Friday Report: Living large in opulence
June 26, 2014
There's truth in the old joke: "Winning Powerball wouldn't change me but I'd dump all you losers." Not me though, I could be fabulously wealthy and I would still wave to my friends. However, it's hard to see through the tinted windows on limos and my friends couldn't see me waving if I were in the South of France, but I'm pretty sure I would still wave.
How wealthy would I like to be? Affluent somehow has a plebeian ring to it, like describing someone who can easily pay the bills. I don't want to see the bills. Prosperous? Umm, I don't think so. That smacks of work and lunch breaks. Thriving? Surely not, weeds thrive. Comfortable? Brats with steaming diapers are comfortable. Filthy Rich? That's better but still not there yet.
Opulent! That's it! Opulent is a splendid adjective, dripping with sumptuous gems and driving exotic supercars. Opulence sounds like a place, not a state of wealth. Ah'm from Opulence, Texas, ma'am, pleased to meetcha.
Okay, we've set our sights, how do we get there?
Well, one way is to go pick it up. Just waiting for someone with a truck and a long weekend, there's an estimated 400 million dollars' worth of gold bars to be had in the heart of the San Juan Mountains near Wolf Creek Pass, 100 miles east and a little north of Durango. There's three piles of gold in them there hills waiting for someone with a good map.
Sometime around 1780, a Frenchman named Remy Ledoux was in a bar, buying drinks for a bunch of Spanish trappers who'd foolishly flashed some impressive gold nuggets. They let slip that they had stumbled across a rich vein of gold ore while trapping beaver in Colorado's San Juan Mountains. Braced with sufficient whiskey, the naive trappers told their new-found friend exactly where to find it, even drawing a map to prove their claim.
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The Spaniards were quickly dispatched. Dispatched, in gold parlance, means they were shot, stabbed, beheaded, or otherwise . . . you know, dispatched. Ledoux hired 40 men and set out for Colorado, following the Arkansas River to Pueblo then on to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Not far from Wolf Creek Pass they camped at what would become known as Treasure Mountain. They found gold there even beyond the amounts they'd dreamed about.
The Frenchmen stayed and worked their mine for several years, melting the ore into ingots and stashing them in three well-hidden caches. They spent the winters in nearby Taos, New Mexico, planning their new lives among the glitterati of New Orleans society. That final spring, as they headed back to camp, fate was unkind and they were all dispatched. Those who didn't die of scurvy got dispatched by a bunch of irate Arapahos. All of them, that is, except one.
Remy Ledoux arrived back in New Orleans in ill-health, penniless and empty-handed, but for a wild tale of sumptuous wealth. They scoffed at him and the treasure was nearly forgotten for fifty years. But then, in 1842, Remy was dispatched by natural causes and in his effects, a grandson found poorly-drawn copies of grandpa's maps. He quickly mounted a Colorado expedition to unearth the treasure. The maps were inconclusive and the expedition floundered. After licking his wounds, he launched a second expedition which only proved that some things aren't worth repeating as he was dispatched when his horse floundered in the San Juan River.
On a recent trip to Silverton in the San Juan County Courthouse, I spent quite a bit of time searching old records and manuscripts. Tucked behind the flyleaf of an old French diary, I found Remy Ledoux's original, detailed map to the treasure.
With my disciplined writing schedule, I simply don't have the time or the pickup truck. So, today only, in a one-time offering, this fabulous treasure can be yours. Simply send me $199.99 and I will mail you an authentic copy of the treasure map, your guide to an immense fortune. Do not delay, act now! Send small, unmarked, opulent bills only, please.