Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Long Leaf Pine

Last weekend, Florida neighbor Denny invited me to a guy weekend at the National Guard post Camp Blanding.  Joining us were Jesse and "Poor Boy".  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew it would be a good time.

I've never served in the military.  I tried to enlist in the Army in 1971 but was turned down because of my extreme nearsightedness.  I am unfamiliar with all things military.

After each of us presented photo IDs, and because Denny is a retired Army guy, we were permitted on the base.  We checked into our cottage and then took off to look for lighter logs and walking sticks.   I'll explain.

First, we drove past live ammunition shooting by guard troops.  Just past them, Denny pulled off the road.  Everyone but Denny, a retired Army Sargent who spent decades here training troops, was a bit nervous about which way they were shooting.

We hiked into the woods and Denny found a lighter log.  A lighter log, or lighter wood, is a long leaf pine that was struck by lightning.  This supposedly drives and traps the resin in the wood.  Long leaf pine is very dense and very slow growing, and very heavy.  Denny asked Poor Boy to drive his truck in to get it.   Don't worry about scratches.  Tas can fix it.

This was a great find, according to Denny.  Lighter wood is used to start fires.  It ignites easily and burns very hot.  Only very small pieces are used.   The piece below can start a hundred fires.

On the way out of the woods, I passed a latrine.  Not much privacy.  There is also no men's and women's latrines.  The new ones probably do, though.  I hope anyway.

Jesse cuts the log into more manageable pieces.

The pic below is a long leaf pine.  Amazingly long needles.

We also looked for trees with "knots", which looks to be some kind of disease or malformation.  

Denny looked for just the right length and size, and cut them with his machete.

This collection will be made into walking sticks and given to friends as presents.  Denny gave me one.   The bark is stripped off and I've started sanding it.  It will be stained and polyurethaned. 

We found an entire lighter wood log!  We cut it up and brought it to Denny's.  Since only a small piece is needed to start a fire,  This should be a lifetime's worth.

And finally, a beautiful sunset.  In Bleecker, we're blocked to the west by a mountain, and in Florida by tall trees.  I miss these low country sunsets.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Glass Bottom Boat

Pam's Aunt Lynn is visiting here in Florida, so we decided to do a tourist thing.  We went to Silver Springs and took a ride on a glass bottom boat.

Silver Springs is fed by a series of natural springs that pumps 850 million gallons of 72 degree fresh water into it every day.  Because of it's warmth and beauty, it has been the setting for many movies and television shows.  Six Tarzan movies have been filmed here, as well as The Creature From the Black Lagoon, I Spy, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, the Jack Paar Show, Arelene Francis, and a raft of others.

Just in case the glass breaks, there is a wall around it that reaches above the waterline.

This pointy nose fish is a gar.

It is winter here still, but some of the trees are budding.  Spring is right around the corner.


These underwater statues were put here for the TV show I Spy.

One of the springs.


It was just another beautiful day in Florida.  Livin' the dream!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Strawberry Chocolate Cake and the Horse Trailer

No, those two things aren't related.

First, I wanted to post a pic of the strawberry chocolate cake that Pam made the other day.   It looked so good that I had a piece, and I'm not big into sweets or desserts.

With Pam, her mom Judi, and Pam's Aunt Lynn (who is visiting from Wyoming) it didn't last long.

A question came up about the 1950 Ferguson tractor.  I thought I had mentioned it, but maybe I forgot.  When the guys and I went to pick it up, I decided to give it to them.   The guys are all retired and spend most days at Denny's (a neighbor) fixing and restoring old cars and trucks.  They take their time and do a really nice job.  Denny is an ex-boilermaker and welder.  Tas paints and spins wrenches.  Glen, who goes by the nickname "poor boy", does a bit of everything, including sandblasting.   Since we're only here part time and they're year 'round residents, I gave it to them.  If they get a back blade for it, they can use it to maintain our dirt road.

Pam asked if they would sandblast the rust off her trailer, and if Denny would weld up some holes.  No problem, they said.  Poor Boy works for beer, and Denny works for a pineapple upside down cake.   

They have the trailer now, and I walked over to see how it was going.   This is Poor Boy's truck.  Its a beast.

This is Denny's backyard.  Yep.  He as one of everything.  Sometimes two and three.

Poor Boy sandblasting.   Sorry for the flare.

Tas has been customizing an old truck for a few years now.  It is getting close to being done.   The interior is painted camouflage,  and Tas is going to camouflage the Chevy bow tie.

The outside of Tas's truck is black, not camouflage.   Do you remember when camouflage trucks were all the rage?   Steven Wright, the deadpan comedian who delivered his monologue,  rubbing his forehead like he had a migraine, had a great joke.  It went something like this.

"Every time I see a truck painted camouflage, I want to run into it with my car.  Sorry.  I didn't see you."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Men in Monkey Suits

Until I found this hand print on the back of my car...

I was skeptical off anyone reporting seeing a Sasquatch.  I thought they were crazy, drunk, or misidentifying what they were seeing.   Now, after considerable studying of the subject, reading Dr. Meldrum's analysis of this North American ape, and a casebook with thousands of reports dating back to the 1700s, I have come full circle and  I'm convinced that they exist.

Like deer during hunting season, they think of humans as a threat and are very elusive.  They live where there is considerable forest for cover, such as the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and the Pacific Northwest.   So while you may find evidence such as hand prints and foot prints, getting a photograph or video of one is rare.  The following is what some consider to the be the best recent footage thanks to everyone having smart phones.

Many in the Sasquatch community think the last clip of a Sasquatch grabbing a dog is a hoax.  I do not.  My three dogs watched me put on a gorilla mask from a Halloween costume and went nuts, barking their heads off.  I think that dog was paralyzed with fear.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

From Ape to Adam

I decided that since I am now the world's foremost Sasquatch expert, it was time for me to take a break and read something different.   I looked over my assortment of books and picked up From Ape to Ada:  The Search For The Ancestry of Man by Herbert Wendt.  OK, this might be good.

The first thing I do with any book is to see when it was written.   No, I don't know why.  This was 1972.  It is an old book, but we're talking evolution here.   I don't think we've changed much in 53 years.

I read the introduction...  I never used to read introductions, but now I'm retired.   I also watch all of the special features on DVD movies.   And then I read this, right at the start of chapter one...

"A silver bowl from an Etruscan grave is the earlist evidence we have today of an encounter between civilized man and his nearest relations in the animal world.  It was found in ancient Praeneste, in Latium, and according to the archaeologist Ludwig Curtius is part of a whole series of dishes of Phoenician and Carthaginian origin.  Its outer frieze consists of an almost cinematographic series depicting a most remarkable being, which can be seen most clearly in the illustration on the right.  This creature walks on two legs, is clothed in hair, is solidly built, and has a massive skull.  It is carrying a stick in one hand and is throwing a stone with the other.  The artist seems to have known this being well;  for both its physical proportions and the typical attitude of attack leave no room for doubt that it is a great ape, perhaps a gorilla, which is depicted here."

The Etruscan period was from about 700 BC until 300 AD.

The text goes on...

"Similar figures are portrayed in the work of other ancient cultures, such as the killing of a 'wild man' on a dish from Cyprus, a Babylonian terracotta of the demon Chumbaba,with the head of an anthropoid ape, and many representations of man-like ape-gods from ancient India  That the great apes, at least, were considered not animal but half-human in the ancient Orient is evident from a report written about 525 BC by the Carthaginian mariner Hanno, which is the earliest authentic but by no means sole evidence  we have of encounters with such creatures.  Hanno tells how he came upon 'forest people in animal skins' on the coast south of the present-day Cameroons, 'among them many women with shaggy heads whom our interpreters call gorillas'.  The legend of the furred man Eabani in the Epic of Gilgamesh, has its significance too.  The demi-god Gilgamesh kneads Eabani out of a forest animal and goes on to conquer the world with him as a companion."

Look at the photo above.   Sasquatches are thought to look like that, and whack things with sticks (or, in my case, with a tree) and throw rocks.  Just like that.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Finding Bigfoot

As most of you regular readers know, Pam and I had our Sasquatch "encounters" starting in 2013 in Bleecker, but were too oblivious to know what was happening until 2014.  Since last summer, I have become a voracious researcher of all things Sasquatch.   I've pounded Google, ordered books and DVDs from Amazon, and have quickly become more Sasquatch aware.

We're wintering in Eureka, Florida, which is surrounded by the Ocala National Forest, in much the same way that Bleecker is surrounded by the Adirondack State Park.  This is a Sasquatch hot spot, with many more sighting reports than Bleecker could ever hope for.  Well, actually, according to the BFRO (Big Foot Research Organization) there are no Bleecker reports, but there are for Eureka, neighboring Fort McCoy, and the Ocala National Forest.

Pam and I both heard distinctive "WHOOOP!  WHOOOP!" calls the other day while sitting in our RV with the windows open on a warm night.  This sent all of the neighborhood dogs into barking fits. Whoops are ape vocalizations.  Apes are alive and well in Eureka.

So yesterday, we decided to walk the three mile trail into the forest to the Ocklawaha River and apply our new found knowledge of Sasquatch / Skunk Apes to see what we could find.  A Skunk Ape, by the way, is a relative to Sasquatch, but is found only in the deep south and is particularly foul smelling.

Here you go.

First, since I missed taking a photo of a Sasquatch-like shape in Bleecker, assuming it was a trick of the shadows, only to look away for a minute and then look back and it was gone, I now take pics of anything remotely resembling a Sasquatch.

I present to you Palmetto Tree Man.

This is not a Sasquatch foot print, but I have no idea what it could possibly be.  It was fresh, and there were several.  It was about as wide as my foot.

Pamela smelled something horrible.

"What do skunk apes smell like?" she asked.

"Well, skunk apes and some Sasquatch as said to smell like rotten garbage, or decaying meat."

"That's what I smell."

I don't smell good, so I didn't smell anything.   Pam smelled this foul odor three times on our walk, but we didn't see anything until the third time.   The third time it happened, I applied my sailor skills and determined the direction of the very slight breeze and pointed to where it was coming from.   Pam saw it!   She asked that I take it's photo.   I took two, and then quickly swapped lenses for my 300mm zoom and took several more, manually focusing to make sure I got the ten foot tall Sasquatch and not focus on closer leaves.   This was the best result.

The head, right center.  Yep.  That's it.  Pam complained that its blurry.  No.  I explained that it is in focus.  I made sure when I took it that it was perfect.  I then told her that Sasquatches have a superpower that makes them blurry when being photographed.   Just surf Al Gore's interwebs and you'll see that they're all like that.

Later, walking down a large game trail, we came across this.  It is very similar to the Sasquatch nest we have in Bleecker, but more open.  I guess Florida is warmer.  Sasqautches supposedly build nests by bending down small trees and weighing down the ends with logs and such.  Interestingly, there was a tarp and a tire there too.  Maybe Sasquatches like to collect things interesting to them.

Pam is very observant.  She noticed a broken tree branch about nine feet off the ground.

The dogs loved being out.

This was an odd assortment of fairly large trees knocked down, and a few were twisted.

This was interesting.  This fallen tree was hanging over the trail, and about eight feet up, bark was stripped off of a few of the branches.   I thought that maybe it hit another tree on the way down, but there were no other trees in its path.

As I said, Pam is very observant.   She said "Look at this."  I looked.

"So?  Its a tree branch that fell and landed in a little tree."

"No, look."  I did, and there was a series of these along a large game trail paralleling it.  Were they purposely put there as trail markers?  This was something we noticed repeatedly wherever there was a large game trail.

I'm now taking pics of everything.  I  took the one below, not really sure why.  It was only when I downloaded it on my laptop that I realized that the top part of the tree that was snapped off wasn't  around.   Where did it go?

This photo below shows not only how beautiful this  place is, but how dense it is.  If a critter doesn't want to be found, you're not going to find it.

So if Sasquatches and skunk apes don't really exist,  no matter how much I now think they do,  what's the worst of it?  We got to go for a nice walk in the woods.