Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Head West, Young Man! Part 9

By nightfall, we had arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were tired from the drive, and still somewhat reeling from that close call with the antelope, so we found a hotel and stayed the night.
By the next morning, R had found an ad for a little shop (Prospecting Tools, Maps, and Collectibles) he wanted to visit. We found it quickly, and were very happy to find that the owner was friendly and helpful. She gave us pointers on where and how to prospect (pan for gold) in the area, and told us about a family-owned business where we could practice our new-found panning skills. We loaded back up in the car, and headed for the hills (you know, like the Black Hills). Since I knew where I wanted to go and already had my route picked, we headed there first.
What was it, you ask? Yes, that’s right, Mount Rushmore! Oh, WOW! That’s really all I can say. Just, WOW! We decided to be quick at this one, so, we came, we saw, we left. Besides, “There’s gold in them hills!”
Next, we headed towards the place our prospecting-friend had suggested. It was only a few miles from Mt. Rushmore, so we found it quickly. This place is owned by an older gentleman, whose nephew (I think) helps out in the summer (tourist season). First, we were given sample vials of dirt that contained 5 gold flecks (these served as our “test” for the REAL DEAL). After adequate practice, we were able to shovel a load of dirt from a huge pile, pick a spot along the stream, and start panning. This was so cool because the young man who was helping us got down in the mud and water with us and panned his own load of dirt, while giving us encouragement, pointers, and stories! After we collected the gold from our shovel-samples, we were told that we could stay “as long” as we wanted and could dig up whatever/wherever we wanted along the streambed/bottom! Apparently, a lot of people bring their kids to pan, and of course the little ones don’t pay much attention, so this is where we found most of our gold—from the bottom of the stream!
R started getting so “gold greedy” that he’d keep an eye over my shoulder (to quickly grab any gold I found), but not even let me look at his pan! We stayed there for about 5 hours, before deciding to head back to town for dinner. We also managed to stop at a more “touristy” gold panning attraction and collect a few more small nuggets!
After dinner, we settled in for the long drive ahead, and left our “Out West” Adventure!
Through the night, we drove across the “Badlands” of South Dakota and the southern stretch of Minnesota. Since we couldn’t see anything in the pitch-black, we only stopped for gas, food, and bathroom breaks. By late the next morning, we had arrived in Wisconsin.

...Coming Up Next...A Thrilling Conclusion...part 10...


At 8:05 AM, Blogger Mon 's valuable input...

Gold! Do you still have any? That sounds like so much fun!!!!

At 8:26 AM, Blogger ccw 's valuable input...

Another fun day! What did you do with the gold?

I love the pictures! Can't wait to hear the conclusion.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Gary 's valuable input...

Nice pictures. Sounds like the prospecting was fun.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Celina 's valuable input...

Of course we kept our Gold! They're only small nuggets and flecks...hmmm...wonder if I can get a pic of them...I'll try that tomorrow!


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