(The story so far….I met a tough prospector gal on the West Coast, and we soon became friends. Things became more complicated when Diane found an amazing rock while prospecting. The stone turned out to be a gemstone—a rare Emerald with fossils inside. But getting the stone “certified” proved to be more difficult than we imagined.)
The Smithsonian Institute showed great interest in our photos of the Emerald—which made Diane and I feel ecstatic—but soon Diane and I ran into a streak of bad luck!
Diane got slammed in the head with a heavy trunk lid, giving her a mild concussion. Meantime, I got T-boned in my car while turning into a parking lot. One side of my Honda got crunched. It’s a miracle that the car was still drive-able, but the thing looked like Heck!
Needless to say, our mishaps threw us for a loop, but soon we got back on track.
“Don’t worry about your car!” Diane said. “We’ll get you another car when the Emerald sells. In the meantime, we’ve got to head for southern California to the biggest Gem Institute in the country! The Emerald has to be certified before we can show it to the Smithsonian or anyone else! We’ve got to go to SoCal, Vic!”
Now folks—traveling through heavy LA traffic was not what I wanted to do! Driving a crunched-up car with a “priceless” fossilized emerald—taking it to the most affluent Institute in America was the last thing I wanted to do! What risks we were taking!
I spent an hour crying about it before I finally made up my mind to go. I dreaded the trip—but there was no way around it.
Diane and I set out late in the evening since it was the only way we could avoid the heavy Los Angeles traffic. At two o’clock in the morning, I drove through LA while Diane snoozed in the back seat. I maneuvered between big rigs and caffeinated Californians, sweating my way through the heavy construction that plagued 6 lanes of Interstate.
It was dreadful for me, but Diane slept through it all.
Somehow, my smashed-up car survived the trip, and we arrived at our destination about 8:30 in the morning. The Gem Institute was huge and scary. It was ringed by guard houses, locked gates, electric fences and unsmiling guards. Diane wasn’t intimidated in the least. She never is.
As soon as we pulled up to the guard house, Diane immediately jumped from the back seat—popping out like a jack-in-the-box.
The guard looked so startled, he nearly drew his gun. “Get back in the car!” he barked. “Get back in the car!” He was dead serious. Diane complied with his instructions, but wasn’t happy about such treatment.
Things only got worse when we walked into the gleaming halls of the towering edifice. The Security was as tight as Fort Knox—and for a good reason! This place was full of magnificent treasures!…Gemstones and gold and diamonds that beggared the imagination.
It made me feel small and scruffy—but not Diane! She was in her element. As a hardened prospector, she wasn’t about to be intimidated by anyone! She marched up to the front desk and let her presence be known!
The officials on duty looked at us skeptically like we’d crawled out from under a rock—and by now, we certainly looked like we had! They immediately began giving us the run-around, which only made Diane more prickly. They weren’t taking us and our precious gemstone seriously—that was obvious! We were just hicks from the sticks with a chunk of “green glass”, and they had no time for us!
But finally, they began to cooperate. Diane made sure of that! They took photos of our I.D’s. They made us sign paperwork….They took our pictures and put badges on us. Then they marched us here and there. Up and down stairs…taking us behind locked doors.
More guards with guns. More security checks. More cameras following our every move. Everyone eyed us narrowly as if we were Bandidos who had come to rob the place.
We soon grew weary of it all—but the greatest insult came at the end of our journey to the top floor. After a great deal of rigmarole they handed us an envelope containing the stone’s ‘Analysis’ and sent us on our way.
We stared at the ‘Analysis’ in dismay and astonishment. These “experts” had hardly glanced at the gemstone! They were calling it “Manufactured Glass”. They had done NONE of the required tests for which we’d paid $200!
The “certificate” was basically blank—which showed us how very little they thought of us or our Emerald.
We were livid. But how could we argue with anyone as prestigious as the Institute? We were back to square one, and had no idea what to do next.
We finally left the Institute and went to a nearby mall. We walked into a Jeweler’s shop. There, we received a warm reception. The people there put the gemstone under a microscope and were instantly fascinated.
They said the gemstone had all the requirements of an Emerald. The ancient fossils inside the stone were obvious to anyone who took the time to examine it closely.
They were so kind. The people at the Jewelry shop assured us that the Institute had failed to do an adequate job, but unfortunately, the Institution had the final say in “Certification”.
Diane and I got back in the car and drove home, filled with conflicting emotions. What else could we do?
Within the next few weeks, Diane got a hold of several people from a prestigious museum in the Midwest, and they took an interest in the Emerald. Soon, they contacted the Institute in Southern California, and that’s when the sparks began to fly.
By the time it was over, the President of the Institute apologized to Diane for not doing adequate research on the Emerald. He offered to test the Emerald again for free, but by then Diane was too fed-up with them to comply. She wanted nothing to do with the Institute!
So now, folks—to make a long story short—Diane is off on new adventures, taking the Emerald to places far and wide, planning new escapades in California.
And as for ME? Well—you won’t believe it, but this ol’ Midwestern gal has finally come home to Nebraska after a full decade on the West Coast. I’m home to stay!
I’ve got another car, now, and I’m back in the Barada Hills for good. I’m with my kinsfolk and all that is near and dear. I treasure them now more than ever!
The season is changing, folks, and the Barada Hills are aglow with gold and all kinds of colorful “gems”. Emerald green, interspersed with topaz and the golden hues of ash trees, oaks, and cottonwood. The fiery blaze of English Ivy and Staghorn Sumac. They are a wonder to behold! Their beauty rivals every sparkling gem in the finest Jewelry Box!
Folks—although I’ve traveled far and wide and have seen unbelievable things in the last decade…Although I’ve had many adventures that others can only dream of…And although I’ve nearly died more than once on my long and arduous journey….I’m glad to say that I’ve survived it all and made it safely home again!
And you know what? I’ve found the old saying to be so very true…
“There is absolutely no place like Home!”