Copyright© 2011 by vlfouquet
There Is Gold In Them Their Hills!
The 'We Find It crew left the mining office in Grand Rapids and took US 31 to South Bend, Indiana. There they jumped on to I-90 that went all the way to the Pacific and would pass through Idaho just south of where they wanted to go.
The trucks made a real convoy. Tiny had one fast pickup at the rear and one at the front of their line of vehicles. All of them were painted a distinct sand color so that all the other vehicles matched Big Bertha's colors with signs on their side telling who they belonged to. Each vehicle had a miniature flag of Texas on one fender and the USA on the other.
Cassie had suggested the paint and signs; to her the paint being the same mix felt the same to her 'feel or sight'. Tiny thought of the flags. Before leaving Grand Rapids all of them had been run through a commercial truck washing facility so they hit the road sparkling clean. In fact they almost looked like a military convoy with the color of their vehicles. By the time they pulled out of South Bend most of the men were wearing old battledress they either already had or they picked up at Army-Navy stores on the road.
Tiny had one problem that was unexpected. He had said nothing about it to Cassie and she had not picked up on her own. All the young guys, especially the interns, were in love with Cassie. He had started rotating the drivers of Big Bertha to try and keep control of the situation.
Two of the interns had even gotten into a fight over whose turn it was to drive Big Bertha. Of course the real fight was who was going to ride with Cassie. There were no overt sexual acts involved; it was just Prince Froggy falling for Princess Cassie and tripping over his own feet anytime he was around her. This year Tiny had five interns and at this rate he might not have any when they reached Idaho. It really did not help that she was normally the only female within miles of them.
Tiny thought that Cassie was finally catching on. She had been so oblivious to them hanging around with puppy dog eyes that all the old timers were laughing themselves to death over it. They had highballed around Chicago so nobody had a chance to blow off steam. Tiny had been in this business for years and he knew that this work could be dangerous and that the men working with the equipment like theirs, had to have some outlet or they would make one.
His plan was to lay over in Minneapolis for a couple of days and let the crew get some relaxation before hitting the field in Idaho. He picked up his cell phone to contact a friend in Minneapolis about parking their trucks.
After making arrangements for the trucks he called Cassie.
"Cassie, I'm planning on taking a break in Minneapolis to let the crew blow some steam, get some good sleep, throws back some brewskis and eats some food they don't have to cook for themselves. What you think?"
"Tiny, I have nothing to say about it. I don't know what is involved. I would like a good meal myself. Maybe go to a concert. A movie or TV is worthless to me. I have noticed that the interns seem all up tight for some reasons."
There was a pause as Tiny thought for a minute. "Yeah I noticed that myself. Cassie, I think they all got a case of puppy love on you. None of them know how young you are, I mean remember, I thought you were seventeen when I met you myself."
"You're kidding right? Oh my god, you are not. I can see it now. Wow, that is just so funny Tiny. What can I do?"
"Nothing, just don't favor one over another. There has already been one fight over driving Big Bertha, as if I believe that was the real motivation.
We will spend a couple days there. We will have to park most of the vehicles in a secure lot, and that includes Big Bertha. We will get some rooms at a good motel."
As they highballed down I-90, Cassie sat back and thought about what Tiny had said. She had just never thought of boys in that way before. Sometimes, when Sarah had spent the night with her, she had listened as Sarah talked about this boy or that boy. But she just never had an opinion. Then she had her run in with Harry Hankins. That could have turned her completely against boys except that she could tell that most of them were nothing like Harry.
She thought for a minute. There was Richard Jenkins in her History class; he seems like a nice enough person. He was a good student and also an athlete and now that she thought about it he had acted a lot like the interns were doing here, always staring at her and dropping things. Could it be that he was aware of her as a girl?
She shook her head for a minute; no, she was sure he had a girl friend.
Lying back in her seat she took a nap. It was still dark when she woke up. Teddy was driving now, so she sat up and turned toward him. "Teddy, what time is it? Has Tiny said anything about stopping?"
"Oh, you startled me Cassie. It's 7:30. We will be hitting Madison soon so we are stopping near there for the night. Tiny knows a truck stop that has overnight parking for over-the-road trucks. He thinks we can stay there. He also said they got great food. It's in a town just north of Madison called DeForest."
"Well wake me when we arrive." With that, she leaned back for forty more winks.
Cassie woke up again when Bertha exited I-90 and they stopped at the top of the exit road at a stop sign. She could 'see' the truck stop. There were dozens of trucks refueling or parked in the rear lot. In the restaurant was a crowd of men eating. Teddy followed their convoy as it swung wide around the building to enter the far side of the parking lot. There they could all park together.
She sat up and exited on Teddy's side of the truck. She had never exited from her side since the first time when she was chided for not allowing Teddy to check for danger and help her down. It was convenient to have Teddy's help getting down from the height of that driving compartment.
The men were all gathered, talking loudly about every subject men will talk about. She blushed as some of those comments were not meant for young ears. But she felt good, too, because the men treated her as one of the crew. Most of the old timers did not even think of her as a girl; she was one of the 'boys'.
Tiny waited for her to come to him and walked with her to the restaurant. The crew was spread out around them covering their backs without thought.
They pushed through the doors into the warmth and noise of the restaurant where Tiny stepped up to the hostess.
"Ma'am, I got thirty five and it will be one bill so where do you want us all?"
"Oh my, thirty five orders on one bill, let me see." She turned to the kitchen area.
"Bill, we need to open the rear dining area. Lissie, you and Grace will be working the rear area. It's one bill so split any tips in that room. You two let the other girls know they will have to hold the front down for at least an hour maybe two."
She turned back to Tiny and grabbed a stack of menus, "Follow me!"
With that she led the way through the main dining room. As the crew followed her, the room they tracked through fell silent. The crew was made up of some big men. You had to be strong to wrestle with drilling rigs. Even the Hispanic crewmen were big; shrimps just could not get the job done. Wesley, a big black man, was so big and strong that he could probably pick up an NFL defensive lineman in each hand.
The rear dining area was big enough to seat about fifty, but this crew of thirty five men packed it. Music started playing as some of the men peeled off and started loading a juke box with dollar bills. There was no conflict. Most of these men had worked together for ages and had learned to compromise personal tastes. The new ones gave way to the veterans.
So, mostly it was working men's music with Country western, some Latino and some R&B. It was all interspaced so no one dominated. Cassie liked it all and her foot tapped to the beat. The waitresses were busy, but they were also veterans. One took drink orders the other started on the food. They did the ordering five people at a time. Cassie was surprised how short a time it took them to get the order turned in. Everybody had a drink as the first orders started hitting the table.
Most of the food was steak, potatoes, gravy, beans and deserts. One of the intern's orders was a chef salad and the room got silent. Then laughter rang out and, his face turned red with embarrassment. Cassie noticed that when his order came back he had changed it to a large chicken fried steak with French fries. Later, when the meal was over he looked shocked to find himself wiping his plate clean with a roll.
Cassie was a little surprised at how much she had put away. When you worked as hard as they had all been doing, your body wanted calories.
The discussion rolled around to finding a place to throw some beer down and finding girls.
"Guys, hit the sack. We'll be leaving real early in the morning. Be here at 4:30 for breakfast then, by 5:45, I hope to be on the road. We are stopping in Minneapolis for a layover. By leaving that early, we should be there early afternoon. We can get ourselves settled in and then you have two days to relax. A whole weekend! We'll pull out on Monday, so get it done this weekend." Tiny had stood up to tell them this. "Tonight, I have reservations for all of us next door at the Motel; just tell them 'We Find It' crew. Rooms 101,103 and 105 are taken. I got 101, and Cassie has 103. Teddy, John Boy has 105. And guys let the girls know how much you appreciated their service."
He waved at the waitresses who had paused until he was through speaking.
He went to them and gathered up all the checks and pulled out some money and gave each of them their tips. It must have been good because both broke out in huge grins.
Tiny then escorted Cassie back to her vehicle where she quickly gathered up a bag with some clothing and then walked across the front parking lot to the Motel.
They each picked up their key cards and went to their rooms. Cassie took a bath and a long soak. When she was through she drained the water and took a quick shower to wash off all the soap. She then collapsed into a warm soft bed.
Cassie dreamed of a roaring stream of mountain water running down off a mountain. She stood on a bank of the stream and behind her, on an old County Rd., sat Big Bertha. She carefully stepped into the flowing water. Squatting down she used a small shovel to dump a load of gravel and dirt into a pan almost as large as a wash basin. Then she filled the pan with water. She slowly rotated the pan letting the floating dirt wash away. She added more water and continued rotating the pan until no more dirt floated out. Then she let the last of the water spill over the edge and stood upright stretching her back.
She picked through the gravel and grit left in her pan. Most was just pieces of granite and feldspar. But some of the grit was too dense and if she could actually see, she would have seen a tint of yellow to them along with a small nugget. She looked at the area where she had gotten the shovel load. She examined the flow of the stream, watching the water push grit and dirt into the pocket she had shoveled out.
Her sight went up stream, slowly following the flow. She began to walk up the stream. Soon she came to another small stream entering the flow. A sample upstream, past the new creek, found nothing along the banks. She came back to the new creek and walked up it until she found a bend where the water flowing down was diverted by the bank. A new sample on that bank again found a couple of small nuggets and lots of gold grit. She looked up that creek and a short way up it, the water came over a small waterfall.
Again she climbed and walked up the small creek until she was above the falls. The water was shallow just before it went over the falls.
She waded out into the water and took a shovel full out of the bed of the creek and dumped it into her pan. Again she rotated the pan, until all the dirt was washed clean. The bottom of her pan was full of golden grit with a dozen little nuggets. Cassie looked further up the creek where it narrowed coming down the mountain side. She knew she was off their exploration lease, but the mother lode was still up higher on the mountain. She looked around and saw mountains to her left and behind her. County Rd 111 was a couple of miles away. She stepped out of the water and sat down on a log. She relaxed and narrowed her focus to sweep the creek banks for over two miles. She pinpointed every spot that had a good placer deposit.
She noted when the amount of gold started falling off and came back down the mountain mentally. There she "saw" a bigger deposit; a small rivulet flow into the creek about a mile upstream. There were more deposits below it than above where it flowed into the creek. She relaxed a minute and refocused up that rivulet. Just at the edge of her range the water flowed through a crack in the rocks lined with broken up quartz. There she "saw" a wide band almost a foot in width of gold that was six inches high. It was at least six feet in length of broken quartz all laden with pieces of pure gold. The vein from which it had broken off extended down and out toward the center of the mountain.
She scanned around her and could not detect a trail or road within two miles of this discovery. She stood and her foot slipped out from under her and she fell into the creek. A scream erupted from her throat as she went under the ice cold water.
Cassie found herself setting up in her bed with 'Tiny' banging on her door. "Cassie, Cassie are you okay? Answer me girl!" the door shook with his hammering. "Let me in!"
It took her a minute to get oriented before she scooted over and out of her bed. She stumbled to the door and unlocked it. Tiny picked her up in his arms. "Girl are you okay? What were you screaming about?" Shaking, she tried to make sense of what had happened. She shivered with the feel of ice cold water over her body. Pushing back from Tiny, "It's okay Tiny, just a nightmare."
She also found herself surrounded by bellicose crewmen, with balled fists looking for someone from whom they could defend the girl. None of them were looking directly at her as she was stark naked in Tiny's arms.
"I'm sorry guys. I had a real bad nightmare. Thanks for all of you coming to help me.
"Oh well, it 4 o'clock so it's time to get up anyway; guys let Cassie have some privacy."
Slowly they began to depart, one or two at a time. Tiny pulled free from her grasp and started to back off. "Tiny, you got your maps of the lease lands? Bring them to breakfast. I need to see them."
He stopped and looked at her, "Okay, Cassie I'll bring them."
Then he grinned, "Well the interns might start having some competition, girl you are one fine looking woman."
She turned and quickly closed the door behind her. Not long after that Cassie was waiting outside his door with her bag when Tiny stepped out of his room.
Once more the men filled up the rear dining room where the waitresses were joking and kidding the men. They had been told about the tips the waitresses from the night before had gotten. Plates of eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, and a wide selection of sausage and bacon were spread out on all the tables.
Cassie led Tiny to a vacant table where he spread out the maps of his lease properties. Cassie got a plate and loaded it up with food then she sat down at the table with the maps. As she tried to look at the maps she nibbled on her food. "Damn, Tiny, the ink is not thick enough for me to make out details. I am looking for a place that has a Mountain north and a Mountain east of it. There's a county road running north on the west side of one of your leases and a stream through the lease."
"Hum, let me see." He began to shuffle through the maps. He finally spread out one particular map, "Here's one but I see nothing spectacular about this."
He spread it open, "It's pretty far north, almost in Canada ... and way out in the boondocks. But here's the lease with a county road right on the boundary of the lease on the west side. There's a stream right through the lease. This is really a placer exploration lease, on both sides of the stream. You are not supposed to remove any mineral with an exploration lease, but a lot of locals get one of them and go placer mining. It's cheaper, a lot cheaper, than an actual mining lease where you can legally remove mineral. They might find a couple of ounces of gold and that's almost three thousand dollars."
"Okay, look at the northern edge on the west side of the stream through that lease, just before the county road turns west. There are multiple small pockets of gold with a few nuggets and dust. Then follow that stream on northward off your lease. Just about every bend has some color. Now find a creek dumping into the stream from the west. There will be more color at every bend. Now follow it up to a very small waterfall. There is lots of color caught at the top just before the water goes over the falls."
"Now, about a mile or mile and a half upstream of the falls, on the right, there is a very small rivulet. The water flows down through some broken rocks and there is a streak of high grade ore inside those rocks. This is about one foot wide and six inches high and there's about six feet of this broken off. This band goes right into the center of the mountain. I would think that there are a couple of tons in easy reach, and that is high grade, 90% gold."
"Cassie, you are talking about millions of dollars!"
"I know that's just the parts that are broken off. The quartz band goes on into the mountain. There is no telling how much a proper mine could take out."
"Tiny, I just realized that I can probably find places where they quit mining a foot from a major vein in some of the old mines. The land may have shifted and the rock broke with the earth shift moving a band just a couple of feet or even hundreds of feet but I can find those broken off veins and restart them mining."
"I really hate what we are doing Tiny, mining and smelting is really messing up the surface. The waste lays toxic material everywhere."
"Yeah, I've seen it all over the earth. It does not matter what, mining or drilling, wherever we bring up the resources needed to keep civilization going we leave toxic waste. But Cassie, if we can keep control, then we can earmark a percentage to clean up after our selves. We can put money into detoxification to do cleaner smelting, and turn tailings into solids that do not dissolve in the water."
"Cassie, we may not be able to get our vehicles up in there. There are no trails or roads anywhere near by."
"Yes, I know. The way I see it, we have to follow the stream up to the creek, then the creek up to the rivulet. We would need to cross the creek before the rivulet then follow it until we reach the gold. We would have to lay our own road up to there. I think even Big Bertha would have problems doing that. Hum, could we mount a blade on Bertha's front end?"
"Yeah, but I think the easiest way to handle this is to go as far as we can go, which I think will be where that county road turns west. I think we should start there and follow that stream northward then up that creek as close to the rivulet as we can and still be able to cross over the creek and go up that rivulet. Which will probably be above that waterfall?"
"When we have to start building a road, we are going to need to rent a dozer and bring it in. We probably can get the bulldozer, a truck and carrier in Coeur d'Alene. I did some research when I was planning this trip and have checked they have a couple of heavy equipment rental places there."
"Cassie, we will need to get to the county assessor's office and check their land plat to determine who owns that land. Do we need an Exploration Lease or a Bureau of Land Management permit? If it's BLM then we could apply for a Land Surface permit to build a road up in to there. It's time to get the lawyers working on this."
"There is a lot of federal land in Idaho; over 60% of the land is federal. Mineral claims are a lot clearer under federal law. If you find minerals on land that is open for mining claims then you stake and file and it's yours for 10 years.
They have three types of claims; mills, placer and lode. It's been a while since I looked up Federal law on this but I am kind of hoping its Federal Land. Placer claims are 20 acres. A lode claim is 3,000 feet long and 600 feet either side of your center line. That's about 3,000 x 1,200 feet. You've got to place a discovery monument and it is from this monument that all metes and bounds of the survey are measured. The discovery monument must be very prominent and the name of the claimant and the metes and bounds must be posted at this location. Each of the four corners of your claim must be staked. They cannot be open ended pipes or perforated ones for wildlife protection. After you make the claim, you must report them to Bureau of Land Management. Each person can make one claim of each type. The placer claims can be worked together as an association of up to eight claims. A corporation is counted as one person."
They had been eating as they talked and the food was now all gone. Tiny gathered up his maps and lease agreements and stood up. He then did as he had the night before; he gathered the food check tickets and paid the waitresses the tips for the orders. Cassie noted that all of the men left sizeable tips for them too.