While the cold weather, ice, and snow in the Midwest may limit outdoor fossil hunting opportunities, the determined collector can still find new material to fight off the winter blues. It’s called retail therapy.
To that end, I journey to the Tucson Show. It is actually many overlapping events running for several weeks in January and February. Vendors from around the world descend on Tucson to sell fossils, minerals, gemstones, jewelry, shells, and so much more. They set up shop in hotel rooms, warehouses, vacant lots, and the convention center. Hundreds of vendors, countless tons of rock, acres of tables covered with specimens. It’s a challenge just to see it all.
For fossils, I focus on the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show, which is held at several venues along Interstate 10 (www.mzexpos.com/arizona). You can enter a room that is literally filled with only Russian trilobites, hundreds of them, leaving the shopper with the wonderful problem of how to decide.
Or a booth may be filled with only fossil fish from Wyoming, or Arizona petrified wood, or East Coast shark teeth, or Western dinosaur material. Even outside, you’ll find spectacular specimens, like giant fossil ferns from Wyoming and stunning iridescent Canadian ammonites the size of large hubcaps.
The same unbelievable array of material is, of course, available to those who seek minerals and jewelry and…… For example, check out the decorative amethyst and citrine cathedrals from South America. There are booths that have only those, hundreds of them from which to choose.
And what’s not to like about mountains on the horizon, a sunny sky, and 75 degrees in January? Plus all the geological features Arizona has to offer, such as Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, giant granite boulders in Prescott, and the cliffs and spires of Red Rocks in Sedona.
So if you need a break from the Midwest winter, consider a trip to the Southwest. And if you go to the Tucson Show, perhaps I can offer suggestions on dealers who might have the fossil you seek.