>Ok. It’s been a hideously long time between posts. Between my angst at my wait to get onto Ravelry and now, Richard and I went on vacation to Highlands, NC. Unfortunately, before we went, both Richard and my mom very generously shared whatever type of summer cold/flu bug they had both gotten with me, so I was as sick as the proverbial dog on vacation, and the aftereffects are still hanging on.
But at least with the altitude in Highlands and the NC mountains, I was sick about 15 degrees cooler than I would have been in Atlanta, so the trip was worth it in that regard.
This is the seventh year in a row that we’ve visited Highlands for our anniversary (which was Aug. 11 – 23 years!). We started going there because the town featured a very pet friendly hotel. That hotel was subsequently bought by some not so pet friendly people, so we switched to the Skyline Lodge. Our room looks like this:Not on the posh side, but very comfortable. Faces the mountains and has a very nice view. Staff is very friendly and very accomodating. Best part of all is the restaurant at the hotel, which has a patio and welcomes all three of us to dine there.Here you see one of the managers welcoming Richard and Oscar to dinner. The chef will cook up a burger especially for Oscar so His Royal Lowness can dine with us. The food is fantastic too!!!
Another highlight of our trips to Highlands is our annual visit to the Jackson Hole gem mine, where we buy buckets of dirt and pan for gem stones. In past years, we’ve found and had cut and mounted into very lovely pieces of jewelry garnets, topaz, green tourmaline, and emeralds.
Here you can see where you actually do the gem mining. You scoop the dirt into the boxes with screen on the bottom, then lower them into the flowing water, where all the dirt/residue is washed away, leaving you with a variety of rocks. After some experience, you learn what is a gemstone worth keeping, and what is “just a rock”. Of course, folks from the mine are there to look over what you’re keeping and what you’re throwing away to make sure you’re not throwing away any treasures.
On the right is Holly, jeweler extraordinaire, and her mom, and their family owns Jackson Hole. Every year (except on years like last year, when she’s off doing something important like having a baby, so we’ll let it slide) Holly helps us decide which stones would be good to cut and helps us pick out mountings. This year, I decided that earrings were in order, so here are the sparkly, shiny things Holly made for me:The top earrings are 10.77 carats of aquamarine made out of a stone that Richard found. The bottom earrings are more difficult to see, but they’re 2.07 carats of watermelon tourmaline made of a stone I found. You can’t see the color well, but the watermelon tourmaline is a stone with both pink and green tourmaline in layers looking like a slice of watermelon when it’s cut. Very kewl! The stone was small, so I was amazed that they were able to get anything out of it, so I’m very pleased with my pretties!!!