MY BIGFOOT ENCOUNTER

ON NOVEMBER SIXTH, 2019 I WENT FROM BEING A SASQUATCH BELIEVER TO A SASQUATCH “KNOWER”.  NOTHING I’VE READ OR WATCHED HAD PREPARED ME FOR THE ENCOUNTER.  IN NINTH GRADE A FRIEND OF MINE GAVE ME A BOOK ENTITLED, “STRANGE CREATURES FROM TIME AND SPACE”.  IT IS A TONGUE IN CHEEK NARRATIVE OF ALL THINGS THAT GO BUMP OR GLOW IN THE DARK.  BIGFOOT WAS AMONG THEM.  I WAS ALREADY A UFO “KNOWER” BUT THAT’S ANOTHER STORY.

OVER THE YEARS, MY OPINION OF BIGFOOT WAS SKEPTICAL AT BEST.  I WATCHED ALL THE DOCUMENTARIES.  THEN I WATCHED “SCIENCE MEETS SASQUATCH” AND MY SKEPTICISM STARTED TO FADE.  I BOUGHT THE BOOK AND BECAME A BELIEVER.  THE BELL CURVE GRAPH OF SASQUATCH FOOT LENGTH APPEALED TO THE MATHEMATICIAN IN ME.  NUMBERS DO NOT LIE.

IN 2017, WE MOVED FROM LAS VEGAS NEVADA TO CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA.  I HAVE BEEN IN AND OUT OF CHARLESTON FOR ELEVEN YEARS AND WANTED TO RETIRE THERE.  MY GRANDCHILDREN LIVE THERE.  MY DAUGHTER WANTED TO GO TO COLLEGE IN SOUTH CAROLINA.  I WANTED TO RETIRE TO A PLACE THAT REMINDED ME OF WHAT CALIFORNIA USED TO BE WITH TREES AND AN OCEAN.  THE PROSPECT OF DOING SOME “SQUATCHING” WAS IN MY MIND.  THE MARION FRANCIS NATIONAL FOREST BECKONED TO ME.  ACCORDING TO THE BFRO, THERE ARE NOT MANY BIGFOOT SIGHTINGS IN SOUTH CAROLINA.  I THINK THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE CALLED “BOOGERS” NOT “BIGFOOT” AROUND HERE.  THE LOCALS HAVE STORIES OF THE ASHLEY RIVER “SWAMP MONSTER”. 

WHEN WE SETTLED INTO OUR NEW HOME, I DID NOT THINK I’D STUMBLE ONTO ANY BIGFEET.  HOWEVER, ONE MORNING WAITING FOR A CREDIT UNION TO OPEN UP, I SAW A BIGFOOT STICK STRUCTURE RIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE PARKING LOT.  I INVESTIGATED, TOOK PICTURES .

NOW FOR THE GOOD PART.  ON THE SIXTH OF NOVEMBER, 2018, I DROVE MY DAUGHTER BACK TO COLLEGE.  I DROPPED HER OFF AND GOT BACK ON THE ROAD AT MIDNIGHT.  IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT.  I ROARED DOWN HIGHWAY 71 AT SPEEDS A PATROLMAN WOULD FROWN AT.  BY  0130, I HAD PASSED A COUPLE OF CARS THAT HAD RUN OFF THE ROAD AND WAS FEELING GUILTY FOR NOT STOPPING.  IT WAS THEN THAT I SPOTTED THE BLUE LIGHTS.  MY GPS HAD TAUGHT THAT THE HIGHWAY PATROL HAD PULLED SOMEONE OVER ABOUT A MILE AHEAD.  I TOOK MY KIA SOUL OUT OF LIGHT SPEED.

I WAS IN THE RIGHT LANE.  THE SHOULDER OF THE ROAD WAS SMALL.  THERE WAS ABOUT 30 FEET OF TALL GRASS AND THEN THE MASSIVE TREELINE.  THE MOON WAS FULL AND THERE WAS A LOT OF LIGHT OF THE TOWNS AND CITIES BEING REFLECTED FROM THE LOW CLOUD COVER.  VISIBILTY WAS NOT A PROBLEM.  IT WAS THEN THAT I SAW A MAN STAND UP THE GRASS.  HE STEADIED HIMSELF WITH HIS ARMS OUT AND THEN FLOPPED BACK DOWN.

I SLOWED DOWN FURTHER AND WONDERED IF THE TROOPERS HADN’T FOUND HIM AND MAYBE HE WAS HURT FROM A WRECK.  I WAS PREPARING TO STOP AND RENDER AID WHEN THIS “THING” CAME AT ME IN THE GRASS.  I WAS BEWILDERED BECAUSE IT DEFINITELY WASN’T A MAN.  I HAD READ ALL ABOUT BIGFOOT IN THE “TURBO MODE” BUT THAT HAD NOT PREPARED ME FOR WHAT I SAW.  I SWEAR TO GOD THAT IT LOOKED LIKE A HUGE HAIRY SPIDER COMING AT ME ALL ARMS AND LEGS.  MY SPEED HAD DROPPED INTO THE 40’S AS IT CAME CLOSER AND NOW LOOKED LIKE A SOLDIER DOING A LOW CRAWL BUT MUCH TOO FAST.  WHEN WE PASSED EACH OTHER, EVERYTHING SLOWED DOWN FOR ME LIKE WHEN YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO CRASH.  I DID HAVE THE THOUGHT FLASH THROUGH MY MIND THAT IT WOULD LEAP ONTO THE PAVEMENT AND I’D HIT HIM.

I REMEMBER EVERY DETAIL AS WE PASSED.  IT WAS AT A RANGE OF ZERO.  IF SOMEONE WERE IN THE PASSENGER SEAT, THEY COULD’VE ROLLED DOWN THE WINDOW AND TOUCHED IT.  EVERY WINDOW ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE CAR WAS FILLED WITH THE DARKEST BLACK FUR I’VE EVER SEEN.  I SAW NO HEAD, NO HANDS OR FEET.  JUST FUR AND RIPPLING MUSCLES.  I SNAPPED OUT OF IT IN TIME TO SWERVE INTO THE LEFT LANE AND PASS THE SPEEDER AND TROOPER.

THIS HAPPENED ON HIGHWAY 71, NORTH OF COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA.  I DID NOT STOP TO GET A GPS LOCATION.  ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS GET HOME.  ALL THE WAY TO MY EXIT HOME I WAS TALKING TO MYSELF TRYING TO DIGEST WHAT I HAS SEEN.

“THAT WAS A BLACK BEAR. THAT WAS A BLACK BEAR”.
“NO IT WASN’T”
“YES IT WAS, SHUT UP.”

WHEN I GOT HOME, I GOOGLED BLACK BEARS IN SOUTH CAROLINA.  I FOUND OUT THERE ARE TWO GROUPS.  THE COASTAL GROUP AND THE INLAND GROUP.  THESE ARE SEPARATED BY A WIDE MARGIN RIGHT DOWN THE CENTER OF THE STATE.  GUESS WHERE MY ENCOUNTER WAS?  RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PARTS OF SOUTH CAROLINA THAT THE BEARS DON’T WANT TO GO.

I TOLD MY WIFE THAT I WAS AFRAID TO GO IN THE WOODS NOW.  “ARE YOU AFRAID OF TREES NOW?”, SHE ASKED.  “NO, I JUST DON’T WANT TO COME ACROSS A BIGFOOT.”

 “BUT YOU LIKE BIGFOOT.”

“I DO BUT I ALSO LIKE LIONS AND LIKE TO SEE THEM IN THE ZOO.  I DON’T NOT WANT TO COME ACROSS ONE IN THE FOREST.”

THAT’S WHERE I’M AT WITH BIGFOOT NOW.  I DO NOT WANT TO COME ACROSS ONE IN THE FOREST AND BET MY LIFE THAT IT’S IN A FRIENDLY, LOVING MOOD.

THE HOTEL DOOLIN

The Hotel Doolin is a quaint establishment in County Claire, Ireland.

The Doolin was lambasted by someone on TripAdvisor  known only as the mysterious  “Lovnhawaii”.  Their bias towards Hawaii and tropical weather found in the Pacific Islands is evident.

Anyone familiar with the area will know the Hotel Doolin as an excellent hotel with extremely high standards.

Donal Minihane (left), General Manager, Hotel Doolin pictured with Mary Rose Burke of Ibec and Raquel Noboa of Hotel Doolin.

General Manager Donal Minihane defended the hotel in his response which you can read below:

Dear Lovinhawaii,
Thank you for staying with us at Hotel Doolin on your recent trip to Ireland and for posting your feedback. We were very disappointed with the content of your review.

However, after investigating the particulars of your stay in detail with all team members I was even more disappointed to learn that the content of the review was not an accurate reflection of what actually happened.
From the title of your review, other readers would think that you inadvertently stumbled into Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn and that Hotel Doolin was full of brigands and cutthroats, that our staff wear eye patches and pantaloons and are hiding behind the pillars in the lobby, cutlass clenched between our teeth, waiting to jump out and pillage passers-by.

You say the hotel is deceitful and dishonest and that one of our staff members, Emma, is a liar when, in fact, it is your good self that is being liberal with the truth.

Emma did make a mistake on check-in with the rate, this was spotted the following morning by one of our more senior receptionists and was rectified before you checked out so that you never paid € 240 as you stated above.

Also, the duty manager met you the following morning, apologised for the mistake and gave you a further reduction on your rate.

We are 100% certain that Emma made a genuine mistake, as sometimes people do, and we feel it is very unfair and irresponsible of you to call her a liar and dishonest on a public forum.

I’m sensing a lot of anger in the review above and I know that you probably didn’t mean to let loose all that anger on us.

Hey, sometimes people just need to vent. Sometimes at night when I come home from a long day’s work at the hotel, I check to see if everyone is in bed and then I go out into the field at the back of my house and scream into the darkness. I let it all out, like a wolf on a moonlit mountain.

I feel better after that and nobody gets hurt. I’m not saying howling into the night like a wolf will work for you, I don’t know your circumstances, you may have neighbours that’ll think it is weird, but there are other ways of channelling rage that don’t have to involve Hotel Doolin and slandering Emma.

With regards the Wi-Fi, yes, the Wi-Fi in the west of Ireland is the worst in Europe, there is nothing we can do about this for the moment, although I think we are getting high-speed broadband in the area pretty soon. in the meantime, to anybody else reading this review. DO NOT COME TO DOOLIN IF WI-FI IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAN HUMAN INTERACTION, YOU WILL BE DISAPPOINTED.

There are three men over the age of forty working in the hotel. Only one of them was working on the night you stayed, so we didn’t know how to deal with the ‘grumpy old men’ in your review, until my assistant manager came up with the only viable solution.

Photograph by Yvonne Vaughan Photography

We’ve decided to execute all three of these men to ensure that no other guests will have to endure the horrific ordeal you went through that evening in the bar.

Paul, Martin and Luis will be blindfolded and shot in the back of the head at Fitz’s cross after mass this Sunday. There will be trad music, cocktail sausages and face-painting for the kids and I can organise a pair of complimentary tickets for you if you wish to attend.

I know this will not make up for what happened to you but we hope it will go some way towards showing you that we take your feedback seriously.

You see, even though you hurt us deeply with your review, we’d still like to be friends, we’d love if you afforded us the opportunity to change your opinion of us and hope that you will return to Doolin someday.

In fact, each year on the 30th February we have a party for our valued past customers who think we are liars, we all hold hands and dance around a campfire and sing songs that help us forget about the past and look with hope towards the future. We’d love if you could make it (that lying cheating ruffian Emma won’t be there, we promise).

 

HOME PLATE IS 17 INCHES WIDE

Twenty years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”
Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause. “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”
“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”…………“Seventeen inches!”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?
“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

“Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? ”

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline.

We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so-called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.

From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: “If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”
And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it!

“Don’t widen the plate.”