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Panning for Gold

We don’t have a lot of time in between shows typically. There has been a few long breaks that have provided a much needed respite to repair and regroup before another salvo of long hours driving and 14 hour days.

We met Ray and Kathy at the Central Wyoming Fair in Casper. They are seasoned fair vendors and we saw them again in Powell for the Park County Fair. During the slow times, Ray would wander over and we’d talk- sometimes for hours.

One of the things he said that really peaked my interest was how much he enjoyed panning for gold. One day he even brought over vials of gold he’d picked up in different places from panning.

I’d never thought much about it before. Hell, I’d never known anyone that had panned for gold before in my life.

Ray described how you really only needed a cheap plastic pan and you could explore to your hearts content.

We ended up back in Lander next to City Park camped next to the river and I thought about it again.

One of the struggles we have in between shows is to actually make the most of our time. It’s truly is a struggle. After working 100 hours in a week and then driving 6 hours, I’m physically exhausted and brain dead for about 48 hours. All I want to do is sleep and watch a Red Box movie or eight. After that there is all the “should do” maintenance and work to either “get ahead” or at least “not fall behind”. If I stayed focused there never would be ANY time for recreation.

Hil has a similar but different problem. The kids are a 24 hour per day job. Charley is at that particular age where she’s mobile enough to really hurt herself but not old enough to know better. Emma is at the age where everything is, “What’s That?”

Charley is very Mommy attached, which means Hil doesn’t get much of a break. Emma is getting big, heavy, and spontaneously mobile. That means Daddy gets the task of chasing and lugging our 40lb bundle of energy around while mommy carries Charley in her ergo-pack baby carrier. Sometimes she has to carry Charley in the pack all day long without a break.

It’s tough and it too will pass. But for right now, there’s not a lot of options.

So amidst the childcare, maintenance, physical recuperation (as if Hil EVER gets a chance to recuperate), we have to make an effort to sight see and do some fun things.

I expect it’s the same for most people who work full time and harder if you have kids.

So we’ve been riding our bikes around Lander and found a hardware store which had some gold pans. What Fun! For a whopping $4.95 per pan, I am officially a gold prospector. We got a small one for Emma and I bought a little kit with an officlal “how to pan for gold” booklet.

We drove up to Sinks Canyon yesterday and had a great time. It was hot but we toured the visitors center, learned all about the geology and wildlife, fed the brown trout that live in the rise pool of the Popo-Agie river that comes out of limestone underwater streams, and we panned for gold!

One of the nice things about having a motorhome, wherever you go- there you are! We parked for the day in a shady camp spot and walked down to the river where it was nice and cool in the water and spend a couple of hours searching for gold! I would fill the pan with sand for Hil and she could carry Charley and still pan. Emma played in the water and directed as I panned. Hil had better luck than I did and we found a few small flecks in her pan. I mean super tiny little flecks, like you need tweezers to find them small. For all we know they could be pyrite for all we care, it was still fun.

Surprisingly, gold is everywhere. Just not enough to get rich. Gold flake can be found in a lot of streams and rivers in very small amounts. In the four or five small flakes we found they probably amount to a couple of pennies worth of gold. But it’s still gold (or at least I think it is:)

Hil had to quit prematurely when Charley started melting down. Emma and I played in the river a while longer playing in the cool mountain water before heading back.

I don’t think we’ll find the motherlode, but considering how much traveling we do and the fact that we like to dry camp in BLM land whenever we can, gold panning is a lot of fun.

It’s activities like this that are particularly regional that make travel interesting. Sometimes we forget WHY we travel and let the work drive us. I can’t say that we take FULL advantage of our gypsy lifestyle but we try.

One thing leads to another and it’s experiences like this that may ultimately shape your life in the future. You just never know how one experience will affect the next. Just by taking the time and doing something ‘different’ your whole life can change.

In retrospect, that’s how we got here. I decided when I was 30 to take sailing lessons. It stuck and here we are ten years later.

I can personally attest how hard it is to muster the energy to do something different with a full schedule, but I can guarantee you one thing in this life,

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

I know, we are insane- just for different reasons.

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