Portal

P1000420

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.P1000401

(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?]P1000443

 

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?

“I am a firm believer in the people.  If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.  The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

(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.)

P1020389.JPG

Scouting New Mexico

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.

Cactus

Cactus

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.

Book Signing at La Fonda

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.

Blue Hole details

First tourist stop?  The Blue Hole I’d read about.  It would make living in the desert bearable.  Almost.  If I scuba dived.

Cold Water in Blue Hole

Cold Water in Blue Hole

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!

P1000309I knew I wanted to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Angel Fire. (See this post.)

And this.San Francisco de Assissi Mission Church in Rancho de Taos

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.

Ojo Calientes

Facing this,

One lane bridge

One lane bridge

and, nearby, Bears Again

Seriously.  Bears, again?

Actually, it wasn’t bears that scared me away.

New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico Museum of Art

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.

Pirates

Pirates – Captain Hawkes Sets Sail

Bronze Elk

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.

Miracle Stairway

Miracle Stairway

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!

La Fonda Blaze

La Fonda Blaze

Arrangements fell into place for Tuesday evening, so I had the day to explore more of the mountains north of Santa Fe.

66,000 Links North of Santa Fe

66,000 Links North of Santa Fe

Audubon Primitive Fat Tire Trail Etiquette

In particular, the Ski Basin and the Audubon park.

Bold BoulderIn the WoodsRock BandTrail Marker

National Forest

And then, when it was time to head home, I saw the blaze.

Morning Blaze Over Santa Fe

Morning Blaze Over Santa Fe

Favorite Fennisms

 

IMG_0065

A year ago, I set off on my first hunt for the Fenn treasure.  I’d hoped to wait until I had a complete solve, but I knew that the snows come early on the northern Rockies.  I was confident that the chest was hidden somewhere north and west of Yellowstone, but couldn’t rule out the rest of Wyoming, so off I wandered, with Mr. Waterhigh’s blessing (and/or his desire that I find the gold.)IMG_0267

I emailed Forrest from West Yellowstone and entertained him with my story of not having the right shoes at the waters at the Continental Divide in YNP.

Forrest’s response—

“You’re having too much fun.”

IMG_0400

I next emailed him from the Gallatin Valley to wish him a Happy Birthday, and he invited me to Santa Fe for a cup of coffee.

Decision—

Hmmm?

a.)   Should I stay on course and hike to a ‘water high’ with just the grizzlies for company, or

b.)  should I skip my night at the hot springs, which I really wanted to visit, and set my GPS for Santa Fe?

 

Forrest said,

“Life’s short and getting shorter.”

IMG_0401

 

 

Really.  It was an easy choice.

Besides, I can always go back to Montana with Mr. Waterhigh.

(We spent our 24th or 25th or 26th anniversary there. Next month is our 35th, but he’s tied up this year….)

I was somewhere in Colorado before I got ahold of  Mr. W to tell him of my change of plans.  He suggested I pull the old Colombo thing as I was leaving.  You know, pop back in the door,  “Oh.  Just one more question, Mr. Fenn….”  and hope to catch him off guard with the perfect question.IMG_0403

 

I didn’t, of course.  I was pretty much speechless….

So, I did find treasure south of the mountains when I got to meet the remarkable Forrest Fenn.  All in all, it was a fantastic trip/chase.

Possibly my favorite Fennism is found in the Epilogue of his book, The Thrill of the Chase

“And what I’ve learned that’s most important is that both countries and people should know enough to just leave other folks alone and do a better job of protecting our planet.”

 

IMG_0254

— By the way, his 84th birthday is next Friday, so why not surprise him with a “Happy Birthday” wish from all 304 of you blog followers.

(He’s in the phone book, otherwise I wouldn’t post his address–

1021 Old Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe, New Mexico)

DON’T just show up in his driveway!  I’m thinking cards, flowers, chocolates, …. No wait.  That’s me.

 

Coins on Stones

 

 

IMG_0048

Found this article on Facebook today, Memorial Day:

 

 

COINS LEFT ON TOMBSTONES

While visiting some cemeteries you may notice that headstones marking certain graves have coins on them, left by previous visitors to the grave.

These coins have distinct meanings when left on the headstones of those who gave their life while serving in America’s military, and these meanings vary depending on the denomination of coin.

A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited.

A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served with him in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the solider when he was killed.

According to tradition, the money left at graves in national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

In the US, this practice became common during the Vietnam war, due to the political divide in the country over the war; leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier’s family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war.

Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a “down payment” to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.

The tradition of leaving coins on the headstones of military men and women can be traced to as far back as the Roman Empire.

Thanks to the radio station that posted it.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bittersweet Revisited (in honor of Memorial Day)

A U.S. Air Force Sikorsky HH-53C Super Jolly G...

A U.S. Air Force Sikorsky HH-53C Super Jolly Green Giant helicopter being refueled over Vietnam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was a footnote on the previous post, but I think it deserves more attention——-Forrest Fenn was the rescuee.

Let’s call this non-partisan, please

Coast Guard welcomes Honor Flight to DC

I hope this link works—

Honoring the guardians:

Our local heroes (Quad Cities) are scheduled for tomorrow!

Spc. James Phillips, 249th Eng Battalion (Prim...

Spc. James Phillips, 249th Eng Battalion (Prime Power), assists World War II veteran Vernon Bolstad as he arrives at Reagan National Airpor from Minnesota as part of the Honor Flight Network to see the National World War II Memorial. http://www.army.mil/armylife/veterans/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)