SUBMITTED NOVEMBER 2016
11-09-2016 (Day after Presidential election)
I awoke this morning and immediately checked the news…the election results were confirmed from nervously watching the results on the news last night before retiring. This morning’s immediate financial reaction was stocks were dipping, pesos hit a record low, and the value of gold was soaring. Wait a minute! What? Did this mean I should go searching for Fenn’s chest filled with 20.2 troy pounds of gold. YES. YES…but where to go? I didn’t have time to research the poem and come up with new solves. So I stood here in my library perusing the giant wall map of the Carson National Forest and the Enchanted Circle.
I hate to admit that I’m really stuck on this general vicinity, and I’m not ready to completely rule it out as the location of Fenn’s hidden treasure trove. Having spent a lot of time lately researching place names to match his clues in Scrapbook 107, I can’t forget the name on the envelope…U Puceet. Is Fenn saying “up-you-see-it”? Is he telling us to look up…like at a nest? Like at an eagle’s nest? Hmmm…ever since he ruled out that WWWH is not a dam, most searchers stopped going to Eagle Nest, but could it mean something else? Is this still the road less traveled?
I grabbed my backpack, put Molly in the truck, and texted Michelle that I was going on a “drive”…I wasn’t sure exactly where I was headed but Eagle Nest would be on the itinerary and I wouldn’t be home before dark. I have really tired of the “low” road to Taos as well as the “high road to Taos” so decided on I-25 and the Santa Fe Trail once again. The best thing about going that way is stopping in Las Vegas for breakfast… I found the first two treasures of my morning at Pedro’s on Grand Street. A personal-size pineapple upside down cake and a peach-filled Danish, to go. The nice lady behind the counter wrapped them up and put them in a sack which I immediately placed beneath the seat to keep Molly’s drool from landing on it. We’d partake of one of them after the next stop… Charlie’s Bakery and Café on Douglas Ave where I picked up a bag of freshly made tortillas that I would take home.
Eating at Charlie’s has always been a treat, too, as it is a “special place” in itself. This next picture is for Forrest… I think I once heard that he likes eclairs.
Back to the truck I went and exchanged the pack of tortillas for Molly. I figured by now she might need a potty break and I wasn’t sure where or when the next stop would be. The walk in the weeds behind the parking lot was successful, and now it was time to eat one of those delicious-looking goodies. I shared the Danish with her… she snapped each bite from my fingers like a hungry pirannha. Then off we went again, my fingers still intact…into the wild blue yonder of northern New Mexico.
I decided to stay on the Santa Fe Trail once again. I really like the idea of Fenn using the poem to lead us from his house to the treasure. Wouldn’t it be funny if the dotted line indicating the Santa Fe Tail on this monument is right? I mean this could be a roadmap to Fenn’s gold!
Traveling north on Hwy518, I stopped long enough to take a picture of Hermit Peak…from the east this time, looking west AT it.
The rolling hills of the highlands and plains to the east of me were just as bucolic. The green fields were fading into their winter brown but still magnificent. I wondered if the driver of the lone truck on the rightside of below photo would agree.
By now I had pretty much made up my mind to do a HUGE loop “tour”. I continued north on 518 to Mora, a fairly small community who earlier settlers called San Antonio de lo de Mora, or “stopping place”. Maybe warm waters halt there as well. Regardless, for anyone interested, look up Mora in The Place Names of New Mexico…there are about half a dozen clues from the poem that fit this area. I found this road plaque on the way to Mora in the picture below interesting. Who knew? I mean about the sandstone “hogbacks”…
I had been through the Mora Valley once prior in a treasure search to reach the upper Pecos Wilderness by way of the Rio la Casa to Walker Flats.
What I remembered most were all the little pink houses…as John Cougar Mellencamp put it,
“Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me…”
How appropriate for this particular day! I rolled down my window to take pictures of a few of these little pink houses…I could smell the wood smoke from their fires used to warm the cool morning air.
Soon I entered the village of Cleveland made famous by its Roller Mill Museum. I did not stop at the mill this trip…I was on a mission. I did stop and take a couple pictures of the old Cassidy & Sons Country Store. This was where I needed to turn and follow the Rio la Casa to Walker Flats, and had a most difficult time finding this building. I mean the building was easy to find…it was the faded name that was difficult to see.
I continued north and in a few more miles came to an even smaller village named Holman. Then I saw this road sign in the picture below. Holy crap, I had missed my turn-off for Rt434 in Mora to get to Angel Fire. I chuckled and made an immediate u-turn.
Well, hell, I missed the turn onto Rt434 again and I was looking for it. Did fate just hand me four cards and a joker…should I turn around and go home? Was this an omen for something menacing about to happen? Screw it, I turned around once again and this time turned onto 434! I smiled, looked at Molly, and admitted I really wasn’t paying close enough attention to the details, apparently. She wagged her tail…not seeming to care.
In a few miles I was passing the Alpaca Farm…once again, I just stopped in my lane, rolled down the window, and snapped away. This is one of the best things about parts of New Mexico, as well as the other three treasure states…there just ain’t much traffic once you leave the city!
I continued north on the increasingly narrow, twisting road, the broad pastural valley filled with cows and alpacas giving way to the steeper sides of forest as we made our way to Coyote Creek State Park. It was time to stretch our legs and use the bathroom. Oh, there’s a sign there saying you have to pay the $5 daily use fee just to use the toilet… this time, I think NOT. We were like stealths…stretched our legs, took care of business, and moved on.
In a mile we reached the forewarned road construction. I didn’t mind as I chatted with Javier holding the “STOP” sign and marvel gazed at the big-people Tonka toys. I wanted to drive this one…I bet it could help find Fenn’s treasure.
Finally the “stop” sign twisted to “slow”, and on Molly and I went, following Coyote Creek and climbing in elevation as we made our way to the top of the plateau. As we crested the hill, the trees thinned and gave way to this… Wheeler Peak standing majestically off in the distance, the Sange de Cristo range filling the horizon… breath-taking.
So many pictures still to be taken. The entrance to the Angel Fire Country Club…
Deer crossing the street in Angel Fire during the middle of the afternoon…this is why I drive with my camera on my lap.
It was painfully slow driving through Angel Fire as the deer gave way to a few slow-moving vehicles in front of me. I impatiently drummed on the steering wheel, trying to move them faster. By now it was 2:30 and I still had probably 20 miles until I got to Maverick Trail where I planned to walk to the Falls with Molly. JeremyP had posted a really good solve in this area…I really like Touch-Me-Not Mountain.
The slow-pokes turned west and off I zoomed now that I was on Hwy 64. I blazed through Eagle Nest, climbed the hill, and entered Cimarron Canyon State Park, another fee area. I quickly made our way past the Palisades stopping to take a few pictures…
…. drove into the Maverick Creek Campground where we walked to the creek and pond and then on to the parking area at the Trailhead to Maverick Falls. I had never hiked this trail and there were 2 choices…the narrow one beside the big sign that said Maverick Trail, and the one with the chain saying “closed”. I opted for the narrow one. It was mid-afternoon, the day-light seemed to be dimming. This is a fairly steep canyon so the light was giving way to dusk, or so it seemed. I hated this trail from the initial climb up the steep bank. The soft golden leaves of autumn had gotten brown and brittle and slippery, and made the trail more obscure than I liked. I had no GPS co-ordinates and wasn’t positive this was the way to the Falls. Thank God I had Molly on a leash as she hauled my butt up over that embankment. There certainly was no way Forrest climbed up and down this trail with the chest and then the treasure. We went a bit farther since it leveled off but I still had a bad feeling about going any farther this late in the afternoon. A few pictures more, and we turned around. I decided to follow what I thought was the old-logging road now overgrown with vegetation down the hillside that was so miserable climbing up. I figured it would come out where the chain crossed the other “choice”. Well, I was wrong…this trail seemed to end in low-growing shrubs that I easily navigated but it was harder for Molly to bushwhack through. Finally, we reached the truck…
I was hungry so figured Molly must be too…I dug the second of the breakfast treasures out from beneath the seat. I gave Molly bites of the cake while I ate the pineapple slice smothered in a buttery brown sugar glaze, topped with candied pecan pieces and a maraschino cherry in the center. It was delicious, and the perfect mood-enhancer, after that miserable hike.
I was in great spirits again…maybe there was rum in that tasty pastry but I didn’t think so. There was still no traffic as we made our way east towards Ute Park and Cimarron, probably a good thing as I held my 35 mm Nikon up to my face and snapped pictures through the windshield as I drove. Some came out good, others not so much.
I love Cimarron for all sorts of reasons…the giant sign on each end of town says it is “Where the Rockies meet the Plains.” I concur…it also has old and new historical districts, but best of all, it is home to the St. James Hotel, a place where Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and other old-western outlaws spent the night. It is also HAUNTED…supposedly. I stayed there once in one of the haunted rooms. Even got up at the witching hour 2 or 3 am, I forget, and tried to find ghosts and spirits, nada. But we did end up with a reflection of a guy in a mirror slinking sideways in the corner of the bar. The next day when we looked in the bar…there was no mirror. Pretty cool…can’t wait to go back.
We continued south on Rt21 through the sprawling Philmont Scout Ranch, where deer were abundant. I rolled the windows down so Molly could enjoy the wildlife viewing…she understands the word “animals” and seemed to enjoy the first hundred. I enjoyed every last one of them.
We were still on the Santa Fe Trail, and there were frequent signs to remind us. The Philmont Scout Ranch would be a perfect place to search for Fenn’s treasure chest, if it weren’t the Philmont Scout Ranch…private property. So many good clues here, and I especially like the Tooth-of-Time land formation and ridge. What if the word-that-is-key is “Time”…what if that is how we unlock the clues in the poem?
On we went to Rayado where this is one of my favorite non-clues but should defintely be a clue…I mean, look at this. EX spells “X” and there are two upside down omegas.
We passed by the few buildings comprising Rayado, made our way through Miama, and on to Springer where we hopped up onto I-25 for the ride home.
The orange-ish sky was now fading to twilight and the horizon was a dark silhouette to the southwest. I could make out the outlines of numerous antelope along the fence to the west.
The night sky gradually increased in size as the daylight faded to black…
There was almost no traffic between Springer and Las Vegas. The half-moon blazed out my side window and there was a planet as bright as any star in front of me…it looked like a starburst in the shape of a cross. Patsy Cline softly sang Crazy through the radio…Molly slept on her pillow in the backseat. It was a time to reflect…
I thought about all the people who waved or nodded their head when I passed by today…was it because I drive a pickup truck and look like a local, or were they unusually happy? Were they as elated to have the acrimonious campaigns over as I was? The vitriolic spewing of words during Sunday NFL football was almost enough to make me stop watching until the election was over. But I was totally calm now…driving is soothing to me, and it worked. Regardless of ones political persuasion or convictions, I think John Cougar Mellencamp still has it right…
“Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me…”
Eleven hours, 400 plus miles, and 200 photographs later, Molly and I made it home. We are resting comfortably in front of our juniper fire…oh wait, it was Forrest that said that. We are just resting comfortably, happy to be home, and happy to be living in America!
To see more pictures, click on this link:
Cynthia and Molly