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••• The International Writers Magazine - 23 Years on-line - Dreamscapes life stories

Ruby Valley
• George Kotlik
The year was 2010. That summer my parents and I embarked on a road trip across country. We drove from Central New York to Vancouver Island.

Garnet Almadine

On the return journey home, we headed south to California before driving east through Nevada. One night we checked into a hotel off interstate 80. While my mother and I went to bed, my father ventured to the hotel bar. Over time, one beer turned into another which turned into another which turned into another. While partying at the bar, my father met a stranger who told him about a nearby place called Ruby Valley where diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were abundant and as plentiful as sand is on the beach. According to the stranger, a gentle brush of your foot against the ground was all it took to find them.

The next morning my father told us the same story he heard at the bar. Utilizing a crude map drawn on a napkin, we set off on our adventure. Sometime around noon we turned off interstate 80 to take Nevada State Route 229 south. A sign announced, “Next Services 70 miles.” The blacktop road ran straight through the desert. In the distance, a mountain range stretched far out along the horizon. After driving for a couple hours, we cleared the mountains and emerged on the other side. Before us lay more desert and beyond that another mountain range. We eventually parked the car and got out to search for our riches.

We must have looked silly that day. A family of three standing on the side of a forgotten road in the middle of nowhere brushing our shoes against the gravel on a hot summer day. I quickly gave up. We found nothing more than dirt and rocks. We got back in the car and proceeded to drive down the lonely road. In due course, we turned south off Nevada State Route 229 onto Ruby Valley Road. We drove the entire length of that remote road for the remainder of the day. Occasionally, we stopped to inspect the ground like the amateur prospectors that we were. It became apparent that we were duped. My mother immediately expressed fear and concern. What if the stranger my father met had tried to lure us away to kidnap us? She berated my father for not being more careful.

At the end of the day, we finally emerged onto U.S. Route 50 and turned east. Hungry, tired, and ready to call it quits, the day felt wasted. As we drove, someone spotted a sign that said, “Garnet Hill.” In an attempt to salvage something of this failed adventure, my father turned off the main road and followed the signs to Garnet Hill. At the top of the hill, we encountered a public recreation area known for its abundance of garnet gems.
Garnet Hill

The site offered a commanding view of the surrounding desert. If that were not delightful enough, beneath our feet thousands of garnets glimmered up at us, as far as the eye could see. They were everywhere and they came in a variety of different shapes and sizes. My mother managed to find one as big as a shirt button. We had a good laugh when we compared her great find to the meager stones I managed to pluck from the ground. As we laughed and broke out the picnic my father prepared, we watched the sun set in the distance. Its rays cast a beautiful red hue across the evening sky.

We ended up staying there long after the sun went down. While our treasure hunt came to an end, it was not without anticipation, excitement, and a rather unexpected ending. When all was said and done, we did not actually find any rubies in Ruby Valley. The garnets we discovered were worth no more than fifty cents apiece. To this day I still wonder what the stranger told my father at the hotel bar that night. Perhaps he talked about Garnet Hill the entire time and my father simply misunderstood. Or perhaps, and this thought makes me rather uneasy, perhaps the stranger had a more sinister plan for us on that desolate Nevada backroad. My recollections prefer the former but have never completely ruled out the latter possibility. Whatever the case may be, instead of finding precious stones that day we discovered another treasure, one more valuable than any shiny rare rock: time with the ones we love.

© George Kotlik  1.19.22
*If you want to go there and see for yourself

For the true story of American Diamonds read 'Diamonds - The Rush of 1872'
a fantastic discovery that ruined the lives of everyone it touched.

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