That was without a doubt, as Li Du himself was already jealous of the scene.
The sky was filled with red clouds as the sun was setting. All around, as far as the eye could see, were gemstones emitting various colors.
A man and woman snuggling on a hill, affectionately looking at the sunset and embracing their beloved petsit was understandable why Sophie would not be willing to travel to other places for a vacation and would rather come here to work with him.
But they could not rest even after the sun had set as they still had work to do.
Due to geographical and astronomical reasons, when night had fallen, the sky above the National Park was not dark and still had sufficient light that allowed them to continue working.
Gem hunters usually worked until around one o'clock in the morning. They would then sleep for up to three or four hours before continuing their work at daybreak. That was how they got through the 24 hours.
Big Quinn erected a tripod on the truck and placed a lit up tungsten-iodine lamp on it. With that, the surroundings were illuminated and they could continue working without any problem.
Godzilla took out jerky, canned food and some other snacks in preparation for a light meal. Li Du shook his head and said, "We will not be eating those."
Sophie responded, "I've heard from other gem hunters that they would only earnestly prepare a meal usually at midnight. While the sky is still bright enough for work, a simple meal will suffice."
Li Du shook his head and replied, "No, we will not be doing that. We did not come here to suffer and tire ourselves. We came here to work at a leisurely pace."
Hearing those words, Big Quinn began preparing a proper meal and asked, "Boss, what should we cook? Are we still cooking the big pot of beef stew?"
Li Du shook his head again. "We are not going to eat the same meal twice consecutively. A few days ago, Sophie and I ate a roasted cactus dish in Winslow, which I thought tasted delicious. So, what do you say?"
As an Arizona native, Big Quinn definitely knew about the dish.
He nodded in agreement to Li Du's words and replied, "No problem, leave it to me. You want to roast cactus, right? Then I will have to make a cooking pit."
Different types of dishes required different types of cooking pits. As Big Quinn knew that Li Du was very particular when it came to food, he was prepared to use his full set of skills to satisfy Li Du's needs.
Before, Li Du had to go to great lengths to get him to join the team. After joining the team and experiencing the benefits firsthand, Big Quinn did not want to leave.
Godzilla, who was the first to follow Li Du as his subordinate, was loyal to him. As such, Li Du was most at ease with him. Li Du also treated him the best and gave him a bonus every time he made money.
Big Quinn was not expecting much. He did not intend to supersede Godzilla's position and only wanted to maintain his own position on the team as the number two subordinate.
It was all well at first with only four of them on the team and Big Quinn as the number two subordinate. However, with Lu Guan's arrival, it would seem that Li Du would continue recruiting people onto the team, making Big Quinn's position unstable.
Lu Guan had great finesse, was sharp, loved to joke, had a positive vibe and was very enthusiastic. He also had an amazing skill: being observant.
As long as he was willing, he could join any team and be given an important position.
Ever since Lu Guan had joined, Li Du's job had been much easier. He believed that if any storage unit that was of value showed up, Lu Guan would know of it and inform him accordingly. As such, it gave him the confidence to start a sideline business.
Big Quinn pitted himself against Lu Guan in hopes that he would be the more important of the two and get more bonuses.
Li Du inquired, "Didn't we bring a grill? Can't we use the grill to roast cactus?"
Big Quinn grinned. "We can, but it's best not to. A grill will very easily cause uneven heating of the cactus, overcooking and charring it. It's better to use a cooking pit."
Li Du could only nod as he had no idea what a cooking pit was.
He would know once Big Quinn started building it.
A cooking pit was a pit that was dug into the ground and used to cook food.
Big Quinn found some dry ground and began digging into it. He dug a hole that was approximately eight to 12 inches deep, one and a half yards in length, and 16 inches wide, which was as big as a head.
While digging the pit, he tested the wind direction and dug the entrance of the pit north of it. Some stones were placed into the slanted pit to start a bonfire.
Afterward, they went to gather the ingredients within the park, which had cacti that could be removed.
Li Du selected four to five flat shaped cacti and four to five small round cacti. The cacti he had selected were all edible varieties which were tender, green and soft.
The cacti grown in the National Park were all organic, without any pesticides or fertilizers. The cacti, after shaving their skin, could be eaten directly as a fruit.
But of course, they would not taste good as they were not a type of fruit after all.
Godzilla used a knife to carefully scrape out the cactus meat. Li Du took out previously prepared minced meat from the cooler. It was still fresh from being kept in ice cold temperatures.
Sophie saw him stuff the cactus meat with minced meat and smiled. "You really are fully prepared."
Li Du winked at her. "Of course I am. It is your first time camping with me. Since we will be staying here together, I have to make a good impression."
"Are you trying to please me?" Sophie mocked.
Li Du happily answered, "Bingo! You guessed right."
Big Quinn took out the seasonings for roasting meat, a brush, and oil, before sorting out the cooking pit.
He used dirt to hold up wooden sticks and tent poles at the side of the big pit. He then hung a kettle and began boiling water.
Godzilla scraped the meat out of the cacti and proceeded to cut them into palm-sized pieces.
After the water had boiled, Sophie helped out by washing the cacti with the hot water. The cactus meat was actually not dirty. What they were afraid of was the bacteria and bugs in it, so they used the hot water to kill them.
Big Quinn took out the burning firewood and used a pair of tongs to move aside the scorching hot stones. He then placed Li Du's stuffed cactus meat inside the pit, before carefully covering it up with stones and starting a new bonfire.
All that was left was his and Godzilla's job. Both of them used two grill nets to clamp the cactus meat, and continuously flipped it over the fire while brushing it with oil and seasoning it.
Li Du went to take out two bottles of ice cold beer and placed a recliner chair in a quiet spot below the starry sky for himself and Sophie to lay on.
Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles climbed onto the chair. Ah Ow jumped and landed directly on Li Du's stomach.
Seeing that, Sophie giggled. "Help her up. You can't let her lay on you."
"Why not? I am not pregnant anyway," Li Du cheekily joked.
Sophie replied, "That is a way canines communicate. By laying on their companion's body, they are exerting authority and indicating that they are the boss. What she is saying to you now is that she is your boss . . . "
Hearing that, Li Du immediately lifted Ah Ow by the scruff of her neck and threw her off onto the ground.
Ah Ow let out a miserable cry as she was flung out. She landed on the ground and rolled twice, before standing up and running back. She then lay quietly next to Li Du's feet.
Li Du realized that what Sophie said was true.