Minus The Nemesis
A Collaboration of Some of the Finest Thought on Today's World


Tuesday, November 08, 2005
While out and about the other day as a result of an ad on WTOP's website advertising gold panning and gem mining, I was confronted with a different scenario entirely. I will print my email to WTOP and the subsequent responses:

"To whom it may concern:

Being that Maryland is experiencing some unusually warm weather given the time of year, my fiance and I decided to take advantage of it. We usually take the time to look at the WTOP website to see what is going on during the weekend. This weekend was no exception.

I was pretty excited when my fiance pointed out this entry:

>>Gold and Gem Mining
Ponies, a petting farm, hiking trails, rope swings, tunnels, hayrides, Ducky Downs racetrack, and panning for gold and gem mining. $6 to get in. Additional fees for gold panning and gem mining. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx for more information.
Date: Through Nov. 15
Location: xxxxx Mine Rd., Dumfries
Website: Not This Time

I am from Colorado, very near one of the largest gold fields in the world (Cripple Creek, Colorado) and also an avid gem collector. I don't care about the ponies, hay maze, hiking trails, petting farm, swings, tunnels or hayrides supposedly offered by the Old Mine Ranch. I was clearly interested in the "...and panning for gold and gem mining" section of your write-up. We visited the website linked to by your write-up and also called the outfit and decided to take a ride. We currently live in Columbia, Maryland, which as you know is not very near the Old Mine Ranch.

What ensued was the all too familiar white-knuckle ride down I-95 South towards Richmond. Between the Sunday drivers and just plain idiots, it was not out of the ordinary. The instructions were fairly clear as how to get to the Old Mine Ranch. I was getting pretty excited at the prospect of finding some beryl, amethyst, moonstone and even some gold as we made our last turn onto Mine Road. After making a left into the gravel driveway of the Old Mine Ranch, my hopes became nearly instantly dashed. What I saw looked reminiscent of my deployment to Kosovo. There were rotting bales of hay haphazardly scattered about to form a "maze" of nearly 5-inches tall at this point, corrugated plastic tubing stacked high upon some not-so rotten bales of hay to form "tunnels" and the skinniest horse I have seen in a while. As we neared what was assumed to be the main entrance of the Old Mine Ranch (this is where the majority of the vehicles were parked vice farm equipment), I saw what appeared to be the Clampett family picnic. Backing into an available spot, a person best described as "tooth" approached our car. I rolled down the window and asked if this is where I could mine gems and pan for gold. He seemed baffled at such a question. He stated that "there ain't nothing like that here". I asked him if this was the Old Mine Ranch to which he replied, "yeah, but there ain't no mining or gold digging here". We informed him that WTOP seems to think there was. He didn't know what to think, as I don't think he had seen the WTOP write-up.

Driving back down the gravel driveway towards the cumbersome I-95 North trip, we had a laugh and at the same time a bit of dissent towards WTOP for attempting to send people out of their way for no apparent reason. Perhaps it was intentional and the best write-up of the alleged event site was expected and this is a contest that was not formally announced. If that is the case, I will gladly take my prize and be on my way. At any rate, the announcement of gem mining and gold panning was a total bust. There was no fun had besides that of having a chuckle at our apparent misfortune. If that was all that was meant by your write-up; mission accomplished. Otherwise, I would like to know what caused the flap on your website? Was it some form of communications break down from the upper-echelons to the worker bees? Thank you for your time.

Very Respectfully,

Claim Jumped in Columbia"
And the subsequent responses:
"Wow. I can almost hear the dueling banjos from "Deliverance." First, my sincere apology to you and your fiance. You may hear from more than one person here at WTOP, but I wanted you to get this apology from the top of the news operation. We got burned, and so did you. The information we used is what those folks sent us. (You'll find the exact same listing, including the panning for gold and searching for minerals on washingtonpost.com, by the way). We are going to look into this and you might even hear from a WTOP reporter working on the story this week. I'm sure glad you have a sense of humor.

Jim Farley
Vice President, News & Programming
WTOP Radio"


I am so sorry about the journey to Clampettville.

Each weekend I scour local websites and newspapers to find interesting "things to do." The information about the Old Mine Ranch came from an ad in the Washington Post. IT mentioned panning for gold - though the website did not. Guess that should have been a red flag.

At least you have a good story. Even though I'm terribly embarrassed for misdirecting you this weekend - the email made me laugh. You're funny.

Please consider calling the Old Mine Ranch to complain.
I will.

Hillary Howard"
I would like to thank WTOP radio for addressing my concerns in such a quick manner. Among the celebrities from WTOP radio being posted on this blog, there is also David Yeagley of Front Page Magazine fame and someone claiming to have served with the utterly confused Marine, Josh Rushing; presumably from the same couch in Qatar that Rushing served from. Also of note is the blogger Kadnine in response to the bogus scenario of Josh Rushing. Thanks to all for the positive comments.


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