All pictures are copyrighted by Randy R. Pischel and Mark Best of Starthinker Enterprises..
I had been hitting the book hard and heavy since Monday after the Dragonfly had been found but I was trying to decipher the Lady Bug as clues pointed to Minnesota and that would be my day's drive from here. At least, I thought for sure SOME bug was in Minnesota. Anyway, until I get my call that is all I will say about what I was doing at the time to figure it out.
Just to be clear, I was concentrating on the Lady Bug, but instead I ended up solving the SNAIL puzzle, almost by accident, and when I realized it was in Iowa it was 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon. I found the Snail in Lake Anita State Park in Anita, Iowa.
It was about 3:00 on May 25th when I decided it was worth a shot to drive down to the park but I was leaning towards waiting for the morning and getting to the park at dawn. I picked my kids up from school at 3:30 and after doing some math I decided I would drive right down and that there should still be a few hours of daylight left after I got there. My son got excited and wanted to go, so we took off right after I dropped the other kids off at home. The drive down was wild as I was pushing it and at times it was raining so hard I could barely make out the lines on the road. The park was in the middle of nowhere, my cell wasn't even working, but at least it was only sprinkling at this point.
We searched the obvious picnic area with no luck and decided to try the one on the far side of the park, stopping at the one in the middle on the way. The middle picnic area had the best trees but they were practically hollow and a token would be impossible to retrieve out of them. I saw signs that people were already here such as fresh bark picked off (never do this, it can really injure the tree), footprints in the mud, and the debris in the knotholes all mixed up. At times we had spiders on our arms, fists full of ants, and even a big old toad that was happy just being put back in the knothole. Anyway, we found nothing. We drove back to the far site and there were hardly any trees there, just the ones off in the wild. I was really discouraged and told Evan we would take one more quick look around and leave.
At this point Evan was really adamant that a tree he saw earlier looked just like the one in the book, on the previous page as the puzzle. I was thinking that in the whole park I only saw one sign for a picnic area, even though there were 3 areas, so I thought maybe the sign was the key. So I dropped Evan off and drove to the sign and turned around. I was looking for clues when I saw Evan running down the road waving an arm in the air. As I drove up to meet him I thought that if he where tricking me, a family trait, I was going to knock his block off. But the look on his face was real.
He told me that he looked in the hole that we both had checked earlier and it was empty, but the tree was so much like the one in the book he kept poking around in the debris and saw the ring poke up. He grabbed it and without even looking to see what he had ran towards me.
We pulled up to where we could pull off the road and blew the horn and shouted at the top of our lungs. I pulled the camera out and took some pics of the token, after I convinced Evan I wasn't going to run off with it, then went back and snapped some pics of the tree. Back at the truck we discussed for few minutes if we should leave a note. I had a 1927 silver dollar that I was going to leave if I ever found a token, which I thought would be never, but in my hurry had left it at home. I did have a big railroad spike and we decided to write a note and wrap it in the spike so it wouldn't blow away. I think he poked the spike through the paper but I never went back to check.
We decided to look for all the other cars we saw circling the park to see if they were looking and wanted their picture taken with the token, but everyone was gone. We did talk to a very nice woman about five minutes before Evan found the token and she said she had talked with folks from California, Texas, and Florida. Had she stayed just 5 more minutes...well...
Anyway, the only people in the park at that point, that we could find, were the campers and the only Texas plate we saw we stopped at but the guy said he was just camping and didn't know anything about a treasure. We had been seeing deer all the time we were there so I stopped and took some pictures then we drove to the top of a hill where we could see the sun setting and behind us a rainbow, how great was that? I took some more pics and we headed off to find a place where we could wash the mud off our hands and maybe get cell phone reception.
It was the best 3 hours ever. We talked about life and the happy moments that were in it and I confessed to him how depressed I had been lately because it seemed all the tokens would be found quickly and Evan told me about how his brother was encouraging him to join the football team and lift weights (on a side note, how cool is Nick to do that with Evan? Verrrryyy cool, thanks Nick!!) and of course we called home and told the story over and over again. We both decided that it didn't matter that it was second lowest jewel, that it was so fun running around doing things we would have never done otherwise. And I can't say enough about the park, it was beautiful and I would highly recommend it as a place to camp and hike. It really was pristine and awesome. I would also like to thank my wife, Marcy, and my other three kids, Erica, Nick, and Crystal, just for being happy! Evan, keep using those psychic powers, I will never doubt you again!
So, without further delay here are some of the pics we took.
This is the sunset and rainbow we saw on the way out.
And here is the one deer that posed for us. Even after several flashes, getting in and out of the truck, and generally being happy it never ran away. It did have have those eyes, though.
And here is Evan and the token by the tree. He will kill me for posting these but I think he's great. Notice what his shirt says. Well, it says, "You Didn't Beat Me, I Let You Win."
And here is the famous tree. As you can see, it was getting dark at this point. From the first shot it's hard to tell but it's like a lower lip and behind it was a hollow spot. From the second shot it's hard to tell it's the very same as the first shot.
Us running around not knowing what to do next, and finally deciding to leave a note as I forgot my silver dollar.
I'm not even sure what tree it is from this side, we were so excited. It did look just like the one in the book, though, and it faced away from the picnic area, almost towards the road.
And finally, Mr. Snail, complete with hankercheif!
I would love to thank the Anita Lake State Park and Micheal Stadther for one of the best times we ever had!
Just some pics I took of hte token before we had to send it in. The first one makes a great Windows desktop background!
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