All in Vein

The fuel was low, and now we had a hole in the gas tank. “Well, that’s not good…”

Several years ago Erich, Myself, and Andy were looking at looking for gold.

Richard—I’m pretty sure—was asked to go with us, however, he was unable to travel on the selected date. As the date drew near, neither could Andy. Apparently, he and his wife had made arrangements (like eight months before) to attend another venue. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if they hadn’t had already paid to attend. So… Anyway, Andy was out. Fine. No pressure. No guilt. We understood.


Still, given the kind of friend that Andy was (okay, so, I just need to clarify that the ‘was’ is only referring to a past tense situation wherein Andy was a good friend back then, and I am not implying that he is not one now. because he is still a good friend. still, if I had typed ‘is’ instead of ‘was’ you, dear reader, might have become confused about what point in time Andy has behaved like a decent human being. because, Andy has been a good friend, and still is. so, to be clear, the ‘was’ is only referring to a time in the past, not that he was only good for a brief period of time. just to be clear.), he had a gift for us. A sort of apology for wanting to go, but not being able to go. As a result, Andy had asked Erich and myself to drop by his house to pick up something that he had for us.

My van was packed with all sorts of gold mining equipment. There was a large tent. Pots and pans. Food. Sleeping bags. Pans (for the gold panning). And, I had packed my son’s toy metal detector. Seriously, my son’s toy metal detector. Not a detector for metal toys. A metal detector that was designed for children to play with. Still, the thing worked just fine. It detected metal, very, very well. I know because I tried it. I pushed it to its limits. So, this had to come with us. Okay, off track. Erich and I arrived at Andy’s place and he gave us a couple of convertible backpacks. He borrowed them from his work. They were gifts the company would give out to people. Erich and I were people (see the above note regarding Andy and just apply the same point to this ‘were’ situation), and we deserved those gifts. The backpacks converted into over-the-shoulder satchels. Cool.

I had a gift for Andy (Erich got one too—for the trip). See, for those that have read some of my earlier posts, I used to work at a Boy Scout camp in summer times. In the season that had recently passed (again, see above note), the staff had received oilskin jackets. They were awesome! I still use mine. It’s like, almost twenty years old, but combined with my fedora… I look more like Indiana Jones than ever before. Andy loved his jacket! It had the camp logo on it and Andy had been to that camp as a youth. He almost cried. It was beautiful.

Now, I am a little off-topic, but, still on topic. So, anyway, Erich and I got on the road. We had gold to find!

Our destination was property owned by the grandfather of the wife of a friend of Erich. This was land that had been used for ranching and other things like unto that. Erich was familiar with the location and so, I was excited to head out to this destination and camp, and cook over a fire, and look for gold. I love the outdoors. After a few hours’ drive, we had reached our location. Erich recently offered to provide me with a link to a map of the spot. I have opted to not—for no particular reason.

Upon our arrival, we set up the tent, and had some food. We made preparations for the search on the morrow. We were excited. This was many years ago when sleeping on the ground wasn’t so bad. I laid out my military isolinear mat—the best insulator I have ever found. Next thing I knew, it was morning. Time to find the riches! After breakfast.

Liquid eggs. I had a quart of liquid eggs from the end of the summer camp season (leftover food-stuffs were given to the staff after the summer was over because we were not allowed to return certain food back to Sysco Foods) and some bacon and other stuff I cannot recall. I’m sure orange juice was part of it. Now, time to find the food stuffs! Gold! I meant time to find the gold!

There was a nearby cave, this was where the gold was to be. We looked. And dug about. And looked. And dug about. And looked… This was very much a Yukon Cornelius moment: Nothin’.

Then, out of desperation, we tried the metal detector. Erich wasn’t sure how good it really was but wasn’t about to dismiss a possible aid. I knew it was good, but wasn’t sure how sensitive it might be. It worked! It worked very well. Within minutes we found a vein of gold. It was small. It wasn’t long, or deep in the rock. But, it was there. Located at about shoulder height—which might explain why we missed it. We cut it out of the cave wall and packed it up. It was the penultimate find (for us). The ultimate would be later. On the road.

Camp was cleaned up in no time. We had a long drive back. We were a little tired and a little dirty. Not like super-gross dirty. Just we-been-outside-sleepin’-overnight-in-the-woods dirty. Time to head for home. My wife and children had stayed with Erich’s wife and children, so home was the same place that day. Erich helped me navigate out of the windy dirt road and back to the onramp toward civilization. That’s when I found the metal.

There was a long strip of metal (about three feet long and two inches wide) just laying on the freeway onramp. It was laying in such a way that I was afraid to run it over, have my tire grip it, and shoot it into the underside of my van. It was parallel to my vehicle’s direction of travel, but placed on the road so that I only had two choices to avoid it. Option one: Move to the right so far that I might go off the road and hit the delineator. Option two: Try and straddle it and not hit the delineators on the left. I tried option number two. And, a big number two it was. I misjudged ever so slightly. Clipped the metal part. The tire gripped it. It shot into the underside of my van. The van moved. We felt it. “Crud.”

After pulling over, we got out to investigate. The metal strip was gone. I have no idea where it went. However, I did know where it hit. The lower corner of my gas tank. It was now leaking what little gas we had left. We had had enough to make it back to the nearest town, but, now that there was a leak, we didn’t know if we were going to make it or not. “Get in. Let’s go.” There wasn’t time to sit around and ponder what we might be able to do. We had to get moving. The gas tank was leaking. Drive. Drive. Drive. That was all there was to do. So, we drove. To Wendover.

Wendover is an odd town. It is split down the middle into two states: Utah and Nevada. The Nevada side has all that you might think the Nevada side does. The Utah side has all the things you think the Utah side might (none of the Nevada stuff). We came into the Nevada side on our way to the Utah side (home). Our first stop: Gas station! “But, wait.” I can hear you say. “Your gas tank had a hole.” I know. Gas stations have all the greatest stuff for travelers and truckers. One of those things is a selection of epoxies!

Now, I have used all manner of all epoxies—as has Erich. We quickly found what we needed. In addition, we found a parking lot nearby that was on a decently steep slope. This way, any gasoline we had left would fill the back portion of the tank and not leak out or interfere with the repair. We parked. Cleaned and then patched the hole. Now, we had a few hours to kill while the epoxy cured. We couldn’t just drive off and hope it worked. That would not be smart. “What should we do now?” “Roulette?” “Roulette.”

Erich has a pretty good system for a slow and steady win for roulette. I knew the system. So, we cleaned ourselves up the best we could and walked into the establishment of the ones who owned the parking lot. We thought it only fair to patron them. I don’t gamble that often. I can count the number of times I have done it on one hand. This does not include cookie poker. Still, I have a policy I learned from another friend. You start with $20. Once you win $20, or more, you put back your $20 and keep playing. Now, you’re only playing with house money. Once you’re out, you’re out. You stop. Or, if you’re winning, you just stop whenever you want. It’s all win.

Two hours and $350 later, we walked out of the door, split the winnings 50/50, checked the now solid patch, filled the tank with gasoline, and drove home. The ultimate.

The end result was this: I still have a few rocks and bits of old metal found at the site (like old mine car wheels on their axles). The money won more than paid for the trip and everything involved. And, the gas tank patch held up (I had to eventually get a new gas tank to pass a vehicle inspection—even though it wasn’t leaking. it never leaked). 

The rocks. There is some gold in one of them.
The cart parts. I just think they’re neat.

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