In Bodega Bay, on a bright summer morning, I take my son Danny treasure hunting. Along the way I am able to teach him a few things.
1) Treasure can be ANYWHERE, you never know where it might by laying, and how!
2) Pirates were hiding treasure all over the place because of leaky boats and navigational errors in the swashbuckling days before GPS and iPhones.
3) When treasure hunting for buccaneer spoils, you must shout “AH HA!” and point dramatically from time to time. This is to keep all treasure hunters on their toes, and show places that could be significant — like a clue.
With these things explained, we are well underway, going down the road to the beach. Neat vacation houses give way to breezy vistas, hills going gently down where you can see Bodega Bay and the water glittering in the sun.
“Dad, what is sawshuckling?” asks Danny.
“Swashbuckling? That is a fancy word for dancing — pirates love to dance like maniacs before they attack.” I tell him, and I show him a few of their moves.
“It looks like karate.”
“Sure — Pirate Karate!”
We are passing the last part of the golf couse before we start on the trail down the bluffs.
“AH HA!” I shout and pick up a rock.
“What is it!”
“This rock is exactly the size and shape of the Star of Peru!”
“The Star of Peru is a fabulous diamond that drove sultans and emperors mad!”
“Of course! Didn’t you know Sir Francis Drake came here — he had three captured Spanish galleons groaning with treasure raided from the Spanish Empire? One was the galleon Chorizo — it was leaky and damaged from a storm Sir Francis Drake weathered, escaping from the Spanish warships sent from Cuba to intercept him.”
“Yes! Sir Francis Drake made landfall, and decided to unload the leaking Chorizo and bury silver plate and pieces of eight, gems and silk and pirate gold, somewhere around the beach and bluffs!”
“And it has lain here waiting to be found, because Sir Francis Drake never returned!”
“AH HA!” shouts Danny.
“You bet! Keep your eyes open!”
We walk on the beach, drag seaweed on the sand and climb rocks. Danny finds a great stick that is a sword. Dogs run by, we explore tide pools.
“We must be getting close!” I yell.
“How do you know, Dad?”
“We are treasure hunting! When you are treasure hunting, you have hunches. I can feel it!”
AH HA! In a remote section of the beach, we find a cave, blackened by smoke from campfires. It is just big enough for a few people to sit in it. Danny and I see how far it goes back — back far enough where you have to crawl, and have a flashlight. We sit inside the cave, and look out.
“Do you think Sir Francis Drake found this cave?” ask Danny, very seriously.
“Of course he did.” I say. “But he didn’t bury the treasure here.”
“This cave too small!”
We exit the cave and I tell Danny about the adventures of Sir Francis Drake, and how he circumnavigated the globe. After building a sand castle, we get hungry and decide to go back to the house.
“Did you have fun looking for treasure?” I ask Danny.
“AH HA!” shouts Danny.
On the first day of third grade, Danny brought the rock we found that is just like the Star of Peru, and shared what he did during summer vacation. Now his classmates are interested in searching for pirate treasure in Corona Del Mar.
Because when you are looking for treasure, you can find it just about anywhere.