Monday, October 31, 2011

Finding Gold

 If you squint a little, maybe stick out your tongue and tip your head to the left, you will see there is a little gold in the bottom of that pan. A very little gold... This was found in a previous prospecting trip from a few years back.(the horrible picture is from then too). 

There are some really great things about gold prospecting as a hobby that fits very well with the VanTramping lifestyle! 

1) It is peaceful and entertaining. - Sitting beside a bubbling creek, slowly swirling away the layers of lighter material until you can see if the glimmer of gold shows up in the bottom of your pan.

2) Gold often is found in some of the most beautiful areas and that just happens to fit with our preferred surroundings!

3) You can make a little income from it. - You need a bit more than what I have above, and you likely won't get wealthy from it, but the price of gold is up there(about $1700 a troy ounce now) and it shows no signs of going down.

4) You don't need much equipment. - A good gold pan, small shovel,  and a snuffer bottle is enough to get started.

There are many prospecting clubs out there to join which gives you access to their gold claims which many can be parked on or near, overnight. A couple good examples are:
and of course

Over the years, I have hunted gold with various methods including metal detectors, highbankers, gas powered dredges and more. They all work well, but I am finally settled down to just using a small 2' sluice box and basic panning gear. I really enjoy the more relaxed, simple and quiet way it works out. 

Right now, we have our gear packed neatly in Taj's storage areas, but in the near future, I would like to get a small framed backpack and configure it all so it can be grabbed quickly. 

Prospecting is definitely a fun hobby! I am always curious how many of our friends on the road enjoy it too!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Personal defense and more.

The subject of personal defense and firearms tends to be a very  "hot button" topic these days, but it is a subject that we take very seriously and we would like to share how it affects our VanTramping lifestyle. I hope it is of some value to you, our friends. 

For Heidi and I, the decision to buy and carry firearms was based on a couple basic concepts. We never walk in fear, but from personal experience over the years as well as being aware of current trends in crime, being more able to protect each other is a solid reason. The fact that we enjoy shooting and feel like guns are a pretty safe investment also helped us decide. 

We both have our CPLs and now carry the above Beretta PX4s pretty regularly. Heidi's is the 9MM on top, mine is chambered in .40 S&W. We recently joined the local indoor range and took a class to improve our shooting, both were good decisions. 

Carrying concealed from state to state is one aspect that many consider complicated. Figuring out which states have reciprocity with Washington was not difficult. See here: Reciprocity maps  If you know your route or have an idea, it is easy to figure out how to handle each state and their laws for dealing with carry or transport of firearms & ammo. 

The 12 Gauge Mossberg is setup for home defense in it's current form, but is soon to gain an extra barrel with more length so it can optionally be used for hunting nummy tasting grouse and other game birds. 

The air rifle, made by Beeman, is more for plinking and target shooting for now. It is capable of use for small game, but so far, unless there is some extreme need, that won't happen. I like furry little critters too much. All of our firearms fit easily in Taj and have their own specific locations. 

To end this post, I will say that one of the things that we value most in this VanTramping lifestyle involves the pursuit of self sufficiency. Having the tools to defend yourself, without relying on Law Enforcement, (who likely won't be in the area when you most need them),  is just one more step toward that goal. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do I have to leave? Really?

Okay, I was kidding about the title, sorta :) This pic is the view I had from my hospital bed. That is the bay here in Port Angeles. You can see the Coast Guard station out on the end of the "spit" to the right. It was pretty cool watching the CG choppers fly in and out for drills. 

I am glad to be out of there and feeling tons better! Thank You to everyone for all the sweet comments! I didn't bring my computer in the room with me, but Heidi had hers and let me know about them as they came in. Having that kind of support is really encouraging! 

The Olympic Medical Center here in PA is really a nice hospital. Very kind and thorough staff as well. My first room in the place last Tuesday didn't have the same spectacular view but was still very comfortable. The doctor, who was incredibly nice, said "Hey, I think we can do better than this" and had the staff move me! Don't find that kind of treatment very often! Easily the best hospital experience I have had ever! The food was even pretty decent, ordered from a menu, room service style. 

As nice as it was, I am extremely happy to be out and back to having fun! Stay well friends, I will try to do the same! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where's Mike!

Just a quick note to let you all know that Michael is in the hospital.... and doing well.  For those of you waiting on a return email from him, he'll be getting back to you when he gets out.  He thanks you for your patience.