Len met us early in the morning along with Greg who owns the cabins we are staying in and took us to one of his working mines. Down we go 25 feet down on a rickety ladder and boom we are in a opal mine looking for color in the walls. Then we go down a mine shaft that has been dug out and the rocks suctioned to the surface, leaving empty tunnels in which we searched for the opal bug. After picking and digging for over 20 minutes and finding no opals, I got very discouraged. I know now after 20 minutes what it must have felt like being a miner working all day and finding nothing. A tough way of making a living but you never know when you will dig a pocket loaded with color. That drive of finding the opal bug even once makes many a miner stay with it in hopes of striking it rich. It has been a great experience living the last three days through a miner and author’s eye, and who has lived the life full of stories of the illusive black opal. It was an experience we will never forget in our lifetime. Thank you so much Len for all your stories and all your love. A big thank you also to Ted Cram another cousin who helped lead the way yesterday to the mine fields to show us what Lightning Ridge looked like 50 years ago. We look forward to you coming out to Tucson one day soon. You promised you would help me learn to paint faster. Last but not least the Opal Bug struck me at last! Len presented me with an opal that cousins Cherry, Wendy, Trish and Ron all contributed to and Len picked out. I will cherish this piece for a lifetime. The opal is a gift but will always remind me of all my most important treasures that I have found in the down under and that is ALL OF YOU.
Are we really going down that small hole and 25 feet down?The mine was so dark that when the light or flash lights were turned off you couldn’t see your hand in front of you. Australians call the flash light a torch. Showing us where there might be opal. So we started digging.Ted Cram, Pam Heidinger and Len Cram after a nice fairwell dinner at Bruno’s Italian food. Below is the Opal gift from my cousins. The Opal Bug refers to the love of opals that hooks a miner as the Love Bug hooks you to the love in your life. I think I got a little of both.