Forrest forwarded this to me with few words, which is not like him at all. I think parts of it made him nervous.
You likely don’t remember me but I wrote about a month and-a-half ago to praise you on your book The Thrill of the Chase. In my email, I mentioned that my husband and I would be visiting New Mexico (for a business trip, which would include a quick search for your treasure, beginning at 32 degrees latitude at the southern border of NM and working our way north.) Well, we took the trip and, as you know, we did not find the treasure. There was some disappointment of course — I was secretly certain that I’d interpreted your clues accurately — but that disappointment was quickly dispelled by what we did find… amazing sites and interesting history. Because of the book, I truly believe that our eyes were open a bit wider and our minds that much more receptive to the stories and histories we learned. So, although we didn’t find the treasure, it was a wonderful trip.
I write again to give you a bit of an update.
I’ve reread The Thrill of the Chase and Too Far To Walk umpteen times now.
I laugh now when I think back to the first few times that I read The Thrill of the Chase. At that time, I was enamored with what I thought were the simple, gentle musings of a fellow harkening back to his younger years . To me it was a collection of amusing stories, life lessons, and inspirational insights. It was imperfect yet sweet. Now, I simply think that the piece is genius and calculating, thick with creative license (remember non-fiction only has to be 85% accurate), multiple layers and ciphers that redirect the reader to entirely different end points. It is not a collection of short stories culminating in one book; it is a collection of riddles culminating in what could be three or four books, depending upon which layer you’re on. Pictures contain hidden letters and numbers, the meaning of words and sentences are altered by either a phonetic re-read or a reorder or substitution of letters. It’s flexible and supports unsuspecting readers as they continue down the wrong path. It’s the literary version of the Butterfly Effect. And it is the reason everyone has different starting points, different ending points. It is brilliant… and addictive… and the reason why I question everything I read (hmmmm, I wonder what that’s supposed to mean), why I’ve read Hemmingway and Salinger and why I know that Robert Redford actually has written a book. It’s the reason I know your Grandpa Fenn’s name and about the YMCA (thanks to my love of genealogy), and the countless other tidbits of information I’ve garnered along the way. It’s the reason why I may just go for it and search for the “missing appendix” behind the hardcover and binding…
And it’s the reason why I’ve never squinted so much in my life! My flashlight’s batteries are now dim and my eyes are nearly crossed. I never used “reader” glasses before but over the past several weeks have found them to be quite helpful. My rock hounding loupe (my husband and I are rockhounds) is constantly at my side and I eagerly await a new one, which I ordered off Amazon, with a stronger magnification. Then perhaps I can learn your alphabet (I do know that L = Y, as in YMCA) and I’ll hopefully soon make sense of what appear now to be random numbers and letters and superimposed images cleverly hidden behind the innocent photographs of your youth. Until I can figure out the alphabet, my “solve” begins by Hebgen Lake and winds up at the Thumb Basin in Yellowstone. Perhaps yet another victim of the butterfly, or perhaps my route will change, but right now it is the path that I’m on.
Regardless, it is a fun ride and I just want to thank you for this perfect puzzle.