Valentine’s Day a Rocky One Around Here!

Happy Valentine's Day to my two boys! No, I didn't get them any rocks, but I DID get them a rock tumbler. I knew it was something C's really wanted since his own boyhood, so I was more than happy to let him live out his rocky dreams with T. Have fun, boys!

To continue with my recent rock theme, I know this is way overdue but I totally forgot to mention what I got the boys for Valentine’s Day: A rock tumbler! Yep, that’s not rocks in your ears, I said a rock tumbler. While C and I are not big on gifts around here for these types of holidays, I knew this was something the boys were wanting anyway, so I really just expedited this next step in their flourishing hobby of rock collecting. Yay for Harbor Freight for having a sale that week on this very item, too!

Before placing the rocks into the tumbler drum, T washes all the rocks of any loose debris.

Once all the rocks are clean and the drum is about 3/4 full, C adds the coarse grit. This is the first cycle of grit of four types that will be added over the course of four to six weeks.

T adds water to the first cycle of grit in his and C's new rock tumbler.

Water mixed with the different textures of grit over time inside the tumbler mimic the natural process of rocks rolling down the river, which is how river rocks earn their look.

Are you ready to tumble? T turns on his and Dad's new rock tumbler. Stay tuned!

After just one week in the rock tumbler, here are closeups of a rock from one of the boys' river trips (L) and a piece from the leftover scraps of our granite countertop (R).

C and T started their first batch of rocks the Friday after Valentine’s Day using some of the ones they brought back from one of their gold-panning trips. C also took a sledgehammer to a leftover piece of granite from our kitchen remodel a couple of years ago and tossed those pieces in with the river rock pile. After all, all a granite countertop is, RMT’ers, is a heavily sanded and polished piece of rock. If the scraps from our countertops come out looking as good as the main piece, that’d be pretty cool… we’ll see what happens!

C and T making their way around the East San Gabriel River canyons with their new sluice box. You'd think they're serious about this gold-digging thing, but really, it's just a very large and elaborate cover for their real love: Rock-hunting.

C's newly crafted sluice box in action. Yes, that's T along with the sluice in the middle of the flowing river. While the boys brought back dozens of rocks, sadly none were of the golden variety.

T and his friend out at the East Fork of the San Gabriel River at the end of February. I think I heard she fell into the river three times - and that is some COLD water!

So inspired by the rock tumbler, the boys could not wait to get back to the river.  This time, they decided to take a couple of friends with them, along with C’s newly crafted sluice box. C, T, and friends had a great time despite not striking it rich (again).

Both batches of rocks after step two of four in the rock tumbler. The longer the rocks tumble in the different stages of grit, you get this slurry result, much like a muck you might find in a sandy river bottom or ocean floor.

Between the sanding and pre-polish cycles of the rock tumbler, it's important to rinse the rocks of the slurry created by the coarse and sandy grits and the dust from the rocks themselves before adding the pre-polish solution.

Batch one of two in our rock tumbler. Some of the ocean rocks wound up being mixed into the river rocks depending on their original size and texture.

Batch two of two from the rock tumbler. I think most of these are the beach rocks we found on our outing at the White Point Tide Pools.

Then you might recall when we went tide pooling and how the boys picked up dozens more rocks there, too. Thankfully I was wise and got them the double-drum tumbler, which allowed C to start another batch of rocks in its second drum that following Friday with their newest finds without interrupting the original batch. The beach rocks are a much different-looking group of rocks and started out already pretty well-rounded and uniform in size (versus the mountain-river ones), so it will be fun for us to compare how each batch turns out.

C adds water for the pre-polish cycles in the rock tumbler. That's where we're still at to date, so I'll update again soon!

It’s been about three weeks since both batches went in, and they’re now in pre-polish cycles. I’ll report back once this rocky process grinds down to a hopefully shiny, happy ending. Stay tuned!

A very rocky Valentine's Day, but in a great way! Authentically happy about their new rock tumbler, the boys officially have a father-son hobby to keep them busy for years to come!