Friday, November 28, 2014

Standing With Bigfoot

I saw the blurb while surfing my usual list of Bigfoot sites. 
‘Todd Standing to reveal new footage in Seattle on Tuesday.’
Then while digging online I found that he would also be appearing at this year’s 
Sasquatch Summit in Ocean Shores, Wa. and is going to ‘Release it all’ as the tagline said.

Cool…I was there last year and it was a nice venue and I got to meet Dr. Meldrum and Derek Randles who invited me up to his Olympic Project for an expedition. I wrote about that here on this blog last March.

I knew I had to go, but I really prefer to travel with someone if possible, both for the companionship and as a witness to anything unusual that might occur who will back me up as a source.  I called my friend Jack.
                                               I'm on the left, Black Jack on the right

We zip down to the conference in less than 90 minutes and I show Jack the side entrance where we waltz in and immediately encounter the ticket table. $25 bucks each (last year was only $5, so it was clear that the addition of Standing and a ‘special guest’ were the reason) and we were in with our neck lanyards and bigfoot key fobs. I spied Bob Gimlin right away. He’s unmistakable in his pressed western shirt, new riding jeans and $300 Stetson. Plus he is only about 5’5 (with that hat ) and usually surrounded by ladies, the Elf Prince of Bigfooting.

                                                    Bob getting busy with the ladies 
                                                      (click on the pics to enlarge)

I tell Jack, pointing out the diminutive Cowboy and he stomps over and waits for a minute as Bob finishes hugging girls. He jabs his hand out and Gimlin is all smiles and super-friendly.
I whip my camera phone up and snap a shot of them and then move in to meet him myself.
I saw Bob last year here but didn’t feel the need to meet him, partly because I am interested in new developments in the field and Bob is mostly a trophy attendee but also because I was intimidated by the crowds around him. I handed my camera to Jack, showed him how to work it and moved in to greet Mr. Gimlin. He shook my hand as Jack fumbled typically with the phone, but the flash went off and I got my face to face with the Man, who really is a warm, happy guy. I’m glad I met him.

I took the phone from Jack and we moved for the entrance to the main room. I see my new friend Ben Freed standing just inside the door to the room and I tap him on the shoulder. (Ben runs a website called Bigfoot Ops and was the second guy I met at the Olympic Project in March. I had spent the previous Saturday night with him at his habituation site up in Ashford, Wa., sitting by the orange glow of a propane heater late into the night waiting for a bigfoot to…do something. Nothing major happened (a trip wire sensor went missing) but I got to hang out in perhaps the hottest hotspot in the state with a nice guy and his wife who fed me and showed me the ropes of bigfoot stump baiting et. al. They also sold me a expedition leg pack.

Ben steps out and shakes my hand and says, “HEY…I’ve got your Expedition pack….hang on a minute.”

Ben disappears and just as I turn back to the door, Jack in front of me, here comes Les Stroud. He brushed up against Jack and Jack took the opportunity to shake Stroud’s hand, but Stroud was too quick for me to corner and was gone faster than Bigfoot over a ledge. For some quick background on both these guys; Bob Gimlin is the smaller, more alive half of Patterson/Gimlin, the duo who first rode into the hills of Orleans, California and Bluff Creek to record the famous 2 minutes of ‘Patty’, a very large female Bigfoot who has become the foundation of video evidence for the entire phenomenon.

Les Stroud is the creator and star of the Survivorman TV series, a highly popular collection of his excursions into the wild places of the world where Stroud is dropped off by his support team with only a few basic items and a portable video camera. He’s a neat guy to watch on film because he’s very accomplished and likeable as he starts a fire from the sparks of downed airplane battery onto some bark duff soaked in AV gas, then sits back in the below zero cold and plays his harmonica.

Inside the venue proper, we have arrived in time to catch Derek Randles in the middle of his presentation. Derek is the stout founder of the Olympic Project, (in his ever-present hiking shorts) with an HQ in the hills west of Port Angeles, Wa. He and his wife Pretoria hold court with attendees who pay $300 or $400 dollars to meet Meldrum and to trek into the surrounding woods for beginner courses in Bigfoot tracking. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the subject and it’s more fervent practitioners, and Dr. Meldrum is very patient and accommodating with answering the same questions over and over. I attended last March and enjoyed the two days and got to network with other like-minded BF’ers around the big woodstove there.

Here at the Summit, Derek introduced his friend, David Ellis, his audio expert and track cast guy and Ellis did the same spiel he’s did at the last conference, playing audio of bigfoot sounds, that, most of which could easily be made by owls or coyotes, but a few of the clips he played near the end sound as though they were made by something with a great deal of lung power. Plus, they were creepy. After a few minutes of hearing the intricacies of how to record BF in the wild, I leaned over the Jack, ‘You ready for a beer?’

I know the answer to this is always the same, so we both get up and head to the casino bar.
If Derek or his crew had anything new to add, we missed it, but I sort of doubt it.

The next speaker on the roster was Thom Powell, the author, and because he authored a book loaned to me by Jack right when it came out, we knew we had to hear Thom and to meet him. I had my copy of ‘The Locals’ with me and BINGO, there’s Thom sitting right against the back wall. I went right up to him and stuck out my hand and said, ‘Thom, your book is one of the only ones that allows for paranormal explanations for Bigfoot.’  He shook my hand and took my book, “Yep,” he says, “and tonight I will have plenty of stuff for all the ‘woo, woo’ people here.” He signed my book, saying it was a good, first edition and we thanked him and headed to the bar.

It's a typical casino, with cigarette smoke replacing normal air and the giant room full of money sucking machines are manned by the typical booze and tobacco-fueled automatons, pumping coins in a slot and punching big plastic buttons repeatedly with apparently, almost no recompense.

Jack orders two Big Wave beers and they are excellent, light ales, infused with a hint of pineapple. We are both a little giddy about meeting all the luminaries in such a short time and I get my phone out to look at the photos.

I click on and find the right tab and ‘poof’ nothing but black. What? I tap the screen, fiddle with the images and NOTHING. In the place where the two shots of Bob Gimlin and Jack and myself should be are two blotches of black, empty screen. I’m blown away. I tap it over and over, looking in other folders and they’re just not there.

The phone is overcomplicated and has failed me before, but never in this fashion. I hold it up and take a photo of Jack at the bar to test it. I say, “Maybe you held your finger over the lens?” But he says no, he saw the image of Bob and I on the screen, and sure enough, the photo I take of Jack turns out fine. I hand him the phone and he snaps one of me and it turns out ok too. I am flummoxed.
                                                               The Flummoxed Me

There is no explanation for this outside of some sort of spectral reason why Gimlin, the father of Bigfoot film evidence, cannot be photographed. Bob really is a magical Elf.

At this point, I'm in a somewhat sour mood, so I work at rationalizing the event until my mood improves. The beer helps and by the time it’s gone I have written off the lack of a good, clear photo of Bob Gimlin as never being obtainable.

It’s time to head back to the room to hear Thom Powell now so Jack pays the tab.
We walk in just as Thom takes the stage. He puts images onto the slide projector screen and begins his lecture about the stranger aspects of bigfoot witness encounters.
He says, “If you’re out in the field sitting in the dark waiting for bigfoot to come up to you or to walk by, you’re not a scientist, you’re a spy!’ Heads nod around us and people chuckle and murmur in agreement. He complains about the capitalization of the word ‘bigfoot’ saying that ‘Squatch’ is not a truly defined thing yet and does not deserve special treatment. He talks about ESP where Bigfoot uses what he calls a ‘coconut telegraph’ for lack of a better term, to communicate, in the kings English, with humans, saying, “They are definitely telepathic.” Here’s a link to the entire story that Thom relegated to us there at the Con.

The bulk of Thom's lecture felt sort of like a high school science class, where he punctuated his patter with a few bad puns and 9th grade quips and ‘dude’ references and this is understandable since he is a 9th grade science teacher AND as another dude in his late fiftie, I totally got it, dude. Thom also repeated a mantra that he has adopted to explain his attitude regarding what people think of his paranormal explanations for bigfoot;   ‘Nobody cares.’ I didn’t really understand what he meant, though.
I guess he’s saying HE doesn’t care what people think.

Thom then talked about the use of special pendants, swinging over special cloths, how cameras and batteries always seem to go dead when bf are around (a phenomenon not lost on me at that moment) and how he believes BF is an inter-dimensional traveler. He then posted a bullet-point list that I paraphrase here, including:

‘They are observers of humans and sentinels’, though he never explains what they’re looking for.
‘They live underground, along with ETs’, but he doesn’t suggest where that might be.
‘Some go rogue’, explaining negative witness reports of menacing bfs.
‘We are being led into a greater awareness’ which is appropriately ‘woo, woo’.
‘bigfoot picks the habituation sites and the people THEY want to interact with, not the other way around.’ This makes some sense I guess.  And finally,
 ‘They prefer to interact with humble people’ at which point I lean over to Jack and whisper, ‘You’re OUT, dude!’

Thom suggested that if we want to have an encounter with a bigfoot in the woods, we have to have good thoughts and humble intentions. We should pick up litter. At this, I nudged Jack again and winked and he smirked back in agreement, this may be a good idea, but it’s still funny.
Then he posted an image of a wormhole, calling them Einstein-Rosen Bridges and images of books supporting wack-theories including Michael Talbot’s ‘The Holographic Universe’ which I have read and enjoyed, but don’t fully support myself.

Despite all the woo woo, nobody had left the room and that told me that even with the solid, flesh and blood opinions of so many people on the panel, they were willing to entertain the possibility that bf creatures may indeed possess capabilities beyond that of us much less hairy, puny humans.
By this time, Thom had run over his scheduled allotment by about fifteen minutes and the Con host, local radio deejay, Johnny Manson was hanging on the stage stair rail looking simultaneously bored and annoyed. He never intervened however and Thom left the stage to applause nearly thirty minutes over.

I told Jack that we had ten minutes before Meldrum was scheduled so we headed back to the bar.
On the way there I explained that Meldrum would likely do his college-level Anthro 101 course like he did last year, to fill up his 90 minutes and that if we got back about thirty minutes before he was done we might catch any new stuff.

Jack made for the restroom and I got to the bar first. To make sure that we wouldn’t be bored, I ordered two whisky/cokes and when Jack sat down he concurred, “THOM WAS GOOD MAN…HE’S OUT THERE BUT HE’S GOOD.” Jack was using his big boy voice as usual and I could see other people in the bar turning to see what the problem was.  No problem, just Jack.

I looked around and noticed a lot of others from the room had joined us, all of us wearing the neon yellow lanyards with Sasquatch Summit cards. It was the expected cross-section of bigfooters.
Plenty of over-fed dudes and dudettes wearing Cabela gear like camo hats, vests and parkas that have never seen temps lower than the inside of their diesel truck cab with the windows down when they peer into the woods and say, ‘Was that a SQUATCH!?’

There were a few other attendees that looked like dedicated hunters. Flannel shirts and Carhartt logger pants, with burly arms and epic beards. Todd Standing looked this way, and surprise (except for the burly arms and epic beard, so did I ).

Seated behind our seats at the bar were two dudes sipping drinks. The whisky pushed me over to their table, “So you guys are here to skip Meldrum’s segment too, huh?” The burlier dude in a sweater laughed and agreed, the handsome kid across from him looked intently at his Vape stick and exhaled a cloud of mist. I continued, ‘So…you guys ready to hear Standing deliver the goods?” Handsome kid piped up, said, “Yeah…he’s fulla shit….just more puppet stuff.” And Burly sweater guy nodded and grinned. “That one on the right is so fake you could see the edges of the mask.”

Handsome kid said, “Phil took that image and super-imposed Standings face over it and it was a perfect match!’, nodding toward sweater guy. “Phils the guy who does the ‘breakdown’s’ online.
Then I knew this was Phil Poling, a video and audio expert who uses AV equipment to ferret out fine details in crappy video footage to ascertain whether it’s real bf stuff or a hoaxed clip.
I mention how I had listened to a bunch of audio clips at the Olympic Project event that Sara Brown had brought and Phil said, ‘Sara’s his wife..’ so, Handsome kid was Jon Brown, a Chickasaw tribe member and the owner along with Sara of the ‘Grays Harbor Thermal Footage.’  This is new (2013) night time footage taken with a FLIR BTS camera of a large white mass apparently hunched down below a large log. Size estimates, taken after the sun had come up indicated a creature much larger than a human both in height and breadth, aprox. 5 feet at the apparent shoulders.

At about two minutes into the eight minute clip, a cow comes into the frame and moseys off, apparently not alarmed by the huge blob behind the log.

Here’s a link to the clip:

After I told Jon that I thought his wife did a neat thing when she went outside during Meldrum’s presentation in March and beat on a drum, I asked both guys if they though bigfoot was just a flesh and blood creature or if he had some extra-human abilities. The both demurred, saying this was just an animal and that it’s silly to think otherwise, but I maintain that the shamanistic aspect of drumming to summon a bigfoot is a dead-on part of tribal cultures around the country.

Jack had left our discussion early on, having drained two whiskys and the three of us decided to go back then too.

In the room, Meldrum had not yet taken the stage so I found Jack and we headed over to Dr. M’s table where he was sitting with a few bigfoot print casts. Jack ham-handed Meldrum and burbled enthusiasm at meeting the TV star and I shook his hand and greeted him too, “Nice to see you again.”

Meldrum is a friendly guy and the epitome of Professorial demeanor. He uses words typical of his profession and while there is a tendency to drone the way lecturers can when explaining textbook passages, he is clearly smart enough to grok the information into useful advances in the field of cryptid research.
Jack Obfuscating Meldrum

After a few minutes of Jack obfuscating any others from reaching Meldrum to chat I pull him over to Todd Standing, who is standing alone nearby.

Todd is a tall, hippie-ish man with long blonde mane tied in a loose pony-tail and with the requisite epic beard. Really epic. He speaks quickly and directly. I ask him if he will be showing anything from his documentary tonight and he says there will be some images and that the real show will be in Seattle on Tuesday. I ask him if it’s ok if I snap a photo (thank you whisky) and I fumble the shitty camera up and try to get the three of us into a selfie. I have decided that a blurry photo is the best way to present bigfoot con attendees now, as an appropriate depiction of both types of animals.

At this point I spot Standings Protection petition and I go over and sign it. It’s just a good idea to support any legislation that might bring awareness to idea of giving this (ostensibly) undiscovered primate room to breathe without so much fear of fuckheads with big rifles intent on cashing in on a corpse.

I also think that bigfoot are possibly a people who should be left alone entirely, as history has proved out time and time again that contact between moderns and primitives ALWAYS ends up destroying the latter. The indigenous natives of this country are the most glaring example, but in modern times we have the tribes of the deep jungles of Brazil and Peru, Indians like the Yuri and the Carabayo people, who we know exist because of recent aircraft flights over those areas, showing the ‘malokas’ or houses they live in, and how they were nearly made extinct when the juggernaut of the rubber tree tappers and slavers had bloody conflicts with these previously uncontacted people over 100 years ago. The new generation of existing peoples there have not seen white people face to face and the risk of diseases being passed to them is a real enough threat to hopefully thwart any new contact.  I suggest the idea of leaving bigfoot alone to Todd and he winces.
“We need to research them so we can protect them,” he says directly. I turn to Jack and say, “Sign it Jay,” and Jack gets a wide-eyed look of disdain on his face and backs up two steps. I can’t hear his answer as the microphone blares from the stage but it’s clear that he is not going to sign anything and so I grab a blank petition sheet from the pile and suggest we can do it later. Standing seems to like this and we thank him and go to our seats.
Blurry action shot of Me, Standing, Jack and a huge orb

His reticence to sign a protection document is a little puzzling to me, but I know him to be the type to usually avoid signing anything for any reason.

Meldrum does his thing and by the time he’s into deep explanations of the Denisovan pre-history peoples and the intricate nature of the mid-tarsal break and the inferred functional morphology of giant bipedal apes, I can see that it’s time for more booze. Jack agrees again and off we head for the bar, but this time I tell him I want to drop off my copy of The Locals at the car so I don’t risk losing it on the floor of the casino somewhere. He’s cool with that so we head to car. I toss the book in the trunk and we weave our way back to the room and stand outside watching Meldrum wrap up his lecture. Ben walks up and his wife is right behind him. She hands me the Expedition leg pack and it’s neat. Karen had asked me what name I wanted emblazoned on the pack as she personalizes them and so I chose the name of my blogpage, Bizarre Bigfoot.

Ben says, “I upgraded it with a space blanket instead of a poncho and you get the good knife too.”
I needed a new knife so this was the zenith of my night so far. I thanked them both and just as I was turning away, Ben caught my arm and said, “That guy from the Ocean Park habituation is here…I’ll introduce you.” Outstanding!
Standing lying about something (just kidding).

Back in the big room, right on schedule at 6:10 pm, Standing took to the stage. He began with a denial that his sister is a makeup artist, as apparently this is one of the accusations leveled at his 'muppet' image, the mask creature that Poling super-imposed Standings face over.

But listening to Standing was not difficult as he is a good speaker, funny and fast with compelling delivery. He said "I filmed them, I interacted with them, I'm trying to build credibility." But he recoils at the idea that bigfoot creatures could be something more that a giant forest ape.
"It offends me, it bothers me that people want to put them in the realm of paranormal."
He didn't explain why.

Standing as the model for this critter on the left?   I think Treat Williams is a closer match.

But while he was speaking I was thinking, 'Why would anyone expend this much energy and apparent conviction for so long if he was hoaxing?'  Now, here at home where the internet at large is easily reached, I found a bunch of information suggesting that Standing stole the habituation site from other, previous individuals with hopes of habituating and/or protecting the bfs that frequent it.  It's possible I suppose, and other info online suggests that Standing is actually much more cunning that he would have the public think, with a full-on video production company.

At the summit, he denied this: " I have an old laptop and I plan to do the final editing at my home," and "my dream is to put a drone in the air with a thermal camera on it and finish the project."
What he means is, a drone specially designed to stay aloft for 12 hours at a time, to be replaced with an identical drone in two alternating shifts. Full time, real time bf thermal surveillance.
That shouldn't cost a tremendous amount of dough, but I'm just a carpenter, so...

Standing showed a short video clip of him explaining a trackway to Dr. Meldrum, with Dr. Bindernagle re-tracing the foot tracks diagonally up a small hillside. You could see Meldrum's reaction as he changed from intense focus to surprised delight (for lack of a better descriptive, Meldrum was quite giddy), saying "That's exactly it," to conclude what Standing did in fact have a real bf trackway.

While Standing spent the majority of his time defending himself from the hoaxer accusations, he did say that he thinks that Sasquatch are 'a brilliant people' citing their ability to outwit humans consistently, that it is humans trespassing on their turf, and that "it's amazing what they can do they are the X-men of the woods!"  There's a soundbite if I've ever heard one.
At the end of his segment (less than forty minutes I think) Standing made a pitch for money.

"Go to my kickstarter site, please consider donating. It costs money to do research." and he finished by asking people to sign his Species Protection petition, and by asking Dr. Bindernagle up on stage.

Bindernagle is 73 and looks to be reasonably spry as he popped up on stage. His voice was a bit hard to hear, but he seemed animated and lively and to my understanding he concurs with Standing having filmed Bigfoot, but he said, when it comes to be absolute proof, 'not so fast'.
Perhaps I misheard him.

Standing to 'Release it All'
This concluded Standings presentation and Johnny Manson came back on stage as Jack and I peeled off and out the door to the lobby.   As I reached the door of the main room, Ben caught up with me and brought me over to meet his new friend, the guy with the habituation site near my place at the ocean.

This is what I was hoping for, ever since I had read the report on the BFRO's database.

Here's a link to that report:

In brief, the witness tells the investigator that he has had a family of bfs come to visit his property for the past two years, where he has been feeding them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and has seen them and interacted with them so much that they consider each other to be family.

The guy is unassuming, had no issues with talking directly to me and was very generous with his time. He told me some amazing and unbelievable details. Here are a few that I am paraphrasing:
'We've discovered trails all around our property that were made in the thick brush without any tools.'
'I make them peanut butter sandwiches on wheat bread...they don't like white bread...just threw it on the ground.'
'I had some meth heads come onto the property and the big one was approaching them. I got there first..I had my pistol and I waved him back. All of the sudden, I heard a dog bark (my dog was back in the house) and then I heard two other dogs barking...a small dog, but with a deep bark...they were protecting me.'
Ocean Park Bf is watching 

There are a few other details that I am withholding as I think it's best to not divulge all that I know. The feeling I got while talking to this guy is that he is being very sincere, that he would not risk the safety of himself and his family for any sort of money or publicity. I asked him, "Are you worried about your place being overrun by people hoping to see bigfoot?" He said no, that the location is private enough and that he guards it himself, including that he rarely goes out and he feels like he is part of a process of some sort. That's a strange comment. This man is clearly intelligent and well spoken. I asked him I could come visit sometime. He said, "Summertime...that's the best time...but go out on your own property, late at night and call them. You'll be surprised."

Just about this time Les Stroud comes out of the main room and passes us. I stick my hand out and say, ' ya doin?' and he slaps my hand and says 'Hey' and continues walking, not too much unlike a bigfoot sighting.

I'm tired now....this was a lot of information to assimilate so...I will update this site as I learn more. Suffice to say that, what this Ocean Park guy had to say was far more interesting to me than what the panel of experts on the stage had to offer.  In all fairness, who has more evidence? A guy with a thermal camera and a footprint cast or a guy who is willing to call an investigative body (more than once ) to come check out his place for bigfoot activity.  Read the report at the link above and make up your own mind.

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