The 2015 Winter Gathering at Advent Christian Village, Dowling Park, Florida got underway on Wednesday February 25 with early arrivals setting up the room and planning the activities. Everyone had arrived by Thursday evening and there were 9 scopes set up.
This was a bittersweet meeting in that many of the group were no longer with us including founder Ed Cunningham. His wife Martha is in assisted living now, but happily was able to join us for meals on Friday and Saturday.
Quite a few of our regular members were sick or could not make the meeting because of weather conditions or other commitments. Those of us who made the meeting made up in enthusiasm what we lacked in numbers.
Jim Stoops brought an amazing amount of give-away material from 3M Quarry and Granite Mountain No. 1 and 3 quarries. Don Reems distributed egg cartons of Girard, Georgia phosphates, Jim Daly brought a wide selection of micro material from all over and Henry Barwood also brought material from Granite Mountain No. 1 and No.3
Friday was mostly spent checking the give-away table and discussing the identity of specimens from the syenites. The Winter Gathering over the years has been host to sessions on syenite minerals and a place to discuss new discoveries in material collected and given away. Quite a few micros went away with a ? mark!
Saturday, Jim Stoops set up his microscope, camera and computer and demonstrated his photographic technique. He produces impressive stacked images with his scope, which is not easy to accomplish.
Key to his technique is complete control of the camera through his computer which reduces vibrations to a minimum.
Henry Barwood gave a Power Point presentation on his homebuilt imaging stands.
Earl English brought his newest photo rig constructed entirely out of a surplus microscope reconfigured into a horizontal photo stand. He uses the microscope stage as a micrometer and a ring light mounted on the front of the camera (in a "tube configuration"). Early tests of his set-up have produced excellent stacked images.
Henry Barwood also gave a presentation on the phosphates of Indian Mountain.
We had a catered barbeque dinner at noon on Saturday. In the past the spouses have produced a fabulous meal on Saturday, but this year we decided to give them a rest (well, sort of) and have the meal brought in. It was delicious, but we had enough to feed everybody about 5X over. By around 8PM the meeting was winding down and everyone began to start packing up. We always sit around and talk for a while, but by 10PM it was over for another year.
This meeting was as always a pleasure and the folks at Advent Christian Village could not be nicer to us.
Next year's meeting will be the last weekend in February. If you have not attended, you should make your plans to do so. There are no themes and no structure, just a lot of fun.