Ted Sparks, who works part time at Mining and More, is a gold mine of information. A retired geologist, Sparks hangs out at Mining and More - even when he is not working - because he loves what he does. People who know him call him the professor which isn't a big stretch. There seems to be no question that he can't answer when it comes to geology and the chemistry of mining.


One thing he hates to do is to burst someone's bubble.


"People come in all the time convinced they have found gold. I hate to tell them it's not," said Sparks.


"Chances are pretty slim for getting rich, but there's always that possibility. I heard there were a couple of guys that came out with 16 troy lbs." said Sparks. (There are 12 oz. in a troy lb. and on March 17th an oz. of gold was selling for $1002, while silver was going for $20 an oz.)


He added, "Bob Michalski takes his wife to Hawaii every year on what he finds."


If you are really interested in gold mining, Sparks suggests the books Nugget Hunting Essentials, volumes 1 and 2. Sparks says that people often throw away precious gems when looking for gold, and sometimes, the stuff they throw away is more valuable than the gold they are hoping to find. Garnets and sapphires can be found and even topaz, emeralds or diamonds. People aren't looking for gem stones, and often they don't even know to look for them.


"It is vital to know the geology of an area," says Sparks.


"You can find coins, jewelry, and relics - perhaps even Native American - that are good finds. However, if you discover any relics, don't forget to inform the local museum or Bureau of Land Management."


All of this brings up the burning question of what it takes to find gold or precious gems once you've got your basic equipment. Sparks replies: "How hard are you willing to work? How much money are you willing to spend? How dirty do you want to get? How many blisters can you stand?"


Hugo Metizner, past president of the AU Mojave club, tries to explain the gold mining experience, "It's a way of life not constrained to our lots. You don't have to listen to your neighbor's dog barking."


At the same time Metizner says that mining is about sharing the out doors experience with friends.


"I'm a fundamentalist," Metizner said. "We're the flip side of the Sierra Club. We believe we have the freedom to use the land, but we also, believe if you pack it in, you pack it out. We don't want the government to keep us in our houses. We want to be out in nature. We want the freedom to use the land. That doesn't mean we don't care for it."


"The more complicated society becomes the more we need simplicity."


The first gold Metizner found was about five years ago on the rail road tracks in the Cajon Pass area. He says you have a better chance of having a 7 oz. weekend than winning the lottery.


Metizner and his friends find gold mining a rather expensive enterprise. He says he has about $10,000 wrapped up in equipment, but cautions people not to go out and buy equipment they may not need. It is better to explore the process of mining with someone who already has equipment, and knows what they are doing.


Metizner uses the process of wet wash, but there are other ways to go. There is the dry wash method,and some use metal detectors.


The AU Mojave Prospectors meet every 3rd Thursday of the month at Los Domingos Restaurant in Hesperia. New prospectors are always welcome and there is always someone willing to advise prospective prospectors.