May 2020

By voxpops


Circle Subaru

Going round in circles on Table Mountain near Dubois, WY

Okay, I admit it, for a few years I’d been going round in circles. Although, come to think of it, they were definitely more like rectangles with corners that elbowed into some of the Rocky Mountains’ most intriguing landscapes.


Bog Lake north of Dubois, WY

There was the isolated splendor around Bog Lake, where we gained the much-coveted accolade of getting stuck in the snow at the highest elevation the local tow-truck team had ever attempted a recovery.

Now Its Worse

Fools rush in!

Then I’d shared a bath with a moose amid the majestic Tetons, and danced with a bear on a hillside near the Custer Gallatin National Forest .

Male Moose CU

Swamp buddy in the Tetons

And if that were not enough, there were encounters of a spooky kind where mysterious geometric patterns embellished the bluffs near Big Piney.

Big Piney Markings 2

Road to nowhere?

But in the summer of 2018 things changed. Blindly groping my way through a miasma of numbers (oh yes, I’ve long been a digit-diva [divo???]) and grasping at phantoms that put in fleeting appearances before my mind’s eye, I was gradually drawn back to a trajectory that I’d all but abandoned in favor of tangents and mental chasms a couple of years before. Here was a line that stretched far into unknown territory, but one that cried out for a closer look. And within sight of my flight path was the oddest place I’d encountered so far. There within a few hundred feet lay my heaven and hell. One spot seemed suffused with peace, and the other filled me with abject terror. To either side a supporting cast of characters kept watch. The horseman urged his steed up the slope while Frosty tilted an icy top hat northwards. A youthful sentry gazed up toward the Google satellite, and a patriarchal signature was etched into the hilltop. And all bore witness to J C Penney’s bold seal, stamped in high relief among the rocks.

I think most searchers have been affected to a greater or lesser degree by pareidolia, but this was beyond anything I’d experienced before. And as it all wormed its way into my subconscious, it rekindled the paranoia that had afflicted me so brutally earlier that year, especially in relation to one very specific spot. I won’t dwell on the effects, suffice to say that they were severe and unpleasant, but as I had already developed some coping strategies I was able to gradually claw my way back to a reasonable equilibrium – although I was to notice that by now the world around me had shifted in some subtle and indefinable way.

By now I was certain that I’d found a place that was very special. But compared to previous occasions when coordinates had led directly to curious finds, here it was like building a house in a field of Jell-O. I tried combinations within the core of the hillside and I looked beyond, but I couldn’t quite nail anything definitive. In spite of this I felt it was important to at least try to visit this unique place, if at all possible. Early in the summer of 2019 the opportunity arose. I was able to book tickets via Denver to Oregon, where we have family, with the added bonus of being able to visit the Da Vinci exhibition as well as take in some new sights.


The changing faces of the Mona Lisa

By this time, after more than five years and around a score of BOTG searches, many from my current home in the UK, I had become as much invested in the spiritual side of the Chase as the treasure hunt itself, noting the strange congruity between deep thought and physical or mental discoveries and manifestations. And although my desire to successfully conclude the search was still strong (despite deep and understandable reservations among family members), the metaphysical strand was becoming ever more intriguing. That said, I wasn’t beyond using this to my advantage when it suited, and it was becoming increasingly necessary to provide “valid” reasons to my beloved for yet another Fenn folly – and this wasn’t to be the last time I had to make the BS edible in 2019!

As ever, the virtual didn’t quite tally with the real. A quick inspection of the area showed it to be unremarkable up close, and it was more difficult to navigate than Google had promised, even to the extent that I couldn’t even definitively locate the spot that had caused me such angst. Still, it rooted out a few demons, and I spent a pleasant and peaceful half-hour sitting and gazing out over the creek, swollen with snow-melt, that had required me to don makeshift waders made from garbage bags to help with the thigh-deep flow

MV village med

Lost civilisation on Mesa Verde

Bear Cinnamon

A beautiful cinnamon bear whose lunchtime we disturbed in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

With a mixture of mild deflation and inevitability I hiked back to meet my wife, who was en route to the pickup point, choosing to walk a few miles extra to enjoy the warmth of the afternoon and imbibe a sense of the locality. Little did I suspect that I was also walking towards a future encounter that was to prove far more significant.But right then we headed out for a magical few days exploring Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and sun-drenched canyons where echoes of the past could still be heard.

Here, if you’ll forgive me, I’d like to digress for a moment. I’ve titled this piece “Understanding” for a number of reasons, and the following story is completely unrelated except for how it has impacted my thoughts on where the Chase might be leading us in a metaphorical sense.

A couple of years ago I recall that someone put out a video of a guy dancing on top of a mountain in high heels, and I thought it was very funny and quite sweet. It had something to do with the “lead searcher,” although the details have slipped my mind now. Maybe you remember it. Well, back in the early “noughties,” before I moved to the US, I got to know a couple of kids who had been adopted. They were siblings who had been born to a prostitute in Guatemala, later abandoned, and brought up in an orphanage there. The American couple who wanted to adopt them visited them in Guatemala so that they would know who were to be their step-parents. The trouble was that the adoption process took two years to complete. By the time the kids arrived in the States they had been living in limbo, unsure of their future and with little idea of how their new home would impact them.

At the same time, the man of the house was becoming increasingly unsure that he wanted to be a surrogate father.The children were introduced to their new way of life, already on the cusp of becoming teens, with little knowledge of English and with a background that was one of almost total insecurity. Within the first couple of years in the US the stepdad had moved out, leaving the children to the care of their new stepmom who is fortunately one of the most loving and selfless people I know. The stepdaughter struggled in school and while the stepson did better, he seemed uncomfortable in his own skin.

By the time the boy turned eighteen he had made up his mind that he didn’t want to remain male. Meanwhile, his older sister seemed attracted to men who were themselves outcasts, usually on the wrong side of the law. She ended up having an intermittent relationship with a guy who was in and out of jail and gave birth to two children as a consequence. Needless to say, he disappeared.

I was stunned when the stepson decided to journey to Thailand for a gender-change operation shortly after his eighteenth birthday. I worried that someone so young could end up regretting such a decision for the rest of their life. But fast-forward the best part of two decades and she (formerly he) is now a successful professional and has weathered the storms of learning how to cope with a new identity and the sometimes aggressive reaction of those with whom she has sought a closer bond. The sister is also doing fairly well although it has been a long and uphill struggle for her and her kids.

What is interesting is how prejudice and a lack of understanding can color one’s perception of people who have had to struggle all their lives and who have chosen a different path from one’s own. The rush to judgment rarely involves stepping back to consider the colossal hurdles that have had to be overcome, and the need to seek either the company of those who are also “different” or the irresistible urge to remake oneself and begin again. And it can take tremendous courage. I have also known a youngster who decided to make the change from female to male. I couldn’t begin to fathom the reasons for it beyond knowing that here there was also childhood trauma, but I have been amazed at this person’s courageous decision to leave home before turning twenty and journey to one of the most macho states as a fledgling “male” with little experience of either the outside world or of relationships.

So what am I trying to say? I suppose it could be summed up as acceptance, tolerance, and respect -as well as a little support – for another’s choices and situation. And I must say that I can’t recall Forrest condemning anyone for their lifestyle in his Scrapbooks (and there have been a few “interesting ” characters parading through them), but more to the point it was a lesson that I needed to take to heart too, as I was soon to discover.

IMG 20191027 102908597

View from the slopes of Snowdon in Wales

Back in Wales I was left feeling that, although I’d discovered an important place, I’d not been able to link it definitively. I kept trying to squeeze the final drops out of the poem to pinpoint a precise spot. At the same time I became a little too caught up in the cascade of cryptic messages issuing forth from a website that was now featuring a bare-assed leprechaun. I found myself in danger of reverting to paranoia.

Having had many strange and unexplained experiences in the last few years, I’d become both hyper-aware of, and susceptible to, perceived messages – after all, aren’t we supposed to listen good? But separating the wheat from the chaff was not always straightforward. And however selfish the notion of continuing to search was, I couldn’t let go of the idea that the place I’d discovered had not yet done with me. I had yet another spot to check, and I was also ruminating on the possibility of some kind of tunnel or underground repository.

A domestic pact was negotiated. Based on the notion and importance of a spiritual quest, a return to the States would be tolerated – just. For my part, I promised not to break the family finances. So in late September 2019 I packed my well-worn rucksack for the umpteenth time and boarded another Denver-bound flight.

But one thing I hadn’t paid enough attention to was attitude. For some reason I just couldn’t summon up genuine positivity. Almost as soon as the plane touched down I began to question why I was still doing this. Twenty-four hours of travel and a seven-hour time difference didn’t help. Neither did running into a massive tailback on the freeway well before 6:00 am on a Saturday morning. I have to confess to little empathy for the drivers whose fender-bender had only added to the roadwork chaos. I’ve still a long way to go with tolerance!

Things didn’t improve by the end of the day. After saying “howdy” to my canyon and its denizens I stood and stared at the long “blade of stone” I’d studied so minutely on Google. It was actually a gigantic mudbank! I thought about the next eleven days I had to fill, and the cost, but determined to make the best of it. As for the poem I was out of ideas. The situation wasn’t helped by two small incidents the next day. First, I saw that Dal had published Scrapbook 206 – all about failure. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound! And Michael Houle’s video where he balanced enjoyment against some of the more negative aspects of the Chase really spoke to me. I was also intrigued by the final segment which featured a hypothetical approach to finding the hidey spot in relation to the blaze, based on distance. It was something I’d been thinking about quite a bit over the preceding months.

Second, as I considered what to do with myself, I joined the Sunday tourists at a well-known recreational area and drove around rather aimlessly until a canyon overlook caught my attention.


Beautiful sight – shame about the glasses!

I dug out my camera, which had seen so much Chase action, and started to take snaps of the impressive scenery. It was something to do on a lovely, bright afternoon at the beginning of autumn. Half-an-hour later I was back in the car and driving away when I realized something wasn’t quite right. The speedometer was blurred and the rest of the world seemed slightly fuzzy. I stopped the car and put my hand to my face. My glasses were no longer there. Somehow they’d disappeared and I hadn’t even noticed, not even while I was taking photos! I retraced my steps and scoured the area, as well as the car, multiple times. Other kind souls joined the hunt, but it was a fruitless endeavor. Fortunately, I’d been particularly careful to pack an old backup pair, and so I drove back carefully to the hotel, grateful for the sunshine, and dug out the spare. They were almost useless for reading but would suffice for driving. This was not going to be a 20/20 trip!

Monday morning dawned with a decision. I’d never seen Santa Fe and thought that the home city of the author of this wild enterprise had to be worth a visit. I set off happy to have a destination and a purpose.

The Colorado mountains are breathtaking. The disappointment of the past couple of days was replaced by a sense of wonder. The contrast with much of Wyoming, a region I’m so much more familiar with, is marked, and each of the four search states definitely has its own identity. I should have stopped to take some snaps of rust-red peaks and craggy gorges, but I tend to be relentless when I have a destination in mind, and push on until I’m too tired to continue. But I did at least pause to pick up a hitchhiker.

Back at some small town gas station, while I was on my way over to the search area from Denver, I’d been approached at the pump by a guy asking politely whether I could spare some change. He seemed clean and neatly turned out and he’d caught me unawares, so I’d given him the brush-off. This wasn’t the first time that I’d “passed by on the other side” and it had played on my mind. A little while later I’d been struck by something. This was America. I’d spent many hours mediating contractual disputes at the courthouse where I lived in Oregon for a decade. A recurring theme was financial hardship and misery resulting from medical expenses which were being chased by debt collection agencies. Bankruptcy or near- crippling repayment regimes were frequent outcomes. Living for the past three years in the UK where, despite the system creaking and groaning under the burden, healthcare is paid for through taxation and is provided free at the point of delivery, it was too easy for me to forget that a regular guy might be forced into seeking handouts through bad luck. I don’t know if that was this man’s circumstances, but I wished I could go back in time and act more compassionately, but I couldn’t, so I thought at least I could help out a guy who needed a ride. He turned out to be an international long-distance runner who trained near his home at an elevation around 10,000 feet. I was in awe and could hardly imagine the stamina and fitness required for that!

Over the years I’ve found that although I occasionally have insights during searches, I need time to process them. This normally happens when I’m back home and can no longer test the theories. It’s endlessly frustrating! Sometimes though, a solo lengthy drive (providing there are not too many heart-in-mouth moments!) can induce a similar semi-meditative state. Having dropped my hitchhiker near his destination and as the miles sped away I returned to contemplation and mulled something that had bothered me for a while. The way I had got to my spot was long and convoluted. I could look back and, with the benefit of hindsight, refashion it into a simple trajectory, and yet it always seemed like there was something missing, something that would unequivocally confirm the place. But now, as I drove, I was reminded of words that the pipe-smoking, shamrock-toting little fellow had pointed to. Going from memory, it suggested that although someone had not been wise they’d found the blaze and the effort still counted. A thought occurred to me and I wanted to check it out online.

At Pagosa Springs I checked into a rather shabby motel, trying to save a few bucks in a touristy town. Munching on some snacks leftover from the journey, I squinted at my little netbook screen through inadequate lenses and pulled up a few websites and, of course, Google Maps (I think, collectively, we searchers must have brought their servers to near breaking-point!). I also emailed Forrest to let him know I would soon be in his area and asked if I could buy him coffee or lunch.

The next morning, following overnight rain, the whole region was shrouded in fog. It was not pleasant driving, but it was an apt metaphor for my search. But eventually the clouds lifted, revealing the sunlit beauty of the San Juans. After a brief detour around the base of Sierra Negra and another to a pueblo, I soon found myself in Santa Fe. I’d received no response to my email, and none would be forthcoming, so I only spent a short while in the city, not least because it was overloaded with tourists and uncomfortably hot in direct sunlight. Apart from a brief visit to Collected Works and the cathedral, I just took a few photos of the quaint old downtown and satisfied my curiosity as to the whereabouts of Mr. Fenn’s modest mansion before heading back to my casino hotel to pore over maps again.

SF colonnade

Downtown Santa Fe in late September

SF cathedral int

St.Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe

That “measure distance” function in Google is so useful. Using my new ideas I even managed to draw a sort of “X” although it kind of resembled one of those old-fashioned egg timers. But my crude artwork was not what made me do a double-take. Peering through the weak bifocals, I could see that the center of my hourglass was, believe it or not, right back where I’d been just a few days ago. But it had shifted the focus to the other side of the canyon. And there wasn’t a coordinate involved in finding this place. The setbacks of the last few days were forgotten as I prepared to point the trusty little Nissan Kicks that Enterprise had bestowed on me back up the highway so recently traversed.

Two days later I stood below the point marking the middle of my “X.” As I stood and stared at an object I’d literally said “hello” to a few days before, something gradually came into focus in my mind and … well … I laughed. This wasn’t what I expected at all! It seemed to be telling me that this was all one huge joke – a very clever one, but nonetheless a joke. I’d stood on practically the same spot a few times previously and never made the connection. But beyond this rather rueful mirth, it prompted me to confront something uncomfortable. I began to sense that Forrest was not just yanking our chain, but holding up our addiction and letting us look it full in the face. It was like, “What didn’t you understand about the word ‘contentment’?”

Forgive me for not elucidating further on what it was that I’d seen, but as that was not the end of the story, I’d rather leave it unidentified. I can’t remember whether it was then or a little later that the phrase “Look quickly down” took on new meaning. I had always interpreted that phrase in a specific directional sense, but as it floated into my consciousness I simply looked down at my feet and thought about what was there. The ground. My feet standing on the ground. Under. Stand. The instruction appeared to be to understand something. And I thought I knew what it was. Where was all this chasing leading? It was a journey back to where we started, but with a new understanding of the place that contentment needed to occupy in our hearts.


Please don’t be sarcastic about my sarcophagus!

Not quite prepared to relinquish the hunt completely, I took bearings on a number of local points and over the next twenty-four hours tried half-heartedly to make them fit, sending Forrest a few rather grudging updates along the way. I even found a “coffin in the wood” that was just large enough to crawl into, yet remained partially open to the elements. But in the end I just sat on a rock and contemplated love, stupidity, addiction and responsibility. I had received some worrying news from home and knew I should be there rather than indulging myself out in the Rockies. I felt stranded, lonely and selfish, and just wanted to be back with my wife, but the flight was still a few days hence and I had a ticket without the option to make changes.

Then, as I prepared to head back to Denver, Forrest popped up with a new scrapbook. One paragraph caught my eye in particular: ‘My friends complained that the story had consumed me. Maybe so, because a note written to myself at the time, reads “I am drawn to Mr. Sharp like smell is drawn to a daffodil.” (that unfortunate comment is the by-product of too much wine, and working too late at night).’

Was Forrest implying that we shouldn’t worry too much about things that consume us? And what about the “too much wine” for a guy who says he doesn’t drink? As for “by-product,” I imagined it with an extra “e.” But the word that struck me most forcibly was “daffodil.” It was not the first time that Forrest has used that word, and I had already thought about its oblique connection to narcissism.
Searching for answers I came across this:
And one answer seemed to leap off the virtual page at me:
Ramon Verhoeven, repaired codependent, learning to live with a narcissistic abused adult/child
Answered Feb 5, 2019 · Author has 1.3k answers and 550.6k answer views

I think about that in this way:
A narcissist is born with true selves. During childhood , enduring abuse, the fake EGO takes over and pretends to be the true selves. The true selves are still around , but without the narcissist able to get in touch with them. Somehow that is leading to a permanent combat of the two. I read once a psychologist say: the two I’s in a narcissist hate each other, being one I the true selves and the other I the fake one. Must be hell living this way. And in hell you try to find relief: addiction.

Another thing I noticed is that people, who have a narcissistic partner, can easily become addicted. Living in the constant pressure of the partner, they also look for a way out.

Some of you may remember a few months back a university professor seeking searchers prepared to answer a psychological profile questionnaire. Like many, I took part and was a little taken aback by both the extent of the survey and some of the questions, particularly those investigating possible childhood abuse. Ramon Verhoeven’s Quora submission seems to speak directly to that same issue, and having had a “difficult” childhood I recognized the profile he described. It struck a chord in relation to the internal struggle the past few years of searching had required. So, returning to the theme of this piece, I would argue that the Chase asks us not just to try to understand the needs of others, but also to understand our own inner selves. Of course we’re all different, with a great variety of life experiences, but a big part of my personal Chase has been the concept of repairing – or at least bridging – the divide: recognizing the two divorced parts within me and attempting to cross the void between them. I hope it’s not too much of a stretch to use the allegory of Apollo 11 journeying across the cosmic vacuum to the moon. It’s a long, painful and arduous mission but one that some of us need to take before we can be content in and with ourselves. And even though this “marriage” can be tough on our loved ones, maybe in the end it will be “worth the cold” – more on that later.
I was halfway to Denver when something occurred to me, but, as ever, it would require a Google search. For twenty minutes I fought the urge to turn around, but the idea proved too strong and I swung through 180 degrees, heading back to the last major town I’d passed so I could find a motel room. While my less-than-fragrant clothes jumbled and tumbled in the motel’s laundry, I fired up my netbook. By making a small adjustment to one of the legs of my “X” the center point shifted a short distance north. Then, through the magic of the internet, I was able to spot a potential alcove – a significant find that dovetailed with the latest scrapbook. However, although this was encouraging, I wasn’t taking into account my mental state, which wasn’t conducive to making logical leaps.

Concentration was lacking and my thoughts were divided between home and the search. I collected my clean clothes and consumed a rather lackluster meal in a local restaurant.

Later that evening, tucked away in my modest room, I was musing about Fenn’s description of how, “As I was closing the chest for the last time, I felt part of me slip inside and become part of the treasure, or at least I thought I did.” I wondered how literally that statement was intended to be taken as I flipped idly through the motel’s satellite TV channels. I put the remote down as one of the Harry Potter movies flashed on the screen. Initially happy to have a little innocuous and diversionary entertainment, within seconds I was shaking my head in disbelief. I had entered the film at the precise moment the characters were discussing how a soul can be made to inhabit a physical object, allowing a person who has killed another human being to save their soul from destruction. To use a British colloquialism, I was gobsmacked! This was yet another of the hundred and one strange “coincidences” and unexplained events that had occurred in my hunt. Another was shortly to follow. But before I turned in for the night I pondered the long-term effect on Fenn of having to kill so many people in Vietnam. There was a reason he called his treasure chest “Indulgence.”

Following my usual pattern when searching, I awoke very early the next morning and switched on the computer to check emails and try to come to a decision as to whether to return one last time to my spot. The old Acer netbook still runs Windows XP, which usually means it’s reliable but wouldn’t be much of a loss if I dropped it off a mountain or left it behind in the rental car. It has never had a problem booting up, yet today was different. As I watched the little boot-up progress window it suddenly froze, leaving just one little square block at the very end of the progress bar. I didn’t know what to make of it other than to think that I had one final task to perform. I needed to check the “alcove.”

Now before you think I’m completely crazy paying attention to a minor computer anomaly, this was only one of a number of such odd instances. There was, for example, the time the BBC site morphed into a succession of graphic analog clocks all displaying 4 o’clock. And later an online company logo would drop part of the name leaving “OR” prominently displayed. But whether insanity was at work here, or something more mystical, combined with the previous evening’s experience it was a double-whammy that left me feeling disturbed. What was in the “alcove?” What might happen if I went there? Like Shrödinger’s cat, there was no way of knowing without going. Forrest Fenn’s kitty was simultaneously both alive and dead up until the moment the box was opened.

To cut a long story short the journey was a washout, and I just didn’t have the mental stamina left to try to rectify the situation. In a kind of blind frenzy I dashed about, ruining a new pair of shoes in the mud and nearly getting caught going where I shouldn’t. It was as I was hurrying back to the car that a thought catapulted to mind. “Worth the cold – a word that is key – cold turkey.” Become addicted and then suffer the consequence as you try to extricate yourself from the obsession. That’s what this seemed to be about. Miserable and dejected, I started up the Nissan Kicks and cruised back towards the big city. “Kicks:” I thought about that name. Kick the habit, do it just for kicks, plus a couple other derivations that suited the situation. With less than 100 miles to go, I broke down and howled, an uncontrollable, deep throated baying that erupted from the depths of my being.

Fortunately traffic was light. By the time I’d recovered composure I was hoarse and emotionally spent. Six years of being in the Chase had taken its toll.

At the Econolodge near Denver airport I was booked for two nights and wondered what to do to kill the time. Eating fast food is not really a time spinner, although sitting in a traffic jam for half-an-hour as you try to weave your way past yet another accident to reach a Chinese take-out establishment helps. What is it with Denver drivers? That night I was restless. At 3:00 am I awoke and felt the need to look out of the window. Across the parking lot I could see two large trucks sporting two large logos. The nearest declared “Xtra” in bold letters, and the further one responded with “Serta.” My mind immediately started to analyze the names. It didn’t take long: “X-art” and “Se-art.” With the Chase chock-full of art references it made sense to me. Maybe I needed to go look at some art.

Maybe that would put the mystery to bed at last – preferably on a brand new Serta mattress!

P1000818 2

Morning after the night before: taking inspiration from the art of trucking

Not wanting to get stuck in downtown traffic or pay exorbitant parking fees I grabbed a spot more than 20 blocks from the middle of the city and walked into town. The early October morning was cool and there was a hint of winter on the way, but setting a brisk pace soon had my circulation going. I reached the art museum a good half-hour before opening time and looked for a spot to sit down and rest a back that complains mightily if actually asked to do the job it applied for.

In front of the library there were some concrete benches, but the area was also clearly a gathering place for the homeless and other mavericks. Trying to keep myself to myself didn’t work; a guy started talking to me in a rapid-fire verbal torrent. I responded as politely as I could, although my hearing’s so bad these days that I find it difficult to interpret unfamiliar speech patterns. At first, my inclination was to find my own space to wait, secure in my familiar small bubble of solitude. But then the bubble burst. I suddenly felt it was ridiculous to avoid another human being simply because they were down on their luck, with their “difference” prompting me to feel anxious, or suspicious, or protective. I asked the man, probably in his forties with damaged teeth and a rather gaunt expression, whether he’d mind my sharing his bench. Avoiding a small pool of water, I sat down and started chatting with the guy, although he did most of the talking and I just listened to his story.

Hearing how he had to share the streets and shelters with drug addicts, survive on food bank handouts that sometimes made everyone sick, and yet manage to remain positive and optimistic left me feeling very small. I asked him what his secret was, and he told me that it was faith. He spoke of how we all have to undergo trials, and this was his. When I left him I felt that he’d given me something very valuable. The art museum itself was interesting but a little bit of an anticlimax, if I’m honest.

Back home, I tried to avoid the Chase blogs and suffer the cold turkey. I set myself the target of one month of abstinence. What I hadn’t reckoned with was my ever-active mind. At night, especially, the cogs would grind, and early in the morning of my wife’s birthday another piece of the puzzle slotted into place. I managed to hold out a couple more weeks before giving in and checking Dal’s. I hadn’t quite made the full month, but I figured there were extenuating circumstances! I was amazed at the plethora of Scrapbooks. The promise to myself of cold turkey was soon forgotten as I devoured Forrest’s offerings, and gradually a chink became a chasm, and the turkey morphed into cheese with an attitude! Was understanding at last beginning to dawn?

-by voxpops






130 thoughts on “Understanding…

    • A bunch of appalling punctuation errors and typos. My proofreading skills are about as good as my treasure hunting ones!

      • well i guess if we were all perfect we may have a treasure in our hands man i thought its was awesome then one more thought arose that was if it were only JF instead of JC id be searching every bush good stuff and you’ve been close to my locations closer to home id say thanks for sharing your adventure but remember its below 5ooo be safe and live

      • That and a whole lot more, Because I Can. It’s the treasure hunt that just keeps giving.

  1. I think it’s a “general solve”.
    Not a “correct solve”.
    I’m not even sure if it’s a “viable solve”.

    Thanks for sharin Vox.
    Yup! You’re crazier than I.

    • Jake, your cynicism was actually quite refreshing this morning…made me smile from ear to ear. Thanks and happy hunting!
      David McGillis

  2. Hey, Voxpops. I gotta admit, I was at first sorry to read that you had fallen back into the addiction that you had openly admitted in your previous post was becoming a negative element in your life.

    But as I read further into this post, I realized that it is as not as bad as you first feared. I mean, it does sound bad how the whole chase thing keeps getting in under your skin, but on the other hand, everything you wrote above here seems to say that you were happy with all of the unexpected experiences gave you on your visit back across the pond. You were learning some things about yourself that seem very positive and helpful to you, and that seems great to me. Really it seems like the physical traveling you did between point A to point B was the most insignificant part of your whole latest journey, and the insights you got just by pausing and reflecting on what you were experiencing were golden for you. I say that’s great!

    Only you can make the call on where you go from here. I would just suggest recognizing the things that you have gained from this most recent trip, while also keeping in mind the very practical concerns of living within your means. I live in Colorado, but am very envious of that beautiful photo of the mountains you have to enjoy much closer in Wales!

    I liked reading about where you went, and what you got out of it once you returned and had a chance to think about. I know that the kind of stuff you deal with you have to deal with every day and it must be hard, but I think you really wrote down some good, mature thoughts about how it all fit together. Anyways, it was a good read and I hope you continue to take care of yourself.

    And by the way, the reason that Denver drivers are so bad is because half of them are from California and the other half are from Texas! 😉

  3. I like the way you write and loved the photos of the moose and bear.

    The story was too long though and I got bored and skipped to the end .

    Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  4. voxpops, have a cold drink, a grapette and relax, find the awareness of what fun you have been able to enjoy in this adventure. Memories are the stuff life is made of, if we do not create them what a cost, such loss, searching is the real quest, is not folly, it is our spiritual calling to try and find something important, somewhere out there, for if we do not look then we are shallow, without form and void of purpose. It does not matter if we find it, only if took the first step to look for it then we have accomplished something worthwhile…a memory.

    A Fallen Limb

    A limb has fallen from the family tree.
    I keep hearing a voice that says,
    “Grieve not for me.
    Remember the best times,
    the laughter, the song.
    The good life I lived
    while I was strong.
    Continue my heritage,
    I’m counting on you.
    Keep smiling and surely
    the sun will shine through.
    My mind is at ease,
    my soul is at rest.
    Remembering all,
    how I truly was blessed.
    Continue traditions,
    no matter how small.
    Go on with your life,
    don’t worry about falls.
    I miss you all dearly,
    so keep up your chin.
    Until the day comes
    we’re together again.”

    Back to page 9 TTOTC

    PS DO yo know this guy from home…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmDrdCKOp3k

    Tom Gregory

  5. You have a difficult life Vox. I appreciate your sharing it us, and I wish you comfort and courage.

    • Thanks, OS2. Life is what we make it, I think, and so many people have it far, far worse.

  6. Wow, voxpops, what an interesting read that was. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate the time
    and effort represented, as well as some of the insights about people and life. Sometimes I feel
    a bit “cold” toward others, and am very aware of this. I hope you remember the more pleasant
    and/or valuable experiences you have had, and I wish you more of them, hoping that they are
    rich in pleasantness and value. Good luck in this treasure hunt.

    • Hi tall andrew,

      You know, I’ve recently been reflecting on that “coldness.” Reaching out doesn’t come naturally to me, but with our current Covid-enforced separation many of us are at last realizing that being “divided” is not a natural or welcome state.

      Thanks so much for your good wishes, and good luck to you too!

    • You’re welcome. I think we’re all frantically polishing those mirrors!

  7. Oh my God, what a chore that was to get through. And the point of the story is what? Someone is so addicted to the chase that they are having delusions about truck signage relating to it? And? It was one unrelated thing after another. He is good at descriptions and you can tell he reads a lot of fiction. He seemed to put some time into the craft of writing this, but stream of consciousness narratives only work if they are interesting.

    On the other hand it had moments that were good. But I don’t care that you were thinking about some random topic while you sat on a rock during your BOTG. A few sentences later and it’s on to another unrelated topic inwhich nothing important, profound, or particularly interesting is gleaned even though it always seems like some such revelation is about to happen to reward the reader for sticking it out. And then another and another and another and another and another and another and another and another. It’s not as bad as the book Great Expectations, but it tries.

    Good God man, I never thought I would say this to anyone, but in my opinion you should give up the chase. It’s driven you mad. I’m sorry if I come off like a jerk with this post, but I never went BOTG until I knew I was onto something and when I got there I was not disappointed even though I didn’t find it. And I sure as heck didn’t subject everyone to an overly long account of my every thought I had on my search, especially when those thoughts are unrelated. And knowing we pour over everything that gets published on this site looking for clues…. to post this is just plain cruel.

    Two out of five stars for good word usage and clever phrasing.

    • Tough to read but a worthwhile critique, alienboy. Sorry to subject you to all of that. I sent it to Dal before Christmas but changed my mind and asked him to withdraw it because I felt it was way too personal. I flip-flopped the other way again mainly because I decided not to be so squeamish about things that are so personal. But if I ever write a full Chase story, I will try to remember your pointers.

      One thing I will say is that we’re all awaiting that revelation, and so “Great Expectations” is an apt analogy! How can we ever maintain that degree of patience?

      • Thanks for not being upset at my post. After I wrote it I thought maybe I was too harsh and shouldn’t have said anything. I expected someone to tell me that “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.” I would have deserved that.

        I just hope that you aren’t devastated if someone else gets the treasure. You appear to have more than the average interest in this. I admit that I’m very into this chase, but it’s not an obsession with me. My time in this is only so high because in my opinion I solved it. The more I got solved the more confident I got in working on it. If I hadn’t figured very much out, or wasn’t sure of my solve I would not have gone BOTG nor would I still be putting much time into it at this point. I gave myself a certain amount of time to solve it and if I didn’t get at least some of it solved by then I was going to do something else with my time.

        If you don’t mind me saying, I get the impression that you put too much of your heart into this. I viewed this as a purely intellectual pursuit. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a sense of urgency in getting the chest, I do, but that only came about after I knew I had the solve. Prior to that, I was not emotionally invested in this.

        Anyway, just some things to think about. By the way, you are a great writer in terms of vocabulary, descriptions, and creativity. If you haven’t already, I suggest trying to find a way to use that skill. There’s a treasure there for you that’s a sure thing.

        • Alienboy;

          Just a word of caution. I have heard from SOOOO many- I have solvedf it, and yet it is still out there. You may have “A” solve, but is it the “Correct solve?” Only time will tell.

          Good luck in your endeavors – JMO, and a wee bit of caution – Humble pie takes getting used to – I know from experience 🙂 – JDA

          • JDA, yeah I know. There’s an army of people on the blogs who appear to gain satisfaction from seeking out anyone who claims that they think its solved and relentlessly attacking them until they commit internet suicide. Not my kind of person. On the other hand I do understand the idea that if someone says they found it, then that can cause others to stop trying, which is unfair to them. But I get the impression that that isn’t really the motivation of the attackers. They come off to me as being people who use that as an excuse to bash people online.

            While I do claim that in my opinion I have it solved, I am open to the idea that I am mistaken, however according to my solve there is a very real and understandable reason that you discover upon getting it mostly solved as to why so many people think they have it solved, yet don’t. That is not an accident or a bunch of people being overconfident or people trying to discourage others. It’s by design. The Chase is designed, in my opinion, with all of the possible solves throughout the rockies in mind Fenn knows what your solve is. He studied the rockies extensively in my opinion while he was creating the poem. He knows why people will think it’s at Firehole River, or Madison or Lake Electra. He’s already seen all of that and he created the chase knowing that people would find those areas and notice how well they all match the poem. All of those solves are part of the game. Most people who say they have it solved are talking about one of those solves. And they are not mistaken. Those solves are there on purpose. They just have to keep banging away at it and all will be made clear to them in my opinion.

          • Alienboy;

            I was not attacking you, nor was I trying to discourage you. In no way would I ever want a searcher to commit internet suicide. Your saying that you have solved it, would NEVER stop me from searching. I certainly was not bashing you.

            All I said war – be cautious. Many (like you now) SAY that they have solved it, and yet they don’t hold Indulgence. Just because I say that I am the most handsome man on earth, doesn’t make it so. Saying that you have solved it, doesn’t make it so.

            Again, I wish you the very best – It would be nice if you (or me or anyone) finds it this search season, but odds say that that might not happen.

            Crow does NOT taste like chicken – I know from experience – STAY SAFE – STAY HOME & STAY HEALTHY – and again – Good luck – JDA

        • alienboy, part of what I’m trying to learn is not to be such a shrinking violet. I’m usually notoriously oversensitive. I believe that everyone has their truth and most people have no desire to hurt anyone else, so please don’t feel that you shouldn’t have expressed yourself as you did.

          I will not be devastated if someone else finds the treasure. In fact, in many respects, I will be relieved. The effort I’ve expended is not for gold but for something I needed far more. And yes, I’ve put heart and soul into this because I knew that somehow this was an important thing for me to do. Like you, I treated this as an intellectual exercise in the early days, but it became something else as time and experiences progressed.

          I wish you all the best with your solve, and thank you for both your kind words and your frankness.

  8. Wonderful write up and soul searching, thank you for your time and thoughtful insight voxs!

    You mentioned this statement by Forrest: “I am drawn to Mr. Sharp like smell is drawn to a daffodil.” (that unfortunate comment is the by-product of too much wine, and working too late at night).’

    Your statement:

    Was Forrest implying that we shouldn’t worry too much about things that consume us? And what about the “too much wine” for a guy who says he doesn’t drink? As for “by-product,”

    My Response: You noticed something I overlooked; Forrest doesn’t drink. So the real message here is the statement. I am drawn to Mr. Sharp…. The end is ever drawing nigh. The Sharp is the focus…the Sharp is located to the left. It is apart of the clues.
    Thank You for the revelation Sir Voxs, happy hunting.

    • Thanks for that, AS&J. Yes, I recall trying to adjust based on “sharp” and “flat.” But time moves on, and so do we.

  9. voxpops … if I may intrude here …

    You have expressed some ideas that are fairly common in this treasure hunt; specifically >>> “metaphysical strand”, “a spiritual quest”, “the chase might be leading us in a metaphorical sense” …

    That searchers attach such high-flung, supernatural, unearthly, idealistic themes to a down-to-earth, PHYSICAL search, strikes me as one of the true red-herrings of this treasure hunt.

    Because searchers can’t solve the poem, they assume, incorrectly, that it must be the work of a genius. So they turn Forrest into a spiritual guru who is leading all of us on some grand vision quest, the value of which far exceeds any remuneration in gold trinkets.

    No, I don’t think so.

    As I have told you before, and expressed many times >>> this is a PHYSICAL search for a PHYSICAL box located in a PHYSICAL location back here on earth. That’s it; there’s nothing else involved.

    The UNDERSTANDING that you speak of here needs to be redirected. Try to understand Forrest Fenn, the man. He is not some genius or spiritual guru. And the poem is not that difficult to interpret; there’s nothing esoteric about it.

    Solving the poem just requires some plain old hard work and a little imagination.

    The forlorn disappointment that comes thru in your monologue is self-inflicted and completely unnecessary.

    Ken (in Texas)

    • Ken, I think you make some good points and I certainly agree about the physicality. However, one of the things I have come to recognize is that physicality is not somehow separate and distinct from spirituality.

      As for “forlorn disappointment,” I would be inclined to substitute “tough lessons and experience.”

      I wish you luck. Is your hard work and imagination paying off?

    • I think you are wrong that there is no spirituality involved in the understanding of Forrest’s poem. Yes, the clues break down to physical places on a map, but the answer to the riddle the poem presents is definitely spiritual. It might hep to remember that Forrest was struggling with the issue of whether to take his own life because of a terminal diagnosis of cancer when he wrote the poem. Forrest has admitted that he is more spiritual than religious, but that doesn’t mean the poem does not have a spiritual theme. I wish I could tell you more but that will have to wait until after my next BOTG, which is coming soon.

      Best of luck in your search!

  10. Thank you for sharing how the chase has touched you, voxpops. Continue to find your contentment in life.

  11. Vox,

    Nice. I would rather read this form of a search than breaking it down from point A – B – C…etc. Some true insight from within. Your journey somewhat parallels mine, and probably many others. When I started, it was out of simple curious behavior. Well, long story short, I’ve seen the seemingly impossible, come alive. And just today, it happened again.
    I see things that sparkle the imagination with wonder. It’s been a rollercoaster of a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    Good luck to ya and stay safe over there!


    • Thanks, ByGeorge.

      There surely are wonders to behold! I think I understand why children would have an advantage: they aren’t jaundiced (there’s that yellow daffodil thing again).

      Struggling to see can be painful, but also quite marvelous at times. If I take nothing else away from this hunt, learning that the world is not just what appears on the surface is enough.

      Good luck to you, and treasure those sparkles!

  12. Vox,

    I don’t usually read long posts, but you kept me captivated with your words and I read every bit of this!! Thank you for sharing your treasured experiences with us. Very nice write-up!


    • Moody, you’re very kind. Here we have a product called Marmite and people either love it or hate it. I’m really trying to talk about unity, but my write-ups seem only to divide opinion! How painfully ironic!!

  13. Here’s another crazy thought. Pay attention to your own aberrations…

    Having written this almost six months ago, when I read it now I’m struck by a few instances which seemed to predict certain aspects of my more recent Chase endeavors. It’s almost like there’s a part of us that “already knows.” I’ve spotted that on a number of occasions. Even small misspellings or other typed anomalies can be indicative of something going on at a deeper level.

    It seems to me that “aberrations that live out on the edge” can be found not only in our physical surroundings but also in the outpourings of our own minds. In fact I’d go so far as to speculate that there’s no real distinction where an individual ends and their surroundings begin. “Onetime” is perhaps a good descriptive term.

    Sorry, Ken, don’t explode! 😉

  14. Vox – Thank you for sharing your story. As others have pointed out, it was a bit disjointed at times, but overall you got your message across and write rather well.

    I can commiserate with the ebb and flow of your search efforts—streaks of fast and furious sharing and arguing and debating of this or that point followed by stretches of silent and often uneasy self-contemplation of TTOTC. Those stretches of self-contemplation seem to be getting longer for me as the same-old chatter gets rehashed online.

    I can only imagine the extra level of “stress” BOTG attempts add to the mix, but you do have some wonderful life experiences that you can treasure as a result.

    Best of luck in your future TTOTC efforts.

    • I appreciate the comments, Bowmarc. Yes, I don’t think it was one of my better literary endeavors, but there were a lot of strands to pull together. I suppose I was feeling my way toward some kind of semi-coherent conclusion which would give weight to some of the less publicized aspects of the Chase.

      Some people who have commented are convinced that this is just a very clever puzzle with a generous prize for the winner, and I can respect that – that’s how I used to think of it. But as time goes by, if you consider all the oddities surrounding this, can you really say that this is just one old man’s parting shot?

      • Everything one does in their TTOTC endeavors is part of the thrill, and that perspective was not lost on FF when he dreamed this all up, IMHO. Every rabbit hole we encounter is a learning opportunity, and every BOTG attempt is bound to have a good memory or two. How deeply we follow the tunnel or reach into our pockets is a personal choice, as is how much stock we put into the “religious/quantum/insert whatever you like here” nature of TTOTC we perceive individually in our individual efforts. As long as you get something out of TTOTC, I think FF has realized his expectation for TTOTC.

  15. Top drawer this vox. Some great lessons can be learned from your endeavours.

  16. Isn’t there a saying about recognizing having a problem is the first step in solving it? And it seems like you’ve got the self-awareness to realize where you stand – hopefully this trip has provided additional help with that and allowed you to be more accepting of letting it go. It seems like you’ve got an understanding Mrs., but one that will only let you go so far before drawing the line. I hope you are able to resist ever crossing it.

    Thanks for sharing and having a first-hand perspective of this type of “addiction to the chase” is a good reminder for veterans, but perhaps more importantly, for those new to it.


    • FMC, thanks for the wise words. It may not seem like it, but this has all been necessary for me – even the obsession. I think FF was once challenged about his poem driving people crazy, and he was pleased that it had made them think. All sorts of interesting things happen when we really start to think.

  17. A fine exanple of free association. If someone finds Indulgence, those who need to satisfy the urge will simply find some other inspiration.

    All writings that rise to greatness are firs inspired and then imagined. But, not until they are worked, chiseled and sanded to a fine polish does their elegance penetrate into the soul.

    • I’ll try not to forget my chisel and sandpaper next time, Martin! Thanks for the comments.

  18. “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns ; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.”- Donald Rumsfeld

    Yet, I still believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I never imagined a bare-assed leprechaun could be there repairing shoes too.

    Bartender , another plz , and gimme sum of whatever Voxpops is having I need 10-100 while 10-65.

    • Larry, if you’re crazy enough to drink this particular Kool-Aid, you’re strong enough to cope with bare-assed leprechauns and anything else hurled your way!

      • Vox,
        You made me realize is suffer from pareidolia, I hope there is never a Kool-Aid cure for imagination.


  19. Hi Vox;

    What a journey – A physical journey across the pond, and across much of the Rockies – and a journey of the mind and of the spirit. If I were to jump into your pocket, or perch myself on your shoulder, would I see the same things that you saw? Probably not. We each have to make our own travels, and see the world through our own eyes.

    Thanks for sharing your physical journey, as well as your mental ones. Why was it important to meet the strangers that you met? What did you learn from them, and what did they learn from you? Accident or destiny? Who knows.

    I am one of those that feel “this is just a very clever puzzle with a generous prize for the winner,”, and I am glad that you can respect that – Just I respect your belief that there is more to the quest that just a puzzle and a prize.

    Again, Thanks for sharing – Hope that the matters that troubled you across the pond have been resolved – The one you mentioned near the end of your time here in the USA. Take care my friend – STAY SAFE – STAY HOME & STAY HEALTHY – JDA

    • I think you’re right, JDA, we all see things from our own viewpoint. I hope that someone can take home the prize soon so that we can all get back to our regular, mundane lives. Or… maybe, just maybe, things will never be quite the same again. And in a way I hope they’re not.

      All the best to you, too, my friend, and look after yourself.

      • Voxpops, If I get it, I was considering putting together a new chase so that those who didn’t get it could still have a chance at something. I’m not sure now. Maybe that would be cruel.

    • JDA, It won’t let me reply to your reply on our previous conversation so I’m doing it here. There is no reply button at the end of your last post to me. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that I didn’t think you were attacking me. I was just explaining that when I say I think I have it solved, lots of people on the blogs let me know that many people think so and then end up being wrong. Most are rude as I pointed out, but I wan’t implying that you are one of them. I was just adding that for my own amusement. Anyway, good luck with your search this summer. I’ve enjoyed the conversations on this site very much.

  20. Voxpop, kudos for the depth of insight and bravery of your post. In my own experience, doing the work to have the true inner state match our often forced or “in order to survive” assumed putter state is the toughest work a human being can do. The lifestyle of humans today doesn’t consider this work essential and it is seen as weakness…or an opportunity to abuse because the person is seen as weak.

    This song means so much to me:

    Stat strong. Do not negotiate with anyone on the path to wholeness. You must walk it alone. Maybe a friend will encourage you if you are lucky enough to have a true friend that wants nothing from you.

    • Why, thanks for your understanding – and the link to the beautiful song. There was a time when old men retreated to the forest to contemplate their souls – maybe we could all learn something from them.

  21. voxpops – Wow! Sometimes when someone posts a long “story,” that’s about all it is….a long story. But you have said so much in your words. I don’t think I have the “bug” quite as bad as you do (although my husband would probably challenge that statement), but I certainly can relate to all the time spent, emotional roller coaster rides, quick reverse from total confidence to “what was I thinking”, and of course the number one nemesis….confirmation bias!

    For me, I think that had I not been involved with the Chase in the manner that most of us here are, my dealings with all the adversities I come across in my pursuit (of anything for that matter) would not be the same. Just like that “blade of stone” that turned out to be a mudbank for you, and loosing your glasses along the way. The Chase has perhaps helped us in putting priorities in life in a better perspective.

    Thank you for sharing such a personal journey with us. It took courage to express your thoughts in a way that can sometimes make us imperfect humans feel so vulnerable. Your story made me think about my own experiences with the, what I call, “positive influences and unpredicted outcomes” of engaging in the Chase. I think it’s a more powerful source then most may think.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts, Geysergirl. Your final sentence sums up my feelings very succinctly. FF has told us that a higher power was involved, and I suspect that the Chase is unfolding the way it should, leaving behind many changed lives.

  22. Vox—

    Thanks so much for sharing with us. I think the part of your story that I related to the most was your GROAN in the car. I think I may have heard it. You said that was last September huh? lol.

    Actually I had my first BOTG last year at the end of August. I won’t go into detail, but where I thought the treasure was turned out to be unreachable from one side. I was forlorn, but decided to drive around to the other side (several miles) and wound up driving up a steep, very rocky and scary forest road (this really did seem like “no place for the meek” though).

    I finally got the location and began walking down a hidden trail. I later found out I was at 6-7000 feet altitude. The altitude affected me so badly I was huffing and puffing, and unable to move a few steps without having to sit down. I realized how very out of shape I was to be trying to do something like this. I literally got within a 1/4 mile of my destination (downhill) but had to give up because I knew I would not make it.

    I started back to the car and literally would take 5 steps and have to sit down and huff and puff so badly I thought I was going to collapse. But one of those times when I sat down I realized just how quiet it was—–and how beautiful it was up there. I just sat there thanking God for creating something so incredibly wonderful.

    It took a lot of work to walk back to the car. When I got there I saw I had a flat tire. I went in and sat in the car. I think that is when I let out a GROAN comparable to yours. LOL. I tried to change the tire and couldn’t do it. Then an angel came along–a guy and his wife—-and he changed the tire for me, and wouldn’t accept any money for doing it. I was literally up in nowhere land and this guy came by just at the right time. It was truly amazing!

    When you mentioned that “groan” it brought back the memory of my BOTG. What a failure—–but what an awesome experience! Thanks again for sharing Vox. By the way there is one thing in your story that I think is very important to the solve. Oh well, I would like to go on and on and on about my own experiences, but I can’t bear to any more. LOL. I’m spending way more time talking about what I DID, rather than what you DID.

    Thanks for the story and the photos! And I do hope you continue with the search. I don’t think you’re crazy at all. And your story was not a waste of time either. All the best to you!

    • Sparrow, thanks for sharing your story. I can really identify with it – right down to the flat tire in the middle of nowhere! Yes, it can be really tough when you’re unused to altitude. Changing a wheel or shoveling snow up a mountain is no fun when you’re getting on in years and not particularly fit, but there are so often kind “angels” at hand when things get really bad, as you discovered.

      The BOTG experience has to be worth it, whatever the outcome!

  23. Well, I suppose, given the influence of BBC and NPR, that every discussion on every matter now deserves reference to transgenderism. Maybe the little girl in India is now a boy; don’t know, don’t care.

    Aren’t the revelations here those of anyone who has traveled, with or without a quest? I’ve encountered most of those mentioned during non-Chase leisure travels, in and out of the Rockies, while doing backpacking and cycling tours of Europe staying in hostels. Humanity transcends personal pursuits. Vox, I’d argue that you would’ve gained your same ‘understanding’ even without participating in the Chase.

    I recommend Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” for those seeking a more entertaining and no less enlightening synopsis of a quest. With similar confirmation of just exactly where warm waters do indeed halt.

    • The reference to transgenderism was not a political (or politically correct) statement, aardvarkbark, but an attempt to understand something about the human condition and the struggles that people go through.

      As for gaining the same experience through other pursuits, I can’t say, but I do know that the Chase dragged me out of a situation in my life that was very unhealthy, and so I’m particularly thankful for it.

      But perhaps the most pressing reason for participating in the Chase is because I believe that the work is not just for each of us as individuals but as preparation for something that this is all leading to. I don’t want to go into that here, but it’s been my motivation for a while.

      • Vox – what a wonderful story! It’s disjointed and surreal and beautiful at the same time. I think if Vincent van Gogh were a treasure searcher he might paint a write-up similar to yours. There are so many monotonous tiresome ramblings about scrapbooks hints and anagrams and Fenn-knows-what, that your tales are a refreshing bolt from the blue yonder. May your god bless you and thanks for the uplifting diversion. Take care of yourself.

        • Thank you so much, Warlock62. However, I absolutely refuse to cut off my left ear (although the right one could be up for negotiation)! 😉

          All the best to you.

  24. voxpops, your comments inspire a renewed reflection on prejudice, judgment, and our own contribution. A couple of ff’s own passages come to mind:

    “Why do the yellow and purple flowers flourish where no one is there to see? The answer is at last obvious to me. No one has to see what is there. The grass sees, and the trees and rushing waters of the spring creek also see. What has made me think that I had to see the beauty that is there in order to confirm its existence?” (TTOTC My War For Me)

    Beauty exists all around us; in people and in nature. How many of us overlook it?

    “No time spent in thought is wasted and nothing is too small to know, so one should not let knowing a little bit be a substitute for learning more.” (TTOTC Epilogue)

    We can all learn from shared experiences and storytellers. Thank You.

    • “No time spent in thought is wasted and nothing is too small to know, so one should not let knowing a little bit be a substitute for learning more.” (TTOTC Epilogue)

      Contrary: “A lot of time can be wasted in thought and some things can safely be ignored, so one should know the little things that matter”

  25. Wow what a story, seems like an interesting adventure. I bet I have watched scrapbook 206
    30 times plus. Ha ha. I like how he explained failure. He made me feel better about all my failed attempts to find the treasure.
    He seems like a neat man.

    • Thanks Amy. You know what binds all active searchers? Failure! There’s not one of us who’s been BOTG who hasn’t tasted crow. You’d think that with that 100% rate no one would be telling anyone else they’ve got it wrong!

    • How can one have failed if the fight continues?

      Crows are good eating, but first you have to land that catch!

      While we are on food. This will be one hell of a feast Forrest is preparing for us, because that onion is as big as his ball of string.


  26. Voxpops,

    Is it not better to believe and have confidence that comes from believing?
    What is the “Thrill” that comes from the chase? Does it not come from a person’s own confidence in themselves, their belief that they have the puzzle solved?
    Yes it is a hard pill to swallow when we come back empty handed, but maybe people keep trying not just for the chest, but that feeling of confidence, that they know where it is.
    It is so hard to feel confident in our day to day activities, so regimented and full of people telling us what we can and cannot do.
    I enjoyed the chase when i felt confident, even when I was wrong, because the possibilities was there to keep my “Thrill” alive.
    My failures did hurt, but I kept trying, soon the taste of belief, confidence, the thrill was in my mouth again, and it tasted so much better than anything my normal, society approved life had ever offered.
    But like a man dying of thirst, he drinks to much, over indulgence and you get into trouble. So much trouble you dare not taste the thrill again, and when the people around you suffer for it, it must be bad.
    It is like many other things, the thrill of the chase is not a bad thing, it is the people who make it bad or good.
    When I go out looking for the chest, I am going to go in there believing, I want to feel confident, thrilled, and by doing so should I be wrong, it doesn’t matter.
    If I go in there with no real confidence, no belief, no excitement, and no thrill, then I loose, even if I find it, for I will be ashamed of my lack of confidence.
    By believing we can enter there and know thyself.

    • All good stuff, NIJ.

      Of course, it’s not always possible to predict how you’re going to feel “on the day.” On this particular occasion, I knew that I needed to go to this special place to make discoveries, despite any sentiments or presentiments, and indeed that’s just what happened.

      But beyond that, I’ve been searching less for the chest (except as a symbol) this last couple of years, and more for something indefinable. Now, after deeper thought, the indefinable has become much more delineated. My belief is that there’s a job to be done, and it matters less about my own feelings and more about finishing the task. If I can summon up positive vibes it will make the task that much easier. But that’s assuming I’m not barking up the wrong tree – even if I might be barking mad for having these thoughts in the first place.

      None of us can predict the future or know what’s in FF’s mind. Some believe one thing and others something else. The comments above are a testament to that. Until the fat lady sings we each have to go forward with our own beliefs and see if we can make them come true. There’s no right or wrong way, because we each start from a different place. If we make mistakes or overstep the mark, that’s a lesson learned and we live with the consequences.

      • Voxpoxs,

        No, don’t live with the consequences, they will try to take over the whole house and will keep you down. Yes learn from your mistakes, take your bumps, lick your wounds, and live with your accomplishments.

  27. Could have sworn that said bandanas! Who knew that my collection of bandanas would be so vital in 2020?

    As for , funny story. My dad was a professor at a university. One morning at breakfast, we ate bananas and goofing around I put the chicita banana sticker on my dad’s forehead just above his glasses. Fortunately he had a good sense of humor when he realized that he had been teaching his college courses about the bloodiness of war for an entire day while sporting a chicita banana sticker on his forehead. Guess men don’t like mirrors or something.

    Kids. Gotta love em.

    Also, I learned an entirely new language about malicious spoofing today that is just bananas – helped explain my cell phone records of texts for past few years. I think a few spoofers forgot to spoof however…because I dont know anyone outside the chase in Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia, Albuquerque, Denver or Colorado Springs although records show literally thousands of texts to and from these folks that I never sent or received. And hundreds of texts sending me one time codes that I never requested that were trying to break into my bank accounts… from around the world too no less. Sweeden, Africia, China, PacMarst, etc. I’ve had to close all accounts and put fraud alerts on every account I have, from phone to post office to bank to grocery store. Its almost like someone left my door open and invited every nasty ass criminal into my home and life… Talk about stress and anxiety on top of everything else!

    Fortunatelly, the wholesome nature of the chase has been such a relief during these incredibly stressful years.

    Adults. Go figure.

    I prefer kid games personally.

    But seeking peace and doing loving things for my fella/ow humans, I’m sure I have bigger fish to fry. So beyond taking extraordinary measures to protect myself and report everything from today forward that messes with me in any form – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually…I’m in heal mode and will let bygones be bygones. And you, Vox, seem like a true friend, just like me, that wants nothing from me other than common decency and respect – and I’m sure would never take anything…and I do mean anything, from a glance to more, from anyone without permission after your experiences. I’ll bet you will even go the extra mile to make sure that folks you know get a life of their own vs. trying to make the chase their life and job and trying to me other searchers their addiction d’jor. After all, there is important work to be done, inside and out, as time goes by. As much as I applaud the intention of the chase when it first started, other than posts here…nothing meaningful is happening with it today imo. Lots of mean though!!! Just read the other blogs and watch any of the tubers and comnentors.

    And this, Vox, is why I so enjoyed your refreshing post and respectful replies.

  28. I think I need to keep reminding myself to not read these kinds of solutions. There was another guy, Iowaengineer, or something like that, who was a complete loon. You, my friend, need to give this up. You aren’t going to find the treasure and are apparently destroying your life doing this. I don’t sugar coat my thoughts. There is no way that your spiritual interpretation could possibly align with FF, even IF, spiritual thinking is required, which IMO, is NOT. Give it up. It’s not worth destroying yourself and others doing it.

    • I know most won’t agree with you here, but I do.
      You need to have personal assessment most of the time to know where you’re at in any of life’s adventures.

      • Vox, was your strategy here to distract the competition with verbal bombardment, or should we call Dr. Phil?

        • Ha, 42, you rumbled me! The time you spent reading that was time not spent on the poem – and watch out for the after effects!

          But if you think Dr. Phil’s up to the task… bring it on!

          • Exactly Voxpops,
            Glad to see your ability to reason and reasonability are still in tact. Quarantine is making us all a bit crazy. Bring on the quarantini’s.

    • Kaygee, thanks for your opinion. As time progresses, I’ve become more used to, and comfortable with, being a complete loon. And although I won’t speak for my wife, I get the impression that she now has more of an understanding of where I’m coming from.

      Although people want to help with their online diagnoses, there’s perhaps a tendency to view the world through world-weary eyes. Sometimes, I think, we need to look at things afresh.

      As I said above, the treasure doesn’t matter, there are more important fish to fry. However, I’m curious as to how you know who is or isn’t going to find the chest. Did I let something slip in my story?

  29. Voxpops, your tome and particular quest remind me of Fowles’ The Magus. ‘I was searching for a mystery.’

    • Lady V, that’s very interesting. I’ve not read that book, but will try to find a copy. I think you’ve exemplified something that may be at the core of the hunt. I believe FF is a master trickster, but he’s holding up a mirror to us all. What we see there will be how we interpret the Chase. The hunt can be whatever we want it to be, as directed by our own psyches.

      With that in mind, maybe the only way to solve the poem and put the Chase to rest is to shine that mirror back at FF. But… until we know ourselves well enough, the image is likely to be distorted.

      Just musin’ and thanks for the prompt.

      • I want to thank you, Lady V, for introducing me to Fowles’ “The Magus.” Although tough to read in places, as it pulled no punches, its 606 (!) pages were riveting. I don’t think I’ve read anything outside of the “community” that better exemplifies the overall thrust of the Chase. All the important elements were there, from the Eliot quote, to the mirrors, to the maze/labyrinth, to the mythic hints, to the inability to pin down what’s real and what’s not, and who’s involved and who’s not.

        Anyone who’s interested can read it on the Internet Archive.

        • I read that on paper long before the internet. Good book, though whether it’s the “title” I don’t know. I finally came up with a decent toenail entry just before dal closed it, but the site kept going dark on me. “Toenails are the windows of the sole.” What do you think?

  30. Gee Kaygee, sounds like you feel caged in or something. Take walk and explore the wild things in your very own neighborhood.

    You remind me of all the youtubers that rage against everyone and anyone who says they have solved the poem – they do it by shaming them with words, playing demeaning sound clips to biblically humiliate them, calling them names like rooster and use stuffed animals to depict the abuse being done to them for daring to say the words out loud “I’ve solved the poem”. Heck, this one gal last night spend almost an entire show ranting about roosters and peacock while screaming things like “YOUR WRONG!” at anyone who claims understanding the poem. I wonder if these folks see the irony of their roosterism in being so cocky that it is everyone else, except themselves, that is wrong? Maybe we should coin a phrase for the antiroosters…rigamortous antiroosters perhaps?

    I forgot to mention the massive unauthorized use if my cell phobe data over the past few years too. Something clicked watching Mr. T the other night…you tube wants watch time and subscribers to reward tubers. Maybe the criminals that hacked my entire life and exposed me to the very worst of humanity have been stealing the unlimited text, data, and minutes from unsuspecting subscribers to their youtube shows. Explains why my phone records show actual minutes were say 50 minutes but my used minutes by hackers of 700 minutes, for example. Explains why my real data usage was, for exampke, 2MB but the data used on my mobile account was 111MB for example. Explains why my actual texts sent and received were 94, for example, but my phone records show 327, for example – to and from people in places like North Carolina, Rio Rancho, Las Vegas, Georgia, Denver, Colo Springs, Florida, etc. and on and on and on. Lots were spoofing texts as my family members…but comparing their phobe records to mine…things don’t add up. There is no way I sent and received nearly 300 texts with my estranged sister that suggested I kill myself…or did she ever say that? Sometime face to face is best to get to the bottom of the monkey barrel.

    Duh! What a bunch of Bad Guys and Sallys.

    Vox, you just reminded me of a very dear and special secret place. Loons Rock. What a beautiful island. Only a few special folks, the ones that see the big picture, know of it and have the map.

    Wishing Forrest and Peggy rest. I think rest is the only way for fresh thinking needed to find the treasure. The chase is anything but restful! Just ask me.

    I say let them have their cake and eat cake too. I’ve heard cakes that look like mirrors have become the rage and rap of 2020.

    I keep coming back to “The Most Beautiful Things” by TT (those TTs almost look like tease). ;-).

    I hope my balls never touch the ground. Jugulers untie!

    The chase has had done fun moments. There will be more fun when it’s done given what it’s become.

  31. Have we all become linked in some permanent way because of the Chase? Are we all now brothers and sisters in arms, each on our own personal spiritual journey as we seek out the golden fleece, yet somehow united?

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • ST, thanks for your comment.

      I’ve been thinking along similar lines. And I also never forget Forrest saying that, despite not being religious, “I am probably the most spiritual person around.” If this bold statement has nothing to do with the Chase, why did he tell us that? He has also said:

      “Hiding the treasure was something else. A few weeks after they told me I was critically ill I wanted to strike out at the tradition that proclaims when a man dies all of his spiritual being halts. At my secret hiding place, as I was closing the chest for the last time, I felt part of me slip inside and become part of the treasure, or at least I thought I did. I’m okay with that now.f”

      I referenced that quote in my long-winded diatribe.

      “I wanted to strike out…” Frankly I’m surprised that some searchers ignore the countless references to spiritual matters in FF’s writings, whether overt (like the above quotes), or oblique (as in stories that talk of “angels,” “a higher power,” “I didn’t write…,” on and on).

      We’re on a quest; one of the most challenging anyone has ever created. Aardvarkbark mentioned Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” above (I agree, it’s a far more entertaining story), and I’ve recently been reading a condensed and reordered version of the original Grail legends. Aside from the many severed limbs and rescued damsels, the quest eventually involves a rethinking of a knight’s ethos, so as to unburden his soul and make him worthy of the prize. Is this hunt a modern-day interpretation of that?

          • Patient And serene, ready to Kung Fu battle the treasure boss Fenn at clue #9. Like water in a cactus unassuming and ready to pounce on those whom walk past.!!

          • Agua Virgo

            “What shall I say of streams suspended on airy arches, where scarce the Rainbow-Goddess could raise her showery waters? You might rather call them mountains grown up to the sky: such a structure Greece would praise, as giant-wrought. Rivers diverted are lost sight of within thy walls: the lofty baths consume whole lakes.”

            Rutilius, A Voyage Home to Gaul (I.97-103)

  32. “As a youngster I was a great dreamer, reading many books of adventure and walking lonely miles with my head in the clouds.”

    Edmund Hillary

  33. Vox,

    Thanks for sharing, I agree with what all the positive posters had to say so not much else to add. You are one of the smarter searchers on here for sure. Great Moose and beautiful Cinnamon phase Blackie! Sounds to me like you were experiencing some jet lag and loneliness, maybe some tiredness and hunger. I’m addicted to hoD, it’s called FOMO, Fear of Missing Out!

    • Cholly, thanks very much for your supportive comments. Yes, I definitely wasn’t in the right frame of mind! But for whatever reason things have become far less confused since then.

      You know, one of the really helpful things about hoD is the ability to get direct notification of what’s going on, so no need for FOMO here!

  34. LOL – those beautiful white toenails and sweet feet,
    remind me of teeth. Pearly white.
    Definitely not mine.

    • oops – wrong place to post this comment.
      Guess I put my foot in my mouth.
      Sorry Dal.

      • Maybe not so far off the mark posting here, wwwamericana: Under; Stand.

        Did you know it’s a lowdown insult to call someone a toerag?

      • I bet you 10 to 7 odds that Dal removes your tacky comment, like a magician!

        • At those odds, not worth the punt really, BigOnus.

          Talking of magicians, did you know that both the Spitfire and the P51 Mustang used the Merlin engine? Rolls Royce licensed the build to Packard.

          • V_12 turbo charged. I heard there was more than one version. Merlin was a good choice name,

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