treasure trove

To Go Where Ones Have Gone Before

We have all heard William Shatner in Star Trek say, “To boldly go where no one has gone before.”  It’s catchy and it makes you want to join the exploration.  But you know what?  You don’t have to go into the future to explore.  It is all around us.  If we occasionally take time to explore our past, I think it can make us better people.   

When I drive by a dilapidated farmhouse out in the country or an abandoned factory in a city, I have the urge to explore them.  Most of the time I do not stop; no trespassing signs, safety concerns, and besides, I’m usually driving purposely towards my destination.  I’m a reflective person.  I like spending a few moments walking in the presence of where others went before.  The few times I have stopped have always been rewarding.

                I believe the word castle creates more imaginative thoughts in most people’s minds than almost any other word I can think of.  The word castle just immediately transports you to a different time.  A land far away: a time of adventure.  Just think how many movies show us the mysterious castles situated high on a hilltop.  Even the sounds of castles conjure up thoughts.  The huge gates being opened with the horses galloping over the bridge spanning the moat.  The blacksmith banging on steel.  The pigeons seeking shelter in the tall towers.  Not to mention all the battle scenes with arrows flying, battering rams, swords, arrows, and hot oil. 

                Farmhouses can do the same for me.  I guess this goes back to my very early years as a child visiting my grandparent’s farm.  They had an 800 acre spread in the central Texas hill country that is hilly, covered with an abundance of oak trees and lots of wildlife, notably deer.  The spring brings the wildflowers and beautiful bluebonnets.  I remember Grandpa milking the cow as he would sometimes squirt the milk at me, and then giggle.  Most mornings Grandma, who we called Mama Sue, would go into the chicken coup, shoo away the hens, and collect the eggs. 

She cooked on an old big black stove.  Everything seemed greasy to me and Grandpa would sip his hot black coffee out of the saucer.  The milk was thick, warm, and had some sort of scum on the top that I did not like.  Being from the city, I was used to cold milk from a bottle, not fresh milk poured from the can that Grandpa had just collected.  She would sometimes get a coat hanger, grab a chicken and cut off his head.  Fried chicken is what we ate in those days.

I really liked riding on the tractor with Grandpa, or in the back of his pickup when he made the rounds to feed the cattle.  I enjoyed messing around in the barn playing hide and seek among the stacked hay bales with my brothers and cousins.  I recall watching a sow with her piglets, a big Billy goat roaming around the barnyard, petting a gentle milk cow, and watching the peacocks fluff up their feathers.  I learned to shoot guns at an early age as we occasionally we would go to the dump with 22 rifles.

My grandparents lived on that farm all of their adult lives before they eventually retired to live in town.  They raised their five kids there, of whom my mom was the middle child.  That was a way of life I will never know.  I think I might have liked it, but of course I will never know the amount of work involved. 

I remember as a second grader working on a craft project where we had to cut out material and paste on an 8 by 12 piece of cardboard to tell what we would like to be when we grew up.  I had Mom help me cut out a red shirt from some old cloth, and from the blue cloth some pants.  I told her I wanted to be a farmer like Grandpa.  She had a quiet, almost sad look on her face.  Years later Mom told me just how much work is involved on a farm.

The next day in class some of the girls had all white dresses on their cardboard because they wanted to be nurses.  I understood that, but some of the guys had all blue uniforms because they wanted to be policeman, or all red uniforms for those wanting to be a fireman, and that I did not understand.  I just thought they would all like to be farmers like their grandparents.  I assumed they all had grandparents from the farm like me.  Funny how we get some thought patterns in our thinking without realizing it can be way off. 

The old farmhouse that I visited in the 1950’s had wood burning stoves, creaky wooden floors and smelled old to me, but I liked it.  When my uncle built a new house on the same spot, the old farmhouse was moved to become a barn, next to the old barn.  Over fifty years later I recall peeking into the old farmhouse that was now storing grain.  There was the bedroom where I had slept, and the den where we warmed ourselves by the fire.  Times past, times long ago, where others had gone before.  Where aunts and uncles had been born and raised.  Where horses, cows, donkeys, sheep and goats had roamed about.  A way of life that most Americans in centuries past lived, yet alien too many of us now. 

I think Mama Sue and Grandpa represented millions in that they were hard working, God fearing, decent people that helped to continue nourishing the sound foundation our country was built on.  Their way of still fascinates me in a lot of ways.  I also felt a lot of love from all my grandparents, all born right about 1900. My grandparent’s generation, those that were adults in the early 20th century, were inspirational to me in many ways.  You don’t have to be an archeologist like Indiana Jones visiting exotic far away places in the quest to explore.  You may not find an ancient artifact worth millions like they do in the movies, which as you know, you are not allowed to keep, but your exploration brings a different kind of treasure.   A treasure you can keep in your heart.  “To go where ones have gone before,” renews my dedication to try and pass the same blessings I received from past generations on to my kids and future generations.  By the way, I have an old oil lamp on my bookcase that came from the junkyard of my grandparent’s farm.  It looks old but may only be 50 or 60 years old.  Not much of an antique, much less an artifact, and it may actually be just trash, but it is treasure to me.  It brings back a treasure trove of wonderful memories.         



Castaway Island

The idea of being stranded on a remote island sounds romantic.  Especially if you were stranded with someone pretty like Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island.  I always enjoyed looking at her when I was a teenager watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island.  Some men liked Ginger, but for me it was Mary Ann.  When I was a little kid I watched the movie Swiss Family Robinson and it really captured my imagination. As a child my family also had Golden Books one of which was Robinson Crusoe.  I must have read the book dozens of times. Fantasizing about living on an island brought many a good thought.

I remember watching an episode on Sixty Minutes about a man on his honeymoon who took his bride to the Maldives, a group of about one thousand tiny islands in the Indian Ocean. It was supposed to be pleasure in the sand and sun. The Danish couple had an argument, and he killed his bride. The Maldives is a land where very little violent crime occurs, and consequently the government was not sure exactly how to punish the man from Holland. For his punishment he was banished to a remote tiny island. Only catch and a good one for the Dutchman, there were were about five girls on the island with him. They cooked for him and he lived with them. When Sixty Minutes interviewed him on the remote island he was quite content. As a matter of fact when Sixty Minutesreturned a few years later, the marooned man was still quite content and expressed no desire to return to civilization. That is probably the only time I have heard where someone was actually happy to be stranded. In reality, being a castaway would be anything but fun.

Crozet Isalnds
















My research regarding famous castaways told of some sailors being stranded for decades in the South Pacific.  There were a number of stories involving lost ships in the South Indian Ocean whose survivors spent years on such islands as the remote Crozet Islands.  I choose to place a spot on the game board of Treasure Trove in the Indian Ocean and called it Castaway Island.  There is actually no such island there, only stories told of lost fishermen washed ashore who struggled to survive.  Many ships did find islands that had had castaways, but most perished prior to being rescued.  I now realize thanks to the Internet that there is a tiny island called Castaway Island, part of Fiji, a tourist destination in the South Pacific.

            While playing Treasure Trove, if one lands on Castaway Island, they roll the die and collect in Treasure Notes the amount shown on die.  Nice twist to put some fun in the game.  

Shark Island

I was watching an interview of Michael Phelps by Bob Costas about Michael’s future plans.  As of today, Michael has no desire to swim in the next Olympics.  He expressed a desire to scuba dive, and with sharks.  One of his swimming competitors at the Olympics is from South Africa and invited Michael to visit him and swim with Great White sharks.  Michael did say that he would be in a cage underwater, not actually in the open water with the sharks.  Sharks are his favorite animal he expressed.  Now it was time to have a little fun in life.  Michael is not alone in his fascination of sharks.  Most of us are, especially Great White sharks.   


I choose to place a number of islands on the game board of Treasure Trove such as Crocodile Island, Dragon Island, Skull Island, Treasure Island, and a Shark Island.  There are a several actual Shark Islands throughout the world, and I choose the one near Australia to place on the game board.

Included within the booklet of instructions for the game is an eight page footnote section talking about actual treasure findings throughout history, as with as information regarding places on the game board.  The following is from the footnote section about Shark Island.

            There is an actual Shark Island off Nambia’s coast in southwest Africa.  One of the Cocos Islands is named the “Island of the Sharks” off Costa Rica’s west coast in Central America because of the large numbers of sharks present.  Shark Bay is off the west coast of Australia.  There is also tiny Shark Island off Cornulla Beach, New South Wales, near Australia’s southeast coast.  It is a world famous spot to surf with its huge waves.     

I love to scuba dive, but actually enjoy the little fishes rather than sharks.  I also know people and especially kids are fascinated by sharks.  It was only fitting to include a Skull Island on the game board.  I also hope Michael Phelps has a safe excursion on his travels to Africa.



















Parables and Fables

Treasure can come in many different ways; A good meal with friends, a quiet beautiful sunset, the laughter of children playing.  One thing that I definitely treasure are any drops of wisdom that I can acquire on my life’s journey.  They can more valuable than gold and silver.

I wanted to infuse this thought in the board game Treasure Trove as players traverse the world collecting fabled treasures.  We all fantasize about what it would be like to find lost treasure in an attic, or win the lottery, or what it what be like to have come up with Facebook.  It is human nature to wonder about such things.  And yet, the important things of life are right in front of us, if we choose to see them.  If we choose to search for them right under our noses.

I choose to place within the situation cards drops of wisdom that have come from all religions that remind us of spiritual truths.  I think it is God’s way of trying to teach us to search for the spiritual things of our lives, not just physical blessings.

Many truths about something of great value in God’s Kingdom are often conveyed in the sense of something that would be of value such as gold or diamonds.  One of the situation cards describes a large pearl, one of great value.  Most of you would recognize the saying as that of Jesus, who often taught in parables.

Have you ever tried to define what a parable is?  What is a fable?  We have an idea what they are, basically, short stories with fictional characters that have a moral lesson.  People love stories, and these are a great way to teach, which Christ did.

Included within the game is a booklet that gives brief descriptions of the treasures on the game board.  Some real, some only myths, and some of the treasures I just made up.  A footnote section at the back of the instructional booklet lists real treasure findings.  There is also some discussion about things on the game board.  What is an archeologist?  Who was Dr. Livingston?  What is a herpetologist?  Where is Shangri-La?

The following comment was placed in the footnote section concerning the difference between a parable and a fable.     

A parable is a brief story that illustrates a moral or religious lesson.  It differs from a fable that uses animals or inanimate objects as actors while parables generally feature human actors.  Jesus often taught his followers by use of parables.”

I don’t think people take the time to read the booklet given with the game.  Most of the time we are in too big of a hurry, including when we are playing the board game.  Such is the pace of our lives.  Consequently, we miss a lot of lot of little factoids, and truths. It takes time to search for those drops of wisdom and truth, but they can make the playing of the game that much more rewarding.  I think our lives are often the same way.  We are searching for life’s treasure often in the wrong places. 

Early this morning I read from the book of Matthew, Chapter 5.  Not one of the parables of Jesus, but his Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes. Now that is real treasure.  I could read it ever day, and never get tired of it.  If I had a large diamond, I suppose I would love looking at every day, but I don’t.  Instead, I will enjoy my treasure of living for Christ, and holding onto those beatitudes.

Money Won

Who of us has not had thoughts of winning money.  When I was a kid in the 1960’s, a friend of mine won $135 on bingo night.  That totally impressed me.  I was about thirteen years of age at the time and got paid only $5 to mow a yard.  It would take me all summer to earn as much as he won in one night.  I think it cost about $10 to enter the bingo tournament.  His parents entered him in the tournament, something mine would never have even considered.

I attended a conference one time in Vegas and meandered through some of the casinos to check things out.  I don’t know how to gamble, so I passed the time watching others lose their money.  I heard some commotion at one of the craps tables.  I put a quarter down to place a bet, and maybe learn how to play.  One of card dealers asked me what I was doing. 

“I’m  placing a bet,” I told him.  “Not here,” he said, adding, “See that guy with the dice?  He won over $1,000,000 last night.  Some of those chips of his are $10,000.  You can try your luck at another table.”  I retrieved my quarter and looked for another way to lose my 25 cents. 

I bought a lottery ticket for a dollar one time when the jackpot was over $100,000,000 but forgot to check if I had won or not.  That’s about it for me as far as winning money.  Yet, I think it about often, that is, if I ever were to win money in Vegas or the lottery.  I think we all do.

I included on the Treasure Trove board game a situation whereby a player can win money.  The following card is a play on words, but still fun for the player drawing the card. In Korea, the currency is called the “won,” just as we have the dollar. 


Siberian Fireball

Tunguska Blast

I have always been fascinated by the remoteness of Siberia.  A board game that I played as a kid was called Risk.  I loved it.  Each player tries to conquer the world with armies.  I liked looking at the geography of the map on the game board.  Places like Kamchatka, Irkutsk, Siberia, Madagascar, and New Guinea all captured my imagination.  When I would hear or read about places like Lake Baikal in remote Asia, my mind would race back to my Risk playing days.

When I created the board game Treasure Trove I wanted to include strange places, exotic animals, ancient cities, and fabled treasure that would capture the imagination of young minds who might play the game.  One such place was the mysterious blast in a remote part of Siberia that leveled over 80 million trees.  The Siberian Fireball as many now call it, took place near Tunguska in 1908.  It was not seriously scientifically evaluated for many decades later.  At first it was assumed to have been a meteorite, but there is no large crater.  Now it is thought to probably have been a comet that exploded in the atmosphere.  There are plenty of other hypothesis including:  A black hole went through the earth, a chunk of antimatter falling from space( I am not exactly sure what antimatter is), a natural H-bomb (whatever that is), or the explosion of an alien spacecraft.  A lot of Star Trek theories I suppose.

I have several places on the game board of Treasure Trove that involve strange phenomena such as the Bermuda Triangle or The Giants of Nazca.  It is fun to expose kids playing the game to the many fascinating places our planet has to offer.