“Are you bringing Bigfoot?” my mom asked.
I shook my head regrettably. “No,” I said, “he’s broken.”
“But you have to bring Bigfoot on your trip,” she insisted.
I sighed, remembering the furry one on my nightstand. “Well, we do have the other Bigfoot that Stacey made us.”
Carmel laughed. “Oh yeah, bring him out.”
So, I went into our bedroom and brought out our one-of-a-kind knitted doll from my nightstand, its wide glossy eyes begging for attention…and an adventure.
Sasquatch 1.0 in the woods of upstate New York
During our road trip down the California coast in 2008, we decided to kill the day and take an out-of-the-way jaunt to Willow Creek, the reputed “Bigfoot Capital of the World.” Like our friend and fellow travel blogger Brian from Wandering Sasquatch I too am fascinated with all things cryptozoological, including the elusive, mystical Bigfoot (and its counterparts across the globe). The opportunity to spend some brief but quality time in Bigfoot Country was too good to pass up.
Our visit to the small town (pop. 1,700…plenty of geeky tourists!) went quickly but was really cool and worth the hour-and-a-half drive. We spent most of the time inside the Willow Creek-China Flat museum, seemingly placed smack dab in the middle of town. The museum had several television monitors replaying several old documentaries and looping the ubiquitous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin footage of the sauntering sideways glancing creature, caught mid-stride. Several plaster cast molds of enormous footprints were displayed in large, coffin-like glass cases, as well as hefty books incorporating records from eyewitness testimonies and police reports. A man working at the counter informed Carmel and I the museum was visited daily from people all over the world and if on cue, the telephone rang and he cheerfully began speaking French.
We bought several colorful, cartoonish postcards and a magnet to add to our scattered collection on the refrigerator. However, on the way back to the register, a particular display case caught my eye and I stopped suddenly in my tracks. Several plaster figures, painted to look like wood, stood on a shelf beside a less impressive and wobbly stack of shot glasses and a rack of corny license plates. All the figures were designed the same – a stoically upright and tranquil Sasquatch, varying only in size and prices. Just these simple figures. Nothing fancy. At the base of the figure read “BIGFOOT,” as if one could get it confused with some other mythical creature. We settled on one of the smaller figures, mainly because it could fit easily into my pocket and wasn’t priced too ridiculous.
But somewhere during the ninety-mile drive back to our campsite at Humboldt State Park, Carmel and I readily agreed that little Bigfoot would be our new traveling companion, and take him along on our subsequent vacations and adventures, documenting his travails and “sightings” with many random and blurry photographs. We didn’t have any problem suddenly pulling out Bigfoot from our pockets and posing him for a quick picture, whether it be in the middle of a crowded New York City sidewalk, on the beaches of Central California or in my parents’ backyard. Jokingly, I once referred to the figure as our talisman, but really, he provided us with many curiously awesome pictures and amusing conversational starters (“Yes, yes, that is indeed a Bigfoot in front of the Empire State Building…”).
Bigfoot visits NYC. Can you find him with Andy Warhol?
However, like a well-traveled and battered athlete or carnival performer, our little Bigfoot broke. Unpacking my clothes when we got home from New York, I horrifyingly discovered the two pieces laying grotesquely on a pair of socks. “Oh no!” Carmel gasped as I held two pieces of his body in my hand. I later glued the figure back together at the knees, but it was clear his traveling days were over, if we wanted him around some more. I tried, in vain, to find other figures or statues like him, but, despite the ludicrous merchandising surrounding Bigfoot, these particular small, plaster figures were as elusive as the creature itself. So finally, we conceded and retired our little travel companion on the shelf in our hallway, amongst family pictures and random knickknacks, safe from the destructive forces of a misunderstanding and cruel world.
Bigfoot spends his retirement years holding down the fort with the Eisenhowers
Meanwhile, our friend Stacey had knitted a Bigfoot doll that she made for work, then generously gave it to us as a Christmas present (after our onslaught of gushing compliments and not-so-subtle hints of wanting it…for literally months). I stationed the doll on my nightstand, next to my teddy bear, Hurricane (named after the Bob Dylan song and given to me by Stacey’s boyfriend, strangely enough, at a Dylan show several years ago). We never considered taking the doll with us on this upcoming adventure – of all the things to pack in my 65 liter pack, I didn’t consider packing the furry Bigfoot. But after my mom’s spirited insistence, I began to consider its usefulness for this trip. Brian and Kim, back from their first year abroad, gave us some advice recently – pack only things that have multiple uses. Did the doll have a pertinent use for this trip? Could it seriously have a useful purpose alongside obvious staples like clothing and my notebook?
The cogs of reason and rationale ground themselves into a somewhat pragmatic idea – furry Bigfoot can be used as our (un)official mascot and photographic model, but could also be utilized for more handy purposes. “You can use it as a neck rest or small pillow, if you had to,” Carmel suggested. Furry Bigfoot actually COULD have a dual use! Easy to pack, too! I had a quick vision of taking furry Bigfoot out in an airplane, snuggling underneath its soft, wispy-haired awesomeness. During long jeep and bus rides, I can use it as a neck rest or do an impromptu puppet show (an instant frustration breaker). Am I breaking new territory here, or completely mad? There’s a fine line, I know, but like some of you, I just have to know.
Introducing our newest traveling companion, Sasquatch 2.0
Furry Sasquatch with his party hat on
He’s very hopeful for what the future holds
And so, friends, as Carmel and I continue madly chopping away at our seemingly never ending prep to-do lists and cramping our fingers from tying up so many loose ends, rest assured that Bigfoot 2.0 will make his debut soon. Consider yourselves warned…and lucky.
Now all we need is a name for our furry Sasquatch friend. Suggestions are welcome and encouraged either in the comments below or on the Facebook wall.
Watch our Facebook page for more adventures with Sasquatch and the big reveal of our furry friend’s new name.