Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Nine…



A Memory Runs Through My Family

Lightning struck me today in the form of an email from someone I never met and do not know. But the history of our respective families is so entwined as to be almost umbilical.

Here is her email to me. My response to her is at the bottom.


Mr. Fenn
Can’t tell you how much your treasure hunt has rekindled memories of my best childhood vacation!

When I was 10, back in 1958, my family went on a fishing pack trip out of Jackson Hole, over the divide, and into the Lamar River Basin. These were the most special 10 days I can recall in all my youth. Though my mom, dad, brother and sister were there for the fishing, I have to admit I was there for the horses. I can still remember all 14 of them with names and color (how is that even possible). Our guide, Bob Adams (how do I remember that???), would get up before everyone else and catch trout for breakfast. There is nothing better to wake up to than trout for breakfast over the campfire! It was 10 glorious day in the wilderness with lots of fishing and wildlife watching!

Looking for treasure clues online brought up all kinds of Yellowstone photos and reminded how I always said I would return. Somehow I never did. Don’t know why. But now I am determined to take my trip down memory lane next summer before it is too far for me to walk! Thank you SO much for that extra push in the right direction!

In doing my research, I was looking for connections that might tell me why you used the phrase “if you’ve been wise” and found this lovely story about the Eagle family and their “right of passage” introducing the next generation to fishing the Firehole River. Subsequently I decided that there was no connection between “wise” and “Hoot Owl Hole” where the Eagle family started the younger kids fishing but it was a great story anyway. It led me to wonder if you were friends with the family as they did have an outfitting store in West Yellowstone and were themselves fishing guides in Yellowstone. Just curious. A River Runs Through My Family.

My real question is: if I were to happen to find the treasure and if it happened to be in Yellowstone Park, would you consider claiming it yourself and offering a finders fee? The last thing I would want would be to find it and hand it over to the government! Just askin’……

Again, thanks SO much for setting in motion an amazing adventure for thousands of individuals and families who will now have all their own stories to tell about their great treasure hunt!

Lou Ellen Williams


Dear Lou Ellen,

I knew all of that old bunch in West Yellowstone, starting in about 1938, from old Sam, the patriarch to Wally, Joe, Bette, Rose, and the rest. Wally and I fished together many times on the Firehole, Gibbon, and Madison Rivers. I knew your grandmother Frankie when she was barely old enough to wear a top and even today she remains a cherished friend. I love the link you included in your email, and think I need another hankie.

If you find the treasure in YNP, tell me where it is and I’ll go get it for you so you won’t be thrown down the hole at Old Faithful.

Forrest Fenn

Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Eight…



The Winds of Change

Red Vine

Red Vine

The autumnal equinox occurs on about the 24th of September. That’s when the sun is lined up with the center of the earth. Darkness and daylight are exactly twelve hours apart, and the sun rises due east and sets due west. The temperature begins a steady drop and the days start getting shorter. Those are the two changes I don’t like.

Oh, tell me not with words asunder,
Seasons bring both dry and wet.
Spare me hues of grey and umber,
I’m not through with summer yet.

Aspen Trees

Aspen Trees

By early November the sun is passing farther south, and although she’s closer to the earth, her rays hit my orchard at a cooler angle, causing summer’s palette to fade toward wistful browns, reds and yellows.



The cooling winds are now fresh as they blow through my apricot trees, whose leaves dry and drop to the ground where they slowly decay and enrich the soil.

Apricot Trees

Apricot Tree

Several years ago Madam Nature exercised her prerogative in our space without forewarning nor even offering a reason why, and countless trees in my little forest perished. No longer will I be lulled by the throaty whisper of quaking aspens that one time populated our landscape, nor shall I ever again enjoy their shade that protected me from the glaring summer sun. Much of nature’s colored complexion, which once was enough to attract the approval of even the most indifferent, is now absent from my hillside.


Soon I’ll plant 200 pine saplings. There is always hope when old men plant young trees.

A few years ago my grandson, Shiloh, shoveled snow from my portal. Notice the aspen trees in the background. Now they are gone.

A few years ago my grandson, Shiloh, shoveled snow from my portal. Notice the aspen trees in the background. Now they are gone.

Don’t hale when north winds blow too soon
Across my pine trees tall and lean.
Let’s keep the warming days of June,
Blueberries are red when they’re green.





Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Seven…





That’s what I don’t understand. If a man really loves art, why would he pay $2,500 for an oil painting by a local artist when he could have the greatest art ever painted for $1,500? It’s a foggy question I know, but I’m thinking about a life-size print on canvas by Velasquez, Botticelli, or maybe Ilya Repin.

Ilya Repin - Religious Procession Kursk Province

Ilya Repin – Religious Procession Kursk Province

Does it seem reasonable to you that a $50,000,000 value should separate an original by one of those guys from a print of the same painting, when, from five feet away, they look exactly alike? And if the original and the reproduction were hanging side by side, and you didn’t know, I’ll bet you’d choose the one in the best frame. (Of course I never expressed those sentiments when I was trying to sell one of my really great $2,500 paintings to my best client.)

Years ago, Stanley Marcus and I enjoyed excavating together at San Lazaro Pueblo. He collected prehistoric pottery. I usually did most of the work and he did most of the talking.


Uncovering a 500 year-old Glaze Period D olla at San Lazaro

Stanley Marcus and crew at San Lazaro

Stanley Marcus and crew at San Lazaro

He was probably the world’s greatest merchandizer. (Okay, maybe second to Joe Duveen.)

Once he said, “Forrest, two ladies are walking down the street together wearing identical looking full-length fur coats. One lady bought hers from my Neiman Marcus store in Dallas for $10,000, and the other received her’s as a Christmas present from her husband. He got it on sale at JC Penney for $1,995. Do you think you could tell which lady was wearing my coat?” “No,” I said, tolerantly, and that got him started. In his quiet and unobtrusive manner he explained that he built his businesses on the premise that one could tell the difference. “The woman wearing my label carries herself better. She just knows – and pride sets her mood. She’s not afraid to make eye contact with anyone on the street.”

I’ve been thinking about what Stanley told me so maybe I’ll have to rethink my art emotions. Is there some middle ground, or a good place to compromise? Recently, I saw a really nice painting by John Moyers in Nedra Matteucci Gallery. It was about $7,500 or so. Maybe I’ll go back and take another look.

John Moyers - Chief's Blanket - oil on board - 18" x 12"

John Moyers – Chief’s Blanket – oil on board – 18″ x 12″


Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Six…



Compensations for being quiet

Last evening, when I had an idle moment, I walked around our pond and sat on a rock by the waterfalls. I do that whenever I can because opportunity doesn’t like to be kept waiting. The serenities of nature were all around, and they prompted me to pause and reflect.


Here’s a toast to the art of forgetting
That friend of the fast dimming past.
Gone down with the sun that is setting,
The sordid has vanished at last.
Remembering beauty untarnished,
The joy and glamour enhanced.
Reviewing the years with laughter and tears,
In the twilight I ponder entranced.
John Young-Hunter


An orange dragonfly rested on a water iris. He was very still – just looking. Another landed beside him (or her), and a third, and then a fourth. They were perfectly aligned, as if in a pew. Where was my camera?

I’ve often wondered how insects of the same species recognize each other. They can’t see themselves so how do they know they’re chumming with others of the same kin? Yes, I know, it’s instinct. But because they all look exactly alike how can one identify his brothers from the others?


Then some damselflies arrived, both red and blue. They bobbed about for a while, but soon were gone with little more than casual disinterest. Maybe they had a beef. Perhaps they didn’t like what their cousins were doing on the water iris leaf?


A chair is posted at a favored spot beside the pond. My fishing rod is kept there too, constantly at the ready. A dragonfly likes to rest there also. He always looks so composed. Evidently blue dragonflies are not likewise so disposed.



Then suddenly, amid a muffled whirr of sound, a resident hummingbird joined our company and checked me out, and the dragonfly too. She likes to dart back and forth, and hover.


This must be her nest. It was just there, lying on the ground. There were no eggs or shells anywhere around. Hmmm.


Three esteemed inhabitants on the pond are Angelo, Barney, and Tail End Charlie, so named because of a birth defected left leg that slows him to half a normal waddling gait. How did such an imperfection occur, and when? A friend told me it was either a freak of nature, or something his mother ate. Okay then.


They were 3” tall when I purchased them at the San Marcos Feed Store. The clerk said, “You can’t take just one; they come in sets,” like he knew. I didn’t think three bucks each was too much to pay for the cute little pets. Do you?

Several times a day the farm ducks come up on the grass and quack, which means they’re ready for their cracked corn snack.


The hungry threesome likes to wander up and down a little streamlet that flows into the pond, looking for things to grub. Crawfish, being lower on the food chain, are mostly too late in hiding, as are some of the water bugs.


Both peppermint and spearmint plants grow in great abundance at the waterfall, blocking most of the splashing water from our view. The blossoms on top of the mint attract bees from all around the neighborhood. I think they like the purple hue.

One of our tall cottonwood trees was maimed by a lightning strike and lost a big limb. I saw the whole thing. I was just standing there at our kitchen window watching. So now when there’s thunder, Peggy and I and little Tesuque, run for cover.

Peggy’s grandmother once told me that just a millisecond before lightning hits, the hair on the back of my neck will stand up. It’s a static electricity phenomenon, she claimed. When that happens lightning is about to hit nearby with a jolt. But if I jump really high, maybe it will hit the ground while I’m still in the air, thus saving me from the fiery bolt.


Of course I don’t know if that’s true. She also said you shouldn’t plant a weeping willow tree because when it gets big enough to cover your grave, you’ll die. However, Peggy and I have such a giant willow that we planted as a seedling in 1988, and we’re still vertical. Makes me suspicious of grandmotherly wisdom.

Nothing but good can happen when I’m still and observing wildlife in its natural landscape. To describe it almost wears me out of words. In nature’s quietness I can steal away to places where all my dreams come real, at least for a little while, that’s the way I feel. f

Digital StillCamera





click image to view video

click image to view video


Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Five…




The Bullet comes home – after sixty-five years on the road

My first car was a black, 60 hp, 1935 Plymouth Tudor sedan. It was not the deluxe model so it didn’t have a sun visor or windshield wiper on the passenger side.

Dodge Challenger Race Car 055

It was eleven years old when I purchased it in Atlanta, Georgia for $250. A thick book and a pillow were placed on the seat so I could see over the dash.

Dodge Challenger Race Car 046

I drove only at night so the police couldn’t see I was only 15. The 1,200 miles to my home in
Temple, Texas passed slowly at a top speed of 55 mph, but it was love at first sight for me. During the day I curled up on the back seat and dreamed about my beautiful Plymouth.

Dodge Challenger Race Car 066

It had no safety glass in the windows, no air conditioner or radio, no power steering or power brakes, & no power windows or turn signals. I stuck my arm out when I wanted to turn; straight out meant left and straight up meant right. I felt like I was bragging every time I signaled a turn. But I could lever the windshield up when I wanted ventilation.

35PJ_DelmarDrag_NJCarTour_LightHouse2012 303

Peggy named my wonderful car “The Bullet” because she said it was shot. Out of respect, we never used that term when we were within earshot of the car.


When we were in high school, in the late 40s, I’d take Peggy home for lunch, and thirty minutes later, pick her up again. We always had a few minutes to sit in the Bullet, listening to Eddy Arnold on the portable radio while waiting for the bell to ring. Gas was 11 cents and I often pulled into a station and bought two gallons for a quarter, and saved the three cents change for next time.

When Peggy and I wanted to go out on a date, like for a burger and a movie at the Arcadia Theatre, I’d pawn my two-dollar bill with Peggy’s mother. I was always able to buy it out of hock by babysitting or mowing the neighbor’s lawn. I still have that two dollar bill, but it looks a little wallet worn. I am trying to decide where to leave it when I’m gone. Can’t be just anyplace.


When I went to Yellowstone for the summer of 1950, Peggy drove the Bullet for three months. That fall three eventful things happened, Peggy started school at the U of Houston, I joined the Air Force, and my mother did something terrible with The Bullet. When I came home on my first leave, the car was just gone, and no one was willing to talk about it. I went into mourning.

35PJ_DelmarDrag_NJCarTour_LightHouse2012 305

The story is told in my book Too Far to Walk, that I’d give $250 again if anyone could find The Bullet for me. I felt outside of the hope that comes with possibility. When I mentioned it to my friend Richard Blake, who is a serious car nut and has 9 garages all in a row, he went to work. Richard is the world’s leading authority on the sun, and is a retired solar physicist from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

It took some long months for Richard to find The Bullet’s twin brother. It was in Maryland and he successfully talked the owner into selling. With one email I came out of mourning after sixty-five years. All of a sudden, instead of feeling old, I felt like I’d ripened. It’s wonderful to refresh the memory of a friend long past.

35PJ_DelmarDrag_NJCarTour_LightHouse2012 294

For many years Dr. Blake has been one of my heroes, but now I will give him a gold star to put on his bathroom mirror.

Eat your heart out, Mr. Rolls Royce.



Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Four…



Dear Forrest,

I first heard of you while talking in passing to a work colleague about their personal interest.  While at first this was a way for me to network, the passion behind this story was admirable at the very least.  As time moved on, this person helped me through a difficult period of my life.

I come from a very dysfunctional background starting from birth.   The last 3 years has been shocking and tragic for me and my 7 year old son.  At the time William  introduced me to you, I was questioning me as a person and a mother.  My life has always been drama filled and chaotic and as 40 was fast approaching I felt I really needed to find my happiness for my own sanity.

See I come from a very long line of addiction.  I never got on the drug train but alcohol was my crutch.  William hasn’t had alcohol in 25 years so he quickly became a sounding board for me.  The last 6 months of 2014 I was drinking more than I ever had.  I was spiraling out of control in anger, regret, and pity.  Making the decision to change my behavior was at times painful and a reality I never had to deal with.  I masked realities for a long time.

I haven’t had a drink since December 22.  Since this time, I’ve learned to appreciate what is really important in life.  I’m learning to work to live, instead of living to work.  I understand there is no book on the perfect parent and societies label that we should be super heroes is an expectation no one can achieve.  I have learned that I am important, and no one should take my weaknesses to make me feel small or not significant.  I’m learning that I may not have received a royal flush in life but a pair of 2’s is just as good if you play it right.

George introduced me to The Thrill of Chase.  I got to know you, William and myself.  Your story has allowed me to open my mind to what the value of me is.  Through your story I have fallen in love with William – and he has since moved from Louisiana to Missouri so that we can be together as life partners – my husband.  Forrest I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life and I must thank you for your part in that.

Today, William  and I will leave Missouri and start our adventure.  Over two weeks we will explore Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and end in New Mexico.  While I think the hunt is an added bonus to keep us looking for the prize, the thrill of spending quality time and appreciating the beauty, history and what God has left for us is truly the value for me.  J

I know you get thousands of requests but it would be nice to meet you while we are in New Mexico.  This trip will be one of my legacies.

I’m expecting we will leave the New Mexico on August 14 or 15 to head back to Missouri.      We have no laid plans except where we want to hunt, and for the first four days in Wyoming and then Montana.  I must add we are tent camping this entire time!    My cell phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx or you can respond to this email if this is an option.

Thank you again Forrest.  I hope one day I can tell you this in person.



Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Three…


JULY 2015

Dear Forrest,

Hello! I hope it is alright that I call you by your first name. I just wanted to convey how important your words and stories have been to me these last few weeks and offer thanks. I would venture to guess most emails you receive are in regards to the treasure; questions about the poem, its clues, people wanting more information, etc; that is not this email.

I purchased your book, “The Thrill of the Chase”, June 15th after hearing about it from my parents, who they themselves were leaving to search for the treasure in New Mexico that week. Something about a real life treasure hunt made a tiny spark in my mind and soul. Perhaps it was the kindling of memories of making treasure maps with my cousins and running through the “jungle” (fruit orchards), swinging on “vines” (ropes we hung) to cross “rivers” (irrigation for the trees) to evade imaginary adversaries also in search of our treasure. Perhaps it was the notation that I like to think I am clever and like to solve a puzzle just to know I can. Or the fame in being the first to do so. Or the thoughts of what I could do with the money; pay off school loans, travel, I could go horse back riding through the Scottish highlands, see the pyramids of Egypt, safari in Africa, see all the beautiful art and architecture in Italy, go repelling into caves, so many places to see and things to do!! Whatever the reason, I purchased the book.

I have to say your book saved my life.

I had at the time, well I still am, going through a divorce from my high school sweetheart. It had only been the first few weeks when I purchased the book and I have to say the hardest few weeks thus far. I have not handled it well. We were married 10 years. Which I think is an accomplishment for people my age nowadays, especially with the challenges we had to face with multiple deployments. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I had failed. I had an array of feelings at any one time but the majority was anger and sadness. All the unmet expectations that I had, that we had, for the marriage gone, the life I had dreamed, gone. So here I am at 30 starting over. How? I’ve really don’t know how to date having gotten married at 19. All the doubts came flooding in, that I am not good enough, not worthy of love or happiness, that I will be alone forever, etc everything seemed pointless and I quickly went to a dark place.

But it was your book that offered relief from that dark place. I could read the book and imagine  making a goal or plan to go look for the treasure. Make a plan to go on a trip with my family, at the very least we have a great time camping and seeing a part of the U.S. we’ve never been before. Talking with my parents about our theories has been probably the most time we have spent talking with each other in a long time. So as a mere distraction your book saved me but there is more to it than just distraction.

I will probably not be able to verbalize just how much this part of the book meant to me at the time because some weeks have passed, but the last two pages of your chapter ‘My War for Me’ resonated with me. It is true that in a hundred years no one will know I even existed, but that doesn’t matter now does it? Because it “really doesn’t matter who we are if we are someone to ourselves”. The beauty that exists in me is there whether anyone sees it or not; the beauty and value in every living thing exists whether we recognize that value or not. I think I realized I didn’t want to waste my turn either. When I read this in the middle of the night I cried and held my hand to the page as if this action somehow connected me to you, to the universe, to every person who has felt the same. It was funny that later on you mentioned about touching art, and how not being allowed to touch the art, to be separated from it in some way was impersonal. I agree. I think that’s way I want to travel so much, to be present in a place with history, to stand where others have stood and to look around and see what they saw, smell what they smelled, hear what they heard, (though these things can change) but I would love to go to Deadwood and just be in a place where Wild Bill lived, hike the John Muir trail and imagine what it must have been like for him seeing Yosemite essentially untouched by man, to stand in the Sistine Chapel and look up and imagine how Michelangelo felt when he did the same. That can’t be experienced by reading a book or looking at a picture.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. You probably never thought your book would save a suicidal divorcee, but it did.

Have a good night,



Scrapbook One Hundred Forty Two…


JUNE 2015


What About You?

65638Whitey Ford won 236 games pitching for the NY Yankees. I once asked what made him better than most other baseball pitchers. He said, “I could always throw a strike when I needed one.” What a great response!

Having been shot down twice during the Vietnam War, and surviving both times, I can now look back and say, “Yeah, I too threw a couple of strikes when I needed them.”

a_byron_iByron Nelson, as a professional golfer, won 18 tournaments in 1945, and 11 were consecutive. When he came into my gallery I asked him a similar question. “What separates a good golfer from a great one?” His answer also was interesting. “A good golfer can hit a great shot from the fairway, but a great golfer can hit a good shot from heather.” Wow! And yeah, I made a great stroke from the heather, so to speak, when I had cancer and recovered from unlikely odds.

Now, as my candle burns ever lower, I like to compare my accomplishments with those of some great men I’ve met. Sure, I can arbitrarily declare myself successful in some areas. I just have to remember that I’m in a different league from those other guys. But certainly my way of thinking makes me feel good when I need it. f


Scrapbook One Hundred Forty One…


MAY 2015


Today Forrest got this in the mail. Pretty cool!!!

Last summer the motel occupancy rate in Santa Fe was up 10% over the previous summer and no one knows why, except maybe the Chamber of Commerce, and the stores that sell metal detectors.

You can click on the image to make it larger



Scrapbook One Hundred Forty…


MAY 2015

This story illustrates once again that old age came to me at a really bad time.

The last day of skiing on the Santa Fe hill was Easter Sunday, so the day before was fun time, as hundreds who like to ski, gawk, or gasp came to join in the fracas.

My grandson Shiloh and his little sister Noah, whose face has many flattering angles, posing in her new ski ensemble.

My grandson Shiloh and his little sister Noah, whose face has many flattering angles, posing in her new ski ensemble.

Cass and Shiloh, the dreaded duo of the mountain.

Cass and Shiloh, the dreaded duo of the mountain.

Cass and friends.

Cass and friends.


Here’s Shiloh coming down the chute and across a 3 foot deep pond that was built for anyone who was willing to test the cold water gods at an elevation of 10,300 feet.

Shiloh-On-The-Water movie


Many tried, and about half made it across. The others were wiser for the trying. One intrepid lady said it was hard to smile when her lips and eyes were frozen shut.


And here’s Cass, everyone’s friend, who was so busy tossing Easter eggs to the crowd as he screamed down the slope, that his balance was not ready for what was about to happen. His sense of adventure suddenly dwindled, then vanished as the laws of physics and gravity took charge. Two seconds after this photo was taken, Cass found himself racing the half mile to the lodge for an ice pick, dry clothes, and a gallon of hot chocolate.


Evidently Noah was not prone to tempt such a transient pleasure, but at the end of the day, fun was crowned the winner, and many memories made on the hill that day will last longer than any ordinary person’s reach. f