SUBMITTED december 2014
My 14 year old son, Brendan, and I were debating about searching in New Mexico. We thought the warm waters fishing designation of New Mexico just had to be the warm waters Forrest was describing. I had pretty much ruled out the whole state based solely on the increased chance of snake encounters, but we had a few search locations that were just too good to dismiss.
Right as I was getting ready to rule out the trip to NM, they announced the Fennboree gathering. I thought this might be a once in a lifetime adventure, so I pulled Brendan out of school for a couple days (he didn’t argue too much) so that we could head out a little early and visit some of our search areas, as well as those we’d ruled out but wanted to see in person.
Three days before our road trip the plans for our destination changed dramatically. I haven’t had too many dreams about the Chase, but this one was so vivid and felt so real that we had to include this dream spot in our trip and made it the first stop of our journey. We had researched some areas near Taos, but not the area I dreamt about, so I’m not sure where some of the dream info came from?
Here’s some small tidbits from the dream, and our follow up search of the dream spot…
In the dream, I was lying in bed looking at Forrest’s poem which I’d replicated exactly as it appears in the book on my bedroom wall. The large replica made it easy to reference the poem while I did some searching on my IPad before I went to sleep. I had been pondering “a word that is key”, and wondering if it could be “Brown” since it was capitalized.
I’m thinking of the capital letter “B”, and picturing it overlaying the whole poem in various ways. As I look at my poem wall, suddenly certain letters look a little more bold than others. I noticed that the bold letters formed the outline of a shape, but now it’s not exactly a “B” instead it’s the outline of an Omega…two Omegas on their side actually. I jump out of bed, grab a red marker and draw over the letters before they un-bold themselves. Suddenly, I realize the meaning of the line in the poem “The end is drawing ever nigh”, the Omega means “the end” and they have been “drawn nigh”.
Excitedly, I write down the letters that form the Omega shape. They spell out ,
“In Taos, in Taos Box, in the Upper Falls”.
At this point I’m starting to wake up, but I’m struggling to remain asleep as the “blaze” was the next part that was becoming clear in my dream.
Waking me is thinking “but there’s no “X” in the poem so those letters can’t be right”?
Sleeping me was thinking “exactly, there’s no “X”, because “X” marks the spot, it’s part of the blaze and”……but unfortunately waking me won out at this point.
In my still half asleep state, I rollover and grab my IPad, pull up the poem and draw a couple of omegas over it. Of course nothing lines up as perfectly as it does in the dream world.
I try a Google search to see if there is an area called “Upper Falls in the Taos Box”. Sure enough there is, and it’s the area for boaters to “Put In”. At this point I decided we had to go check this out! I changed all our plans and a few days later we were on our way to Taos.
We pulled up to a dirt parking lot in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We stretched and walked over to the trailhead to take a quick peek down the canyon wall, surely Forrest could make this trek twice.
We prepped for our adventure, changing clothes, rearranging backpacks to allow for a small box on our return trip, and grabbed plenty of water for our hike down to the edge of the Rio Grande. As we prepped, a truck with an older couple rolled up. We chatted for a little bit and found out that they were from Texas, and that this is one of the gentlemen’s favorite fishing spots. Fishing? YES! Brendan and I give each other a quick smiling glance. We’re even more excited at this point. We don’t share exactly why we’re there or why he’s out of school, we’re just hikers after all!
The TX gentleman decides to head down the trail to check things out, he’s coming back tomorrow alone to fish. His wife has no interest in hiking, and waits in the car.
A few minutes later we are packed up and ready to go when I see this:
We decide to sing ” 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” to pass the time. I’m also thinking it might scare away anything in the area. As we step down over the big rocks we use our walking poles to tap the rocks below and make sure no snakes jump out at us (yes, to me they jump). Brendan starts saying, “No snakes, no snakes” at each big step down. Well, I don’t even want to hear that word, I tell him it sounds like he’s calling them to us. I ask him to call the snakes something else, and we decide on “Whammies”. So we trek on while we sing, “94 bottles of beer on the wall, 94 bottles of beer”….( tap tap with the pole, step down over the big rock)…”no whammies!, no whammies!… take one down pass it around, 93 bottles of beer…”.
A short ways down we come upon the man from TX who’s heard this whole discussion and singing, he’s completely red in the face from laughing at us. We nod, smile, and move on. 320 feet down and about a half mile later we reach the bottom.
There’s a little path to the boat put in, and adjacent a small, corrugated roof shelter with a picnic table. We decide to sit and have a water break. I head towards the picnic table and immediately see a small snake slithering away a few feet in front of me. I did what came naturally, ran the other direction (probably towards more snakes) yelling “Little Snake, Little Snake!”. I run towards the river, down a narrow path with tall grass on either side. My backpack catches on the grass, flicking the tall grass, and the motion makes me think there’s another, bigger snake next to me. This of course sends me running back towards Brendan who is just standing there laughing at me and shaking his head.
We sit and have our water break at the picnic table. Once my heart rate came down, we decided to set off down river towards some big trees (could this be the “in the wood”). We scout out how to get there since most of the area is covered with tall grass and shrubs, with some random paths that deer or other animals have made.
The shelter is built adjacent to the rocky canyon wall. There is a narrow path less than 3 feet wide between the shelter and canyon wall that allows us to head in the direction we wanted to go. We set off with Brendan leading the way, we’re right between the structure and the rock wall when we hear a distinct “rattle, rattle, rattle” at head level …again I did what comes naturally and ran the other way. Yes, mom of the year award I know! Somehow Brendan followed?
Again a short heart rate break, as I stood frozen in apparently the only snake free clearing.
We decide to head the opposite direction, up the creek, no paddle required. We didn’t get far when we came to a point with big boulders and high water rushing by. There was one big dark colored rock with a mark on it. We get closer, it’s kind of an “X”, a blaze perhaps? Brendan’s face lights up.
He climbs up on the boulder and looks down in to the water on the other side.
No treasure, but I hear him shout “it’s really cool looking, lots of sparkly stuff in the water!” (Keep in mind we live in suburbia, so this is a big thrill for my young adventurer)
I’m not exactly sure what else there was to look at on the other side of this boulder, but he crawled around and checked it out thoroughly for quite some time.
We head back towards the picnic structure, thinking we could find another way to head down stream that is rattlesnake free. I’m leading when I hear Brendan say “Uh!” pretty loudly behind me. Apparently another snake slithered right behind me. I make it back to my snake free clearing rather quickly, and decided this was no place for us meek folk. I took a quick glance around at all the possibilities for treasure hiding spots, but we decided we just couldn’t do it. They all would most definitely include at least snakes, and after looking at all the deer trails I decided it just wasn’t safe for the two of us if something happened. Maybe we would come back to explore with the rest of our family another time. A few quick photos by the river and we head back up the hill, and on our way to the next search area….”43 bottles of beer on the wall…No whammies! No whammies!”.