It was just past midnight when I was slapped awake by a menacing bright blue flash and startling clap of thunder that was close enough to make the air around me crackle and smell like overheated bakelite….
I grabbed my bedroll and ran for the truck just as a cold wind began whipping the trees and icy raindrops the size of goldfish started hammering my head. From inside the van I could see battalions of angry lightning bolts exploding outside the truck like a celebrity paparazzi attack. This whole storm event was a big surprise. Two hours ago, when I was watching the sky from my camp, the black heavens were clear enough that I could see every star imaginable. No moon meant there was no glare as I watched dozens of falling stars and a lazy satellite make it’s way across the sky. But now I was focused on driving away from this lightning rod of a spot…fast! But I couldn’t. The rain was torrential and I could not see well enough to drive.
What bothered me most about staying put was the thought of a mud and boulder avalanche this kind of sustained, pounding torrent could bring down on me from the mountains above my truck. That frightening massif of rock and earth west of Yellowstone that peeled off the side of the mountain along the Madison River kept coming to mind. People died. Roads, cars and homes disappeared off the planet. The Forest Service built a memorial/visitor center to the event on the pile of rubble that consumed the Madison. I didn’t like being below a steep mountain slope in a downpour and I couldn’t see to drive. I wondered if I would be forever entombed or if they would dig me out? No one even knew I was here. I needed a distraction.
So I started using the awake time to consider how many Toledos there were that Forrest could possibly have referred too when he said the treasure was hidden “more than 300 miles West of Toledo.” I own several mapping programs and a fairly substantial collection of paper maps that I always travel with. I like maps. I enjoy looking at them and gleaning information from them the way some people enjoy looking at a piece of fine art or postage stamps. Earlier, I posed the question about the number of Toledos to a few of the searchers who write me. Eddie said three. Marc came up with nine and Ellen was surprised there were so many. She counted eleven.
There are a lot. I was already up to eight workable Toledos, not counting the ones that were either west of the mountains or closer than 300 miles to some place or other within the range of possibilities. Does Forrest know there are a dozen or more? Did he use Toledo for exactly this reason?
Forrest can be tricky as Coyote. His clues are shrouded in layers of furry enigma and camouflaged under curtains of Fenn-speak. What kind of training prepares a person to hide his instructions behind such deviousness? …The military?…Maybe years of playing poker…Trading and buying?…Any/all of the above, I suppose.
My list of Toledos include cities, historical places and mines:
1. Toledo, Ohio
2. Toledo, Colorado
3. Toledo, Iowa
4. Toledo, Illinois
5. Toledo, Kansas
6. Toledo, South Dakota
7. Toledo, Indiana
8. Toledo, Minnesota
Let me know if you find more.
I ignored Toledo, Washington, Toledo Oregon and Toledo, Mexico. That last Toledo was invented by James Michner for his novel, Mexico. So I guess it wouldn’t count anyway. Besides, it isn’t North of Santa Fe.
I drew lines across the mountains at the latitude of my eight Toledos. When I was done I had eight West to East lines across the mountain states. Progress!! Exactly what good this does or how this might help me find the treasure is still not clear to me. But sometimes you don’t know until you try.
What constitutes “in the mountains” was my next issue. Is Denver “in the mountains”? It’s at 5,300 feet above sea level. That’s high, but Denver is not what I would consider “in the mountains”. Most people who live there seem to believe they are on the eastern slope of the Rockies…not a mountain town…a foothill town. What about places like Jackson and Durango? Certainly I would consider Silverton in the mountains. What about Taos?
Between the clues in Forrest’s poem and the clues he has handed out I can clear away a lot of that vast western landscape that some might consider “in the mountains”. Still, what’s left is a gigantic area.
Now, if this rain would just lighten up I could head out and be at my first search area of the day by first light.