Coastal caves hide ancient treasure in author's first book

Coastal caves hide ancient treasure in author's first book

LONG BEACH - A Shelton area author who has spent years exploring coastline caves on the Olympic Peninsula seeking the mysteries they conceal, will sign copies of his first novel, "Cave of Secrets," from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 17 at Sandpiper Books in downtown Long Beach.

The author, Hal Burton, was studying Oriental art and culture when he learned of explorations undertaken more than 1,500 years ago by huge Chinese junks with multiple sails that carried crews of 500 to 600 persons. One theory is that such junks may actually have sailed to the West Coast of North America - and that, coupled with Burton's knowledge of treacherous tides, sudden storms and coastal caves, led to the idea for his first book.

In "Cave of Secrets," a huge fictional Chinese junk bearing an extremely rare and unusual treasure, runs aground in 499 A.D. between Grays Harbor and Neah Bay. Its cargo - including not only gold coins and other treasure, but also an invaluable urn containing mysterious sacred ashes - is secreted away in a coastal cave by survivors of the wreck who encounter and befriend a band of Makah tribesmen in the process.

The novel's plot shifts from the fifth century to a more recognizable scene for modern-day readers - the period between 1966 and 1981 when Washington State University spearheaded a coastal archaeological dig at Ozette, resurrecting a Makah village and its artifacts. The project is about to be closed as a search team, led by a UW professor who is the hero of the tale, goes looking for the cave-buried treasure.

But others also are seeking the gold, and more important, the mysterious urn, one of eight preserved for centuries and allegedly containing the ashes of Gautama Buddha. The ensuring saga involves foreign agents, a mysterious cargo ship, a murdered newspaper reporter, and a multicultural cast of characters as the search leads along the coastal trails into the caves that dot the hillsides, and to the Makah museum at the northernmost tip of the continental U.S.

Burton, who describes himself as a semi-retired salesman of woodworking tools, lives with his wife Jeanette in Lilliwaup, several miles inland from the Cave of Secrets.

Saturday's autograph party at Sandpiper Books is a free literary event, open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Test gag reflex at Sou'westerSEAVIEW - On Saturday May 17, at 8 p.m., the Sou'wester Lodge in Seaview will host Gag Reflex, a Portland comedy improvisation group.

Audience members are invited to test their reflexes as they create a theatrical event based upon audience suggestions.

Admission is by donation to charity, all of which goes to offering local children and youth the opportunity to experience the arts as a meaningful experience.

Complimentary refreshments are provided. Because of limited seating, advance reservations are recommended.

• For information and reservations call the Sou'wester Lodge at 642-2542.

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