Thursday, March 31, 2016

Expedition Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum

Hey Legend Trippers,
            In my new book Legend Tripping: The Ultimate Adventure, I talk about going on day legend trips which are nothing more than visiting places that you only need a day to visit and explore like a museum or historical place. Some places you can’t visit at night or do a camp out. I’m a big fan of museums especially when they have exhibits about legends and the unexplained. In one of my blogs I talk about the now closed “World of the Unexplained” museums own and operated by Ripley’s Believe it or Not. They opened in Gatlinburg, TN and Fisherman’s Wharf, CA in 1974 and eventually closed in 1986. I had the opportunity to visit the one in Gatlinburg in 1976. I always remember that museum. So when I’m traveling I always like to stop at museum on the way to where I’m going, especially on legend trips.

The front of Expedition Bigfoot !
Sasquatch museum

                In this blog I want to talk about an awesome museum that is dedicated to the big hairy guy himself “Bigfoot.” The museum is called Expedition Bigfoot, the Sasquatch museum and it is located in the scenic area of Georgia, known as the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is owned and operated by David and Malinda Bakara. David related to me that they moved to Georgia two and half years ago from Florida for the peace and solitude of the Georgia Mountains. David became a fan of Bigfoot at an early age after seeing the 1974 movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek” and then later became an investigator for BFRO. With that in mind, David and Malinda decided to open museum dedicated to the big hair cryptid.  They were lucky enough to find a closed down restaurant which was situated in the ideal location to attract visitors and big enough to accommodate David’s collection of Bigfoot items.  

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia
 I had heard about this museum on the internet. So, when spring break came around, my wife and I decided to journey up to Cherry Log, GA and check out this place. On the way up from Florida, we stopped at a gas station in Georgia, appropriately named Bigfoot service station. Then after battling the grueling traffic in Atlanta, we found ourselves in the beautiful mountains. It wasn’t long when we found ourselves in Cherry Log and there setting next to the road was this large banner displaying incredible artwork of Bigfoot.

Whispering Pines campground

            Because it was late in the afternoon, we proceeded to the campgrounds and got set up for the evening at our campsite. We stayed at an excellent campground called Whispering Pines Campground and RV park, where we were one of three families camping there. We had this beautiful creek flowing right next our campsite. It was awesome. I got a camp fire going and cooked up some hamburgers. The wife and I then settled in just enjoyed a nice quiet evening looking up at the stars.

Standing outside the museum

               Next morning after breakfast, we made our way to the museum. I was immediately greeted by Dave as we entered. I have known Dave for a long time. We meet on a Florida BFRO outing in 2012. After catching up on old times, my wife and I then went and toured the museum marveling at some of the exhibits. I was really impressed with the whole place. It was well thought out and has a lot of displays. A lot of hard work went into it.

A display of Bigfoot hunters

When you first enter you will see a large display of pictures of prominent Bigfoot hunters, like Dr. Grover Krantz, Tom Slick, Matt Moneymaker, Peter Bryne, and Rene’ Dahinden. The museum not only covers Bigfoot but also has displays on the Yeti, the Fouke monster and the Florida Skunk Ape. There is a display of the 1924 Ape Canyon incident. A lot of castings of Bigfoot and other cryptids to include the casting of the yeti made by Josh Gates on the television show Destination Truth. There maps showing where all the sightings in Georgia and Florida have occurred. There is even a Bigfoot ATV on display with a FLIR. There is a small theater that shows Bigfoot movies.

A native American bigfoot costume

           At the end there is a small gift shop with many items for sale. I purchased a T-shirt. Coffee mug, magnetic and window decal with the Bigfoot art work displayed don the outside of the museum.  Dave then showed me some more plans that he has for the museum including a large display dedicated to the movie ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek”.  I also met up with fellow legend tripper Chris Simoes of “Legends Beware”. We talked about his new Bigfoot movie “Curse of Blood Mountain.” I also watch as the museum had a lot of guest come in to visit that day. I talked to some of them and found that they were visiting from Florida.

Myself with Chris Simoes and David Bakara

My wife and I had an awesome time at the museum. It was great looking at all the awesome displays. I was kind of sad to leave. I love hanging out with people who have the same passion as me. Later that night after dinner, my wife and I went Bigfoot hunting in mountains near a water fall where there was a sighting. We didn’t see or hear anything but is was great to be out looking for the big guy, but it was a beautiful night and it wasn’t too cold. There is hundreds of miles of mountain woodlands and the perfect place for Bigfoot to make its home.

In closing, I highly recommend this museum to all legend trippers and anybody who has an interest in Bigfoot or cryptozoology.  David Bakara and his wife have built a truly fantastic facility with a vast collection and exhibits. So if you are find yourself in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, swing on over to Cherry Log, and visit this museum dedicated to one of history’s most famous cryptid ”Bigfoot.”

The Big Guy and me

Expedition Bigfoot Sasquatch museum is located on southbound side of GA-515 in Cherry Log. It is easy to find and there is a lot of parking area. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. There is plenty of hotels and campgrounds in the immediate area. The campgrounds are not expensive and a lot of them have some awesome views of the mountains.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A tribute to Smokey Crabtree

Julius E "Smokey" Crabtree

In this post I want to pay tribute to a person who is quite prominent in the Bigfoot community and a really neat man. I found out yesterday that Smokey Crabtree passed away at the age of 89. Anybody whose anybody in the Bigfoot community knows who Smokey Crabtree is. I want to express my heart felt condolence to his family. He will be sorely missed.

Julius E. ”Smokey” Crabtree was born April 22 1927 and raised in Fouke, Arkansas. As a youth he roamed the Sulphur River Bottoms trapping, hunting and fishing the miles and miles of swampland. At sixteen he enlisted into the U.S. Navy become a shipyard welder. During his time in the military, Smokey took up boxing and fought in the Golden Glove tournament in San Francisco, California in 1944. At nineteen he volunteered for the Merchant Marines and by the age of twenty-three he was married and the father of three children. The family moved back to Fouke and built a home in the country; he continued to follow pipeline work as a welder.  Smokey welded the very first joint of 48-inch pipe laid on the 800-mile line of the Alaska oil pipeline stretching across the barren ice country from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. Smokey has worked in 18 foreign countries and almost every state in the United States.

In 1972 Charles B Pierce came to Fouke to film the now historic movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek”. Because of his expert knowledge of the Sulphur River and the bottoms and the fact that his son Lynn actually saw the Fouke monster, Smokey was hired as a wildlife guide and consultant for the filming. Smokey later became the go to person on the Fouke monster. Smokey became a leading speaker at Bigfoot and Cryptozoology conferences and festivals. Even during his busy life, Smokey found time to write three books. His books: "Smokey and the Fouke Monster", "Too Close to the Mirror", and "The Man behind the Legend", which are still in print and make for some excellent reading.

Reflecting back, if I were to pick a particular moment when I got bitten by the legend tripping bug, it would probably be when I first saw the “The Legend of Boggy Creek”. This movie really changed where I focused my interests, and changed my life. I can remember the first time I saw the movie. The first time was in 1974 at a local drive-in theater in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
After the previews were shown, the movie started, and what was the first thing that came on the screen? “This is a true story.” I remembered the movie poster and thought, “Holy cow, there is a real hairy monster walking around out there!” Then the terrifying scream rang through the drive-in. I stared wide-eyed at the movie screen, at the image of a young boy running through a huge field, and thought, “Oh my god, this thing eats little boys!”
I remember how I felt when, in the final scene of The Legend of Boggy Creek, they stated, “Yes, he’s still out there.” Of course, the more I thought about it, the more scared I got. Mr. Pierce did what nobody else has done; he made a simple documentary-style movie that made you feel like you were right there next to those people being terrorized by that unknown animal.

I always wanted to meet Smokey and I even had it on my bucket list. On October 2015, my dream came true when I finally got to meet him at the 3rd annual Boggy Creek festival. I was excited when I was invited to speak about legend tripping. I know this sounds cheesy but I consider Fouke my Graceland. I remember how excited I got when I first saw him walk into the conference hall. I immediately jumped up and ran over to him. I introduced myself to him and he shuck my hand. He motioned for me to sit down next to him. He giggled as I told him that it was one of my dreams to finally meet him. As I talked to him, mostly about Florida, I could detect behind that twinkle in his eye, a man who lived his exciting and adventures life to the fullest. Smokey will be fondly missed and always remembered.