My Voice In Pen

Writing is a struggle against silence

Following your gut instinct is no joke.

Yesterday, I had a very strong and sudden urge to pan for gold. A week ago we had been attempting to drive to another ghost town not too far away, and had stumbled upon a creek with quite a few obvious small flakes glimmering in the sunlight.

“Let’s go today,” I insisted.

Ronnie, lazily, “Why today?”

Me, “Obviously because we could be millionaires.”

Ronnie, “First time you’ve ever had a strong urge to head up into the mountains.”

This was true. Also, it was odd. Odd that I was strongly advocating to head up into the mountains when we might at best have two or three hours before the sun began to set. Normally such adventures require an earlier start. Nothing about my extreme push to leave /right this second/ made any sense. But nevertheless, I was determined, and nothing could deter my fixation that “today was the day.”

We arrived late afternoon, and successfully caught some of the flakes in our pan. But we lacked the tweezers to pick it out, so back to it’s natural habitat it was returned. After our short supply of patience ran its course, we toured an old homestead graveyard nearby.

The inscription of the graveyard is written as follows “Joe Maurice arrived from Belgium in 1883 at the age of 13. He married young and established a homestead. A horse kicked the sight out of his right eye but still he scratched out a living, raising some cattle and panning gold. During the harsh winter of 1905 his wife died of diphtheria, that spring, his two little children died of typhoid fever.” It is believed he buried them all in this graveyard. He died at 97 in 1967.”

(paraphrased because too much detail I didn’t want to type)

Next, our fancy akin to the wind, we decided to try again to reach that elusive ghost town.

There are two routes for this, so we tried Route #1, to no avail. The snow, even in May, was still hopelessly deep and soft. We turned back, after I shot down the idea of hiking a few miles to get there.

Seconds before we attempted Route #2, we saw three teenagers in their truck head also up that way. So we followed.

The earthquake two months ago had evidently created a tiny stream in the middle of the road. “The road wants to give way and fall back down the side of the hill,” Ronnie observed calmly. Obviously this meant we would still keep driving.

After a few corners, the snow once again appeared, making the truck snort with contempt.

Of course, with the gradual increase of higher elevation, the snow only got deeper. Then we saw them. The snow had successfully captured their vehicle. They were stuck.

Ronnie made them feel better. “Yeah, I followed you guys up here because I knew you would need to get towed back out.”

They grinned sheepishly.

So, in the end, I realized my strong gut feeling of heading to the mountains existed to ensure these random college students would be spared a cold night in the mountains, with no cell service and miles from another human…. and apparently to prove that in 2020, the gold fever is still alive and well.

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