You’ll Never Know Until You Look
Once there were these two guys that were on this bicycle trip. They didn’t really cycle all that much, but they’d seen a documentary on TV about this particular scenic route through the country where they lived. It was an area that they were both familiar with, as they’d driven through there numerous times. But as I’m sure you know, driving through a place, especially when your mind is on your destination, and you ears are filled with music from your CD player, it can be difficult to really appreciate the scenery as you are traveling through.
I suppose that could be said for any area through which you pass on the way to someplace else. You never know what’s around unless you have a reason to take your eyes of the distant future, and pay attention to what is around at any particular instant.
Once I had a friend who was driving an old VW bus on the way through a particularly large city. He lived in the suburbs, and this particular route took him through some areas that he would never go to. But one day, his VW suddenly started having problems. He just barely pulled off the freeway, when he saw this old VW shop. Luckily, the guy had extended hours, and was able to help him.
This guy had been in business for several years, and was an expert on all things VW. My friend, not being the most astute mechanic, learned quite a bit from this guy, and returned to his shop several times in the future for repairs and fine tuning of his classic van. Had it not been for the engine trouble he had on that day, he likely would never have found that guys shop, and wouldnâ€™t’ still be driving his VW bus to this day. That shop seemed to awaken an interest in engine mechanics in him, and he has been tinkering ever since.
So it was with our two characters of this story. Neither one of them had ever though much about the rolling countryside through which they drove on a regular basis, until they both coincidently saw the same documentary regarding the various farming and mining industries that had been developed over the past several hundred years in this area. The next time they met, they decided to go on a cycling tour through the area. They had discussed the best way to visit, and despite neither of them being avid cyclists, they figured that would be the way to go.
This took quite a bit of planning, as they reckoned it would take about a week to wind their way through all the back roads off the main highway on their bicycles. Since they both had full time jobs that only came with the minimum amount of vacation time, it took a few months to coordinate. But they finally did, and that’s how they came to discover what you’re about to find out.
The area was presently used as various orchard farms, and a couple vineyards. Nothing world famous, but enough for the local farmers to make a decent living. They did produce a really good merlot from time to time. Before being a vineyard, the area was a copper mine for a time. A developer from back east came in and decided to mine for copper, as copper back in those days was worth quite a bit, and technology at the time was heavily dependent on copper. So the developer figured that if he got lucky, and tapped into a large source of copper, then he might become a big player in the realm of precious metals. Who knows, he may even discover oil.
It’s not widely known that most of the early oil tycoons of previous years started out as miners. Gold, silver, copper, these were all extremely profitable metals back in those days. But with the advent of the railroad, and later the gasoline powered automobile, crude oil became huge. And still is, obviously.
However, this particular entrepreneur never quite made enough to break even. For a while, he was mining enough copper to make a tidy profit, and pay all the workers, and keep his family fed, but most of the time it was a struggle. So after a few years, he finally gave up, which left several untended mines in the area.
Later, of course, farmers moved in and found the soil particularly useful for growing citrus and grapes, as they do to this day.
So on their third day out, camping in some places and staying at cozy bed and breakfasts on other days, our two friends were cycling along, when they came across an abandoned copper mine. Naturally, being on vacation, they decided to take a look.
It was a relatively large opening, and easy enough to walk down into. They had a couple flashlights, as their guidebooks suggested for this very occasion. They had walked about a half a kilometer down into the mine when the earthquake hit.
At first they were terrified. Then the shaking stop, and the dust settled, they realize they were still safe. But they noticed a crack in the small excavated room they were standing in. It was a crack that seemed to open up to another natural pocket in the earth. One of them wriggled his head and his arm in, and shone the light around.
Despite the darkness, his friend could read the astonishment on his face.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Take a look.” He looked. What he saw made him gasp audibly. For inside the recently opened natural space deep under the earth, were mounds and mounds of raw gold.
“Yea, but, this isn’t ours, is it?” He asked. Unsure of the property laws and who owned what and whose farm they might be on.
“Check the guide book.” He checked. They were astonished that the copper mines, which had fallen into disrepair, had been passed from owner to owner, and since fifty years had passed since anyone had supported the property with any maintenance (which is required for mines due to some insurance law of antiquity) they had fallen into the public domain.
“So, we can keep all this?” he asked, incredulous.
“I guess so.” They looked at each other, and looked around for left over mining equipment, and got to work.
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