[meteorite-list] Marissa's meteorite hunt report

From: Michael Mulgrew <mikestang_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sat, 30 May 2015 15:07:24 -0700
Message-ID: <CAMseTy34MTMqF5x6Eo03diEBeFRDOMXrxFARJ+nsRaTkyoTNwQ_at_mail.gmail.com>

Hello, list.

Marissa has posted her trip report on Club Space Rock,
I've included it below, as well.

Happy hunting,
Michael in so. Cal.


Well it's the moment that you've all been waiting for, my entire
report on my greatest adventure ever, my meteorite hunting
experience!!!!!! Yes it's very long because there was a ton to report!
I hope that you all enjoy it because this was all your doing :) Mike
and Rogan will probably report their experiences as well. They better!
:) this was a group effort, the trip wouldn't have gone so perfect
without either of them. Enjoy!!!

Day 1
We boarded our plane at about 6:40am and we were fortunate to get to
board first, I got the window seat that I wanted and I could look out
perfectly. We took off at 7:20am and it was a great amazing ride!
Cleveland looked beautiful even though it was mostly cloudy, the sun
peaking through only a little and the lake was the same color as the
sky, I couldn't tell where the water ended and the sky began. A few
minutes later we were above the clouds. They were all wavy and it
looked like one big comforter that you could just land on and it'd
catch you. An hour or so later we finally passed the front and all the
clouds beneath us and I got my first view of the land from 37,000 feet
up, it was stunning! The trees formed around rivers, it looked like
roots under trees or the structure of the universe branching out away
from the rivers. The landscape really did look like a topographic map
with brown, tan, and green squares and rectangules everywhere. The
houses looked like sparkles on the earth. Hours later we were finally
seeing a change in the land from farm land to desert. Some spots were
tan and some were red. We flew over a canyon but I'm not sure if it
was the grand canyon but nonetheless it was beautiful, I could see the
river inside the canyon. A little later we flew over the tallest
mountains that I've ever seen, they we completely snow covered. An
hour or so later we started making our decent, once we passed the
cloud cover Vegas was in site and it was huge!!! I could see the
stratosphere standing tall and all the hotels and casinos. The pilot
landed the plane so beautifully and smooth. We made our way through
the ridiculously huge airport trying to find the baggage claim, we had
to get on an Amtrak to get to the baggage claim area. Once we got
there I saw a young man waving at me, I had no idea who this was and
thought for a moment that someone I knew from Ohio came too and I
couldn't remember them. He walked over and to my surprise it was
Rogan!!!!! I was in shock, I had no idea he would come. I had asked a
long time ago if he could be there but he couldn't give me a straight
answer and lead me to believe that he couldn't go. I was so happy that
he actually came! From there we got our rental van and we drove
through las Vegas Blvd to check out the Vegas scene. I'll only be here
once so I had to see the city. We stopped at New York New York for an
amazing breakfast followed by the hard rock cafe and some gambling. I
couldn't believe that they actually had Vegas showgirls out on the
sidewalks. After that we headed to pahrump where our hotel was to
change for dinner, we had reservations to the Top of The World
restaurant in the stratosphere hotel and casino. During the drive back
through the mountains we saw a rain cloud and a beautiful rainbow
embedded inside. The view was stunning, the restaurant was amazing and
the food was incredible! There were people bungee jumping off the side
of the building. Our waiter was so good that when I asked for plastic
silverware and he said that they had none he actually went to another
place in the building to get me some. The service was amazing. We
finished a bottle of rosea baringer wine it was very good. Once it got
completely dark the lights in the distance were shimmering like stars
in the sky. We sat enjoying the view watching the moon and Venus set
in the distance.
Day 2
Michael Mulgrew was coming in today for our first hunt in Stewart
Valley and to show off his metal detector and meteorites. The bubble
chair did arrive in Las Vegas but they wouldn't deliver it because it
was the holiday weekend to them so Rogan had to go get it, my staff
Autumn went with him. While they were gone Mike arrived and we left to
get lunch and supplies for the hunts. When we returned we went
straight to looking at maps and meteorites. He showed me where we
should start looking and we planed the days to come. Then he busted
out his meteorites and we geeked out. I looked at some of his Stewart
Valley finds and one was a puzzle piece meteorite where he could
actually piece it back together! Not long after he started showing me
his meteorites Rogan and Autumn were back and the three of us were
geeking out and got pumped to find our own. It was so fun to finally
share the love of meteorites with others who love them as much as
myself. After that we loaded everything up and headed to Stewart
Valley for the first hunt, they had to take my chair apart a little so
that it would fit in the back of Mike's truck. Thankfully Mike is an
engineer and between the two of them they were able to load up my
wheelchair. I'm so glad Rogan came because without him the trip would
not have been possible it takes two men to help with everything and he
made the trip extremely smooth and perfect! The chosen site was only
about 20-25 minutes away and each time we went we had to cross into
California for about 200 feet so I can say that I was in Nevada and
California. We arrived at the hunt site at about 4:30 and after
unloading my chair it was about 5:00 and my very first hunt began! The
landscape was incredible, there were mountains all around us and I
could see every detail in them that shaped them. The valley was very
peaceful, not a sound was heard unless we heard the sweet sound of a
meteorite jumping onto our magnet canes. Within minutes one of my
aides found a meteorite and within a half hour Rogan Hennie found one,
I rushed over to see his find and check the surrounding area and I
found my first meteorite near his find, a small fragment weighting
about 0.6-0.8 grams!!! The valley got very windy which Mike said was
normal and actually it was tame compared to what it usually is like in
the valley. Hours went by and Mike and Rogan made more finds, about an
hour or so before we ended the hunt someone else found another
meteorite and again not far from their find I found my second
meteorite! The tiny rock weighted about 0.1-0.2 grams. With the wind
it got cold very fast so we decided to end the successful first hunt
and Rogan, Mike and myself shared a drink on the dry lake bed in the
twilight under the crescent moon and Venus. Mike also set off some
fireworks to celebrate the historic moment and then we headed back to
the hotel where we grabbed dinner and then headed away from Vegas to
see a proper night sky. I saw more stars and meteors than I've ever
seen as well as the Milkyway clearly visible, a perfect end to a
perfect day.
Day 3
The next day we woke up early, got some breakfast at a Denny's and
loaded up for a very long day of hunting ahead of us. The weather was
beautiful again with clouds around the mountains and sunny over
Stewart Valley, the wind was perfect keeping us cool while hunting.
Across the lake bed I noticed that I was observing my first mirage, it
was so intense that the mountains in the distance completely
disappeared! My aides decided to stay with the truck while the three
of us hunted, Mike and Rogan took turns walking beside me having great
conversations and forming deep friendships. My fellow hunters found
more meteorites but I was not so successful which that didn't bother
me because I got to experience a successful day and a bust like every
meteorite hunter experiences. Lunch was late around 4:00 and we had to
charge my chair while eating so that I could continue hunting. Even
though I came with a full battery the terrain really made my
wheelchair work hard, I was told that it's technically not built for
the outdoors but she put up a good fight. Spending time with other
hunters was more than enough as well as priceless to me being able to
completely be myself and let go of all my fears and insecurities.
Throughout my life I always felt like I don't belong...that my burden
should be my own and nobody else's problem, I avoid asking for help as
much as possible because I don't want to hurt and burden others. But
when I'm with the meteorite community and the scientific community in
general my problems and fears melt away, I completely forget about my
disease and don't see the dark that lies ahead. I've only received
acceptance from everyone, not one person involved in science saw my
wheelchair....they only saw me and they help me bring out my best.
There were a handful of moments where I felt insecure, a bit afraid of
what these gentlemen would really think of me and how they'd react to
the amount of help I require. Being the first meteorite hunters that
I'd be hunting with I wanted to make a good impression and not look
that weak. But they welcomed me with open arms and showed that they
were ready to help with anything that they could. Rogan assured me
that I'm with friends, I have nothing to fear. We started hunting on
one side of the lake bed and walked across to the other side to end
the hunt, myself and Rogan had a wonderful talk and the scenery was
amazing. The sunsets were beautiful every evening with the mountains
glowing yellow, orange, gold, and red. We ended the day with fireworks
again and headed back for dinner which was always hilarious! We
cracked so many jokes but I'm not telling, what happens in Vegas stays
in Vegas remember!
Day 4
We didn't wake up quite as early as the day before and the plan was to
hit a different hunting site called Stump Spring a dense collection
area and then back to Stewart Valley. After eating our Denny's
breakfast we loaded up my chair for the last day of hunting, I was
feeling lucky and determined to find one or more meteorites. Stump
Spring was not too far from our hotel maybe 20-25 minutes away. Making
our way to the location I observed numerous dust devils which I had
never seen before. One even went right across the dirt road we were on
and Mike tried to catch up with it but the dust vortex was too quick.
There were also some rain clouds coming off of the mountains and I was
worried that it might rain on us, if that would've happened then my
chair would've surely gotten stuck. Luckily they all dissipated when
they moved over the desert and the smell of the rain was intoxicating.
The ground had rocks everywhere! Hunting could never become boring at
Stump Spring but it's also slow going having to check countless rocks
hoping that you'll hear the sweet sound of one jumping onto your cane.
We talked about the Meteorite Men a bit and commented on how Steve
Arnold's magnet rake would've been perfect for this area and I could
drag it around and hunt at the same time! I saw much more wildlife at
this location from bugs to butterflies to lizards, one lizard even hid
under my wheelchair. Mike and myself spent the most time walking
around together here while Rogan, the geologist, was nerding out over
all the rocks. He actually found quite a few that were very
interesting and later he let me choose some to take home. After a few
hours I decided that we needed to get back to Stewart Valley because
the odds are better and it wouldn't stop calling my name so we packed
up and left. By the time we arrived and unpacked everything it was
about 6:00 so we went straight away to looking for meteorites. The
ground was perfect for my wheelchair but I still had to watch out for
soft spots so that I wouldn't sink and get stuck. Griding an area is
actually very easy for me because my chair left tire tracks so I knew
where I already looked. Rogan made the only find of the day on that
last day, I look over and see my tire tracks just feet away from his
find!!! I was so mad but now I can say I had the complete experience
of hunting with other hunters where you missed one and someone else
found one right where you were. The sunset gave us a beautiful show
with lighting up the mountains and the sky, Rogan couldn't stop taking
amazing pictures. We started heading towards a new area but at a
certain point my chair kept sinking in sand so we had to turn back and
by that time it was time to end the hunt....I looked around at the
scenery, the mountains, the clouds, the lake bed and said my final
goodbye to Stewart Valley and thanked it for my precious meteorites as
well as making the weather perfect for me to hunt safely and
successfully. My hunting days are all over and I cherished every
moment of the experience, I finally understand how hunters feel when
they find a meteorite and they say/think "there's gotta be more I
gotta find just one more!" Hunting is truly addicting. I think Stewart
Valley was sad to see me go because a storm rolled in up in the
mountains, it was stunning to see all the lightning strikes. We headed
back for our last dinner together as Mike was leaving right after our
meal. He brought his metal detector with him to show me how they work,
he was forming ideas on how I could use one but I'm still doubtful
that I can because my wheelchair is metal and I'm betting that it will
set off the detector too much. We sat at the table checking out all of
our finds and taking photos, Mike brought his scale cubes for the
photos but the lighting in the restaurant was poor for the rocks. It
was a bitter sweet moment for me because while it was so fun being
with fellow meteorite lovers and checking out our haul it was also sad
because this might be the only and last time that I spend with friends
and hunt for meteorites. Back at our rooms it was time to say goodbye
to Michael Mulgrew...I tried not to but I teared up while we were
embraced in a hug goodbye. I was so very thankful that he was my guide
and took me to his best locations for finding meteorites, most never
do that because as we all know these rocks are very valuable and
nobody wants their spot to be hunted out. I'm so happy that I've made
a new lifelong friend because the truth is I don't have that many
friends besides my astronomy club, people usually don't want to be
around me. Whether it's fear, sadness, misunderstanding or pain most
avoid me, but not Mike and Rogan...they ignored my condition. I truly
hope that I get to see Mike again someday and hope for nothing but the
best in his life.
Day 5
Well today was my last day in Nevada. Before packing everything up and
leaving we grabbed breakfast and then had a nice swim in the pool at
our hotel. That water was the coldest water I've ever experienced in a
pool!!! I know it gets to be in the triple digits but geez! The water
took all our breaths away and you never get completely used to the
temperature. Of course I can't swim but I love to sit on the stairs
and move a heck of a lot more than I usually can move while in my
chair. By noon we were done swimming and had to quickly pack up all of
our stuff and souvenirs hoping that we don't leave anything behind
which we didn't. By 1:00 we were on the road back to Las Vegas, we
needed to make a quick stop at the welcome to Las Vegas sign for
pictures since we forgot to do that on our first day. Can't leave
without getting that! The ride to the airport was so sad for me
knowing that it was all over and I had to say goodbye to Rogan and
everything. The gentlemen who dropped off our van was right there to
pick it up and take Rogan to another part of the airport because as we
were leaving his girlfriend was arriving, they had plans for a
vacation as well and go visit family in Texas I believe. The time had
come to part ways.....We had one last hug and I thanked him again for
everything he has done for me, he changed my life forever. Rogan
didn't have to do this, most wouldn't due to how much work this
required but he did it anyway. I am eternally grateful for him and
everything he did as well as Mike and every single person who helped
with this trip. Once he walked away I cried my eyes out, I'm not
ashamed to admit that because they were happy and sad tears...I don't
know if I'll ever see him and Mike again in my lifetime. I can only
hope that someday I will. We made it through security and our plane
was almost delayed by 45 minutes but luckily it wasn't. While waiting
for the plane my Twitter account for the trip went nuts, I look down
and it was Geoff Notkin! I was fortunate enough to have met him once
back in 2012 at NEAF and we've talked a little here and there ever
since. He was spreading the news of my successful historic hunt and we
got to talking a little saying his congrats to me and how he wished
that he could've been there with us. I mentioned how I'm gonna try to
get to the Tucson gem and mineral show next year and he said that if I
go he'll arrange private tours for me, well my jaw dropped to the
floor at that point! No promises but I'm sure as heck gonna try! As
you can imagine that made my day better but it was still a sad moment.
The memories I've made will be with me forever and always bring a
smile to my face in dark times. The plane ride home was amazing like
the first flight but this time I was heading into the dark, I was so
excited to see city lights from 37,000 feet. Before I could see any
lights we were flying over clouds and I thought ok boring nothing to
see yet but then I saw a flash. Staring out the window I thought to
myself "there's no way that I'm lucky enough to see a storm cloud from
above!" But sure enough I was!!!! Oh my God it was incredible, I was
geeking out so bad while my aides were about to crap their pants!!!
People worry too much and easily forget how amazing that is to see
storms from above. Soon after the storm clouds we finally came to a
clearing and I couldn't believe my eyes, there were small cities and
lights dotted everywhere! The ground actually looked like the night
sky, it took my breath away. Back home the weather was supposed to be
bad and storm but lucky for us it was clear and nice out for a nice
smooth landing. Even the staff and pilots asked me if I was successful
in my hunt and they congratulated me for my success and a great trip!
We arrived home at about 2:00 in the morning, I didn't even notice how
tired I was because I was still sky high over the trip and everything.
This was an unbelievable experience, Mike and Rogan were more amazing
than I ever thought they'd be and I'm very thankful and lucky to call
them friends. I really cannot thank you all enough for this, you guys
are all amazing and angels in my book. YOU ROCK!!!!!
Marissa Fanady
Received on Sat 30 May 2015 06:07:24 PM PDT

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