Backpacking & Outside / {Grateful}

The Old Guys at the Beach Make it Look Easy

Surely you’ve seen them.

You might be laying on the beach or floating in some water and you notice them.  They stick out at the beach because most of the time they are fully clothed, which just looks odd in the sun and the sand and the swimsuit clad beach attendees.

They walk slowly through the beach with their headphones on, metal detector to the ground.  They’re listening for the infamous beep.  Hearing it, they bend down, brush their fingers through the sand, and BOOM.  Buried treasure!


People, metal detector usage is not this easy.

Perhaps you remember the case of the missing wedding ring?   After looking for it a couple times through the thick layer of leaves on the ground, I decided it was pretty much a lost cause.  And then, we spread a few inches of wood chips all over those leaves.  It wasn’t looking good.

Do you remember the lumberjack I introduced you to?  Rich, the Director of La Vida?  Well, among one of his leadership traits is a deep faithfulness and commitment to taking care of his people.  If he knows you need something, he will brainstorm all sorts of ideas to make it happen.  So, after the wood chips were spread, Rich suggested that we rent a metal detector.  Then, he kept talking about wanting to buy one because of the other things they’ve lost on the ropes course (more rings, carabiners, nuts and bolts while setting up new elements, etc.).  Clearly, he hadn’t forgotten.   This brainstorming went on for about a week.

A couple days ago, Jared came home from the office and told me that Rich had sent out a staff/faculty wide email asking if anyone had a metal detector.  He hadn’t asked Jared, he just did it.  Rich is funny like that.

Yesterday, we were able to borrow a metal detector (ask, and you shall receive).

We didn’t have very much time to use it, and since we’ve never used one before, we thought it would be simple.

Under the rope swing, where Jared both climbed and belayed.

I don’t have any more pictures of the looking process.  I was the digger.  You see, the old guys as the beach have it easy.   They just have sand.  Warm, dry, soft, grainy sand.  We knew that his ring would likely be under or in the middle of the leaf layer.  That we covered up with earthy wood chips.  So, I had to dig past the earthy wood chip layer through the leaf layer.  Oh, and we only had the metal detector for about an hour, and then we needed to bring it back to the owner.  I didn’t really have time to dig to China.

We got quite a few hits right away, and I couldn’t seem to find anything in the deep holes I was digging except gigantic rocks at the bottom. Also, Jared was getting beeps faster than I could dig.

I was getting frustrated.  And I was cold (read: crabby).

I had to dig a big hole to find the chunk of rusty metal.  It was the first thing I actually found, but it was a little depressing because of how deep I dug and how long it took. 

At this point, I started seriously questioning our chances of success.  I was cold (read: cold and crabby and pouty).  I was discouraged.  Jared was quiet (while this is not unusual, this was a dubious quiet.  An “it ain’t gonna happen, people” quiet).

Somewhere in here, I started thinking about those old guys on the beach.  They just make it look so simple.  They walk around in the sunshine with their headphones on just picking up pirate treasure like it’s a blade of grass in my parents yard.  They are the fast food, the movies on demand, the high speed internet, the instant gratification of metal detector users.  They don’t have wood chips to dig through.  They don’t have pincher bugs and worms running from them.  They are warm.

For the sake of honesty, let’s name it.  I was pouting.  (If my father had been there, he probably would have thrown me a “pity party”.  As a child, he would start singing and talking about ordering balloons and sending out invitations to my party if I was pouting like a big slug.  Most of the time this tactic got me to stop pouting since it was appealing to my apparently already injured pride.  But it didn’t always work.  I was a stubborn child.)

Most of this was internal monologue.  Jared, wielder of the metal detector, was just scanning away.  He would mark spots that beeped and I kept digging, thinking about the old men at the beach that make it look so easy.

Really, it’s probably not.  It likely takes some skill and practice to both work with the machine and dig in a logical and effective way.

If that’s the case, then you can call me Mary, Old Man at the Beach, because a couple minutes later, I dug up this.

I got so excited when I realized what was in my hand!
I tried to play it cool for a few seconds…
but I’m pretty awful at playing it cool.
I didn’t leave Jared in suspense for very long.
Look!  A little dirty, but wholly unharmed. 
Our pirate treasures.

Thus ends the tale of how Jared and I found his wedding ring.

And, just in case you were feeling bad for my cold fingers, we were only out there for about twenty five minutes.


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