Monday, February 17, 2014

Tucson Gem Show 2014

Every year, I make the pilgrimage to Mecca - that is, the Mecca for gem hounds, AKA the Tucson Gem Show. And every year, something happens. One year the rental car was accidentally booked in Phoenix - 90 minutes north - when I was in Tucson. I went from rental car counter to rental car counter, looking for car. Eventually one was found, but as you can guess, not for a reasonable price. And it was the tiniest car...

Then three years ago, this happened. That was a rough start...

So this year I arrived in Phoenix, got my rental, and prepared to drive to Tucson. Only it didn't quite work out that way, and I ended up staying in Phoenix overnight. I'll skip the details, but what that meant was getting up super early to drive down to Tucson on Wednesday morning. Which worked out fine, except I crashed quite early that night...super-early to rise, super-early to bed, I guess. :)

Three days of frenzied shopping later, my gorgeous gems and I headed back to Phoenix, and enjoyed visiting with my best friend, lunch with my mother, and a grand bit of relaxation in the desert sun. All was well until Sunday night, when I started hearing rumblings about the WEATHER in Atlanta. More technically, the predicted weather...which sounded eerily (and ominously) similar to this scenario. Having had enough of that mess, I kept a close watch in the weather, and on Monday, I called the airline. My flight was originally leaving on a Tuesday, which would put me right in the middle of the most recently predicted snow and ice. The airline told me that they were allowing passengers to change their reservations at no charge, so I asked about a Thursday flight. The agent told me there was one with just a handful of seats, so I asked him to put me on it. 

So. Two more days in Phoenix...not a bad deal, right? Not really...except that I needed to get back to work. When I'm not working, no work gets done, and I'm behind already for my creative goals for this year. And I was leaving again on the 18th for another trip...the timing was just not the best, but when is it really? I settled in and managed to suck up all the lovely Arizona sunshine, and enjoyed the sunsets every evening:

They're not as grandly colorful as they are in summertime, but I still love to see them. There's nothing like a Western sunset, no matter what time of year. :)

Anyhoo, Thursday came and my traveling home was STILL iffy. I'd called the airline again the day before, because the storm actually came in later than predicted, and it seemed like they still might not be landing planes in Atlanta. After a 40-minute hold, the airline rep told me that my best bet was to stay on my direct flight for Thursday and hope it didn't get canceled (!). Any other flights would involve layovers and red-eyes. So I kept my flight and on Thursday, I made it home, tired but relieved. 

Of course, I did manage some snaps while I was busily shopping for gems. There is much craziness to behold at the Gem Show each year; much loveliness too. And things that just boggle the mind. Here are just a few:

This is a detail of carving on stone. Amazing, amazing workmanship:

That's the saddle on the horse, above. And the detail of the mane:

 And this elephant:

All of the details you see here are carved into the stone. I cannot imagine the hours of work on just that one piece.

The vase next to the elephant is about three feet taller than I am! Yikes!

These are stone lights. What a lovely glow! If I didn't have to ship 'em home, I'd have at least one in my house. :) One of the days while I was in Phoenix, my girlfriend and I went out to downtown Scottsdale (big shopping destination, lots of fine art galleries). And we saw some of these lights in a gallery there...with a hefty price tag....and I showed her this photo and told her to come down to the gem show with me if she wanted one. I don't know the price difference, but I suspect it would be massively less expensive. And you know, they have plenty:

They're in a huge part of one of the temporary tent, and there were hundreds of them for sale...

Part of the reason you NEED several days to shop the gem show is because there are a lot of other folks trying to do the same thing. This doesn't look like a lot, but it's only part of the line for only one of the shows...waiting for the doors to open.

I'm waiting, too.  :)  This is the opening of the show where I often find most of my gems for the year. This was on the morning of my second day of shopping, and I spent more on that day than on the other two days combined. 

Rows and rows and ROWS of gems:

And this is just part of one gem seller's area. They're based in Massachusetts and I can't imagine the logistics of getting it all across the country. Here's a closer shot of what's on the tables:

A bit daunting for the novice. It's easier (though still time-consuming) if you know what you want, know what you can / want to pay for it, and know who's selling it. I think I only bought from twelve vendors this year...but I knew I was going to see most of them before I went. Two or three others were lucky finds.  :) 

This is behind the checkout area of the same gem dealer...girls get to sleep in a hotel room, but guys take turns in the pup tent. Gotta make sure the inventory is safe. And on those super-cold years?? Hopefully they bring extra blankets!

My friend's boys are now five and almost-two, and she has a little more free time in the mornings now since they go part-time to school. So she's started hiking, and I went on three hikes while I was there. I used to hike all the time when I lived in Phoenix and I miss it terribly. Nothing like being up IN my mountains. It's a good start to any day  :)

And finally, an obligatory shot of The Compound's newest denizen:

Chip is a retired herding dog who has come to The Compound (I call it that because my friend has a lot of land, and has variously shared it with four dogs (right now there are three), three cats, two horses, and a number of both saltwater and freshwater fish. And her oldest son loves reptiles, especially snakes, so there will probably be some of those in-house in the future). Anyway, Chip now resides at the compound, so he can rest and get lots (and lots and lots) of lovin'. He loves to be loved, and he's very gentle, which is great for two little ones. And for happy visitors who don't have doggies at home. :)

So the 2014 Tucson shopping trip comes to an end...a little later than expected. But the good news is that I bought lots and lots of gorgeous gems to set this year. I'm really excited to share them with you and am currently taking photos like a madwoman. Look for them shortly in my next few blog posts...

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