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A series of mine shafts up in the hills. No timbers. Whack the walls with a rock hammer and look for Apache Tears. It’s like clam digging. If you’re not careful you break what you’re after.


“Let’s meet one of my facebook friends,” I said one day during a Mesa Arizona visit.


“You met someone on facebook and you want to meet them?” she asked. “You never want to meet anyone.”


“Yes, I do. We’ll go prospecting. He knows where to find Apache tears,” I said.


“What are those?” she asked.


“I’m glad you asked.”


In what seems like an early version of the suicide cliffs of Saipan and Tinian during WWII where Japanese women and children jumped to their deaths instead of surrender to the Americans, Apache warriors did the same when they knew they’d either surrender to the U.S. Army, or die fighting.


Instead, they jumped.



In what has to be a bad, bad, idea, some Apache Tear fans have chipped away at the support columns of rock in the entrance. What could go wrong?


“They jumped?” she asked.


“That’s the legend,” I said.


“Whose tears are these?” she asked.


“The women and children the warriors left behind cried bitter tears that turned to black stone. If you hold them up to the light you can see things,” I said.


“What kind of things?” she asked.


“Mysterious looking things inside a rock, sad things that bring happiness so many years later,” I said.



Parked the car, a white Camry that did really well on washed out roads with deep trenches and big rocks. How many times did the oil pan drag? None. It’s out there somewhere and we had to find it on the way back.


“I can feel it,” she said. “I want an Apache tear.”


“Me too, and we haven’t even started,” I said.


“So we’re meeting someone you’ve never seen in person and we’re going into the desert with a rock hammer?” she asked.


“Yeah, and he said to bring some contractor bags and a saw,” I said.


“A saw? Will we be crying Apache tears?” she asked.


Dale didn’t say anything about a saw, but it made a nice twist to the story, a ‘Silence of the Lambs’ sort of twist. He wasn’t an anonymous facebooker. We grew up together in North Bend, but why ruin the fun.


“Any problems with the plan?” I asked.



The car seemed closer. On the way we passed landmarks we think we remembered. One car parked all alone. Very rugged rental, like always.


“How do you really know this guy?” she asked.


“Facebook,” I said.


“I don’t think we’re meeting a stranger in the desert. So who is he?” she asked.


“Man, the pressure. Okay, we went to high school together,” I said. “His name is Dale.”


“You’ve mentioned a Dale before. That Dale?” she asked.


“You’ll like him. He does stuff like we do. Likes to get out and around. Drink a beer. I see a great day,” I said.




On the walk in a family in a jeep passed us on a path to hard for the mighty Camry. The driver dropped his wife and kids and came back to give us a ride. We took it, but walked back.


“It sounds fun,” she said.


“No matter what we find, we’ll be out in the wild,” I said.


“How wild?”


“Not that wild, but what do I know,” I said.


“We’re going rock hounding.”



Rock hammers, fingerless gloves, kneeling pad to get down for the big Apache Tears, and a hunk of petrified wood to show my rock hound stripe. And a sorting tray.

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About David Gillaspie


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