My Cosmic Journey
Larry Atkins ~ Meteorite Hunter
In 1998 I was 33 years old. Though I was generally a happy person there was something missing in my life, but I didn’t know what it was. Ever since childhood I was fascinated with the natural world and everything in it. I collected rocks and fossils, I caught snakes and turtles, hunted, fished, and trapped animals of all sorts. I was in awe of space. I gazed at the stars and always felt a deep connection with Nature. One day when I was in the second grade, I looked at a globe and I realized that every piece of land and body of water had a name. This was devastating for me, I felt like I was supposed to be an explorer, but here it was plain to see, all had been discovered! I think this is the root of my passion for all things meteorite, there’s room for discovery. In fact, these days when I do the occasional meteorite presentation for school kids I start by asking the students “How many of you feel like everything is already discovered?” It’s amazing how many kids will raise their hand! They feel the way I did as a kid. This is how I begin my presentations, then I show them how the study of meteorites is a fairly new science, and that space delivers new surprises all the time. I use meteorites as an example of the undiscovered possibilities that exist regardless of their interests. The kids really get it. Anyway, I opened a magazine one day in the mid 1990’s and saw Robert Haag holding a big iron meteorite. I read the article and that’s when the proverbial ‘light bulb’ turned on! That was a pivotal day, and my life has been more fulfilled and complete since. My first meteorite purchase was on Nov. 11, 1999. I bought a 13.8 gram Gao stone for $85 from a place called Fredrock in Waterford, Michigan. It sets front and center in my collection.
My first meteorite hunting endeavors were focused on the old rock piles that outline the many farm fields here in Michigan. I spent countless hours looking for my first meteorite, I thought I found it on more than one occasion, only to conclude it was just another iron rich rock, pushed around by a glacier thousands of years ago. It wasn’t until I ventured out to Arizona in the winter of 1999 that I found my first meteorite. I bought a used Fisher Gold Bug metal detector and a gold hunting book. The Gold Basin Placer was listed as a great gold prospecting area and as a side note, meteorites had recently been found there! What luck, I couldn’t get there fast enough. I still remember my first find like it was yesterday. I saw it before the detector hit it and I knew it was a meteorite. It was a shattered puzzle of about 50 pieces and weighed 125 grams. Even though the field had been hit pretty good by Jim Kreigh, Twink Monrad and John Blennert, and those that were in the know early on, I was still walking up to gold prospector dig holes and picking up the meteorites they discarded as “hot rocks”. Those were good times! Later on it got more and more difficult to find them out there but it can still be done today. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from those days. Gold Basin came full circle for me in 2014-2015. Be sure to read about that on the Gold Basin page.
Through the years I would take vacations to the American Southwest to hunt for meteorites but there was never enough time. I had to find a way to spend more time in the deserts and be more able to go to meteorite fall events. Having a full time job didn’t allow me the freedom I needed so in 2006 I created a new, niche business called Poison Ivy Control of Michigan, and as the name would imply, we kill and remove the noxious poison ivy plants. This business is a blessing! We save thousands of people from the terrible rash and agony, and save them untold $ in medical expenses. This business is seasonal so it allows me the time I need to chase the dream!
Franconia Arizonia was another early destination.