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ID # Date Source
9054 11/2/2013 Moby Dickens Bookshop, Taos, NM
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The following is a transcription of the video referenced above. Questions and comments from the audience are presented in italics. Time stamps are offered when Forrest takes a question, and at other useful places during the video.

0:18
Well I always thought I deserved a throne. I’m very glad to be here. I want to thank Jay and Carolyn and Dorothy for bringing me up here. Jay asked me to say a few things about my treasure story. Is there anyone here that knows about the story? Who in this room has not heard about my treasure story? Oh that’s pretty good.

Well, uh, in 1988 I had cancer and they told me I was going to die. That’s a good way to start off a talk. They gave me a one in five chance of living three years. And, a lot of things were happening about that time. I was selling my gallery in Santa Fe, and I had a lot of clients that were coming to see me to do different things, and it just so happened that Ralph Lauren came to my house. He collects antique Indian things like I did. He didn’t know that I had cancer. But we were standing in my library and I had something that he wanted. It was a beautiful Sioux Indian bonnet with white ermines skins hanging on it, and split antelope horns, and it was a wonderful thing and he wanted to buy it. And I said I don’t want to sell it. He said you have so many of those things and you can’t take it with you. I said, well then I’m not going. And we laughed and changed the subject.

1:52
That night I started thinking about that. Who says I can’t take it with me? Why do I have to live by everybody else’s rules? If I’m going to die of cancer, I’m going to take some stuff with me, and I made up my mind. So I bought this beautiful little treasure chest: 10 inches by 10 inches and 6 inches high. Wonderful Romanesque thing. An antique scholar told me that it was probably Romanesque, 11th or 12th Century. Maybe it held a bible or a Book of Days. But it was wonderful; had a great patina on it. And I started filling it up with things that I thought would be attractive. There are 265 gold coins - American, mostly eagles and double eagles. There’s some Middle Eastern gold coins that date from the 13th century. There’s a little bottle of gold dust in there. And there are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets, mostly from Alaska - placer nuggets. Two of them are so large that they are the same size as a hen’s egg. They weigh more than a pound apiece.

And there are, in this chest… I put hundreds of rubies. There are two beautiful Ceylon sapphires. There are eight emeralds. Lots of little diamonds. Pre-Columbian Wak’as. Uhh, 2,000 year old bracelets, and a Tayrona (Tyrona) and Sinu necklace that dates probably 2,500 years old. The fetishes on the necklace are made of quartz crystal and carnelian and semi-precious stones. I told myself that I wanted it to be visual enough so that when a person found the treasure chest, and opened it for the first time, they would just lean back and start laughing.

3:42
And, I’ve shown the chest to a number of people in Santa Fe and that’s what they all did. So I invite you to go look for the treasure chest. And, my plan was to, uhh...If I was going to die of cancer, uh, they said I had a one in five chance of living three years, so that told me I had a year probably, anyway. So, uhh, I decided I knew where I was going to hide the treasure chest. And I told myself that with my last gasping breath, I was going to fling myself on top of that treasure chest and let my bones go back to the dirt. It was a great plan. The trouble with it was, I got well. And it ruined the story. But I told myself, just because I got well, doesn’t mean I could not hide the treasure chest anyway. And I did that and there's… In my book, The Thrill of The Chase, there’s a poem in there that has nine clues in it. If you can follow the clues to the treasure chest, you can have the treasure chest. (Pause). And, uh, I thought about that a lot. And when I took, when I hid the treasure chest, I had to make two trips because it weighs 42 pounds. It’s small, but it’s...gold is heavy. And when I hid it and was walking back to my car, I started laughing out loud, and I said, “Forrest Fenn did you really do that?”

5:17
But I had a hole card, I told myself if I decide later I didn’t want to do it, I could go back and get it. But the more I thought about it, the more I said, yeah, this is perfect. Why can’t I influence somebody a thousand years from now? A hundred years from now? Okay, next weekend. If you can find it, I think it will be worth your while. A lady reporter from Texas called me on the phone and she said, “Mr. Fenn, who is your audience for this strange book?” I said, “My audience is every redneck in Texas with a pickup truck, a wife and twelve kids and he lost his job.” I said, “Throw a bedroll in the back of your truck and go look for the treasure chest - take the kids. Get the kids out of the game room. Away from their little playing machines and let them breathe the sunshine and the things the forest has to offer - a wonderful opportunity.

6:13
Just this past week, I passed 25,000 emails from people, and probably 15,000 of them have told me, “Mr. Fenn, we are not going to find that chest - we know that. But I want to thank you for getting me and my kids off the couch and out into the trees.” So, uh, you know I would go on and on but I don’t want to talk too much I would entertain some questions if anyone has one. (Pause). Yes sir.

6:46
(off-microphone question about proceeds of book)
You know, I’m having trouble hearing him. Can somebody help? What?

Did I understand that the proceeds of your book are going to the cancer, uh, foundation?

Let me explain that to you. Uh, Dorothy Massey at the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe owns these books. Jay bought them from Dorothy. The deal I made with Dorothy was that she can have the books, but she has to put 10% of the gross sales aside for a cancer fund. I think we have about $50,000 or something in that fund now. We’re looking, we’re looking for someone to… that we can feel proud about helping. Uh, if I had my way, we’d find some little minority kid that can’t afford what it takes to get well and spend our money that way. And, uh, I don't’ know if that’ll happen or not, but that’s the plan anyway. Is there another question?

7:49
I have one about the poem. If you follow the poem precisely, will you find yourself switching back?

If I follow the clues in the poem precisely, would I what?

Will you find yourself switching back? Making a loop.

This gal’s dangerous, you know! (pause) Would I find myself switching back… I think I can say no to that without giving away too much of the clues. Uh, nobody is gonna happen on that treasure chest. You’re gonna have to figure out the clues in the poem, and go to it. There are several people that have deciphered the first two clues. I don’t think they knew it, because they walked right on past the treasure chest. And I’m not gonna tell those people who they are because one of them particularly would faint, I know. And she’d tear the countryside up trying to figure out where they’d been. But, uh, it’s an opportunity to… has… doesn’t have any downsides I think. Everybody wins if you go out looking for it. Another question?

9:00
Given that you simply gave, gave it away, you, you gave this treasure away to the cosmos, to whomever, uh, did you have any heart wish of how treasure might be used for good?

No.

Bless you. (laughter)

I don’t feel, I don’t feel that I’ve given it away. Whoever finds it is gonna earn it. And once they find it, and have it in their possession I’m out of the picture. They can do whatever they want to with it. You can’t… I don’t want to make rules for people after the fact. Yes sir?

9:40
How would you know that it hasn’t already been found?

I’ve been asked that question a lot… I really don’t want to answer the question because that would be an answer that I don’t really want to reveal. But I can tell you that no one has found the treasure. Yes sir?

9:59
When do you think the treasure would be found? Do you think it’s a ten year? A hundred year? When do you think it will actually be discovered?

You know, uh… Why don’t you ask me how deep is a hole? (Laughter) It’s not predictable. But I know, I think, this last summer, there were, I’m guessing, but I think there were 35,000 people out looking for the treasure chest.

10:26
Are you concerned that once it is discovered that your private spot will be exposed to so many people, that it will no longer become special? Or…

There’s all kinds of case scenarios. If a, if a person finds it, and he doesn’t want the IRS to know it, then maybe the spot will never be revealed. (Laughter) In my opinion, the type of person that’s gonna find the treasure chest is the type of person that can’t keep it quiet. Uh, but, I’m not worried about that really. Yes ma’am?

11:04
You said that it took you two trips to hide the treasure? Did you hide it two times, or did you carry it the second time?

I hid the whole thing in one spot. But it took me two trips to get to that spot with the weight of those… of the treasure chest.

11:23
From the car to the spot?

(Forrest nods). Very special spot.

11:29
Could you tell us more about what’s in your book? Like, it’s not just a poem, but it’s a memoir right?

It’s a memoir. You know, uh, I never did go to college. I prayed for D’s in high school and nobody ever listened. I graduated because my father was the principal. (Laughter). And so, I never did read the great books. And I talk in my book about Hemingway and, and other writers that are very internationally celebrated and so I went down to a bookstore and got a couple of those books and I started to read them and I told myself these things are no good. For Whom The Bell Tolls - I read about a third of that thing and threw it in the trash. And I started to wonder… Why does everyone… I mean, you may think those are wonderful books, but I’m a little bit weird I have to admit that.

But then Pierre, err, J.D. Salinger died. And Diane Sawyer’s talking about how wonderful he was that he wrote books and put them in a vault so nobody could see them. And I told myself - this is my kind of guy. So, so I went down and I bought Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Uh. And I thought I was gonna like that book because I had never heard of the guy. And I said, everybody thinks the book’s pretty good and he’s nobody so, it must be a pretty good book. So I started reading it and, and I read a little bit and I put it down. And I started thinking about it, and I read some more. It took me about a day and a half to finish that book, and I wasn’t ready for it to end when it was over. I started to tell myself, uh, you know if this is a good book, if Catcher in the Rye is a good book, I can do that. (pause) It’s nothing but a guy talking to himself really is what it is. And I said, I can do that. And so, I started writing my memoir. I started remembering, and I would encourage all of you to write your memoir. You don’t have to edit it. Send it to the Library of Congress - they love those things. Start with your earliest recollections like I did. I remember when my grandmother told me about when she was a kid in Fort Worth watching the Comanche and Kaweah Indians run through their barnyard trying to catch chickens.

I have two daughters that are in their fifties who don’t know who Clark Gable was. So I wanted my kids, my family, my grandkids, to know something about my family. Something about me, and my wife, and what we’ve done, and where we’ve been. Kind of a peek back into our lives, and so that’s… And at the same time, I was thinking about my treasure chest. How do I bring all of these things together?

So it was 15 years from the time that I got cancer until the time that I hid the treasure chest. 15 years. And… The poem in my book, is something that I changed over and over again. When you read the poem, it looks like just simple words there. But I guarantee you I worked on that thing… I felt like an architect drawing that poem. And the original version of that poem said, “Take the treasure chest, but leave my bones and go in peace.” Or, something like that. But then I got well, and it ruined that story.

But, uh, I believe very strongly in that uh… I started making bells out of bronze and little jars. In the jars I put my autobiography in the jars and seal them up tight. And I’ve buried eight of those things way out in the desert, and in the mountains. Nobody knows where. I couldn't even go back to them; I’ve hidden them so well. Who says I can’t influence the future? Who says I can’t take it with me? I don’t believe in those things. Which is, which is best, uh, laying on the ground, on a treasure chest, your bones rotting in the sun? Or laying in a hospital room with tubes down your throat and your nose and machines everywhere, people watching you all the time. Which would you rather have? That’s my philosophy. But I’ll admit, I’m a maverick in that area.

My father had pancreas cancer. They gave him six months to live. Eighteen months later he was still fishing up in Yellowstone in those lakes and fast streams. But one night, at about ten o’clock at night, he said call me on the phone. I was in Santa Fe and he was in Temple, Texas. He said, “Forrest, I just want you to know that I’m getting ready to take 50 sleeping pills.” And I said, “Dad, I’ll be there first thing in the morning.” I had an airplane. He said, “That’s too late.” And it was too late. But I respected him, because he wanted to do things on his own terms. What’s wrong with making your own rules about things? He could have gone into the hospital and withered away for another three weeks or a month. That’s no way to live. And all of these thoughts manifest themselves in my treasure chest. The thrill of the chase - I keep going back to the thrill of the chase. And you can think I’m crazy if you want to, and a lot of people have said that but, it’s something that I believe in. And that treasure chest, I have said, is in a very special place to me. If I get another disease, on my last dying gasp, I’m going to throw myself on top of that treasure chest. And I’m going to dare you to come find me.

Bella, do you have a question?

18:04
Uh, Mr. Fenn, we actually have one that was sent to us. And since you were speaking about the poem, uh, Dal Neitzel has asked if you would kindly read the poem? Of which, I happen to have a copy of said poem.

Damn Dal Neitzel’s always getting me in trouble. (Laughter)

I’m just the messenger.

He thinks he's safe ‘cause he lives on a little island, Lummi Island, out of Seattle. I’ve got his number though.

18:39
(address crowd from memory)
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold
I can keep my secret where
And hint of riches new and old

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek
The end is ever drawing nigh.
There’ll be no paddle up your creek
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze
Look quickly down your quest to cease
But tarry scant with marvel gaze
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good.
(Pause, reaches for glasses) I might have to read this thing
So hear me all and listen good.
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

And I view that as a challenge. There are so many things in life that are wonderful. And so many things that are not wonderful. And this world is in trouble; I don’t need to tell you that. So, I think we need to… My father used to tell me, “Grab every banana.” And, he told me that a hundred times. Finally, he and I collected arrowheads together. And we were thinking about going out to a friend’s farm that was newly plowed to look for arrowheads, but it was drizzling rain. I didn’t much want to go, but my father did. So, we were discussing and he said, “Grab every banana.” I said, “Father, you’ve been telling me that for years.” I said, “I don’t know what you mean.” You know what he said to me? He said, “Now that you asked the question, maybe you’re old enough to know.” Pretty profound, huh? He said, “The banana tree doesn’t go by… The banana… The train doesn’t go by that banana tree but one time.” He said, “You should reach out and grab every banana on the way back.” I thought that was pretty good. And let me tell you I’ve grabbed a few bananas in my time. Grabbed a few lemons, too. Yes, sir?

21:23
Are you familiar with the Poet, Robert Service?

The what?

The Poet, Robert Service

No.

You’d give him a run for his money.

Well, thank you. Thank you. Well, I like poetry, and I can walk down the street and see something and I quote poetry to myself. I did that coming up here today in the car with Dorothy Massey. I’ll read you a poem from Alice in Wonderland.

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shiny tail
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every shiny scale

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spread his claws
And welcome little fishies in
With gently smiling jaws

(Laughter). I like that. You may not know who Senator Al Simpson is. Senator from Wyoming, retired. He can quote the entire book from Alice in Wonderland. Yes, sir?

22:33
Would you want to say anything about the accumulation of that treasure and why you’re...

Jay - you got that?

So, he’s wanting to know on the accumulation of what you put in the chest, were they personal type items? How hard was it for you to put some of those items in there? How did you determine what you placed in the chest?

Thank you for asking that question, Sir. I wanted that treasure chest to be part of me. If I’m gonna take it with me, I don’t want it to be a bunch of abstract items. I put things in that treasure chest that are very dear to me. One of them, probably the cheapest thing in that treasure chest, is a wonderful little bracelet. It has 22 prehistoric turquoise beads in it. The beads were found by Richard Weatherall. The first day that he discovered Mesa Verde and climbed down into the ruin from the canyon top, he picked up those 22 little turquoise beads. In 1901, when Richard Weatherall was excavating Mesa Verde, there was an Indian working for him that made a bracelet out of those 22 little turquoise, disc beads, they call it a row bracelet. It was made about 1902 or so. And, Richard Weatherall sold it to Fred Harvey of the Harvey Houses. And years later, that whole Harvey collection was given to the Hurt Museum in Phoenix. But I won that bracelet in a pool game with Byron Harvey, who was the nephew of Fred Harvey. That’s how I got that bracelet. So I have an association with… It’s the only bracelet, Indian bracelet, that I ever had that fit me. I used, I used to walk down the street showing off that bracelet worth about $350. But, you know, it was special to me.

24:49
Have your grandkids ever tried looking for the treasure?

No, but I’ll tell you an interesting story. Some of the emails I get from people - I got one last week from a lady about your age. You must be 11? Nine. Nine. She said, “Mr. Fenn, if I find the treasure chest, do I have to share it with my brother?” (Laughter). So I get all kinds of emails. This one lady said, “My truck is not very reliable. If I go up in the mountains, on the way to get your treasure chest, and my truck breaks down, will you come and pick me up and take me the rest of the way to the treasure?”

25:40
Do you think kids will ever find the treasure?

Do I think kids will find the treasure? You worry me a little bit. (Laughter). Uh, yeah, I think kids may have an advantage. Don’t expect me to explain that, but sure. Their eyes are better. They’re more agile, they have more energy, why should a kid take a back seat in the treasure hunt?

26:15
Is that your daughter there?

She is.

She’s dangerous. Ok - more questions. Yes, Sir.

26:20
You put a lot of people on a very bold, exciting adventure. And at the same time, you have put yourself on an adventure of watching all of these people, and how are you enjoying that?

Oh tell me not, in mournful numbers Life is but an empty dream For the soul is dead that slumbers And things are never what they seem

I’m enjoying it, yeah. I didn’t expect it...You know, I always figured the treasure chest was a bomb, but I didn’t know that it had a fuse until Dorothy came along. And a couple of other people that started giving publicity to the book. And now it’s out... And no matter what happens now, it belongs to the ages, I think. And sure there’s a… people talk about, “Mr. Fenn is that your legacy?” I don’t, I don’t like that. I don’t like the philosophy of that. I don’t like the word… Once a person dies, that should be the end of it. If you want to say something kind about me, say it to me while I’m alive, don’t wait till I die. And let’s don’t talk about legacies. Yes, sir?

27:55
So, when you had cancer, uh, and you got well, and you decided to hide the treasure, do you think that maybe fate, maybe you got well so you would hide the treasure?

Uh, I believe that there’s a higher hand, someplace. I don’t know what it is, but, uh, I think that I’ve lived a charmed life. Uh, here’s a little kid from a small town in Texas making D’s and F’s in high school. Joined the Air Force as a pilot, err private, became a fighter pilot, uh… In 19… When I was 27 years old and a fighter pilot in Germany, I went down to Supply and checked out an atomic bomb. I signed a form. I owned that atomic bomb - 61 kiloton bomb. The bomb at Hiroshima was 17,000 tons. This was 61,000 tons. And, I thought that, you know, if I can do that, uh, from my background, then look at what other people can do from their background. I had a hard tour in Vietnam. I flew 328 combat missions in about 348 days. I was shot down twice. I took battle damage a few times. I lost some roommates. I lost 22 pounds and didn’t even know it. And when I came home I was, I was tired. I was tired mentally. I was tired physically. And, I wrote a story that’s in my memoir that’s called My War for Me. If you don’t do anything else, read that story. I think it’s 7500 words, but I’m very proud of that story. It tells, uh… And in my new book, Too Far To Walk, (aside) do we have a copy of that? I tell another story that’s an aberration to my Too Far, Too War, uh, My War for Me story. And, uh, I’ll tell you briefly about that. I was laying on the, in the wet jungle in Laos. I had just jumped out. My wife got a telegram saying that I had been shot down and no parachutes had been seen. And so, I’m laying there trying to decide what to do. I had a radio. If I called the rescue people, they’d come to get me and I’d go home. But Laos in those days, in 1968, was pretty wild country. What if the helicopter comes in to get me and it’s shot down and those 2 or 3 guys are killed? Now where am I? I haven’t been rescued and 4 guys have been killed. Those things were preying on my mind. But I was 38 years old. I was a perfect human physical specimen. I had graduated from the jungle survival school in the Philippines. The jungle - it was never hot, it was never cold. Fast running water, drinkable water, was everywhere. I had two guns. I had a knife. And, under every log in the jungle is nourishing food if you’re willing to eat it - And I was. I figured I could walk to the South China Sea in a month or six weeks. So the question is, am I going to take the challenge that will never again in a million years be offered to me, or do I remember my wife and two kids at home? So what do you do? I decided it wasn’t fair to my family so I used my radio the next morning and they came and got me and nobody was killed taking me out and.. One of the things that in my life that I think that I’ve been, not gifted of course, I hate to use the word luck, I believe there’s a higher hand. Yet tomorrow I’ll get run over by a train, but I believe in karma and some of those things. I’m not a religious person, but I’m probably the most spiritual person around. That’s the way I define it. I hate to get on my soapbox. Yes, Sir?

32:20
I would like to know more about your new book.

My new book, Too Far to Walk, in my preface I explain where I got the word, the title to the book. And Dal Neitzel, who put me on the spot a while ago, uh, three days before it went to press… I own my own little publishing company, it’s called One Horse Land and Cattle Company, two days or three days before we went to the printer, I didn’t have a dust jacket. So I sent Dal Neitzel an email, and I said go to the Madison River in Yellowstone Park. There’s a very special place that I’m going to tell you about, and take a photograph of the water. Stand on the bank; put the flowers in the photograph. And send me the photograph. He did that, he sent me the photograph. My designer here in Santa Fe put the shadow across it. And two days before we went to the printer, I was still writing this book. When a writer sends a manuscript to a publisher, two years later they’re thinking about going to the printer. We did this in two days. Byproduct of having your own people working for you and the people that helped me design this book are wonderful. Same people that did that book for me (gestures to The Thrill of the Chase). You can’t thank, some people, you can never thank enough.

33:45
Forrest, we got a question from your online fan base that we gotta address too.

Who is it?

This one is anonymous.

Ok. Boy I’m in trouble now.

Was the car, you walked back to after hiding the treasure, rented?

Was it rented?

Was it rented.

You know that’s the first time I’ve been asked that question. But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that. That’s why I’ve told people that I buried the treasure, that I hid the treasure chest when I was either 79 or 80 years old because I don’t want the exact date to be known because I’m afraid someone will go check the rental car records and how many miles did Mr. Fenn put on the truck or the car, and so I don’t answer those kind of questions, but shoot that person that sent that email.

34:41
I have a question. Back to The Thrill of the Chase, outside of the poem, how many clues or hints are in the book? Would you say 10 to 20? 20 to 30?

How many clues?

How many hints?

There are nine clues in the poem but if you read the book, uh, there are a couple. There are a couple of good hints, and then there are a couple of aberrations that live out on the edge. Yes, ma’am?

35:17
You say there’s nine clues in the poem, the poem has more than nine lines. Can you share with us which exactly are the lines are the clues?

Which of the 24 lines are clues?

Yes.

Uh, little girl I already know you. You’ve been out looking for the treasure.

I’m trying to help everybody else.

She already knows what the clues are. No, I don’t want to do that. She’s scary too!

35:51
I don’t have a question, but I just want to mention since you’re so interested in information that the gentleman that emailed you from Lummi Island… Dal… Lummi Island is on the far side of a reservation that’s called Lummi Reservation, so he has to go through the reservation every time he goes home to catch the ferry to go out to his island. Just an interesting fact I thought you might be interested in.

Uh, you know Dal, I didn’t know Dal until I after I had written my book. He came to Santa Fe because he wanted to talk to me about the book and the poem. And, I didn’t know the guy, so I didn’t want to meet him at my home, but I met him at the Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe. And he introduced himself to me with a fictitious name. And he had some ulterior motives related to that. But after a few minutes to conversation, I learned that his name was Dal Neitzel and that he had worked with my nephew, Creighton Fenn, who is a professional deep sea diver. He found the Agamemnon, Lord Nelson’s flagship and brought a cannon up. He has a website that has wonderful pictures - I don’t know what the website is. But Dal Neitzel was working with my nephew when they found, I think, 79 17th century sunken Spanish galleons off the coast of Uruguay. I mean, Dal Neitzel, his water runs deep, and he’s a really neat guy too. He runs a blog. I think he controls that whole blog. It’s very interesting. I read his blog so I can learn a lot about myself. (Laughter). Your friend isn’t laughing.

38:01
Coming from the online site again, I’ve been asked to ask you how many people have told you that they’ve discovered the unintended clue in Too Far to Walk and how many were right?

Well I’ve not had anybody tell me the answer to that clue. If you read my preface, it doesn’t take a genius to know what they are talking about. But there are clues in my new book that can help a person. Did I answer that question?

Yeah, that was it. Now here’s a really obscure one. Is it possible to locate the treasure chest without ever leaving your computer and Google Earth?

No. It isn’t. Did I really say that? There is not a picture of the treasure chest on Google Earth. Was that your question?

Yeah. I think that will suffice.

Because Google Earth doesn’t go down far enough.

39:29
Tell us about the children’s book that you have planned.

The children’s book that I have planned? Well there’s a lady that contacted me. She’s written several children’s books and she read both of my books and she said I want you to write a children’s book with me. For some reason, she thought I was a child, I guess, the way I write my books. But I said okay and we’re thinking about that. I mean, I would like to do that. Sometimes, uh, I’m not a natural writer, I struggle when I write. I think my prose looks easy but I, sometimes I sit, uh, just today sometimes when I get to the end of a sentence, trying to write the end of the sentence, I forgot what the front part of the sentence was. So, I may be running out of words. I have three books in my computer that I’m really proud of. I would like to finish one. The main one is called Closet Stories of Taos. It’s about the artists and the characters but it isn’t an art book it’s a gossip book. It’s about Long John Dunne, but that wasn’t his name at all. His name was Wilhelm. He killed two people in Texas, both of them justifiable, but the court didn’t think so. They convicted him of first degree murder and gave him life in prison. And the Sabine River in south Texas overflowed and they let all the prisoners out to stack sandbags to protect the house and John Dunn jumped in the river and floated on a log and far from the reach of Texas Rangers he said. And it’s a wonderful story about John Dunn. But it’s about Horace McHorace (sp?) who owned the first car dealership in Taos, and Tarasita Ferguson and there’s a great story… I don’t know if I can tell this story in this mixed company, but I will. There were two guys down on the plaza, walking around one Sunday afternoon. And, they were accosted by two women who wore hoods over their faces. They wanted these two men to go over to La Vonda hotel with them because they had a room over there. These two guys didn’t want to do it. I’m not gonna mention their names, but in my book I do. The two women turned to walk away, and one of the men lifted the hoods of one of these two women and one of them was Tarasita Ferguson and the other one was Georgia O’Keefe. So my book is really a gossip book. Stories about Doc Martin and the artists. Great stories about Gaspard and Fechin and Sharp, and Kaus and Victor Higgins and some of the others.

42:32
Question? Ok then, I will ask another from the online world.

Will you quit going back to the computer?

Ok, this will be the last one. Other than the one you mentioned, are there any other hints in Too Far To Walk that would help solve the nine clues?

Well there’s a major clue in the book, but I don’t think it will help you find the treasure chest. I’ll tell you what the clue is. In the back of my book, there’s a map. And I’ve said that the treasure chest is hidden in the Rocky Mountains. Here’s a treasure chest (I think he meant “map”) of the Rocky Mountains. If you knew where the treasure chest is hidden, you could find it on this map. But the map stops at Canada. The Rocky’s keep going up there, but I said it’s in the Rocky Mountains, which would include Canada. When this book was printed, I didn’t realize that Benchmark Maps, who made this map, stopped at the Canadian border, so that’s a clue, but I don’t think - it’s not going to help you much.

But that’s not THE clue.

What did she say?

She said, “That’s not THE clue.”

There are no clues in this book, but there are some hints. What I tell people to do, if you’re really serious about looking for the treasure, get the Thrill of The Chase and read it. And then go back and read the poem over and over and over again. And then go back and read the book again, but slowly looking at every little abstract thing that might catch up in your brain. That might be a hint to help you with the clues. Any part of some, is better than no part of any. I don’t think that’ll help you much, but…

44:42
If somebody finds the treasure, and they reveal themselves that they have found it

If somebody finds the treasure, what?

If somebody does find the treasure, and ruins your plans to throw/cast your bones upon the chest, will you find a new location and do it again?

How do you answer a guy who asks a question like that? I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve had my run. A lot of things you can’t plan. You know, making plans is antagonistic to freedom. I used to tell a story in my Too Far To Walk book about in Santa Fe I had a Piper Malibu Barrage. Carried lots of fuel. It had a 43 foot wingspan. And I could go out there all by myself, push the hangar doors open, because I didn’t want anyone to help me, crank that airplane up, get permission from the tower to take off, and head north, and then turn my radios off. I had no idea where I was going to land, what I was going to see, I didn’t even care. I had six or seven hundred miles before I had to think about that. But I had GPS and I had maps. I’d find a little town up in Wyoming or Idaho or someplace in Montana, and look on my map and see if they had a rental car or an airport. And if they did, I’d land and rent a car and go out and sit by the lake, or the river. I did that, I think it was in Lander, Wyoming. The little Popo Agie River runs through Lander. How can you not stop where the little Popo Agie River runs through the town?

My best friend who passed away a couple of months ago lived in Lander.

She lived in Lander?

I’ve been to Lander a few times. It’s a typical little town, I mean you have to love Lander. That’s grass roots America.

As a matter of fact, I have a granddaughter that is in pre-med at Texas Tech University. I told her that I would pay for all of her college to get a medical degree if she would promise me that when she graduated and got her license, that she would go to a little town like Lander, set up a shingle and make house calls. And she has to do that for two years. She promised me that she would do that, so that’s where I am with this whole thing. Yes, sir?

47:25
Forrest, did you have nine clues before you wrote the poem? Or, did nine clues appear after the poem?

They’re contiguous. I knew where I wanted to hide the treasure chest, so it was easy for me to put one foot down and then step on it to get to the next foot. So that’s what I did. But I changed it over - I don’t know how many times. I looked up the meaning of words. You know we really don’t know what some of our words mean. For instance, what does the word “several” mean? S-E-V-E-R-A-L what does that mean?

Many.

What?

Many.

No.

It means more than two, but not many more than two. Isn’t that a way to define a word. More than two, but not many. So, I doubt that anybody in this room knows that. I mean, I wouldn’t know it except I’m a writer and sometimes I look things up. There are lots of words in the English language that we can’t define and consequently we use them erroneously. How in the hell did I get on that subject?

48:48
Is there anything in the chest you would like back?

Is there anything in the chest I want back. Yeah, I want my little bracelet back. And I’m glad you asked that question. Her name is, uh, M-A-C-I. Well, anyway, I’ve had about 35 men, or people, send me an email that says, “I found your treasure.” I’m looking at it, of course I don’t believe it. But I write them back and say, “Congratulations. Will you sell me my bracelet back?” and they say, “What bracelet?” And this one guy said that to me - that he had my treasure chest. I said, well, “I’m interested sir, did the hot water affect the patina on the treasure chest?” He said, “Thank you!” and hung up. He thought I had given him a clue and he’s gonna go look in all the hot water up and down the Rocky Mountains. People… Everybody has their own gig. I keep saying that. I believe it. Yes, ma’am?

50:02 Have you given comparable treasure to your grandchildren, sir?

Do I have comparable treasure for my grandchildren?

Yes.

My family is taken care of. But I’m another maverick in that area. The last thing I want to do is make my kids or grandkids wealthy. I was in the art business for so many years, and I saw what inherited money can do. It’s the thrill of the chase. It’s the thrill in doing it yourself. I bought all my grandkids cars when they got their driver’s license. I’m paying for all their education. And then, they are on their own. First of all, I’m really not that wealthy. I mean, I can live on the interest, and that’s the definition of a wealthy person I guess, I mean.... Lots of things, uh, uh, I have everything I want but I don’t want very much.

51:07
How did you come up with the title? Too Far to Walk?

You’ll have to read my preface. I explained it in my preface. Well, let me read it to you. I’ll read a dedication. This book is dedicated to all that have pushed me against my will, and made me a better person. Here’s my preface. I put a small rubber dinghy in the Madison River a few miles from West Yellowstone, Montana and fished downstream to Baker’s Hole. That part of the river was in the quietly forgotten western edge of Yellowstone National Park. There were no roads, no trails, and no Rangers to tell me I wasn’t supposed to do that. The river distance was about 10 miles and the best fishing was in the bends where the water turned greenish deep and beautiful. The small boat containing my camping gear was tethered to my belt and as I leisurely walked in the quiet river, I spent three days there casually casting my fly and enjoying the solitude. The river experience cemented my connection to that special country, and I promised myself that someday I would make that trip again. That day never came for me, and my disappointment still casts a lonesome shadow across the Madison River. For me now, it’s just too far to walk. And that’s where I got the title. Yes, sir?

52:53
Forrest, may I suggest that you tell the audience for those of us who aren’t searchers, tell the audience, who is not searching why the phrase “too far to walk” is so important?

I didn’t say it was too far...err. Important! That part of the preface is a metaphor for my entire life. Looking back, I’ve done some things that I’m not gonna brag about, but I’ve also not done some things that I’d wish I had. As a matter of fact, in the Thrill of the Chase, I talk about writing my obituary. My, uh, what do you call it, (epitaph?) Yeah.

I wish I could have lived to do The things I was attributed to (Laughter)

See there? She feels the same way about that. Well, I had my gallery for 17 years in Santa Fe. And, I had no education. I’d been a fighter pilot all my life. So when I opened my business, I didn’t have a painting. Knew nothing about business, knew nothing about art. That’s why I had to start from scratch. My first two shows, I didn’t sell so much as a book. And I finally told myself, I had a little bit of money left, that I’d saved 20 years in the Air Force. I said I’m going to spend this money advertising, and if that doesn’t work I’m gonna slam the door and go do something else.

And it started working for me. I learned to play Monopoly at my art gallery. And every time I sold a painting, I took the profit and bought two paintings. Then I took the profit and bought four paintings. Over a period of time, it took me two years before I could finance my gallery out of accounts receivable. But I learned a lot along the way. There’s so much to learn. I learned that when I needed somebody to work in my accounts receivable and accounts payable office, that’s a very important job. In the business, everything depends on cash flow. So this lady came to see me. She wanted to work for me. I needed somebody in accounts receivable and accounts payable. So, I said let me think about it overnight. So about eight o’clock that night, I went to her house and knocked on her door. She let me in. I wanted to see what kind of housekeeper she was. If there’s stuff laying all over the floor, she’s not going to work in my accounts receivable. But I want her working as a salesman out front. Different personalities have different things. You know, I’ve always said that salesmen, like school teachers, have shelf lives. And it’s about six years. Dorothy will say that’s not true. If you own your own business it’s a little bit different, but I learned a lot in the art business. I learned a lot about people, I learned a lot about business, and I learned a lot about life.

So many writers, I don’t want to be critical, but I know so many writers that are so much better than I am. They… Everything is researched perfectly. Everything is correct. The commas are in the right spot, and you go right down the center line. And I told this writer today she should be writing Encyclopedia Britannicas. It’s no fun to read. Everything’s there, but it’s no fun. I said - when are you gonna walk out to the… How do you know where the edge is if you don’t go out there and look? I never wanted to go down the center line. I wanted to bounce off the curbs and I think I’ve done that. I got caught a few times, but… I think if… If I had my life to do over, I said in my, one of these books that, if I had my life to do over, I’d change nearly everything. Why do the same thing over and over again? You know? You read in these different magazines, they ask a different question, “What would you change in your life?”

“I wouldn’t change anything, everything’s been perfect.” I think that’s such a, a, an idiot thing to say, I think. Why do the same thing over again when you can… Nothing wrong with slamming a door and starting out new again.

Out of the night that covers me Dark is the pit from pole to pole I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul

I think that’s a good place to stop, don’t you?

(Applause)
ID # Date Source
9572 8/8/2013 EIS Radio
Quote
Link: Click Here

Everything is Stories - 003 As I Have Gone Alone in There

FORREST FENN: Well, when I was nine years old, I found my first arrowhead with my father. He was an arrowhead collector, and so was my football coach in high school. So we did all that together. Most of the arrowheads you find out in the countryside are broken in half in two. And people say, “Oh that’s broken. That’s terrible.” But to me, that means a lot to me. That means that the projector was on the end of an arrow. It penetrated the body of a deer maybe. Hit a bone and broke right in front of where it was hafted. So to me, that thing has a history that a whole arrowhead doesn’t have. I think it’s the wonderment of being out there, of seeing nature, and visualizing what used to be. The Rosetta Stone was buried for 2,000 years before somebody found it, and I said in my book, “Don’t you know that guy is proud? The guy that carved that thing.”

Well it was 1988 when I acquired the treasure chest and started filling it up with thing. I paid $25,000 for the treasure chest, and I started filling it up with 265 gold coins. Most of them are American Eagles and some Double Eagles, mostly Double Eagles. My goal never changed. My goal was to take that treasure chest out in a very special place and put it there. I’ve never said that I buried it, but I never said that I didn’t bury it. I just don’t want to give that as a clue. And, let people go looking for it. If you can find the treasure chest, and open that lid for the first time, it’s going to be the most wonderful thing that you ever saw.

I crafted a poem that’s in my book. It has nine clues in it, and I changed that poem over a 15 year period. People read that poem and it’s there, “He sat down and wrote that poem in 15 minutes.” It took me 15 years. The poem is not so much written as it is an architectural plan. It’s been crafted. It reads very simple. Here, hand me that book.

(recites poem)

I dare you to go get it. If you can find it, you can have it. And nobody knows where it is but me. If a train runs over me this afternoon, it will go to my grave with me.

My name is Forrest Fenn. We’re in my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve lived in it since 1988 and I think it will be my last abode. The Santa Fe trail runs about 50 feet from my library window and I have an old 1880 Army ammunition wagon sitting right in the middle of the Santa Fe trail. It goes right through my pond. I’m very happy where I am. Santa Fe is a wonderful place to live. I’ll be 83 in two weeks. I’m going out at the top of my game. Some people are collectors and some people are not. My wife is not a collector, but I collected everything. I used to collect match folders and beer steins. I don’t know what it is, but if you have an old photograph of your mother, what makes you like that photograph? Antiques - there’s the mystery of it. The unknown that plays on your mind. The mystery of who they were and who made it and what they did. You can conjure back anything you want to about that.

It’s the thrill of discovery - the thrill of the chase. On we go / the virtue lies / in the journey / not the prize. And I believe that.

MARK HOWARD: There’s a lot of people that really enjoy the idea of a treasure, you know? Just like I enjoy the idea of it. From my perspective, of course, I’m a goldsmith and having 20 pounds of gold to work with, that’s my palette. That’s what I enjoy and that’s what I do, so that would be extreme freedom for me from $1300 an ounce gold, you know, which is what I have to pay today. My name is Mark Howard. We’re here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or outside thereof, and this is my house, and as far as the treasure goes, I’m going to probably look again although the past two times, because it’s whipped me, I said to my wife, “You know, maybe I shouldn’t go again.” And it only takes me a couple of weeks to say, “No, I think I gotta go again.” I like the treasure hunt. It’s like when we were kids. Like Treasure Island and all those stories you read when you were a kid, and you thought, “God, I’d just love to go out and do something like that.” And this kind of fed into that, and I said, okay. I was, what, 57? I’m going to be 60. If I’m going to do this kind of thing, I’d better do it now. There’s some historical points in there, historical artifacts in there. All those interest me too. I really love the antique stuff. One of the things I really want is that damn box. I really want that box, because this is from like 1150 A.D.

FENN: The box is a beautiful cast bronze box that I’ve been told was 11th or 12th century. It’s 10 inches by 10 inches and 5 inches deep, and weighs 42 pounds. The gold is what makes it heavy. 265 gold coins, some pre-Columbian gold figures that are 1500 to 1800 years old. There’s a wonderful necklace in there made by Sinu and Tairona cultures with carved jade figures and carnelian and quartz crystals carved figures. It’s wonderful - 2000 years old. It’s… It’s worth looking for. I put a little bracelet in there that I won in a pool game with a guy. It’s the cheapest thing in there. It’s probably worth, well with all the notoriety it’s had now, it’s probably worth $750. It was worth $250 when I put it in the treasure chest. You can’t just go out and buy a bunch of gold nuggets. There are hundreds and hundreds of gold nuggets in that treasure chest. There’s a little jar of gold dust from Alaska. I couldn’t put a Porsche in the box, or I’d have done that. I was limited by so many cubic inches in that treasure chest.

HOWARD: He often says if it takes 2,000 years for someone to find it, that’s just fine by him. It’s not fine by me, but that’s okay. I think I’ve been out only maybe 20 times. Started here in Northern New Mexico, and at one point I went as far as Yellowstone. Then I went into Colorado, and I’m still kind of bouncing around looking for the treasure. Almost anybody that found it, with the exception of the people that are crazy, would probably let it go. I certainly would. My idea is to put Jim Weatherell’s bracelet on, and walk up to his house, you know, and knock on the door, and he’d know immediately. I wouldn’t have to say a thing; he wouldn’t have to say a thing. That way, he’d never have to say anything to anybody else either. That’s, uh, you know, that’s a daydream.

FENN: There’s something that I don’t know whether it’s in the treasure chest or not. It was a crazy idea. But, going about the question you asked earlier, “Did I want to know if someone had found the treasure chest?” So I said, “Yeah, I do.” One reason is so people won’t be spending all their money looking for something that isn’t there any more. So I put an IOU - I wrote out an IOU. “Take this IOU to my bank in Santa Fe, and collect $100,000.” I figured for $100,000, the guy that found the treasure chest would not want to keep it secret anymore. So now the IRS is getting in the act and everybody knows. But if someone finds it 1,000 years from now, my bank won’t be there, and there won’t be any money in the account even if they did, so, I think I took that IOU out. But I don’t remember whether I did or not. It’s in there in spirit.

There are two gold nuggets in that treasure chest that weigh more than a Troy pound apiece. I used to take them out and hand them to people that would almost drop them because they’re so heavy. I’d go on the Today show, you know, I’ve been on five times...

JANET SHAMLIAN: ...Talk you into, somehow, giving us another clue this morning....

FENN: Well I’m not going to put an X on the map for you.

And I think we’ll do it maybe another… and I give clues. The last clue I gave them was that it’s not in Utah or Idaho. But that’s not going to lead you to the treasure chest.

...The clue is that the treasure is higher than seven, uh, five thousand feet above sea level....

SHAMLIAN: ...The treasure is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level....

MICHAEL MCGARRITY: I think it’s in New Mexico. Now, the issue was: was it buried? We finally got Forrest to admit that no, it’s hidden. So, it’s quite possible it’s not buried, just simply hidden. My name’s Michael McGarrity, I’m a novelist. We’re in Cathedral Park, which is next to the Basilica a block from the famous Santa Fe Plaza. We like to get together once in awhile and have lunch and tell stories. Socializing is something that usually happens when someone throws a party, or there’s some special event to get folks together. This is the stuff that myths are made of, that legends are made of. And we’ve got our share of old mine treasures being hidden on the White Sands missile range. Vittorio Peak, or down in the Gila, now we’ve got the Forrest Fenn treasure.

FENN: There’ve been some people very close to the treasure chest. There have been people that have figured out the first couple of clues and walked right past the treasure chest. I think it’s there - I haven’t checked on it, but I’m 99.9% sure it’s there.

MCGARRITY: He has said publicly, that people have come within 500 feet of the treasure. Now, the question is: is that true? I mean that’s a great teaser, and I would have used it myself even if the person that got closest to it was five miles away. I still would have said that. If it’s found, and I asked him this question, if it’s found, how are you going to know its found? Now he’s convinced that he will be contacted, right? If I found a multi-million dollar treasure, I wouldn’t want the IRS to know about it, would you? No! I’d take it home and I’d sell one gold nugget at a time. He’s a character. What else can I say? He’s an interesting guy. He has a certain flamboyancey to him.

FENN: But I put other things in there too. I pulled a couple of hairs out of my head. Because somebody can do a DNA, they can do a carbon-14 test. You know, there’s another thing that I put in the chest that I’ve not told anybody about, and I’m saving it for the person that finds the treasure chest. In other words, this is not something that I put together in an afternoon. I spent a lot of time thinking about it.

MARY WOLF: My name is Mary Wolf. I’m the co-owner of the Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Forrest Fenn has been a loyal and constant customer of the bookstore since the bookstore opened in 1978. I got to know him best, probably, in 2010 when he came to the store to talk to Dorothy and myself about The Thrill of the Chase, the book that he was about to release and publish.

FENN: I wrote a book called The Thrill of the Chase and that’s the philosophy that permeates that book. You know, there’s a lady writer from Austin asked me, “Mr. Fenn, who’s your audience for this book?” I said, “My audience is every redneck in Texas with a pickup truck and 12 kids. He’s lost his job and has the thrill to go out and look for things.” I said, “That’s my audience.” Throw a bedroll in the back of your truck, get a six pack, and hit the road looking for a fortune! I mean, it’s the thrill of the chase. That’s what we’re talking about. Take your wife. Put all the kids in the back of the truck and head out!

WOLF: The Thrill of the Chase has had a huge impact, obviously, on our business. Forrest is not tied to the bookstore in any way contractually; however, he gave us this book to sell. He paid for the first printing, and then gave us the book because he didn’t want anyone to say he was making any money from this store, which he hasn’t. We’ve paid for the last printing, and we’ll pay for the future printings. And we are already in the 5th printing coming up, so we’re going through the books. First of all he can well-afford to hide a treasure of that value, and what really drives him is to leave a lasting mark on a whole generation of people and recreate a love for adventure and a passion for discovery that he has in his own life. And I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s a beautiful story. He has an amazing story.

FENN: Well, I was born in Temple, Texas in the heart of Texas 60 miles north of Austin. My father was a school teacher. When I started first grade, he started in the school that I started first grade in. He was a math teacher, and the next year, they promoted him to be the principal. And then I went to a Junior High School, and he moved over there and he was my principal again. So I passed all those courses because my father was principal. I’m not sure for any other reason!

I remember the first time I saw TV in Temple, Texas there was a big truck out behind, on the city square behind the city hall. And they invited people to come into city hall and look at the television set that was being transmitted from a hundred feet away. It wasn’t a very good picture. And then, a couple of years later, color TV came along and boy, that’ll never work! And I remember riding back from Yellowstone to Temple, Texas with my football coach in 1946 when they dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

HISTORIC VOICEOVER: When can we tell when the atomic bomb will explode?

FENN: And boy, that was the end. The beginning of the end. President Eisenhower told everybody to go out in their backyard and dig a bomb shelter and stock it with food for… and everybody did.

HISTORIC VOICEOVER: Always remember, the flash of an atomic bomb can come at any time no matter where you may be.

FENN: Every generation thinks that theirs will be the last. When the bow and arrow was invented, everybody said boy, the end is coming! And then when the Chinese invented gunpowder, that WAS the end.

MCGARRITY: Santa Fe’s a place that attracts unusual people. Forrest certainly qualifies in that regard. He’s a very unique guy. His record in the military is just an incredible one. You could call him a war hero. I mean he enlisted in the Air Force, I mean he can tell his own story.

FENN: I joined the military on the 6th of September 1950. The Korean War was brand new, and I was going to win the war! I started out as a private and I retired 20 years later as a major. The military in all their wisdom said that I had an aptitude for electronics, and I didn’t have the slightest idea what I was doing. But I went to an Advanced Radar Maintenance school for nine months in Biloxi, Mississippi, and I graduated but I still didn’t know what I was doing. I had a mean sergeant that didn’t like me and I didn’t like him so I went down to personnel and I said, “How can I get out of this place?” They gave me a bunch of forms to fill out and I could go to jump school, I could volunteer for submarine or I could go to pilot training. I said, “I’ll take the first one you can get for me,” and it was pilot training. So they put me in this little machine - it looked like a phone booth turned on its side. And it had a stick in it like an airplane has. It was on springs. If you turned the thing loose, it falls over and you crash. So the secret is to hold the airplane steady. And this guy said I was the best he ever saw doing that, I mean it was the simplest thing I’d ever been in. And I said, “If that’s all there is to it, I’ll take it!” So they accepted me into pilot training.

When you fly in fighter airplanes, the old saying is if the fighter pilot makes a mistake, he doesn’t have to worry about it. But when you get in that airplane all by yourself, it’s a whole different ballgame really. There’s nobody there but you. It’ll sober you up. I was in Vietnam for a year. I flew 328 combat missions. I was shot down twice, and took battle damage a few times. I lost some roommates. Getting shot down was routine. I didn’t get killed, but I had an airplane full of bullet holes, and it was totally destroyed. I did land the thing. I landed at a little airport that was used mostly for forward air controllers, little putt-putt airplanes and helicopters. I put the tail up on this F-100 I was flying and I engaged the barrier because I knew I wasn’t going to stop otherwise. But I pulled that thing the wrong way and I touched down at about 150 knots I guess and I stopped in less than 200 feet. I came away with the idea that we need to learn to leave other people alone. And I think we killed 10 civilians for every military person we killed because we’re dropping bombs and strafing, you don’t see the bodies laying there, but it’s a terrible thing. We need to stop doing that.

When I was 27 years old, no college, I was in a fighter squadron in Bitburg, Germany. They took me down to supply, and I checked out an atomic bomb. 61 megaton atomic bomb. I think the bomb at Hiroshima was something like 17,000 tons? Well this was 61 kilotons. I owned that thing. It had a crew chief like an airplane has a crew chief and it’s on a dolly. But the dolly couldn’t move one inch unless I was standing there supervising. I was all over Europe and South America and all over this country, and we had a gunner school outside of Tripoli, Libya - about 35 or 40 miles. On the weekends, I would get a jeep and go down to the Sahara Desert where the big tank battles were fought during World War Two. It’s just like they left that country, you know? You can see skeletons laying there and a German helmet and a burned out tank and bullets laying around. I can’t tell you how many times I would see a hand grenade laying on the ground there, with a flint projectile laying next to it that’s 1500, 2000, 3000 years old. You’d see wars laying on top of wars.

They grew me up in the Air Force. You get a haircut once a week, whether you like it or not, and I could see myself growing in the Air Force. They gave me so much authority, you know, I retired - you have to serve 20 years to get retired pay, but you have to retire at the end of the month so it cost me 24 extra days. I served 20 years and 24 days. And I got out the first minute I was eligible.

I had a wife and two daughters, two young daughters, and my retired pay was $800 a month. I could get by with that in 1970. We did alright but I wanted to do better than that, and I just wanted to go someplace where the world would stop and let me out. Santa Fe was the only place I knew where I could wear blue jeans, a short-sleeved shirt, and Hush Puppies, and make a living. One of my rules was that I didn’t want to do anything, where my best customer gave me $100 - talking about restaurant business, one hour Martinizing, I mean you go on and on and on. They’re labor intensive. Primary employee doesn’t show up - he’s drunk or something. I was a collector of Indian things and antiques and that sort of thing. So I wanted to deal in luxuries.

JD NOBLE: I’d known about him forever. He’s a local legend. He had an amazing gallery here in town and really brought it to the ultimate Santa Fe gallery. If you had to choose one of the major galleries, his gallery would have been the one. I’m JD Noble. I’m part owner of the Hatsmith of Santa Fe. I was looking for some photos of some old Indians that I knew… I knew Forrest had some photos of these old Indians from Taos. And so, I called him up one day and said, “Hey, I would like to have lunch with you and talk about these old Taos Indians.” So he says, “Yeah, yeah, I want to show you something.” We had lunch and he says, “Well, I don’t really have any photos that I can help you with, but I do have this…” And he unrolls this flyer for the new book on the treasure. And so man, I am hooked right away. So my trips are usually no more than two days. I’ll go in and camp out. If I can’t find it in two days, I come back, then I go out again.

FENN: When you’re dealing with luxuries, normally you’re dealing with better people. You’re dealing with people that can write a check that won’t bounce. I broke all the rules of custom. I would take anybody’s check for any amount of money. And normally, I wasn’t interested in looking at a Driver’s License. You know I go to New York today, and they won’t take my traveler’s check. Well, I took a check for $375,000 from a man one time and told him I didn’t want to see his driver’s license. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe I’d take his check. Seventeen years in the business, I had two bad checks. The big one was for $600. And the guy that wrote me the check for $600 he did it deliberately thinking he was going to get by with it. Didn’t say anything to him. I didn’t call him, I didn’t write him a letter. But 30 days later I sued him for $600, attorney’s fees, interest on the note, and $25,000 punitive damages. He was calling my wife trying to get her to talk me into dropping my lawsuit. I finally settled with him. I think I got attorney’s fees $75, Interest on the note was $1.75 or so, and I said come into my gallery again, and I’ll take your check for any amount of money, but next time, it’s $1,000,000 punitive damage because you have a track record.

A guy came into my gallery years ago. He had a little tiny human skull, about the size of a big orange. He said, “This is Napoleon’s skull.” He said, “I want $1,000 for it.” I said, “That can’t be Napoleon's skull, it’s too small.” He said, “Oh, it was his skull when he was a kid.” So, you know, that’s what you have to put up with when you’re a trader. You know, I almost bought the skull! The story was too good to turn down! I ran my gallery for 17 years. My first two shows, I didn’t sell anything. Not even a book. And I finally decided, I had a little bit of money left, I’m going to spend my money on advertising. When that money’s gone, I’m going to slam the door, leave this town and go do something else. Probably flipping hamburgers someplace. I tell people to - if you have a daydream, then that’s where your aptitude is. Go do that.

HOWARD: I think what people need to know is, if they know Forrest Fenn, then they know that he’s a historian and ethnographer and archaeologist, anthropologist… I think part of it is, one of many parts of it is, like, looking to match wits with Forrest. He’s very intelligent. He’s very logical. He’s very creative. And he’s very crafty. I had many of the misconceptions that everybody else starts out with. Misconceptions by - you have a certain perspective, and when you read this book, it’s from your perspective that you look at whatever clues are there, and then try to find this treasure. But, you can’t look at it from your perspective. You have to divorce yourself from that and look at it from the perspective of Forrest Fenn. So first you have to know the man. You have to read the book, and then I read every book that he mentioned in the book. Including things I hadn’t read in years, like Catch-22 and The Great Gatsby. I looked at each one of them trying to say, “Okay, is there a clue in each one of these books as well?”

WOLF: If you know Forrest, then you know that, primarily, he’s an adventurer, and a great explorer of life, and a great collector of things. The thrill of the chase really sums up what his whole life has been about. It’s about pursuing the ‘hard to reach’, going places other people don’t go. Obtaining things that other people aren’t able to obtain. And doing it in a really loving and careful way. I think that the treasure is just indicative of how Forrest thinks, and he has one of the most amazing art collections in the United States. So he was going to leave a legacy behind anyway, but this speaks to his larger desire to leave a legacy for the world.

FENN: People think I did this for my legacy. When you’re dead, a legacy is not worth much to you when you’re dead. So that was never a consideration of mine, really. I don’t care if anybody remembers me after I’m gone. You don’t have to acknowledge me while I’m alive as far as I’m concerned.

MCGARRITY: I used that word with him - legacy. He kind of gave me this strange look like, you know it’s not about legacy, I’m just having fun. I said, “Oh now wait a minute, Forrest, come on, there’s a little bit of the legacy thing. Leaving something behind. This is of legendary proportion. That’s what legacy means. Let’s talk about it from that standpoint. Taking a beautiful antique bronze box and filling it with jewels and coins and gold and nuggets, and burying it, and writing a poem so people can go and find it. If that’s not about legacy, tell me what it is.”

FENN: I learned I had cancer in 1988. I had a small pain in my left groin, and it persisted for a number of months. So I was talking to a doctor at a party one day, and he says, “Well, you ought to go over and check it out.” The first time I knew I was in trouble, the nurse, they gave me some stuff to drink, and they were looking at my kidneys on this machine, and the nurse said, “Hey girls, come over here and look at this.” And I had a dead kidney and my doctor said, “Well, just because your kidney is not working is not reason enough to take it out, but since you have a pain, let’s take it out.” And I said, “What are the chances of it being cancer?” He said, “five percent.” A one hour operation turned into five and he gave me a 20% chance of living three years.

I was standing right here in my office with Ralph Lauren one time. He was a friend, and a client. And I had something that he wanted. I told him I didn’t want to sell it. He said, “You’ve got so many of them. You can’t take them with you.” And without thinking about it, I said to him, “Well, if I can’t take it with me, then I’m not going.” And that night I started thinking about it and I, you know, I had a 20% chance to live, that’s not too good. My father called me on the phone one night. He had pancreas cancer. They gave him six months to live. Eighteen months later, he called me on the phone and said that he was going to take 50 sleeping pills that night. I had an airplane. I said I would be there first thing in the morning. He said, “That’s too late.” And it was. And I respected him because he did it on his own terms. Why do you have to do it on somebody else’s terms all the time? So I decided that if I was going to die, and the odds certainly said that I was going to, then I appreciated what my father did and the last thing I want to do is die in a hospital bed. I said in my book, a hospital bed gives you temporary postponement, and you’re miserable the whole time. The poem originally said, “Take the chest and leave my bones alone.” I ruined my original story because I got well. Why not hide a treasure chest full of wonderful things and let somebody else have the same thrill that I’ve had all these years? For 70 years. 75 years. The gold in the treasure chest weighs 20.2 Troy pounds. It’s full of emeralds and diamonds and sapphires and 200 something rubies. When I hid my treasure chest, walking back to my car, I had this strange sensation. I asked myself out loud, I said, “Forrest did you really do that?” And I started laughing at myself out loud. There was nobody around, but in the back of my mind I told myself if I’m sorry later, I can go back and get it. But then the more I thought about it, it started evolving in my mind, I became really proud of myself. You know, once in awhile you do something that you’re really proud of. It hasn’t happened to me too many times. But I was really glad that I hid that treasure chest.

My wife doesn’t know within 18 months of when I hid that treasure chest. But the clues are there. They’re not easy to follow, but certainly not impossible.

WOLF: I have no doubt that it’s out there. I know that some people think that there’s no way that he could have done this or would have done this, and I think that people who believe that don’t understand, uh, what drives Forrest. He really, really is driven by wanting kids having the same sort of experiences today that he had growing up even though they’re growing up in a very different world. And so, he really wants kids to get out and bond with their families and go out and explore nature and get out there and experience the thrill of the chase.

FENN: We have a problem in this country with our youth today. We’re obese. Graffiti. Drive by shootings. Disrespect. The teenagers today are going to be our senators and presidents in the future, so what are we doing to prepare those people? And I’ve got to blame the churches. I blame school teachers. I certainly blame archeologists who have a wonderful thing to offer, but they’re so full of jargon and everybody has their thing going and we’re mostly oblivious of the problems that somebody else sees but it’s not my problem. That’s the attitude today, and I think that’s a terrible attitude. In a very small way, I was hoping to get kids off the couch, out of the game rooms, and away from their texting machines and out to smell the sunshine and see what’s going on out in the countryside.

MCGARRITY: I think that’s Forrest’s whole intention. Get their kids. Take them out, and show them the outdoors and have an adventure. It doesn’t matter if you find it. I’ve had some amazing times out in the mountains just looking for it.

WOLF: We have heard numerous times, “This is the first time we have taken a family vacation. All of us. This is the first time that we have all gone somewhere and spent this much time together.” And we hear that from the kids too. Like, “This is the first time we’ve ever gone anywhere with mom and dad and done what mom and dad are doing.” And that’s really powerful. Forrest loves to hear those stories. Frankly, there’s just as much chance of a six year old from Kansas finding it as there is somebody in Santa Fe who has been dedicating their months to figuring out the puzzle. And if they wander across it, they will find it.

FENN: Again let me say that I’m not thinking of something “Let’s go do it this afternoon.” I’m thinking about a thousand years from now. Nothing has happened that was not predictable. I’ve called 911 three times. They arrested a guy at my gate and put him in handcuffs last week. Took him off to jail. I’ve had death threats. You know, when you look at politicians they get death threats every day.

HOWARD: And you know you can’t guess what these people are going to do. And people get in their head, “It’s my treasure. I deserve it. I’m going to go get it.” That can be a little scary.

FENN: So I’ll be 83 years old on the 22nd of this month and I told a guy the other day if torture and death are the only two things that you can threaten me with you’re in trouble. I’ve been down the road a few miles you know? I don’t want to leave my wife with all of these things. The vultures would circle this house and so I’m selling some things now. I’m not tearing down my walls, but things that are laying down. I’m just trying to ease the pain for my heirs. I think over spring break in Santa Fe there were about 6,500 people in Santa Fe related to the treasure chest. And, this summer, before the summer is over I spent some time estimating. I think there will be 43,000 people looking for the treasure chest in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming.

MCGARRITY: On the one hand, it’s given an award for increasing tourism in the community right? I was walking in a shopping center just after the book came out and there was this huge 4x4 extended cab Dodge 350 Ram Charger. And in the back there was a 4 wheel drive all terrain vehicle. And this big Texan gets out. I know he was Texan because he had license plates from Texas. And he says, “Can you tell me how to find Forrest Fenn? I’m looking for Forrest Fenn. I’m here to look for that treasure.”

WOLF: We have met people from, probably, four continents and ten countries, who have come here. We have families, older people, young people, college kids who have come together. People who have started teams working on the puzzle. Crowdsourcing. Solutions to the puzzle, and then sending delegates out here to look.

HOWARD: I’ve run into people who’ve told me they spent their life savings coming out here. Literally coming from Florida one guy came. Spent at least $12,000 on airfare. That was his life savings. A lady come in from Mississippi. She was an old client and she said, “Well, when I find Forrest’s treasure,” she’s 40 pounds overweight, five years old than me and she’s rich and I say, “Okay, you go!” you know? “You go girl!” What the hell.

FENN: I’m right at 22,000 emails from people related to the treasure chest. They tell me where they are and where they’re going and want to know if they’re hot or cold. Thousands of emails from people that have said thanks to me for getting them out of the house. I had a man send me an email who said, “My brother - I had not spoken to my brother in 12 years. He called me on the phone and said let’s go look for the treasure chest”, and so they’re connected again. I see a lot of that - that kind of thing. It’s very rewarding, you know, it’s a by-product of something that I did. I’m the big winner in this thing, because I feel a sense of satisfaction.

WOLF: About the best one that I heard was a gentleman who said that if he found the treasure, he would give the bracelet back to Forrest and then he was going to re-hide the treasure somewhere else, and write his own book. And just kind of keep it going because he was having so much fun looking for it. And he’d been looking for it for six months and he kind of wanted to find it, but he kind of didn’t want that to end.

HOWARD: ...come to my shop, I had the guy from Florida that I mentioned came to my shop, and he brought me a detailed map. Layed out on a piece of cardboard. Told me what he was thinking. And said, “Will you go get this for me and split the treasure with me?” I said, “Look, that’s not my thing. I know where I want to go.” And he got offended and left.

MCGARRITY: You know, I really kind of wonder if some people have found it. My last adventure out, somebody had beaten me to it. To the spot. I had been there once before, but I was unprepared. And I came back, and waited for the weather to get warm, and went back. Somebody had left a message that they had been there already. Done in pink chalk. With a big X on a rock and said, “It is not here.” I think it’s a diversion because I still want to go back because there’s many many, uh, I can’t tell you where it’s at. People - somebody else already figured it out too, so whoever it was, we were both thinking and putting the clues, and that’s just interpreting the clues, which are so vague.

FENN: I’ve given clues to everybody. I’ve never given a clue to an individual. The first clue that I gave that wasn’t in my poem was because I made this guy mad and he demanded another clue. And I said, “The treasure chest is hidden more than 300 miles west of Toledo.” I don’t think he knew that I was pulling his leg. There was a guy out here someplace, dug a hole 18 inches deep and 9 inches wide and they arrested him.

FEMALE VOICEOVER: ...charges for digging near a descanso looking for Forrest Fenn’s box of gold and jewels.

FENN: Please tell me what’s going on here. Nine inches wide and eighteen inches deep and they arrested - all over the paper, they’re quoting the police officer that they’re going to prosecute this guy.

MCGARRITY: There are people saying, “Oh wait, wait, wait. He’s sending these people off to trample our wilderness.” What wilderness? Come on. About the only real wilderness we have, most people can’t get to. And that’s up in the Pecos which recently burned. You know, most of what we have in terms of national forest is not wilderness. But, “oh no, it’s going to send people out and they’re going to dig up, uh, plants and disturb the ground and be where they shouldn’t be.”

FENN: No matter what you do, somebody is not going to like it. There are always just disgruntled people. Somebody picks up an arrowhead worth $8.00. And they “stole that from the government.” So I guess the government is going to come and get them and arrest them. Too many PhD’s in government. Bureau of Land Management came in and searched my house four years ago. Somebody told them I had taken something out of a cave in Arizona that was on government land. Well it wasn’t on government land, it was private property. But, even if everything they said was true, the statute of limitations had run out 47 years ago. So four years passed, and I got a letter from them that absolved me of everything. That was the end of it. It builds character. I just wonder what I’m going to do with all this character.

MCGARRITY: And he’s very bright. There’s nothing at all about this man that doesn’t speak to how smart he is. He’s a curious guy. That curiosity has led him to a point in his life where he is extremely well off. Lives a beautiful lifestyle. He likes to tell stories. He likes to confound people. He likes to put little things out there that has folks guessing.

HOWARD: I’m not there to try to pry information out of him. That’s not to say I don’t look carefully at everything he has said to me, because, he’s that way. There could be something there. But I don’t ask him any specific questions, and he doesn’t volunteer any specific information. It wouldn’t be fair. He’s really interested in this being something that, where the playing field is pretty level for people. But it’s going to take somebody that’s intelligent, who looks at all these in different aspects, I think, to find it. I don’t think anybody’s going to stumble upon it.

MCGARRITY: This last spot that I’ve been in, I really feel like it’s there. I’ve already hit Forrest up; he denies it. But uh, you know, he tries to get me to go back to one of my first spots, and that’s a diversion, I know.

FENN: I still have about uh, something like, 4,000 arrowheads. And I tell people I’m saving those, because after the next war, I’ll make a fortune selling my arrowheads to different armies around the world. Einstein had said, “I don’t know what we’ll fight World War III with, but World War IV is going to be fought with sticks.” And the technology is changing so fast. I mean, if your computer is two years old, it’s archaic today. Technology is not going to help you find that treasure. But your mind and your body and your attitude changes as things change.

HOWARD: It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve been on top of some mountains and I’ve been in a lot of hot springs and when nobody’s there, that’s great I just take it all off and throw myself in and wait awhile. I’ve had Bighorn Sheep right near me. Bald Eagles fly right over my head. I’ve been up in the mountains for the first snowfall of the year, which at that point, in that place, was September 30.

FENN: The greatest thrill is going by yourself. You don’t know where the edge is unless you go out there and look for it.

HOWARD: I always bring something back. Generally speaking, it’s something I found along the way that interests me a feather, a mineral specimen, you know, an artifact that somebody lost long ago.

FENN: Yeah, I have some advice. Read the book. And then study the poem. Over and over. Read it over and over. Maybe even memorize it. And then go back and read the book again looking for hints that are in the book that are going to help you with the clues that are in the poem. That’s the best advice that I can give. You have to find out - you have to learn where the first clue is. They get progressively easier after you discover where the first clue is.

WOLF: Forrest has given some good advice. I mean, Forrest has told people to enjoy themselves, but not get into danger. Don’t get into trouble. Don’t go into places that a 79 year old man couldn’t get to carrying a 42 pound box. But, then again, you haven’t seen Forrest. He might not be your average 79 year old man.

HOWARD: One thing I need to tell people who think they’re going to go do this, you better be in shape. If you think that this guy at 79 was a pushover, you got another think coming.

MCGARRITY: You were asking me earlier about the reason, I was at a point in my life where I was ready for some adventure. And this was just perfect.

HOWARD: I mean I believe I know where it is. I just haven’t found the blaze. And that’s going to be the toughest part.

WOLF: I’ve seen a lot of stuff I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t been out there looking. And, while, a couple of times I thought, “Oh yeah, I got it. I know exactly where it is.” When I came back empty handed, I didn’t feel disappointed somehow. I came away with just more excitement about going out again.

MCGARRITY: Well Forrest contends that his real mission in life, when he wrote this book, was to get people up and off the couch and out doing something in the wild. Right? And I just roll my eyes. I said, come on. But he sticks to it. He sticks to his story.

WOLF: He is, um, passionate about adventure and he is passionate about sharing that love of adventure, and treasure seeking with other people. An American archetype if you will.

FENN: I think the thing that, as much as anything, is that first little arrowhead that I found when I was nine years old. I still have it, yeah, sure. My autobiography is in the treasure chest. I put it in a little olive jar. I rolled it up. Printed at Kinko’s. I have to use a magnifying glass if I want to read it. The olive jar had a metal lid. And metal will rust. It’s tin. And so I dipped it in hot wax to make it airtight and watertight. 10,000 years from now, that autobiography is going to be just like it is when I put it in there. There’s an old saying, “You can never go home.” How many encores can a person take? I mean, I’ve played my hand.

I don’t feel like I gave you anything.

INTERVIEWER: Oh I think we got plenty.

FENN: (reads poem)



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