Friday, July 31, 2020

Forrest Fenn - The Scribbler

Back in 2015, Forrest sent out arrowheads and portions of a mammoth's tusk to treasure searchers who would send him a self address, stamped, padded envelope. I was lucky enough to get both. I even made a nice display for the mammoth tusk based on the scrapbook post I saw on Dal's site. It's still hanging in my living room. 

Like many others, I also received a short handwritten note from Forrest. On each note I noticed a little scribble under the first letter of my name. At first I thought it was just one of those scribbles we all do to get the ink flowing from the pen. But then I noticed the scribbles were strikingly similar. They seemed to have structure or purpose. Of course, after a solid two years of being on the Chase, everything was a clue. I take that back. Everything was a hint. There were only nine clues. That's something else I had learned after two years of following the discussions.

Anyway, gold fever had led me to develop SchizoFennia (skit-suh-fe-nee-uh:  a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally as a result of searching for Forrest Fenn's treasure. SchizoFennia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that causes one to interpret anything Forrest Fenn says, writes or does as potential hints or clues that point to the location of his treasure).

And so, I thought Forrest was trying to tell me something. The scribbles must have been some sort of code, some sort of direction, some sort of HINT. I did all sorts of research. I even looked for Native American symbols that might have a similar look. Sure enough, I found one (kind of): water. Well, that would be related to my solve so I made it fit. Needless to say I was pretty excited to have such an inside track to the treasure. 

In early 2017, Dal posted Forrest Gets Mail 15. I've shared the image here for reference. "Obviously," this mail was a creation of Forrest. The "email" was in composition mode. Forrest was trying to send a message, I thought. It was often debated in the blogosphere whether Forrest was trying to send messages to those who knew what to look for. Well, in my SchizoFennia, I received this one. As I looked at this image on Dal's site, I saw the scribble again. But this time, it was in the form of a creek. And in the creek was a rock. And on the rock was an X. It just doesn't get much more exciting than this! I mean just look at the shape of the scribbles again. And then look at that creek. They have the same number of bendy points. It must be intentional, right?  

Anyway, time went by. I went out West and did a couple more searches.
We had a great time exploring and seeing the sights. I would do my searches every morning from 4am to about 7am. Because I had to. But that's another story. I came home empty-handed, but full-hearted. Such grand adventures and great memories for the whole family. I settled into a bit of complacency. Gold fever was gone. It only took about 5 years for my perspective to shift. There were times, though, when the Scribbler would reappear. Someone posted this photo of Forrest signing a copy of his book. I found the X interesting because the whole arrangement was similar to the "Forrest Gets Mail" post. So it got me thinking. 

On my last trip searching for the treasure in 2019, before it was found, I tried to get a new perspective of my search area. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my search area from above and saw this: a little bendy creek with a rock that had an X on the top.

Now that the veil has lowered a bit, searchers have begun to share their stories and their coincidences a bit more openly. Some of us have even started coming to terms with our SchizoFennia. So I was wondering, who else has that mysterious little scribble in a note from Forrest? What do you think it means? Why does he do it? I think maybe that might be the question I'd submit if there's ever another six questions or featured question. 😉

Sunday, July 26, 2020

One Man's Privy is Another Man's Treasure

If you've read my mini-memoir/treasure hunt book, Seek and Ye Shall Find (the hunt is over but the book is still available for sale), you may recall that I'm the fourth generation of my family to live in my house (my children are the fifth!). Those are my great-grandparents and original owners of the house, Beryl and Floyd. 

Back when the house was built in 1923, they didn't have many of the modern conveniences we enjoy today. One such convenience we take for granted is plumbing, specifically toilets. Many years ago, my great uncle (son of Beryl) came back for a visit. He was born in the house (I mean physically born in the house) back in 1925. As we walked through the house he shared stories about how it was when he was growing up. Then, as we surveyed the backyard, he pointed out where they would put the outhouse. There were three large trees in the backyard and they provided ample concealment, so the outhouse remained generally out of sight. From time to time, they would relocate the outhouse to stand behind one of those trees. 

Fun fact:  When you think of old outhouses, you might imagine a crescent moon or a circle or a star on the door. The crescent moon, symbol for the Roman moon goddess, Luna, indicated a ladies’ outhouse. The circle or star was symbolic of the sun and the Greek male sun god, Apollo so that would be the mens' outhouse.

Another modern "convenience" we have is regular trash pick up and recycling. Back in the day, that wasn't always the case. So the pits below the outhouses were also used as garbage disposal. Archaeologists and treasure hunters enjoy finding old outhouse locations (or garbage dumps) because you can often learn a lot about a culture by examining what they threw away. You can also find some interesting treasures.

Those three trees in my backyard are now gone. Old age and insects got the best of them. However, I still know the general areas. So, the other day I took my metal detector and began a quest to find an outhouse location. After a number of false hits, I finally struck gold (or maybe brown; sorry for the potty humor). Figuratively, of course. If you're a follower of the Forrest Fenn treasure, you've heard the jokes about putting in below the home of Brown in order to find the treasure. Well, the joke is more true than you might think! You won't find Fenn's treasure there, but if you can find an old outhouse location, you'll likely journey through time. And if you're lucky enough, like me, to know whose outhouse it was, you can imagine that way back in a simpler time, your ancestors were in that very same spot...but doing something very different.

Anyway, I wish they would have been more gentle with their glass disposal! The photos to the right are most of my finds so far. I found lots of broken glass. And lots of rusty metal (not shown). But there are some pretty neat treasures. 

Some of my favorites are (click the images to see larger photos and better detail):
  • fully intact glass bottles and a glass tea cup
  • an air pressure gauge from the 1910s or 1920s 
  • a spoon
  • some old toy cars
  • a watch band or bracelet
  • a Chevrolet emblem
  • an MSAS (Michigan State Auto School) medal or maybe keychain (?). My great grandfather Floyd was an auto mechanic, tire repairman, battery repairmen (had his own business for a while), so it's pretty neat to find some items that might tie directly to him. 

I'm still excavating, but the hits are drying up so I'm not expecting any more super exciting discoveries. Once I'm convinced I've reached the end, I'll fill it back up and look for the other two sites. 

If you live in an old neighborhood and have a backyard, maybe take a metal detector out back and see what you can dig up. You might have treasures just waiting to be found.

MSAS ad from 1916

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Wyoming Riddler's Last Riddle

After three decades of treasure hunts, Joe Cramer retired as the Wyoming Riddler in 2014. Do you know any of his other riddles? Please let me know in the comments section below or send them to me directly via email (readandseekadventures [at] gmail). 

Click here to learn more about how I'm continuing this tradition as The Grand Rapids Riddler (including the second annual hunt that begins on November 3).

This was the Wyoming Riddler's last riddle:

"Perhaps riding a bicycle, perhaps not. But how he got there is important. He knew that it changed a lot of things. If you are the first one to know, you'll find it. If you look, that is."

Clue No. 1 January 2014 

"It is near a sign of change, somewhere South of 28th, in between Grandville and Kentwood. Question: Why? Exclamation: Oh! Vase: Ming. Everyone clear on that? OK!"

Clue No. 2 Feb. 4, 2014 

"Eventually did come change but his end came first. It's good to remember: Near means by, not at!" 

Clue  No.3 Feb. 18, 2014 

"You can get there either way. Number one and two others between two and nine will help in two ways. But, never all three together."

Clue No. 4  March 11, 2014 

"Between hints in the riddle, it's there. Amongst the clues, even closer to where. 156, but not all together. To keep it fair: two mean him, two mean there."

Explanation from Joe Cramer:

How he got there= Haughey street 
Riding a bicycle, perhaps not = bicycle path 
He = male gender is relevant 
It changed a lot = James Buchanan began debate regarding abolition of slavery. 
First to know = discovery 
Why, Oh, Ming = Wyoming 
Eventually did come change = historical figure 
By not at = near Buchanan 
Numbers 156 but not all together = 15th president and 56th street 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

GRRiddler 2021 Prizes

The Grand Rapids Riddler's second annual FREE treasure hunt, GRRiddler 2021, begins on 11/03/2020! Over the next few months I'll be revealing more of the prizes. 

The original Wyoming Riddler, Joe Cramer, gave prizes of silver. In my first hunt, I continued that tradition. This time around, there'll be a couple of new prizes in addition to the "silver" and carbon monoxide detector I include (in memory of Joe Cramer - the original Wyoming Riddler).

However, starting off, here's the highly coveted winner's mug! Thousands will vie for this mug, but only one will win it. Unless there's a duo like Josh and Tim last year. Then they'll have to take turns proudly displaying it. Or drinking from it.

Make sure to follow me on social media to keep up to date on prizes, clues and announcements.


Friday, July 17, 2020

The Secret - St. Augustine

A short while ago I started working on The Secret, specifically the St. Augustine portion. I'll confess right off that I don't have a book and I haven't read the book. I probably really should. So I'm pretty much a newb, so please forgive any faux pas. 

Anyway, I kind of picked the St. Augustine one basically because I'd like to go to Florida again someday. I haven't been there since my childhood when we used to go for three weeks to visit my great-grandmother in Bradenton. That was thirty some years ago. I want to go back. The Secret would give me an excuse. 

General consensus is that St. Augustine seems to be the right place. But where in St. Augustine? A lot of focus has been on the Fountain of Youth. Certainly, I think it was a key location in confirming the city. But a few things are making me think the casque is hidden further south. So let me jump right into it. Maybe these are stretches, but who knows... :) 

1. Another general consensus I think is that the flag in the image has the Castillo de San Marcos (covered up by a circle as an after thought?). Others have suggested the shape of the flag is representative of the waterways. I think it specifically refers to Matanzas River. The shape is strikingly similar. This gives me the feeling that he's pointing south, not north towards the Fountain of Youth.

2. The enigmatic texture of the mountain/face features a purposeful shape that must have been the first part drawn in that bit of the drawing, with other shapes drawn around it - the strange feather looking shape. I haven't seen this suggested anywhere, so maybe it's my first original thought (yay!). I think the image bears a pretty good resemblance to Anastasia area (though not directly proportional, but still interesting). Notice the lines below the shape also somewhat resemble the loops in the park.

Swampy Bits

3. This one is super interesting to me, since I've not seen it anywhere else. So maybe another original thought? (double yay!) I have seen much discussion about the swampy bits at the bottom of the water. Staying around the Anastasia area, the swampy bits in the image seem to line up pretty well with the Salt Run. I've drawn some red lines to show points of comparison. There are others (even on the other side of the Salt Run) that seem to line up as well, but I have not drawn lines because I didn't want to overwhelm the chance for comparison. The match up isn't exact. However, we're looking at decades of changes that may have changed the coast line a bit. But still, I think it's a pretty good candidate. 

So what do I think this means? Well, looking at the poem, I've seen others making a great case for the area around the lighthouse and referencing the alligator park. Lots of the lines of the poem match up to this area and I think it's a good candidate, but I'm going a little bit further south. 

Like the FOY, I think the lighthouse area may be a waypoint, not the final destination. Perhaps the poem moves from north to south. It starts at the FOY (the first chapter), goes past the lighthouse (men with wind rose), keep going (you can still hear the honking), past the boat docks (sails pass by night....when they're coming back to dock), but I skipped some stuff. 

Specifically I skipped the "at the base of a tall tree". I think at that point he takes us back to the image for guidance. The tall tree in the image does not have a reflection in the water even though the rock does. Perhaps the base of the tree points to the final destination in the image, not on site. So I drew a line from the base of the tall tree to the spot in the Salt Run. 

Now going back to the painting and taking another look at the man on the horse. I just saw someone else point out the shape of the foot relates pretty well to the shape of this water inlet at the bottom of the Salt Run, almost precisely where my red line points from the base of the tall tree. Interestingly, the man's foot in the image seems to be directly above an X which is directly above the gem. Is this an "X marks the spot"? (I just realized my "X" is in the wrong spot in the picture I made. Oops. Imagining the end of the Salt Run being the leg of the horse, the X should be more to the East and under the "toe", not in front of it. Maybe it's closer to the beach even?)

Of course, satellite imagery shows much different terrain. The boot is barely discernible. And I imagine it's pretty marshy over there. I've never been, so I have no idea.  But, to me, this south end of the Salt Run and the general area of Anastasia State Park seems to be a good candidate. I'm going to keep researching and see what else I can come up with.

Another thing that I want to work on is what appears to be a silhouette or skyline. I'd really like to figure out what this is. On the left side, I can imagine a lighthouse. In the middle, maybe a tall pedestal with a statue on top (maybe a bird?). It's kind of the ultimate Rorschach test.