Let me start by saying my friend, Lee, and I are rank amateurs when it comes to gold panning, prospecting or anything related to finding minerals. We were bitten by the gold bug with the proliferation of Alaska gold shows on cable. We had been planning an adventure trip for a couple of years now, and I came up with the idea to combine our new found interest in gold with this trip. So....we bought some gold pans, folding shovels and watched a video, we were ready. We did some practice panning ealier this year while attending March Moto Madness in Telico Plains, TN (a known gold deposit area). We thought we found gold, but learned we were "fooled". Bill at Bill's Pit Stop, Coker Creek, TN gave us a quick demo and pointers ( www.goldpanTN.com ). Our goal was to head west and north (from middle Tennessee) panning along the way, eventually getting to the mother load in Alaska. We quickly realized this was not possible with the two weeks vacation time alloted. We would have to limit our trip to the lower 48. But where do we go to maximize our chances of finding gold, and have a pleasant, memorable ride? Some feverish research came up with this site: http://www.goldmapsonline.com/index.html The maps available here show active and abandoned gold claims on federal lands in 12 states using Google Earth (we have no affiliation with this company). We could now pick some sites where we know gold is located plus avoid panning on someones claim. I would be riding my 2012 BMW F650GS (twin). Lee is riding his 2009 KLR650 which he bought earlier this year for this trip. (poor choice as he would soon learn). We departed September 4th for the first panning destination near Buena Vista, Colorado. Our traveling plans were to avoid Interstate highways as much as possible and do about a 50/50 mix of camping / moteling. Since we would be traveling to some remote areas, and the gas tank on the BMW is limited, I added a Roto Pack gas can to my pannier, Lee's KLR is good with tank capacity. The first two days were uneventful and HOT! We elected to motel it the first two nights because of the heat, first night near Mountain Grove, Missouri, then Dodge City, KS. An interesting diversion just into Kansas off Hwy 400 and related to our adventure since it was used for strip mining, was 'Big Brutus'. http://www.bigbrutus.org/about.html Better size perspective, me by the bucket : This thing is HUGE! Built in 1962 and weighs 11 million pounds. It was all electric, and had a giant extension cord run to it for power. It was abandoned in place and donated to the museum built on site. We toured the inside of this beast, and it reminded me of a naval battleship. It was on a short stertch of interstate during this segment that the first problem with Lee's KLR surfaced. The big panniers, loaded, combined with high winds and large trucks led to buffeting. It was buffeting the KLR so severly, Lee was having a hard time keeping it on the road. We had to greatly limit the speed as a result.