Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

I know, I've all been waiting patiently for another blog. Well, here it is.

We're still enjoying the warm weather with a few windy days thrown in. It's been in the 90's most days and it feels wonderful.

Doug is still searching for the mother lode in the desert and to aid his efforts, he decided he needed a drywasher. For those not well acquainted with prospector lingo, this is a machine that sifts the heavier material (gold and black sand) from the lighter material (dirt, sand and small rocks). Well, these machines aren't cheap so Doug decided to manufacture his own.

Starting with a scavenger hunt at the local thrift shop and Habitat for Humanity Restore as well as garage sales and treasures found along side the road, Doug collected ironing boards, fabric, buckets, sheet metal from an old shed, chain, angle iron and various necessary items such as a fan blade and sewer hose. The blower was already in our possession.

Over the course of a week, Doug cut and bent and magically transformed these bits and pieces into a working drywasher.

And here is the final product.

The dirt goes through a rack (top of the ironing board) on the top bucket where the larger rocks roll off. The classified dirt then rolls onto the bottom half of the drywasher (a square bucket cut in half) and passes over the sheet metal riffles to land in the round bucket. The blower and fan push air through the fabric under the riffles while the whole contraption vibrates. Because gold is waaaay heavier than dirt and rocks, the motion and air allows the gold and black sand (which often contains gold) to get caught in the riffles.

After about 20 minutes, we clean out the riffles and Doug can pan the material to separate out all of the gold. It works!!!! We've been out in the desert twice and have found small amounts of gold with less effort.

We have also found snakes and scorpions. There were 3 snakes on Monday of which two were dead on the road. And this lovely fellow greeted us on Tuesday. (also dead) We're being very careful now about where we walk and where we stick our hands. I flipped a medium size rock to discover and ugly, little scorpion waiting to sting me. Doug sent him to scorpion heaven immediately.

Today, Doug is making a few minor modifications to the drywasher and we'll try again in a few days. It looks like there may be some bad weather coming in.

So that's our exciting news. For 50 bucks Doug has built a machine that costs around $500 new. It may not be as fancy but if it finds gold.....who cares?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Still Here

Time to catch up! Still here, still playing.......

Our friends, Bill and Wanda headed for New Mexico a few days ago and we moved to a park that is on the edge of Wickenburg. It's an older park with quite a few permanent residents and is a little run-down. But, in the back of the park, away from the street is a section with several nicer rvs and a couple open sites. We chose one that has a little shed and room for Doug to set up his gold mining equipment. It's not beautiful, but it has some nice people and is a little easier on the budget. I'll get some pictures tomorrow.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the desert was beginning to bloom. Yesterday on our trip to the wash I took some pictures to share a little of the color.

My favorites are the ocotillo. These skinny, dark green stalks are budding out with red buds at the tips.

The colors haven't totally exploded but are prettier every day.

There are purples, oranges, yellows, whites and occasionally these.

They were tucked into the side of a steep canyon wall, waiting for us to notice them. Tiny flashes of color to brighten our day.