A Head Full of Rocks: Rock Collector's Goal Is to Visit All of Okla.'s State Parks

Article excerpt

It's the hobby for the cerebral type: one rock hounding adventure can yield finds millions of years old and lead to geology-themed vacations.

But you must be willing get your nails dirty.

Dee Blose, executive director of Canadian County's Youth & Family Services Center, has been a rock collector for almost 10 years, a fascination that stemmed from a state map on the garage wall and a liberal supply of push-pins.

The goal: to visit all the state parks in Oklahoma.

It started with finds along hiking trails that made nice additions to the flower bed. Blose didn't expect the trips to spawn a collection that would take over the house.

"You really don't want to see my whole collection," she warned. "It's like I decorate my house with rocks. It's pretty bad."

With further investigation through books and the Internet, Blose and her husband cultivated their growing interest in the foundations of the earth. They often pulled off side roads with primitive directions from the owners of local mineral and gem shops, just to see what types of rocks Oklahoma held.

They found the state offers a tremendous variety: petrified wood from Watonga, petal-like selenite crystals with from Jet, fossils, and even dinosaur bone. As you run your fingers over the solidified knots of a tree that may have shaded dinosaurs, the appeal becomes clear: rockhounding offers a glimpse of the earth as it was long before humans, when what is now Oklahoma was under the sea.

And for Blose, it's led to amazing vacations. Armed with chisels, shovels and backpacks, Blose and her husband expanded their rock hounding horizons to Wyoming (Kaemmering is her number one recommendation) and the Dakotas. They explored do-it-yourself quarries, cutting into stone in search of fossils, wandered in petrified forests, and peered across miles of salt plains, where the groundwater sometimes rises a few inches, forming what looks like an ocean in the midwestern United States.

"You're covered in sand and dirt, and you're out there in wind ... but we've had so much fun," she said. "It's just such a discovery."

For every hobby, there is a place and time to convene, and at this sort of rock show, you're more likely to meet a geologist than Keith Richards. …

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