My name is Dave and I am a Travel Addict.
( I am also addicted to rocks and gems.)
There have been very few constants in my life but two of the more important ones are: A love of rocks and gems, and a passion for travel. This led to an interesting and somewhat unusual life. I’ve been asked many times to tell my story. This is the very short version. Keep coming back as this is a work in progress and I will be adding more as we go along, but here is a general idea of who I am and why I am compelled to Travel 4 Gems.
I was introduced to travel and rocks during the summer of my 8th year when I went on my first cross-country vacation with my parents. We rode the train from Chicago to Los Angeles, stopping at the Grand Canyon on the way west and Las Vegas on the way home. Little did I know how much that trip would affect me. It was more than a vacation, it was a voyage of discovery.
I discovered the joy of the journey… I loved being on the train. The swaying motion, the clackety clack of the wheels, the world rolling past my window were soothing and exciting at the same time. It just felt right. I never wanted it to end. I just wanted to be moving like that all the time.
I discovered the fascination of new places. The Grand Canyon was my first experience of vast open spaces and new worlds. I saw my first palm tree and tasted the salt of the ocean in Los Angeles. We did all of the tourist things. I even sat on Walt Disney’s lap while his brother Roy drew a sketch of me at Disneyland.
I discovered glamor and glitter in Las Vegas. It was the the beginning of the Rat Pack Era. Las Vegas was raw and decadent. We stayed at the Stardust and rode the world’s first moving sidewalk. We walked across the desert to see Danny Thomas at the Sands. (In 1960 a ten dollar bill from my father was all the ID an eight year old needed to get into an adult nightclub) I got to meet Danny after the show and spent the next day playing in the pool with the kids from Make Room for Daddy. I’ve been back many times, but I am so glad I had a chance to see it in the early days.
Later that year I made my first solo journey, a 45 minute flight on a DC3. Two years later, at age 10, I hitch-hiked 200 miles to the state fair. In college I put over 100,000 miles on my thumb. In my years on the road I’ve driven over 2 million miles, and I’ll join the Million Miler club on American Airlines this year.
As I said, I’m addicted to travel!
I discovered rocks at the Grand Canyon. At home I was always picking up any rock that caught my eye, but these rocks were so different that I had to have them all. I started to hide them in my suitcase until I ran out of room, which didn’t take long since my mother had sufficiently over-packed my bag with all the clothes and toys an eight year old boy would need for a three week journey.
Already far too independent for my age, I had my priorities. I needed room for more rocks so the toys had to go. I stashed them under the bed. A short time later my clothes joined them. I reasoned that could get more clothes at home, but I couldn’t get these rocks anywhere but right there. To this day I am still not sure how my father figured out that something was amiss, but he somehow knew that something was different about my suitcase. I had to retrieve my clothes and toys and return most of the rocks to the desert. (He did complain about a sore back for a few days)
Those few rocks I was allowed to bring home were the start of a lifetime of collecting and learning, eventually becoming the foundation of a 30 year career. I first got serious back in the early 80s. By then I was living on the road full time in a 1968 VW bus, working craft shows and flea markets selling antler pipes. (Yeah, I admit it, I’m an old hippie.) When Quartz crystals were the hot thing, I was in Arkansas digging rocks for 6 months and then selling them on the road for six months. I managed to visit all 48 of the continental United States in 6 1/2 years on the road.
I finally settled down in Florida with 18,000 lbs of quartz crystals and opened a Gem and Mineral Gallery. During that time I became Graduate Gemologist and an expert in mineral specimens and colored gemstones. The store was a tremendous success, but addictions being what they are, I became restless. I needed to be free and not a slave to an open sign. I closed the store and struck out for destinations unknown.
I floated for a couple years cutting stones and trading gems, working for a retail jeweler and working for a wholesale rock dealer. I finally got a dream job…a traveling gemologist examining stones, diamonds and jewelry for major international retailers. I honed my grading skills while traveling and making a good living. In 2000 I bought the business from my boss. I’ve filled three passports traveling the US, Central America, The Caribbean and SE Asia while playing with world class gems and diamonds.
I like to pretend that I’m retired, and in a sense, I am. The truth is I am working harder than ever. I’ve spent a year taking classes, brushing up on writing skills and learning digital photography. I was a college trained professional photographer 35 years ago but that was with film and darkrooms.
Now I get to bring all together, traveling to mines, gem markets and jewelry shows around the world; armed only with a camera and notepad. I’ll write, photograph and share my passions with anyone that cares to listen
I hope to see you on the road