Tag Archives: agates

Yachats Agate Festival 2014

We had to drop in on the Agate Festival in Yachats today.  There’s more tomorrow so check out the notice if you’re in town:


There were SO many beautiful agates and things made from agates.  We got lots of ideas!

We didn’t buy anything.  I asked “how much for the little turtle earrings?”  When she said, “$75”, I told her “I’d better not touch those.”

Yachats State Park
Junuary on the Oregon Coast

We took advantage of the June-like weather to enjoy the crashing ocean waves.  Okay, it’s really NOT like June on the Oregon Coast because this is colder and sunnier.

But this is as good as a summer day in January.  What a lovely day!

St Patrick’s Day Agates

Wow!  We got some pretty ones out of this batch of agates gathered from Tillicum Beach over the last year.

Even as busy workampers, we made time to steal away to recharge our batteries.

We've even got some Newport Blue Agates!
We’ve even got some Blue Agates!

Read Wikipedia for the technical definition of an agate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agate

or Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agate

Petrified Wood
Petrified Wood

Agates are a variety of chalcedony (if you care).

But if I talk about agate hunting, I really mean pretty-rock hunting.

Red Jasper
Red and Brown Jasper – the dark spot is a reflection of the camera lens

 If you can see light through it, it’s some sort of agate.  If you can’t see light through it, might be jasper or petrified wood or obsidian?

There are probably a couple other choices on the Oregon coast too.

White Agate with conchoidal fractures
White Agate with conchoidal fractures

You (or someone) can actually dye agates; which I find really hard to grasp since they are so hard.

They are basically quartz.  The next one looks like a small geode that was completely filled instead of leaving crystals in a hole.

Amber Agate with color bands
Amber Agate with color bands

I like the ones with designs in them.  Sometimes you can’t see the designs unless you hold them up to the sun; or a flashlight works.

Agate - Jasper - Something?
Not Sure what this is

The tan part polished to a high sheen.  The white and black parts are more dull.  But it is an interesting piece.

Wear Your Agate Proudly
Insets with flashlight display

I need a new zipper-pull.  I think I need the one on the lower left to match my jacket.  I’m guessing it’s a green jasper? (for St Patty’s Day)

The photo inserts are flashlight displays of agates on the upper left and lower right respectively.

I thought these demonstrated the most dramatic visual change when backlit.

Blue agates are the big mystery here on the central Oregon coast.  When I first heard about them, they were called Newport Blues.  That’s because they “could only be found in Newport”.  The agate on the lower right looks blue to me, until you put it up to the light.  So, I’m not sure if a purist would deem it worthy of the title?

But I don’t do this for the experts.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Tillicum Beach Agates

They almost look delicious, don’t they?

Tillicum Beach Agates
Agates Ready to Polish

These agates were gathered from Tillicum Beach, in front of Tillicum Campground, between Waldport and Yachats, central Oregon coast.

We gathered them over a year before we started to polish them.

Tumbling Time

Time to get started on the agates.

Agate Tumbler
Agate Tumbler

It takes about 4 weeks to go through the whole tumbling process.  One week for each grit and polish.

Agate Bucket
Variety of sizes

Most of our agates and rocks were gathered from Tillicum Beach over the past several years.

We probably won’t polish the really rough ones. They’d be nice to slice but we don’t have a way to do that now.

More Agates
5 gallon bucket – about half full

We’ve got green and red jasper in our collection too.  Some will get tossed out after a week of tumbling.  Others may get tossed after the second week.

It all depends on if they are getting smoother and show potential for a high polished finish.

We’ve got some nice ones in here and I love seeing how they progress.

a Walk on the Beach

September is a beautiful time to explore the Oregon coast.

Generally the rain hasn’t started yet, temps are cooler in the valley so there’s not as much fog on the coast, and the crowds are off the road.

Ghost Forest - Day 1
Ghost Forest – Day 1

Tillicum Beach is never really crowded; not in the way that Galveston or the Los Angeles beaches are.  I’ve never seen it more dense than about 1 person per 100 square feet. (That’s not a scientific measurement.)

Ghost Forest - Day 2
Ghost Forest – Day 2

Anyway, I saw 2 people and 1 dog on my morning walk today.  There was a little bit of fog but not too much.  I can’t seem to get a good picture of how much sand the ocean is removing.  It looks like a shelf of about 2 or 3 feet high is left from the bluff to about half way to the low tide line.  This part of a ghost forest shows how much sand was removed in one day.  I took the first pic yesterday and the 2nd today.

I did not get wet to get these 2 agates
I did not get wet to get these 2 agates

I quickly realized that I should have worn my rubber boots this morning.  I was staying dry until I “thought” I was stepping onto an island.  I was so proud of myself for going after one of these agates and not getting wet.  It was out of reach in a small pool.  But there were 2 larger rocks within reach.  So I threw one rock closer to the agate.  I balanced on one then the other, reached down to snatch the agate and quickly jumped to the sand.  I guess I got careless after that.

I REALLY wanted this agate!
I REALLY wanted this agate!

These are in about 3″ of water.  If you can’t spot the agate, you’re not my competition. 🙂  I stared and thought and planned.  One shoe is already wet.  What do I care if both are soaked.  I could roll up my pants.  But I don’t have a spare set of shoes.  I could take off my shoes and socks…but that water is really cold.  Okay, I’ll see what else I can find.  If I still want it after I’m finished, I’ll reconsider.

I didn't go for this agate either
I didn’t go for this agate either

This agate is a nice piece of red jasper with quartz.  I was happy enough with the others I found to not get wet…ter.

Walk Like an Oregonian

So it’s raining!  We knew it would rain again.  It’s Oregon!

But we have minus tides in the mornings and the agate beds are disappearing.  I decided to brave the rain.  After all, I have my multi-colored polka-dot rain boots and my neon green raincoat with matching bib overalls.  I tucked my camera inside my raincoat, stuffed a plastic grocery bag in one pocket, my cell phone in the other, put my hood up and walked through the campground.  As I got closer to the beach the wind and rain seemed to pick up and I had second thoughts about my sanity.  Well, I shouldn’t have any competition, I reasoned.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw a few people hovering around the agate beds down the beach.  hhmm – competition, I’d better hurry.  🙂  The wind is out of the south now.  It is warmer than it was when coming out of the north.  I cinched my hood around my face, leaned into the wind and headed out to the hard, wet sand for an easier walk.  I could hardly walk into the wind, it was so strong.  I walked with my head down so my little hood visor shielded my face (from eyebrows to upper lip) from the stinging rain.  I even tried looking sideways as I walked.  I had to turn north to take a picture so the camera was shielded from the rain.  I hoped my belly-button was a good aim.

Windy Minus Tides
Windy Minus Tides

Yes, that’s white-water on the tide pools.  LOL

The people I saw hovering around the agate beds were just playing in the wind.  It was a couple with 2 children and a dog.  I couldn’t figure out how the children were standing up to this strong wind.  We were all having fun though.  Most of the agates were under water and it was difficult to find anything good because of the ripples from the wind.  I thought thrice before getting my hand wet to retrieve any agate.

Last of the Agate Beds
Last of the Agate Beds

If I put my hands in my pockets, my pockets get wet.  So I pulled my sleeves down over my hands to keep them warm.  As I was wading through the pools in the driving rain, listening to it tippy-tap on my hood and feeling warm and dry enough, I thought “I must be an Oregonian!”  “Oh, wait, only tourists are out here.  Oregonians aren’t this stupid.”  LOL

The walk back to the campground was easier and faster.

Notes from my Workamping Journal:

We are still feeling pretty over-worked.  We’ve still got tables and fire rings to deliver, people to train, equipment to repair, etc, etc.  I called one of my hosts today and got a recording that the phone had been disconnected!  So I called the phone company to find out what happened (ready to point out their error).  I told her the number I called and she said she didn’t have record of that number.  I told her which campground I was trying to call and she told me I “needed a break”.  I asked why?  She said you used the prefix of one campground with the last 4 digits of the other.  🙂  She’s right, I need a break!  Maybe after Memorial Weekend?

The weather is supposed to be nicer for the holiday weekend!

Agate Hunting Tips

I allotted myself 45 minutes before 8am for agate hunting.

Agate Bed
Agate Bed

I caught my limit!

Some rocks are fully exposed
Some rocks are fully exposed

I don’t know what kind this is.  It’s not an agate but it will polish up really nicely.  The sand has done all but polish it.

Metal Bar in Sand
Metal Bar in Sand

Metal rusts in the salt water; of course.  But the interesting thing is that the sand cakes onto it and rocks attach to it.  They easily pop off when you tap them.

You can see sunlight shining through the agates
You can see sunlight shining through the agates

Some say you should walk with the sun at a certain angle so the light shines through the agate.  But that’s just one technique.  I like looking for them when they are wet because that’s what they’ll look like when they are polished.  See the pretty orange rock in the middle (above)?  That’s a nice little carnelian agate.  Here’s a bigger one.

Carnelian Agate
Carnelian Agate

Some, like that one, I think “Oh, I won’t pick that one up because it won’t polish well.”  Then I decide to pick it up because it will look good in my flower bed. 🙂

I saw the smallest sliver of red and white and uncovered it before I took a pic.  It turned out to be a really nice jasper and quartzite.

Well, my time was up so I watched the ground as I headed back to work.


When I least expected it!  That’s when we find all our treasure’s, isn’t it?

Is that a blue agate?  Looks like it to me!

Notes from my Workamping Journal:

It’s fairly easy to find a water leak in a desert.  You just look for a green spot amongst all the brown.

But how do you find a water leak in a rain forest?