Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Skunk Ape Semester

Just when you finished Big, by Lloyd Pye, along comes another exciting new ebook Skunk Ape Semester
This story revolves around young Jeremy Fishleder, a zoology professor whose childhood run-in with Florida's "skunk ape" has driven his lifelong pursuit of Bigfoot and other such animals. Prompted by a health scare, he goes on sabbatical and, along with three students, travels the country seeking out the unknown. From Willow Creek, CA to Lake Champlain and beyond, theirs is an eclectic journey, filled with strange characters and even stranger possibilities! I can't wait to read this story since I have visited all of the places author Mike Robinson mentions in his book. Has he been following me?

Skunk Ape Semester
embraces part X-Files, part On the Road, and part Forteana textbook, it establishes an introductory gateway for the skeptical layperson to learn of and appreciate the legitimacy of the field and the dedication of its researchers -- not to mention the truly odd things that happen out there.

Author Mike Robinson was partially inspired by his own Fortean journeys several years ago, including an experience with Bigfoot vocalization.

Skunk Ape Semester
currently is an eBook, available for Kindle, for only $3.99 with a print edition to debut in a few months.
Here is an excerpt from the book to get you started!
~The tapping began one heavy July evening, almost two months after my eleventh birthday and about a year before we moved out of Florida.
I first heard it in the bathroom and assumed, given our house’s history, that it was another bout of plumbing indigestion. Likely sink water gurgling through. Or the shower dripping. But in consciously stopping to listen there was no mistaking the metallic thunk of the drainage pipe being struck in the sideyard. Glancing out the window solved nothing; I didn’t really expect it to. Encompassed by an abundant froth of soupy greenery, the woods at night was one big apocalyptic shadow.

As a child, I was not exactly gifted (or burdened) with an overstock of imagination, and so I let the noise be, my developing science-mind assuming it nothing but rocks in the gutter or some rambunctious bugs or animals.

But it seemed to grow louder. Bigger. I heard it from several different areas and always at night, usually late – one time it even woke me up. There was nothing predictable about it; I think it happened arbitrarily four or five times in the span of a few weeks, and it never lasted very long. After the first two or so incidents my parents took notice and they began to think, as I did, that someone was throwing rocks at the house, using the cover of darkness to conceal best they could their launching point. Thankfully none of the ammunition struck a window.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Salt Fork is for Lovers

This past weekend I celebrated Valentine's Day at Salt Fork State Park lodge. Of course my real intention was to go squatching, but sometimes you have to compromise. I usually prefer to be spontaneous rather than make plans. Why? Because when you make plans you have expectations and when the expectations aren't met, there is disappointment. Thus, my disappointment that I chose the WORST weekend of the winter to head down to SF.
We began our journey south at around 1:30 pm, blinded by the worst snowstorm of the year. The squatchmobile was traveling at about 30 mph on the highway and I feared we wouldn't get to our destination until dark.
The weather did clear up a bit past Akron, however the temps were hovering at around 16 degrees.
We arrived at the lodge, unpacked the car, then headed out for some daylight recognizance. Nancy had called me the night before to inform me that she had heard what sounded like 2 men having a conversation in the woods. She and B drove around looking for other people in the vicinity and couldn't find a soul. She told me where to look but unfortunately, with all the new fallen snow, nary a print was to be found.

We returned for night ops at around 9:30 pm. We were bundled up like stuffed cabbages for the temp had dropped to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. I set out some fish but I'm sure it was frozen within seconds thereby nullifying the scent. I let out a whoop and was answered by the cold wind in the trees, the bark creaking and moaning.
It was exactly like the night before Christmas, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Why? Because they are smart enough to know not to leave the warmth of their lairs when it is 12 degrees out. Fair enough, I finally caught on.

The next morning we headed to Francis Family restaurant in historical downtown Cambridge for a delicious breakfast. I then contacted the witness who I was to meet and we joined them at their residence.

Judy, her husband David and their 14 yr old son Dakota live on 70 acres of heavily wooded land that has been in David's family since the 1940's.

As I proceeded up the long driveway, I was pleased to see rabbits in cages, miniature horses in a pen, ducks, chickens, 2 elderly dogs and at least 2 healthy billy goats. In my mind I was thinking, "No wonder the bigfoot comes around".
The family greeted us and asked if we would like to hike their property to the place where David most recently found a footprint. We began our journey and I asked many questions.
David's first sighting occurred about 9 years ago. There was some utility work being done about half way up his drive. Workers were supposed to be installing new utility poles, but on this day, David stepped out onto his porch and saw a large figure running out of the woods towards the driveway. His first thought was that one of the workers was goofing around and he was quite upset that they were running around on his property when they should be working! Then it dawned on him that there were no trucks or other vehicles. Slowly it dawned on him that he had a trespasser and he bolted off of his porch in pursuit of the culprit. He described the figure as having yellowish-orange hair, which is why he thought it was a human at first because the color was that of a Carhartt jacket! As he got closer he saw the 7 foot tall creature leap across the driveway and into the woods in 2 swift bounds. When he reached the area where the creature entered the woods, he did not hear or see a thing.
We then fast forward to October 2011. Dakota had been riding his 4 wheeler on the property when he came to within 30 feet of a 7 foot tall dark brown bigfoot. He froze and the bigfoot simply turned and headed towards the south end of the property. Dakota did a 180 and high tailed it back to the house. His father was upset at his speed and said to his wife that he had hoped that boy was wearing a helmet at that speed! Dakota breathlessly told his parents what he had seen and when they returned to the site, there was nothing to be found. Later that evening, they had a bonfire going a ways from the house up the driveway when Judy and Dakota both saw the large dark brown creature run past the fire, over the driveway and into the woods.
The temperature Sunday was up to a balmy 23 degrees and our hike was a bit hampered by the snow, but we did manage to go a few miles into the 70 acre wilderness. David is a cancer survivor :) and he walks his property for an hour and a half every day, embracing life and enjoying the beauty of nature. He led us to one of many caves on the property. As we hiked nothing seemed out of the ordinary and then in one area, I pointed out the bent trees. There we a couple of thirty foot trees that were bent over and secured under a fallen log. David questioned how that could have happened in nature and it was quite apparent that this was not a natural occurrence. We saw another beautiful cave and then David guided us towards a stone quarry on his property. He showed me a few stone markers along the way and this was quite fascinating. The sandstone was broken and the one piece that resembled an arrowhead was placed almost as a directional indicator. He claims that ever since he discovered this, it has never been altered.

On our retreat back to the house we took another trail and discovered a twisted and snapped off tree. The diameter of the tree was approximately 4 inches and would have required a great vise-like grip to perform this feat.

They have many coyotes in the area and they have not heard any screams or howls in the night that could not be explained away.

I hope to return to this location in the spring/summer and spend a night or two camping out at the stone quarry. Serious researchers are welcome to join me with the permission of the land owners.