why bother with the maps?
I didn't go to all of them. I had even looked at a few maps that a couple of the shows provided. I knew that the convention center was the place to avoid (unless you had lots of money to throw around on overpriced stones).
The maps I had committed to memory were useless. There's more organization at the street fair because it's managed by the city. The gem and mineral shows are all really individual shows having to orgainze booths around things like hotel layouts.
The Rappa River show was a bunch of booths around the grounds of the hosting hotels. I fortunately found what I was looking for - opals. I found a dealer that sold mostly loose opals, and scored a big deal. I bought five Australian opals that were labelled $35 - $60 each for a total of $80. I'm definately keeping the blue opal for myself - the rest are white (or whiteish) opals that hopefully will make a ring that my grandmother will like.
I then wandered to the show at the Day's Inn (forget its name). There were sellers in hotel rooms, there were sellers in the lobby, there were sellers in the parking lot, and there were sellers around their pool area. I did wander around a bit, but don't think I saw everything there. I was glad I got the opals I did at the first show. The Mexican opals I didn't like that much, and the quantity of Australian opals was very small.
I also stopped by the show further down the frontage road. Found a few loose stone dealers, and was very tempted to walk away with some real sapphires and/or aquamarines, but refrained since I bought all the opals on my debit card since I wasn't sure if my mom wanted to go through with the opal ring idea (and she wasn't home).
But each show is a haphazard arrangement of sellers. The maps provided are not very helpful since obstacles such as the pool don't show up on the maps.
The free shuttles are a nice feature. But one that could have returned me to the parking lot didn't stop. I was very annoyed. Otherwise, the drivers were nice people.
Except for the drivers, I was the only local. I heard people had come from Hawaii, Tennessee, and Maine. Very impressive.
More impressive would be if I had the money to burn on some of the pretty stones. The fire agates were also very pretty, but I refrained from picking up something.
Now I need to figure out what I'm going to do with my blue opal.