Wanderings of The Mind
How Miss Paula feels about Oro Expeditions.
Now that Oro is off on Phase II of Expedition '13, I wanted to post a blog that I've already posted on the KDCL Media page. Everyone who's come in contact with Oro knows his passion for these Expeditions, but you've not heard much out of me so here we go...
Oro was channel surfing one day and happened upon a show with this big man in beat up cowboy hat panning for gold in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. Oro began to reminisce about panning at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch when he was 14...then asked if I remembered Bob, the guy we worked with in Texas taking us into the high desert near Alpine to collect sand out of the dry washes and taking it home to process it for gold. From there his interest and curiosity grew until we were taking vacation time to go prospecting in North Carolina.
I had a great time with lots of pretties found and enough phone signal to do our radio shows with two smartphones and computer for battery power. I like camping, but also like a few creature comforts when I do. LOL
As life sometimes goes, Oro was forced from behind the wheel of Lil' Pete and out of a thirty year career. That's when Oro Expeditions moved from an idea into reality.
I must admit when the ideas started moving from paper and discussions into the real world, I was overly cautious. I was raised by the generation of parents where you worked a job for forty or fifty years, and lived your golden years on your pension, but that's not the reality of my generation.
When Oro pulled out of the driveway on April 14, 2013, it was on a wing and a prayer. Thank goodness there were lots of bus trips this spring to keep the expedition going until it slowly began to support itself through the First Nugget Contest and the generous support of new and old friends, and Oro finding good places to mine for gold.
As we've gotten deeper into Expedition '13, a few more things have come into the light. What started out as a new career path for Oro is slowing morphing into something else. Yes, it's still about becoming self-sufficient through the retrieval of gold and gemstones, but it's also become about other things...the continued access to public lands, teaching people a way to be out in Nature while learning a skill the whole family can enjoy (even if it's just playing in creek), and that can actually add to your pool of resources as a 'rainy day' fund or those times when your retirement and Social Security whimper at the cost of living.
So Oro Expeditions is no longer just about Oro going out into the wilderness to bring home the gold--it's also about sharing...stepping into the battle to retain the few individual freedoms that's been left to us--sharing time with family and friends old and new in the breathtaking beauty that is the wild places of our country where we can breathe, and ground ourselves then carry that balanced and centered energy back into our everyday lives.
As Oro and I work to pull together funding for Phase II, we're once again depending on those that can see the dream, and someday say, "If Oro can do it...so can I." This time when he pulls out of the driveway to head South, instead of cautious, I am optimistic. It's not just Miss Paula supporting Oro in his dream, but also being able to see all the things that can happen when that dream comes to fruition. That's why I suggested crowdfunding to fund Phase II and beyond. I have seen the generosity of people when a dream catches fire, and hope they too can see our dream.
Blessings to Everyone and as Oro says on his Expedition videos..."More Later."
Oro Expedition '13 Crowdfunding Site
As my time at the Rooster Ridge GPAA claim in Coker Creek, Tennessee draws to an close, the Smokey Mountains gave me one heck of a going away party.
The severe thunderstorm that passed through Coker Creek Friday afternoon left a trail of injuries and destruction in its wake.
Tree limbs came down, canopies were thrown across the fields, leaving cuts and bruises behind. Tents and camps overturn and torn.
So we patched up the cuts, downed painkillers for the bumps and bruises, and tried to set camp back to rights as best would could. Though it could have been much worse, the storm took its toll on Expedition '13.
It appears that we'll be able to finish this leg of the Expedition, but before we head west, the Expedition will need a new tent.
Since the First Nugget Contest is winding down, though you can still participate until we get the nugget home, Miss Paula has established the Oro Expedition Tent Fund.
You can click the donate button anywhere on the website, or if you're a business that would be willing to do a barter exchange...one large three season cabin tent for the equivalent in advertising on KDCL Media, and recognition as a sponsor of Oro Expeditions--contact Miss Paula.
We leave behind many THANKS and BLESSINGS to the friends we have made in Coker Creek and Tellico Plains, and are already making plans for a return trip in the not too distant future.
SPECIAL THANK YOUs TO:
Ron at The Welcome Center
Bill & Marsha at Bill's Pit Stop of Coker Creek
Dixie at Caney Creek Village
Rose and the crew at Subway
Tyler at KramBonz
John & Nickie
Joyce & Vern
Chris & Jack
Michael & Melissa
James, Christina & The Girls
Jim & Trish
The Coker Creek Chapter of the GPAA for being our home away from home
It’s Sunday, April 28, 2013, and the Nugget Buggy sits at The Pride, in Tellico Plains, instead of gold camp as I watch the rain for the second day in a row.
The rain seems to be unending and the height of all the streams around the area is the reason a halt has been called to the gold mining.
The return to Coker Creek was a good decision because after arriving and establishing camp in Doc Rogers’ field, big things began to happen.
First was the discovery that Coker Creek is loaded with flaky and fine gold. It takes a lot of work with a shovel, bucket, and feeding the sluice box, but after four hours of steady work, Oro Expedition ’13 was in possession of its first measurable amount of Tennessee gold.
Oro Expedition ’13 has found a major place of operation for what could easily be the next 30 to 60 days.
The second day in camp, I spent on a small tributary of Coker Creek and the hourly wage figured out at $10 an hour…not a bad start. One other thing I found out on that day was exactly how much manual labor is required to make $10 an hour mining for gold.
After a solid 4 hours of sluicing, I decided it was best to return to camp while I still had the energy for the half mile hike. Fairly close to camp was a gentleman standing by his vehicle with his mining equipment spread out on the ground. As I approached, the gentleman asked me if I’d had any luck. The look on my face must have told him that I’d had a good deal of luck in finding those little yellow rocks. After introductions were made, it was easy to tell that John and I were going to be great friends.
Our conversation led us to discover I had already made the acquaintance of several people John mentioned as also being miners, and with that it was easy to see that I was on the right track to meeting the right people to make Oro Expedition ’13 a success.
Through the progression of the conversation, John offered to act as my guide for the area. Over the next several days we covered many miles of the Cherokee National Forest, seeing many of its natural wonders and historical places.
A short distance from gold camp, but deeper into the National Forest, the Nugget Buggy found itself axle deep in a small tributary of Coker Creek. The reason the Buggy was so deep in the water was the road and the creek were one and the same. Once a parking spot was found, John and I proceeded into a small gorge and began our hike upstream. During the walk John talked about ‘The Wall’. Once we got to ‘The Wall’, it was a spot John and Bill from Bill’s Pit Stop, had established as a camp site. John was showing me what later became Outpost #1 for Oro Expeditions.
As the day and the conversation progressed, and the hole in the middle of the creek got deeper and deeper, a few things became clear—that John knew a lot about local history…a lot about mining for gold…and had just ended a journey that began in 2009. It turns out that his journey was a mirror image in reverse of the journey that Oro Expeditions is just beginning.
The next day, a hike half a mile from gold camp, established Outpost #2 for Oro Expedition ’13 at the Blue Hole.
The hospitality and mentoring I have received during my stay at Coker Creek has been overwhelming and fills my spirit to overflowing.
Even though the rain still falls in Tellico Plains, it’s time for the Nugget Buggy to return to gold camp with a stop in at the Welcome Center to visit with Ron and catch-up on more of his stories about gold mining in the ‘old days’.
Many years ago I sat on the front porch of my family’s home, in Swanton, with Grandma listening to the whippoorwills. With the harvesting of timber in their natural habitat, the whippoorwills left Garrett County, and have not been heard from since.
I received a welcome surprise one evening in gold camp as an old friend reappeared. As the day drew to a close, the song of the whippoorwills echoed through the forest bringing the spirit of Grandma and Pop into camp with me. Ibae bae tonu.
Thank you, Pop for all your help.
Saturday, April 27, 2013 and Oro Expedition ’13 is in its thirteenth day. I sit here in gold camp pondering the first twelve days, and looking ahead to the future.
Sunday, the 14th of April, was spent making final preparations and packing the Nugget Buggy to the hilt for the first leg of the Expedition.
All of the planning and preparing was over and the official start time drew near. The plan called for leaving in the late afternoon for a reason that dates back to my trucking days. My favorite time of the day to drive was at night so I planned on doing the first leg of Expedition ’13 from Western Maryland to Tennessee in the middle of the night. Around 5:30pm on the evening of the 14th I said my goodbyes to my lovely wife, gave Boss Cat a good final back rub, and spent quite a few minutes loving on Hannah, Chief of Security.
The Nugget Buggy was fueled up at the local gas station, and I headed out of town for Scheer Mountain and Route 220 South.
The journey south was a familiar one and I soon found myself at the Virginia—Tennessee border on Interstate 81. From there the Nugget Buggy proceeded to Knoxville and on the east side of town I waved goodbye to the Interstate highway for what would be very long time. This part of the journey encompassed the first two days, and the destination for this phase of the Expedition was changed at the last minute from Coker Creek GPAA claim to Cleveland, Georgia.
The GPAA Coker Creek claim presented a few challenges, i.e. unmarked boundary lines, the small amount of stream in which to mine in proportion to the number of people mining, and no sign-in book. There was also no information about camping facilities or places to stay.
So over Blood Mountain the Nugget Buggy went.
To Gold ‘N Gem Grubbin’ where I pitched my tent.
Due to thunderstorms making the river too high to prospect at Gold 'N Gem Grubbin' in Cleveland, Tennessee, I returned to Coker Creek a few days later. I found a place for the Expedition to settle into a long-term gold camp. Even before meeting several other gold miners in the area, I was able to find respectable amounts of yellow in my sluice.
Getting acquainted with a wonderful group of folk around Bill’s Pit Stop of Coker Creek, and around Tellico Plains, Tennessee, I’m looking forward to a great time mining with my new friends.
This was all of the conversation with Oro I could transcribe. The cell phone signal in the deep depths of the Cherokee National Forest died out, but the last thing Oro said before the call ended was:
“Even though the weather is wet and stormy, as long as there’s no lightning we’ll be prospecting in rain suits.”
Oro Cas shares his thoughts and experiences as he travels the country on his Expeditions.