The first mine, Panorama

The hotel I stayed at was nice, had a continental breakfast which kept me from having to get up and go out and find a place.  They were a bit ‘testy’ about my reading of the directions on the waffle maker as I made my waffle.  ‘You have to TURN it over for it to START,’ she said snidely.  So much for ‘polite’ Canadians I’ve always known!  Even after that bad start I packed up, checked out, and headed out.  This was my view once I got through the town:20160912_10100720160912_101537

The first mine I was heading for: PANORAMA was supposed to be 35 miles out of town.  Now, Thunder Bay had SURPRISED me.  I thought it was going to be this little hunting town with a few ‘no-tell motels’ or hunting type place.  It’s a thriving metropolis and much bigger than I had thought.  It was really nice (if you like big cities) and I was relieved to put it behind me once I drove through it and headed to the mine.  With views like these, who wouldn’t?20160912_102318

Remember, this is Canada and NOT the United States.  Gas is in liters-not gallons, speed is in kilometers-not miles.  I’ve always hated it when arrogant ‘Americans’ (keep in mind, Canadians are in North America and are ‘Americans’ too!) assume the rest of the world should be on OUR standards.  I laughed at my own assumptions and adjusted.  The speed limit out here said 90KMH…that’s about 55MPH to those who regularly read ‘American.’  And, NO ONE went that slow as you are in the middle of nowhere.  Still, I was VERY impressed in how well-maintained the highways were out here.  Really, they were very nice and minimal construction going on.  Mostly the removal of rock as they widened they two-lane highway to a four lane, and that, in only a couple spots so far.

I think I hit the season just right…at the END.  There weren’t a lot of tourists, kids had gone back to school, and I was free to indulge my tourist tendencies.

I thought I had misread the directions but FINALLY came to the turnoff.20160912_104010

Coming up over the last hill, the road got increasingly bad, but then this was the entrance to Panorama Mine.  I found out later, it’s the most commercial of the three I visited.20160912_104700_1

That’s DOC, my Rav4 parked behind this rock guarding the entrance.  Look at all that amethyst!  That pop up camper truck is from friends I soon made from Iowa!  It’s wonderful to meet fellow rockhounders and travelers from all over!20160912_105001

I wondered where the forklift was to lift this in the back of my suv?  Yeah, I’ll take TWO!20160912_105012

For $8 to get into the mine and look around, they also take you on a tour of the mine and explain how it was ‘accidentally’ found when a bulldozer, clearing trees for the forestry department.  It has since had two different sets of owners, it’s a family operation with a store ‘in town’ that sells the polished and carved stone.  Story here.20160912_10502220160912_11035620160912_11040120160912_110434

This is a shot down into the mine.  They are just DIGGING and ‘sometimes’ blasting this stuff out!  Doesn’t look like much until you look closer and realize all that purple, yep, that’s amethyst!  Just laying there in an open pit mine.  They use jack hammers and water!20160912_11073420160912_110738

This is the slag pile that we are allowed to dig through:20160912_11192420160912_111930_7

My new Iowa friends, the dog was great for cleaning off my hands!20160912_111938

You aren’t seeing things, there is amethyst EVERYWHERE on the ground, just pick and choose your pieces at $3 (Canadian) per pound.20160912_11275420160912_11275720160912_112758

An amethyst wall! How cool is that?20160912_113416

A lot of people use this expensive rock for landscaping!20160912_113432

Some of those rocks closer up!20160912_11352920160912_113534

Yeah, but it does it come in deeper purple hues?  I’ll take two!20160912_113540

Couldn’t have lifted it even if I TRIED!20160912_11361320160912_114351

And on to the SECOND mine on my blog tomorrow!  Stay tuned!~

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