Precious Moments And Semi-Precious Stones

 

 
There's got to be an agate here somewhere.

 

My wife and I recently spent several days at Newport on the Oregon coast. This was the second time we brought along our grown children. It was a blast to spend time with them, but more than anything we needed a chance to recharge our batteries. One method we have for doing that is beachcombing. Specifically, we like hunting for the elusive agate

 

If not for my wife’s penchant for picking up the odd rock, feather, worn glass or occasional agate, I would no doubt spend more time staring at the scenery. Yet my sweetie can’t walk down a beach without bending over like a ancient gnome. In fact, I have taken numerous pictures of her which demonstrate her mastery of classic agate hunting technique.

 

Is that a gnome or a woman collecting those agates.

Here we find my wife demonstrating the best agate hunting technique. It’s true some poke around with a long stick, but unless you have eyesight as keen as an eagle you can expect to spend some serious time hunched over.

 

I really love the sights and sounds of the ocean. There’s something in the noise of pounding surf, the cry of a gull and a gentle breeze pressing the corners of my face that I find uniquely intoxicating and comforting at the same time. More than any other place I visit, the beach gives me a true sense of connection to the earth and water. And though I can’t say with any certainty whether humans have past lives, when I’m at the beach I can easily imagine a much simpler existence long ago aboard a ship.

 

Now this is living.

With endless sandy beaches like this one, it’s hard to beat Oregon as a great summer vacation spot. I love the beach!

 

I admit it: I’ve become a bit of an agate collecting fan over the past several years. Many of the beaches of Oregon, particularly those near rivers have agates just waiting to be discovered.

 

Agates are beautiful.

Here’s a sampling of some of the agates we found (not all on this trip). You can see a wide variation in color, though most are amber. The best ones are clearer with less cloudy interiors.

Most of the agates we found are amber in color, though some have some bands or striations. You’ll know you’ve got a good one when you hold it up to the light and it’s not milky or cloudy. The best ones are clear and most are pea-sized or a little larger, though some lucky hunters have found much larger specimens. True, you have to be patient and willing to scout out the best spots to find them, but when you do I can almost guarantee you’ll get hooked.

 

I love finding agates at the beach.

Here’s an agate (top right) I wasn’t expecting to find. I just glanced down and there it was. Most of the time, however, I spend quite awhile looking.

I find hunting for agates takes a bit of skill and luck. Sometimes I’ll be walking along and out of the blue just glance down and spot one. Other times, I’ll spend long stretches of time staring at a section of beach and completely miss the agate right in front of my nose. I have learned that looking in the direction of the sun sometimes helps to locate an agate as they can almost light up.

 

Searching for agates takes patience and luck.

When the rocks are like this, spotting an agate takes a practiced eye. Sometimes facing into the sun can help expose one.

The beach we stayed near this year wasn’t the best for beachcombing of any kind, though it was certainly a feast for the eyes. I can’t believe how many miles of the Oregon coastline are accessible to the public. We drove South from Newport  towards Yachats more than once and saw dozens of small day or overnight beach parks. And to the north lies Lincoln City, another great vacation community we stayed at last year. I do think the beach there had more agates, but in my book either spot was fine for a relaxing vacation.

 

I looked up agates on the internet to make sure we weren’t missing the best beaches in our area. If you’re heading down to Oregon and want to find agates, you might check out this page before you go: Agates Of The Oregon Coast 101.  Or check this site—Agates Of The Oregon Coast—as it has some good safety and practical tips.

 

Yet another agate hunting pose.

This is the beach that caught me flat footed. It’s important to face the ocean, especially when your close to the water’s edge.

One note of caution: Never turn your back to the water. My wife and I typically went looking for agates as the tide was going out, but that wasn’t always possible. Nor was it possible to avoid the occasional “rogue” wave that climbs higher on the beach than all the others. At one point, I was completely absorbed looking at all the treasures near my feet when out of the blue a big wave came at me. I stood straight up at the last second, did a silly little two-footed-triple-hop-back-step and then landed on my butt. I laughed. I’m positive the scene would have made a great video, but I was lucky not to land on a big rock or piece of driftwood. I was okay this time—other than a wet seat and my slightly wounded pride, but it’s best to take care.

 

Hey, if you’re out huntin’, good luck!

 

 

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