Little Treasures…


JUNE 2016
by dal…



It’s a magical, mystical, damp world outside my cabin today.

Perhaps the Pacific Northwest has as many words for rain as the Inuit are said to have for snow. Drizzle for a day in June is a welcome and hopeful event. A drizzle is not so bad that you can’t work or play outdoors, yet the effect is to enrich the emerald landscape, replenish island wells and uplift the dried out spirits of parched, mossy-backed Lummi Islanders. A 24 hour drizzle is a very good thing indeed.

So while outside we have what the Scots might call a hagger, inside my cabin we have an alder fire to stave off the chill and I am content to think near it, review the photos from my last search and conjur up the “little treasures” I discovered in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico as I traveled first Southeast to Fennboree and after, North to my Home of Brown in Montana, and then West to Lummi Island. Another 3,458 miles under Esmerelda’s belt. All her wheels stayed on this entire trip.


The highlight of the trip, of course, was seeing Forrest at Fennboree. He was in good spirits and appeared to be having a fine time meeting searchers, signing T-shirts and telling stories.


My first wildflower sighting at Fennboree was in my campsite at Black Canyon Campground. These wild, native Rock Clematis were spiraling up the pine trees forming a lovely, pale orchid backdrop for my hot dog dinner.

The Monday after Fennboree I met with Forrest and recorded a couple of new stories on video to post on this blog. I have not edited them yet but let me just say that I think Forrest’s character really shines in the latest stories about roughing it all summer up on Hebgen Lake as a teenager. You’ll love his recipe for mud-baked trout over a campfire. He also talks about starting out in the art business when he emerged from the Air Force in 1970….and a bonus piece, based on a question suggested at Fennboree about the origin of Forrest’s belt buckle. He’s been wearing the same beautiful, multi-colored turquoise buckle for decades and he took the time to tell us about it…


For me the best two times of the year to walk around in the Rocky Mountains are Spring and Fall. Both seasons come and go quite quickly at higher elevations. Basically, spring for me is the week just before kids are let out of school and immediately prior to the long lines starting up at all the National Parks. It’s a special time of green meadows fragrant with the new growth of herbs and wildflowers, and the forest edges delicious with the aroma of new pine and the rush of ice cold creeks heading somewhere in a big hurry. Fall happens the week the kids head back to school. The meadows in Fall are filled with gooseberries and huckleberries. The bears like this time of year too. The autumn colors are a splendid visual miracle and the cold nights return to make sleeping in the outdoors a pleasure again. Two times of year…two sensory overloads.

As I headed north from Santa Fe spring was noisy all around…beckoning, luring, inviting me to stop and smell the fresh scented air and feel the clean mountain breeze against my face. I am in a hurry to test out my new theories but I can’t resist stopping for a few hours each day to wander in the open meadows and photograph wildflowers. It’s one of my small joys. I can’t explain the pull…I just love it.


Purple Larkspur on the rim of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.


A sage steppe vista like this never tires my eyes. There are wildflowers and critters gallumping all through this place.


This little Sunflower seems to dominate its immediate neighborhood and yell “Here I Am!”.

My destination was a new HOB in Montana to see if I could  “put-in” there and discover the next clue. As many of you know, my starting point is inside Yellowstone National Park but as I follow the clues I am led outside the park into the Gallatin National Forest. This is my destination. My newly discovered home of Brown….the next step in solving the poem for me. A long way from a final solution but it’s taken me five years to get to this point. I’ve tried several other hoB places before this one. So far they have not panned out. I am hoping this one does.


Below my hoB and looking for the optimum “put-in” in the Gallatin National Forrest. The wildflower in front is a clump of Orange Indian Paintbrush. There are several varieties of Paintbrush that occur in various colors from deep red to pale yellow throughout the Gallatin region right up to 11,000 feet in elevation.

A close-up of the Paintbrush.



This is my first travel up a little creek I can’t paddle. The creek ends here. It’s certainly interesting with thousands of minnows bashing around when they see my shadow in their home, but not the place I would expect Forrest to want to spend eternity.

I wonder what this place looked like a thousand years ago. Was it a protected area where traveling Indians might have set up camp? Before I leave, I spend a few hours on my hands and knees looking for “little treasures”. I don’t find any arrowheads but I find plenty of wildflowers.


This Star Flowered Solomon Seal was growing in the moist soil near the edge of the pond.


There may be a dozen or more onions that grow in the west. This one is called Shortstyle Onion and is common throughout the area. Yes, it is edible; ask any Jellystone bear. They are quite adept at digging them up.


This is Oregon Grape or sometimes called Barberry growing under the darker canopy of Lodgepole Pine that dominates the Gallatin National Forrest. In a few weeks the yellow flowers will become clusters of juicy purple berries that look like grapes. They make a handsome jam…if you add enough sugar. In the fall the leaves often turn bright crimson and add splashes of Jack Frost color to the forest floor.


As I prepare to leave I walk into a patch of a few hundred Wild Strawberry plants. In a month there will be tiny red fruit all over this patch. The wild berries might be small but they are usually wallopingly tasty.


Back at the river I admire the view. Maybe next time I should bring my kayak…or my fly rod. Does that look inviting or what????


I’ll be back to continue my search down the river….

Maybe after I publish this Forrest will announce that someone has been within 13feet of the treasure…I know he’ll be talking about me….




72 thoughts on “Little Treasures…

  1. @Dal – I definitely appreciate the inspiration. I realize you are posting from your experiences, but I also hope F sees this and is inspired to post more Scrapbooks or other social media posts.

  2. Hello Dal. Amazing photos. Absolutely beautiful. Glad to see the strawberry plants are in bloom. Hope to pick some next month. Looking forward to the new stories. Wish to hear an announcement that someone has been within 13 feet of the treasure? Why not an announcement that you found it? 🙂

    Wishing you all the best with your search and travels along the beautiful countryside.

  3. Dal, what a beautifully written piece. Thanks for sharing nature’s little jewels.

    Brings back wonderful memories for me – running through fields of wild flowers along the banks of the Gallatin and Blackfoot Rivers in Montana as my dad fly fished. I recall a meadow on the Blackfoot River that was carpeted so thickly with blue bells it looked just like a meadow lake.

    In over 50 summers in Montana I’ve never seen a golden paint brush flower. My thanks to you and Forrest for personalizing these posts. Looking forward to new stories from Forrest. My best to you both.

  4. Beautiful story. I love the wildflowers. I have taken many pictures of them during my adventures. I also am intrigued with weeds – wild weeds and took many pictures. My favorite animal picture is of a chipmunk sitting on a rock with his front paws to his face while he fed on weeds! I’m with you on the two best seasons – when school is in session. 🙂

  5. Another dazzling display by Dal…Always a great read and the pics are just daring anyone to get out there. Thanks again Dal…good luck with your new HOB.

  6. Dal, thank you for all the little treasures, your storys are always inspiring and your photos of the flowers are Beautiful. Thank You for providing us this web site and a place to enjoy this wonderful group of fennsters. You and Goofy do an awesome job and are greatly appreciated.

  7. The western flowers are so beautiful, I took the next step and picked them by the roots in hopes of keeping them alive until I reached the east coast, but alas, they did not survive. Perhaps they are only there for photographing. Perhaps they are there to remind us of the beauty in nature. Thanks Dal for the memories of a beautiful trip to the west.

  8. Good story with great pics makes me long for my next search window in 3 weeks. I wish I could write as eloquently. Happy father day to all!

  9. Thanks Dal for sharing your lovely story and beautiful pics. The wild onions remind me of my childhood when I would forage in the woods for them and eat so many that my family nicknamed me OB. They were sooo good.

  10. Gorgeous buckle there. Mosaic work that brings to my mind Loloma or one of his proteges, Sonwai or Evelie. I wonder if it could be one of their creations.

  11. The wildflowers are so delicate given their terrain. It’s amazing to see the abundance of wildflowers that grow right after major fires. Gives a person hope to see such beauty after destruction. Thank you for sharing Dal.

  12. The lure of Mother Earth. Love it when her beauty springs from the bowels of the earth to intrigue us into stopping and taking note.
    Thanks Dal for sharing your adventure of 3548 miles of elbow room. 🙂

  13. Great story Dal. I appreciate that you share so many of your trips with all of us. Kind of reminds me of a guy from Santa Fe that likes to share things with others.

  14. Stories like this make the Sunday morning coffee taste even better! Thanks Dal. A little Bailey’s Irish Cream doesn’t hurt either.

  15. I’ve always thought that Forrest’s belt buckle was one of his little treasures….way back on poetry page II I wrote a poem about his buckle and the bracelet….For those who haven’t read it I thought I would post it here … Hope you enjoy….. Thanks Dal for the close up pic of the buckle…..until next time….see ya

    ” Turquoise Buckle ”

    Turquoise is the maiden stone , of many upon this earth ,

    A perfect blend of green and blue , when polished , shows it’s worth.

    This stone was used by ancient man , for healing and for show ,

    How long ago this first began , no one really knows .

    Turquoise holds a special power , for anyone who believes ,

    Clamp it tightly in your fist , and feel that ancient breeze.

    Blowing in the past of those, who lived upon this land ,

    Oh , the power in that stone , you hold within your hand ..

    Some turquoise beads were placed, on a bracelet in a row ,

    By an Indian , who felt the breeze , many years ago .

    Now it sits within a chest , filled to the rim with treasures ,

    But it’s the turquoise , not the riches , where you will find your pleasure.

    When the chest is finally found , and the lid is surly raised ,

    No doubt the look upon their face , will be astonished and amazed ,

    Ancient breezes will start blowing , and Forrest he will chuckle ,

    Because the ancient past will speak to him , through his turquoise buckle…

    By: Focused

  16. Wow, I can’t wait to see those videos Dal.

    You changed your hoB? Whaaaaaat? Go back and look at teachers with ropes picture.

  17. Wow…awesome! I’m loading the kayak now to go where that last picture was taken…really stunning scenery. So happy you could attend Fennboree…to quote ff, “Being with you was a rare delight”. Your presence and help during the 3.5 day event was greatly appreciated by many. Can’t wait to watch the new videos. Thank you once again for all you have done.

  18. Loved your story Dal, as usual. Loved all the pics of the flowers, especially the Indian Paintbrush. I never saw a gold one, only red ones. Beautiful. Those, carnations and Bluebonnets are my favs. Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!

  19. Thanks everyone!!! You’ve been very kind with your words. I think I should stop comments now, while I am ahead and put this one on my “wall of fame”. 🙂

  20. A basic question Dal, do you have wifi in your cabin and write these blog updates from there, or do you hand write then type up when your back in the ‘day to day’ house?

    • I have wifi in the cabin.The cabin is a single floor plus loft, 600sqft structure I built in the woods behind my house when we moved out to the island. It was intended to be a bonding project between Kathy’s boys and me. One was in elementary school the other was in middle school.
      As a bonding project it was a failure. The boys could not have been interested less in building anything. But as a great place to hang out and use as a secondary “cottage” when people visited, it was great. It slowly evolved into a place where I write and where my library and main computer live. It’s only 100 feet behind the house but it is a comfy, one room writing place with a wood stove, quiet and pleasant.

      • He He, I know exactly what you mean! I Bought a run down, 1960’s 16ft wooden dinghy about a year ago to renovate with myself and my son…appx 20 hrs of sanding, scraping off years of varnish and paint…he’s helped for about 10 mins 🙂
        Gotta love em though lol, cos I bet he’ll want to row up and down the canal with his friends to look cool…

  21. Dal, if that is the view from your cabin window you can stop searching for treasure, there it is!

    Thank you for sharing this story. I have enjoyed reading & rereading it, and feel like I was right there with you. You have a very nice writing style…with shades of Forrest. You must be kindred spirits.

    Looking forward to your new videos of your conversations with Forrest.

    • Chase-
      That’s the view out my windshield while waiting for the ferry. My place is in the center of the island. I can only see the water from the loft in my cabin if I stand in the right spot and bob my head around like a squirrel.

  22. Nice post Dal, I love those peaceful moments and wild flowers too. Any idea when your new videos will be ready for viewing?

  23. Chris-
    Maybe this weekend. One is completed but I still have to finish the others and build an environment for them….Although this weekend I have a new bike and plan to take it for a ride..Forrest thinks I can’t ride it…ha!!! I’ve been riding a bike since I was 6. This should be a piece of cake.

    • Look at those rocks built up so well into the wall.
      People amaze me at what they can do. The sky’s the limit.
      Any history on that well?

  24. Dal, please post a new story when you get the videos ready so I will know, if you don’t mind. Are you going to be around Yellowstone in September?

  25. @Dal – Amazing pictures! You captured some incredible views. I couldn’t help but literally laugh out loud at your final paragraph. 13 feet. Haha. I tell you what, as I worked my way around Hebgen Dam “below” my home of Brown and down the Madison River, my predominant thought was “searchers have been within 200′ of the chest and walked right past it.” I thought to myself if I just stepped on it without knowing, and it comes out years later that it was found under a crusted size 13 Teva Sandal footprint, I might vomit.

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