Sasquatch – Legend, Hoax, or Something More? by Pam Crooks

Last month, we enjoyed a family vacation at the breathtakingly beautiful Ponca State Park in northeast Nebraska.  The park, and the nearby town of its namesake, are named for the Native American tribe who once claimed the land.  While traveling along the Missouri, Lewis and Clark passed right through, and the National Park Service has since designated this state park as part of the Lewis and Clark Historical Trail.

Even though it’s only two hours from where I live, except for one family member, none of us had ever been there.  The get-away promised to be relaxing, and with ten grandkids in tow, family-friendly.

Since we were only going to be there for a few days, the #SelfieSasquatchChallenge soon became a priority.  Once a week, park rangers move a seven-foot tall Sasquatch figure to different locations throughout the park’s trails.  The fun is to find him, take a selfie of you and your group (if you’re in one) and post the photo on their State Park Facebook page.

My husband hamming it up with Sasquatch.

We were up for the challenge, I tell you!  My three sons-in-law found Sasquatch first while mountain-biking, and the news upon their return was so exciting!  It wasn’t long before we hit the trail to find him, too – and of course, take a photo of him.  I have to admit, seeing that hulking figure against a tree shrouded in shadows on a heavily wooded trail was startling!  Even though I knew Sasquatch was just there for fun, well, he’s not something one normally sees while hiking.

Sasquatch’s fame comes through in many names – Bigfoot, Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, Sokqueatl, or Sesquac, as spoken by Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest, but whatever name you give him, his name will mean “wild man.”

Sometimes depicted as covered in black, dark brown, reddish brown, or even white hair, he is ape-like with feet believed to be two feet long.  Hulking, with no neck, eyes that glow red or yellow, too.  Some describe him as much as eight feet tall, others even ten.  Supposedly, he makes hair-raising sounds like howls, screams, grunts, or roars.  Still, others claim the sounds are simply mis-interpreted and actually made by animals such as owl, wolf, fox, or coyote.

A US Navy cryptologic linguist, Scott Nelson, said of audio recordings from the early 1970s that “It is definitely a language, it is definitely not human in origin, and it could not have been faked.”

In another report of Sasquatch’s realism, the owner of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in northern California claims to have smelled the beast, saying, “Imagine a skunk that had rolled around in dead animals and had hung around the garbage pits.”

Others, however, have completely different theories.  Scientists and non-believer professionals claim the Sasquatch sightings are simply large bears, hermits or feral humans living in the wilderness.

And then there was the group of researchers in Washington State who used 200 pounds of plaster to take impressions, ultimately named the Skookum Cast, which is 3 1/2 feet wide and 5 feet tall. As quoted from an article written by Kelly Milner Halls, Rick Spears, and Roxyanne Young, “A Bigfoot by Any Other Name,”

“Measurements of the imprints indicated that whatever creature made this impression was 40 to 50 percent larger than a 6-foot-tall human being. When the cast was cleaned, hair samples were extracted. All of them turned out to belong to deer, elk, coyote, and bear—all but one. One hair had unique primate (ape) characteristics. Dr. Henner Fahrenback, a biomedical research scientist from Beaverton, Oregon, has labeled it “Sasquatch.”

So there you go.

What do you think?  Are you a believer or a non-believer?  Is Sasquatch real or a hoax?

And that question reminds of UFOs and how the Pentagon has been holding historic hearings on supposed sightings of UFOs just this spring.  Sure makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

What about UFOs?  Are they real or a hoax, too?

The Dreaded Vacation Pictures

 

Well, I’m usually much more organized and on top of my game than I currently am. Comes from being on deadline (new book and edits on another one are due within days of each other) and squeezing in a four-day vacation to visit my daughter in Seattle. As a result, I didn’t think much about my blog this month. Sorry. So, as a result, you get to look at pictures and hear about my trip. It really was a lot of fun 🙂

On my first full day, we went to the county fair. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve been to a county fair. Yes, the rides were as rickety as I remember. I thought I’d be okay going on the ferris wheel, but I admit I was kind of scared. We were up pretty high, and the ride didn’t look all that secure. The haunted house was lame, which was great for a laugh. The fun house was my favorite next to the livestock barns. I loved seeing the draft horses (some of you may remember my recent post about the different kinds of draft horses). And the little guy on the lower right is a miniature mule. We had lots of the big ones. This fellow was about a fourth of the size.

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to Easton’s Books. If you’re a book lover, which I am, this place is a dream. There are all kinds of books, from recent releases to classics. I could spend the entire day there and still not see everything. I was able to purchase four books for my favorite childhood books collections. The Black Stallion Legend was an exciting find for me. It’s one of the less popular Black Stallion books, and there aren’t many copies floating around.  The Year of the Black Pony was an especially wonderful find as it’s signed by the author! How cool is that?

Lastly, there are pictures of our stroll along the walkway outside of a seafood restaurant where we had dinner. My bad, I can’t remember the name of the small town, but the water is a “finger” of the sound. And best of all, besides time spent with my daughter, was getting to see my fur grandbabies. Tsuki the dog and Bandit the cat are both elderly now and having their share of health problems. They both belonged to me when they were babies. Bandit was a rescue saved from a cat hoarding situation. My daughter took both pets with her when she moved out of the house at eighteen to attend college. I’m always amazed that Tsuki remembers me even though I only see him every couple of years. Or, maybe he doesn’t and just likes me!

Thanks for letting me share my trip with you. I promise that next month I’ll be more prepared.

My Branson Vacation

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. A few weeks ago we took a family vacation to Branson, Mo.

Some of my kids had been there before but I hadn’t so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, we had a fabulous time!  Nine of us took the trip and seven of us stayed in one condo while two stayed at another which helped extend the time together.

We tried to cram as many of the attractions as we could into the three days we were there. Here’s a list of how we spent our time.

We spent a day at Silver Dollar City (Unfortunately no one took pictures). Several members of the group took advantage of the rides – I didn’t. But there were lots of craft demonstrations ( glass blowers, wood working, pottery, etc.) and fun shops to keep me happily entertained.  One of the things I found that I just couldn’t pass up was this dragonfly puzzle box. I love dragonflies and collect trinket boxes so it seemed custom made just for me 🙂

 

We caught the Sight & Sound Theater’s production of Jesus. The production value was absolutely AMAZING! I had an aisle seat and there were live animals – sheep, pigs, horses, camels, birds – some of which ran up and down the aisles close enough to touch. And the sets themselves were active, realistic and altogether fabulous.

 

We toured Wild World where there were many more animals than I expected – sharks, reptiles, birds, creepy crawlers and lots of furry critters. The highlight of this particular outing was when three members of our group were able to get up close and personal with some lemurs.

 

We also stopped in at the Titanic Museum. The tour started with the staff handing everyone a bording ticket complete with the name of an actual passenger who sailed aboard the Titanic. The ticket contained personal info on that passenger including name, position, ticket class and some other notes. At the end of the tour you found out if ‘you’ survived or not. I was the ladies maid for a dowager and assigned to second class.
I learned so much during the tour. At one point we were able to stick our hands in a vat of liquid that duplicated the temperature and density of the water surrounding the wreck – Brrrrr!

Here I am standing in front of a reproduction of the grand staircase. (By the way, my character was among the survivors. 🙂 )

 

Another place we visited was the Butterfly Palace. It was so fun to go inside the plant conservatory and let the butterflies approach and feed on the blossoms the staff provided.
There was also a great little mirror maze tucked inside the same building. I would probably still be wandering around looking for a way out if I hadn’t had my daughter and grandson there to help me find my way 🙂

 

But my favorite part of the whole trip was our visit to Top of the Rock. There is a two and a half mile nature trail that you can navigate on your own via a golf cart. The scenery was fabulous – rock formations, a cave, waterfalls, wildlife, streams, covered bridges.

There were also these wonderful wildlife medallions embedded in the metal fencing and bridge headers along the trail that I found were so intriguing. I’ve been trying to do a little research into them but so far haven’t had much luck.

 

We capped off the vacation by having a game night our last evening there. We ordered pizzas and played a rousing game of Mexican Train dominoes. Since we are a highly competitive bunch it was loud and energetic and fabulously fun!

 

So there you have it, our first family vacation since before the pandemic.

What was your own favorite vacation? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

 

And don’t forget to come by on Thursday to help us celebrate our 15th birthday!!

 

Spread  the word – there are going to be BIG prizes and BIG fun!

Play Fifteen Filly Fact or Fib? and you could win!

Happy Birthday to us!

Visiting the Frontier – Disney Style

This past December, the Witemeyer family escaped Texas for a family vacation several years in the making. With a wedding and college graduation this spring for my son, and my daughter knee-deep in research and conferences for her PhD program, our window of opportunity for family vacations has been dwindling. Thankfully, the stars aligned just right for us to squeeze in a trip to Disney World before we all start going our separate ways. We invited my son’s fiancé and my youngest son’s girlfriend to join in the fun, and we had a fabulous time. So many photos and memories.

Of course, my favorite land to visit in Magic Kingdom is Frontierland. My western-loving heart enjoyed hearing the piped in oater music, seeing the Liberty Belle riverboat, and getting absorbed into the wild west atmosphere. My favorite ride is of course Big Thunder Mountain, and it was so much fun reading all the signs posted around the mining company as we waited for our chance to ride.

If my next book happens to feature a terrible twosome named the Hash Knife Outfit known for tomfoolery and habitual bungling, you’ll know where the idea came from. Or maybe my next heroine will take a job in the Hard Times Café. Lot’s of possibilities there.

Some other fun frontier moments came at Epcot where we visited the American Adventure theater to relive America’s past with Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin as our hosts.

And you know I wasn’t going to miss everybody’s favorite cowboy in Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios.

So many fun opportunities for inspiration. Like this masked gang of suspicious characters heading to the shooting gallery to stir up trouble.

It’s a good thing I found a pencil to make notes for my next book idea!

Did you travel at all over the Christmas break? Where did you go?
Have you been to Disney World or Disneyland? What are your favorite rides/experiences?

My Favorite Small Town Getaway

Last summer after dropping off our youngest son at college in New Jersey, we visited wineries on the return trip to break up the endless miles. Once home we discovered quite a few wineries in our area. Now I had a goal I could really get behind–visiting local wineries!

I found Valley View, Texas because of a billboard advertising its local winery. What I never expected was to also find a Texas getaway gem in this town of seven hundred fifty-seven people.

The minute I drove into Valley View, my tension drifted away with the warm Texas breeze, and that was even before I had a glass of Firelight Vineyard’s sangria! The town reminded me of my childhood spent at my grandparent’s farm in northeastern Iowa. There was open space, trees, horses and cows. Often all in one front yard. There life doesn’t speed by. Neighbors know each other. Everyone’s friendly and laid back. Whenever I’m there I run into someone who wants to talk. Whether it’s someone at the winery, a local business owner, or an Army/Air Force Veteran. Whenever I hear Josh Gallagher’s “Pick Any Small Town” Valley View’s the one I’d pick.

The last year has been stressful, so for our anniversary, my hubby and I headed to Valley View for a getaway weekend. We wanted to spend time away from email, texts, social media, and other city commitments. For us, when we’re away from the city and in the country, life’s troubles fade away and we focus on what’s important—each other and family. The drive to our B&B, Towering Oaks Haven, took us on a gravel road, once again reminding me of my childhood. The fast-paced-need-to-get-ahead-world disappeared. We spent the weekend wandering around antique stores, shopping at my favorite boutique Rustic Ranch, and becoming reacquainted with each other. We weren’t on our phones constantly. We weren’t worried about spotty internet service. We connected with those around us, rather than those on social media sites. We listened to stories, told some of our own, and were simply in the moment. We ate fantastic gourmet pizza from Lil’ Brick Oven delivered to us at the winery. After that, we listened to the David Alexander Trio while sitting on the Firelight Vineyard’s patio chatting with someone my husband knew from years back and a wonderful couple from Oklahoma.

Life was simpler, personal and connected. And I loved every minute of it.

I remembered why I write stories set in small towns, because of the feelings I rediscovered in Valley View. Because of the way I felt at my grandparents’ farm and in their small town.

I can back rejuvenated and my head spinning with story ideas! A Texas winery owner heroine and a rancher in a small Texas town trying to revitalize the town square. Hmmm. It’s a start.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite getaway spot that rejuvenates your body and soul. Enter a comment for a chance to win the wine charms and a wineglass from FIrelight Vineyards.

 

 

My Southwestern Vacation

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I’ve just recently returned from a week long family vacation to Arizona where we had an absolute blast.  There were twelve members in our group, though we didn’t all travel together. Me, my husband and two of our kids flew together into Flagstaff.  My oldest daughter and her husband flew into with plans to drive to the Grand Canyon from there.  And my youngest daughter and her extended family (a group of 6) decided to drive and make several stops along the way.  All through the week our groups came together in a very fluid way, different combinations breaking off on different days to do things of particular interest to them. But by mid-week we were all together at Bright Angel Lodge on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  For about half the group it was their first time to view this awesome wonder in person and they were blown away by the views.  For the rest of us, revisiting the place had almost as big an impact as seeing it for the first time.

Anyway, I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what we experienced by sharing just some of the many pictures we took.

Flagstaff was our home base for this trip. Our first full day there, we took the scenic drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, stopping at several points along the way to admire the scenery and take pictures.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to take a trip out to the nearby Lowell Observatory. We were lucky in that there was a cloudless sky and we were able to get clear views of the sun, moon, Saturn and  Jupiter through the many telescopes they had set out.  Seeing the actual rings of Saturn as well as the pencil dot moons was VERY cool.

The next day we all headed out to the Grand Canyon Notional Park.  Six of us decided to take the two hour train ride out of nearby Williams to get there. Williams is a fun place right on Route 66. They are set up to entertain tourists and there are fun little Wild West shows at the train station you can watch while waiting on departure time.  The train ride itself was fun (it was my first time on a train) and as you can see from the photo below it was quite comfy 🙂

We spent two days at the park itself, staying in cabins at the wonderful Bright Angel Lodge which is located right on the south rim itself.

Our first day there we  just enjoyed the area around the lodge and got the lay of the land. Our second day, we all headed in different directions.  Four of our group decided to hike down into the canyon along the Bright Angel Trail (it goes without saying I wasn’t one of their number!).

The rest of us went on various exploration trips. Hubby and I saw both the Desert View Watchtower and Hermit’s Rest, two structures designed in the early twentieth century by Mary Colter, one of the few females architects of her time.

We also stopped at a lot of the viewing sights along the way. At one particular spot hubby spotted a rock formation that resembled a human profile. I took a photo of it – can you make it out? We also spotted several elk along the roadside and folks in our group managed to get photos of two of them.

After two days at the Grand Canyon, we headed out, again splitting into two groups, those that were driving the whole way started home, the rest of us headed back to Flagstaff. Along the way, though, we visited a wildlife park called Bearizona.  There were lots of different kinds of animals there – mountain goats, buffalo, wolves and more – but my favorites were the bears. And we got photos of two especially enterprising ones that found a way to cool off.

Our last day out we revisited Sedona for a jeep tour of the area.  It was a teeth-rattling bumpy ride but so worth it for the views.  Here is a picture our driver took of the four of us.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to cap off our vacation with a trip to the Snowbowl. It’s a ski lift that operates in the off season to take tourists up to the top of the peak. It’s a thirty minute ride that carries you up to an ear-popping elevation of 11,500 feet.

And then it was time to head home.

As I said it was a wonderful vacation, one that will make me smile whenever I remember it.

What about you? Have you ever visited this part of our country? And do you have a favorite vacation you look back on fondly?

 

 

 

Fun In The Sun!!

WG Logo 2015-04

Hi! Winnie Griggs here, and I’m just back from the Fabulous RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference in San Diego. It was my first time there and I took advantage of the event to go in a few days early and play tourist. My son came with me which made it doubly fun. So I thought I’d share a little of what my week was like with you.

Sunday afternoon and evening we explored downtown, checking out both the Gaslamp District and Seaport Village. Bot were teeming with baseball fans as the All Star game was scheduled to be played there on Tuesday.

On Monday we headed out to the Zoo, taking advantage of the efficient and low-cost public transportation to get there. And what a fabulous zoo it was! We spent most of the day there, walking the grounds and I’m still not certain we saw it all. My favorite exhibits – Pandas, Polar Bears and giraffes.

Zoo

 

On Tuesday we headed out to LaJolla. We had the driver let us off at the beach near the Scripps Research Institute, and after spending time there we walked a little over a mile to a spot where we could see the seals and sea lions that come right up on the beach. We were able to get quite close to them, though we were careful to respect their space.

LaJolla

 

On Wednesday we took the ferry over to Coronado.  Another day with lots of walking (My fitbit recorded numbers last week it had never reached before 🙂 )  The beaches were lovely, the historic hotel was fabulous, there were lots of fun little shops to check out and the seafood we had for lunch was some of the best I’ve had in quite a while. On the return trip we took the ferry that drops off near the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier that was decommissioned in 1992 and is now a museum.

Cornado

On Thursday it was time for me to turn to conference business – me and three author friends presented a workshop. Son went out on his own exploring the city and we met back up for supper together and a walk through Seaharbor Village.

WorkshopThurs

 

The next morning my son headed for the airport and I turned my full attention to the conference.

And for those of you who have stayed with me his far, if you’ll leave a comment telling me about your favorite place to visit, I’ll put your name in the hat for a drawing to select any one book from my backlist you’d like to have.