Wanderings of The Mind
I have surely been remiss in updating the Expedition Blog so...I'll try and remember everything since the last time I posted.
Right after Miss Paula's last post in August, the Expedition loaded the Nugget Buggy and lit out for the great state of Alabama for a visit to Camp Firefly. It gave me a chance to catch up with the crew there, and do a little prospecting until it was time to return to Tennessee for the opening of dredging season at Doc Rogers. After adding some Alabama gold and garnets to our collection of PLR's, the Buggy was re-packed and meandered north to Coker Creek.
Once again camped in the Tennessee Mountains with no signal for any type of electronic device and too busy dredging to write, I was resigned to spending the winter in the southeast. Thoughts of Oregon and California were filed under Oro Expedition '14 as I settled into collecting my grubstake for the new year.
Miss Paula continued working with the Oro Expeditions' crowd funding site at GoFundMe, as well seeking out sponsors for Oro Expeditions And Then Some... on KDCL Media.
Then Providence stepped in, and "the rest", as they say, "is history."
While in Coker Creek, I made the acquaintance of Mike Payne of PoBoy Dredge. We talked...and talked...and talked some more, and developed a marvelous friendship. Mike felt that it was time to take PoBoy Dredge to the next level. He purchased an ad in the September/October edition of Gold Prospectors Magazine from GPAA, and became a contributor and sponsor of Oro Expeditions--allowing us to step up to the next level. Suddenly Oregon didn't seem so far away.
Once again I packed the Nugget Buggy and headed north to Interstate 70 where I proceeded west. Stopping for gas, food, and catnaps. I was soon in Denver, Colorado, where I stopped for some real sleep and to meet in person for the first time since we met three years ago, our beautiful heart sister, Dia Nunez of The H20 Network. I also did a little prospecting at the GPAA claim outside Idaho Springs, Colorado, just to say I had some Colorado gold in the sniffer bottle, then it was WESTWARD HO! once again.
There was a beautiful sunrise over Flaming Gorge in Utah before we struck out across Wyoming to meet up with Interstate 80 through Salt Lake City, Utah and Nevada before catching the two lane into Klamath Falls and on into Grant's Pass, Oregon.
In Grant's Pass, the first stop was at the Armadillo Mining Shop. We met a wonderful lady named Samantha, who has been very helpful in giving us the 411 on the contacts we'd carried with us since Coker Creek. THANKS JOHN & NICKIE! The Expedition met some fellow miners on the Illinois River, who have been generous in sharing their knowledge.
So here we are ready to settle in until it's too cold to play in the river. I had to wait out another rain storm, but we're doing a little hard rock mining, found some mercury gold, and generally learning the ropes for gold mining in the great northwest.
Once it gets too cold in Oregon...another friend moved to northern California last year sooooo....we'll see what happens next.
Oh...Miss Paula's been busy too.
Check out some of mine and her pictures.
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
There’s been so much going on there hasn’t been time to sit and write it all down. Moving camp to the Rooster Ridge GPAA claim and getting settled in, I had to chance to explore a bit and chat with some of the bordering neighbors. A great cast of characters and hearts the size of the Smokey Mountains.
Then there’re the people who I’ve met as they stop and sit a spell at the campground. The Briggs Brothers from Mississippi…have met some great folk from that state since I’ve started this prospecting adventure, who were on vacation and tramped the woods with me for several days. Thunderstorms chased us out of the creek a couple days, but we had great fun.
The Memorial Day gathering of the Coker Creek Chapter of the GPAA was great fun. This was my first such gathering, and it was an experience. Lots of new friends made and so many new acquaintances I need a notebook to remember all the names, but I’m definitely looking forward to a refresher course on names during the Coker Creek Gold Festival, June 15, 2013.
Of all the great people we’ve met around the campfire these past couple weeks I want to take a minute to shine the spotlight on “Mississippi” from PoBoy Dredges. I got the chance to run one of these little dredges, and I love it. It fits in the back of the Nugget Buggy, and it’s portable and easy to assemble.
I want to take a moment before I wrap this up to say a HUGE THANK YOU!!! to the people and businesses of Coker Creek and Tellico Plains that have helped support Oro Expedition ’13 with their energetic exchanges of goods and services. Miss Paula & myself also thank everyone who has bought a chance in the FIRST NUGGET CONTEST.
Ron at The Welcome Center
Bill’s Pit Stop of Coker Creek - Say you heard about the on KDCL Media
KramBonz BBQ - Say you heard about the on KDCL Media
Rose at Subway
Dixie at Caney Creek Village
The “Motorcycle’ Campground
Ralph from Florida
Michael & Melissa
Captain Jim, President South Mississippi Chapter of the GPAA
All the great folks from around the campfire at Rooster Ridge
And Our Newest Supporter:
We’re still ironing out the bugs with the technology to get my videos back to the studio. Miss Paula may be making a personal pick-up if things fall in place for her to visit gold camp in time for the Coker Creek Gold Festival.
Mark your calendars for Tuesday nights at 8pm edt for Oro Expeditions And Then Some… for weekly updates from Expedition ‘13
So be sure to stay tuned!
It’s been ten days since our last entry, but a lot’s happened since then. The huge storm that hung out with us for a week nearly washed me away, and there were several mornings when I woke from dreams of our old waterbed to find my air mattress floating around the tent.
Some new friends, I’ve made in town, were kind enough to lend this prospector a dry place to sleep a couple nights so I could get warm and dry. The Nugget Buggy has definitely earned its keep, too. LOL Now all the rain swelled the creeks and rivers slowing down the Expedition, but the weather has been beautiful for the past week even if the frost has been on the grass a couple mornings, and I’m back in the water again.
My 14 day time limit in the Cherokee National Forest was up so I moved gold camp to the GPAA claim outside the town of Coker Creek, and settled in to meet my new neighbors.
A pair of brothers from Mississippi were spending their vacation on the claim so we spent a couple days running the woods with our sluices boxes collecting those shiny bits of gold metal. A little company in the creek makes the day sluicing pass by quick.
Along with those little yellow rocks, there’s also a few artifacts I’ve found here and there along with some beautiful clear quartz points and clusters, and a couple other brothers that protect my camp from the wild hogs and bears. Man’s best friend and first alarm system.
Miss Paula will soon be in possession of the videos from the first month of Expedition ’13 so be sure to keep checking Facebook and YouTube for her announcement.
Until next time, may the bottom of your pan always be yellow.
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.”
On April 14, 2013, at 6:30pm edt, the first leg of Expedition '13 began as Oro and the Nugget Buggy rolled out of the driveway filled to the roof with camping and prospecting equipment. He still hadn't decided what his first stop would be, but after a midnight snack in southern Virginia, with our great friend from Over The Road, Tagalong, he decided to get to Georgia by way of Coker Creek, Tennessee.
Besides being in the heart of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, it is also the home of the Coker Creek, Tennessee Chapter of the GPAA (Gold Prospectors Association of America). While there, Oro will give us a report on the claim during the next edition of Oro Expeditions And Then Some..., and talk to the chapter officers about being on the show to update us on the work they've been doing with the Tennessee legislature in drafting new policies for suction mining.
Tagalong became the first member of the Friends of Oro Expeditions by purchasing chances to win in the First Nugget Contest. Good luck to all who enter.
Remember to join us on Tuesday evening at 8pm edt for Oro Expeditions And Them Some... as well as checking here for updates and maybe even some video as Expedition '13 moves around the country.
Oro Cas shares his thoughts and experiences as he travels the country on his Expeditions.