Monday, April 24, 2017

COLUMN: Treasure Lost

Earlier this month, I wrote about my growing obsession with the mystery of Canada's Oak Island.

A good number of people firmly believe that the innocuous landmass off the shores of Nova Scotia hides treasure beyond our wildest dreams. Researchers have found evidence to suggest that British troops buried untold amounts of gold on the island as they fled from defeat in the Revolutionary War. Signs and symbols related to the Knights Templar have been found on and around Oak Island, which has some speculating that it could be the hiding place of the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant.

Or Oak Island could be as empty as Al Capone's vault. But maybe there really is something amazing hidden for centuries on an otherwise non-descript piece of coastal real estate. It's like our very own North American Temple of Doom, except it's less a temple and more like a stinky swamp. Still, what's not to love about a mystery this epic? Who among us hasn't dreamt of being Indiana Jones at least once in our lives? I'm all for getting to the bottom of this treasure.

So, too, are the current owners of Oak Island: a pair of treasure-hunting brothers who've turned their treasure-hunting exploits into "The Curse of Oak Island," which just aired its third season on the History Channel. The Lagina brothers are committed to getting to the bottom of the Oak Island mystery -- literally. They've bored holes and hired divers to descend to the lowest depths of the Oak Island netherworld in search of riches. They're attacking every inch of the island with ground-penetrating radar and metal detectors. They're using better and better technology in hopes of putting the Oak Island mystery to rest.

That's kinda cool... but it's also kinda sad. In a way, I don't ever want a definitive answer to the Oak Island mystery. I want to hear every theory and tall tale about pirates and knights that Oak Island has to offer. If the Laginas have their way, Oak Island will soon be another mystery solved before future generations get a crack at it.

A little bit of mystery makes life interesting. But as modern technology answers more and more questions, fewer mysteries abound in our world -- and that's a bummer to the kid in me who still dreams about pirates and treasure. What's to become of our fantasies once they're visited by a dude who can run a radar over them and go, "There's $34.10 and a pop can from 1962 down there." I want future generations to love dreaming about treasure as much as I have.

Earlier this month, I offered a solution. "Everybody send me $1," I wrote. "If a million of you contribute, we've got ourselves a treasure. Then, we hide it for future generations to find. We could construct elaborate clues, maps and ciphers. A hundred years from now, our offspring could be tuning into the History Channel for a new episode of 'The Curse of Shane Brown.'"

A fun idea, sure. What I was not expecting was the four of you who took me seriously. That's right, I have since been mailed $1 by four different readers. One had a return address which I used to refund the money; the other three did not. If I'd have known it was THIS easy to get you to send me free money, I'd have done it long ago. In fact, I tell you what. Everyone send me a new car. If a million of you contribute, we've got ourselves an armada of cars. (Now four of you actually send me new cars please.)

But I am nothing if not true to my word. That's why I'm officially launching THE LOST TREASURE OF SHANE BROWN. This is NOT a joke. At great personal time and expense, I have hidden a treasure trove of the remaining THREE DOLLARS somewhere in the metropolitan Quad Cities. If you can find it based on my clues, the three dollars are yours. Spend it wisely (I recommend 300 gumballs.) If you e-mail me proof of finding it, you'll also enjoy the fame of being mentioned in a future column.

I'm really not kidding. I've hidden the three dollars out there in the wild. You could find it and be three dollars richer today. First, some rules:

(1) If you spend valuable time and personal resources in search of the treasure expecting to find MORE than three dollars, you will be VERY disappointed. I really DID just hide three bucks along with a note.

(2) Hunt at your own risk. This is MY treasure, not the paper's. If you fall into any of the imaginary booby traps that I most certainly did NOT set up, you cannot sue the paper. In searching for the vast $3 treasure, should you get bit by a radioactive spider and develop unwanted superpowers, I would prefer you not sue ME, either, although you're welcome to the $13.65 currently in my savings account.

(3) My vast $3 treasure horde is hidden outdoors on public property. Do not trespass anywhere. This hunt does not give you open permission to dig up your neighbor's lawn.

(4) In fact, you don't need to dig anywhere. There is no need to destroy, deface, dig, and/or disrupt ANYTHING. This is the most earth-conscious, property conscious, and pretty much the lamest treasure hunt EVER.

That said, here are all the clues you need to the exact location of THREE WHOLE DOLLARS:

Clue #1: Lonnie Donegan, 1956.
Clue #2: Dookie 1:4
Clue #3: Be Mice Elf'ed.

That's it. Go find the treasure horde. As long as I'm around, and as long as strangers keep sending me dollar bills with no way of returning them, there will still be some mystery in life. Godspeed, brave adventurer.

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