Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paddling Alligator Creek

From paddling. We are back in Florida- Punta Gorda above Ft. Myers on the Gulf Coast side. This is one of our favorite stopping points when we are back "home." The creek has excellent paddling, fishing and site seeing. As you would expect from the name- it's not too good for swimming. We routinely see alligators from 2 feet to closer to 10. I don't mind some daytime wading to throw the cast net, but ain't nobody gonna get me in any deeper than that- and even then I keep an eye on my surroundings.

Once again, the pictures pretty much tell the story. I put a few captions to watch for in the slide show so you can see what we're trying to point out along the way:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

North Carolina Smiley Face Gold Report

It's hot on the Gulf Coast of Florida here at Punta Gorda where we have arrived to begin our Florida visit. But the "cool" report from the North Carolina Vein Mountain outing can now be given- at least in preliminary form. Pretty much we're gonna let the pictures tell the story. Two small (and very thin) nuggets, not included in the weight,......and a "smiley face" of "fines and dust" that weighed in at 1.8 pennyweight- not bad at all for NC and 10 days of work!

Oh, and Mr. and Mrs. Haught- I don't want to hear a word from you right now about Idaho gold! :-)

This dad gummed gold is so fine! How fine is it, Greg? It's so fine that even after I was very, very careful cleaning up, I started to notice gold particles all over my computer key pad as I typed this report with the sunlight streaming through the window next to my desk! Sticky Fingers 101.

There will be additional gold to add to this year's take, but that will have to wait for further work at the "amalgamation" process!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Panning Of The Boots

We ventured back to Vein Mountain LDMA Camp in North Carolina for the Fall 2010 outing. It's the smaller of their two annual outings and we like it extremely well. The caretakers of the property, John and Abi, are first class individuals and they go over and above to make the attendees feel welcome and help them be as successful as possible. After all, camaraderie is one thing; gold is another!

This year's weather was outstanding. Comfortable and dry day times and crisply cool nights- they call it "good sleeping weather." A bit of frost makes the early morning rather spectacular around the warmer waters of the settling ponds.
There is one drawback from getting started too early- the wet gloves from the day before are are still frozen stiff. In this photo, Marilyn does her "thawing" procedure.

For outings, the organization compiles "dirt" from a location on the property. This year the dirt came from the diggings next to what we used to call "Long Pond." Actually, it was just a hole from a previous dig that had filled with water. But it turned out that this years dirt was another in the series of "good looking materials", and in fact was some of the hottest material anyone around camp could remember processing. Translation- even though NC gold is almost always extremely fine, this time there was more of it than ever before.

We don't have the final tabulations, weights and measure of the gold ready at this point. We reduced our concentrates down as far as possible to take with us without the extreme weight of the five gallon buckets full of "heavies.", but still have the final separation of the gold from the black sand yet to do. Drying. Weighing. Soon! As I write this we are enroute back to Florida for our annual check ups and the usual. Looking forward to another Thanksgiving on the Beach.

Here's a look at us taking turns on the amalgamation equipment at the camp to work down our "cons." I should qualify the term "amalgamation." It refers to the practice of separating gold and silver from other minerals by combining it with mercury. It was common practice at one time and is generally frowned upon today for environmental concerns- although there ARE safe practices for handling it and using it even today. This piece of equipment has been converted to a rubber rib reclamation process- so no mercury, no copper is used in the process as it was when this equipment was in commercial use at the mine here a long time ago. It's an antique- but it works superbly and was lots of fun for us to test drive.

We spent a most wonderful two weeks here this Fall, made a bonfire when packing to celebrate our stay....
and then....and then....we held our gold camp parting ritual- "the panning of the boots!" To accomplish this we knock off all the mud and dirt remaining on our boots after our last run through the high banker...and then pan it out. Why? Because a long time back a guy told us that after walking around in gold containing dirt all day, he always "panned out his boots" at the end of the day to see if there was any gold in the material, and much to his surprise there often was. Not lots, just a speck or two - but it's the principle of the thing. Sounded like a good thing to do just for fun and so we tried it and.....yes, we found gold too. So now I always try to remember to test the boots at the end of our tour at a prospecting site. This time nothing doing, but, hey, I tried. I'll bet ya a candy bar though that when we clean out the van in Florida and I pan that dirt I will find a speck or two....just saying!

I'll post a picture of our "clean up" as soon as we have it ready. Hoping for the Smiley Face!