Living The Dream in Prescott, AZ

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I was on the airplane yesterday headed back to my home here in White Plains, NY, reflecting on life and thinking about just how much mine has changed in the last three-years.

My Brother and I grew up goofing around back in the Superstitions, the White Mountains, Mogollon Rim, Bradshaw Mountains, and the Weaver Mountains. Back in the 1960’s through the early ‘70s, we would hike from Lake Pleasant to Prescott with our Father every year, picking up the old “Swilling” trail above the present day lake in the Bradshaw foothills. It would take us a few days, and we would always meet prospectors and old hermits back in there that my Dad knew.

One spring, we met an old timer who gave us honey from a wild hive up the hillside from his hand-built rock cabin. It was about 10-feet square, and he had at least 15-glass mason jars FULL of gold nuggets! As you can imagine, to a 13-year-old boy it was pretty impressive! My Brother and I dreamed of being like Walker, Weaver, Wickenburg, Champe, Peeples and Swilling.

In 1973, I graduated from Alhambra High School in Phoenix, went off to the Army for a few years, came home and started working as a tower rat, or “smoke watcher” for the Forest Service up in Prescott. Boring? I couldn’t take it any more after only four-months - so I quit. I walked out to 89, stuck out my thumb, and hitch-hiked through 38-states. My good karma ran out on the Bronx River Parkway, just outside New York City, when I got in the wrong car.

She was driving a new, Hunter green, Mercedes convertible. The young woman was tall, blonde, and had really pretty green eyes. She looked safe enough, but I never knew what hit me. When I woke up I was married, had a bunch of children, bills, and serious responsibilities. For the next 30-years though, my dreams never stopped. I always longed for the desert and mountains of Arizona, no matter where I laid my head.

Then one day, I got my 50th birthday present. A trip home to Phoenix, and the chance to hang with my Brother on Rich Hill, for 14-days back in Jan-Feb, of 2007. It was during that trip that we formulated the ideas that have become Arizona Gold Adventures. Since 2008, over 700-men, women and children have been our guests at the AGA gold prospecting school in Congress, and I am now actually living the life that I was only able to dream of since I was nine-years-old!

Part of my original vision for Arizona Gold Adventures, was to deal only with the best equipment manufacturers and retailers, and to try and stay as local as we could in order to generate cash back into the economies of Congress and Yarnell - as well as the state of Arizona. Last week a huge piece of that vision fell into place, and became a reality.

As some of you know, Tesoro Metal Detectors in Prescott, Arizona, agreed to become an AGA sponsor a couple of months ago. Last week, Tesoro President Vince Gifford, along with Casey Stern and Rusty Henry, treated my prospecting instructors and me to a personal tour of the Tesoro factory. We were able to meet the people behind these great machines one-on-one.

As I talked with the Tesoro team members - whether they were in the office or on the factory floor wrapping coils, assembling control panels, or creating the intricate computer boards that run the machines, I couldn’t help but be infected by their shared enthusiasm and professional pride.

Many of the folks I met have worked at Tesoro for a decade or more. What they all have in common is a real sense of pride in “their” detectors, and a dedication to “doing the job right every time.” I guess that’s the reason they can still offer a lifetime guarantee in this day and age.

After lunch at the Prescott Brewing Company downtown, my instructors and I were treated to an entire afternoon of personal training on the Lobo SuperTraq, by Tesoro’s Service Manager of almost 20-years, Rusty Henry. While Rusty may not be familiar to some of you, he is a living legend among metal detectorists and gold prospectors.

Rusty Henry used his first metal detector in 1968, as a Navy Frogman on Underwater Demolition Team 22. That machine was built by Telex in New York, and cost the Navy $3,800.00! He got his first “civilian” detector, a Garrett Master Hunter BFO, in 1969. From 1969, through 1974, Rusty was a Navy Seal Team 2 member, and averaged three-hours a day, 250-days a year detecting! By 1974, Rusty had found over 500-rings, countless Civil War relics and over 50,000 coins!

After leaving the Navy in 1978, Rusty became Vice President of Bounty Hunter Inc, in Tempe, AZ. He hadn’t been there long, when the first report of a gold nugget found with a metal detector in Australia came in. The nugget was found at Cue, in Western Australia. That first report was followed in weeks by even more spectacular finds there, and in Victoria.

Rusty folded his tent, and he and his family immigrated to Australia! He spent the next 10-years swinging a metal detector 8-10 hours a day, 200-250 days a year! It is estimated that by 1995, Rusty had over 35,000-hours of experience using metal detectors and gold nugget shooting.

While at his home on Thumb Butte, overlooking Prescott, Rusty showed me a 3.6-oz Australian nugget he found that is almost pure. The color is so rich and yellow, as to be almost impossible! He told us about a 17-pound patch he found! SEVENTEEN-POUNDS! And that was just one of the stories he shared! I was simply in awe of the gold, relics, coins and jewelry Rusty has in his collection.

It will be so much fun passing on to our guests the tips and tricks Rusty taught us! We also have a much greater understanding of how the Lobo SuperTraq automatic ground balancing works - and reacts, to different soil mineralization. Meeting Rusty, a true American hero and a legendary gold prospector, was the highlight of the entire event for me personally. His knowledge, hospitality and life experiences just blow me away, yet he is the nicest, most down-to-earth and giving man you’ll ever meet!

On my drive back down to the airport in Phoenix that night, I almost had to pinch myself to see if I was just dreaming! I am here to tell you that if you have a dream, never let it go. Even with all the craziness in the world today, there are real rewards to be gained – and real treasures to be found. It took 44-years, but I’m living my dream! God Bless - Terry


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Yes. I've been there many times since, both with my Brother and alone. "Ohio Jim," went home to visit his people and give them his "Winter Gold," in late spring of 1972. Just before he was set to take the train back to Phoenix that fall, he had a heart attack and died. His daughter told my Dad that he was 97! He came to prospect the Bradshaws by himself as a teenager for the first time in 1890. I know part of him is still there. Cheers! - Terry

Thanks for sharing that Terry,enjoyed reading it. Hey did u ever go back to the old cabin site or know what become of the ol timer?

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Great story Terry,

It was good to see you while you were here..(I got the highbanker workin today!)

I saw one of those super dooper LOBO's, but when I reached for the box it was in, Bob smacked my hand ...LOL....


God bless!

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Hey Terry,

Great story and thanks for sharing. Tesoro has a great name and I've always heard great things about their services and repairs. Many years ago a friend of mine found a really beautiful nugget here in Arizona that was nearly 8 solid ounces. He found it with an old, original Lobo, so he thought Tesoro in Prescott would love to see the find. He drove all the way from the Phoenix area to Prescott to show the find to Tesoro. The took a bunch of pictures, asked if they could use the picture in a couple newletters and for the best part, he walked out of the shop in Prescott with a brand new Tesoro Lobo Super Tracker.

How many manufactures would do that for you? I would like to see Tesoro come out with a PI that would compete with the White's TDI and Garrett Infinium.

On another note, Terry we need to talk. Thanks a million for the referral. The customer was very pleased with both of our services and is already talking about sending others our way. Let's continue the great teamwork together. :) Without a doubt, we both share the same passion.

Take care,

Rob Allison

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Great story. Very well written; but what happened to the blonde in the Mercedes?

I had a similar experience, except I was 19, my buddies and I were at a dance looking for girls.

Well I found one, long brown hair beautiful hazel eyes. She was only 16. She was there with her girl friends. It couldn't hurt to ask her to dance, right? She was only 16! She was very smart, but very innocent and naive. Surely she didn't know enough to be a heart breaker.

Well that was 42 years and three children ago. We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary June 20th.

But I too am living the dream. Gone are the cold winters of central Illinois. We live in Las Vegas, and as far as I am concerned the hottest day here is still better than the coldest day in Illinois.

Best of luck Terry, sounds like a fantastic business and a service you are performing. The more people we get involved in this wonderful hobby the stronger a lobby we have.

Now one last thing for any of you youngsters that aren't married yet. Make sure you marry a really ugly woman who is fat.

Because these "hotties" that are out there, well good looking women are very high maintenance and they have a long list of needs. And because you can't believe your good fortune in marrying above your pay grade, you just spend the rest of your life keeping them happy and smiling, and laughing. You have to be a good provider, a good comedian, a nice dresser, you have to pick up after yourself, you have to be a handy man, you have to be able to make babies, and make either a boy or a girl on demand, whichever she decides she wants next. You have to learn to like fancy restaurants, and you have to find yourself a good reputable jeweler that will give you good prices. You have to be a good negotiator to make sure you get the best deal on the new car she wants ever other year. My gawd I have bought her roses at least 6 times this year already and I haven't done anything wrong. I'm telling you it's exhausting.

Now these ugly women, they are just happy to have you around. If you show up at home after work, they are just tickled to death that you are there at all. You can throw your clothes on the floor and they will pick it up. Walk around in your underwear and plop your ass down in a chair and they will bring you a cold beer.

And most of these fat gals know how to cook and they always have snacks on hand.

So just realize if you intend on getting yourself one of these good lookers, they are like an expensive house with a big mortgage, except you never get them paid off and the interest rate goes up every year.



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Thanks for the history Terry. Well written story. It makes me feel a lot better about knowing a guy who spends his Summers in New York. :D You should be suffering with the rest of us. :blink:

Tesoro is a great company, with really great people. If they ever produce a P.I. they are going to give the big guys a run for their money. :o



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Thank you to all for the very kind words! Fred, I think Jack and Myrna are still with us. James has left the company, and Vince is now President. I was really impressed by the people at Tesoro. They ARE working on a PI unit! It is called the "Sand Shark." It is an underwater handheld unit that Vince (an engineer), is still working on. He showed me the new machines they have purchased to build it completely in-house - just like all of their other detectors. I don't know when they expect to get them on the market, but I hope we have an inside track to test them in the desert!

Rob, You are the man! We'll talk soon. - Terry

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They ARE working on a PI unit! It is called the "Sand Shark." It is an underwater handheld unit that Vince (an engineer), is still working on. He showed me the new machines they have purchased to build it completely in-house - just like all of their other detectors. I don't know when they expect to get them on the market, but I hope we have an inside track to test them in the desert!

Sand Shark PI detectors have been for sale for a while now Terry. Maybe Tesoro has a new model in development? :ph34r:



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Tesoro has always been a great product and the forerunner in customer service...

Jack Gifford was The Man in his day...I wonder, is he still walking this earth...or, over the great beyond?



My wife works at Tesoro, Jack and Mirna are both still alive and well.Jack visits the factory on occasion (not as frequently as a couple of years ago).

The company is doing well and is as busy as ever.

Terry, My wife said she saw you when you visited last week.


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Clay! Yes, the Sand Shark was on the market but production was stopped due to problems with the design and outsourcing manufacturing problems. Now that Tesoro will be building all parts in house, it should be available again soon. At least, that is my understanding.

Mike! Thanks for the confirmation on Jack and Myrna, and let me say again that it was VERY cool to meet the Tesoro team. I think anyone would like to work there! Cheers! - Terry

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