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John Sheldon Opal Beds

While on a short vacation/scouting trip to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, we stopped to look at some property in Burns Lake. It looked really good on paper, and when we went into where we thought the driveway was, we were quite hopeful.

Then we saw it was about ten kilometres down a mountainous logging road.

That would not be good in the winter; not by a long shot.

While we were camped out near the property, Gerri looked up other things to do in the area and it turned out that there was an opal/agate bed only a few kilometres from where we were camping that night.

We decided that we didn’t have time right then but would stop and camp at the site on the way home. We both love looking for fancy rocks, so how could we pass up a chance to go mining for free?

We did a quick search and found out that John Shelford staked the claim in the 1980s after finding two pieces of precious opal but left the claim for the district to turn into a public reserve staking. This means that anyone can go up there and dig up some stones. There was a 1.9 km hike that was easy, with some steep sections but there are opals at the end of it.

Pretty cool, right?

I think that I like rockhounding because Gerri loves rocks so much and I love the outdoors. I also love searching for things as well as the thrill of finding them.

When I can do something I really enjoy and possibly give the love of my life something that she really enjoys, I think that’s probably the best hobby you could have. It also gives us both a few things we crave more than anything.

Quality time together, relaxation, and adventure.

There are lots of other fantastic points, like mental and physical exercise, fresh air, the outdoors, and wildlife. We also like cooking outdoors and making coffee in odd locations.

Okay, back to the quest

A few days later we came back and drove into the campsite part of the John Shelford Opal Bed. There were some signs.

The campsite was pretty good, especially for free. There were a few spots, a couple of picnic tables with fire pits…

…and a really cool outhouse.

That sign is not the cool part, especially because we now had to fry the steaks. No, this is the cool part.

I could watch the stars from my throne. If only I could stay up that late.

We had some supper and then tucked into the old fartsack for the night.

(Seriously. After those beet tops and the tri-tips, it got a little gaseous in there.)

OPAL TIME!!!!!

As you can see, we are very eager beavers. I couldn’t even wait to put shoes on… or pants.

After a breakfast of leftover steak and potatoes, we were off and running.

This is the start of the trail the next morning.

 

The first half a kilometre was really nice. We scared up a cow moose with calf near the start, but I couldn’t get my phone out quick enough.

I kept the phone out after that. This was the pleasant part. We’re thinking the only reason it was good, was because it had been recently logged off.

There were nice, flat trails for a bit. Like this.

It didn’t take long for them to get like this though.

You can see the trail in the centre of the last photo. We quickly learned that things have changed since the 2011 article that we were going by. It said the trail was easy. We have since notified them and it is now changed to difficult or challenging.

We made it to a few different sites, where we found stones, but we were pretty beat. We decided to hike back out before we lost the strength and the will to survive. We also didn’t want to forget the way. (We’re getting older, you see.)

There was more of this…

…but in the end, we made it back. Partly because we found a plethora of huckleberries to munch on along the trail.

There were literally thousands of bushes like this along the higher parts of the trail, which was good news, I think.

I figure that if there were bears (or people) in the area, these patches would have been robbed already. Most of the raspberries were drying on the plants and the huckleberries were at the peak of ripeness. If there was a bear around, I imagine we would have seen sign of it.

Unless…

They just fill up on hikers that stop to pick the berries amongst a trap of deadfall trees.

A little worse for wear, but after some big gulps of green juice, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. Well, I was not feeling good about choosing shorts for the hike. These are some of the reasons.

When we were all packed up we thought we would boogie into Burns Lake for a swim as we had seen a nice little beach area when we passed through. As we came down off the mountain, we saw this.

That was the start of the Shovel Lake fire which has been burning out of control for over a week. As of posting, it is the largest wildfire in British Columbia.

Well, enough sadness. On to the gratuitous partial nudity!

The water was pretty cold, but it was just what we needed to rinse off the blood, sweat, and tears of a day of prospecting.

Speaking of prospecting, this is some of what we found.

And our favourite…

This is the one that made Gerri cry when we got it out without breaking it. We don’t know if it’s an opal or an agate but it will always be the reason we went on that trip.

We have no idea if anything we found is worth money, and we don’t care. We don’t even know what to do with them but we are going to start looking into lapidary tools and see if we can turn any of it into something beautiful. We have always loved looking for cool rocks but had never really known how rewarding it could be to go through such a struggle for the unknown and finding so much more than you were expecting.

I guess this is why there are prospectors.

When we got home to the computer, we figured out how to track ourselves, somewhat, with the location thingy on the phone. I traced it out for you. It’s supposed to be 1.9 kms in, but we think it is a bit longer now to get around everything.

When we go back, we will be taking better tools and will be cleaning up a lot of that trail. We would like to spend a few days camping and really learn about how to extract these gems without smashing them into shards. We’d also love to pick a bunch of those huckleberries. I bet they make a delicious jam and maybe even a pie.

If anyone is interested in meeting up on a long weekend and having a rockhounding adventure, the site is about fifteen minutes from Burns Lake, BC and we would love to plan a trip for possibly the Labour Day weekend, but definitely for next summer.

You can reach us at chris@granolalight.com or via telepath crystals. We’re hoping that a few of these hold those qualities.

Free Bees?

Talk about weird timing

The other day I was going through the PYPT posts and came across a really cool one by @curtross about a swarm of bees just out in the wild. I really liked it and talked a bit with him about it.

Then yesterday we went to the dump and saw this in the woodpile.

Do you see what I see?

Yeah, a local beekeeper threw all of this out apparently. I don’t know if it’s any good or not, but there were tons of bees still in the boxes.

I talked to the guy at the dump and he said they are all still full of comb and honey.

That shouldn’t attract too many bears.

Anyhow, @curtross, or anyone else that knows about this stuff, would they be diseased or something? Why would a beekeeper throw out hives and bees?

What could a non-apiarist do to save any of this from the inevitable fire? We have always wanted to keep bees, but live in town. I could keep it at my work though.

 

Gardens And Reflections

All winter I was dreaming of building some river rock, raised- bed gardens in the backyard. I had everything planned out in my head and had read many articles on mortars and techniques in preparation for when the snow disappeared.

We were going to have a mixture of reclaimed logs and stone to try and keep everything natural looking.

We still might.

 

For now, we are going to work with the logs. They are free and doable.

As usual, I forget to take photos when I’m doing things, so I rely on Gerri to document our progress. I don’t think I even took a “before” picture. Luckily she showed up before I finished, or it would just be me trying to describe the process to you.

I suppose I found the stonework daunting, more than expensive. It’s hard to admit that, mostly to myself, but there it is. I kept saying that I was going to buy cement and mix it up for the footings, but I never did it. There was always something else that the money was needed for. The rock is free, but when I started to think about building the wall, and the sheer weight of the rock I would be wheelbarrowing into the backyard, I sort of froze up. Mentally and emotionally.

I can’t think of anyone I would rather be beside when I’m feeling down or inadequate. Even just having her near me gives me everything I need to keep going. I love when she comes out and tells me to wait, just so she can take a selfie of us, or asks why I’m doing something a certain way.

Sometimes it’s just nice to take a break, put my arm around her and stare at the tomatoes while we cool down and talk about things we would like to do if we had the money.

It’s never anything grandiose or even expensive. It’s simple stuff, like a rock waterfall and a little fish pond or to replace our dilapidated sheds. A little piece of property and a sawmill.

We really don’t want much.

We talk about how nice it would be if we could use the property behind us to plant some gardens in. It gets excellent sun and under all that grass is a gravel parking lot. It used to be a theatre but now sits empty, except for a room upstairs that the cable company uses to broadcast it’s twenty-six channels from.

Don’t tell them, but I cut down a big poplar on their property last year that was full of carpenter ants. I didn’t know about the ants until it hit the ground. The real reason I cut it down was that it was blocking all of our sun.  We threw the branches and limbs in this garden as sort of a hugelkultur garden.

We also threw in our old compost pile. It wasn’t completely broken down but mostly. Just like us.

It was filled with kitchen scraps, old chicken bedding and last years tomato plants, along with an uncommon amount of ants. I was thinking about how to safely poison all those ants but then I thought better of it. They really weren’t hurting anything, and possibly were helping break things down.

I did take a few particularly infested clumps and threw them in with the chickens.

Circle of life and all that.

We mixed in 4 loads of wood chips to the mix and then got ourselves prepared for shovelling the trailer load of manure into wheelbarrows and moving them to the backyard and into the new garden.

That was when I had an idea!

You know, I never thought I’d make it to forty, but here I am at forty-six and I feel like my life has just started. I finally feel like I have a goal, and I also have someone to strive for that goal with.

It took me a long time to find someone who appreciates the simple things in life. A crackling fire and some s’mores, pruning some tomatoes, or just getting high in her fort and dancing. She’s so much more than I had ever hoped for, yet feels like she’s sometimes not enough.

Even though she’s the reason I even want to do anything. The reason this got built, and anything after it.

I’ve finally found someone who appreciates old, weathered wood, and realizes that rich soil is one of the most valuable things that we can have in our lives.

With rich soil you can grow anything.

Going To Build Some Gardens

Hi there, folks. For anyone that follows our WordPress blog, you may have noticed that we haven’t been posting there lately. It’s been a few months and we’re sorry, but we’ve been putting everything we get time for on our Steemit blog. The only reason is really that we get rewarded in a cryptocurrency called Steem for posting there.

The good news is that some developers got together and created a plugin called SteemPress. Now we are able to post in WordPress and it will simultaneously post to our Steemit account.

So without further ado, we will get down to business.

We have been planting everything in containers and crates we have found at the dump or acquired over the years. We had three small raised beds, but they weren’t really working as well as we had hoped so we pulled them out.

Now we needed something to put in their spot but we didn’t want to spend a bunch of money.

Luckily we live in an area of abundance.

This is Geddes Bay. There’s a lot of free logs here.

So we hooked on to our little trailer and headed for the lake.

It was hot. That was enough work for the day.

We didn’t want to overload it, so we took what we figured we would need for an 8’x4′ garden bed.

My helper required payment for services rendered. Luckily she wasn’t charging more than I could afford. 

We were planning on doing some stone beds, but the sheer amount of work was daunting. This provided a free chance to try something that would take a lot less time and effort, but mostly it doesn’t require much skill.

I have never worked with stone before and Gerri would like to get some beds in this summer, so it looks like we will be starting with wood.

I figure we can get enough for an 8×4 bed every trip to the bay, so we may get another two or three beds in this summer. It’s somewhere we enjoy going, just to hang out, so now we can feel productive at the same time.

As for this bed, stay tuned to see how it turns out.