Although there was nothing valuable from the auction of storage units, Li Du was not discouraged. He shifted his focus and went to the Petrified Forest.
Coincidentally, Dr. Sophie was given a short holiday. She initially wanted to go on vacation with Li Du, who had time and experience.
However, after being informed of Li Du's plan to search for fire opals in the Petrified Forest, she became interested. She changed her mind and wanted to accompany Li Du for one week.
While eating, she told Li Du her plan. Li Du shook his head and said, "Is that a good idea? It won't be interesting as I am going to Winslow for work. Let's relax for a few days. How about I accompany you to find a place to go on vacation?"
Sophie shook her head repeatedly. "Truth be told, I don't have any particular place I would like to tour, and going to the Petrified Forest sounds great. I can give my brain a break and take a breather. It would definitely feel awesome."
After pausing momentarily, she added, "I am not going there just to play. I also plan to find a piece of fire opal, which I would like to give to my dad as a gift for his upcoming birthday."
Having heard her, Li Du became enlivened. "When is your father's birthday?"
Sophie replied, "On the last day of October. As there are not many days left, I would like to accompany you to search for fire opal and find one for his present."
As a present, fire opal was an excellent choice. In the culture of the Native American Indians, it was referred to as the gem of the Birds of Paradise and symbolized good fortune and tranquility.
Mexicans believed that falling from the glistening cosmos gave opal its magical tint.
Opal was also the lucky stone of those born in October and was known by the international jewelry industry as the October birthstone.
With a lack of money-making opportunities in the auction of storage units, Li Du changed his course of action and chose to mine opals in the Petrified Forest.
In his previous attempt, he managed to pick eight opals with some last-minute gear he bought. By being fully prepared this time, he believed he would be able to mine more opals.
In order to protect the landscape and geographical features of the National Park, fully-automated machinery such as a small scale excavator, pile driver, and reclamation machine were not permitted to enter.
However, Li Du knew there were opals between layers of crushed rocks. As some of these rocks were buried thr deep in the crushed rocks, they were hard to dig out manually.
All he could do was bring some large digging tools. Besides, he would be bringing along Godzilla and Big Quinn who were both strong workers.
This time around, he was fully prepared to search for opals. Other than the excavation equipment, he also followed cousin Stephen's instructions and prepared first aid items, a tent, pot, wind resistant stove, etc.
In addition, he brought the following: raincoat, umbrella, boots, generator, large backpack, flint fire starter, clean water bottle, sleeping bag and a variety of food.
Li Du could not help but laugh bitterly when he saw that Sophie even brought along three small toys for Ah Ow.
Driving a large truck for this expedition would be a waste. Instead, Li Du dug into his own pockets and bought a pickup truck. It was a Ford F-350 pickup truck, an upgrade from the F-150, and was an absolute powerhouse equipped with a 6.7-liter V8 turbo pressured diesel engine.
During the final ten days of October, with all the tools and necessities prepared, they drove toward the Petrified Forest National Park.
They entered from the north side of the National Park as opposed to the south side they had entered previously. Compared to the southern region, the northern region didn't have as much huge and colorful petrified wood, but it had better surroundings.
When entering the National Park from the south side, it felt barren and desolate. On the other hand, fields of green grass and thickets could be seen when entering from the north side.
Nonetheless, with autumn fast approaching, the grass was yellowing and the thickets were withering. The scenery, compared to spring and summer, was not as good.
Sophie, clothed in blue working attire, scanned the surroundings energetically and said, "I've heard that the National Park in spring is very beautiful with many fresh blossoming flowers. It's a pity we won't be able to see them now."
Li Du replied, "No matter. Even though there are no fresh flowers on the ground, there are plenty of gemstones underneath that are more beautiful. I will bring you to find them."
Sophie embraced him and gave an affectionate kiss, which caused Li's heart to flutter. The female doctor might be rather shy in front of people but compared to Asian women, she was still considered open and was able to give a kiss at any time.
Arizona ladies were known in America for their warm, unrestrained love. Once they adored someone, they were not stingy, let alone shy, about expressing their love.
They reached the National Park by noon when the sun was fierce and glaring.
They surveyed the surroundings from high ground. The ground was filled with various colored minerals and huge colorful petrified trees. Under the influence of the sun's rays, the ground appeared stained with various colors.
It was here they saw another scenic part of the park, the Painted Desert. Kaleidoscopic wasteland, accompanied by small patches of grasslands and thickets, decorated the site, making it absolutely gorgeous.
Li Du went to purchase mining permits. The permits, which cost 500 dollars each,gave the holder the rights to mine on a piece of land for 24 hours.
Of course, extreme methods were not allowed and they could only search within their own area.
He spent a total of 1,000 dollars for permission to mine a piece of land for 48 hours.
With a one hectare area, at least two days and two nights would be required for the four of them to comb through once.
Sophie leaned against the truck's window, looked out and said, "We won't meet those awful bad people right?"
Li Du patted Big Quinn's shoulders. "We have these two fellas with us. The bad people should be the ones who are afraid."
Big Quinn rolled up his sleeves, flexed his muscles and confidently said, "Worry not Boss's lady. Whoever dares to disturb us, I will beat him 'til he questions his own life choices."
Hearing the words, "Boss's lady" made Sophie blush. However, she did not mind these types of jokes and magnanimously replied, "I very much look forward to it."
They did not meet Cyril and his counterparts. Instead, they met Owen, a gemstone merchant who once hosted a bet between Li Du and Cyril to see who could find an opal within one hour. The prize money was 20,000 dollars which, of course, Li Du had won.
Owen was wandering around the National Park in an electric car. He spotted Li Du with one look of his sharp eyes and called out, "Hey mate, you aren't here this time for a leisure trip, right?"
Li Du smiled. "This time, I am here to work with you."
He had a good feeling about the plump gemstone merchant. When he hosted the bet, he maintained a very fair and just attitude. Moreover, the fact that people at the scene chose him to host showed that the locals held him in high esteem.
Owen's small eyes lit up after hearing him.
He enthusiastically handed over a business card and said, "If you find any opal and are willing to sell it, you must contact me. I promise to give you a fair price!"
Li Du put away the business card. "No worries. Don't have too high hopes. As you know, finding an opal is not a simple task."
"Even though others may find it difficult, it must be easy for you." Owen flattered him, "You aren't any ordinary person. You are the amazing Chinese man, Li."