in terms of putting the fire completely out. 

House Fire on Donald Street

I was on my way back home from working and mowing at Mom`s house when I smelled smoke as I approached the Elmont Road Bridge over I-44, smelled like a house on fire, however I couldn`t see any smoke in the sky anywhere. As I made the turn to go across the bridge, I heard and then saw Bourbon Engine 60 coming eastbound on I-44 and exit at the overpass in front of Cracker Barrell, turn and come down my way and then take off south on Elmont Road. I followed at a safe distance and saw them turn down behind City Hall…on the way I contacted Jim Bartle and he told me there was a  house fire on Donald Street. I arrived on scene shortly behind Bourbon and found the initial Sullivan crew resting up outside after knocking down the main body of fire inside the older home….

It was obvious there was still some heat and fire inside the house from the front room to the back wall, as I walked around the house to photograph it from a few angles…Chief Eric and Deputy Chief Larry were behind the house keeping an eye on the roofline…

Bourbons crews went inside to help with overhaul and Firefighter Jordan climbed up the ladder at the back of the house to assist crews inside the residence…

Sullivan and Bourbon crews did an excellent job of knocking down the fire and overhauling later, saving the entire structure. 

 

 

Epic Fail Tractor Trailer Rollover Mid August

I heard the tones drop for the Fire Department just after midnight on the 22nd of August…Onyx and I were awake watching tv, so we headed down the Service Road to the west and pulled into the church parking lot behind Chief Eric. I walked over to the eastbound shoulder of I-44 and then down the shoulder to the front of the pumper, talked with Chief Eric and photographed the tractor trailer on its side…

…the crews were walking around the trailer making sure there were no hazards with it, while the driver was already inside the ambulance. I moved over to the other side of the truck for a better view after the crews pointed out the billboard sign in front of the truck….

Central Kentucky During Eclipse in August 2017

Onyx and I drove down to central Kentucky the weekend of the total eclipse to join up with several rockhounds from the Hickory, North Carolina Club, and two clubs from New York State that Hickory invited for the weekend. My core group was joining me there, after I was able to set up a couple of extra locations for the club members to dig at…little did I know that I would be leading a group of 90 rockhounds that weekend, biggest group for me so far. Luckily we were set to have some good weather, not as hot as it can get in August, but still warm. I had prepared for it buying extra water and getting Onyx shaved down a day or two before we left. For the rest of this story, check out my rockhunting blog site at 

www.jwjrocks.com 

The first morning there, after breakfast, I photographed this gorgeous sunrise just before everyone started lining up to drive down to the first location….

…a sunrise that started out gorgeous and just kept morphing into something different, winding up with some great sunbeams…a prelude to a very nice day ahead. I found a neat vug of brown dogtooth crystals with a blade or two of white barite inside it…

Later that day we drove over to a friends farm who has a creek running down thru his field and we hunted the creek for geodes…I found a beautiful half geode that was filled with sunshine quartz there…

The next day we drove over to Mundy`s Landing to dig at an old fluorite mine, down in the valley next to the Kentucky River…sure was a beautiful cloudy day…

…and many of us stayed most of the day there, finding lots of goodies. On the way back, a few of us stopped to photograph these barns with blue doors and roofs…

…the next morning we had yet another pretty sunrise across the road from the hotel….

…this was the day of the eclipse…we drove down to the goat farm near Mt Vernon, another creek running down thru it, where large geodes can be found filled with pretty sunshine quartz…Onxy found a swimming hole in the creek and took advantage of it…

…and waded up and down the creekline several times as well while the rest of us hunted for some geodes….

…we had a great time that weekend and brought back several nice ones. 

 

Fires and Storms in July

Well as usual, I am running behind once again…after my trip to Arkansas in July, I got busy with some rockhunting and work issues. Now we have our first cold weekend in October, so I will try and catch up…on the 9th of July, I heard Sullivan Fire Department dispatched to a trailer on fire at Sycamore Trailer Park, so Onxy and I headed that way in the truck, and I observed light smoke as we approached on Springfield Road. I parked in the old Maid Rite parking lot and walked down to

the scene, finding firefighters getting ready to extinguish a shef fire, not a trailer fire, and electrical lines arcing as well as the meter box throwing off sparks…

…where I discovered that Nolan Crawford was now a Captain and pulling hose for his crew….

The shed, needless to say, was a total loss on arrival. A few days later, this neat looking storm approached from the north and dropped some much needed rain in the area….

…and an hour later, I photographed Sullivan`s Rescue truck heading down my street going to a call to the north…the lights reflecting off the wet pavement….

…and just a few weeks later, we were dry as a bone and cigarettes tossed out the windows of motorists going east on I-44, near the old Trade Winds Hotel, were igniting the grass and brush on the south side of the interstate…

…luckily with assistance from St Clair, the fires were quickly brought under control, stretching about a mile down the eastbound lanes of I-44…

 

Arkansas July 4th 2017

My vacation end of June could not arrive fast enough, once again, same feeling I had end of April when my spring vacation approached. My full time job is very stressful much of the time, but things beyond my control, have increased my stress this year over years past. I get another break in August, but it will be shorter, due to even more circumstances beyond my control, code for problems and events in the past few years that prevent some of us from taking additional time off from work. A year ago mid June, I lost my Dad to a massive heart attack, and this year, on the anniversary of that very day he collapsed in the yard, Mom began having problems that prompted a trip to the emergency room of our local MOBAP hospital. Luckily for us, Dr Draper was on duty that evening…he was the attending physician the evening that Dad collapsed and we really liked his bedside manner and attitude…too many times these days, you rarely find a good physician on duty, one you can understand and one that understands you, emergency rooms are often a training ground for new doctors. Last year we found out that Dr Draper is a keeper, with thirty five years of experience, we were delighted to find out that not only did MOBAP keep him on staff, they also promoted him to Chief of Staff in the ER here. Mom had shortness of breath and the evaluating nurse quickly whisked her inside to a room right away and began trying to get to the bottom of it. From the get go, Dr Draper figured it was either pneumonia or congestive heart failure and xrays eventually confirmed it was pneumonia after she was admitted later that evening to the intensive care unit of the hospital. She was hospitalized for a week and then released on the one year anniversary of the day we laid my Dad to rest, scarey timing for my sister and I for a few days there. Later it was determined that Mom had one of the bad pneumonia`s and told it would take at least four weeks before she could go outside, which was fine with her as she barely had the strength to walk up and down the hallway at home. She has had home health care nurses taking care of her daily and they released her today due to the progress she has made with her daily exercises and she can now go outside and attend to her flowers once again as well as go to church services and eat out once again.

I was able to take my vacation and go quartz crystal hunting in Arkansas once again after receiving her blessings, aided by good neighbors checking on her often and my sister staying in touch and visiting her often as well. Onyx and I took off by 7 am on Thursday the 29th and took the shorter route, south on Hwy 63 to Hwy 67 to 440 around Little Rock and then I-30 southwest to Hwy 70 west into Hot Springs. When I was down there in May, I learned that Arkansas highway crews were expanding 70 between Hot Springs and I-30 and had made much progress since we were there then. This time as we entered from the east end, it was obvious that traffic would soon be traveling on four lanes at least ten miles in toward Hot Springs before running into active construction work. Crews were building a few bridges in the middle of the construction area and that was slowing down the progress, but I am sure that by the time we return in November, it should be four lanes of traffic moving thru there. We had to come to a stop a few times thru there for large dumptrucks turning in and out of specific areas, giving me a chance to look at roadcuts looking for quartz veins…while I didn`t see anything in the shale cuts, after mentioning that to Robert Kuhn later on, he told me that is how quartz is often discovered in that area. By the time we arrived at the condo early afternoon Thursday….

   

….it was already getting very warm outside. I noticed this time, there were no bugs flying all around the doorway and the flowers were in bloom and quite pretty, including all the crepe myrtles at every condo building…

I quickly unpacked the truck and moved everything inside the condo, where I discovered soon after, that my laptop had bit the dust and would not even power up, so I made a trip to Walmart to get a new universal power cord for it, but even that didn`t work, so after a subsequent trip to Walmart to return the cord and replace the laptop with a tablet, I was back in business for email and internet browsing. I soon discovered tho, that I would not be able to load up any of my photos as this was more of a chrome book, not a true tablet. Needless to say, it was replaced as soon as I returned home.

Chuck and his family were set to come down and join me on Saturday evening, so I had contacted Tony to see if we could hunt and dig at his mine on Sunday and Monday, instead of our normal Friday and Saturday. I planned to visit friends and mineral dealers the first couple of days, starting with Johnny B  on Friday morning and then checking on Fisher Mtn Mine once again, which is under the control of Judy`s Crystal Shop these days. I ate a couple of bananas on the way down there and by 2 pm, I was good and hungry, so Onyx and I drove over to the south side of Lake Hamilton, to get some fried catfish and jumbo shrimp at Bubba`s trailer…he was a little busy when we arrived but the wait is always worth it, as well as the price.  I checked in with Mom by phone to let her know we made it down safe and sound and then went to Scoops to get a few quarts of home made ice cream for the next few days of dessert, then settled in to make some contacts and set up some visits for the next two days. We had some great sunsets and a few storms roll through and across the lake while there. The

fireworks display was great again as usual…here are a few highlights from the display over Lake Hamilton Saturday evening…

…here are a few more highlights, but for more of my trip to Arkansas in July, go to my other blog site  www.jwjrocks.com  for the rest of the story. 🙂

..sure was a great show, this was the last one before the finale of the show, which I shot all in video…you can see the videos I shot at the fireworks show on my facebook page, here is the link :

https://www.facebook.com/jwjphoto

I enjoyed my vacation, it just didnt last long enough, like normal. 🙂

Structure Fire Riverside Reptile Ranch in Stanton

I had just finished making an appointment to see one of my doctors at 9 am on Thursday morning, when the fire tones dropped for a structure fire at the Reptile Ranch in Stanton…my appointment was at 11 am so I reasoned that I had enough time to run down there and shoot it and return in time for the appointment. I texted Jim Bartle to let him know about it, figuring he was tied up with the preparations for the Meramac Fair this weekend and sure enough he was…he called as I was turning on to eastbound I-44 and I told him I could see heavy smoke in the sky ahead. He said he would get Mark Hilse headed that way too so I could shoot photos and Mark could shoot some video of it so they could get it on the wire soon as breaking news. Five minutes later I parked at the north end of their parking lot, out of the way, and hoofed it down the road to the front of the structure, a long shed back behind a wooden fence with a cabin attached….

…and well involved as you can see in the first image I shot above…only the paid crew and Chief Eric had arrived so far, one hoseline was off and being operated by one firefighter, spraying water on the Pony Express Cabin while the long shed in the background was fully involved as well….

…the single firefighter on the hoseline by the cabin was doing his best to get water on the north end of the shed to cool it down until more firefighters arrived, when a second line was then stretched…

…and Mike Kelly, Battalion Chief at St Clair FPD, arrived just ahead of his pumper and crew, to assist with operations…..the second hoseline was stretched by Firefighter Trevor Woods. I was still shooting from the highway pavement, but quickly stepped down into the grassy ditchline as St Clairs pumper approached from the interstate…..

…Mike assisted Trevor on the hoseline as he prepared to attack the fire from the south side of the fire…

…as Firefighter Ray Enloe was packing up preparing to join the attack. St Clair backed their pumper into the parking lot on the south side and firefighters scrambled to hook up a supply line so that St Clair could feed water to the Sullivan attack pumper as Trevor and Mike began their attack….

Ray came over and took over backing up Trevor on the hoseline a few minutes later…right before the height of the fire….apparently the gate was locked and a halligan tool was requested to open it and allow firefighters better access to the heavy flames, which were increasing strength and lattitude fast….

A couple of additional firefighters joined the fight from St Clair FPD as the fire continued to grow in intensity….

…while St Clairs pumper returned to the Stanton Fire Station for another load of water, and returned shortly just ahead of Bourbon Fire Department arriving with their tanker…

…as the fire grew closer to the main Reptile Ranch building, firefighters positioned the hoseline through a large shrub to gain a better threshold on the attack and to try and prevent the flames from spreading to the main building…

…the attempt to get thru the shrubbery didnt work well, so firefighters then maneuvered around it as best as they could, the access looked pretty tight through there…

…in the meantime, Firefighter Kory Snelson was kept busy helping with the supply lines and operating Pumper 854….

…and the attack on the north end was still a work in progress as well….firefighters even though short handed, were working hard to overcome the intensity and size of the inferno….

…by now the crews on the south end were fighting tremendous heavy flame and thick black clouds of smoke billowing up into the sky with the gasses inside the black smoke re-igniting occasionally high above the main body of fire below….

Crews on the north end made a good effort to hit the main body of fire from their side while the south side firefighters attacked from their side and soon the heavy fire was knocked down, saving the main building from catching fire…

…during that fight, the Pony Express Cabin re-ignited and firefighters once again attacked and knocked it down….

..and while their attention was turned back to the cabin, the fire on the south side intensified once again and the north side firefighters re-joined the fight on the south end again…

..knocking the heavy flames down once again and leaving the north end and middle of the shed burning…

With a few extra firefighters on scene now, Ray and Trevor took a much needed break from firefighting…

…while St Clair and the north side firefighters continued their fight against the flames….

…I walked back to the highway and up to the north side where I saw that firefighters had that end knocked down and under better control as well…

…and soon after, it was looking much better in general…

Franklin County Sheriffs Office responded four deputies and Crawford Electric was on hand to disconnect the electric hazards as well….

Firefighters were continuing to fight the fire as I headed out to get ready for my doctors appointment…

Great Job by all who responded !!  No animals, wildlife, or personnel were injured or lost….only food and property lost by the Reptile Ranch.