Winter in Rock Creek Canyon

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Mileage and Expenses for the Quest by Year

10 trips resulted in 6,230 kilometers (3871 miles) driven; $11,142.00 spent in 2012

19 trips resulted in 10,462 kilometers (6500 miles) driven; $2897.53 spent in 2013

20 trips resulted in 11,960 kilometers (7431 miles) driven; $6472.22 spent in 2014

10 trips resulted in 6160 kilometers (3828 miles) driven; $6815.13 spent in 2015

7 trips resulted in 7040 kilometers (4374 miles) driven; $3175.52 spent in 2016

7 trips resulted in 5298 kilometers (3292 miles) driven; $2642.45 spent in 2017

2 trips resulted in 1723 kilometers (1071 miles) driven; $2278.62 in 2018

1 trip resulted in 865 kilometers (537 miles) driven; $1186.91 spent in 2019

1 trip resulted in 880 kilometeres (547 miles) driven; $1108.98 spent in 2020

77 trips became 50,618 kms or 31,451 miles driven; $37,719.36 expenses from office supplies to vehicle rentals

I see no reason to stop searching without having the prize. What will 2021 bring 125 years after the robbery and death of Mathew Roderick?

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Some say life is like a roll of toilet paper… the closer we get to the end, the quicker it goes. At sixty-nine years of age, I’m spiralling towards the end at a fair clip. If I’m lucky, family genetics and our great BC medical care might drag my carcass across the ninety year line. Hopefully, unless I can’t walk or talk, see or hear anything, then a different outcome might arise.

Not only has covid continued to cause havoc around the world, but some days my healthy body, depending what lump of life you compare me to, doesn’t feel at its best. I still walk an average of three kilometers a day to keep burning all the calories I consume, and feel good doing so. Even up numerous flights of stairs. But more and more, my trusty old hands give me trouble. And I love writing cursive so that’s a concern for me. Still, as long as I can walk and as long as I know who I am or why I walked into the other room, life has to be considered good.

My writing stalled dramatically when I battled the unseen forces of corruption on my laptops. I inadvertently spread the problem from one to the other and often my misunderstanding of how the technology works compounded the issue. However, I kept my old guy cool, and have learned from my errors. I’m back writing and looking forward to building a story that most might enjoy reading. Found a writing app to help me craft as good as I can and a fair price on a new Chromebook. No outside corruption allowed.

I miss the remote forest a great deal. Can hardly wait to return. And the nightly star display. And silence, absolute silence. Maybe a distant raven telling a story. The rapid vibration of humminbird wings as a Rufous checks out my red bandana. I grew up in the country, if indeed I grew up at all, and need more open spaces and nature in my life. But for now, I appreciate living in close proximity to my children and grandchildren. And health care. Yet I know I will search again for lost gold in the rugged forest.

Years ago I read a quote saying gold waits for the right person to find it. I say, if you believe it, you can make it happen. As I enter my tenth year of this incredible adventure, I look forward to the only conclusion I ever thought possible, a successful one.

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My Special Christmas Eve

While operating a small, mixed irrigated farm in southern Alberta, I noticed this small miracle. The four birds only roosted in that manner for that one night. Similar accounts have been recorded over the years, something unlikely to happen in an industrial setting.

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Winter Drive towards Little Fish Lake

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Another Year Races By

In my previous blog I sent out an appeal for someone to join me to help conclude the search. Youth and brawn are needed to help conclude this exciting but slow motion adventure. I met a couple of individuals who seem to be just the right balance of smarts, age, and willingness. However winter descended too quickly and harshly for any development to take place this year. That’s not really a problem for me as I’ve been living in next-year country for nine years now anyways. So what’s one more… It just means Christmas won’t hold any big celebration this year, other than enjoying life in the age of Covid-19.

2021 marks the 125th year since Mathew Roderick stole the Camp McKinney gold bars. And died in a bungled attempt to retrieve them. Over the last several years I learned much from the Royal BC Archives in Victoria, some from the BCPP files and some from the inquest transcrpits. Helpful staff in Spokane and Seattle Public Libraries added lesser but interesting details. One is a picture of the Roderick house built in Seattle in 1894 as photographed in 1937. And a library staffer in Spokane discovered James Monaghan enjoyed his wealth obtained from BC gold by buying two touring autos. Looks like time to go digging for more pictures and keep writing.

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Gold Bars Denied

This isn’t the conclusion I expected. Yet here I am, admitting that I did not recover at least one of the two lost gold bars. And the exceptional high price of gold these days rubs salt into the wounds of defeat. My return to the area of this great adventure buoyed my spirits and enabled my emotions to absorb the silence and calming effect of the natural world. I needed that after the near constant bombardment of excess noise in the sprawl of my urban environment.

I feel the target is correct. The eight years of research and investigation still has me believing I know where at least one bar lies, within approximately one cubic meter, two at most. My old body is the problem. At sixty-nine years of age, my ability to work with strength is gone. My lung function is good as the previous few years of walking several kilometers a day has proven. But while digging in ground the consistency of wet cement, my arms and hands ache and I rapidly run out of energy. I admit now that I am no longer a treasure hunter but a writer, one who wishes he were a younger man. Yet I can’t complain about the aging process as the alternative isn’t good. 

Who wants to buy a treasure map? Highest bidder not necessarily accepted. This is a part of BC history and is not meant to be melted into scrap gold. Treasure, after all, is more valuable than scrap gold. After subtracting the smallest bar that evidence suggests had been sold by Roderick in 1896, roughly fifty pounds remains. One bar should weigh roughly twenty-five pounds and court evidence reveals the Cariboo-Amelia gold bullion, unrefined, ran at sixty-three percent purity, give or take a fraction. That still gives close to sixteen pounds of pure gold at twelve troy ounces per pound for well over one hundred and eighty ounces. That’s for one bar about the size of an old VHS tape.

Perhaps I should’ve had my book ready to hit the market, composed a cryptic poem and let the public have a go at it. If Forest Fenn is remembered for anything in the history books, it should be that he encouraged others to embrace and enjoy the quest for gold. I assure you, despite my age, the adventure brought a lot of excitement optimism into my life at a time when the the looming years of retirement had little to offer. Living in an eight year, positive frame of mind helped me endure the years of physical change. I can still hear the words of James P. Delgado of Sea Hunters fame telling me to get up off that couch and go live an adventure. Now if I can put the adventure into the proper words, I can share my passion with others. 

And beware, fellow treasure hunters, the gold bars, like many treasures, is said to carry a curse. Take care and know that no good treasure hunt is ever easy. 



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Research and Writing

Despite the covid-19 issues facing every walk of life these days, I have been lucky to benefit from the talents of researchers at Washington State libraries and the Puget Sound Regional Archives.

I knew that James Monaghan enjoyed his wealth and bought an automobile. A Spokane Public Library researcher discovered that Monaghan purchased a sixty horsepower Peerless touring car made in Cleveland, Ohio in 1909 through a local dealer. Monaghan loved the automobile so much he bought another in 1913, a thirty horsepower Chalmers touring car. Both were considered top luxury cars for the time. Chalmers later became part of Maxwell auto out of Detroit and was said to be one of the best all round touring cars of the day. All Monaghan needed were better roads to drive on.

The Puget Sound Regional Archives graciously provided me with a report on the house originally owned by Matt and Mary Roderick including photos of the home taken in 1937 and 1956. The couple bought the house new in 1892 and enjoyed six hundred square feet of living downstairs with the same upstairs. Their recent arrival from frontier life in South Dakota along with their two children must have had them feeling blessed with indoor plumbing and easy access to public transportation.

But the shooting death of Mathew Roderick in BC in late 1896 changed everything for Mary. She eventually sold her beautiful home and moved to the Lane Apartments (old location) two miles north. The enterprising woman became the first female bailiff in King County in 1911. As late as 1935, she was still employed in the role and helped to deal with many high profile trials. Interestingly, the judge who swore Mary in was none other than Wilson R. Gay, the former lawyer who helped Mary settle Matt’s estate in 1897.

These details might seem minor to the main story of the robbery and death of Roderick but it helps us to see the bigger picture and perhaps understand their motivations. It reveals how the economy affected their lives and forced them into situations never considered.

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Missing the Forest

Last year I only had the chance to visit the target area once. Another year on and I am missing that special place big time. When I’m in nature, fully immersed in nature, I’m a child. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, no corona virus or racist rhetoric, no self-centered president who hasn’t a clue about anything beyond his own image. Thankfully, New West has beautiful parks and green spaces where one can still commune with nature and let the stress of the world fade away.

But Nature has a problem with us, mankind. We are a virus infecting the natural course of events that the earth has developed over billions of years. Billions. If you have read James Lovelock, then you know how interconnected the earth is and how it has the ability to adjust, slowly, but adapt and bring about change. As we continue to turn this once Garden of Eden into a cesspool of plastic, oil and nuclear waste, the earth has no other choice. The current pandemic is another in a horrific list of major death events to control the population. I suspect that until we clean up the untold messes we have made around the world, Nature will do her damnedest to rid herself of us.

As we continue to battle the corvid-19 problem to the best of our ability, remember that the earth sees us as a virus. And unfortunately, the global populations of Indigenous Peoples are affected the most and yet were a part of nature. They blended in perfect harmony with Nature while the rest of us decided the earth was to be harvested for our own purposes. By not blending into Nature, we have inadvertently set ourselves up to be removed as a serious illness the earth can ill afford to ignore.

See what happens when I can’t get back to the rugged beauty of Nature or hug my family? I get cranky and write the words none want to read. But we do need to consider the long-term outcome….

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Write On

Writing is an interesting art. At times I struggle for the proper words but other times the words flow and the writing occasionally surprises me. I’ve written most of the nonfiction portion of the story that covers from 2012 to the present. Every year will be followed by a fictional account of the principal players who were active in the story before, during and after the gold robbery.

The research options available today are great for uncovering facts and details that add so much to the story. Newspapers alone have greatly benefited me, especially from small towns. Being starved for news in a remote area meant gossip, or unsubstantiated facts, made it to print as well. Some papers even reported who arrived or departed on the stagecoach or train and who stayed at which hotel. The facts I’ve learned have allowed me to build a better, more accurate story and bring the characters alive for the reader. With luck, the talents of a few great librarians might add more.

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