The flat cactus meat was the first to finish cooking. Godzilla brought them some. Li Du had known that Sophie didn't like strong tasting food. Seeing that Big Quinn roasted mainly black pepper and spicy flavored cactus meat, he knew Sophie wouldn't like it.
Because of this, he went over and found some honey sauce and cooked a new piece for her.
"Boss, you seem to have brought everything needed for this work trip," Big Quinn said with much admiration.
Li Du replied, "Pity we aren't driving an RV or else I would have brought the whole kitchen for you guys."
"Then it's about time you bought one," Big Quinn responded.
After much consideration, Li Du felt that it was a great idea and planned to buy one after earning a bit more money.
His profits for this trip to find fire opals were not low. Just this afternoon, he had already found around 10 pieces of opal that were of good quality and could be easily sold for 80 to 100,000 dollars.
He brought the honey flavored cactus meat over to Sophie. Sophie, who was lying on the recliner chair, gleefully smiled. "Aw, that's so sweet of you. I am really lucky to have met a man like you."
Li Du was very pleased.
He preferred stronger tasting food and ate the spicy flavored cactus meat. When roasted, the cactus meat developed a crispy texture that gave it a satisfying crunchiness.
Seeing them happily eating, Ah Meow and the other two pets gathered, wanting to eat as well.
At that moment, the braised meat also finished cooking. Big Quinn pushed apart the stones and took out the steaming hot flat and round cacti. When the cacti were opened up, the fragrance of cooked meat wafted out.
While cutting the meat into pieces, he said regretfully, "These stones are still piping hot. They could definitely cook another batch of food if there was any to be grilled."
Li Du smiled. "Who said there wasn't any?"
He went over to the truck, tidied it a bit and took out a few potatoes. He buried them in the cooking pit and covered them with the piping hot stones for braising.
"Boss, how much stuff did you bring?" Big Quinn exclaimed.
Li Du replied, "Even if the world were to end, there's enough food for us to survive here for quite a while."
He intended to use the potatoes to make potato chips or mashed potatoes. However, seeing the piping hot stones, he figured he might as well take the potatoes out and roast them.
Sophie sighed. "How much are you prepared to eat?"
Li Du pointed at Godzilla and replied, "We have him here, so don't worry about the food going to waste."
Godzilla let out a blissful smile as the potatoes seemed to be prepared just for him.
Li Du continued, "Don't smile yet, mate. Don't touch the potatoes as they are meant for our supper. They should be cooled to warm by midnight."
Godzilla was no longer smiling.
Big Quinn set four or five bonfires in the wilderness. At night, the strong, howling wind blew continuously against the bonfire causing sparks to rise. The bonfires were ablaze and crackling in the darkness of the night.
Sophie asked, "Why did you set so many bonfires?"
Big Quinn replied, "Because the insects and animals that hunt during the night are mostly climbers and hate high temperatures and fire. The bonfires help to deter them from coming close to us."
Understanding the rationale for the many bonfires, Sophie nodded her head in enlightenment.
Li Du continued bringing Crispy Noodles to search for opal. He broadened his search area beyond his one and a half-acre space, searching the nearby surroundings.
Opals were mostly very small and only about the size of a thumb. An opal the size of a quail egg was already considered rather large.
Li Du recovered the majority of his energy after having just eaten his dinner. As such, the little bug was more focused, moving and searching for opals at a faster pace.
At least for the National Park, which had quite a decent output, fire opal was not very scarce. However, with repeated mining over the years, the fire opals close to the surface of the ground had all been found.
The fire opals, unlike peanuts and potatoes, were not a renewable resource and did not produce new batches every year. Once the fire opals closer to the surface were gone, people would have a tougher time finding fire opal.
In the last twenty plus years, the National Park had probably been searched a hundred times over by different people.
Due to the government's regulations, gem hunters were not allowed to use any machinery to search for the gemstones and to dig deeper into the ground.
Consequently, even if the gemstones near the surface of the ground had all been found, there were still gemstones deeper in the ground. The quantities of those gemstones were similar to those dozens or even hundreds of years ago.
Those were the gemstones that Li Du was looking for and by relying on the little bug's ability, he could somehow always find them.
Of course, it was due to the credit of the little bug's field of vision. Its field of vision was the same as Li Du's, as if Li Du was directly looking through its eyes.
However, unlike Li Du, its field of vision was not limited by the amount of light available. Regardless of where it was, be it under the sun, in a storage unit, underwater or underground, its field of vision was the same.
After finding a piece of opal, Li Du would take the opportunity when no one was noticing to squeeze a preserved fruit into the location. He would wait until Crispy Noodles came over to dig it out, before immediately calling someone over to unearth the opal.
By doing so, his efficiency at searching for opals was high. When it was time to sleep at midnight, the safe in the truck already had 22 pieces of differently sized fire opals.
Sophie, feeling dejected and tired, sat down and said, "How does Crispy Noodles find them? Why is it that no matter what I do, I still can't find any opal?"
Li Du comforted her. "Crispy Noodles is naturally gifted in this aspect. We did find some gemstones, didn't we? Take a look at Big Quinn and Godzilla. They put in even more effort than you."
When Crispy Noodles had not discovered any gemstones, the two of them would search on their own. As Li Du had stated that any gemstones they found were theirs to keep, they searched with utmost diligence.
Despite that, they were unable to find even a single piece.
Li Du was exhausted from all the searching with the little bug.
He sat down, not wanting to move. Seeing that, Sophie brought a roasted sweet potato and said, "Eat some food and drink some hot milk. Let's go to sleep early."
She could see how tired Li Du was. With that, she was no longer vexed with not having any results as she felt that she had not worked as hard as Li Du.
While eating the savory potato and enjoying the autumn night winds of Arizona, Li Du felt less exhausted.
Nonetheless, he fell asleep immediately after entering the tent and lying down.
He was too exhausted!
Sophie initially intended to bring him some water to wash up. However, seeing him asleep with his exhausted look, she sighed and touched Li Du's face. Li Du was unaffected by it and remained asleep.
She looked around and seeing that the tent was blocked from outside view, proceeded to help Li Du remove his shoes before placing a pail of water below his feet.
Li Du normally paid attention to his personal hygiene. Despite that, trudging around the hot barren land for the entire day caused his feet to smell.
Sophie pinched her nose and slapped his leg gently. She then arduously pulled both his feet into the pail and began scrubbing them for him.
Ah Meow, Crispy Noodles and Ah Ow, who were lying to one side watching, dipped their paws into the pail and began playing with the water.
Sophie gave a serious look, slapped their paws away and said in a soft voice, "Still don't want to sleep?"
The three rascals dispersed quickly, leaving only the soft swishing sound of the water behind.