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I came across this picture a few months back while doing some research on New Mexico. It made my heart stop when I first saw it. It is an old grave marker, the church is just a pile of bricks now. I imagine it was a breath taking spot in it’s day & it still is in my opinion. History is all that remains & the sound of the wind through the tall grass.
Thanks to Toby and Shelley for live-streaming the book-signing event and for posting their great photos. Forrest asked me to write a few words and post a few pictures. Here is a written account of what I remember with a few of my photos (and some texted to me) capturing most of the events from my view with a few words to explain.
The Pre-party was organized by Whiskeyes (from the Chicago area) and held at The Thunderbird Bar and Restaurant above the plaza. They planned for 16 people and gave us our own private room… we filled it over the course of the 2 1⁄2 hours we gathered there. Most of the regulars were there, plus some new faces. It was a joy for me to hang out with new and old Fenners. I remembered all the names for about an hour… here it is two days later and I’ve forgotten a few. I apologize for the names I’ve forgotten but will mention some of the ones I remember. If people could post comments with their name and identifying photo, that would be nice for those who could not attend.
BoomerGirl brought her grandson all the way from Portland, Katya from Taos, Amy from way out in the boondocks near Nederland Colorado, and Desertphile from way out in the boondocks across the Chama River across from the monks who all live near Ghost Ranch (Abiquiu), New Mexico. Whew!
Darcy Howat came all the way from British Columbia, Canada, to attend the events. He was smart and brought paper and colored markers for us all to sign our names and where we came from (and I don’t mean our mothers… he wanted to know where we reside.) I would have thought he might have won the no-prize for traveling the farthest but I met people from Florida and someone from Hawaii. Sorry, Darcy.
Everyone knows Slurbs and his beautiful wife Andrea. They both live near me in Rio Rancho (near Albuquerque). I hope I’m allowed to announce that Slurbs plans to retrieve Fenn’s treasure chest next weekend. It’s funny how many people told me they would have the loot before June 1st, 2018… and they all are looking in different states! Ha Ha… Gosh, I just love this game!
Toby Younis and a guy named John or Jonathon, or not. Why do I think he’s from the mid-west and searches in Yellowstone National Park? I might be wrong about one of those…
The blond woman is from Canada… I’m almost certain.
Around 4:00 people started leaving The Thunderbird and walked the block to Collected Works Bookstore. Amy and Desertphile danced their way there.
Or they were driven by their chauffeur. Jamie is the driver and Whiskeyes Michelle is standing outside the car laughing.
Some of us were not as savvy and waited until almost 4:15. Once inside the front door, we encountered a long line (mob) of attendees who were receiving their book and ticket from the desk. Dorothy the owner did not allow anyone to take a seat prior to the scheduled starting time of 4:30 sharp. Kudos to Dorothy and all her staff for putting on this event. (I asked Dorothy for permission to take her picture for this story and she adamantly said NO. Hmmm… she probably heard about what happened in 2015 at the Gaspard Book-Signing when I took a picture of Charmay and posted a story about her on this blog. AND… I want you all to know Charmay attended this event and was sitting in the second row from the stage. I did take a picture of her but did not speak to her, but I waved. I bet she had nightmares later!)
While folks waited to pick up their book and ticket, Forrest so graciously meandered through the mob and chatted with the attendees.
Promptly at 4:30, Dorothy ushered us to the seating areas. Different colored tickets meant different sections. Toby was already prepared and set up for the live-stream. ABC Nightline also had a crew recording the event and interviewing searchers one- on-one afterwards. Hopefully Dal will post the air date several days in advance. This screening should have concluded the footage they needed.
Susan Caldwell and Lou Bruno are the team behind the book. Here Susan is signing my book and telling me which star on the front cover I should fish for… OMG, I’m kidding!!! Please don’t call her and ask her what she wrote in my book. Forrest and Susan might actually kill me… I will be banned from future events if anyone calls her.
Forrest continued to mingle within the crowd for awhile…
Then he got tired and sat down on the edge of the stage. He was so kind and entertained us with photo ops. (Eric, Desertrat, Sacha, Forrest, Katya)
I think this is a selfie taken by Sacha of herself, ff, and me. Covert One is in the seat in white shirt behind me.
Shiloh, Forrest’s grandson (the young hunk as I heard numerous women refer to him) introduced Forrest and Doug Preston promptly at 6 pm. The event was officially underway. Forrest spoke a bit and then turned the talk over to Doug Preston. There was a Q and A afterwards but very few questions were answered regarding the treasure hunt or poem. Shiloh reminded everyone this event was about the new book. However, there were some very comical moments during the course of the Q&A and the room exploded with laughter multiple times.
About 50 minutes later, Forrest shook Shiloh’s hand and thanked him. The three guys on stage applauded and the room followed in one great big loud applause, thanking all three men for a very enjoyable and entertaining evening.
We all stayed seated while Forrest and Doug made their way to the back room to the table that was set up for the actual book-signing portion of the evening. Then one very long line formed to take your turn. You would have thought they were selling an iPhone X. Except none of us had tents and sleeping bags. We waited patiently to get our turn.
Sacha, Eric, Desertphile, Amy, and I were some of the last few to get our books signed. It was now approaching the witching hour at La Fonda and we were parched!
It was almost 8:30 by now and all the tables were taken but we found a few empty spots at the bar. New faces in this photo are Brooke from Texas behind Katya and Bill Gorman behind her.
I don’t know what time the lights came on and they had last call, but we were there until almost midnight. Doug was a real gentleman and walked me the four blocks to my Inn.
I tried to sleep but my mind was racing… thank goodness I scheduled the Friday morning brunch for 10:30. I set the chirping crickets alarm on my phone just in case. Then I realized how hungry I was, and realized, like an idiot, I did not bring any food or snacks with me. I’m much more prepared when I treasure hunt. I remembered walking by a little alcove just past the lobby (in the Hilton just behind the bookstore… awesome room and an affordable rate on a week night in the off season, for future information) that was filled with drinks and snacks. I was too lazy to get up, get dressed, and get there… it involved a long walk down dark hallways and using either a tiny elevator or steps in a window-less stairwell. I disliked both choices so drank more water.
I may have dozed off but I didn’t think so. All of a sudden I realized I had not put my parking permit on my dashboard. What if they had towed my truck and I got up later and had no transportation to get to Brunch? I looked at the clock and it was 5:30 am. The adrenlin rush caused my brain to awake fully. I had to get dressed and verify if my truck was beside the back door of the Inn where I had parked it. It was easy to get to… a few steps down the hall to the door. I pushed on the door to exit. It was locked.
OMG, I retreated back the dark hallway towards the lobby. I chose using the elevator. I stopped in the alcove and grabbed a bag of white cheese nips, about the only kind of junk food I could stand to eat. The hallways and lobby were empty and I startled the woman behind the desk to pay for my snack. I told her I’d forgotten to place the bright magenta parking permit on my dash and I was worried my truck might have been towed. She smiled and said it was ok…
Making my way from the lobby back down the hall, into the elevator, down a longer darker hall and finally to my room, I opened the bag of junk food and ate as much as I could stand. It helped erase the hunger, and I slept.
Friday’s Brunch was scheduled for 10:30 at the Tesuque Village Market. I arrived shortly after 10 am to let them know a crowd of possibly a dozen or so people were about to descend on the place. As I stepped inside, I noticed a long row of tables with familiar faces. You guys are so awesome!! There were already a dozen Fenners seated with more people to arrive. The woman owner/manager said they’d turn on the heaters out in the enclosed porch area and set up the entire area for our group.
Forrest had emailed me that morning that he planned to attend but would be late. None of us cared what time he’d arrive… we just hoped he could attend, eventually.
Our group grew to 30, and Forrest did indeed arrive around 11:15. He ordered coffee, sat at various places around the table to talk to most folks, and eventually stood around and posed with us for even more pictures.
It must have been well after twelve by the time we all started to leave. A small group continued to hang out near the entrance where I had parked. I think we didn’t want the event to end… it was hard to say goodbye, not knowing when the 5 of us would see each other again. It was 1:09 pm when someone said “here comes Forrest.” He approached us grinning from ear to ear. He said he was hungry and came back for a frito pie. He hadn’t eaten breakfast like the rest of us. He motioned for us to follow. We were seated at the original table where the large group had assembled briefly 3 hours earlier. Sometimes it pays to linger awhile… Forrest ate his Frito pie, a few of us ordered and ate again, and then we listened to Forrest tell stories about his business days selling art. It was the end to a perfect 24 hours for Amy, Desertphile, StrawShadow, Amber, and me… and hopefully Forrest.
Thanks to everyone who made these events so successful! Here’s a link to all the pictures:
November 4th 2017
Snow covers the north end of the Rocky Mountains so it’s time to shut it down for this season. New Mexico and parts of Colorado are still snow free and temps in the 60s. Good hunting, but please don’t search in the snow or mud. And remember, the temps are down in the low 20s in places. f
Forrest has been understandably secretive about when he hid the treasure chest. Scrapbook 163 discusses the fact-checking questions that were asked of Forrest prior to publication of Taylor Clark’s story “The Everlasting Forrest Fenn” in the California Sunday Magazine (which appears inside the L.A. Times and the San Francisco Examiner). That story, by the way, was my first exposure to Forrest Fenn and his treasure. A few of those questions dealt with when Forrest hid the treasure:
Fact-checker: “Even your wife didn’t know when you buried the treasure, correct?”
Forrest Fenn: “I have never said I buried the treasure so please don’t say that. I hid the treasure, but that does not mean it is not buried. I just didn’t want to give that as a clue. My wife’s name is Peggy.”
F-C: “You hid it in 2010?”
FF: “I have never pinned it down that close. I just say I was 79 or 80 when I hid it.”
F-C: “So you were 80 then?”
FF: “I was 79 or 80. I have a reason for not wanting to give an exact date.”
A year-and-a-half earlier during the Moby Dickens Bookshop Q&A in Taos, an anonymous fan posted a question to Forrest’s online fan base: “Was the car, you walked back to after hiding the treasure, rented?” Forrest replied, “You know, that’s the first time I’ve been asked that question. But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that. That’s why I’ve told people that I buried the treasure … that I hid the treasure chest when I was either 79 or 80 years old because I don’t want the exact date to be known because I’m afraid someone will go check the rental car records and how many miles did Mr. Fenn put on the truck or car, and so I don’t answer those kind of questions. But shoot that person that sent that email.”
So if that had been as precise as Forrest was willing to be, then it would mean he hid the chest some day between August 22, 2009 (when he turned 79) and August 21, 2011 (the last day he was 80) – a 730-day span. However, The Thrill of the Chase was released in the fall of 2010, so it is reasonable to assume the chest was already hidden by then. Any lingering doubts about that were removed by Douglas Preston’s forward to Forrest’s soon-to-be-released third memoir, Once Upon A While. If Doug’s account below is accurate, then we now know that Forrest was 79 when he hid Indulgence:
“And then finally, one lovely summer day in August 2010, I visited him and he brought me into the vault. The chest was gone! “I finally hid it,” he said. He was about to turn eighty years old and still in excellent health with no sign of cancer, and he decided to stop waiting and hide the chest now.”
So that cuts the window by more than half. Doug doesn’t give the exact day he visited Forrest in August, but it was no later than August 21st, which means the absolute latest Forrest could have hidden the chest was August 20th. But thanks to some middle school kids’ questions that Forrest responded to in February this year, we can say more than that:
Q: “Could you also tell was (sic) time of year you hid the treasure?”
A: “Yes, it was summer.”
Q: “What time of year did you hid (sic) the treasure?”
There is some ambiguity as to what dates Forrest considers to fall under “summer,” but I doubt it’s a strict astronomical definition based on the summer solstice and autumnal equinox. Most likely, it’s just the three months that most school kids would consider summer in the U.S.: June, July and August. But to be safe, I retained September since technically fall doesn’t start until late September. So we’re left with two Indulgence-hiding windows: August 22, 2009 – September 30, 2009, and June 1, 2010 – August 20, 2010. So 40 days in 2009 and 81 days in 2010.
So why does any of this matter to anyone other than unscrupulous rental car agency employees? Because I wanted to show just how limited the possibilities are. I’ve winnowed down 730 possible days to just 121. And I’m about to knock that down to a single day because I think Forrest actually hid the date in the poem itself!
There are no years or months mentioned in the poem, and few words that could be construed as numbers to be used for dates, so how could he hide a date in the poem? One way would be to use letters to stand in for numbers, e.g. A=1, B=2, … Z=26. So today’s date (October 25, 2017) could be encoded as 10-25-2017 or J (10) – Y (25) – T (20) – Q (17), or alternatively as JBETQ if the 25 was split into individual digits.
Now, not all dates can be encoded this way. For instance, October 30, 2017 won’t work because we don’t have a letter to correspond to either 30 or 0. The year 2009 presents problems, too, because of the consecutive zeroes. The best one can do is encode that year as “TI” and assume the decoder will figure out that 20-9 means 2009 and not 209.
With the exception of the four days in our window that fall on the 30th of a month, every date can be expressed as either a 4-letter code or a 5-letter code, sometimes both. There are 456,976 possible 4-letter combinations, only 103 of which encode a date in our window, so the odds of a random 4-letter combination producing one of our dates is about one in 4437. The odds are even longer on a matching 5-letter combination: 1 in 162759. But there are a lot of ways to pull letters out of the poem: consecutive letters in a word, initial letters of consecutive words, final letters in consecutive words, first letters of poem lines, and so on. But if Forrest was really going to do this and expect it to be found, why bury it somewhere obscure? Why not stick it in plain sight by using only the capitalized letters that begin each poem line?
There are 24 lines in the poem, and therefore 21 different 4-letter codes that can be generated using consecutive lines (without wraparound from the bottom back to the top). The first is AAIA from the words As, And, I & And. That would work okay if Forrest had hidden the chest on January 1, 1991 (1-1-9-1) with the 1900 implied. But let’s cut to the chase. Despite the long odds, there is exactly one date in our 121-day chest-hiding window that can be found using this system:
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
FTTJ = 6-20-20-10 = June 20, 2010. Not only does it encode the last two digits of the year, it encodes the full year. And the code is completely contained within one stanza. It also immediately follows the word Brown: the only capitalized noun in the poem. Arguably it is the second most prominent location to hide a four-letter code, exceeded only by using the first four lines. If Forrest really did secret the hiding date within his poem, that might explain one of his enigmatic puzzlers from Mysterious Writings Weekly Words a little over a year ago:
“I could have written the poem before I hid the treasure chest, but I didn’t.”
On a final note, Forrest wrote in TTOTC that two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead, so there has been speculation that perhaps one other person, now deceased, might have known where Forrest would hide the treasure. I think this date tells us that person’s identity. June 20th in 2010 fell on a Sunday. Father’s Day.
As Cynthia has pointed out…to get a signed copy you MUST check the “signed copy” button on the order form.
You can also order by calling the bookstore 505 988-4226 and of course you can pick one up in person if you are at the book store.
The winner is below. If you click on it you can see it full size.
As you may have guessed, this was difficult for the judges. There were nearly 100 entries. The skills and genius of many of the entries are absolutely wonderful.
What made this image stand out is it’s outright stick figure simplicity while cunningly endowed with humor and joy.
The ducks, Tesuque, Forrest’s checked shirt, his belt buckle, the gleefulness these figures exhibit as they sneak to the hidey spot. It’s a great deal of fun but also exhibits specialized Fenn knowledge and even laughs at our own tireless pursuit of hints. (what’s that in Forrest’s hat band?)
Well done and congratulations to Jonsey1
We have a brand new, signed copy of Forrest’s latest book, Once Upon A While, for you.
You can view all the entries below:
This page is now closed to new comments. To continue the discussion please go to the newest Where Warm Waters Halt page.
This is for a discussion about Where Warm Waters Halt. We’ve all got ideas that didn’t work out or we are willing to share…I think we can give folks just starting out some ideas for the kinds of places that might just be the place Where Warm Waters Halt…or not!
Let the discussion begin…
Submitted October 2017
A few days ago I had the opportunity to meet Forrest at the Collected Works Book Store in Santa Fe. He popped into the store occasionally, unannounced, this week so he could pre-sign all the new books before they were shipped out to the readers. I sat at the table quietly watching as Forrest signed book after book after book. It was a truly organized event between him and the guy who worked there. A carton of 20 books would be carried to the chair beside Forrest where the guy would open the box, set a stack of books on the table to Forrest’s rightside where he could easily slide them one at a time in front of him. Then the signed books would be placed neatly inside the same carton and moved to the back of the store to get ready to be shipped out. Before I knew it, Forrest looked at me and said he was done. I was impressed… he had signed 80 books in what seemed like just a few minutes.
He asked me if I’d like to chat over cups of hot chocolate… yes, I said. From there we drove to Downtown Subscription where they serve the best mugs of hot chocolate in Santa Fe. It was crowded but we found a small empty table in the midst of the mob. During the course of our conversation Forrest suggested I write a review of his new book and send it to Dal to post. I was flattered he asked me and I agreed to do it.
Remember this story, originally titled “Eunice, LA” and posted on Dal’s blog as Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Nine in March 2017? Many of us know it as the Bingo story. Like many other stories in this new book, slight changes have been made between the original scrapbooks posted on the blog and the revised stories in Once Upon A While. This one really caught my eye…
If you notice, the text / title on this page says RAINY NIGHT BLESSINGS but the chapter title at the top of each page of this chapter says RAINY DAY BLESSINGS. Is this difference in words (between NIGHT and DAY) an accidental mistake or an intentional hint to us searchers? Is this why Forrest told me to mention this picture? I don’t know…
I am not the naturally gifted writer that Forrest is, or Douglas Preston, or Jenny Kile, or Dal. My review of this book is the way I talk… fragmented thoughts along the line of Fenn treasure searchers, not like the prose of the literary masters. There are 184 scrapbooks, 27 Vignettes, and 3 Passages written by Forrest and posted on Dal’s blog. 39 of these were included in this new book Once Upon A While. Even if you’ve read and memorized most of these, I highly recommend you buy or borrow a copy of this book and revisit each of these 39 stories. Forrest added “MY TWO SENSE” at the end of each chapter (with a post mark stamp), often punctuating the story with his wit, humor, and anecdotes, as well as a few updates.
One of those updates is on page 171 in The Bullet Comes Home. I don’t want to spoil the ending so won’t reveal the additional text included in this chapter. But it made me sad… I had the privilege of sitting in The Bullet a couple years ago while Forrest sat in the driver’s seat and explained the details of the mechanics of the car, or lack of mechanics, I should say. Now it’s just a bittersweet moment in my memory. As Forrest so wisely puts it “Once you leave home you can never move back.”
If I still haven’t piqued your interest in this new book, I gotta mention the drawings… all by Forrest and mostly stick figures. He thinks he’s not a good artist.. I think he’s exceptional and each drawing adds to the stories. Notice his turquoise belt buckle on each of the stick figures that are him throughout the book. I thought that alone was clever..
And lastly, in my opinion, this book is visually stunning. I love color… color pictures, color stick drawings, and color backgrounds with the bleeds to the edges. Just leafing through the pages should make a person want to look at each page and eventually read the text. And whoever came up with the idea of putting the page numbers in large font in the center of the margins? For any of you who have ever written a book, or magazine, or maybe a yearbook years ago, you have to appreciate the creative style Susan, Lou, and Forrest captured here. This is one of his best!