Monday, April 18, 2011

Here's Earl running the material we got from the Llano River. We were at Long's Camp, north Kingsland, Texas, where you can fish or dig for a few bucks a day. The Llano basin is rich in history, and the surrounding hillsides are full of old silver mines. A mineralogist by the name of N. J. Badu also discovered a rare form of radioactive  

Gold prospecting adventure

With gold topping $1,500 an ounce for the first time in history today, it seems a good time to post some photos from my gold prospecting adventure on the Llano River in the hill country of central Texas. My friend W.C. Jameson introduced me to gold prospector Earl Theiss, who graciously brought out his equipment to let me do some hands-on dredging. After briefing me on what to expect -- rocks either slick with moss or as harsh as sandpaper, water typically between three and five feet but with some holes over your head, and being prepared for a physically and mentally adventure -- he turned me loose. The dredge is sort of like a souped-up vacuum cleaner that Hoovers material from the bottom of the river into a 4-inch nozzle and spits out out into a floating sluice box. Air was supplied by a hookah rig on the dredge (I supplied my own wet suit, mask, gloves, and dive experience -- this is scuba diving, so if you'd like to try it, you'd better be certified).  After gathering material for a couple of hours from the beautiful pink granite bottom of the river, and paying particular attention to cracks and crevices, as Earl instructed, we were ready to see what we got. That's Earl (left) and  me transferring the stuff we collected in the sluice on the dredge into a bucket to further refine and, eventually, to pan. We were at a place called Long's Fishing Camp, north of Kingsland, and it was a beautiful spring day. Eighty degree weather. Back in Kansas, it was snowing.

Llano gold!

The end result of a half-day diving, dredging, and panning the Llano River. Not enough to retire on, but not bad for a few hours of fun. Thanks, Earl!

We ate lunch at Cooper's Barbecue in Llano -- and it was the very best barbecue I've ever had, and just as good as I remember it when W.C. and Fred Bean took me there some 15 years ago.

I'll be returning to central Texas on Sept. 24 and 25, 2011, to sign books at the Llano River Outdoor Expo. There will be a gold panning and metal detecting competitions and much more. And if you're interested in more about gold prospecting, geology, the history of the Llano area in general, and the local gold prospecting club, check out llanogold.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Signing at Guthrie May 7

The Guthrie Public Library is hosting a DAMNATION ROAD book signing from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7. The novel -- which has won a 2011 Spur Award form the Western Writers of America -- is largely set in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, at the close of the 19th Century. The library is at 201 North Division Street.