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I stepped out the front door . . . .

September 07, 2019 10:47PM avatar
The eastern sky was slowly changing from darkness as morning approached. My radio was picking up most of a Country radio station from Boise as I dusted my way along the dirt road watching the taillights of the trucks spaced out ahead of me further up the canyon. My mind stepped back to the mid-1800's when pioneers and prospectors once rode these trails, it was a very different time.

We picked our way through a maze of roads. The unrelenting heat of summer had taken a toll on the grass and underbrush, drying it out to a tinder. The pines and cedars were holding on for the most part waiting for the relief of fall and the cooling winds and rains to follow. A powder dry dust covered my back window. I'd have to get used to it for the next few days. Eventually, we pulled into a somewhat level area of a mining town active in the first third of the 1900's. We know it as Switchback.

I opened the front door of my car and stepped back in time a hundred years. It was good to be out exploring along with Bob, Monte, Sid and Gregg. The heat of the day was already starting, but the smiles and expectations of everybody was still there. Anticipation. After a briefing of the layout of the long gone town, off we went. Each in our own directions. Thoughts of our own as we wandered among the ghosts. There's a quietness to these long forgotten towns. A wonderment of a once prosperous place long since taken back by the forces of nature and time. Oftentimes, the only thing left are a few depressions in the ground, perhaps some rocks aligned where a building once stood. And trash. Lots of disintegrating tin cans.

Hours later, I walked a worn track down a steep hill leading from a pair of old cabins; tired, but a smile on my face. As I approached where we had parked, Gregg was pulling away in his truck, stopped and back up. He see's the grin on my face and says, "Let's see it." I palm a small item and drop it in Gregg's open hand. Without looking, he feels the object, flips it over, feels where a pin used to be on it and says, "A chauffeurs badge." Wow. First guess. I am notably impressed. It's in surprisingly good shape. 1936 Oregon Chauffeurs License. How did it ever come to be here in a mining town way off the beaten path?

I was fortunate, there wasn't much else found. Lots of exploring; heat, sweat, dust, rusty nails and disintegrating tin.

We came back for a few hours Thursday. Determined. But there are times when you open the door and step out and have that feeling; not here, not today. Perhaps another time. I couldn't tell you why. Just a sense you acquire. After a few hours of exploring, it was time to move.

We caravanned down the road, dust billowing up into the air as we made our way. The air was still and the dust hung in the heat. A few cattle wandered close to the road, We made our way to lonesome arch, way up the basin.

We did more exploring for the rest of the day around lonesome arch. Gregg managed a Chinese cash coin. But that was it. The sun was hot in the sky. No breeze so to speak. Just heat. The sage brush, the dirt, the tin cans, the bare road all gave off heat.

I did some exploring down a dry wash. On a crescent shaped bend, water had cut into the dirt bank making a ledge. Sage brush overhung the bank, shading it from the sun throughout the day. There were eight neat patches of smoothed dirt all in a line where the local mule deer were bedding during the days. I had likely frightened them off with my crunching in the dirt and rock as I made my way down the wash. The tracks were fresh.

My hours of exploring revealed some old diggings and an old lead bullet that for a moment had me anticipating a different find. The heat didn't relent and eventually won. I headed back, winding my way through the sagebrush to meet up with Gregg and Bob and head back towards civilization. Another day of a single find in the group.

Weather service said there was a storm coming in. We stopped at the car wash and hosed off the dirt and dust prior to its' arrival. That night there was rain and lightning.

In fact, the next morning there was lightning and dark skies to the West. We were headed West towards the lightning. I wondered if we'd meet. You know how that is?

Monte wasn't going to make today. We'd miss him. We were headed to Phil's place. Previous site of a WTHO get-together. The lightening and dark clouds stayed close. We watched some impressive lightning strikes as we pulled into the Phil's place and stepped out of the vehicles. It was Gregg, Bob and I. Oh, I can't forget Vivian, the 6 year old granddaughter of the owner. Cute as a bug and a non-ending supply of the fountain of youth. Bob has a picture I think.

Lightning and storms make for good coin hunting. Don't argue with me about it. It's just the way it is. That said, it didn't take Gregg long to kneel down, make a recovery and make the walk back to where Bob and I were standing. "Does that look silver to you?" he asked. Good question. Does a Mercury dime look silver? the simple answer is "Yes". Oh, and then he comes walking back with another coin in hand. "Almost forgot to check the hole", he said with a big grin on his face. It was a '41 nickel. At least it wasn't a '42, so I didn't have to go through the silver question again. Well, then again, I guess war nickels aren't really silver are they? grinning smiley

Bob and I explored our way around. And then Gregg comes walking over again, big smile. Something about a token and Monte's not going to be happy he missed coming out. Gregg's on fire, despite the rain. The good news is that Gregg has a package to be delivered that must be signed for and he has to leave shortly. So there will be an end to the hot streak. It starts to rain.

Time for Bob and I to get back to work. We have a few hours. Shortly, the owner and her daughter start moving a large pile of plank wood for better access to the front of an out building. Bob's limited in lifting after having had surgery on his back a few weeks previous, but I can help in getting the pile moved. Black widows can get pretty big when they have the proper conditions. The wood pile was 'good conditions'. Gloved hands make for easy black widow dispatch as needed. Best not to get bit. eye popping smiley

After moving the wood, Linda thanked us graciously for the help and insisted we hunt anywhere on her property we want. Anywhere. Bob and I had been a little tentative previously, but took her at her word and tried some areas closer into the house. Finally, I get a good signal. Deeper, but reading right at nickel on my 800. (13). From 6-7" deep comes a lovely 1907 V nickel! I'm relieved.

Bob walks by and I show him the spot. About 20' away, Bob kneels to recover a target. He walks over and shows me his first ever trade token. Congrats to Bob on that. we work the area hard, removing a bevy of the aluminum dime sized pop tops. (Same target ID reading as the token) Down to my last 30 minutes and I get another pop top signal. From 5-6" deep comes a lovely Art Deco .925 Silver earring with stone. And then it is time to go.

It's been a good day. And a good trip. Some excellent finds were made and experience gained in exploring difficult sites. Time behind the controls and in the field provide experience. Some really good food as well. thumbs up

Many thanks to Gregg for hosting me at his place, Bob for keeping me alive with ice water at crucial moments, Monte for always being willing to share his expertise and Sid for suggesting that I get out the front door and have some adventures.

Might I suggest the same for all of you.

I'll see you then.

UtahRich -


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Subject Author Views Posted

Some friends showed up, so we went detecting smileys with diet Dr. Pepper float Attachments

OregonGregg 330 September 07, 2019 05:50AM

Re: Some friends showed up, so we went detecting smileys with diet Dr. Pepper float Attachments

Rdunzl 246 September 09, 2019 02:54PM

The Token cleaned up well.

UtahRich 174 September 10, 2019 06:01AM

Good to see you, and that you left with a '1st!'

Monte 141 September 10, 2019 05:21AM

Bob congrats on finding a 1st

OregonGregg 143 September 09, 2019 06:47PM

Re: Some friends showed up, so we went detecting smileys with diet Dr. Pepper float

Kickindirt 155 September 09, 2019 03:05PM

Re: Some friends showed up, so we went detecting smileys with diet Dr. Pepper float

Rdunzl 160 September 09, 2019 03:11PM

I stepped out the front door . . . . Attachments

UtahRich 303 September 07, 2019 10:47PM

Terrific story and great photos! .. We had some fun, for sure.

Monte 152 September 10, 2019 05:14AM

We had some fun, for sure.

UtahRich 142 September 19, 2019 09:27PM

Your Forester + some deep ruts + recent rain.

Monte 134 September 20, 2019 01:35AM

Forester and Winter Roads -

UtahRich 135 September 20, 2019 07:47PM

Re: I stepped out the front door . . . .

Rdunzl 163 September 09, 2019 03:00PM

Re: I stepped out the front door . . . .

Kickindirt 177 September 08, 2019 10:32PM

Re: I stepped in it...........

OregonGregg 223 September 08, 2019 07:30AM

Re: Some friends showed up, so we went detecting smileys with diet Dr. Pepper float

Kickindirt 170 September 07, 2019 11:56AM

Welcome Mat is always out for the good guys and gals. N/T

Monte 174 September 07, 2019 01:59PM

Re: I was in Arizona or I would of prob tried to join insmiling bouncing smiley N/T

Kickindirt 148 September 07, 2019 03:20PM

Your adventures at 'Switchback' and 'Rippville' were productive.

Monte 190 September 07, 2019 09:34AM

Switchback / Rippville -

UtahRich 154 September 07, 2019 11:10PM

A little steep..........

OregonGregg 187 September 07, 2019 02:52PM

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