Serendipity II — Right Time, Right Place, Right Stuff

How much pure luck or chance do you think it will take to find Forrest Fenn‘s “blaze“?

So often, it’s the unanticipated that turns out to be the treasure.

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A full moon.

A shuttle launch.

A fortunate location.

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Thor (-ium) Ablaze // Road Food

Miss Muffet

Miss Muffet

{Not a happy post.  Not a Fenn treasure post.}

When I packed for my road trip to search for the treasure chest, I filled a cooler with frozen juices, healthy food, waters, and even falafel mix. (I know, but when you’re trying to dine gluten-free and non-GMO and non-ractopamine, etc, etc, what are you going to do? )

It was a cooler apparently in name only, and with the 105 degree days, I was adding copious amounts of ice within 48 hours.  I ran low on my rations early on, but once I hit Wyoming, I started ordering steak salads,  (and was never disappointed!)

Thor (Marvel Comics)

Okay.  So how does this relate to Thor, you ask?

—  See prior post– a reblog of Regenaxe’s Nuclear Fire.  It gave me pause.

Once upon a time, I was avidly against nuclear power plants.  After Three-Mile-Island, I was ardently antinuke.  Post Chernobyl–fervently  so.

As I said, I thought it was difficult to eat on the road and avoid gluten and gmo’s (biotech)  and other toxins.  Now, post-Fukishima, I find it hard to eat even at home.

Grocery shopping:  I hesitate to buy seafood now.  Pasture-raised meat and dairy?  Doesn’t excite me like it used to.

Can I even find non-gmo corn products?  Only if it’s organic, and now I’m not even sure about that.

Does it really only have to be 95% Gmo-free by weight to be considered organic?  Just how much can an engineered gene weigh?  And I just read that organic doesn’t mean Round-Up free, either.  What the ….?

Remember that first week after the tsunami and the reports of spikes in the  readings starting on the West coast, and then the East?  And then, no more news?

We’re sort of ‘fuked’.

So, back to Thor.


A couple weeks ago I heard an interview on the radio.  Someone promoting a book promoting nuclear power.  Before changing channels though, I heard enough to be interested.

Thorium reactions can’t go critical (into meltdown mode) and create maybe only 10% of the waste  current technologies produce.  Not a bad thing.

While China and India are pursuing this technology,  America is burying thorium as a waste product.  (Somewhere, I guess.)

Other minds know more about this.  The book is Thorium–energy cheaper than coal by Robert Hargraves.

Is it too late?  Who knows.  With three reactors in meltdown and spent rod cooling ponds running out of water storage space across the ocean, and fish freaking me out on the scale of their radioactivity, I kind of try to ignore it.

No Fishing Allowed

No Fishing Allowed

When Japan got hit and the news trickled out, I sent my kids emails and told them to eat seaweed and kelp.  Not that they listened, but it was the least I could do.  Now I won’t be buying any more seaweed products either, not that I was a big fan.  I still have some pre-Fukishima capsules.

Okay.  Back to the Chase.  I need some fun.

Nuclear Fire


There was a total eclipse of the sun yesterday, but unless you were hundreds of miles off the US Atlantic coastline, there was no chance for North Americans to see this eclipse in its totality. If you were on the eastern seaboard, you could enjoy the partial eclipse version of this celestial event, but we here in the Midwest were too far inland to see anything. I have seen one total eclipse in my life, in 1979; I flew up to Manitoba in February to witness it, not exactly a peak tourist season there. Last year, there was a mini-eclipse of sorts, the transit of Venus. I was able to photograph it from the front yard. Last month, at the U-City Circle in a Square quilt show, Jerri Stroud displayed her The Transit of Venus quilt. All of these astronomically themed pictures are simply preamble to what I really want…

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Spectacular Blaze

A young Amish boy on his way to work

A young Amish boy on his way to work at 4:30am looking at the light show on Fuller Road in Easton, Maine. The image was captured by 61-year-old photographer Paul Cyr

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Book Signings & Fireside Chats (Updated)

Twelve hundred miles, twelve hundred miles, ….

Too Far to WalkIt’s too far too walk.  Or drive.  Or fly.  Just to get my  new TFTW book signed.  I can’t fault the shipper.  They were expedient.  Prompt.  Speedy.  Only the book flew out of there before Mr. Fenn could sign it.

I’m jealous of you New Mexicans, Coloradans, Arizonans, and others who live within a couple hundred miles of Santa Fe.  Don’t it make my brown eyes green. 

Forrest Fenn.  Douglas Preston.  Michael McGarrity.  Details for you lucky ones who can mark October 22nd on your calendars —

And now, the blues.  Folk music, rather.   I’m also going to have to forego the chance to have a glass of wine with Forrest and to hear Bob Haworth of The Brothers Four and The Kingston Trio, (am I old enough to remember? almost, maybe) in front of a cozy fireplace in the lounge at the Inn and Spa at Loretto!

The Inn and Spa at Loretto

The Inn and Spa at Loretto (Photo credit: Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits)

Details:   Monday September 30th from 6 to 9.  See Stephanie’s blog Chase Chat for the invitation to bloggers

Also, Tuesday, October 1st from 5-7  (you’ll need to RSVP).  Visit Dal’s blog, Thrill of the Chase, for the actual invitation from Forrest Fenn/Charmay.

My RSVP —-   Regrets.

Where will I be?  Twelve hundred miles NorthEast by East (–ish).   Flyover country.  The Midwest.  Flat lands.

I plan to start a campfire.  (That would be about 6 or 7 pm CST.  Hmm.  Still daylight savings time?  Whatever.)  I’ll crack open a bottle of wine.  Put on some folk music.  Watch the blaze.
Closeup of a campfire

Warm waters blazing a trail down my cheeks….maybe.

My feet are wet from thinking this thing over. . . [See/hear Blue Umbrella lyrics by John Prine.]

Any Midwesterners so inclined may join me in spirit.   Can you play guitar?

Five hundred miles, five hundred miles, oh Lord, I’m five hundred miles away from home.

West Yellowstone & Up the Gallatin (Part IV)


In the morning, the first item on my agenda was to find Dal’s cache in the woods.  His GPS coordinates were of no use to me, but fortunately his instructions were clear, and if precisely followed would lead me to the stash with confidence.  It also didn’t hurt that I’d seen the photos on his blog.  IMG_0336

I’d brought a set of ‘important bear info’ playing cards to leave in the tub.  To make room, I had to choose between a black thing and electric tape.  I took the tape.  IMG_0338Good to go.

The rest of the morning was spent driving down the Madison and checking out the earthquake damage.  I’d been there the day it happened and again when I was ten.  (See Terremoto entry.)IMG_0366


The Hebgen Lake Dam and fishing access was closed for construction/repairs.

Possibility of water high?!

Possibility of water high?!

Surprising how the rocky scars still look fresh.  In fact, across from the Earthquake Visitor’s Center (also CLOSED), I saw an omega blaze and looked quickly down.

OMG!  The Omega?

OMG! The Omega?

Okay, between me and the hidden treasure chest was a rushing river, boulders, and a steep ravine.  Hmm.  I’ll come up from below, I thought.  IMG_0431I drove down to where the valley opened up.  A longer hike than I’d be doing alone in the heat.  Maybe not ever.

I turned around and drove back up the ‘hill’.   Now, there were  2 empty cars parked along the road.  For a moment I panicked and thought they were just ahead of me on the chase.  I parked and started hiking down the slippery slope across from my blaze.  And then I saw them.

It turned out, they were ‘just’ fishing.

IMG_0454I had some time to think there on the slide.  The more I gazed across the river, the more I realized that spot was just not possible to reach safely.  Not for a child, a person of eighty, or even one approaching 60.  Anyone in between, go for it.  You have my blessing.  Go in peace.

Instead of heading north, I went back into West Yellowstone for bear spray, just in case I got brave enough to get in the wood.  And, just to remind myself of the vertical factor this winter while I’m poring over maps, I picked up a 3-D molded plastic version map of the area.  I think we still have a Denver/Rockies one from 28 years ago.
I inquired of the volunteers at tourist info as to where Watkins Creek was.  In addition to printing me a map,  they mentioned  a $6k per week Firehole.  I started out for it, but the tarred road was scant. IMG_0473 I made it a bit past the nice boat launch/campground before I was jarred into turning around. Clearly the movie stars they’d mentioned must fly in.IMG_0474
I only had 6.7 more miles of gravelly washboard to go.  If Mr. W gets that pickup, we’ll try it next year.  Plus, that will give me an extra year to get into shape to reach those aptly (?) named lakes above there. *** Is there an air ambulance available for the over-confident? she wonders.

After lunch, I headed up Highway 191, the Gallatin River valley, to the Soldier’s Chapel.  I’d recently read The Bloody Bozeman, and have to agree with the person who mentioned that Bozeman ought to be named Story.  Bozeman was rather reckless with other people’s lives.

I headed south to where I’d made a reservation for the night.  A welcome thunderstorm passed through that night and drenched the area.  Helpful to those battling a fire or two.  IMG_0345 I planned to attend the chapel service Sunday morning, and then, if I was really brave, I just might have (probably not), ridden the ski lift/tram up Lone Mountain before heading to parts north.
But, there was an email waiting for me.  From Forrest Fenn.
***  If I had kept up with Dal’s blog the day I was packing, I would have realized that a couple of fearless, and healthy, searchers had made the trek up the mountain to not just Lower Coffin Lake, but the Upper one as well.  So, maybe we don’t need that pick-up truck. . . .

A Rumor of Gold

The Hand of Faith, the largest gold nugget in ...

The Hand of Faith, the largest gold nugget in the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just what does it take to abandon family and the comforts of home?  Dreams of adventure? Fortune?  Fame?  Maybe just a dare.  Or a failure of common sense, as in buying lottery tickets?  Oops.  Not you, of course.

I guess I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a great-grandfather that had that something.  He sailed from Denmark and ended up in Cripple Creek, Colorado, at the right time. Cripple Creek mining dist According to a great-uncle, he found a large gold nugget.  Great-grandpa also knew when to say “Basta”, enough.  (Yes, that’s Italian, not Danish.)  He sailed back to Denmark and returned with his bride.  They bought a farm in the midwest and lived happily ever after.  Actually, I couldn’t say;  I never met him.  The same great-uncle also claimed we were related to the Danish royalty.  I told my kids that even if they were princes and princesses, they still had to do their chores.  There was no one left to ask whether it was true or not.  (I wrote a novel based on that nugget;  maybe 15% truth, tops.  85% lies and imagination.  Surprising to readers which parts are actually true.)

on frozen lake

Worth the Cold

That something seems to have been passed down through the generations, so much so that one child I’ll refer to as Intrepid.  She decided it would be fun to take a high school class that combined biology and phys ed credits, and spent a 3-day weekend in February(! ) camped on a frozen lake in the Boundary Waters on the Canadian border.  icy waterfall

behind icy waterfallWhy I looked on the internet for the weather report, I don’t know.  I saw that instead of a low of 0 degrees F, a front came through with 40 mile an hour winds and 20-something below temps.  I didn’t sleep that night.

Not THE blaze

Not THE blaze

She’s also the one who phoned home one night from a trip to the wilds of Alaska to tell us not to worry about the forest fire.  She had to hang up then so the other kids could call and scare the heck out of their parents.  Not until we got her photos developed did I realize how serious it was.  Not the kind of blaze any TOTC searcher wants to run into.

I suppose I had a bit of that something as well.  Once, I went west with a friend in a VW bug to visit a former co-worker who’d moved to Colorado.

royal gorge 5

We thought we’d see the sights while there, so ended up hanging in a cable car over the Royal Gorge.  I turned to her to tell her that I was getting off, not enjoying the view while terrified, but, too late.  The door slammed shut.  At least I made it across without screaming or fainting.  Oh.  Back to the story.

Trailblazing.  I was the navigator.  I love maps.  We’d visited the Air Force Academy, been down as far as Pueblo, and wanted to get back to Denver or Boulder or somewhere.  I saw a short-cut.  It was right there on the map.  No name.  No number.  It appeared to be paved.  So, we took it.  Before long, we started seeing jeeps.  Army jeeps.  And other things.  Low buildings.  Low flying jets.  Who knows.  Soon, one of the jeeps with 2 or 3 guys in it, came up to us.  We stopped.  They asked what we were doing or where we were headed or how we ended up there.  I explained.   I showed them the map.  They gave us an escort.  I followed them right up the road I’d planned on.  Saved several miles.  I don’t think I’d be alive to mention it if it happened these days.

There were other things I didn’t mention to Intrepid until she was older, like sleeping on a picnic table in Tennessee on the way back from a Florida camping trip—different friend, spring break sort of thing.  Intrepid comes up with enough ideas of her own.  I’ve got a few gray hairs to show for it. She’s too tied up these days to venture west on a rumor of gold.  Maybe I can get an older child interested.

TTOTC book jacketSurprising the reactions I get when I mention Forrest Fenn‘s The Thrill of the Chase treasure hunt.  Nobody thinks it’s real.  That’s okay.  I’m a firm believer in the Fenn formula.  Somebody’s going to find it.  And all the other TTOTC searcher’s are having fun.  (Though some of you might need to slow down…, know.  Basta.)


The morels and asparagas already gone, I wandered a washed field on Mother’s Day afternoon and found a trove of arrowheads, mostly pieces.  Like gold and fish, they are where you find them.  I think luck plays a part, but also some logic and imagination.  To find Forrest Fenn’s The Thrill of the Chase treasure, it will take all of the above.  And research.  He says the lucky finder will be able to walk right to it, deliberately.

And so, we seekers continue our research and refine our plans.  A simple Venn diagram (see Wikipedia) is a series of overlapping circles yielding useful data.  A Fenn diagram is going to look more like a flow chart


Flowchart (Photo credit: BWJones)

branching off each time a clue has more than one solution.  There are so many diagrams because no one knows where to begin.  Well, we might think we do.

I thought at first it would be a simple fill-in-the-blank game.  Decide where the warm waters halt, where to put in, and what the blaze is.  Okay.  But ‘halt’ has many meanings, likewise ‘warm waters’, even ‘warm’.  And then you start to wonder, what does ‘it’ even mean!

A couple weeks ago, I came up with an utterly unique answer for “where warm waters halt”.  This week, I even found a butterfly connection.TTOTC book jacket

So, maybe the Chase isn’t keeping me away from the internet, but it has gotten me into the library, especially the  history section.  Here’s to all your discoveries made along the way.  Enjoy.