A Master of Education

The Ties That Bind --- Iowa City

The Ties That Bind —
Iowa City

Cover of "Journal of a Trapper: A Hunter'...

Cover via Amazon

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that Forrest Fenn has probably taught more children, and adults, than his father, whose life’s work was education?

In spite of any disadvantages to being the son of the school principal, a key bonus was the three month summer recess that the Fenns spent in Yellowstone.

The annual 1,600 mile journey included a 50-mile side trip to a one-room school house on a dirt road in Wyoming to see an inscription:

He Who Teaches a Child Labors with God in His Workshop.


Forrest began his self-education as a youth.  After reading  Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell at age 16,  he set out on horseback to retrace/reenact part of the experience.    (See “Looking for Lewis and Clark”,  p. 59 of The Thrill of the Chase {TTOTC}.)

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

He began his teaching career even younger, guiding grown fishermen around the rivers and lakes in Yellowstone country when he was “a young teen.”

College vs experience —

 “Who would you rather have working on your car, a man who just graduated from four years of mechanics school or a guy who has been working on broken cars for four years?”

Marvin Fenn, p.7 of The Thrill of the Chase.

Does Forrest still, at almost 84 years of age, regret not having a college degree?

“I still think about education sometimes, especially now that it’s too late to get any.”  p. 9 of TTOTC

(Not entirely true.  Every June, another septa-, or octa-, or nonagenarian is in the news in cap and gown receiving their long-desired diploma.  But I suspect Forrest would {still} be utterly bored sitting in a classroom where he’s smarter than anyone else in there, including the instructor.  If you doubt his scholarship, check out his expert knowledge on pottery, pueblos, geology, history . . . .you get the idea.)

After his time as a fighter pilot —

Instead of all of those medals, I wish I could have been given a college degree in survival or at least an honorable mention for just having lasted it out.”  

“My War For Me”  begins on p. 73 in TTOTC

            —  he served by teaching others to fly.  When he left the Air Force and began an art gallery in Santa Fe, his  knowledge sharing continued.

Bronze Moose

Bronze Moose Why is it cold?

 Read about school visits in  the chapter “Teachers with Ropes”, p. 109 of TTOTC, and smile.

Imagine signs that say “Please Touch.”


After the Gallery was sold, and he began serious investigation of his San Lazaro pueblo, he continued to share, to teach, giving underprivileged (I’ve forgotten his term) teens archaeological experiences at the site.

A Fechin

A Fechin

On Dal’s blog, Thrill of the Chase,  if you click on  Forrest Speaks, you can watch a video, How to Be an Artist, his recipe for success for a watercolorist in need of money.  Sound knowledge, freely shared.

Another fun video there is Woolly Worm, where he patiently teaches how to tie a fishing fly.  (He makes it look easy.)

I doubt that we’ll ever know the full extent of his generosity of time and talents.  You know, don’t let your right hand know what your left is doing.


But, Forrest Fenn has gotten more kids and grownups off the couch and out in the woods, searching and researching any and every little bit that could, just maybe, somehow, with imagination, might possibly help solve one of his nine clues.

Cody Rainbow

Cody Rainbow

And not just for the gold in the chest at the end of his rainbow….



Holy Pompeii Pillars, Batman!

Batman with his sidekick Robin. Painting by Al...

So what does it mean if the night after I drove through Yellowstone National Park I had a nightmare and woke up in a one-horse town frantically searching for the dust mask I had packed (somewhere) because the volcano had blown and the ash-laden air was getting thicker and thicker?!?

Can you say “Terremoto“?

{I’m still searching for Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure chest BTW.}

Signature of William Clark, on 1806-07-25 at t...

Signature of William Clark, on 1806-07-25 at todays Pompeys Pillar National Monument, Montana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Fourth of July

First fish?

First fish?

When I was a child, the 4th meant an outdoor fish fry at my grandparent’s and a contest for the biggest fish caught in the backyard pond.  I won once with an ugly bullhead.

I went on to bigger and better fish stories.  One, How Not to Catch a Muskie.  Short version:  I caught one, but was by myself without a camera. (My husband agreed to watch the baby so I could get out early.)  It’s a good thing, however, that no one in the far off boats had a video camera.  It might have shown up on America’s Funniest. I had it in and out of the boat a few times while I looked up the regulations, tried to measure it, put it back.  A bit excited, I started the motor to roar back to the cabin before I remembered to pull up the anchor.

That was a while ago.  Later on I found fishing a bit frustrating.  I’d be baiting hooks for one child or untangling knots, while the youngest, (Intrepid, remember her), would be tossing toys, and then the worms, over the side of the boat to watch them disappear.

And then, oh, joy, in Minnesota, my husband got a fish finder.   After he’d get tired of criss-crossing the lakes and complaining about the lack of fish biting, I’d suggest a spot to stop and drift across.

“No, hon, please don’t even use the trolling motor.”

It kinda bugged him when I would then pull in a northern or two.  {Not complaining. Really.  He’s a keeper!}

Lewis and Clark but not in the Rockies

That picture at the top is my dad and grandpa, and my grandma’s shadow.  I come from a long line of fishermen.  Some of my earliest memories are of camping in an already ancient army umbrella tent, and having to pee in the minnow bucket when our family of 5 was way out on a big lake in a rowboat with a tiny Johnson outboard.  Those were my mom’s years of untangling kids’ fishline.

I’ll have to look for a picture of the tent.  It’s one my great-grandmother used when she went to Traverse City to escape the pollen down here.  I remember the smell of the old canvas.  One of my first memories is of lying on the floor of that tent during a dark and stormy night watching my mom hold the center pole upright in the wind, thunder and lightning.  I asked her later where Dad was.  Out watching the storm, she said.

Misty morning in Glacier National Park

Misty morning in Glacier National Park

He knew things.  Like, “Put your back to the wind.  The storm will come from the left.”

I mentioned the Nimrod in an earlier post.  It occurs to me that many readers might be clueless, so here is a photo when it was 8 yrs old.  Out west.  You pull out the sides, prop them up, and pull out poles and snap the tent to the sides, and Voila!  The boys got one side, my folks, the other.  I got the convertible bench seat/dining table/bed that my carpenter father built in.

nimrod at dinosaur

Hmm. The Utah side of the park is out of the Thrill of the Chase search, but that leaves the Colorado side. . . .

That was it’s second trip out west.  There was one big loop out east, swinging through Detroit, Canada, Maine, Niagara Falls, and back to a great beach on the Canadian shores of Lake Huron.  Still a great site.  About the only place my husband will camp.  (Cabins are okay, but someone has to do housework…..People pitch in when you camp.)

Oops.  I mentioned a couple of my favorite places.  At least I didn’t put too fine a point on it.  That’s one reason I never wanted to be travel writer—didn’t want to attract a crowd and spoil the peace and quiet of special places.



Chasing Idaho

The Fisherman

The Fisherman


Not a long post.  Just wanted to mention the 2 new pages on this site:  Flywater, filed under The Book, and Idaho, filed under The Diagrams.    (A great and future destination.)IMG_0028

Okay.  I have mixed feelings about crossing Idaho off my top three TTOTC list, but that’s okay.

Raspberry Trove

Raspberry Trove

There’s so much to be done.

Count all the bees in the hive.

Pick another batch of berries.


Pit the cherries.IMG_0091

No Paddle Up Her Creek

Water high!

Even though it was only six feet deep, this unfortunate canoeist got trapped by the power of the Jefferson River.  She was pinned against a bridge in the frigid water for four and a half hours.


Rivers in Montana generated by National Atlas,...

Rivers in Montana generated by National Atlas, a United States government agency and then annotated by poster in March 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thankfully, she had quick thinking partners and teams of emergency responders who rescued her.

Not that she was a Chaser, but, as others have cautioned, be prepared and respect the power of nature if you’re out there, water high or not.


Meadowlarks and “Flutterbys”

Western Meadowlark

The most beautiful birdsong is that of the meadowlark. I miss them. I’m a hundred plus miles distant from where I grew up. Even twenty-five miles away from the farm, and twenty years later, the song was not the same. It was truncated, not as sweet somehow.

I can’t imagine they’d make very good eating, but I won’t judge what hunger necessitates. (See the TTOTC book and One of These Things is Not Like the Other.)

Lewis and Clark, other early explorers, traders, and the emigrants that followed, even contemporary travelers, have found themselves in dire straights in cold mountains and hot deserts.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 1st week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know a woman who didn’t learn until she was nearing fifty that her father had spent a year in Stateville for stealing a chicken. Four kids to feed. Had lost a farm and home due to fire before the Depression hit. Even so.

She remembers at four or five overhearing adults discussing an eviction. One of them saying, “Well, I can’t kick them out in the cold.”

Purple Prairie Coneflower

Purple Prairie Coneflower

Summer always returns. Here we have Indigo buntings, hummingbirds, cardinals and vultures. Prairie flowers and butterflies galore. (At least, until the chemicals and transgenics get them.)

I’ve never known hunger. Not like that. And I hope our children never do. It’s so much nicer when they can enjoy and observe the “flutterbys”.


“If Robert Redford had ever written anything….” Forrest Fenn

Robert Redford in 2009.

Robert Redford in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)                   ( Sorry I missed this event.  I love Madison.)

When I returned my armload of TheThrill of the Chase-related library books yesterday, I thought I’d check the history section again.  It’s about 4 1/2 feet long, but has had an amazing amount of titles I could use in the chase.

After a minor delay (they’d rearranged their shelves), I found 5 more books to check out that I hadn’t seen before.  I suspect someone else in this county is also on the TOTC hunt and had just returned them.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when they landed on a young Robert Redford.  Serendipity strikes again. Important Literature.   I won’t mention the title, but it was sub-titled A Journey Through Time.  Does that not resonate, fellow Fennsters?

The book is full of photos of a trip on horseback that Redford took in the Rocky Mountains (more than 300 miles west of Toledo) and some fascinating anecdotes, historical and otherwise.

English: U.S. Postage: Lewis and Clark Expedit...

English: U.S. Postage: Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1954 Issue-3c. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Currently, I’m thumbing through a book, a 1979 publication by the National Geographic Society, and taking copious notes.  And then there’s one on Lewis and Clark.

Another of the books on that same history shelf  is on fly fishing.  I should probably study that before I head west.

My husband/fiance/boyfriend at the time tried to teach me how to fly fish.

Putting In

Putting In

One of the problems was that we were in a canoe on a lake in Wisconsin.  (A friend dubbed the plastic orange-ish Coleman “a barge with points.”  It did have stability in its favor.)

We’ve since bought fly rods.  I’ve got waders, needed for another purpose.  I picked up an assortment of flies.  I watched my Dad fly fish.  Am I ready for a chalk stream in the Rockies?  I just hope no one will be video-taping.