When last our band of ne’er-do-well’s touched down, we had ventured into the town of Red Feathers to gather supplies, acquire the parts to repair the heretofore broken dredge, and to lose the afternoon to pool and beer at the local potbelly lodge. I’m happy to report that we had great success, there were many parts and numerous games of pool.
Indeed the following day proved significantly productive. Dave was up early. Before breakfast he had cut the offending length of split open dredge hose away from the suction head, and had reattached the shorter but not leaking hose with the collection of metal hose clamps we’d picked up in Red Feather. We fired up the dredge and were disappointed by poor performance. The dredge nozzle has two functions, suck, and blow. It either uses water to vacuum up loose rock and sediment, or it blasts pressurized water out to help unbury rocks and blast apart compacted sediment. It could do neither. We shut her down, morale took a palpable hit. Without a functional dredge we were out of luck. I pulled the head of the dredge off the connecting tubes. We hunted for clogs. We jammed sticks down every tube we could, hoping to knock loose a giant lump of clogging dry clay. I worked the nozzle lever which switches between blast and vacuum, with the hope that a clog would come free, and finally, I used a small flathead screwdriver to clear a copious amount of clay and small stones from the dredge nozzle. Doing everything we could without actually soaking the dredge overnight in some sort of dissolvent, we plugged her back in.
Houston and Erik fired up the pump and we were back in Business! Our haphazard repairs had functioned, and we were blasting and sucking at full power.
Our good luck lasted for about seven minutes. I twisted the dredge head at the wrong angle and promptly ruptured the pump line, Again!
Dave, with a sigh, pulled on his engineer hat, and repaired the dredge hose, again.
Removing me safely from the head of the dredge, we worked for the rest of the day without incident. We burned through two tanks of gas in the dredge pump that day. The hole which we’re working was over four feet deep and nearly six in diameter.
The following day, we performed the same. Dave had to make a run to town, and while Houston, Erik, and I were waiting for our Crisco/Vaseline mixture to cool, we gathered up shovels and headed into the muck. Using good old fashion manpower, we doubled the footprint of the hole. We stirred up a large amount of (hopefully) diamond retaining material. In addition, we worked on our tans. Now, the hills of Colorado might be a curious place to work on a tan, but when your work crew is one of significantly white men, a little bit of dappled light and clouds are a good start.
It must be noted that we went overboard, and all of us now bare interesting sunburns in the patterns which we cannot reach on our backs. Supposedly mine is in the form of North America, with Greenland on the wrong side. It would, be simple I suppose, to have slathered each other’s backs in suntan lotion. Since we’ve never seemed to have a camera at hand, there was no way to record ourselves spreading lotion on each other. This means there was no point really, so we each spent a good amount of the day awkwardly bending our arms in an attempt to spread sunscreen on our own backs. We are not pros.
Other than our attempts at sunscreen, this weekend has been one of productivity and success. We’ve moved a lot of material and now have a large number of possible diamonds.
The only hiccup came yesterday, on what will heretofore be known as Aren’s bad day. It was a day filled with work. The dredge worked, there was a great lunch, and a happy mid-afternoon buzz generated by “full-throttle whiskey sours”. That buzz did not translate to much hard work on my part after lunch, but we did make plenty of headway. I have come to gauge my sense of time on how long it takes the dredge pump to run through a tank of gas. We completed another tank of dredging, or rather, Dave, Erick and Houston completed the hour, and I spent the time wearing my environmentalist hat, creating a dam which would block the silt runoff from reentering the lake. It was a success though, it didn’t add much positive work to the effort.
After our work day, it was decided that we’d head back into Red Feathers and find a shower. It had been a week since any of us had bathed and it was high time to wash away the grime. Bright eyed and bushy tailed we loaded clean clothes and our smelly bodies into the truck. We made it to the general store and were happy to find out there was a restaurant nearby which offered showers. We stepped out of the general store into torrential downpour and an amazingly loud thunderstorm. I suppose, had we been really desperate we could have stripped down and run around Main Street in Red Feathers. It was raining hard enough. But we decided to have a warm shower, find a nice meal, and maybe meet a waitress to name our dredge after.
In these things we were successful, almost. The side by side shower stalls in the Western Ridge Restaurant proved fickle. While Erik received a shower hot enough to scald, I was on the nozzle end of a shower with water cold enough that i swear it had frozen to hail by the time it hit the floor of the stall. To top it off, when either of us adjusted the temperature it had the opposite effect on the other. Erik’s options were hot and scalding, mine were freezing and luke warm trickle. I may as well have showered in Main Street back at Red Feathers.
Admittedly the rest of our desires were a success, we indeed found a cute waitress, though we were somewhat snubbed after describing who we were and what we were up too. Dinner was tasty and filling. But my desert was a little less than desirous. I ordered a milk shake. It was followed by a curious desire to see what the combination of porter and milkshake tasted like. I took a swig of milkshake and drained the dregs of my porter, only to discover that Dave had used the bottle as a depository for chewing tobacco…. yuck. It had at least three out of the four of us laughing extraordinarily hard. Dinner over, we headed back to camp.
Unfortunately upon returning, we found that the enormous thunderstorm which had ripped over Red Feathers had also hit our camp. It had flipped mine and Houston’s tent onto its head, which had tangled our cots and piled our bedding. Houston’s books were damp, as were mine. The poles of our tent had multiple cracks. I addition, my cot and bedding had ended up on top, and as a result, were absolutely soaked. From a bit too drunk to work productively, through someone else’s chewing tobacco, to a soaked pile of bedding, the jokes about Aren’s bad day abounded.
Really though, I can’t complain. It is the kind of ordeal that is pretty easily survivable, and might literally be a good story. We relocated the tent into a spot in which the sun may not wake me with blasting heat, and we were able to name our dredge. Target of Opportunity will suck again!