Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up Report #3

The crowd gathered for a group photo.
How many faces (or other body parts)
do you recognize?

I really should have put my tent in the shade. By 7:30 am on Saturday morning, it was unbearably hot in there. Whether I liked it or not, 4 hours of sleep would have to do, just like in real 'squatching...

I dragged myself out of the tent into the shadeless field in which I camped. The sun monster was beating down on my skin, making me want to immediately seek shade. I found it inside the barn where coffee and pastries were laid out for guests.

Sometime around 11:00 or 12:00, we feasted on a barbecue lunch of burgers and hot dogs. It was a casual atmosphere with great conversations to be had any which way I turned.

Chris Murphy was the first scheduled speaker. He has a new book out called Know the Sasquatch. It is the sequel (and update) to his excellent book, Meet the Sasquatch. I'd like to eventually obtain a copy of his new book, but with summer coming (I'm a teacher) I'd rather use my somewhat limited funds for gas money to get into the field.

Chris Murphy

Chris' presentation was an overview of sasquatch evidence and stories of his relations and research. He covered many of the "classics" such as the Ruby Creek incident, Albert Ostman's story, and others. He showed slides from his various museum installments, many of which can be found in either of his books. His PG Filmsite model was briefly shown, as were the photographs obtained by Rene Dahinden of the filmsite from the southeast hillside. I always find this photograph to be interesting, having visited the filmsite more than a half dozen times.

Dr. John Bindernagel was next. I met John while on expedition on Vancouver Island, BC back in 2007. I was flattered that he not only remembered me, but told me he often thought about what we spoke about (an individual that is known from several footprint casts in his collection, one of which he cast himself). John's book is an excellent survey of reported sasquatch observations, and how they parallel the behaviors of other great apes. His wife, Joan was wonderful and full of smiles as well. The Bindernagel's are as kind as they come.

Dr. John Bindernagel filming some of my footprint cast collection.

John's talk was almost as much about the philosophy of science as it was a brief overview of the available data. He gave interesting perspectives on the thoughts of scientists regarding proof, and their difficulty with keeping open minds on the bigfoot subject. One of his many slides showed a footprint cast that might show bone structure under the fat pad of the sole. I had seen this cast in person on Vancouver Island when we met, but at the time I missed his explanation of the strange bumps and curves on the bottom of the foot.

He is working on a new book about the subject, but I neglected to ask him when it might be published. In fact, when I met him in 2007, he was thinking this same book would be out in Spring of 2008. John said that books are hard to finish because one could always add more, but having seen a draft at the conference, I suspect it could be out before the end of 2009.

Dmitry Pirkulov from Russia presented next. I never had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Pirkulov, but the organizers spent a good deal of time with him and enjoyed his company. I understand that he is involved in film making, and has had films featured in Russian film festivals. His observations of the parallels between the Russian almasti and the bigfoot were intriguing.

Dimitry Purkulov

I left Mr. Pirkulov's talk for what I thought would be a moment to fill my water bottle, and got sidetracked by a conversation with Henry Franzoni and Thom Powell. Henry was selling his new book, In the Spirit of Seatco. I had never met Henry before, and despite differing hypotheses about what sasquatches are, we really hit it off. We actually spoke more about fish ecology and music than sasquatches. We spoke about possibly playing some music together sometime, and I learned a great deal about salmon and the local tribes' issues with the management of the fishery. His official title is "Tribal Data Steward for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission." I'm a total fish-geek, and that's his gig, so we got along great.

Just in case you haven't read it, Henry's book is pretty far out (but an interesting read full of weird physics and unusual ideas). He clearly warns the reader that he is not (this kind of) a scientist, he's an artist. It's full of the paranormal side of bigfooting, and Henry does it as well as anybody. As for me, I think I'll do calls in the woods... I'll worry about the weird stuff when I observe it. As I told him, "You might be right, but I sincerely hope you're not, or we're all just wasting out time." This, of course, is Henry's point.

I visited with the folks from Texas for a while, and found myself late for the presentation of Kathy Moskowitz-Strain. She has written an excellent book called Giants, Cannibals, and Monsters, Bigfoot in Native Culture. Kathy is a US Forest Service archaeologist, and one of my earliest bigfooting mentors. She is a stickler for data gathering and documentation, and an expert in Native American perspectives and legends about bigfoot. Besides recounting some her favorite bigfoot legends, she gave an overview of bigfoot motifs connecting the various tribes' stories of these animals, including carrying baskets, as well as being a generally scary bogey-man sort of thing that cannibalizes humans.

Kathy Moskowitz-Strain and Bob Gimlin

I will continue with my adventures from Saturday very soon. I still need to tell you about Dr. Meldrum's presentation, the new thermal footage from North Carolina, and other tidbits and anecdotes from the after-party. For now, I need some sleep. I have been either at this event or in the woods for four nights in a row, bedding down at no earlier than 2:30 am on any night.

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