Scrapbook Two Hundred Four…


August, 2019


West Yellowstone, as I remember…

berriesSometimes our family would go out into the country-side north of town to pick wild berries. We usually had to drive off the road and around the trees and underbrush for a few minutes to find a ripe huckleberry bush. Dad knew where they were, and we could usually fill a pail. Berries were great for breakfast with Wheaties. We ate a lot of Wheaties, and mom made really great jam that was good on top of hot biscuits. Yes, I still remember.

The kids competed with each other to see who could gather the most berries. I always lost because I munched too much as I picked.

There were strawberry bushes too, but they were isolated, the fruit was small, and it hung close to the ground. We didn’t mess with those guys.

It was not unusual for black bears to be eating berries on bushes within short walking distance from us. When that happened, mom would start singing. Dad said to leave them alone and if they moved toward us, just give them space. There were plenty of berries to go around. That was in the 1930s, and early 40s. I never heard of anyone being hurt by a black bear up there. Meeting a grizzly was different, but it was not something we worried about. If one ever wandered in to command the berry bushes, we surely would have retreated at a nervous pace. We never had to. Those were fun family times. f






Scrapbook Two Hundred Three…


August, 2019

Eli’s book was published in 2007 and I wrote my review soon after. It was printed in the local paper. The last time I saw Eli he had a small house up in the mountains, maybe Penasco, or some other small town in Northern New Mexico. I don’t remember which one for sure. He told me that he still had his home in Santa Fe, and that he moved from one place to the other every two weeks. Yeah, it’s just like Eli to do something like that. f 


Santa Fe Bohemia
The Art Colony 1964 – 1980
By Eli Levin

A book review by Forrest Fenn

The book signing took place near the top of Lower Canyon Road at Argos Etchings and Paintings, there on the left, next to Ed Larson’s gallery, whose large sign reads “Jesus Says Buy Folk Art.” All of this fits Eli exactly, I thought as I splashed up the steps and into a small but pleasant gallery space. It was crowded with people I didn’t know.


Argos Etchings and Paintings in Santa Fe


Ed Larson’s Gallery in Santa Fe

Well, there was Eli, standing beside the exit signing books. His brown, Humphrey Bogart hat fit like it was sewn on, and the heavy sweater he wore in the warm room suggested he was ready for a quick exit down the steep steps, through the mud and away, should one of the characters in his book arrive in person to disagree with his take on him or her. And there are many of both genders that felt the swath of his laser sharp pen.

Most chapters contain interesting geographical descriptions of the person whose name appears in the chapter head. Some of what he calls “little jibes” about his friends are:

“…a puffy old alcoholic,”

“It was hard, looking at her, to imagine her with a man.”

“…her worst feature was her brown teeth.”

“…was tall, with a sunken face, dark crooked teeth, bugging eyes and a balding pate fringed with scraggly grey hair.”

For him to say that the wonderfully petite and sensitive Carol Mothner was “quick at repartee,” and high strung and aggressive and had a sharp voice, shows me that he spent too much time holding down bar stools at Claude’s – which he readily admits to on nearly every page.

His books were selling well when I arrived at his signing, as buyers and well-wishers, three or four at a time, slowly moved up the line to get his signature. When my time came, I said, “Eli, I hear you gave me hell in the book.” So we both laughed as he wrote, “I gave you hell,” and signed his name. Anything less would have disappointed me.

Book cover – “Santa Fe Bohemia” by Eli Levin

Now, I’ve always had a warm place in my heart for Eli, though the reasons are not at all clear. Perhaps it’s because he seems to personify the underdog. The sincere smile that always curls his face seems perfectly at home, his down-beat eyes and gentle manner, the intensity with which he engages his craft, his “lookout” for fellow artists, are all traits we’re quick to admire in anyone. We didn’t socialize over the years because we never happened to be in the same place at the same time. He’s a New York Jewish Bohemian and I’m a recovering Texas Baptist. There was little reason for us to mix even though art made our paths cross on several occasions.  Chapters in his book describe several such events.

In 1968, when I was fighting the unfortunate war in Vietnam, Eli was in Santa Fe expounding on how tough life was for him. His feelings were honest; he was having a hard time. That’s the definition of an underdog. In 1972, when I moved to Santa Fe and built a gallery, Eli was well established in the barrios and Canyon Road art places. He had become the Chief Cultist, the professional underdog, or the head of the art world underground as “Pasatiempo” recently insinuated. He had a large following of admirers, most of whom were painters and drinkers, as he describes them. And nearly all are barb recipients in this book.

Somehow I envy what he had, and has. While I was working forever in my gallery office he was holding court in smoke-filled kitchens and bedrooms that were clouded with jabbering, coffee and wine drinking soulmates – all artists, whose studios housed easels and sincere canvases hoping for a magical brush-stroke that would make their masters famous. It didn’t happen, and the mourning continues. I’m not talking out of school, saying those things, because that’s what Eli’s book is about over and over. Santa Fe Bohemia – The Art Colony 1964-1980.

Along with renderings by other artists, Eli’s paintings and etchings decorated the walls of Argos gallery. I told myself that all of the artists showing their art there must be friends because there seemed to be a cohesive warmth in their combined display, maybe a “togetherness” of sorts. That seemed to fit. Many works by the artists, all unknown to me, were pleasant and soothing.

Although I had seen pictures of Eli’s work before, this was the first occasion I remember taking a close-up look and having an opportunity to examine them with my magnifying eye. His folk art, mostly bar room scenes, is graphic and funny and it’s easy to see that he doesn’t sketch anything on the canvas before his brushes arrive. And what he lacks in technique he makes up for with warm visual dialogue. His work makes me wonder whether he paints because he likes it or likes it because he does it. In any event, his rewards must mostly be the satisfaction he gets from the participation and its associated camaraderie. The shameful thought came to me that perhaps he should be showing next door where Jesus might buy one.

It had been a long time since I had seen Eli but I swear he has not changed a hair since we first met thirty-seven years ago. And as he remembers and reminisces in this book about the old days in Santa Fe I must also admit to remembering a few things about the people he describes – about Don Fabricant quitting his job as critic for the New Mexican because of me, and about his newspaper review of Susan Rowland’s show at St. John’s College, saying that her work “isn’t too bad if you get back far enough, like clear across the street,” and knowing that she cried for days because of it. And I remember consigning a Macaione painting to Margaret Jamison that was so cluttered with thick paint clusters that, for three years, we didn’t know it had seven bullet holes through the canvas, and might not have known even today if we had not taken it outside so the sun could shine through the holes. Everyone, it seems, was a critic.  Someone said the bullet holes made the painting more valuable so we went up on the price. Those were the good old days.

The Santa Fe art history about which Eli writes was so vibrant with energy you could feel it tingling in your bones. Today we have more galleries and more artists, but the energy is gone. Hopefully this review will start it anew. Your turn Eli. f


Back cover – “Santa Fe Bohemia” by Eli Levin







Scrapbook Two Hundred Two…


june, 2019


Gadi was one of the first searchers. As a reporter for NBC News in Albuquerque, he made a documentary about the treasure that won him an Emmy, and a promotion to Correspondent for NBC News in LA.

He remembered in my book, TTOTC, that Donnie and I took 2 Babe Ruth candy bars on our horseback quest up Red Canyon while Looking for Lewis and Clark. So Gadi decided to search the canyon himself, and for luck, he ate 2 Babe Ruth candy bars and nailed the wrappers to the Red Canyon sign that had been placed by the National Forest Service to mark the trailhead.

Well, not much later, Dal, while searching Red Canyon, saw the 2 wrappers on the ground under the sign, and placed them in the trash can. Dal should have given me the paper souvenirs so I could picture them in this Scrapbook. Maybe they could bring other searchers good luck. it is indeed a small world.

Gadi came to see me his week, on his way to Yellowstone on assignment about grizzly bears tearing up garbage cans. He told me the story about how he proposed to his girlfriend. It was on a deserted island and includes a treasure chest with a secret inside, It is right out of Treasure Island, You can’t make this stuff up. Maybe Gadi will write a Scrapbook and tell that story. Here is an email I received from him this morning. f


From: Gadi Schwartz (Google him)
Sent: Friday, June 14, 2019 11:13 AM
To: Forrest Fenn
Subject: Almost found your treasure again…

Howdy Forrest!

You’ll be happy to know that there are legions of pterodactyl sized mosquitoes out guarding your treasure!

I finished my assignment a little early at the Grizzly Discovery center, so I headed up to the Firehole and spent the afternoon exploring as many little slots as I could. I thought I hit the jackpot about a quarter mile down from the falls when I found this little crack. I crawled in, did some interior decorating and checked the crevasses and cubbies until my work clothes were indistinguishable from a miner’s. After a bit I sat back in the dust and cleared my mind and tried to imagine you sitting in Mummy Joe’s cave.

cave movie

When I came out, I spotted a couple armed with binoculars who seemed a little out of place. No fishing gear, not particularly interested in taking photos and stopping at every pull off to scan the cliffsides. All told, I saw about 20-30 people that matched the description of treasure hunters around Yellowstone. (I didn’t stop and talk to any of them though, because I wouldn’t have been able to resist bragging about our lunch which would have wasted precious time)

After a graceful and wet mini tumble into an eddy, I headed upriver and put some eyes on that old grizzly cave. There are still bones from some sort of elk or deer bleaching away at it’s opening. My log bridge I crossed last time has washed a little downstream and I decided not to press my luck again.

I headed just past the falls pull out and checked on a couple more spots, one place I really love is this little ledge right above where the falls goes over the edge. It’s hidden from view but also nearly impossible to get to. One of those rocks gave me a gnarly little cut on my city hand that I can’t wait to get home and fuss over.

On my way back I spotted a big nest that had been destroyed by some kinda marmot. I finally decided to call it a day and head back to my car. As I got in, I heard a noise in some brush beside me. I turned to see a 3-400-pound grizzly lumbering toward me. I let out some sort girlish yelp that evidently conveyed I would taste very sour, so he went around and headed down toward the river where I had just been looking.

bear movie

Hope he has better luck in the search than I did. I finished the day pretty proud that I survived and decided to celebrate by buying a steak and frying pan from the grocery store next to The Dude.


I found a nice spot overlooking Hebgen Lake to cook a romantic dinner for me and 7 million thirsty insects. I forgot seasoning, a knife and a can opener for my side of chili so my meal was small and over cooked. The mosquitoes ate me medium rare.

Sending you picture and videos.

Also, I love your new book, Once Upon a While.

“Took a long pull of Worcestershire Sauce to clear my head”

“While trying to avoid those who distract me from my self-esteem, I am always reminded of the heroic performances I committed on the football fields of my youth. “

“Fear they’d turn their vocabulary loose on me”

“… the candles died of old age”

“I mostly listened, not wanting to interrupt him with the weakness of my thoughts.”

My favorite chapter the bridge jump. My least favorite was the forward by Douglas. I was terrified he gave too much away! But that was before I headed back out to explore and was once again reassured by Yellowstone himself at how insanely large the woods are and how enigmatic the blaze remains. Here’s to hoping the treasure is never found!






Scrapbook Two Hundred One…


MAY, 2019



I will try to keep this short. I have emailed a few times already but for me, this is the most precious one. I went on my first search this weekend and cannot thank you enough.  I am an out of shape, stay at home mom of 5 kids. I rarely, rarely ever leave my kids. Me, my husband and his buddy went out this weekend to search. It was so amazing having an entire, kid free day to ourselves. I conquered a couple fears in the process too! The gift of going out and feeling a part of my younger, fear free life was amazing. I used to be much more adventurous and I was the one talking my friends into adventures but once I became a mom I acquired a fear I never knew was possible.  I’m so worried I will go out and somehow die and leave my children momless. I know it may sound crazy but there is a voice in my head telling me they need me more then I need to be out doing things that could take me away from them. I had such a good time and felt truly alive for the first time in over 13 years. Thank you for reminding me I am more then just a mom, but that I am a person who needs some adventure to keep me happy and alive. I found a greater treasure just in that day away then the treasure itself could have given me. I have tears in my eyes writing this because I had completely lost my adventurous side until yesterday. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Warmest reguards,

This email from Mary came in last night just as I was closing down for the evening. I asked for her permission to post it on Dal’s blog as a come-along for other latent adventurers. This is what she said:

“You can absolutely post it. No need to change my name, I’m a pretty open book. Thanks for the reply.😊”


I slept with a smile on my face. f




Scrapbook Two Hundred…


APRIL, 2019


Today I read a most wonderful book. It’s called My Childhood in Montana, by Irene Estella Stephens (1920-2015). It is published in paperback, on demand, and can be purchased on for under $10. It was compiled by Pamela Gehn Stephens, and copiously illustrated by William Shumway.coverThe book came to me in the mail from Brent, with a note that said, “Forrest, I hope you enjoy my grandma-in-law’s stories. She was a great storyteller and really would have liked to have read your memoir I’m sure.” 

On the back cover of the book are these words, “Irene was my mother-in-law until her passing at age 95 in 2015. She was an exceptional person of many talents, and I especially loved reading her straight-forward vivid description of growing up on a remote dryland wheat farm on the central plains of Montana during the Great Depression. This memoir evokes her close family and neighbors, and the constant hard work to survive in this harsh environment where the winters were long and bitter, and the growing season was, at most, four months.” Pamela G. Stephens

Chapter 13 is titled Teacherage

“In late fall, when the Montana winters dug in, it became too difficult to ride our horses to school, so our folks would take us to the schoolhouse Monday morning, and we would live there with the teacher until Friday afternoon. The school building was heated with a coal furnace in the basement, and the teacher had to shovel coal into the furnace or see that it was done by one of the older boys. She also had to cook our meals and get us to bed at night. Before school started in fall, the parents would bring a load of coal out from Roy, along with school supplies and food staples. Of course, the toilet was an outhouse, same as at our house.

“One year our teacher was Mrs. Stephens, and I remember giggling with the other girls when we saw her son Webb wearing his long red nightgown. That boy grew up and became my husband. We were married for 55 years.” (A cutout from Chapter 6. “There were at most 14 students, and sometimes as few as 9 or 10, from 4 or 5 families in grades 1-8, all taught by 1 teacher).

The 40, one-page chapters were drawn to a time, just 10 years before mine, when the promise of an easy life seemed distant. But they held sway so potent that I longed to harken back and live it all again with them. Tough times make memories stronger, and longer lasting. I love Irene and her sister, and their father with his rigid expectations. Please read this book and tell me what you think. f





Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Nine…


APRIL, 2019


Slush Cup Competition

According to the Santa Fe paper more than 280 inches of snow fell on our ski hill this winter. Now it’s melting all up and down the Rockies and the rivers are filling with run-off. Soon it will be time to start searching for the treasure, but not yet. 

IMG 6935

Sunday the 14th was the last day of skiing for this year and there were several hundred people on hand to watch the Slush Cup competition, or as some call it, the “The Annual Dunk.” Doug Preston, and his wife Christine, were there taking pictures. About 100 men, women and children registered to compete in the juried event.

Shiloh made it – no, wait. He almost made it.

Tradition suggests that competitors wear costumes, and many did. A mystery man wearing a banana suit with a cape drew the most laughs, especially when he splashed soon after he reached the 2 feet deep pond. Superman soon followed with the matching results. Many participants made multiple runs and they didn’t seem to mind getting soaked in the 32-degree weather.  Some were topless and others wore swim suits or skivvies. About 25 skiers and snow boarders made it safely across the 65-foot pond. Shiloh and his friend Nick (who is one of the geniuses at Los Alamos National Laboratory) made multiple runs during the 3-hour event, and both were able to skim across. They also crashed a couple of times.

Shiloh and the partially nude Nick.

Contestants were judged on style and results. Shiloh and Nick didn’t win anything, but they were smart enough to take a change of clothing. The top prize went to a 23-year-old woman who received tickets to the Ten Thousand Waves Spa, where the water is warmer. Maybe I’ll enter the competition next year, it looks like fun. f 






Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Eight…


MARCH, 2019


Hey Forrest,

Here are some documents I dug up related to your 12/21/1968 rescue:
1) Handwritten log from the Joint Search and Rescue Center (JSARC). 
2) Mission Narrative Report 2-3-79 written by Lt. Eagan, USCG.

Also, I found some records related to the first time you were shot down on 8/24/1968
1) Handwritten log from the Joint Search and Rescue Center (JSARC).
2) Electronic records list the aircraft as F-100 D with serial # 563019.

Note, TACAN ch-89 is Nakhon Phanom and TACAN ch-115 is Binh Thuy. Positions in logs are often given as TACAN coordinates: heading / distance (NM) / TACAN channel. The heading is from the tower to the current position.

Some other notes:
– Your chute beeper never activated (phantom beeper picked up 35mi south of your position).
– Swisher ran a MISTY thru your flt path to figure out where to search for you.
– PJ King (high bird) was MIA/KIA 4 days later (on xmas, about 25mi NW of your pickup). He was awarded the AFC.

Chris L

Chris L.,
Thank you so much for finding those documents for me. I had not seen them before. They explain a few things that I had wondered about, especially that my parachute beeper had not worked. My chute is probably still hanging in the tree. Anything else you can find for me will be greatly appreciated. I received a Silver Star for that mission, But I have never seen the narrative that was written that convinced the brass in the Pentagon to give the medal to me. I would like to read that document. It must be somewhere in my personnel records. Where do you live Chris? If you are ever in Santa Fe I would like to show you my combat scrapbook. I have a photo of me being pulled up on the
Cable, taken by someone in the high chopper. f





Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Seven…


JANUARY 22nd, 2019

A More Human Side of the Chase

Normally I don’t read long emails, but these three came to me with the flavor of a different personality. Lee, who is from New York, was drawn to the chase by the desire for companionship with a friend who had no rigid expectations. This is their story. f

Dear Mr. Fenn;
I have written you before and I feel like you have become a great friend of mine even though I have not had the pleasure of meeting you.  I hope you won’t mind if, in the future, I address you as Dear Forrest – you have become very dear to me.

IMG 20180827 121256

Here is a picture of my best friend in all the world – Tyke.  Tyke and I took the train to search for your treasure in Colorado this summer, and (look at his face), we had the time of our lives.  After we got home, I learned that Tyke had terminal cancer.  As I write this, I’m about to lose my best friend, and I feel lost.  How can I ever thank you enough for getting us on that train and creating a wonderful memory that will last into eternity for us?  Words don’t suffice, but my heart is full.

Happy New Year, my dear Forrest.


Dear Forrest;
Thanks to you, we had four glorious “Fenn trips” – two were camping, in which we stopped at all sorts of fantastic places (Dodge City, the Daniel Boone National Forest, some reservations, we went to Pagosa Springs and camped out (with my father who is 3 months younger than you and a cancer survivor) in 38 degrees – and no, I did not think that Where Warm Waters Halt was Pagosa Springs!  We just wanted to see it.

I wish I knew you better because I think we have many shared interests.  I am around the same age as your daughters. My baby died on January 2nd.  Now I have to finish the story that we started together.


Dear Forrest;
I wanted to send you two more pictures of Tyke, to show you what a handsome fellow he was, and what a sweet soul.  He made friends wherever he went because he was so full of love and enthusiasm, and he thought that everyone was his friend.

On our last two trips, we took the train, and he made friends with people in the station, other people in the sleeping car, the conductor!  One girl I met on the train took pictures of Tyke and has them on her refrigerator!

IMG 20170913 164224 kindlephoto 528891

IMG 0216





Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Six…


December 20, 2018


At 1755 this evening I will salute an anniversary that is noteworthy only to me. It will mark the exact time my parachute and I floated down into a dark, dank, and dense Laotian jungle after we ejected from my crippled F-100. It was during the Vietnam War, and little did I know at the time that the incident would indirectly lead to me writing The Thrill of the Chase, a memoir. I told that story to Nelika and here is an email I received from her this afternoon. Thank you Nelika. f

Subject: 50 years ago

Hi Forrest,
Just thinking of you on this day and wanted to send you a lil poem I wrote just for you:

Today, half a century ago,
You rose up from below;
Shot down from the sky,
Yet once again, you did fly.

Those moments a memory,
Embedded for eternity;
In a mind thinking a thousand thoughts,
Collecting them all, like snapshots.

You soared through life,
Alongside your wife;
A maverick each day,
Living it your way.

Thank you for being you!!

Your friend,








Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Five…


December 5, 2018



Suzanne and Barry Manilow made this video privately.
She is fed up with what she sees around the world and wants to make a political statement. It has been sent to a very visible political commentator hoping that person will play it nationally. She has been very close to Barry for many years and they have great chemistry. She joked that the “Movement” may have her arrested. f