Well….it has happened. We have an offer on our house. It’s not sold yet. We’ve begun the counter-dance that all buyers and sellers go through so maybe tomorrow, (as I’m writing this), I’ll know if our counter was accepted, (and something tells me that this one will fall through). From there, we’ll have another 12 days for the buyers to walk away from the deal, should they have reason. Regardless, soon we will be leaving beautiful, (albeit costly), California; land of the gold rush. Speaking of gold….
We’ve always been explorers. Every new place we’ve moved to, we have tried to get out and see all the sights we could. In so many conversations with locals in the areas we’ve lived, we’ve found that we have seen interesting sights that the locals who’ve lived there all their lives have not. For me, the desire to explore goes back to my childhood where we only traveled to grandparents houses for our vacations.
We didn’t get to nearly as many places in California as Huell Howser, (and I hope you watch a few of the video archives in this link), but we did do our fair share of exploration while we lived here, including a few ‘gold mining’ exploration trips. Gold panning is legal in most streams and rivers in California as long as it’s low impact. Low impact generally just means a person isn’t destroying the area he’s trying to find the gold in. Some of our best days spent in California were days with family when we were just out doing ‘nothing’.
In the winter here in the Sacramento area, we can often get many days where we are totally carpeted in fog. There haven’t been many of these days in the past few years, but when we first arrived, we had more than our share. Many times it would be foggy the entire day but if we drove just 10 minutes eastward towards Tahoe, we’d often instantaneously emerge into sunshine and at least 10 degrees warmer weather; it always made us laugh and instantly changed our moods.
On one of these days, after we had had maybe 3-4 days of rain, we went out to do a little hiking in the woods. We’d walk alongside several creeks when on one of these, my wife Kim looked over a small footbridge and joked about seeing gold under the bridge. We all looked and I joked about someone probably throwing little pieces of copper into the stream as a joke. (Likely because I golfed with a guy who liked to throw pieces of fishing lead he had painted gold into the creeks on the course we golfed at). All three boys however, flew down to the creek’s edge and began picking up all the ‘copper’ pieces, stuffing them into their pockets as if they were tossing plastic eggs into their Easter egg basket at the Sunday egg hunt.
No matter if copper beads, the kids had a wild time. Kim and I were chuckling the entire time, having fun just watching our boys be boys. When we got home, each of them tallied up their finds. As expected, the oldest found the most, the youngest the least. Even so, Tim (our youngest), had scooped up close to 20 little gold, (or copper), pieces.
As it happened, about a week or so later there was a little ‘Gold Country’ fair going on downtown in Old Sacramento. Old Sac, (as it is called locally), is the original cowboy downtown – all these towns around here have them. We all went downtown to spend a few hours there. Our oldest boy who had been here on vacation had already flown back to Ohio. I had told the boys to bring along one of their copper pieces because maybe we’d see someone we could show it to, find out what it really was.
And so, that’s what we did. There were a lot of exhibition booths set up, people demonstrating how to pan for gold, that kind of thing. I approached one of these guys and handed him one of our boys’ copper pieces and asked him if it was gold.
Me – My boys found a bunch of these, can you tell if they’re gold? Some of them look like copper to me.
Miner – yup, this is gold….Some of them look like this, (like copper), because they likely have a bit more silver in them.
Huh, whatdayaknow…..the boys had really found gold in California!
Well after that, of course our boys went crazy…literally. They wanted to know how to sell it, how to become millionaires. I had been fairly successful over the years on eBay so when I looked into the subject there, I told our boys I think I could sell them one at a time for them. And sell them I did. One at a time, sometimes maybe two together if they were smaller pieces, I’d list them auction style, describe them and provide a picture next to a coin, usually a dime. They couldn’t believe it, and frankly neither could I, but the buyers came and each of the boys made hundreds of dollars just for doing what boys do best – scrambling around in the water and dirt and getting dirty.
In later years, when the rains would come and the boys would be together, we’d sometimes joke about going hunting for gold again. On a couple of occasions we even drove back to ‘the spot’, but of course there was never anything to be found again. The boys may have found real gold that day, but it’s always been my hope that their memories, our memories as a family are what’s really golden for them. Maybe one day they’ll each stumble upon my little diary here, smile….and then will go out and make some more golden memories for themselves and those they love.
And to you, you few who take the time to read these accounts, I leave you with a thought that I think is credited to Zig Ziglar:
Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
Go find your own gold! Here’s a pic of mine.