Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Fire Is Out!

Fire? Did someone say fire? I didn't hear anything about no stinkin' fire! Well, no, you didn't. Because I chose not to mention it until we knew what course it would run. No need scaring folks and making them change their travel plans out of fear of a forest fire that may or may not continue to grow. And I can now tell you- it's out and all seems well here in Chicken. Having just only a short while back written of a fire that, 5 years ago, threatened the village and burned 1.3 million acres of timber land, we were all a bit nervous a week or so back when a thunder storm passed through and a lightning bolt touched off a fire some three miles away from us. The fire was noticeable within minutes of the strike. The billowing smoke told us it was catching and spreading rapidly. A day later it had gotten much bigger and two days later it was getting downright scary. But then came the airplanes dropping fire retardant. And the Alaskan Fire Brigade. The Tok Fire Keepers. And Alaskan Fire Fighting Elite troops known as the "Hot Shots." The helicopters with their water dipping baskets gliding below the whirling blades. And so round the clock for days the epic battle between fire fighter and fire raged only miles away. Nature picks a winner in such struggles and on this occasion- Fire Fighters 1 , Fire 0 - game over. Now a smaller crew watches over the hot spots to make sure what is out stays out. We sleep better now, although it never felt like the danger was immediate.
"Shall we be nervous yet?" I asked several days into a growing fire.
"Not yet."
And so we never did. Get nervous, I mean. But the charcoal covered faces of the men (and a woman) who fought the fire when they came off the front lines for a break and a hot meal told a different story. They were dealing with the fire face to face. Taking the heat. Slapping it in its face with whatever they could hit it with....and this time winning. You could see the seriousness on their faces. The smell of smoke came along with them on their short respites. A hint of fatigue was brushed aside as they readied to go back in to do whatever it took. Being around them felt very special. They risk it all to protect a lot, and it makes them quite special.


Continuing with the That Was Then Series from our trip two years ago- here is what was happening then...

Frost Heave The Snowman - a piece on road conditions.

Midnight At The Oasis - a look at late night light in Alaska.

Odds and Ends - some interesting tidbits about Alaska and things Alaskan, like mosquitoes, caribou and PIGS?.

Back in the present day Alaska, this team of three of our early prospectors worked a section of "Gundy Mountain" and came up with some really nice course gold including a heart shaped penny weight nugget. Ain't that just purdy?


6 comments:

Bill & Karen said...

Are you able to keep any gold that you find, or does that belong to the property owner. If you can keep it, do you display it or sell it ? Really curious. Thanks.

Bill & Karen said...

Are you allowed to keep the bits of gold that you find, or do you hand them over to the owner of the property. Do you keep the gold and display it, or do you sell it ? Thanks. Bill

Greg said...

Thanks for the question, Bill and Karen! This is recreational mining on a private claim. The model for most such activities is a lot like it is here. This is a "pay to play" sport. i.e. you can pan and metal detect round the clock for 10 bucks. Sluicing, highbanking, dredging all cost slightly more and may be carried out from 8 AM to 7 PM (that's long enough for anybody, trust me!. You keep everything you find. Everything. Gold, no matter how much or how big. Neat rocks. Maybe some silver or even a bit of platinum.... And Mike unearthed a mammoth ivory tusk the day we arrived. You may find mammoth teeth while you are digging as well. Maybe some opal. Every shovel full is a new adventure. And for those who are new to the game, we spend time with you on the claim your first day to make sure you have a good idea on how to proceed, and we try our level best to set you up for starters where we know your chance for finding gold id very good. I haven't had anyone leave without some gold yet.
Once you find it, you do what you want with it. Sell it. Display it. Lock it up in a vault. We do the latter two and have chosen not to sell any at this point. We think of it as a mix between treasure and trophy, memory and souvenir...and can tell you exactly where each nugget came from and where each vile of fine gold was gathered. As the kids say: "It's out thing!"

Greg said...

Thanks for the question, Bill and Karen! This is recreational mining on a private claim. The model for most such activities is a lot like it is here. This is a "pay to play" sport. i.e. you can pan and metal detect round the clock for 10 bucks. Sluicing, highbanking, dredging all cost slightly more and may be carried out from 8 AM to 7 PM (that's long enough for anybody, trust me!. You keep everything you find. Everything. Gold, no matter how much or how big. Neat rocks. Maybe some silver or even a bit of platinum.... And Mike unearthed a mammoth ivory tusk the day we arrived. You may find mammoth teeth while you are digging as well. Maybe some opal. Every shovel full is a new adventure. And for those who are new to the game, we spend time with you on the claim your first day to make sure you have a good idea on how to proceed, and we try our level best to set you up for starters where we know your chance for finding gold id very good. I haven't had anyone leave without some gold yet.
Once you find it, you do what you want with it. Sell it. Display it. Lock it up in a vault. We do the latter two and have chosen not to sell any at this point. We think of it as a mix between treasure and trophy, memory and souvenir...and can tell you exactly where each nugget came from and where each vile of fine gold was gathered. As the kids say: "It's out thing!"

Sue said...

Hi Greg
I sure enjoy reading about all your adventures. I noticed that March 31 you stayed in Lancaster county. What was the name of the rv park? Ed and I are going to Lititz in Sept. We might have our daughter check this one out to see if it is closer to her than the one we usually stay at.Thanks for the info. Continue to have fun and hope to see you in Yuma next year.
Sue

Greg said...

Hey Sue! Good to hear from you.... Check out these three:
Thousand Trails Hershey (actually in Lebanon)not only for members last we were there,
Country Acres Rt 30 near Lancaster in Gordonville (very nice, great central location),
and Roamers Retreat in Kinsers