One week ago today, I was already two days into my journey. It started with me traveling from Pleasanton, California to Yakima, Washington on Wednesday, April 24th in order to meet up with Bob Gimlin. From there we left early Thursday for Seattle, Washington to catch our flight to Buffalo, New York by way of Chicago. All of that travel went very smoothly and we woke up last Friday in Niagara Falls, New York.
|Just two soaked tourists at Niagara Falls...souvenir ponchos in hand.|
(More Niagara Falls photos below...as always, click for a larger version.)
After a morning touring that natural wonder of the world, we made our way down to western New York and our destination of Lake Chautauqua. After refueling with a late lunch at the Lakeview Hotel and Restaurant in Mayville, we headed over to Camp Onyahsa, a beautiful YMCA camp on the eastern side of Lake Chautauqua where Friday's Town Hall Meeting event was held. Upon our arrival we found a lodge full of enthusiastic participants. For about two hours, we spoke about bigfoot encounters and heard from several local eyewitnesses. Everyone was excited to meet Bob. All of the expo presenters had a few minutes to speak to the audience. They included Larry Battson, Melissa Hovey, Billy Willard, Steve Kulls, Bob Gimlin and yours truly.
|Bob Gimlin addresses the Town Hall Meeting on Friday, April 26th.|
There were people there from all the neighboring communities, states and Canada's Ontario province. Erie, Pennsylvania was well represented as well as Jamestown, New York and Toronto, Canada.
|New friends from the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. |
Isabelle, Charlene, Julia "Small Voice" and Misha
We returned to our accommodations at the We Wan Chu Cottages with our friend Todd Prescott. He had kindly brought along a guitar for me to play this weekend - AND his drums! This was going to be good! We had our first rehearsal playing through the bigfoot songs in our cottage living room that night. It went well and we moved our musical mayhem out to the bonfire where we played until midnight. It was great hanging out with our friend "Joisey Gene" Romo who had driven up from North Carolina that day. Also, event volunteers Ted, Chantel and Ryan from Erie, PA were also there enjoying the campfire.
|Sunset over the lake on our way home to the cottages.|
|With Todd Prescott after our first rehearsal of the |
bigfoot songs. It would not have been the same
without his contribution!
|"Joisey Gene" Romo made it after a 10 hour drive. |
A campfire portrait was in order.
How do you like my hat?
Saturday morning's event was called "Bigfoot School" and it was a series of demonstrations and lectures on how to cast footprints, interview eyewitnesses and evaluate evidence. Many children and their parents were in attendance. We visited with them whenever there was a break in the program. It was exciting to see so many kids interested in bigfoot and Bob commented, "They're the future of bigfoot research." Indeed. We were also interviewed by a reporter for the Buffalo News for an article that was to run in Sunday's paper. Upon the conclusion of this event, we returned to Mayville for another late lunch and then back to the cottages.
|Sunrise on Saturday over Lake Chautauqua |
at the docks of the We Wan Chu Cottages.
|Expo organizer Peter Wiemer and Melissa Hovey |
address participants at the Bigfoot School on Saturday.
|Bob Gimlin being interviewed by Denise Gee|
of the Buffalo News.
|Back at We Wan Chu Cottages - |
the view from our front deck.
|Another view from the front deck - |
the waterfront area at We Wan Chu.
|Enjoying the afternoon sun - chatting on the front deck.|
Larry Battson, who is a wildlife educator by trade, had brought along reptiles for his demonstration at the conference. He also has an extensive bigfoot display that he made for a 1988 event in Cleveland, Ohio. These materials were excellent and on display at every event held over the weekend. On this evening, we were treated to a private showing of his reptiles in his cottage. It was a unique opportunity to see the animals up close - and to get to hold them! I mustered up the courage to hold a large tarantula in the palm of my hand as well as draping a 7 foot long Burmese python over my shoulders. Wow!
|Striking a pose with a 7 foot Burmese python draped |
over my shoulders!
This was so wild! thank you, Larry Battson!
Saturday evening, Todd and I were back in our cottage rehearsing for my presentation on Sunday. We were joined by Paul and his son Jason from Buffalo, NY - Gene from Jersey - and Larry Battson brought his harmonicas down to play on a couple of songs. We were rehearsing "Jerry Crew (He Knew What To Do)", "The Ballad of John Green", "Roger and Bob (Rode Out That Day)" and "Bigfoot - The Living Legend". The songs sounded great with Todd on drums and backing vocals (he's a professional musician) and Larry on harmonica. We chatted after rehearsal for about an hour with Bob and everyone. Again, we moved out to the bonfire to enjoy another couple of hours of socializing with Steve, Melissa, her boyfriend Wayne, Jack and Jeffrey from Georgia. It was a great time.
|Rehearsing in the cottage on Saturday. |
Drums to the right...sounding good!
|Visiting after rehearsal with Todd, Jason, Gene and Larry. |
(Bob, Paul & yours truly, not pictured)
Sunday was the big day of the weekend with the conference portion of the Lake Chautauqua Bigfoot Expo taking place from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. at the Chautauqua Suites Hotel ballroom. The event staff had the ballroom set up with souvenirs and vending tables. We had photographs for sale that people could purchase and get signed by Bob. Larry Battson had his bigfoot displays up and his table featured classic bigfoot books and memorabilia. The Sasquatch Watch of Virginia had a table as well. One of the surprise vendors was the avant garde artist Eerie Eric. He had a unique collection of bigfoot art - including one piece that was designed specifically for Bob Gimlin. It was his rendition of the film subject with the wording "GIMLIN PATTERSON REAL". I'll see if I can post a copyrighted version here. It is great!
|Speakers and expo organizer pose for a photo op.|
(l. to r.) Peter Wiemer, Steve Kulls, Billy Willard,
Melissa Hovey, Bob Gimlin, Larry Battson and Tom Yamarone.)
The event began a little late as the crowd was also late arriving. Billy Willard spoke first about sightings and encounters he has been investigating in Virginia. I followed him with my presentation "Bluff Creek - Then and Now" which featured 64 slides and 4 songs. Todd Prescott set up the stage with his drum kit, a guitar and amplifier and two microphones. This would not have been possible without his generous and enthusiastic assistance - so THANK YOU, TODD!! I began by talking about the first major, historic event in the Bluff Creek area : Jerry Crew's footprint cast. I had several slides that were never seen before of our meeting in August 2011 with his sons Wade and John. Upon concluding my remarks about Jerry's place in bigfoot history, we performed the song written by myself and James "Bobo" Fay. Larry joined us on harmonica and it was an excellent rendition.
|Billy Willard speaks about bigfoot investigations in Virginia.|
|I begin my talk with Todd waiting patiently to perform.|
|Performing "Jerry Crew (He Knew What To Do)"|
with Larry Battson and Todd Prescott.
My talk then turned to Bob Titmus, the Pacific Northwest Expedition and John Green. After commenting on their roles in the bigfoot history of Bluff Creek, we performed "The Ballad of John Green".
|Playing "The Ballad of John Green"|
Next was a treatment of the Patterson-Gimlin film event. It was brief because I told the audience, "You are going to hear all about it first hand in about 30 minutes." We asked Bob Gimlin to join us on stage for the performance of "Roger and Bob (Rode Out That Day)". What a moment that was! I think it was the best performance ever of that song.
|What a moment! Playing the tribute song|
"Roger and Bob (Rode Out That Day)"
with Bob Gimlin on stage with us.
Thank you, Mike, for taking the photos!!
My talk concluded with photographs from 3 of my expeditions in the "modern era" to Bluff Creek. I described the current conditions of that canyon where history was made on October 20, 1967. When I asked the audience, "Who here would like to go there someday?" nearly everyone raised their hand. "Well, enjoy this virtual tour!" And that they did. I had slides from our trip down to the P-G film site with Bob Gimlin and the Finding Bigfoot TV crew in August 2011 and also from last summer's visit with Bill Munns and others who had determined the exact film site. I concluded my presentation with the first bigfoot song I ever wrote, "Bigfoot - The Living Legend." I think the talk and performances were well received.
|Ending my presentation with "Bigfoot - The Living Legend".|
Larry Battson then introduced Bob Gimlin. This was the moment many in attendance had come to see. Bob spoke extensively about his friendship with Roger Patterson and how he came to be there on the trip to Northern California in October 1967. He also recounted in great detail the fateful encounter that led to the bigfoot film. It is always interesting to hear him tell that story - just an amazing event that was captured on film that day in Bluff Creek! He went on to describe what occurred after the creature walked away. His talk was followed by a long question and answer session moderated by Larry.
|Bob Gimlin speaking to the expo |
with Larry Battson looking on.
|Larry Battson with some of his bigfoot informational displays.|
|The conference audience -|
event staff estimated 250 people attended.
|The art of Eerie Eric - bigfoot art like you've never seen before.|
Eric's friend watching over the table -
Eric not pictured. :-)
Larry Battson entertained everyone with his wildlife presentation. It was educational and captivating. Melissa Hovey spoke after the intermission about eye shine and Steve Kulls spoke about his research in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. All of this expo was videotaped professionally and will be available as a very affordable podcast. For information, go to the event website.
|Bob and I pose with Mark and Myra - great folks!|
Throughout the day on Sunday, we met and visited with conference attendees. We met so many great people from that region. A few I must mention here. A man named Mike and his son Hunter were at all the events of the weekend expo and it was Mike who used my digital camera during my talk to take some excellent photographs! THANK YOU, MIKE!! I really appreciate that and it was great meeting you and your son. We also met a local couple who hit it off with Bob Gimlin as they both were "horse people" if you know what I mean. Mark and Myra are local ranchers who have an interest in bigfoot as well. There are too many to name them all so to all who were in attendance that we met - GREAT TO MEET YOU! Thank you for attending and supporting this excellent bigfoot conference!!
|Meeting with Jenny and Jayna in a Buffalo coffee shop.|
That's how we roll!
We traveled home on Monday and had one very special impromptu meeting with a facebook fan of Bobo's and bigfoot enthusiast. Jenny and her daughter Jayna wanted to meet up so we arranged a brief rendezvous in a Buffalo coffee establishment. That was very cool. Bob and I visited with her for about a half hour before heading to the airport and she was most appreciative and excited to meet with us. It was nice to be able to meet with her! We go on these trips with just that in mind...let's meet as many people as we can and make ourselves available as much as possible. Well, that capped off our visit with a big smile on everyone's face. The flights from Buffalo to Seattle were smooth and hassle free. Upon landing Seattle on Monday night, we encountered a freak snow storm separating us from Yakima. We decided to drive through it on Interstate 90 and had a surreal ride over the Snoqualmie Pass between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. in driving snow with snow on the road. Slow and steady and we were back in Yakima at 2 a.m. Very late for us who woke up in the eastern time zone.
|Expo staff pose for a photo - they kept the show running smoothly!|
I drove home from Yakima to California on Tuesday - a 13 hour odyssey and was grateful to be home with my family as the clock struck midnight. You might say this all was a Cinderella bigfoot story - but it wasn't. Just another excellent adventure for Bob and Tom!
|Niagara Falls in all its splendor - view from the Canadian side.|
(click on it to see the spectacular large version!)
|View of the horseshoe falls from the Maid of the Mist.|
|The intense power of the falls experienced|
at Niagara Falls State Park in New York.