Li Du gave a peculiar look and asked, "You know me?"
Owen matter-of-factly replied, "How could I not know the millionaire amongst treasure hunters? I also know you possess extraordinary observation skills. That's why you will have a great harvest here."
Li Du grinned. "With your blessing, I hope so."
Owen earnestly said, "I am not joking. You are an X-Man. Your abilities are meant for searching gemstones and not for storage unit auctions."
"I am here looking for gemstones now. Hopefully, I won't let you down."
After a brief exchange between the two, Owen gave him a rundown of the local situation that included which areas produced high-quality fire opals, which areas produced the most fire opals and which areas had already been searched by others.
Owen's enthusiastic and sincere attitude, which left a great impression on Li Du, could have been a result of his desire to do business with him.
After bidding farewell to Owen, the pickup truck continued along the road to its destination. He chose to start in the same area as before.
He had found a few gemstones in the area previously but was unable to retrieve them. This time, with the help of his strong subordinates, mining the gemstones became a paltry task.
He could not go straight into finding the fire opals as the gemstones were buried under crushed rocks and were not visible to the naked eye.
However, he had a plan. He could make use of Crispy Noodles, who had been starving for half a day because of him, to highlight the traces of fire opals.
He assigned Godzilla and Big Quinn the task of setting up camp while Sophie, with the three pets following her and a camera in her arms, scampered off to take pictures.
Li Du packed in his bag some preserved fruit and small jerky that were Crispy Noodles's favorites.
He found the supposed location of a fire opal and promptly began opening up the rock before stuffing two pieces of jerky into it.
When no one was noticing, he stuffed preserved fruit around the surroundings of a few pieces of opals. He took the opportunity to dig out some gemstones while waiting for Crispy Noodles to arrive.
He buried preserved fruit in those places and not jerky as Ah Meow and Ah Ow, who had a stronger sense of smell than Crispy Noodles, also liked to eat jerky.
If Li Du were to bury jerky, Crispy Noodles would not be the one to dig it out. Instead, it would be the two rascals with a great sense of smell.
Big Quinn and Godzilla pitched two large wind and water resistant tents. The tents were comparable to a small house, to the extent that meals could be prepared inside.
However, Li Du was not looking to try new things and chose to prepare the meals outside as per usual.
After pitching the tents, Big Quinn began preparing lunch.
Big Quinn had rich experience when it came to surviving in the wild due to his having frequently hunted in the past, and making jerky, bacon, and ham to sell to earn some extra money.
While walking out with firewood and coal, Big Quinn asked Li Du, "Boss, did you come across three stones of similar sizes? Around 10 to 15 inches?"
Li Du replied, "Why are you looking for stones? Although, finding stones fitting those descriptions won't be hard. Come, follow me. There are some stones here."
They were standing on what seemed like a riverbed. However, unlike a riverbed, which had mostly pebbles, this place had stones in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
With each other's help, they quickly found three stones of similar height. Big Quinn proceeded to place them on the ground and said, "I am making a three-stone stove."
The three-stone stove was commonly used as an outdoor pot rack. It was made by placing a pot or kettle in the middle of three triangular stones that were similar in height, followed by placing fuel for the firewood underneath.
This type of stove required the pot to be above ground by around eight inches. As the stones they found were around 15 inches in height, the pot was slightly more elevated when placed on the stove.
Big Quinn found some stones and stacked them on the ground. The stack was about four inches high. Big Quinn said, "The ashes left behind by the burning firewood and fumeless coal will elevate the terrain. After which, we just need to fan away the stones at the bottom."
Li Du gave a thumbs up. "Well done, mate. You really are handy."
They had prepared food such as dried meats, canned food, and vegetables packed in vacuum bags, which was enough for the long stay they had planned.
Big Quinn was adept at surviving in the wild, while Li Du was adept at cooking.
Godzilla returned with the car. He had driven around the park in search of a clean water source to fill the two large water tanks behind the car, sufficient for their everyday use.
They had to eat a filling lunch to have enough energy to do work later on.
Li Du was preparing to cook beef stew with bread. The car had a cooler containing ice cubes. With the cooler closed, the ice cubes could last for seven days without completely melting.
He took out a piece of frozen beef from inside and washed it. He swiftly minced the beef and began cooking it in the pot with water.
Godzilla asked, "Continue cooking?"
Li Du replied, "No. This is to clean the beef. Later on, when foam starts appearing, scoop them out and continue to cook for four to five minutes. Keep an eye on the time."
"Oh, is that four minutes or five?" Godzilla asked mechanically.
Li Du shrugged. "Up to you, mate. You can decide these things yourself."
Godzilla nodded his head intently. "Right. Four and a half minutes it is."
"As you wish."
Li Du began preparing tomato sauce. He had taken quite a few vegetables from his Amish neighbor's garden. Some of these had to be consumed quickly as they had not been packed in vacuum bags and would not stay fresh for long.
He washed and diced a few large tomatoes, and then cut some onions and rosemary. Godzilla drained the water from the pot, leaving behind the minced beef so he could start cooking.
The pressure cooker was swapped out for a pan. On the pan, he poured olive oil and after heating it for a while, he sprinkled the diced tomatoes, onions and minced beef for stir-frying.
After stir-frying the cooked mashed tomatoes and the minced beef, which was still tough, the food was added to the pressure cooker. All these coupled with the addition of boiling hot water into the pressure cooker meant the preparations for the stew were complete. All they needed to do now was wait.
In the meantime, Li Du took out some bamboo shoots that he had dug up and pickled during the spring season. They stayed preserved throughout summer and were ready for consumption.
Sophie returned after one round of photographs with the three pets trotting closely behind. Smelling the scent of beef coming from the stove, they ran and sat in rows next to it.
Ah Ow was poking her head toward the stove. Li Du went forward and slapped her butt, intimidating her earlier action. "Keep going closer. Why don't I just throw you into the fire and eat you up?"
The wolf pup was shocked and unhappy at getting slapped on the butt. She ran toward the embrace of Sophie while groaning along the way.
The three rascals were starving. They had been play-fighting in the truck and had nothing to eat on the trip. The scent of the beef stew was bound to intoxicate them.
Li Du saw Crispy Noodles and Ah Meow lying impatiently next to the pressure cooker.
Li Du had prepared some preserved fruit earlier for Crispy Noodles to find. However, in his current state, he was unable to smell the preserved fruit amidst the scent of the scrumptious beef stew.