Bloody Parking Lot Finds
I've been to Bloody Basin Arizona several times, yet I have never found the legendary agate mine that so many books and tales speak of. Granted, the same publications that reference the mine also note as of recent history that the seam has been worked out and there's nothing left in the float. What this means to me is that I may have walked right over the top of the mine and never seen it.
The land known as Bloody Basin is about 35 miles north east of Carefree and about an equal distance due east from the I-17. Either route takes you through some spectacular Arizona back country. Both roads are dirt all the way, and while narrow and rocky in places, I've never had to lock the hubs getting in or out. The last time I attempted to find the mine I used GPS coordinates, but they only spotted me right at the junction connecting the two routes. No mine in sight.
I'll keep looking, but until I find it I've had to resort getting my Bloody Basin plume from second/third hand sources. I picked up a few pounds at the Mesa College rock show back in January, 2015. It was toward the end of the day and I was working my way down the last aisle of vendors. I'm usually in the market for cheap mystery rough and I hadn't found much to sink my cash into. Then I spied a cardboard lid with variously priced chunks of what was labelled as Bloody Basin Agate. I'd seen it before so was able to authenticate the material.
The owner of the material made small talk with me while his two buddies leaned back in their late afternoon lawn chairs taking cheap shots at their ambitious friend. I picked out a couple slabbable chunks and made my offer, which was accepted. He took my cash and bagged my purchase, handing it over the counter.
I continued to the next booth where a middle aged man of middle eastern heritage was eagerly pushing his wares, claiming a business closure and subsequent liquidation of assets. All his stuff was just sitting on the pavement, I guess he didn't rent any walls for his booth. Anyway, 'Crazy Habib' was willing to make a deal for any and all of his rocks and equipment. What caught my attention was two 5-gallon buckets full of what appeared to be unsearched fire agate.
If you've ever priced fire agate, you know that if his claim was true, I'd be looking at least a grand worth of material. He had priced them at $45/each or $80 for both. I crouched down and pawed through a few handfuls of the stuff on top, wondering if he'd been there all day, and how these hadn't already been purchased. As far as I could tell, it just looked like rusty chalcedony to me, but a few pieces had dark areas that could be indications of the 'fire' within the rock, and even if a small percentage of the stone produced fire, it would be worth the cost.
Always the prospector, I was intrigued. Habib assured me there was lots of fire in the bucket and he simply hadn't found the time to sift the material. Fresh off the Bloody Basin acquisition, I was primed to hand over my cash. I offered the man 40 for one bucket full. He insisted 80 for both, but I insisted that I didn't have 80 dollars. It was 40 for one or no deal. He hesitated, and did his best to act cheated, but finally agreed. I handed over two Jacksons and hefted my new bucket of wonder.
As I was waddling back toward the car with my bucket and bag of rocks, I passed the Bloody Basin Agate guy again. He still had what was left of his material and seemed exhausted from the day. His buddies were still fixtures in the back of the booth and made some additional comments that I couldn't hear. What I imagined was that this guy was either a willing accomplice, or perhaps even the mastermind behind a scheme to mine the remote Bloody Basin agate and trade it for untold riches at the rock show. Nearing the end of the day with plenty of inventory, I sensed discouragement.
I struck up an addendum conversation which resulted in my offering the fifteen cash I had remaining in my pocket in exchange for his remaining Bloody Basin agate. I figured it couldn't hurt, and to my surprise, he accepted! At this point in the day I think he was either going to pay his buddies at least 15 each to haul his agate back to the truck, or take my 15 and not have to haul anything. We were both happy with the transaction. I also think he felt sorry for me having witnessed my naiivete in the 2-bucket monty scam that had taken place in the adjacent booth.
Out of cash, and hauling a future back ache, I was done with the Mesa show for another year.
As for the Bloody Basin Agate, I still want to find the mine, but I have been happy with the purchase I made in Mesa. The material keeps giving in stunning cabs of reds, blues, and white lace.
The bucket of 'fire agate' turned out to be a bucket of rusty chalcedony. I examined each stone and could not find a single carrier of fire. It was fun searching in the beginning with expectations of finding the elusive fire, but as the bucket emptied, it became disheartening that there would be no fire. The upside is that there were some interesting specimens large enough to slab up and make a few cabs from.
As for Mr. Habib, I suspect he knew exactly what he had and had found his chump. But that just seems to be common business practice these days... whatever story gets the goods sold is all that matters. I suspect I'll see him at next years show and he'll have something else to sell that will be too good to be true. And I'm such moron that I'll probably buy another bucket driveway gravel from him.