SUBMITTED January 2016
Continued from Part Two…
It was now December 8th, and I still hadn’t been able to get to the specific location where the Santa Cruz River enters the inlet. Looking at both Google Earth and TopoQuest, the La Caja Ruins site seems to be immediately above the cliff-face at that imaginary line.
I was positive Fenn didn’t hide the treasure chest on the ruins site…there was just no way up to the mesa top. So my dilemma still was: did he hide it on top the mesa edge not far from the Overlook Campground where he could sit out of view beneath a juniper tree and gaze across the river, imagining the puebloans from 800 years ago? Or did he secret it among the trees along the shoreline beneath the pueblo, where ancient artifacts may have fallen off the cliffside or washed over the edge during the past eight centuries? Did he take a boat to this particular spot to fish 40 years ago, or walk there from the Debris Basin and wade across the stream… and discover pottery shards or other ancient artifacts partially buried in the sand?
I woke to beautiful blue skies that Tuesday morning…my obsession with seeing this specific place, where the river entered the inlet, had not waned; in fact, it was worse than ever. I decided to make one last trip there…I would park at the Overlook Campground, and Molly and I would walk out across the ridge to the point where it overlooks the inlet. I knew from there I could see both shorelines, and search for the treasure chest if he did indeed hide it on top the mesa across the river, at some obscure place out of sight of others. The red arrow in the picture below shows you where I planned to go.
It was barely above freezing as we made our way to the turnoff to the Overlook Campground… no matter, though, I was psyched…I knew today was the day I was going to finally see this spot I’d been trying so desperately to reach. And then I saw it…there was a locked gate across the dirt road to the campground. My heart sank….I think I had tears in my eyes from the overwhelming disappointment. I could park there along the highway and walk the 1.5 miles back to the campground but that would add a lot of time and walking to our day, and I wasn’t prepared.
Quickly, I had to come up with a Plan B…I told Molly we wouldn’t give up…this day was our last chance of finding this place until springtime, and I knew my patience wouldn’t hold. We drove around to the main entrance to the Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area and parked. I decided we could hike along the eastern shoreline again on the Laguna Vista Trail, and instead of stopping at the dead-end like last time, we would climb across the ridge-line towards the inlet, then scamper down the side to the lake edge where maybe we could see the confluence of the river and inlet.
This fallen tree was as far as we could go. I carefully stepped out onto the limb and slowly slid across the smooth bark, balancing precariously as I zoomed in with my camera…maybe I’d see something helpful in the picture later. From the middle of the tree limb, I squinted to see as best I could into the inlet and beyond…it looked like there was already a thin sheet of ice covering the inlet. In my mind I thought…today, this is where warm waters halt…
The hike back to the truck was quick and quiet…I was not especially pleased with another failed attempt trying to reach the imaginary line, the spot…But one positive thing did enter my mind…
Back in October, 10-yr old Thomas and I had made a 10 x 10 x 5 box, and then placed it 200 feet from the edge of the street. To my amazement, 200 feet was much farther away than I expected…and that little box was hard to see. I thought about the three trails I had hiked over the course of the last couple months there…I bet I was about 200 feet from the “spot” at the end of each trail. And another thing, the “spot” was not visible from the end of any of the three trails…Forrest could have secreted the chest there, or died there beside it, and he would not have been visible to hikers, or boaters. Few fishermen would have tried to wade across the river there, making it the perfect place…easy for him to get to but isolated… Is this where he found “solace in the solitude of the trees”?
Over the next couple weeks, I continued researching this area…looking for better “blazes” or anything that could help…using Google Earth to zoom in on the mesa top where La Caja supposedly sits.
I continued to study Scrapbook 107, one of the few I thought actually contained hints…I especially like the word “CruZ” that was formed by the edge of the envelope, the “r” in Mr, the “U” in the guy’s first name, and the “Z” formed by the layout of the pen, pen cap, and $5 bill.
I reread the stories in TTOTC, and studied each and every drawing…I remembered Forrest saying ”The hints are in the aberrations at the edges”…I was not one to previously believe the drawings in the book were of any help…but I knew it couldn’t hurt to look.
I noticed in the drawing on page 43, the woman’s boot that I circled is an aberration…it is not
connected to a person…is this a hint to the picture of the inlet to the lake, which also resembles a woman’s boot? Did Forrest add this to the drawing?
Then on December 17th, Dal posted the Air Force Interview. I reserved a block of time the following afternoon where I could turn off my cell phone, close the door to the library, sit back in my big comfy recliner, and listen attentively. Forrest did not disappoint…his stories were both informative and entertaining. In part three, he described with great detail ejecting from his wounded fighter jet that was about to crash into the countryside…but what stood out to me was his description of his landing spot…he called it a “karst”, to us a bluff or cliff. At that moment, I pictured the drawing on page 99 of TTOTC.
Back in October, Mindy posted a story on her blog about Diggin’ Gypsy. In that story Diggin’ talks about her discovery of Fenn’s treasure map. She surmises that Fenn is the one who drew this drawing, not the artist who drew all the other ones in the book. At the time (this was posted Oct 28th on The Fenn Hotspot), I looked at this drawing…this “treasure map”…I was impressed with the ideas Diggin presented…they were cute, clever. Then I closed the book and never looked at that drawing again…until Dec 18th.
I am not going to add to my story Diggin’s specific hidden gems she has shared with the world… you can go to Mindy’s blog to see each one. But the one she didn’t highlight was the “arrow” circled in red above. What if…Forrest did draw this picture? What if…the arrow points to his special place…both where he safely landed and where he hid the treasure? What do the ladders signify (look to right of red arrow)? Puebloans used ladders in their multi-story pueblos…
Now Diggin’ turned the book/drawing upside down to understand the clues…one small scribe says “FLY TAOS”. It appears the man wearing the large brimmed straw hat is wearing sunglasses (for the ArcLight?), and possibly carrying something. I studied this drawing for hours over many days…I compared it to pictures I had taken over the course of the last two and a half months…
Do the palm tree fronds or the propellers and “FLY TAOS” scribe represent this aircraft marker?
Or do the palm tree and man-in-shades dressed for a picnic represent the Overlook Campground with it’s covered picnic tables…a place for local folks?
In the drawing, it looks like a river runs between two mesa tops…does this suggest the area where the river enters the inlet to the lake? It looks like the arrow circled in red comes out of a formation shaped like the right-hump of my “M” shaped blaze, the cliffside just below La Caja.
Many times throughout the past five years, Forrest has mentioned the word “IMAGINATION”… Is “imagination” the word that is key?
In Diggin’s story she says “Forrest said he melded the memories of his experience in Vietnam with his favorite spot.” I do not know where she saw that written or if he said it to her. What if… he did? What if… he drew this particular drawing? What if …it is his secret “treasure map”?
To quote Shakespeare, sort of: “ To be(lieve), or not to be(lieve), that is the question?”
I never had time to get to the imaginary line separating the river and inlet before the last snow fell…I do believe that ultimately someone will follow their crazy idea…their vivid imagination… their “what if…” and Fenn’s treasure will be waiting for them…
Until springtime (nah, I won’t wait that long)… Cynthia