Prospecting for gold -- there are worse ways to spend your summer

Have a lot of time on your hands this summer? Need to get away but don't have a lot of money? Perhaps you should consider heading north to prospect for gold.

The tactic has precedent -- twice as much gold was mined in the U.S. during the Depression that during the California gold rush of the mid-1800s.

Years ago, when we were bicycling through the Yukon, we would occasionally spot people standing midstream shoveling or panning gravel for nuggets.

Each summer prospectors make their way to the wilds of the northwest to work the stream beds and beaches for the yellow flakes and nuggets. Although the large deposits were played out a century ago (witness the slag piles lining the road into Dawson City) or are owned by large corporations, there is still enough free-range gold in those mountains to pay for the occasional meal and, for the lucky few, much more.