Is there room in the Para/Crypto/Fortean world for a gun-toting, paranoid, bipolar, opinionated bastard? A lonely romantic in search of his lost soul? A knight, Samurai, gunslinger, born in the wrong century? A self-destructive, doom-driven survivor seeking redemption? A heavy drinking gonzo outlaw cryptozoologist whose ego is exceeded only by his libido?
No, there isn't. That's why I'm here...

30 September 2009

"Chickenfoot" Drive-through

I drove out to Chickenfoot today. I wanted to get a look at the lay of the land before going out at night. Here's a pic of the intersection:

The road to the left is posted as a private drive, so I just kept going straight. The one-lane dirt road is filled with potholes, and at some points it's dark even at midday due to the close overgrowth on either side. You can literally reach out of your window and touch the trees. There is the occasional field or pasture, but I didn't reach a dwelling (a nice sized farmhouse) for miles. The GPS showed a few county roads intersecting the road I was on, but it must be pretty outdated, since these "roads" were nothing more than trails through soybean fields, and again, some of these were marked "Private Property, No Trespassing". This is another good reason to recon an area before heading out for a full-fledged hunt. You certainly don't want to go blundering onto private property without permission.
After a few miles of pot holes, big mud puddles, and rickety wooden bridges, I could go no farther. I reached a mudhole the size of a pond right in the middle of the road. I didn't want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, so I'll have to wait til things dry out before proceeding any farther. Our whole area has been subject to almost daily flashfloods for the past month!
I performed a three point turn on the narrow road and returned to the intersection, this time taking the other road. This one wasn't quite as desolate as the first one, but there were still plenty of woods, streams, and a few huge cornfields on one or both sides of the road. (sounds like some of the areas Linda Godfrey mentions in her werewolf books).
There was another road that also looked promising, but I didn't have time to explore it.
So, did I see or hear the "White Thing", or "Chickenfoot Monster"? Alas, not this time. I can't wait to get out there at night, though, the place is unsettling enough in broad daylight.
I DID see something though. Check this out:

This bull was again within arm's length of the car window. Just imagine being on this lonely dirt road at night, and catching a glimpse of this guy looking in your window!
This is a cool area to check out. If it doesn't have a resident monster, it certainly needs one!

28 September 2009

"Where The 'White Things' Are"

It was pretty hard to come up with a title for this post that didn't sound racist. ("Do The 'White Thing'", "That's Mighty White Of You", I had settled on "White Things, You Make My Heart Sing" when I saw the trailer for the new movie "Where The Wild Things Are"...)
A few months back, I read Kurt McCoy's book "White Things, West Virginia's Weird White Monsters", a collection of accounts of encounters with mysterious "WTs" in West Virginia. The creatures range in description from smaller animals resembling badgers to Bigfoot-type hairy hominids. One story that stuck in my mind was an encounter which took place in a secluded cemetary, where a teenaged boy had taken his "Goth" girlfriend in hopes of doing what teenaged boys hope to do with their girlfriends in secluded spots, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. (Hmm... a remote secluded spot, sexual energy, and a monster, does this scenario sound familiar?)
I have since discovered that I wouldn't have to travel to the land of Mothman and the Flatwoods Monster to find WTs.
Here's a post from Cryptomundo about sightings of a WT near Birmingham, AL. What's odd about this story is that there's no good description of the creature, other than big, white, and shaggy. It's mentioned that it stands on two legs, but it seems that it moves on four most of the time. It also moves extremely fast, matching some of the WV reports. A look at Google Earth shows that the area isn't exactly remote wilderness. That spells paranormal to me, since the area doesn't appear capable of supporting and concealing a population of large white flesh-n-blood creatures.
And even closer to home, I've heard WT reports from a wildlife refuge in Decatur, AL, and then there's the Chickenfoot Monster.
The Chickenfoot Monster has no resemblence to a chicken. "Chickenfoot" is a local name for the area because the dirt road splits into three different roads at one point. (ya' know,like a chicken's foot!). This road is just a few miles from me, at the base of a mountain in a heavily-wooded and swampy area.
I haven't been able to find too much about this one, other than it has a head like a goat (shades of the Texas Goatman?) and, like the previously mentioned WTs, it sounds "like a woman screaming". (another interesting commonality among certain crypto-beasts).
Are these creatures some kind of paranormal interloper? Are they misidentifications of an albino, yet known creature? Are they nothing more than campfire stories, urban (or rural) legends, or just tall tales?
I'll be doing some drive-through "expeditions" to these local areas to see what I can see.
On a side note, Loren Coleman has noted a pattern with creature sightings and general weirdness and place names. Cities named "Decatur" around the US seem to have a "high strangeness quotient", and places named "Lafayette" (or variations thereof, from the French for "place of the fairies") also rank high.
The wildlife refuge is across the river from Decatur AL, and part of it is also directly across from Lafayette Street.
Weird, huh?

25 September 2009

Land Between the Lakes KY, Another "Window"?

I first became aware of this region when I viewed the documentary "Hunt The Dogman" which I posted about here.
I've done some more searching recently and found that in addition to the Dogman/Werewolf sightings, LBL is also the home of the "Vampire Hotel", an abandoned structure (it has since been demolished so only the foundation and a few walls remain) where Rod Ferrell and his "Vampire Clan" held meetings, conducted blood-drinking riuals, and allegedly practiced animal sacrifices prior to embarking on their trip to Florida, where Ferrell beat two people to death and drank their blood before driving to New Orleans to live among the vampires. The Vampire Hotel is still a "pilgimage" sight for vampire wannabes.
It was after conducting their rituals that Ferrell declared himself a 500 yr-old vampire named "Vesego".
So, now we've got an area with both werewolves and "vampires". But wait, there's more. I've also run across posts from those who've visited the area and reported that at night, you can see glowing red eyes staring through the trees, but when the area is illuminated, no animal or creature can be seen. Others have also reported UFOs and mysterious lights among the trees, some reports of non-typical Bigfoot-like creatures, as well as a general "creepy" feeling.
The LBL region has a lot in common with other "Window Areas" as well. It's situated between two large lakes, it's a heavily forested area, it has been under the control (or at least auspices of) the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Corp of Engineers ( that's right, the Government!), it is home to a lot of old cemetaries and Indian burial grounds, and it has a history of being haunted or sacred that predates the arrival of the White Man.
I can't help but wonder if Ferrell and his followers unwittingly made contact with some kind of entity, and if in his desire to become a vampire, he allowed it to "possess" and control him? Is there some kind of energy in the area? Is it yet another playground for what we label as "spirits"?
Just what IS going on there?

22 September 2009

460 Rowland Caliber Conversion

I've converted the Taurus 1911 to 460 Rowland caliber using the kit from Clark Custom Guns. The 460 Rowland is a "new" caliber (actually, it's been in development and testing for a few years now) that delivers .44 magnum ballistics from a 1911 style handgun, with nothing more than a barrel and spring swap. I've also reinstalled the factory grips, replacing the flamed custom ones for now, and picked up a few Chip McCormick 10rnd magazines.
But, the ammo is still on backorder for a few more weeks, so I can't shoot it yet. But the extended mag and the barrel compensator looks wicked awesome. Can't wait to try this f**kpuppy out!

More Gun Porn!

A couple of weeks ago I found a great deal on a Mossberg 500 .12gauge shotgun. Mossberg calls this model the "Roadblocker". The big thing on the end of the barrel is a muzzle brake, modeled after the ones used on the 50-cal rifles. It's supposed to reduce the recoil of the weapon. The gun was originally equipped with just a pistol-grip (no stock), but since pistol-grip-only shotguns are useless, pointless, and impractical (outside of action movies, anyway!), I added a Knoxx SpeCops folder. The shottie is much easier on my shoulder now, and follow-up shots are pretty darned fast.

Just smile and wait for the flash!

Ghost Towns and Curses

Like everything else, sometimes entire towns "up and die". The reasons are varied and usually quite mundane. Mines, mills, and factories shut down, prompting an exodus of those whose livelihood depended on them. In the early days of US history, movement of the railroad lines could mean certain death for a once-thriving community. In more recent history, the Interstate Highway System bypassed once-popular tourist stops and destinations which had previously enjoyed a measure of prosperity from highway travellers passing through town and spending their dollars at the local cafes, or forking over some cash at the local tourist trap.
But sometimes the reasons were more than a little bizarre. There are a few occasions where it appears that entire towns have suffered for the sins of a few.
Here's an account of the city of Kaskaskia, the first capital of Illinois:

A new settlement was started along the western edge of the Illinois region in 1703 and it was called Kaskaskia. For more than a century, it was the commercial and cultural capital of Illinois. Little of the city remains today, although it was once a prosperous and thriving settlement. Strangely, many believe that the city was destroyed because of an old curse, leaving nothing but a scattering of houses, and ghosts, behind.

Many years ago, Kaskaskia was a part of the mainland of Illinois, a small peninsula that jutted out just north of the present-day location of Chester. There still remains a portion of what was once Kaskaskia, which is accessible from Illinois today, but the peninsula is now an island, cut off from the state by a channel change in the Mississippi River that took place decades ago. Much of the area was flooded at that time and it is now largely a ghost town, consisting of a few scattered homes and a handful of residents.

The remains of the town, while still considered part of Illinois, can now only be reached from Missouri. There is an ancient bridge between Ste. Genevieve and St. Mary’s which crosses the Mississippi to the island. It is the only physical link this desolate spot has to either state. There are only a few scattered buildings left here, including the Kaskaskia Bell Memorial site, which indicate that the city ever existed.

The vanished town was founded by the French settlers and it was once considered the "metropolis" of the Mississippi Valley and the main rendezvous point for the whole territory. It also served as a springboard for explorations to the west and in time, became the state and territorial capital of Illinois.

The area grew and in 1804, Kaskaskia became a land-office town and the territorial capital in 1809. The town was made up of stone mansions and homes of typical French architecture, which according to contemporary sources, were inclined to be "shabby".

Half of the inhabitants were French or French-Indian mixtures who raised cattle, horses and hogs and worked small farms. The city also boasted a post office and a number of general stores, a hat shop and three tailor shops. There was only one tavern in town and it was said to be constantly overcrowded by state officials, soldiers, adventurers and land speculators.

In 1818, the state capital was moved to the new city of Vandalia, in the central part of the state. Illinois had just gained its statehood and legislators began searching for a place that was more centrally located than Kaskaskia. The move was made with some regret... but of course no one knew that the river city would be destroyed in just a few more years.

About 25 years later, the waters of the Mississippi began to shift in their channel and flooding attacked the edges of Kaskaskia, destroying homes and farms. By 1881, the peninsula was completely cut off by the river and the city nearly ceased to exist.

But what happened to change the fates of this once marvelous city? Was it simply nature taking its course.... or were more dire circumstances behind the demise of Kaskaskia?

According to some, there was a terrible curse placed on the town many years before which predicted the city and the land around it would be destroyed and that the dead would rise from the graveyard in eternal torment. Believe it or not, these events actually came to pass!

The legend of the curse dates back to 1735, when Kaskaskia was a thriving community of French settlers. There was a wealthy fur trader who lived there and who is remembered only by the name of Bernard. He lived in a luxurious stone home in the company of his daughter, Maria, a beautiful young girl who was the pride of his life.

Bernard owned a trading post on the edge of the city and he frequently hired local men, both French and Indian, to work for him. Most of the Indians were hired to do the menial work, as Bernard cared little for them and considered them a "necessary evil" at best. At some point, he hired a young Indian to work for him who had been educated by French missionaries. As the two spent time together, Bernard actually began to become fond of the young man, at least until he realized that his daughter had also become fond of him. In fact, Maria and the Indian had fallen in love.

When Bernard learned this, he became enraged. He immediately fired the young man and spoke to friends and other merchants, who then refused to put him to work. Eventually, the young man left town. Before he left, he promised Maria that he would return for her.

Needless to say, Maria was heartbroken by her father’s actions. She pretended that nothing was wrong, so as to not arouse her father’s curiosity, but deep down, she secretly hoped, waited and watched for the return of her lover. Several local men attempted to court her, but while she feigned interest in their attentions, she secretly pined away for the young Indian.

A year passed and one day, a group of unknown Indians visited Kaskaskia from the west. Among them was Maria’s lover, wearing a disguise so that he would not be recognized by Bernard. Maria and the Indian arranged to meet in secret and then quickly fled Kaskaskia to the north.

When Bernard learned what had happened, he vowed to seek vengeance on the young man. He gathered several of his friends and began hunting his daughter and her lover. They found them and captured them near Cahokia. Maria begged her father to understand but he refused to hear her cries. He decided to kill the young man by drowning him. The Indian was silent as the rough trappers tied him to a log and then set him adrift on the Mississippi. Just as they placed him in the water, he swore a terrible curse...

He swore that Bernard would be dead within the year and soon he and Maria would be reunited forever. Kaskaskia was damned and would be destroyed, along with all of the land around it. The altars of the churches would be destroyed and the homes along with them. Even the dead of Kaskaskia would be disturbed from their graves!

The river then swallowed the Indian beneath the muddy water. He was silenced, but the curse eventually came to pass. Within the year, the prophecy began to come true. Maria became distraught over her lover’s fate and refused to leave the house or eat. She soon died and rejoined her lover on the other side. Bernard became involved in a bad business deal and challenged the man whom he believed to have cheated him to a duel. Bernard was killed by the other man.

And the river began to seek the Indian’s revenge on Kaskaskia. The river channels shifted and flooded the peninsula over and over again until, by 1881, Kaskaskia was completely cut off from the mainland. The homes and farms were abandoned and people began to slowly leave the island. The church was moved over and over again, but it did no good. The altar was eventually destroyed in the 1973 flood. By this time, Kaskaskia had become a desolate ghost town..... but not before the Kaskaskia cemetery was washed away and the bodies of those buried there erupted to the surface and then vanished beneath the river.

Cursed? Perhaps... but Kaskaskia is not forgotten. It remains today not only as a scattering of buildings, but also as one of the greatest legends of early Illinois!

As a footnote, according to the most recent census, the population of this former state capital, this formerly propsperous river port, was...9.

And here's an article about a ghost town that's much closer to me:
The Randolph County Historical Society has placed a marker at the entrance to the town telling the history of the ghost town.

"One mile North, on the East bank of Tallapoosa River, was located Louina, named for an indian woman who operated a trading post. Settled 1834. It became chief business center in Randolph County with county's first newspaper, schools for boys and girls, Baptist and Methodist Churches, Masonic Lodge, grist mill, wool factory, and cotton gin. Company of Confederate soldiers organized here August 1, 1861. Last store closed 1902 and post office moved eastward to Concord and named Viola. Among outstanding descendants from Louina's settlers was U.S. Senator J. Tom Heflin."

The little town of Louina, on the banks of the Tallapoosa River came into being in 1834 when Isham Weathers opened a store and trading post.

Louina was named for a wealthy Indian Woman. When she was forced to leave, it was said she put her silver in sacks but they were so heavy, the ponies could not carry the load. Legend said Louina buried some silver but, despite years of digging, none has been found.

Louina was an important town in Randolph Co. Before the Civil War, the town paid more than one third of all the taxes in the County, paid mostly by slave owners. What is today a ghost town once 30 homes, eight stores, two schools (one for boys and one for girls), hotels, taverns, saloons, a Masonic Lodge and a Methodist and Baptist Church.

The Concord Baptists church was organized in 1850 by J. Day Barron, editor of the Louina Eagle, the towns newspaper. Louina was on the stage coach line from Wedowee to Dadeville and had it's own post office.

In 1870, W. E. Gilbert, co-publisher of the newspaper, planned to build a cotton mill and began a dam on the Tallapoosa River. But a blasting accident killed one man and another man lost an arm and the project was abandoned. In 1902, the last store closed closed and the post office was moved to J. F. Cardwell's store at Concord and renamed Viola.

In 1856 the newspaper was moved to Wedowee and the name was changed to the Southern Mercury, later the Randolph County Democrat. The paper closed just before the Civil War. All the stores and other buildings are long gone, perhaps bearing truth to the legend that Louina was so angry she she was forced to leave she put a curse on the town and said it would vanish from sight.

Curse or no Curse, this is what happened. Where Liberty Church once stood near Highway 22 is the old cemetery, grown up with weeds and scrub oak. Some small headstones still stand.

Ray Carson whose great-grandfather lived in Louina from 1833 to 1836 warned of old wells now covered with grass and weeds. Carson said that the town that once had 2,500 residents and was the largest town in Randolph County has only 17 wells filled, which means many old wells may still be open, he said.

Major Harris states that the old Louina Cemetery is now Concord Church Cemetery.

Oddly enough, I haven't been able find out to just why Louina was forced to leave the town, nor could I find any specifics about the curse.
If any of you know of any more towns that have "died" possibly as a result of a curse, I'd love to hear about them!

18 September 2009

Handy Online Resource

If, like me, your tastes and interests are rather eclectic, (okay, I'll admit that in my case they're just plain weird!), here's a site that features a wealth of old and unusual book titles, most of which can be read free online. I own copies of a few,(and consider some of them "required reading") but it's nice to be able to peruse the titles and check out the content even if you plan to buy. And speaking of buying, the prices aren't bad at all, either!

12 September 2009

What Time Is It?

"Does anybody really know what time it is?"-Chicago-

"You are not a victim, you just scream with boredom,
You are not evicting Time"
-David Bowie-

"Time won't let me"-The Outsiders

While reading through some accounts of creature sightings and associated weirdness, I've read numerous reports of phenomena that seem to begin, build, then disappear never to be reported again. I label these creatures/events "Short-Timers". Researchers use the term "flap" to denote periods of increased activity. There have been major UFO flaps every decade since the '40's. The big Cattle Mutilation flap of the '70's. Periodic increases of sightings of Nessie and Lake Monsters.
But, while such phenomena as UFOs, Cattle Mutilations, and Lake Monster sightings occur with less frequency during non-flap periods, the Short-Timers make the news for a while, then suddenly disappear. The Paranormal equivalent of a one-hit wonder.
There haven't been many credible reports of Mothman, the Jersey Devil, or the Fouke monster in years. Springheeled Jack, The Mad Gasser of Matoon, and the Scrape Ore Lizardman appear to have retired. The Phantom Clowns have left the scene, and whatever became of those Black Eyed Kids?

"There are three vital ingredients to comedy: material, delivery, and another one that I can't remember right now..."

During the 13 months that the Mothman was flying around Point Pleasant, residents reported encounters with the Men In Black. The many people who have had dealings with these guys report that they are always obsessed with knowing the time. MIBs ask the witnesses for the time several times during the course of their encounter. And the MIBs are known for their pattern of wearing outdated, yet brand new appearing clothing, and driving decades-old vehicles that not only look, but even smell new. (if only we could learn the secret of preserving new-car smell!).
Like a lot of others who study and research various strange phenomena, I'm always hoping to find some kind of discernable pattern to events. Factors such as geography and location, and even connections with names. But, if we accept the proposition that such bizarre creature encounters are the result of something intruding into our reality, perhaps we should examine a temporal connection as well?
I don't mean a specific pattern of dates and times. IF something or someone unknown is crossing over into our world, time itself could be a factor.
Travelline through space and time is a tricky business. Like the transporter from Star Trek, you have to get your "coordinates" right. If you just travel through the dimension of time, you run the risk of materializing in the vacuum of space, cursing with your last breath as you watch the Earth hurtling toward or away from you at 90 miles per second. Not good.
And even if you could somehow compensate for "space" as well as time, there are other matters to consider. Wanna travel to the future and materialize inside an oak tree that didn't exist when you left? Travel to the distant past and realize too late that your target area was covered with water at that time? How about materializing fused into a wall of a building that wasn't even built in your "then-present"?
If these intruders into our reality are deliberately travelling here from someplace/sometime else, maybe there are only occassional windows of opportunity for safe transport. Whether it's by some artificial or advanced technological means, or some sort of natural ability,(or even just through some circumstance over which the creatures themselves have no control at all) the laws of the universe always have their limits. (how would they get around the Law of The Conservation of Matter, for example?).
Of course this is bad news for those of us who hope to find a way to predict such events, since it involves knowledge to which we aren't currently privy, but maybe eventually we'll figure it out.

"...TIMING! TIMING! THAT'S the other thing!"