I finally did it. I went to Tucson. Ironically, I have only been dreaming about going for about three years so that's pretty good when I think about it! I had no idea where to start. So I read Gem Gossip's blogs about the different shows and how to plan. I decided to go to the JOGS show based on what I was looking for. We had been planning to go the second week of February but a last minute fishing trip opportunity to Isla Mujeres, Mexico made us change our plans. We decided to go the first two days the show was open.
Driving to Tucson from Phoenix was beautiful. Since I have always lived along a coast of some kind water I'm fascinated by places that are landlocked. We drove along and saw cacti, mountains, nothing and outlet malls. It's just so different when you are driving along and nothing is around and all of a sudden a small town or neighborhood pops up. I always wonder what the people who live in those places do for work. It's no wonder why I loved anthropology in college. I'm not a huge fan of people, but I find them to be fascinating!
My husband and I pulled up to the Tucson Convention Center and asked the lady at the parking stand where we could park. She responded by telling us that the vendors were simply loading in today. My heart skipped a beat. Did I screw up the dates? We pulled out of the lot and pulled into another one just down the road figuring we'd find our hotel. I said to Frank, "I just know something isn't right!" There is a passport debacle story from a few years ago that I have yet to live down so I was freaking out internally. If you've heard the story you know. If you haven't, don't ask! I pulled up the JOGS show info on my phone. "Oh WAIT! It's at the Tucson EXPO Center!" THANK YOU GOD! Clearly there is a difference in Tucson between the two and each was hosting a very different show. We plugged that into the GPS and got back on our way.
Because the Greens are almost always running late (not because of me) by the time we got there, parking was not available. I was somewhat irritated. I wanted to be there right when the doors opened. UGH. We drove to the hotel just a few miles away and Ubered back to the show. HOLY CRAP. It was like nothing I'd seen. Just a huge building with tons of vendors of all kinds. I told Frank for the first hour or so we were just going to walk around and check it all out. Of course I got sidetracked not soon after we started and had my hands in trays of stones. I came to my senses and we moved on just looking. Frank had cased the place in about 30 minutes and was bored. You don't want to get separated in a place like this. I had to call him to find him. I kept looking around, talking to some people, smiling and moving on from others. We ended up at the other end of the building and went outside to regroup. He took a work call and I checked out the vendors outside. I found him 15 or 20 minutes later still on the phone so I told him I was headed back in.
I found a vendor that had stones of the same size packaged and I went through and started picking out what I wanted. I finally felt like I was in the groove. I went back to a nice guy I had been talking to and bought a few more individual stones. I kept moving along.
I'm not going to lie, I was shocked at the some of the vendors at the show. You had one guy selling pre-owned Rolex's, another selling diamonds and well, another selling stuff I would just not buy. I'm trying to be nice. No matter what though it is overwhelming just like everyone said! We finished the day and Ubered back to the hotel.
Over dinner I told Frank I wanted to check out some of the other shows going on. The next day he drove me to an area that I thought I could walk around from "show to show." Um, no. This was more like a group of vendors in one area versus a show. Nonetheless, it was pretty cool. All of these vendors were selling minerals, crystals and specimens. It is unbelievable what Mother Nature creates. Some of these were hundreds of dollars and absolutely stunning. I bought a few Herkimer diamonds, a piece of fluorite, a yellow quartz and an agate druzy looking thing. Honestly, in the back of my head all I could think was how did these guys get all of this here? The stones and the displays! Some were displayed in beautiful glass cases with lighting. It made my head hurt! I talked to the guy I bought the fluorite and quartz from and asked if he lived in Tucson. He said no he lives in South Africa. I looked around at ALLLLLLL of the boxes around the room and allllllll of the crystals and rocks he had on display and thought what does it cost to get this all here!?!?!? Having been an event coordinator and knowing what it means to schlep event crap my head often goes to logistics in these kinds of situations. But as usual I digress, we left and headed back.
There was another big show in a huge tent off the freeway and at the last minute I said let's go. We couldn't find parking so he let me off and I ventured in. Again, lots more stuff. Mostly nothing of interest to me but still fun to look at. As I was heading to the door I stopped at a vendor selling Australian Boulder opals. A nice woman probably about my age was talking to me and she apologized that she couldn't stop yawning. I told her not to worry as I'm sure the time difference was a killer! She was working with her dad who at one point asked her what is cell phone number was. I joked that there does come a time when we become the parent! I bought a few stones from her and was done. I found Frank in the parking lot and we headed back to the JOGS show so he could drop me off. I figured I had seen enough of the other stuff and there were probably a few more things I could buy there. I told him I'd probably be an hour or two. Three and a half hours later he picked me up. I had found some more beautiful stones, some rough cut tanzanites, some moonstones and labradorites with beautiful blue flash.
Everyone told me you will spend more than you planned if you're not careful! I am happy to report I spent about 1/4 of what I was prepared to spend. This was a great learning experience to understand the shows and all that goes on. There are different shows going on all throughout February. It helps to have a car! And when I go back I will make sure to see the AGTA Gem Show. That's the one that was loading in the day we got there. It didn't start until after we left so I couldn't fit it in this year. But like I said, I'll be back!