Thar’s Still Gold in Them There Hills!

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Chapter 13



It seems that even though we’re past a formal lesson,
learning continues.

The library books about the gold rush were returned
and we were onto our next learning adventure.

The lesson continued  in an unexpected way.
We were invited to a corn maze/pumpkin patch expedition.

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There was the hayride on bales pulled by a John Deere.
I got to impress them by reciting their slogan,
”Nothing runs like a Deere!”

Yea, in the Midwest when you say you’re going green,
they’re not thinking about recycling, reusing and reducing.
They’re thinking
John Deere green.
It is a color in the palette, not to be confused with hunter green or pine.

When we first moved from the ND to WA, we were surprised to discover
John Deere apparel was the rage.

Even movie stars were wearing John Deere hats and t-shirts.
When I asked a few west coast teenagers if they knew
that John Deere was an implement dealer,
they were stunned.

They thought it was a fashion line.

I love to be the voice of reason and information on the west coast.

Back to the corn maze on the west coast.

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Aw, don’t moms love to sneak learning in in everything?
This corn maze is the dream of a former teacher,
who also obviously loves to sneak in learning.


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The kids are given a map and dropped off on a eastern border city of their choice,
and have to navigate their way back using highways and byways.


And when the girls had safely navigated us back to the west coast,
and found a latte stand for the moms,
they followed the allure of riches.


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Like many before them through the generations,
the feeling of a gold pan in their hands
gave rise to dreams in their heads.

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Several times they were convinced they saw flecks of gold,
but knew they were being fooled.

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A placer mine was set up with a sluice box.

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I was raised in Montana with a Dad who carried a gold pan with
him when we went camping and fishing.
There is still gold nearly everywhere in Montana,
sometimes little flecks, sometimes nuggets.

As I was explaining to the girls how to swish and swirl
and rinse the light stuff out to get the heavy stuff to stay in the pan,
ya’ know, like gold,
I was wishing I had listened more closely to my Dad.
Never actually thought I’d need to know how to pan for gold.

Like my kids, I musta’ done the “smile and nod but not really listen” thing,
because I couldn’t exactly remember the real way to pan for gold.

Secretly, I think Youtube is just a repository of information
for people who are too embarrassed to call their parents up
and ask, “How did you do that again?”

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They sloshed and shook and dipped and swirled.

When the reality of mud instead of gold nuggets invaded their dreams,
they dropped their pans and headed for the hay slide.

They hadn’t lost their life savings,
they hadn’t left family for the dream of instant wealth,
they didn’t lose their life in a foolish pursuit.

But just for a moment,
while their hands were clutching that pan,
their wrists were swirling and whirling,
their eyes eagerly seeking flecks of gold,
they understood the men who did.



To further your learning adventure:



California Gold Rush at the Oakland Museum

Last Chance Gulch discovery in Helena, Montana

Alaskan Gold Rush in Anchorage Museum

Discovery Channel Gold Rush




Maple Syrup Taste Test

I grew up in a family that loved ice cream.

We ate a LOT of ice cream.
My mom wondered why the ice cream went so quickly,
until she caught my Dad in action.

Apparently, he left a spoon in the ice-cream bucket.
When he went down to stoke the fire,
we survived North Dakota winters heating with
a wood-burning stove,
he would have a few bites.
(I think he deserved them, don’t you?)

Anyway, we grew up on those huge buckets
of ice cream that were about $2.
We usually bought vanilla, so we could add toppings,
but on rare occasion had Neapolitan.

As an adult, I was offered Breyer’s vanilla ice cream
for the first time, and I didn’t like it.

It didn’t taste like ice cream to me.

We had the same experience with Rebekah and  maple syrup.

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The Ingalls family had the thrill of making real maple syrup,
tapping the trees and everything.

Not a possibility in my neighborhood,
so I drove to Trader Joe’s and bought real Maple Syrup and waffles.
Traffic was bad, it took me over 10 minutes to go 2.3 miles.

Life as a city pioneer can be grueling.

We didn’t see a bear, but almost saw an accident.

Back to the syrup.
She cut the waffle in half,
and tried each kind of syrup.

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She ate the Mrs. Butterworth’s first.

I grew up with the Maple flavored kind we made from scratch.
Store bought, like Mrs. Butterworth’s,  was a luxury.

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Rebekah has grown up with store-bought imitation syrup,
so real maple syrup should be a luxury.

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Does she like it?????

Pondering, while letting the natural goodness swirl around her tongue.

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The verdict is in.

If I ever find a Maple tree flowing with syrup,
I officially know I won’t have to stop and make syrup for my family.

However, if I find a sale on imitation syrup,
I better stock up.