Travel plans for June 9th – 11th?
Here’s a link to the necessary information for the 4th annual Fennboree, for Fennatics and the curious. It always sounds like a good time, just a little far away for some of us.
Gorgeous area, though.
Forrest Fenn wants to get kids off the couch and out of doors. What does this news say about our culture when “selfie stick” & “hashtag” replace words like “acorn” and “otter”? : (
Sharing this post from Lady Muir:
I was shocked to read the list of nature words removed from the Jr. Oxford Dictionary in the last decade. What follows are excerpts from an essay that explores the intersection between language and life.
The National Park Service was created one hundred years ago. Yellowstone preceded that, being designated in 1872. And once upon a time, I dreamed of being a forest ranger. My imagination had me up in a tower in a sea of green trees–a rather narrow view of the current job description.
One of the more unique rangers we’ve met was dressed to the hilt as a French voyageur and remained in character, impressing our youngest. I think there was even bread baking involved.
That national park was the site of the Rainy Lake gold rush in the mid-1890’s. Northern Minnesota is not the first place I’d think of when searching for gold. Better odds, maybe, of finding Forrest Fenn’s treasure chest.
I won’t be making it to this year’s Fennboree, but if I could, I would take a moment in Santa Fe to get a look at an ancient wrought iron gate on East Palace Avenue, the site where dozens if not hundreds of scientists, mathematicians, and physicists, after meeting with gatekeeper Dorothy McKibben, disappeared from sight beginning in April 1943.
(Well, first I might stop at that French pastry shop at La Fonda where Amy bought those gorgeous treats for Forrest’s book signing last September.)
Said portal transported those invited to the site of the Los Alamos Ranch School on a mesa in New Mexico. You probably know (part of) the rest of the story, but for me, I learned a lot from a book called Bomb, by Steve Sheinkin, my newest favorite non-fiction author. Wow. He used to write textbooks for schools but kept notes on all the things they wouldn’t let him put in–fascinating stuff I should have learned. Sheinkin puts it together in a compelling and quick read. (Young Adult level but hey, who’s got time for an academic treatise these days?)
So back to the story: the race between the Americans and the Germans to develop the bomb; some very, very brave Norwegians on a mission; the spies who wanted to steal the plans for Stalin; the guys who just wanted to give it to the Russians so there wouldn’t be only one superpower in possession of the new and terrible weapon of mass destruction.
When I was young, my ideas of Russian spies were partly based on Boris and Natasha, and hearing intimations about the McCarthy era excesses. Somehow my public school history classes never got much past the Civil War by the end of the school year, hence the black holes in my knowlege. (No, that’s not a typo; it’s spelled Fenn’s way.)
[Side note: There was a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode titled Buried Treasure. Hmm. Frostbite Falls?]
I could also rave about Sheinkin’s newest book, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret Viet Nam War. I have no excuse for not knowing or remembering more about the topic, having been of school age when it was in the newspapers, except that the facts didn’t all make it into the media at the time. I wish that weren’t still true. History gives us perspective if we’d only choose to look at the parallels in our own day. Does your view of Ellsberg color your impression of Snowden? What caused Benjamin Arnold to switch sides? Had you even heard of the Port Chicago 50?
Do you agree with Abraham Lincoln?
(Check out Steve Sheinkin’s other books like King George: What Was His Problem? or The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights or Lincoln’s Grave Robbers, etc.)
My first visit to New Mexico was brief, less than 24 hours. I came down from Colorado on the dark side of the mountains one night and was glad to arrive (safely) at the hotel in Santa Fe. Not until morning did I try to find Fenn’s place. I had the address. I had GPS. I had an invitation. But. The car was leading me out of town, back into the mountains. The streets were one way this way and that. And narrow. No view. Claustrophobic.
I’d allowed plenty of time but it was fading fast. Aha, I thought. I’ll go to the bookstore. They must know where Forrest lives. When I asked the nice guy behind the counter in Collected Works, he said, “Why don’t you just call him? He’s in the phonebook.” I said just point me in the right direction. I made it on time and there he was, just like he says in the book. to show you care.
I had to head home then, and didn’t explore the mountains north of Santa Fe, or even Santa Fe, for that matter. And between you and me, I was relieved to be out in the open sky again. I’m not a desert person. I don’t get it. Give me green; changing seasons; trees.
Still, when the approval/opportunity came up to return for one of Forrest’s book signings, I jumped at it. Leaving in the midst of harvest? Well, I’d pay the piper later. Short notice, but what did I need to pack, really? Camera, phone, the book to be signed. Good to go.
About halfway to Santa Fe, the climate changes, the trees disappear, the dirt turns red. Very red, and it was flying where the farmers worked it. And of course, it was hot when I left and got hotter the further west I went.
First tourist stop? The Blue Hole I’d read about. It would make living in the desert bearable. Almost. If I scuba dived.
Another thing that makes it bearable, is altitude. (It turns out my car’s GPS does have an altimeter, after all. Wish I’d noticed it on my last trip to the Rocky Mountains, where I was gauging altitude by how short of breath I was.) By the time I hit 6,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe, in other words, it was a bit cooler and a lot livelier. So. I had two or three days, depending on an incomplete arrangement, to explore the land of enchantment.
First up, the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway loop around the mountains above Taos. It was by (fortunate) chance that I chose to drive the loop clockwise that Sunday, since there was some sort of mountain bike event and dozens of bikers were taking it counter-clockwise. Nine or ten thousand feet above sea level – I don’t know how they do it. (A couple of them looked like they were wondering if they could do it.) My car didn’t care for the altitude, either. The capless fuel flap didn’t want to give. Thank you, kind station attendant!
And then I thought I’d stop at the Rio Grande Visitor Center on my way back to Santa Fe, but I made a wrong turn and ended up here.
Seriously. Bears, again?
Actually, it wasn’t bears that scared me away.
I stuck to Santa Fe proper on Monday and saw the most amazing “painting” made of found things (think Forrest’s Holiday Ornament Contest) in the New Mexico Museum of Art. Pansy Stockton (1895 – 1972) used things like bark, moss, twigs, and so forth and created beautiful images that from a distance looked finely painted. The one on display was of a waterfall, and the milkweed silk gleamed perfectly as falling water.
As I played tourist, I scouted for parking for the evening event at La Fonda, remembering the difficulty I’d had on my first visit to Santa Fe.
Monday evening was the book signing and the chance to meet some fellow treasure seekers, one of whom brought a box of fabulous French pastries to share!
Arrangements fell into place for Tuesday evening, so I had the day to explore more of the mountains north of Santa Fe.
In particular, the Ski Basin and the Audubon park.
And then, when it was time to head home, I saw the blaze.
Summer’s winding down and bears will be getting hungrier. Rethinking my entire Yellowstone area hiking plans. Hmmm. How far south do the grizzlies range?
Cute story by Ryan Gebhart for Middle Grade readers about a boy and his grandpa. FICTION, fortunately!
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