First Attempt…

SUBMITTED january 2016
by Stephen


My first attempt at “The Chase” and what was found

There once was a man named Fenn,
Who much to our chagrin,
Hid a box full of gold
And his treasures so bold,
And he walked away with a grin.

It was early 2015 when I got bitten by the bug that is now known as “The Thrill of the Chase.”  I ran across a news article about a box filled with gold and other items, and how its location was hidden within a poem.  Naturally, I was a bit curious, and did a quick (and haphazard) deciphering.  My initial solution lead me to a location in northern New Mexico, Just north of Ojo Caliente, NM.

Now for some background…  My father-in-law had just passed away, and my wife was naturally depressed, more so than I was comfortable with.  I made the suggestion in May 2015 that we take a road trip, away from our home in West Tennessee, and get away from it all.  Naturally, she was a little reluctant.  I took it a step further and suggested we do the entire week camping in a tent.  Again, she was a bit taken aback at the suggestion, but slightly intrigued at that option.  You see, she had never before been camping.  I had quite a bit of experience with our local Boy Scout troop, both as a scout in my younger years, and as a leader in recent times.  I had promised to take her camping, just to see how she liked it, and this was my chance.

She finally agreed, and that’s when I sprung up the treasure hunt.  She slightly perked up at the thought, and I explained my solution to her, and she thought it sounded good.  We both agreed that even if I didn’t find it, it wasn’t going to be a wasted trip, and we were both going to have a good time.  Needless to say, a good time was had.

Our trip started out a little earlier than planned.  I was planning to leave around midnight on a Saturday night and drive to Amarillo, Texas, where I had made a campsite reservation at a local KOA campground.  Amanda was getting aggravated by several events that were transpiring around us (that were beyond our control) and I suggested we just go ahead and leave.  It was 8pm Saturday night, so we hit the road in our rented Toyota RAV4.  An excellent choice for a long trip, btw.

We arrived at our first campsite in time to eat lunch.  I had decided ahead of time that I was going to make an attempt at the 72oz steak challenge at The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo.  Holy cow (pun intended) that was a HUGE steak.  I had an hour to eat it and the rest of the meal.  After about 45 minutes, I had made it about three quarters of the way through the steak and some of the rest, and my stomach told me to stop, or else it was going to empty itself onto my lap.  I promptly threw a white flag, and collected my wife, who had herself had an excellent meal, and got a kick out of watching my attempt at master gluttony on the stage.  I made it through 52 ounces of the 72 ounce steak.  That’s 3.25 pounds of beef I had just consumed.  Never again will I attempt to eat that much at one sitting, but I can at least say I tried.

4AB2A155404B48CDA2DB5969073B2413We left Amarillo the next morning for the last leg of our journey to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Not long after passing into the state, Amanda asked of me, “when do we get to see what it looked like in the old west?”  I pointed at the mesas we were approaching on the interstate and just told her, “We’re in it baby!”  It was such a sight to behold.  Photographs and videos cannot do justice to the scenery our eyes beheld.  It’s one thing to see a picture, but quite another to see it in person.  We arrived at our KOA campsite 10 minutes southeast of Santa Fe by lunchtime, and checked in.  After getting our campsite set up, I was eager to make my attempt at my solution, but Amanda talked me into waiting until the next day.

It’s Monday morning, and I’ve got our route to Ojo Caliente planned.  We marvel at the sights along the way, and I wish I had stopped when we passed over the Rio Grande.  But northward we pressed.  We got to the site at which I had planned for us to park, and found the route to which I was going to hike toward my solution.  It was along the Rio Ojo Caliente, a river that began as a convergence of two rivers.  My “warm waters.”  My “home of Brown” was the mouth of the Canada de la Cueva stream, “Ravine of the Cave,” cave being home of Brown Bear.  Crossing the creek was no job for the meek, and I felt the blaze was a tree I had spotted in a satellite image on the internet.  Unfortunately, 2 hours later, I had found nothing, and was a little out of breath by the time I got back to the car.  Amanda was worried that something might happen to me, but we kept in contact with each other via two way walkie talkies,  a good investment.

Slightly down that my solution had failed, we made our way back south, and hunger had reared its head.  We found an excellent restaurant owned and operated by a local family, the Socorro.  The people we ran into there were the most hospitable, and the food was delicious.  I’ve found that I have acquired a taste for green chile sauce.  Many meals in the New Mexico area had the option for red or green.  I feel that both are a staple of the local cuisine.  I’m not opposed to it.  After exchanging stories about meteorological differences between northern New Mexico and West Tennessee, we made our way back to our Santa Fe campground.  The rest of the week was just as fun, spending time in the Plaza at Santa Fe, and seeing sights around the area.

D4680815175A4179A4D12345418E673COur last stop in New Mexico took us west of Albuquerque to Sky City, home of the Acoma Native American tribe.  On top of a very tall mesa, stands a village that has been occupied for many, many years.  No running water, and no electricity.  The view from the top was amazing.  After our time there was up, we reluctantly said goodbye to New Mexico, now one of our favorite places.  We will return one day.

Our trip home was uneventful, and we enjoyed crawling back into our comfortable bed, but Amanda and I both agreed that it was one of the greatest times we had ever had together, and we found each other all over again with this trip.  No treasure could ever compare to this.  Not to say that I’m going to stop plotting my next attempt, but that’s a story to come another day.


Amanda and Stephen-

34 thoughts on “First Attempt…

  1. Sounds like fun was definitely had by all. Acoma pottery has become my favorite from all the tribes. Sounds like a good solve. Glad you went when it was warm and had the walkie talkies. Don’t give up!

  2. Thanks for the good thoughts, We will definitely go back to New Mexico one day, but I’ve been working on a Yellowstone solve for the past several months, and will be making my attempt this coming June. Amazingly, while Fennboree is going on, I’ll be on the road headed towards YNP, and will not be able to attend. If I make the find, though, I’ll be having a jamboree of my own, lol.

    This year I’ll be accompanied by my wife, Amanda, and my aunt Charlotte, who has graciously offered her vehicle and cost sharing of the trip. Nothing like a family trip. Not that I plan on making it a Griswold vacation 😉

    Good luck to all in The Chase!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story, Stephen. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Nothing like finding a treasure chest with your treasure beside you. 🙂

  4. Nice trip & story Stephen.
    You are definitely richer afterwards, just not the monetary kind.
    Another Ojo Caliente in YNP? Hmmm
    I went swimming there in October & didn’t find the TC, but maybe it’s WWWH?
    I’ll be heading there in June also……

  5. Thanks for sharing your story Stephen. It is lovely that you and your wife had such and wonderful trip and “found” each other again. Sounds like you found treasure after all.

  6. Welcome to the Chase, is so many ways the journey ends up taking you. It’s true a 3 year old needs help because after a while you just don’t know what you don’t know anymore.

    • @Stephen, Welcome to Mr. Fenn’s treasure hunt. It’s so much fun! Be safe, there is no reason not to be.

      @23kachinas, well said. LoL. In my own way the chase has made me a kid again. This week I’m about 7 yrs old, purchased a beautiful coloring book (Enchanted Forest, on the NY times best seller list) found my happy place and colored my way out of being a responsible adult.

      • Lia, check out @kidkoala #NufoniaMustFall if it comes to a city near you. It’s a great way to stay a kid in your mind like your coloring books.

        keep it weird. they’ll get it later – Kid Koala

        View the trailer:

  7. Thanks for writing and sharing, Stephen. It sounds like you’ll always have fond memories of your trip and the treasure that you DID find. Conclusion: Do it again!

  8. Great story and trip Stephen. I graduated from West Texas State University in Canyon, just south of Amarillo and I know the Big Texan Steakhouse well. I was never brave enough to attempt the 72 oz. challenge. Sounds like you and Amanda had a wonderful time and a nice variety of activities along the way. Be safe and best of luck in your future hunts!

  9. Speaking of the Big Texan we had to stop and eat there also. We did not attempt in eating that huge steak.
    Awesome that yall had a great time.
    Enjoy the Chase. 🙂

  10. Also, I sure hope u didn’t buy one of those spooky, haunted, ghostly pictures. I would never hang that in our home. It’s was scary looking. Ha ha

  11. Stephen & Amanda,

    Welcome to what may well be some of the best experience(s) you’ll ever have!


  12. Stephen & Amanda,

    Welcome! So fun to hear about your trip! Your camping skills are impressive… I think we should all keep an eye on you 🙂

  13. Sound like you had a terrific time, its good to get out and enjoy nature. In recent searches in New Mexico area I found some family in areas searched. Most have moved to Colorado, but in searching some of the areas names from long ago appeared my eyes bulged out when I saw the names. We’ll continue our searches in family and nature and hope you do too. In so many ways Forrest has made our days better. Enjoy!

  14. Try try and try again…that’s a big steak!
    I’ve had a 32oz and only just managed it…had to leave a single pea just for fun!

  15. Welcom to the Thrill of the Chase, and to New Mexico. You are in for a real adventure. My first instinct when I heard about it was Ojo Caliente. I just seemed like a good place for where warm waters halt. But, there are so many places to explore out here. It will take a life time, and it will be a good life.

  16. Stephen and Amanda, I welcome both of you to the chase and to the great group of people you will meet here….. If you had a great time on your first attempt, then buckle your seat belts because its gonna be a wild ride…..

    ” Chasing Dreams ”

    Amanda and Stephen, you went on a quest,

    Searching for gold, hoping the best.

    You looked high and low, but no gold you found,

    Adventure’s your treasure, just looking around.

    Times that you spent, together for fun,

    Its the “thrill of the chase”, that makes you run.

    So buckle your belts, sit back for the ride,

    stomp on the gas, with each by your side.

    Stephen and Amanda, I wish you the best,

    While chasing your dreams, and look for the chest………

    By: Focused

  17. Stephen and Amanda – welcome to the crazy family of Fenners! Glad you had a fun trip to NM and, if you’ve never been there before, you’ll love Yellowstone – it’s my favorite search area. 🙂

    • Never before been to Yellowstone, but counting the days until June. Our route there is going to carry us by Mt. Rushmore and the Little Bighorn battlefield, so I suspect getting there will be half the fun as well.

      • Stephen, I’ve been to both those sites and they are very interesting – you’ll enjoy them. Be sure and stop in Cody to see the Buffalo Bill Center of the West where Forrest is or was on one of the advisory boards. Maybe on your drive home you can see Devil’s Tower too. You’ll have a great trip!

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