IMPERIAL — Though rain turned much of the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta into a muddy mess Tuesday, the Imperial Valley Gem and Mineral Society clubhouse served as a diamond in the rough for soggy fair-goers.
"It tells the story from time one," said Dan Rigel of rock and fossil collecting.
Rigel, who has one of the foremost such collections on the West Coast, is showing and selling a variety of his findings.
Scouring the world, Rigel has amassed a sizable assortment of natural treasures. An estimated 165 million year old fossilized pine cone from Argentina sits near a meteorite found in Chechnya, Russia. A fossilized ammonite with an iridescent shell from Morocco retails for $18 while $45 will buy you a dinosaur tooth.
The wisdom and knowledge that Rigel dispenses, however, are free.
"I've been around and around and around," said Rigel, who in addition to owning the Caveman Lapidary company in Oregon, speaks at schools and club meetings about his trade.