Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thar's Gold In Them Thar.........DUNES?

It's good to be on the move again. It was a great winter in Florida but we were admittedly chomping at the bit to get back on the road- as in really moving, not just living in the coach in a more or less fixed area. We finished out our time in Florida at Orlando Thousand Trails. Before they left, I gave Co(s)mic Bob (as in Cosmic Cousins Bob and Susan) a gold panning demonstration. I shaved a few small fragments off a lead pyramid sinker from my fishing tackle box, hammered them relatively flat to "mimic" gold flakes, then added them to samples of dirt, gravel, and anything else I could scoop up around the construction site for the new park models going in. Lead is a good training material to teach panning because, like gold, it is heavier (in water) than almost anything else you can put in a gold pan. It behaves like gold even though gold is again twice as heavy as lead. So if you can become proficient at panning for lead, you for sure will be good at panning for gold. And it is far less aggravating to lose a flake of lead than it is a single flake of gold at today's prices! So with pan, water trough, and materials set up and ready to go, we began our lesson. I did the first pan of "lead only" material as a demo. But much to my surprise, when I got to the bottom of the demo pan, there was not one, but two flakes of gold in the bottom of my pan.

FLASHBACK: When we knew we were to be pretty much tied to Florida for the winter for a variety of reasons, I wrote to GPAA, LDMA, and some other prospecting chat rooms on line and asked this simple question: "Where, if he MUST be in Florida for the winter, can a guy go to pan for gold with at least a possibility of success?" For days, I got no answer and that is not a usual thing for a chat room. They don't call it "chat" for nothing. Usually, them that know want to put their knowledge on display (or share their knowledge very generously, depending on your point of view). I kept checking back, less than enthusiastic about my chances of getting the kind of reply I was hoping for. But then, there it was: a direct reply from a guy in a gold prospecting club in Texas.

"Dear Greg," he wrote, "if you must spend winter in Florida and you must find some gold in that state, then I would suggest you take your metal detector to South Beach early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday morning with the idea that you might come up with a nice ring, a piece of jewelry, or a neat coin or two off a Spanish ship....cause that's about as good as it gets in Florida."

I now know that's not the way it is. In truth, at least according to the GPAA (Gold Miners' Association of America) there is gold in all 50 states if you are willing to look hard enough to find it. In fact, gold, at one time or another, was mined commercially in 48 of the 50 states. The two where it was never mined commercially? Kentucky and Hawaii. Please note, Florida was among the states where it WAS commercial viable at one time. Not in the region where I was to be sure- more along the border with Georgia which was a veritable "gold mine" at one time, but a bit of the yellow color made it via water (and/or glacier if you cotton to that theory) into Florida.

So I can't tell you where the Orlando fill dirt came from that I sampled and found a couple flakes in- but I'll take it none the less. And apparently, if you can find gold in Florida, you can find it anywhere. Memo to self: new goal - find gold in every state.

Back to Cosmic Bob. He too found gold in his pan. True, we salted it with "training gold" and black sand that we brought back from Chicken, AK. But never mind that. Gold once discovered by any means is gold fever contracted. Ain't no gettin' around it. You see, even the smallest flake of gold in the bottom of the pan, or the top of the sluice box is highly contagious. Far more addictive than caffeine or nicotine, but not nearly so harmful. In fact it's probably quite healthy as it comes with a full complement of exercise, adventure and fresh air!

But for now we are traveling north again. In the last two days, through northern Florida (the more north you go in Florida the more southern it gets), Georgia, South Carolina and tonight, near Charlotte, North Carolina. The air has cooled and freshened. Spring foliage is out at least this far north with Dogwoods and a whole host of other flowering trees coming into their own. Roadside flowers are laying out the red carpet (and the blue and purple ones) as we head into the unknown, even if it is through familiar territory. Adventure is where you seek it!

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