I am Forrest Fenn.

The Place of PeaceI am Forrest Fenn.

I was born in 1930, and have lived during times of great difficulty and great promise.

I am a man of the real world, and not an imaginary one.

I am a man of unshakeable commitment; to my life, to my work, to my service; but most especially, to my family.

I am a man of the outdoors, as was my father before me. From him, I learned to love and respect nature.

I am a man of the past and the future. The present is only a river-washed stepping-stone between them.

I am a man of words and letters. And, if I have to make up my own, I do.

I am a man of contrasts. Sometimes intentional, sometimes not.

I am a man of eclectic tastes and interests. Enough to fill more than a single  lifetime.

I am a man of action and adventure, big and small, but, always with an objective.

I am a man of direction. I know where I am, where I’m going and how I will get there.

So…where would I hide a treasure if I had a treasure that wanted to be hidden?

I would hide it where the ancients and mountain men could appreciate and understand.

I would hide it in place that is magical in its simplicity.

I would hide it near my home, if my home were the mountains and along the river bottoms where dreams and fantasies alike go to play.

I would hide it in the past, and in the future. The present is only a river-washed stepping-stone between them.

I would hide it in The Place of Peace.

I am Forrest Fenn.

Raffle Planning, Live Streaming, and an Item of Intel

AGK20131231Please note the change in time for the raffle drawing from 10am to 2pm MST.

Click here to read the backstory on this article, and to buy raffle tickets.

I spent the morning at the Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe meeting with Forrest and book store owner, Dorthy Massey. We spent some time planning for the “TTOTC Do Good Raffle” taking place at 2pm MST on Tuesday, January 7. After Fenn had chosen the backdrop (in front of the fireplace with the Elk antlers above), we made some adjustments to the lighting and worked out an agenda. The entire event should take less than 30 minutes. Fenn seemed to be in very good spirits, and was happy, and a bit proud, of the results of the effort. You can track the results here.

He said that as of this morning, “over” 760 raffle tickets had been sold, including those to one individual who had purchased $1,000.00 worth! On the day of the drawing, whomever pulls the winning raffle ticket will be able to read the winner’s name to the audience, as Fenn has handwritten the ticket buyer’s name on each one.

I write “whomever” because, unfortunately, while she will be in attendance, Suzanne Sommers will not take part in the drawing due to a contractual conflict of interest. We discussed alternatives, but, as of this writing, I don’t have a name certain to share with you.

I took the opportunity to test the book store’s wireless internet to determine its live video streaming capability, and it passed with semi-flying colors. There was enough bandwidth to broadcast, but with a 17 second delay. My technical team was viewing from their workstations in Albuquerque, and simultaneously communicating with me via cell phone. They told me the moving image and audio were perfectly clear, which surprised me. I was shooting with my Android tablet with the LiveStream Android app for the test, rather than the high-end equipment I’ll be using on the day of the event.

The event is posted at LiveStream.com

The event URL is: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/6520967/events/2625624 Use this URL to login to the event on the day of the raffle.

To save yourself some time and frustration on the day of the event, I’m going to highly recommend that you pre-register as a viewer at LiveStream.com. Registration is free, and required in order to view the event stream. You can share the above link with anyone you’d like, again, recommending that they register before the day of the event.

If you’re unable to view the live event, don’t fret. I’ll be posting the event video on my YouTube channel soon after I return to my facility in Albuquerque.

While at the bookstore, I purchased two books: former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s novel entitled,  “Blowback,” written with Sarah  Lovette and a handy, highly-detailed, and waterproof field guide entitled “The Rio Grande – A River Guide to the Geology and Landscapes of Northern New Mexico.” Hoping for some treasure hunting feedback, I showed the book to Fenn. He looked at it, then without any feedback, changed the subject.

Dammit!

The one item of additional intel (sort of) I collected at the meeting: Fenn told me he flew his own aircraft the last time in 2008, at age 78, meaning he was still able to pass his medical. He said that the events of 9/11 had put a lot of pressure on the general aviation community, including requiring him (with over 7400 hours in a variety of types) to attend an annual two-week-long refresher course in Vero Beach, Florida. He sold the aircraft shortly after his decision to quit flying. (He taught his grandson, Shiloh to fly before he could drive, although he (Shiloh) does not own an aircraft.)

Connections, Synchronicity & Segues

Fenn writes like he thinks.

And, he thinks in compact, self-contained packages (CSCPs*), the current one connected to the previous one as much as it is to the following one. Then, as he moves through his line of thought, he builds cross connections. Eventually, each CSCP is virtually connected to all the other CSCPs. As they age, some of them float out to the edge of his cranial universe, far away enough from the center of mental gravity that they escape, never to return. Some hang on near the edge and are modified by it. They become memory anomalies, or as he calls them, “aberrations.”

Sooner or later, when he needs them, he pulls some of the related CSCPs together to form a new, complete thought.

Then, he writes.

The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung gave the process a name. He called it synchronicity.

Synchronicity is what leaves Fenn’s audiences with a sense of a mind that’s in constant motion. Eclectic, yet organized. Artistic, yet logical. Organic, yet mechanical. Cunning, yet caring. Twisted, yet aligned.

To me, the synchronous manner in which he thinks, then writes, is what leads to what I refer to as “The Fenn Segue.”

(Segue: pronounced seg-way. Definition: to make a transition without interruption from one activity, topic, scene, or part to another.)

I noticed it the first time in my reading of the chapter entitled “First Grade,” subtitled “Lanier School,” beginning on pg 16 of “The Thrill of the Chase.”

It begins, “My father was a teacher at Lanier School…” There’s a photo of his father captioned, “Mr. Fenn, Principal” on the opposite page.

One could assume that this chapter was going to be about his father. And, for the most part, it is.

olivejarkeyIt is, except for the SEGUE about John Charles whatever, who would sometimes “…bring a little jar of green olives to school and wave that thing…” in Fenn’s face. Description of the jar of olives follows. The first time I read the chapter, I was so distracted by the olive jar segue, that I had trouble concentrating while reading the rest of the chapter. Instead of following my eyes reading, my mind was asking itself the same question Fenn asked the readers, “What was that all about anyway?”

Why would you segue out of a perfectly good story, to tell a completely unrelated one?

Synchronicity. It was not unrelated. It was connected. The olive jar, a CSCP that had traversed some distance out into the universe in his mind, was snapped back into his current CSCP of thought. Lanier School? Probably.

(As I am writing this, I recalled a CSCP of A****** Garcia, the overweight, abused bully two grades ahead of me at St. Anne’s Elementary School in Santa Fe, who would seek me out on the playground and beat the crap out of me. On one of my leaves from the service, I was informed he had killed himself in a car accident on I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He was drunk. He killed his girlfriend in the process, and left his wife and daughters with almost nothing, except unpleasant memories.)

By the way, the previous paragraph was a classic example of a segue.

I’ll bet some of you had the olive jar kid in your lives too. I’ll bet just reading this elicits the memory of your olive jar kid. Don’t have that kind of memory? Then you were probably the olive jar kid.

That, of course, is not the only Fenn segue in the book. The “horseshoe” segue in “Dancing With the Millennium” on pg 135 is a good example. There are several others. Even the “Treasure” chapter beginning on pg 127 entitled “Gold and More,” subtitled “Somewhere North of Santa Fe,” contains a couple, including the dream about Captain Kidd and Gardiner’s Island. He also, in the same chapter, writes that he placed his 20,000 word autobiography in a glass jar, sealed with wax, into the treasure chest.

I felt like there was something important about the Fenn segues. Upon completing my first reading of the book, I returned to its beginning and made notes of each of the Fenn segues.  I especially noted the mention of the olive jar at the beginning of the book and his mention of the jar containing his autobiography near the end.

Focused on finding the treasure, I didn’t think much about it. In the grand scheme of value…well – his autobiography wasn’t an egg-sized gold nugget. Was it?

I didn’t think much about the jar until one day I heard him talking about his autobiography in the jar.

A jar he sealed with wax.

And, a jar he put in the treasure chest before he hid it.

An olive jar.

Yes. He said it was an olive jar.

They key, I believe, to understanding the Fenn Segue is in the olive jar.


* You won’t find Compact Self Contained Packages (CSCPs) in the literature. I made up the phrase to describe how I think Fenn thinks.

Win One of Fenn’s Bronze Jars Filled with Archeological Treasures

Update

Click here to get the latest information on the raffle. (12/31/2013) Fenn has added some new details about the prize on Dal Neitzel’s Blog. Read about it in “Scrapbook Fifty Four.” 01/01/2014). Get the final information on the event live stream here.

About Renelle Jacobson

Renelle Jacobson

Renelle Jacobson

Renelle Jacobson, whose photo you see here is one of the army of searchers looking for Fenn’s hidden treasure. She’s 41, single, and suffers from a rare form of of bone cancer called osteosarchoma. Five years of chemo and several surgeries didn’t kill the disease. So, in 2011, doctors amputated her left leg above the knee. She has a prosthetic leg, but the cancer changes the shape of her limb, making it difficult for her to use the prosthetic.

After searching in Yellowstone several times over the summer, she traveled to Santa Fe to visit with Fenn. Of their first encounter, he wrote,

“When Renelle Jacobson stepped out of her car in my driveway, and walked toward me, I was charmed at first sight. Her smile telegraphed a timeless message: ‘Look out world, because here I come.’

“Renelle Jacobson inspires me in a singular way; her spirit holds me in thrall. Each day she tests the extremes in ways I can’t even imagine. To know her even a little bit, as I do, is to love her a lot.”

Cancer treatments are incredibly expensive, and although Renelle has insurance, it doesn’t cover all the costs. So, never one not to do something, Fenn put together a plan for a raffle on Renelle’s behalf. Every dollar raised will go directly to Renelle to help her pay the costs of her treatment.

You can read more about Renelle from Fenn’s perspective on Dal Neitzel’s blog, here.

The Prize

As he described in the chapter entitled  “Dancing with the Millennium” in “The Thrill of the Chase,” Fenn hand forms bells and jars made from wax, then has them cast in bronze at Shidoni Foundry North of Santa Fe. He’s made over 30 of them, his handiwork embedded with his fingerprints transferred to the wax and then to the bronze. He’s buried many of them in the mountains and deserts of the Southwest in holes so deep they could not be found with a metal detector. He imagines they will be found thousands of years from now.

The Prize

The Prize

And, now you can buy a ticket to own one of these unique and priceless treasures: a brass jar, hand made by Forrest Fenn.

But, as they say on TV, that’s not all.

Fenn has packed the jar with a few prehistoric and early historic objects  from his own collection. The artifacts are full of history that would fill a hundred books if they could speak. Many of the objects came from his excavation at San Lazaro Pueblo. And, others have come from other locations. Note the example of the Clovis Point in the upper right hand corner of the photo above, rarely seen outside a glass case of a museum’s archeology exhibit. Yours to keep!

Wait, I’m not done. There’s more.

Fenn has promised that if whoever wins the raffle brings the jar to him, he will tell them what he knows about each of the items. Independent of Fenn’s offer, I will offer to document the meeting between Fenn and the winner of the prize in still and moving images, theirs to keep.

The Tickets

Tickets are $25 each, or 5 for $100. You can purchase them by clicking on the image below, which redirects you to Dal Neitzel’s Blog. Neitzel is a Fenn’s very good and trusted friend. After your purchase using PayPal, you’ll receive an email from Neitzel containing your ticket numbers.

Raffle Link

I can’t imagine a better way to spend $25 or more during this holiday season. This is a unique opportunity to help someone in need and to potentially win the only example of Fenn’s bronze jars and bells that will remain unburied.

Please purchase one or more raffle tickets today.

To buy Fenn’s books or not? That is the question.

I recently received a comment from one of my regular contributors, a searcher who puts much thought into his effort. There was a question at the end of his comment. He wrote, “Lately I have kept researching my general area and feel strongly about my approach. I am considering purchasing both [of Fenn’s books,] “The Thrill of the Chase” and “Too Far to Walk” to see what hints jump out to confirm or ruin my area. What say you?”

In a Socratic way, the question stimulated the response I share below:

My Copies of Fenn’s Books

I have purchased both of the books referred to above. I’ve read them both, TTOTC more than once. I also have a copy of Fenn’s book on his San Lazaro pueblo excavation, which I’ve read sporadically, especially when I need something to relax me at bedtime before going to sleep. Not that it’s sleep-inducing, it’s just a comforting read.

The challenge of identifying additional clues or hints in any of his books is made immensely more difficult due to Fenn’s writing style.

He is a natural storyteller. Storytellers naturally embellish. He, by his own admission, takes license with his research, spelling, grammar, punctuation and definition. He makes mistakes, sometimes intentional, sometimes not. He is adorably cunning. He’s intentionally inexact. And, he’s a senior citizen, therefore  his memories aren’t quite as perfect as he would want us to believe.

He wrote his memoir like I would write my memoir, neither of us like Thomas Jefferson wrote his.

As a result, almost everything he writes can be interpreted by someone as a hint or clue that reinforces something they may already want to believe, including their search algorithm. Once a searcher makes a decision that something they have read in one of Fenn’s books supports their particular search algorithm, it naturally becomes part of the algorithm, not only the current one, but future ones as well.

I have fallen prey to it as much as anyone, having convinced myself there is something special about the word “horseshoe” based on one of Fenn’s segues in the book. (Of which I will write more about later.)

I also believe Fenn’s writing style is the primary reason there is so little agreement in the search community about where we imagine he hid his treasure. ChaseChat and Dal Neitzel’s blog, while very useful and informative, have published thousands of posts in which searchers disagree with other searchers solutions, and when they do, cite Fenn’s written or spoken words to support their differing position.

Finally, whenever Fenn is asked whether there are additional hints or clues in the books (independent of the poem), he responds with obfuscation. At the event at Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos, he said, “There are nine clues in the poem, but if you read the book (TTOTC), there are a couple…there are a couple of good hints and there are a couple of aberrations that live out on the edge.” A couple? Aberrations that live on the edge? What? Either he’s blowing smoke, or we’re all reading way too much into his writing.

So, back to the original question. Would I recommend you buy the books?

Absolutely.

I would buy them even if I wasn’t searching for the treasure. I would buy them because they are pretty well written books soulfully composed by a talented storyteller with a great story to tell. I would buy them because they gave me the opportunity to meet him and to have them autographed by him.  I would buy them because they are a pleasant reminder of this period late in my life where I can tell people that “I’m a treasure hunter,” (rather than “retired”) when they asked me what I do for a living.

But mostly, I would buy them because they provide me additional insight to Fenn, the man. And, as I have written in the past, “The key to finding the treasure is in the man. Know the man, and you know the treasure.”

If, in addition, I could give myself a morale boost by identifying some of what he’s written as hints that solidify one or more of my search solutions, then that would be an added benefit.

Buy the books? Yes! You’ll be glad you did.


If you haven’t already, and decide to buy the books, do yourself a favor and call either  Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos or Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, and order the books from them. They’re small businesses that have been very supportive of Fenn and the search community, and they sell the books at list price. Tell them Toby sent you.

Fenn’s Clues and Hints: Intentional, Accidental or Incidental?

I copied the following lines from the “Cheat Sheet” page on Dal Neitzel’s Blog:

Q: Are there clues in “The Thrill of the Chase?”

Fenn: “Yes, because the poem is in the book.”

Q: Are there clues in “Too Far to Walk?”

Fenn: “Yes, because the map is in the book.”

Q: Are there subtle hints in “TTOTC?”

Fenn: “Yes, if you can recognize them.”

PIC_0080Fenn has also said, “The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. ”

And, on more than one occasion, Fenn has said that there are hints (he’s careful not to use the word “clues”) sprinkled throughout the book.

He’s also written (in emails), “All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem.

Therefore, I have come to following conclusions:

  1. When Fenn intentionally gives us a clue, it’s…well…bull puckey.
  2. Any other clue or hint to finding the treasure, outside the poem, are accidental or incidental to the written word or the conversation.

Here’s what I mean.

If I go over any of the clues of which Fenn has preceded with any variation of the phrase “I’m going to give you a clue (or hint),” they have no real value. At least to me. I could go on searching, following the clues in the poem, and knowing none of the following would have made a difference to me:

  • It’s not on top of a mountain.
  • It’s below 20,000 feet.
  • It’s above 5,000 feet.
  • It’s not in Idaho, Nevada, Utah or Canada.
  • It’s 300 miles west of Toledo.
  • It’s at least 8.5 miles North of Santa Fe.
  • It’s not in a graveyard
  • It’s not associated with any structure.

…yada, yada, yada.

I believe:

  • There are at least hints, and maybe clues, in everything that Fenn has written or recorded.
  • Those hints and clues were purely accidental or incidental to what he was writing or the conversation he was having at the time.
  • He was surprised to have noticed them or to have them pointed out to him, post hoc.

For, a classic, example, associating the phrase “too far to walk” with the phrase “about 10 miles” in the preface of “Two Far to Walk” was purely accidental. It also, in the grand scheme of things, may be totally meaningless. But, it wasn’t intentional.

I also believe that there are incidental hints or clues in may of the recorded interviews, with value, as long as they are not preceded by the phrase cited above.

I find nothing written or spoken by Fenn in which he has said the equivalent of “I intentionally placed hints (or clues) (in anything) other than the poem.”

So, where does all that leave me?

Here: Fenn hid a treasure someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe and wrote a poem containing nine clues that, when correctly interpreted, will lead me directly to the treasure.

Another (Uninteded) Clue?

I have often said of this treasure hunt, “While the clues are in the poem, and the hints are in the book, the key is in the man.

You can quote me.

Thus, it is highly likely I spend more time reviewing videos of Fenn’s various interviews than I do reading the poem (which I have already memorized anyway), or scrounging through Fenn’s “The Thrill of the Chase” with a magnifying glass and eye loupe.

I found this gem in the video produced by HDNet and hosted by one of their digital correspondents, Jennifer London. (You can find it here.)

In the video, beginning at the 4:15 mark, Fenn is showing London around his archeological dig, the San Lazaro ancient pueblo, the ruin on property he purchased from the Pueblo Tribes, and has been excavating since the 1980s.

book-s5bk10-450x613(Note: I own a signed first edition of his book entitled “The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo.”  If you had told me, prior to buying this book, I would have read, cover-to-cover, any book on an excavation of a single ancient pueblo in New Mexico, I would have laughed. Not at you, but at the thought of it.

Yet, I did. I read it cover-to-cover.

Because, it is easily read. And, it is written in the same down-home style of his other books. In it you can see his love for the project, and his pride at the discoveries he’s made.)

The clip starts with London’s voiceover background on the project.

Then, we see the two of them and hear this conversation (As usual, my comments are in italics.):


Fenn: Look here what I just found. I started to pick it up, but I thought you might wanna get a shot of it.

London: Oh, this?

Fenn: Yeah.

London: Is this an arrowhead? (You can hear Fenn’s excitement in the short breaths he’s taking before his response.)

Fenn: See…the wind has uncovered that. It’s an arrowhead.

London: Wow…look at that!

London (in voiceover): Fenn bought the land in the early eighties and has been excavating the pueblo ever since. Unearthing treasures isn’t simply a pastime for Fenn…it’s a passion.

Fenn (on camera, but in voiceover): Y’know…there are millions of treasures out here. (Emphasis because he’s referring to San Lazaro.)

(Audio cut) Fenn (continuing): And..y’know…it’s…it’s part of my demeanor, I think. I mean, I live for things like this…a good fishing hole…an Indian ruin. (In B-roll, he’s picked up part of animal’s jaw bone.)

(Video cut to two-up) Fenn (continuing): When I found my first arrowhead when I was nine years old I told myself “That thing has been right in that very spot for thousands of years waiting for me to come along.” That’s a thrill to me.

London (in voiceover): Which leads us back to Fenn’s book, “The Thrill of the Chase,” and the hidden treasure. You see, everything with Fenn is an intricately laced story.


Fenn has said, on more than one occasion, that he hid the treasure in a place that was special to him.

It sits there, waiting for you to come along, and I’ll bet there’s a good fishing hole and an Indian ruin nearby.

Comments are open, but, as usual, require approval.

Selected Quotes, Notes & Commentary from the True West Article

Selected quotes from the Johnny D. Boggs Article entitled “Modern Day Treasure Hunt; Unraveling the clues to finding Forrest Fenn’s hidden stash.” in the November 2013 Issue of “True West” magazine.

Noted:

  1. Contains best (full page) photo of the treasure I’ve seen.

  2. Includes copy of the map from TFTW.

  3. Contains NO REFERENCE to the hiding of the treasure at an altitude above or below 10,000 or 10,200 feet. (The actual reference, courtesy of Elbow (on Dal’s Blog, and Dal Neitzel:) The new issue of True West magazine (December 2013) has a follow-up to last month’s article. The author met up with Forrest for lunch, and asked for another clue. Here’s what Forrest said: “Sure. The Treasure is hidden below 10,200 feet.”)

  4. Contains no new information of real value for searches who have already been on the chase…unless you consider “It’s not in Canada,” to be of real value.

(My commentary is italicized.)

  • To Fenn’s neighbor who complained to Fenn about people digging up her front yard, “Tell them that the treasure is not in your front yard.”

  • “It’s not in Nevada.” (from the Boggs Interview last December).

  • “Everything’s a treasure to me,” says Fenn…

  • “I keep things I love,” says Fenn…

  • “When it (the estimated value of the treasure) gets to $10 million,” Fenn says, “I’m going to go back and get it.”

  • “My family’s taken care of; I’ve had so much fun collecting this junk (?), and I always loved the outdoors,” he says. “I wanted to get some people off the couch and out in the woods. The greatest thrill to me is to be walking in the woods and come across something absolutely wonderful – like two porcupines playing with each other in Yellowstone.”

  • (Very complementary segments on Dal Neitzel and Marc Howard)

  • “Neitzel has been out seven times looking for Fenn’s treasure…in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.”

  • Here’s another clue from Fenn himself: “Don’t look for the treasure where a 79-year-old man’s not going to carry a 42-pound box.” (First time I’ve seen “80” excluded from this clue, and the sentence is clumsy. Almost a double negative.)

  • Quote from Marc Howard: “Forrest survived being shot down twice in Vietnam. I think he’s an American hero. And doesn’t say random things. Anything he says, anything he writes is a clue.”

  • “Forrest is unique,” Neitzel says. “He is a fellow who really and truly thinks differently than our average human being. We are so lucky that his incredibly fertile mind was not wasted on a career in something like science, medicine or teaching. Instead, he decided to create, collect, write and share.”

  • “I never said I buried it,” Fenn says, “but that doesn’t mean it isn’t buried. I want a mystery about it. It’s not easy to find, but it isn’t impossible.”

(End of main article.)

Pull Quote:

Fenn told True West that while readers won’t find “clues to the location of the treasure” in his new book (TFTW), they will find “some hints that will help treasure hunters.” (I’m missing the subtle distinction between “clues” and “hints.”)

Sidebar (listing all the known, non-poetic clues): A True West Exclusive Clue: The treasure is not in Canada.

Also: The treasure is not in a bordering country.

On Fenn, the Architect

Image1At the Collected Works event on October 22, 2013, Fenn said, “It took me 15 years to write the poem. I’ve changed it so many times and I’ve said before that I didn’t write that poem…it was written by an architect…each word is deliberate.

At the Moby Dickens event on November 2, 2013, Fenn said, “The poem in my book is something that changed over and over again. When you read the poem it looks like just simple words the…but I guarantee you, I worked on that thing...I felt like an architect, drawing that poem.

When I heard him say it the first time at Collected Works, it sounded new…like he was trying the metaphor out to see if it fit with the way he speaks and writes…a trial balloon. By Moby Dickens, it sounded a bit more refined, like he had tried it out a couple more times since Collected Works.

Both my daughter and my son-in-law are architects. I asked them to look at the quotes, and I asked them to look at the poem and tell me what they thought.

Basically, their response was, “Architects don’t draw. Draftsmen do. And writing a poem is nothing like architecting an enclosed space.”

I think it’s Fenn taking verbal liberties, as he is wont to do, and playing, with the language. I think he uses “architect” (as a noun) in the same way a “builder” would use a box of lego blocks and a set of instructions (blueprint) to get to a finished project. All the pieces, of various sizes, shapes and colors have to fit together in order to complete the project.

In his case, I’ll hypothesize, the “blueprint” was in his head, and took 15 years to get to a synchronous finish.