In the last installment, we were exploring the mining enterprise of Bickel Camp in California’s El Paso Mountains. Old Walt Bickel was not alone for his quest for mineral wealth, as the mountains are dotted with old mine workings including the infamous Burro Schmidt’s Tunnel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Throughout the years the mountains have been mined for Placer gold, silver, pumice, pumicite, bentonitic clay, coal, lode gold, copper, and molybdenum.
In this installment, I would like to share an interesting experience we encountered during one of our overnight stays in the El Paso Mountains.
Like many other RVers, I carry a metal detector with me and enjoy searching for lost items (where permissible) during our stays at older campgrounds and ghostly sites.
Metal detecting provides good exercise via walking, stopping to recover targets, and swinging the search coil back and forth. Plus there is the anticipation of never knowing what the next recovered find will be, as it could be junk or treasure!
However, I never expected to be on the other end of the equation. On a recent boondocking stay in the El Paso Mountains, we heard the whump–whump–whump sound of an approaching low flying helicopter. As it cleared the ridge of the valley where we were camped, it became apparent it was hovering directly over our RV!
Exiting the travel trailer, I witnessed the helicopter slowly moving overhead with a large hoop hanging below it. I quickly surmised he was “metal detecting” the well-mineralized mountains for undiscovered ore bodies and found our truck and travel trailer instead!
By the time I grabbed my camera to shoot the accompanying photos, the pilot had moved on, I guess the pilot decided I wasn’t the treasure they were looking for.
Being “detected” in the boondocks, just another adventure in RVing!
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
Now you know what an old rusty nail or bottle cap feels like Dave… love the posts!!!
Dave Helgeson - Adventures in RVing says
Glad you enjoy the posts!
Bob Tyszka says
Great story. Interesting to read about the exploration and “discovery” in my back yard. 8-D
California City, CA
Hilarious. I would love to be a fly on the wall in that copter! imagine their remarks! Ha,
Tom DIDOMENICO says
I live in the area (Ridgecrest, ca. That helicopter was doing a groundn water survey. It look like a giant metal detector.
Linda Webb says
Mike Phillips says
Used to fly out of George AFB (Victorville) while on active duty to the bombing range at Cuddeback. We used to work with law enforcement agencies to report any “New” signs of civilization with lots of high end vehicles parked around a structure.