Showing posts with label weirdness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weirdness. Show all posts

September 27, 2019

"Nice Job, Pixies" — a Weird Day in the Woods

Something weird happened last month while mushroom-hunting. I still have not quite figured it out.

During mushroom season, which peaks in August hereabouts, there is a ridge in the Wet Mountains that M. (my wife) and I try to visit every week. It abuts an area that we named The Mushroom Store; unfortunately, that spot has been discovered, but we are willing to walk farther at 10,000 feet than some mushroom hunters are.

We have been visiting that area for more than ten years, so we have our landmarks: the "long meadow," the cow elk's skeleton, the "little gate," the "big gate," and so on.

The plan, as usual, was to walk downhill parallel the "long meadow," loop around to the south and back east to the crest of the gentle ridge, where we would hit a barbed-wire drift fence that we would then follow north to "the big gate," and from there it is a short walk to where M's Jeep Wrangler would be parked.

So we did that. We were going along according to plan, finding an occasional "good" mushroom, and I was feeling pretty about my deep-woods navigational skills. (Don't get cocky, kid!)

At some point, as we swung back toward the top of the ridge, I looked down to my left and instead of a glimpse of the "long meadow," there was a steep ravine there, so steep that fir trees barely clung to its sides. Where had it come from? 

It was between us and the Jeep (I figured), but I did not want to go down into it and try to climb out again

I looked ahead — the top of the ridge was only maybe 200 yards away. M. looked at me and asked if I was lost. I said something noncommittal, but afterwards at home she said, "I can read you like a book. You were lost." (She will cheerfully admit to being a poor navigator herself, so she trusts me to do the job.)

That feeling you get, a punch in the stomach. Where am I? How did I get here? 

On the ridge crest, I looked south. There was Little Sheep Mountain, a little closer than it should have been, and also a road that I recognized. I knew where I was — I just was not where I should have been.

"Nice job, pixies," I said aloud.

Since I was high enough up to get a signal, I pulled out the iPhone, turned on the GPS and loaded the Avenza Maps app with a county road map. Yep, there we were — the pulsing blue dot —  about where I reckoned we were. Thus oriented, we walked down the other side until we hit a certain little dirt Forest Service road and followed it to the Jeep.

At home, there were mushrooms to be sliced and dried, and life otherwise got in the way. But after a couple of nights I opened Google Earth, where our mushroom sites are marked, and took a look. Everything seemed as it should have been, but I could not find that steep ravine.

OK, so Google Earth gives false ideas of slope. Next, I studied the topographic quad map for that area. I could not find the steep ravine there either.

In the old stories, you go through a portal into the fairy mound, and you eat and drink, and when you come out, a hundred years have passed. Or something like that.

We went back a couple of weeks later for one last foray. Maybe we should walk south and try to find that ravine, I suggested.

"Let's not, and say we did," M. responded.

I did not try to persuade her otherwise.

April 20, 2019

This is the Best Bigfoot Podcast

Earlier this month I was in a bar in San Marcos, Texas talking about Bigfoot, as one does. Some friends who teach at Texas State University there had organized a conference on "monsters" in literature, religion, folklore, cryptozoology, etc.

I was trying to come up with the last name of the late Grover Krantz, a physical anthropologist, but having a brief memory lapse when the guy sitting next to me supplied it. An instructor at the U. of North Carolina at Charlotte, he was a walking Bigfoot database.

My connection to Krantz was just that I had worked at Johnson Books in Boulder, which published his Bigfoot-is-an-actual-ape book Big Footprints: An Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch.  (Johnson is now part of Bower House.)You can read about Krantz and Bigfoot in Smithsonian.

I had left Johnson Books by then, so I did not get to meet him, but the editorial director sent me a copy. I read a lot of it by lantern light at night, curled up in my van, parked at some duck-hunting spot in the San Luis Valley. It helps to be alone in the dark when reading any Bigfoot book.

The guy sitting next to me offered another piece of information: Lauren Krantz, Gover's distant cousin, a former National Public Radio reporter-producer, started a Bigfoot-related podcast last year, Wild Thing

Wild Thing is the best-produced podcast that I have ever heard. So many of the podcasts out there consist of one person ranting, or two or three buddies Skyping or calling via cellphone, so that sound levels are inconsistent as they can be. They trash-talk each other or swap in-house gossip or talk about what they are for lunch, and it just drags on.

I can think of one podcast where the main hostess is trying to answer questions in a chatroom while her guests are talking, so you hear the tickety-tock of her keyboard all the time.

Not here. When it comes to production values, Krantz's podcast sounds as good as Radio Diaries or This American Life, if you ever listen to any public radio.

Wild Thing
Nor is Krantz a "true believer." She describes her subject as " our collective fascination with Bigfoot," and the first episode is devoted to learning about her cousin Grover, whom she never knew when he was alive. Read summaries of episodes here. Mostly she follows the issues raised by Grover Krantz's hypothesis of a surviving giant ape, as opposed to UFOs and "interdimensional beings."

Hear her interviewed on Skeptic magazine's Monster Talk podcast. And here is Krantz interviewed by the Seattle Times: "Bigfoot Hunters Aren't Crazy, Just Curious."

She talks to experts, visits Bigfoot sites, and sits down for an interview with Bob Gimlin, now in his late eighties, but still willing to discuss the social and economic price he paid for being half of the famous "Patterson-Gimin" film of 1967, which purports to show a minute of a female Bigfoot striding through a Northern California riparian zone.  There is the world of Bigfoot hunters and their disagreements, and of course, she goes on a Bigfoot hunt of her own.

You can find it on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Android, and on its own website. And buy T-shirts.

July 23, 2018

A Little Weirdness — but Polite Weirdness

Abandoned railroad tunnel on Gold Camp Road (Atlas Obscura).
Last Tuesday, the 17th, I talked with a man whose ball cap displayed a Bigfoot silhouette and the words "Gone Squatchin'." Bigfoot-hunting, in other words.  It's something you can do, like rock-hounding or ghost-hunting. Or skeleton-hunting, apparently.

A couple of days later came this unrelated email:
I have an emotional and perhaps strange inquiry I was hoping you could help me with. First of all, I am a hiker from Denver who found you through google searches. I found a particular article in CoZine magazine (http://cozine.com/2003-november/ghosts/). You talked about your childhood pet, and his grave at Eagle Rock.

I realize this may be hard to read and I apologize for that. The reason I am writing you is that I was up off Gold Camp Road [SW of Colorado Springs] exploring today, and I found a shallow grave. I have been researching all day for possible human disappearances. Your story matches up to what I saw today. I found the site right off the road. There were a few rocks covering it, and an old college blanket on top.

If this is indeed your beloved dog, please know it should be covered up with more rocks. I can help if needed. I have dogs and know how much they mean to people.

All I would like to know is that I don’t need to go to the police for some poor buried person up there. Thank you for reading this and I hope you have a nice day. The GPS coordinates of the burial are 38.XXXXX, -104.XXXXX 
I wrote back and said, "Thank you for writing, but my dog was buried in Park County," whereas the "hiker from Denver"  had been in El Paso County.

And only then did it really hit me: "researching all day for possible human disappearances." Really? That's a thing?

It's true that people from Colorado Springs have used Gold Camp Road, a former railroad right-of-way that runs to Victor and Cripple Creek, to dispose of unwanted romantic partners, drug-dealing associates, and the like.

The other favorite locale for body disposal was (is) Rampart Range Road, which climbs from the west side of Colorado Springs and makes for a twisty, gravel route to Woodland Park.

If I were this guy, I would search there too.

September 11, 2016

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive – Or with All Ten Fingers

I like to use scout cameras, although I am not as adept as the Codger. Some of my cameras have simply died, a couple were mauled by bears, and one was stolen.

But I have never had one explode.

This summer, exploding booby-trap (or as we say now, IED) cameras were news in Harlan County, Kentucky.
“Kentucky State Police Post 10 Harlan is investigating a case involving game cameras equipped with explosive devices,” read a press release from the state police. “These cameras have been placed in wooded areas in Harlan County. Kentucky State Police are asking for the public’s assistance with information on who is placing these cameras out in Harlan County.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives posted a warning:
In Harlan County, Kentucky, there have been three confirmed incidents of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) being hidden inside trail cameras, which exploded and injured people. An operation was conducted and nine IEDs were located and dismantled. Other devices, however, may still exist. Some of the trail cameras were found abandoned on paths in rural areas routinely accessed via the Dave Smith Drainage Area (Woodland Hills Subdivision, Harlan, KY), on the Little Black Mountain Spur in Harlan County.
A suspect was arrested and indicted, but in true Harlan fashion, chose to go out in a blaze of gunfire.

A man who had found one of the suspect's cameras lost several fingers and suffered other injuries. According to reports, the cameras were left up without batteries or data cards in them. When the victim took one home and put batteries in it, he completed the circuit to fire a small explosive charge concealed inside.
Sawaf, an avid hunter, owned and operated Harlan Counseling Inc. since 2014 and had a master’s degree in mental health counseling, according to court documents. The business was in a small strip of offices just off U.S. 421.
 And there is a "hillbilly heroin" angle too.
More than a decade before Sawaf’s arrest, his father, Ali Sawaf, was convicted on eight charges related to distribution of OxyContin and other painkillers. At the time of his conviction in 2002, Ali Sawaf was a urologist in Harlan County.
Pop culture reference in the post titleand here is the song.

December 23, 2015

Best of Bigfoot, 2015


"Local" decor in the new Trader Joe's grocery store in Colorado Springs.
Via the Bigfoot Lunch Club blog, Animal Planet's ten best Bigfoot video clips of 2015.

These have a short commercial at the beginning. At least one that I watched was for cosmetics, which means that someone thinks that there are female Bigfoot fans too (I always think of Bigfoot-hunting as a guy thing, for some reason) or else there is a joke in there about putitng lipstick on a sasquatch.

In related news, Bigfoot-hunting figures into the upcoming trial of Eddie Tipton, the "former Multi-State Lottery Association security director who is accused of rigging jackpots in Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma from 2005 to 2011 to enrich himself and his friends."

It was all for science!

In yet other news, a Canadian Native band gets their 75-year-old sasquatch (?) mask back from a museum.

August 17, 2014

Blog Stew, Listed with Sotheby's

¶ Want to buy a southern Colorado ghost town? It has been mostly restored, and it is a National Historic District too. Listed with Sotheby's real estate division, so not cheap.

¶ Wolverines will not get federal protection in Colorado as a "threatened" species. The pro-protection argument was based on projected climate change.

¶ This sounds like something from the Daily Mail — but can the Lone Star Tick force you to become a vegetarian (or at least a piscavore)?

May 20, 2014

Sheriff's Deputy Warns Cat Not to Shit in Neighbor's Yard

From the sheriff's blotter in the Cañon City Daily Record.

¶ Colo. 115, Brookside, report of over 30 goats in the road. Goats fled the scene before deputy arrived. 

¶ Colo. 115/Mackenzie, Cañon City, reporting party called to advise that a subject wearing a mask and dressed in black ran across the highway and into a building. Deputies checked the area with negative contact.  

(Always black in these reports. At least if "subject" wore orange, he might be a prison escapee. The only building there is the ruined Fawn Hollow Tavern, which was a "bucket of blood" roadhouse in the 1940s–1950s.)

¶ U.S. 50, Cañon City, reporting party requested assistance in retrieving her husband from his girlfriend's residence. Deputy advised the parties to work it out, as the husband wouldn't come out until the wife left the area.  

¶ 1500 block Chestnut, Cañon City, reporting party complained that the neighbor's cat had been leaving presents in her yard. Deputy said he would contact the neighbor and warn the cat.  

There was also an actual bank robbery where some 19-year-old robbed a bank in the town where he lived without even bothering to put on a mask. He was quickly caught.

January 09, 2014

Aliens, Sex, and Incorrect Firearms Usage

The blogosphere this week noticed a claim by Paul Hellyer, former Canadian defense minister, that people from other planets do indeed exist:

“[I’ve] been getting from various sources [that] there are about 80 different species and some of them look just like us and they could walk down the street and you wouldn’t know if you walked past one.”

Canada . . . it is no accident that the X-Files television series was filmed in Vancouver. (That is why it was always cloudy — and you don't see so many Douglas firs in northern Virginia.)

In hot-blooded Santa Fe, N.M., however, they don't just write blog comments about the existence or non-existence of aliens.

They interrupt  "a sex act" involving a gun to threaten their partner over the "Do aliens exist?" question — or so says the Albuquerque Journal. I don't think that Smith & Wesson will be using Jennifer McCarthy in their advertising.

"“Who is crazy, you or me?" is still begging the question, however. Is it crazy to believe or not to believe?

UPDATE: Ms. McCarthy is novelist Cormac McCarthy's third ex-wife.

February 12, 2013

Dressing up the Dogs

Pet fashions: big dogs are "in." 
Now, the Fashion Institute of Technology, which offers a professional certificate program in pet product design and marketing, is stocking classrooms with dog dressmaker forms from tiny to huge, said Joan Volpe, managing coordinator of the school whose graduates include Calvin Klein, Norma Kamali and Michael Kors.

As bigger dogs grew in popularity, the industry responded.

"Every dog today needs boots. Every dog needs a raincoat. Every dog needs a sweater," she said.
Try telling a Chesapeake Bay retriever that he needs a raincoat. He is a raincoat.

  Instapundit

October 13, 2012

Gordon Novel and the Sipapu of Weirdness

A little off-topic but too weird to pass up . . .

At his blog Of Arms and the Law, lawyer Dave Hardy mentions the passing of Gordon Novel, whom I had not heard of but who sounds like one of the American Illuminati — or something.
Two things he would vigorously deny: (1) he said he'd never worked for the CIA. Hung out with them a lot, but never was employed by them. (2) He had nothing to do with the JFK assassination. Jim Garrison had subpoenaed him, he fled, and Garrison tried to have him extradited, but, he said, that was just to decoy Garrison, not because he had any useful information. 
Oh, but there is more: secret CIA footage of the massacre of the Branch Davidians? J. Edgar Hoover sex tapes?  Playboy magazine? A shaky trial over a "conspiracy to firebomb part of New Orleans by balloons on behalf of a world's fair Novel was promoting"?

Many stories have a New Orleans connection. Truly, that city is the omphalos, the very sipapu of weirdness in America.

Hardy's judgment: "There's no way to sum the man up: his Wikipedia page is just a beginning. The strangest thing was that with him, the more impossibly outrageous a claim seemed to be, the more likely it was provably true."

August 07, 2012

Blog Stew with Ingredients that You Don't Want to Know About

Off-topic but fascinating. Sewer-diving in Mexico City (with video). Sewer-cleaning the "fatbergs"  in London (with video). More sewer history.  The good old days of scavenging in sewers.

The Humane Society of the United States is sued for racketeering and other issues.

District judge Emmet G. Sullivan did dismiss allegations of mail and wire fraud, but he did so only because Feld didn't have standing to file this charge. His ruling all but set the stage for a class-action RICO lawsuit against HSUS for misrepresenting itself in its fundraising campaigns across the nation. This lawsuit easily could bankrupt HSUS, put it out of business and send some of its top executives to prison.
Funny, isn't it, that you have to go to a blogger to hear about this.

Ze artiste Christo has pushed back the construction of "Over the River" yet again. Tourism-industry types are dismayed, try to find silver lining.

I understand the argument that asks how pristine is a canyon with a highway(US 50) and a railroad in it already. But I do think that the Bureau of Land Management should have restricted OTR to the stretch between Texas Creek and Parkdale, because if there are highway blockages — and there will be — one could detour around on Colorado highways 96 and 69.

Upstream of Texas Creek, there are no detours, except very long, twisty, gravel roads through the mountains such as Fremont County Road 2 or an even longer highway detour up to Hartsel and Antero Junction.

It doesn't take much to close US 50 now: a little roadside fire, a car going into the river, a truck hitting a bridge abutment — I have seen all of these.

• Oh yes, and this: tracking coyotes with GPS collars in urban Chicago.

July 18, 2012

Is this Woodland Park or Miami?

Now that the danger of the Waldo Canyon Fire has receded, residents of northern Teller County are urged to be on the lookout for a giant cat-and-small-dog-eating lizard.

Go ahead, be the first to ask the obvious question.

May 31, 2012

Bigfoot Sighting Claimed in Idaho

Crypto-critter or senior class prank? You decide.

I might have some more Bigfoot stuff later.

May 22, 2012

Unexplained Camera Trapping


Bearly there.

Glow-in-the-dark deer.
Fox Mulder pursued by mysterious globes.

The truth is out there.

February 07, 2012

A "Brazen and Prevaricating Rapscallion"

M. shops at Vitamin Cottage natural foods store frequently, so she knows the Bragg label well. It presents itself as old-fashioned and almost religious, she said.

But the founder was something else entirely. (That's "daughter" Patricia on the company's website.)

Kind of like Doctor Bronner of the mystic soaps.

November 11, 2011

Strange Stuff in the Woods and Deserts

A thread on an outdoors forum where hunters and anglers discuss strange "encounters" in the outdoors, everything from animal weirdness to UFOs to pot farms to airplane crashes to dead people.

Mostly but not all from Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

Via The View from the Porch, where Tam rightly notes, "CAUTION: SEVERE TIME SINK WARNING!"

October 31, 2011

Some Colorado Springs Ghosts—and the Unquiet Ghosts of Teller County

Western Federation of Miners hall, Victor,1903.
A Colorado Springs blogger offers some ghost stories, mostly from the West Side.

In my young newspaper reporter days, I did my part for Cripple Creek and Victor.

At the time, I was covering both the gold-mining boomlet of the early 1980s and also some Colorado labor history, such as the activities of the Western Federation of Miners in the early 1900s.

They did not make it into the book, but I had a couple of woo-woo experiences in Cripple Creek and in the nearby ghost town of Goldfield of my own.

In one of them, I was walking into faded glory of the 1904 Teller County Courthouse to cover a hearing about leakage from a cyanide heap-leaching operation killing some horses. Just ordinary reportorial stuff.

I had never entered that building before. At the foot of the staircase leading up to the courtrooms, I almost had a panic attack. I was sure that I was walking up to my doom — but I wasn't "me."


In the second, I was leaving Victor and decided to drive through the site of the mining town of Goldfield, "a strong union town," instead of back via Cripple Creek on the way to Colorado Springs and the newspaper office.

The scene out the windshield was 1980 or 1981 Goldfield, which is to say, not much.  But to my ears and inner senses, it was all shouting and turbulence and emotion of the 1894 miners' strike, when the Cripple Creek police shot down the Goldfield constables, mines were dynamited, the militia was called out, and gunfights flared between miners and sheriff's deputies back by the mine owners.

It was like being in two places at once, one foot in the past and one foot in the now. The experience lasted less than minute but left me feeling emotionally exhausted.

That strike was just the beginning of the Colorado Labor Wars, when things got even worse.

Bad times—more or less swept under the rug of history now. Now we hear only of a street vendor selling  "hot waffles to miners, railroad passengers and barflies."

October 20, 2011

Audubon Society Promotes Indoor Birding without Real Birds

I think that I just lost some respect for the Audubon Society.

I thought that they were about conservation, birds, and stuff like that. But now they have some West Coast  public-relations firm promoting "online birding." And it is competitive, because outdoor recreational experiences should always be competitive, not, y'know, experiential.
While “Birding the Net,” players are challenged to collect dozens of virtual birds on over 100 highly trafficked websites. The game is both educational and fun, helping the next generation learn about the natural world around us. Whether you live in a city or on a farm, you can spot these birds from the comfort of your own home, no binoculars necessary!
No, Liza Nedelman of MPRM Communications, that is not how you "learn about the natural world." As another large corporation's slogan put, "just do it."

Why not tell people that playing Angry Birds on their smart phone is a genuine interaction with nonhuman nature?

I suppose that someone that "kids these days" have to be introduced to an online experience before they can have the real thing. Really? Stay indoors? Look at a screen?

No links. If you think that "birding the net" is a wizard idea, look it up yourself.