Saturday, August 21, 2010
Greetings from Weardale,
Our last day here in the North dawns clear and a bit breezy. Yesterday was a day of fairly constant rain, though the clouds broke by early evening. Looks like this weather may hold for everyone’s drive south today.
Wednesday afternoon Dave drilled and shot the main face one last time for the season. Joe was away Thursday, so I had the opportunity to be trammer for the day and run the loco and muck tubs in and out of the mine. I only managed to run the thing off the track twice, which considering I was new at this, I thought pretty good. It also gave me an opportunity to learn from Dave how to get a derailed ore car full of mud and rock back on the track with what seemed like minimal effort considering the weight of the thing! Cal and Ian spent a bit of time on some final collecting and managed to turn up a few more bits, which must wait for next season to come home with us.
The driver for the shipping company finally arrived about 1600 on Thursday afternoon, so the year’s harvest is now on its way back to California. When it arrives, hopefully in about a month’s time, we begin the next part of our yearly cycle and dive into cleaning and preparing the fluorite for sale.
Friday was spent rounding up tools from various parts of the mine, pulling in the water line, stowing the gondola, and generally cleaning up. The driver from the compressor rental company arrived around 1430 to retrieve the unit from us, and with that we were officially finished for the season. Spent one final evening socializing with various friends at the pub saying our goodbyes and promising to return soon.
This morning everyone is up early with final packing and cleaning up around the cottage. Cal and Kerith are off to visit friends in the Peaks District for a few days before flying back home. I am off to London with Ian, and will be meeting Joan at the airport tomorrow for a week of vacation, including a music festival in Oxfordshire later in the week.
It has been a difficult season this year to say the least. With Byron’s passing we are now missing a good friend and an integral part of our team. How we will replace him is yet unknown. The mine was also rather stingy in what it gave up for us. In the final bin-count, it looks as if we do have a reasonable amount of material to ship home, but the top-quality specimens that we all hope for were pretty much lacking. Wholesale has always been our “bread and butter” and has made the money to help us return to the mine each year, but it is always the good stuff that gets people excited. I guess if the good stuff were more plentiful, then it wouldn’t be as exciting when we do find it, n’est-ce pas?
Until next time,
Jesse & Crew
Summer sunset in St. John's Chapel.