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August 2019
by dal


On the first of July I retired from my job running a community TV station. No more decisions to make about television programming. No more fretting over hosts, sets, time sheets, editing time, graphics, program schedules, financials, technical reports, meetings, equipment repairs, planning, purchases or returning phone calls. By the second of July I had run amuck. I was in a melt down. Nothing to do…

Just 24hrs into my retirement and I was driving Kathy mad. She told me to “get out of the house”. “Go visit Forrest and take in Fennboree. Then go search for the treasure. Enjoy yourself”, she said. “Take all the time you need. No hurry”, she added.

So I did.

Tuesday July 2nd
At 3pm on July 2nd Ezy and I were on the ferry headed to the mainland. 1,600 miles to Forrest’s place from the island. Three days of driving.

I was still jumpity as my brain tried desperately to think of something to worry about, some reason to call a meeting …but there wasn’t anything to do except point Ezy east and south toward Santa Fe.

I had an errand to run first. So instead of heading south and east I headed north and east on the North Cascades Scenic Highway. Last winter Jenny Kile had sent me one of her Forrest Fenn Gold Medallions to hide for folks in the northwest to look for.

FF Gold Medallions image 1024x562

Jenny’s Gold Medallion

Well…actually, I would hide a stone with a code written on it somewhere in the Cascade Mountains. Whoever found that stone could claim the gold medallion that would be safely tucked away in my cabin and not exposed to the elements..

I had marked my stone and I knew where I wanted to hide it, at the entrance to the North Cascades National Park between Marblemount and Newhalem.


The welcome sign is pretty dramatic and I thought it would be a good place to write a poem with clues to the stone’s where-abouts. I left the stone there, documented its location and pointed Ezy east.

By 11pm Ezy and I were camped on the Columbia River near Peshastin, WA.


Ezy’s insides decked out for a good night’s rest.

Wednesday, July 3rd
Not a good night. My mind was working me over about retirement. Hard time sleeping. Restless all night.

At first light I was down the road. Heading toward Pendleton, OR and further south.
What struck me about this particular July was the satisfying lack of forest fires…so far.

For the past five summers it seems like the West has been terrifyingly ablaze by July. The forest’s I’m driving by show the scars. Miles of black leafless columns crowd the landscape in every direction. What were once lovely, leafy forests are now nothing but burned out remnants reminding me of the smoke choked air that was so difficult to breathe. But this year is different. The air is remarkably clear. There are no wildfire detours, fire trucks speeding down the highway or helitack choppers heading to smoke enveloped hills.

I pass by green orchards with a bajillion pears, apples and apricots ripening up. Further south the orchards turn to vineyards and then hop fields interspersed with ranches and grazing black cattle by the tens of thousands. Later in the day Ezy and I climb up into Oregon’s Blue Mountains and our first opportunity to stretch dal’s legs and look for wildflowers.

In the lowlands, by July, spring wildflower season is past but at about 5,000 ft elevation, this far north, it’s still spring and wildflowers are in abundance. I pull off onto a side road near the highway, park, and walk through the orange trunks of fragrant Ponderosa trees scanning for patches of open meadow.

It doesn’t take long before I find my first gold…


This is a delicate Orange Honeysuckle. They are a forest understory vine that crawls upward on taller plants to try and reach the sun. As kids we all knew to pull the filaments out of the flower and suck the sweet nectar drop off the bottom…hence the name Honeysuckle.

Walked around for a half hour admiring the pines and the meadow then jumped back in Ezy and headed further south and east toward Wells, NV.

I’ll spend the night in the brush south of Wells, where I can’t hear the trucks exploding past at unlimited speed. I still can’t sleep. My mind is trying to understand retirement. Will I starve to death? That’s ridiculous…I’ll get a retirement check and a social security check monthly. I’m fine. So much to worry about, so little time.

Thursday, July 4th
Before first light I am down the road. There isn’t much for me to appreciate in the stretch of Nevada between Wells and Ely on the Great Basin Highway. I guess because I don’t know enough about gray rocks and lizards. The landscape is dry, monotone and tedious. If Ezy was a 4 wheeler I guess I could explore more out in that area but I’ve been stuck twice too many times so now I stay on the hard top through there. I’ll make good time because there is nothing to stop for and the speed limit is faster than I care to drive.

There is this:pes

The Pony Express memorial at the Shellbourne Rest Area. It’s part of the Pony Express National Historic Trail. I complain too much. Those guys had it a lot tougher than Ezy and me.


double click to see this large enough to read

I always stop at the Great Basin National Park. They do a magnificent job of trying to impress me with the 300 miles of monotony I just drove through and the 150 miles of uniform tedium I am about to drive through.

gbnpsignJohn McPhee is the best science writer in my known universe of science writers. I love the guy. He makes the impossible, conceivable. He interprets science the way Cormac McCarthy interprets the west. Science is an adventure with John at your side.

mcpheeOne of McPhee’s enlightening books is titled “Basin and Range” and it examines the geologic underpinnings in this part of the universe. McPhee does such a good job of science storytelling that when I finished Basin and Range I couldn’t wait to be out here in the Nevada wasteland again.

nvboringHowever, my fervor quickly dissolved once I was again face to face with 7 hours of leaden landscape, 105 degree heat and pitiless unbending road. If I had my way I would sleep the whole way between Jackpot, NV and Delta, UT. I pity the jackrabbits and snakes that somehow survive in this butt-sore topography. Sign me up for an autonomous vehicle lease through Nevada…Maybe Uber next time…

But then Utah comes roaring into view like a John Ford movie in spectacular Vistavision. It’s dramatic, huge, colorful and entertaining. The road is twisty the towns are quaint and the drive becomes spectacular. I head with renewed energy toward Loa and Capital Reef National Park.


Hwy72 gains about 9,000ft of elevation and from my perch I can look down into the washed and tortured canyon lands below. Once again, at 9,000ft, even though I am quite far south, it’s still lush and springlike up here.


The meadows are dotted with wildflowers from Beggerticks to Sunflowers to Paintbrush to Lupine, Daisies and Larkspur.


From here it’s all downhill to Loa and Fruita.


The problem is that I am always fighting the clock in my head. This time I am trying to get to Santa Fe before Fennboree begins. So I drive right by the park, without stopping…again!!

I have never had enough time to get out and explore Capital Reef. I’ve driven by it a few times on the Bicentennial Highway but never stopped. This September I plan to spend a few walking days at the park on my way to Santa Fe. I’m looking forward to it. If anyone has suggestions for good day hikes in/around the park…I’m all ears.

It’s getting late in the afternoon, 4th of July and I can see town picnics and food fairs in the squares of small burgs as I drive through. Kids are waving sparklers and I pass cars with the stars and stripes flapping from their antennas. Celebrations are everywhere.

I am keenly aware of the existence of leaping deer and elk as I drive between Cortez, Durango and Pagosa Springs at dusk. My eyes are peeled for anything attempting to run out in front of me. I make it all the way to Pagosa Springs before I smack a deer at 45mph. Ezy is crunched. The deer is totaled.

I get out and drag the deer carcass to the side and clean off the broken plastic and glass from Ezy’s front. I briefly consider dressing the deer…but pass since I really don’t want to stick around. Thankfully the radiator is smooshed but not punctured. I pull the right fender away from the wheel. The grill and parking lights are a loss.The hood is a little catywonkers. My right headlight is working but pointed low and inside. I decide to push on to Tesuque.


At Tesugue I spend the night in a cheap casino hotel room so I can shower and shave and smell presentable at Forrest’s. You’re welcome!

Friday, July 5th
The next day I head over To Forrest’s place. We gab a bit about deer tragedies and retirement possibilities. Then we meet up with Geoffrey Gray who has come to interview Forrest for a story he is writing for Alta Journal, a magazine out of California. After the interview Forrest and I hop in Ezy and drive up the hill to see if we can find Cynthia at Hyde Memorial State Park where she is holding an evening get-together the night before Fennboree. We find her campsite but she isn’t around so we raid her pantry and help ourselves to a few crackers and refreshments while we wait…In a short while she drives in and others start arriving for an afternoon gathering of friendship, marshmallows and beer.


Forrest hangs out for awhile admiring Cynthia’s camp and gabbing with searchers that stroll in. He hands out a few clues and talks about the place he hid the chest…(just checking to see if you are reading). He did not hand out any clues…

After a couple hours or so we roll downhill back to Santa Fe where I leave Forrest and head back to the park to see if I can find a place to sleep for the night. As I’m driving around the campground loop Jason Dent signals me in to the site where he and Sacha are camped.


They have a fire going. SeanNM and family are there, as are Illinois Gho$t and a few other souls. I discover that Iron Will has held a place for me at his campsite next door. Thanks Will!

That evening we all walk over to Cynthia’s campsite for her campfire and gathering where the camaraderie is as comforting as home made chicken noodle soup.


I spend all of Saturday at Fennboree. I am given these great rocks by JDiggins…Everybody got a couple…probably priceless gems…We all feel rich!!!…Very Cool!!
Unfortunately now that I posted this photo Kathy will want the rocks…bye, bye rocks…

Sunday morning I get up, say goodbye and point Ezy’s broken front end north for a thousand mile drive to Gallatin County, MT and my search area.

For my pics and story about Fennboree 2019 look HERE

I love this part of the drive. From Santa Fe north on 191 along the great rivers of the west, gold country, dinosaur land, Indian territory and up into rendezvous country is always an adventure. With plenty of fascinating places to stop for history, geology, botany, archeology, paleontology, souvenirs…you name it this region has it, from extraordinary landscapes to fantastic learning opportunities…so much to see and touch and experience…it’s always fun, fun, fun!!!


the hogan trading post pano




I arrive at Baker’s Hole on the Madison River a couple days later.

Wednesday July 10th
I wake up pretty early and decide to canvass the area around the full campground. I run into the campground host and we start talking about the hot weather. His accent is familiar but clearly not local. I am stunned to discover he is from Temple,TX. He says that he took classes from Marvin in Junior High and he knows all about Forrest and the chest and he too figures it’s probably stashed up here somewhere. But that’s about all he’ll say about any solution he might be harboring. What a great summer gig for a searcher.


This is the interpretive sign at Baker’s Hole. It explains the relationship between the Madison, Hebgen Lake and trout. Double click on it to read it.

Today was a good day to do some walking around and stretch some tissue that only had the gas pedal and less frequently, the brake pedal to exercise with for the past few days. So I went into the park around my favorite spot on Fountain Flats and checked the location out for wildflowers and wildlife.
To my personal satisfaction…little had changed.


Blue-Eyed Grass








Blue Damselfly






I don’t know what kind of moth this is but she’s cool

flax 1



mattie 1

There are a few folks buried in Yellowstone. Mattie is one. She has a headstone, usually decorated with flowers, over on Nez Perce Creek.
You can read about Mattie’s sad death, HERE.


I met up with Mark and Brenda on the Nez Perce. Really nice folks. They were searching further north and east. We talked Forrest and solutions and headed over to the Happy Hour Bar on Hebgen lake for a crab dinner…that was DELICIOUS!

Thursday July 11th
As you know, the solution I’ve been working on for a few years has me begin at Madison Junction, about 17 miles upstream on the river from Bakers Hole.


Madison Junction. Gibbon comes in from the right. Firehole comes in from the left. The Madison heads straight away for the canyon below

From there I take it down through the Madison Canyon which is directly below the junction. From there I’ve been going to Baker’s Hole, which is my HOB…There are numerous other elements that fit the clues in the poem but the one element I cannot identify is the Blaze. It’s probably because I am in the entirely wrong place but if nothing else, I am persistent. So I’ve been examining this area, with slight modifications for a few years trying to locate Forrest’s blaze…with no luck, I might add.

This year I decided to see what would happen if I changed my HOB upstream a couple miles to the Beaver Meadows. I think 13-14 miles is still further than I want to walk, so it still works as TFTW from Madison Junction.

Beaver is an Anglicized word from the old High German “bibar”, which means brown.

These days locating the Beaver Meadows is not difficult. Albeit I did not see any signs of beaver.


Just head upstream from Baker’s Hole and when you get into a couple mile long willow brush area that’s hard to travel through…you’re there.


In spite of it’s romantic name…I saw no beaver and it is hardly a meadow. Tromping through the Beaver Meadows is not a pleasant experience. The only trails are game trails. In addition to the 7ft willow brush, it’s a maze of shallow ponds and swampy pools, most of which have leeches. Mosquitos and other bothersome flying insects are a constant nuisance. Additionally the tall willow is a hiding place for elk, moose and bison…which you do not want to annoy or stumble upon. On the day I spent plumbing around in that underbrush it was also hot and muggy.


I decided to stand still for a moment in a dry patch I bumbled into. It wasn’t long before I could feel something biting my legs. I looked at the stump next to me where I had set my camera and all I could see were ants…biting ants!!! I dislike those things and by now I could feel the buggers all through my pants so I moved away from the stump and stripped…shook out all my clothes, redressed and went on my bit and itchy way…You may have noticed that I can’t think of much to recommend Beaver Meadows as a pleasant hike. Needless to say I found very little in that maze of water traps that seemed clue-like or rewarding in any way…but please, be my guest. Just don’t trample me on your way out!

I also explored a bit upstream from The Barns on the Madison. I could see a small building a mile or so upstream and was curious about it.


You can see the building I am talking about in the top third, center of the pic. That’s the Madison River upstream from the Barns.


Turned out to be a river gauging station. But the walk was beautiful and the lodgepole and sage smelled great in the thin mountain air…and I saw this:


A nice bright orange blaze up in that tree…
Didn’t strike me as a Forrest type blaze and after I saw another I figured out that I was on a winter ski trail and those blazes help the first cross-country skiers, after a fresh snowfall, find the trail.

That marked my last day of searching…I had to head home the next morning…take what was left of Ezy’s front end apart and replace everything…

I can drive the 700 miles from Yellowstone to my place on the island in a day if I push. But I didn’t feel like pushing…
I wanted to stay off the freeway. Drive the two lane.

The Clark Fork is a favorite river of mine…
I stopped along the way at a few places to tease the fish…imagine what it was like when Lewis and Clark came this way…

I was walking a gravel bench above the Clark Fork one day and when I kicked a rock I saw something shine blue beneath the rock…


You can see what I saw in front of the toe of my boot. It’s round and blue…

Turns out it was a glass bead…and there were two more under the rocks…


They might be old trading beads. They are a beautiful color. I have an arrow point I found awhile back. I think I’ll have the three beads and the arrowhead turned into a necklace for Kathy. She would like that.

So to review…
I am unemployed and trying to wrap my head around it…I smashed up Ezy but walked away unscathed… I missed out on some good venison…I have swollen ankles from ant bites…I scored two cool rocks at Fennboree… I didn’t find a suitable blaze or any sign of a chest…I found three nice beads that stand a pretty good chance of being old trade beads and I can use them to have a nice necklace made for Kathy…successful trip!!!













99 thoughts on “Vagabond…

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Congratulations on retirement and I hope to be there one day as well!

  2. Poor Ezy! I have hit quite a few deer and it is terrifying! Nothing to do but brace for impact at the last minute. I love all of your photos, Dal, but that moth is way cool. What kind of camera do you use ? I am sorry I missed meeting everyone at Fennboree but I was in the area a few weeks prior. Always a pleasure to read you posts, thank you for sharing and happy retirement!!

    • Veronica-
      I use a Canon 7D Mark II. I have a number of lenses…but my walk around is a Sigma 17-50mm. I suspect the moth was taken with a 100mm macro that I was carrying that day.

      • Just absolutely beautiful shots and I love insects. The honeysuckle is my second favorite ( had many tiny sips growing up, along with sassafras) Thank you Dal.

      • I always like your stories and your pictures Dal. Thanks for the read and hope you have an active and enjoyable retirement.

      • Not sure if it’s supposed to be a comment, but the camera info is Handy. I’ve been trying to get pictures like yours. You have a really Keen eye for the photos, thank you, I appreciate seeing them.

  3. Thanks for the post Dal – Have fun out there. As usual, absolutely beautiful PIC’s JDA

  4. Thanks Dal! Love the story and pictures, and appreciate the time taken. Sorry you didn’t find any bronze chests.

    • pdenver – aquickmessagetomarrymeimmediatelyinLasVegasbeforeI’mbanne[BANNED!!]


  5. Congrats on your retirement Dal. It’ll take a few months to stop having those office flashbacks. And the damage to Esmeralda probably looks worse than it really is. Now you have a little more spare time to flesh out that solve you’ve been working on.

  6. It’s all about being content at the end.
    Thanks for sharing good and bad as we all experience.
    Still another month or 2 of good weather (on and off) in SW MT.

  7. Dal, I guess you got ants in your pants. Ha ha ha.
    See don’t you just love the chase.
    Looks like it was a very nice and well planned adventure ❤️
    Happy Retirement if u get bored Walmart can hire u to be a greeter. Ha ha ha.

  8. Loved reading that trip story. I’ve never done anything like that…just taking to the road and spending 10 days or so travelling and stopping where my heart beckons.

  9. Thanks, Dal, for all your work so far . . . not only the recent stuff (great pics and writing, BTW),
    but all the way back to the beginning of this website.

    Good luck adjusting to retirement. I suspect that soon, you’ll be extremely busy (like so many other “retired” folks).

    And good luck, also, in your continuing search for Indulgence.

  10. Hey Dal,
    I enjoy the way you write, you are an easy read. Your stories flow across the page like the Madison river, which by the way is where I am camped now for about a week. ( Baker’s Hole). I too am stuck believing that ff secreted the chest in this his beloved area. And now I love it too. Loved your story and pics.
    By the way we met at fennboree. I’m Gary on the electric Yolo bike. I was there when you and Forrest came up to Cynthia’s campsite. Wish I had more time to talk to you then. Maybe in days to come.

    • Hi Gary-
      I love that bike!!! It was fun yapping with you. There are some pics of you and one of Yolo on the Fennboree page cited in the above story…Have fun on the Madison…gorgeous river of the west..

    • Gary-
      Is the camp host still the same guy from Temple? Maybe he’ll talk more about Marvin…or his solution…

      • Dal
        I didn’t know there was a ff connection to the camp host here at Bakers Hole until you mentioned it. I talked to him just minutes ago, he was walking past my campsite, so I stoppped him and we chatted. He said Mr. Fenn was his math teacher back in Temple Texas. He ended our conversation with Mr. Fenn was a good man…in the epiloge to TTTC memoir, Forrest wrote, His name was William Marvin Fenn. He molded so many lives and made such a huge and far reaching impact on the local society that everyone would remember him forever. Well Forrest as I sit here on the banks of the Madison I feel privledge to to gaze uppon the the same environment your father loved so much I can’t help but think how William Marvin Fenn moulded you. His legacy lives on, he is remember now by folks that didn’t even kmow him, thanks to his prodigy. He was a good man…and so are you Forrest. Thats a badge of honor we would all like to have.
        I hope you read this and know he is remebered by the guy who is camp hosting on the Madison with respect in his voice for a man that did impact his life and left a long lasting memory he thought he would never share. And such is life, It may end for us but the memories flow on long after we are gone like the Madison……

        • The camp host’s name is Larry, he’s been there for a couple if years and he told me that Marvin Fenn loved to teach anyone how to fly fish. He also said that Mr. Fenn had an old green station wagon that was filled to the gills when they headed up to Yellowstone. He is a joy to talk to and always has a lot of stories and a smile on his face.
          Larry helped me obtain the old Bakers Hole sign from the owner last year; Forrest graciously signed it for us at Fennboree this summer.
          It was great to met you Dal and to have a chance to talk to you at Fennboree. I love your write ups and photos, always a great time being there with you, in spirit at least.
          I just returned from a few days at Bakers Hole and I’m still convinced that it is the area though I’ve checked off 5 of my best solves so far. More reading, more thoughts for the future.
          Thanks again Forrest for this crazy chase.

  11. Great writing Dal. I felt I was there with you.
    Enjoy the time off. Now you are a full time treasure hunter!

  12. Wow Dal, those trade beads are an amazing find! I just love stumbling into stuff like that! Imagine the stories those could tell. Treasures!

  13. I don’t even know where to start with how much I love your van. Just you on a comfortable bed on wheels going wherever you please?? A dream!

    If I find the treasure I’m going to retrofit vans for a living. Sell them to treasure hunters. Make a mint on “Ezy’s.” Congratulations on a new chapter and thank you for sharing.

  14. Dal,
    Always entertaining & so enjoyable to read your adventures. You’re a gifted story teller. Thanks for making time for all of us on your blog. -42

  15. Hey, Dal. Maybe what you need are some deer repelling car whistles. They mount on the front bumper. When I drive through YNP, the animals tend to stop, look up, and stare at the car instead of darting in front of it… 🙂

    • Dal,
      I absolutely second the deer whistle recommendation. They’re
      cheap and can’t do any harm. I damn near piled into a doe in a blind
      curve on my motorcycle once. Put some deer whistles on either side
      of the headlight and later saw some some deer reversing off the road
      as I approached. Maybe they worked? Some state highway patrols
      believe in them and some don’t.
      By the way, how did you train Ezy to take selfies?
      Safe travels and searching to you,
      D C

      • Thanks….I’ll look into deer whistles…
        Sometimes avoiding deer at dusk is like playing a video game. In Wisconsin one evening in a single mile stretch, six deer leaped across the road in front of me. Three more stayed on the side as I crawled by. I passed two trucks that were loading up deer carcasses into their beds to take home…
        It was crazy…

  16. Loved your write-up and pics!
    Sounds like you had a worthy trip.
    Thank you for not finding the treasure!

  17. What an AWESOME beginning into your new journey in retirement life! You definitely stopped to smell the wild flowers along the way! Your right on point about Madison junction the treasure is not far from there but too far to walk! I have a poem solve floating around quietly in my head just waiting on me to get there! I would love nothing more than to indulge my secret solve to you but it would be so unfair and far too early I need the chest to prove it! Soon Dal I’ll be eating cherry pie as the sun is high! Gold n locks of the South

  18. Great story, Dal …I Love the flower pictures.
    Congrats on the retirement, enjoy it!

  19. Dal, in all my years of reading peoples remarks and comments about the search, including FF’s I might add, this write-up is the best. The photos bring your story to life. I want more. Thanks to you for the website and keep interested and writing.

  20. Well congratulations on your retirement Dal!!! Trust me when I say that you will learn to love it! Great photos and from the sounds of things a great trip with the exception of meeting up with that poor deer!
    Coreda and I will be in Albuquerque for a couple months so maybe our paths will cross!

    Take care,


  21. I’m surprised that NPR hasn’t started a national conversation about the carbon footprint of the Chase and it’s contribution to Climate Change. Our grandchildren’s earth is being destroyed by all the carbon emissions associated with all this misadventure. We’re doomed. Doooooooooomed, I say.

    Nonetheless, I love a good week-long road trip. Retirement and road trips are only better with a dog, Dal. You read. Surely, you’ve enjoyed Travels with Charley. Many dogs waiting in shelters eager to join you and help a drive across NV go more quickly.

  22. Love the pics Dal. You really got a good eye for catching things. The saying: “The best camera you can have is the one in your pocket” referring to phones today but give me a decent DSLR anytime.

  23. Dal – Congratulations on your retirement and newfound freedom to travel and explore! I enjoyed your excellent travelogue, and I am always impressed with your stunning photographic images.

    The details of your last search, upstream from Baker’s Hole, and above the Barns Holes, was very helpful to me. Did you attempt to find a possible location where Forrest may have put in with his dinghy for that journey he made in the TFTW preface? I still want to find that location. Thinking there may just be an old bike submerged there in the ‘water high’.

    • Haven’t seen a bike. I have walked the river, on one side or the other, all the way from Cable Car to the lake.

      • Dal – Wow! Now I am really impressed. You are one of the most intrepid searchers I know. I think you may have even surpassed Diggin Gypsy and her sisters by now. But there is still a chance for them to catch up, right?

        Thank you for that information. So many places I want to go on this trip, but only so many hours in the day; most of which God will subtract as hours spent fly fishing, I hope.

  24. As always Dal, an enjoyable read. Congrats on retirement and now you can start on your next career – with your writing, & photography skills, and amazing life experiences, you could author a best seller no doubt.

    From one retiree to another, the best life preserving medicine is work. At 79, I’ve had three careers (military, Naval Aviation Systems Design engineer and computer business entrepreneur) and I’m working on a third.

    Talk to Forrest. I’m sure that he would encourage you. TIME is our most valuable asset. Time is like water. Some just let it run through their fingers while others try to drink every drop they can.

    Good luck and thanks again for entertaining my morning, Ron

  25. Dal, great scrapbook, er travel guide, not I take back what I said about this bein a scrapbook, tavel guide, it is just an awesome adventure, yeah dats it, the ticket to retirement fun, just load up and go, into the mountains where dreams and rivers and treasures await, you are a gifted photographer and you run a mean blog, I mean great, yeah! That it, the ticket to happiness, a HAPPY BLOG, you have a gift and so does ff we shall meet where the trails cross in some basin…..far far away! Kudos and great story Dal!


    • New Chaser – Craig Matthews, the article’s author, wrote a great book about the Madison River. That is an excerpt from that book. He is the owner of Blue Ribbon Flies at 305 Canyon in West Yellowstone. I heard they have a great selection of hand tied flies. We plan to try to meet Craig to get the skinny on the current hatch for the upcoming week.

      Craig was the Police Chief in West Yellowstone, when he first came to town. I bet he has some stories to tell, besides fish stories.. He is also one of the founding members of the Madison River Foundation; a great non-profit organization doing awesome things to monitor and restore fish habitat in the area.

      I personally believe the people I have met in my search area have been the greatest resource of all on The Chase..

      • Hi Lisa,

        Did you happen to catch the reference in Forrest’s scrapbook about Florence and 1921 Wilderness? Can you tell me anything about that?

        • New Chaser – Found this link about a landmark wilderness move by Aldo Leopold in 1921, when I was researching for Forrest’s SB #107:

          There is a Major Fenn with a Florence wife that looked really interesting, in a link posted by SL on that thread.

          Could you please post over there, if you would like to discuss this further? Dal appreciates that.

          • lisa, just noticed we are from the same neck of the “woods”, hope i can see you on the river sometime! p.s. lived in twin falls my whole life.

  26. Thanks for sharing your adventure and beautiful photos.

    Call me a little superstitious but sometimes I wonder about the connections
    and encounters our lives make.

    I’m thinking old Yellow Hat took a liking to you.

    Do you still have the fetish?

  27. good luck dal on your retirement – when I retired I to had nothing to do so I learned how to play piano- I now have 25 songs I have to learn ffrom the words the tunes and every thing that it takes to play sing to make a CD it takes a lot of work but it keeps me doing something to take my mind from the chase – so again good luck and have fun .

  28. A trip like that seems like a great way to start retirement. Nothing like long empty stretches of road for contemplation. Enjoy your retirement Dal.

  29. When I first moved to Washington, my job was to visit gaging (yes, we spell it that way) stations in the Olympics and coast range. Later, in the high desert of eastern OR. And I was paid !!

  30. Hi Dal,
    Nice Adventure story, Thank YOU!
    I’m hoping to put together a (misadventure) story of my own to post soon. I Just need to get some free time so I can do some marathon writing.
    Congratulations on getting yourself retired! I hope I get to join that club myself some day.
    Sorry about the van. I’d have asked that deer if it had insurance… If not, it (at least) owed you dinner, ha ha! When you give Ezy her face-lift, maybe consider a big mean bumper, to repel the suicidal, van hating, deer-frogs. That’s a lot of miles to be covering solo though, So I solute your tenacity and determination.
    The pics you take are awesome and I really enjoyed reading your story!
    We (the family and I) always run up the Clark Fork heading through Idaho and on up to Libby. The blue beads look like a great find! You may have (just) enough treasure to smooth things over with Kathy, if you know how to present them.
    Take it Ezy!

  31. GREAT story dal, i too am looking forward to retirement within the next year. am new to the search but have been researching for a few months. TOTALLY enjoyed the part about the bugs and ants, when i was reading it i’m thinkin that sure would be good place to walk up on a griz! definitely no place for the MEEK. trying to get some steelheadn buddies together for a trip to the madison. got a bran new ruel stayner fly rod to try out. hope i can meet you someday!!! P.S. Thanks for not finding it.

  32. Thanks for sharing dal,
    Thats a beautiful round of adventure to start off a retirement. You were even able to take a few mishaps in stride and make light of them like a seasoned vagabond. Sometimes those gremlins just can’t be avoided. Your a lucky man to have a catch like Kathy waiting at the helm, who knows what’s in your best interest is also in hers.

  33. thank you for taking the time to create such a nice write up, and for sharing those beautiful pictures!

    can’t imagine how you found time to devote to this blog while working full time (overtime?) on your job. grateful for it though!

    congrats and best wishes for your retirement, and may you find a balance that works for you.


    • Great choice of words, Even.
      “may you find a balance that works for you.”

  34. That was a great read, Dal! It sounds like you may be a bit discombobulated now having entered into retirement and figuring out what this new period of life will be like, but for what it’s worth, achieving your present lifestyle as early as possible is what drives me towards searching for the treasure of Forrest Fenn! Appreciate the lucky hand that you have been dealt and keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂

    Now as for the beaver angle on the home of Brown, that’s something that I have thought about many-a-time as well. In the Richard Eeds interview, Forrest pointedly shoots down the idea of beaver dams being WWWH (along with other dams), however Forrest’s original statement immediately preceding Eeds’ question about beaver dams seems to imply that dams don’t figure into any part of the poem. Now beaver PONDS and LODGES seem to technically be set apart from the dams of beavers, and I’ve wondered if that was worth looking into. In my searching, I’ve noticed a common theme regarding beavers in most national parks and other wildlife areas: they are going away. Some experts in natural science seem to attribute this to the almost complete elimination of natural predators like wolves from various ecosystems, which leads to an explosion in population of deer (like the one you encountered), elk, and moose. These ungulates devour the reeds and underbrush that feed and protect the waterside landscapes that beavers thrive in to an unsustainable level. The beavers abandon their homes and many of the formerly featured beaver areas in national parks fade away and become reclaimed by the forest. Parks are even dismantling former boardwalk nature walks where beavers no longer live. I find that both sad and interesting. If beavers are the Brown of hoB, it makes me wonder if Forrest’s lamenting about the winds of change in scrapbook #148 may tie into this? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Also, thanks for the recommendation of John McPhee. I’ve never read anything by him, but will definitely add some of his books to my cue.

    Happy Retirement!

    • Blex-
      I hope you like him…
      He is a prolific writer…a few of my fav McPhee books are:
      The Founding Fish
      The Control of Nature
      Assembling California
      The Survival of the Bark Canoe
      Looking for a Ship
      Most titles are available from Amazon for my Kindle…which is my favorite way to read at night inside Ezy…

      • John McPhee is a national treasure, and your own writing is a tribute to your great good taste, dal.

        You’ve probably read his Encounters with the Archdruid, but others here may find it very well-worth a read. The highlight for me is a trip to Lake Powell with David Brower (Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth), who fought the building of Glen Canyon Dam, and Floyd Dominy, the Bureau of Reclamation guru who built the dam thing.

        Shades (and foreshadowing) of Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang.


  35. Dal,

    Great read and congrats on the retirement. I’m sure that we all look forward to many more adventurous stories of Dal and Ezy!


  36. Thanks all for your kind remarks.
    As a footnote let me say that Ezy has a new front end. She looks grand and is quite proud of herself again 🙂

    Kathy, Ezy and I are off to Capital Reef Nat’l Park on our way to NM in early September. We may head up to Gallatin County after that…
    But we aren’t big on plans…We are better at letting the lure of unfamiliar roads tug us into new places.
    I suspect our approach to road trips would curl the hair of most folks… and now that money is tighter we will spend less on books, cafes and museums…but we’ll have a grand time…

  37. Dal, thank you, thank you.

    I live again in your picture prose. Life I began in Sisters, OR, and out from there. Now you bring me back. And youth. Thank you, thank you.
    How much I would love to be at a Fenneboree. Meet the people. Awe the day, sight the night, love the land.

    A few years now I am in a wheelchair. Your travels transport me

  38. lisa, just noticed we are from the same neck of the “woods”, hope i can see you on the river sometime! p.s. lived in twin falls my whole life.

  39. Awesome find’s, Dal.
    One of these days I hope to visit N.M instead of rolling through.
    N.M looked to be a very interesting place, and the pottery I seen when I stopped for refueling was skillfully done.


    • D.Crockett-
      Thanks for the tip and the photos. It looks very interesting to me…and I certainly would like to break that part of the trip up…

    • thanks heaps Lisa ..but i’m unsure whether to be humbly flattered or slightly frightened by your above comment – should i be worried?


      • curioushobbit – No worries! I love hobbitses! Even more than the One Ring. Or, Forrest’s treasure. Friends first, then Gold. Always!!!

        Love, the Searcher Formely Known as E-Star.

        p.s. Beware of Smaug the Dragon!

    • Hello little hobbit!!! Welcome baaaaaaccckkkk!

      Dal, you lucky dog…congratulations on your next era of life adventures!!!

    • Gosh, I’m so sorry I missed your post, curioushobbit. I thought about you the other day and wondered if we would ever get to hear from you again. Sure miss your comments and how you’ve made me laughed. You’ve brightened my day many times, my friend. I miss you, too.

    • (Rubbing my eyes)… it is you Nikan… heck, I thought you’d fell off in one of those deep rabbit holes of the chase, just so you know, I’ve been looking down every one of them trying to find ya…lol
      It’s really good to hear from ya, I’m reminded of the fun times we’ve had in the old days… walk around the rabbit holes Nikan , it’s great to see ya back…
      I hope all is well for you. Keep in touch k… ok, back to the chase, humm… now where was I ?
      Oh yeah, looking for warm waters halt!,,,
      Have a great evening …. until next time… see ya Nikan

  40. Interesting travels indeed. The best part of the search is the beautiful scenery. Best to luck to all the searchers out there.

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