One day my dad and several of his Railroad buddies readied themselves for a hunting trip to the Sierra Mountains. Excitedly they discussed how easy it would be to stake a Gold Mining Claim; this would be an excellent manner to secure a nice piece of land for a vacation spot. In the end, my dad was the only one serious about doing this! He set about to process his claim with an application to the county.
The car, piled high with provisions for a weekend, included a tarp, quilts, blankets, & cooking utensils. Last, was an odd thing - a large piece of metal which was to be used as our cook stove. My uncle, aunt and their three children went along to join in on all the fun.
Situated on a gentle slope, the tarp became a lean-to for us kids to sleep beneath. What an adventure! Our mattress of quilts, with blankets on top, kept sliding down hill because our “bed” was not level. Slipping and sliding was part of the fun and no one seemed to mind the inconvenience.
My dad built a small springhouse over a cool spring that ran into the creek. In it we could store perishables, and fill buckets to hold the cold water for drinking and cooking.
Dad strategically positioned some large rocks, and eased the piece of metal on top. We watched as he cleverly kindled a fire beneath. The wood popped and crackled while the bacon sizzled! It turned out to be a marvelous cook stove for the rest of our breakfast foods. We all enjoyed fried potatoes, bacon, eggs and coffee for breakfast in the morning. Later, it served as an excellent hamburger grill. Watermelon, cooled by the spring, never tasted so good!
The comforts of home faded, and we roughed it! Our uncle and his family decided they wanted no part in the “roughing-it” type of life! That weekend was enough, so they gladly packed up when it was over and headed for civilization!
Another uncle did decide to join us, and helped build a suitable “outhouse.” He also assisted mom and dad in constructing a small, but comfortable, cabin where we spent many a happy holiday. Memories of board games played, the smell of the outdoors, and nights of counting falling stars from our bed, still stir.
As we grew older and married, we enjoyed bringing our children up to, “The Cabin” as we called it. They often brought friends who would also take pleasure in the great outdoors. A magnificent place of quiet beauty was a spot which we dubbed the “Swimming Hole.” The creek emptied into this deep pool about a half mile downstream. Such a secluded and peaceful place it was. All we had to do was pick a large rock, jump off and enjoy a swim!
The Gold mine? It was nothing more than a hole in the ground, that dad dug to stake his claim. Later dad found it necessary to hire a surveyor, and to make a settlement payment to the neighbors before he was able to gain a title deed, but it was soon recorded.
No, not a gold mine, and not a mansion either. A vision, a little determination, a lot of work, and some continuous devotion to an idea, and we had a cabin just over the hill top! Best of all, it was legally ours!