Elusive Lake Monster

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Does something strange lurk below the surface of Lake Tahoe?

It’s a big, blue lake. The water is cold and deep. Very deep. In some places the bottom is over 1,600 feet below the surface. Due to icy temperatures and the purity of the water if a person drowns their body often sinks, forever suspended in the frigid depths.

Even with all its breathtaking beauty, Lake Tahoe has many mysteries hidden in its depths. There is about it a kind of foreboding aura. Many times when I am near the shore I sense a presence lurking. It doesn’t necessarily feel evil but it’s unsettling enough that I always refrain from swimming or even wading in the water.

What could it be? Maybe the restless souls of those who have succumbed to those deep, cold waters over the years. I’m sure there have been more than a few. Also the American Indians who originally lived in the area considered the lake to be sacred. Perhaps their Ancestral Souls are unhappy over the arrival of the pioneers and their desecration of the area.

Or…maybe what’s lurking could be The Lake Monster. There have been reports of sightings over the years of something big. Something really big. The naysayers believe it’s probably a large Sturgeon. However with descriptions of something about the size of a battleship and a long dinosaur-like neck the idea of an over-sized Sturgeon just doesn’t work.

As could be expected the lake monster has been given a name. Tahoe Tessie, patterned after Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Tahoe Tessie is pictured in drawings as a smiling, good-natured monster and that might not be so far wrong. There have been no reports of a massive lake monster swallowing boatloads of people or even going out of its way to scare them out of 10 years growth.

Is there really a monster lurking in the lake? If so why haven’t more people seen it and why haven’t there been pictures taken of it? I’m inclined to think that Tessie, along with many other reported lake monsters, is an inter-dimensional creature and does not necessarily reside permanently in the lake. This could explain why all the searches in places such as Loch Ness have never found anything. If this is, in fact, the case then in all probability the lake monsters will forever remain an unsolved enigma.

Defeat The Drearies

You say your head aches? You’ve got a runny nose and your ears are stopped up so bad you can’t hear yourself burp? Add to all that you got the bloat and your back hurts something terrible? You’ve taken aspirins for the headache, used up a whole box of tissues on your nose, and took something to make you burp louder but overall you still feel like something the cat dragged in? And this describes one of your better days?

Well, why not shun the pills, the gas relief glop, and all the other do-nothing remedies for awhile. Instead, limp on out to the car, groaning loudly of course, and head for an appointment with Momma Nature. I have found that sometimes even a very short commune with the fresh outdoors can accomplish more for a person than all the “wonder drugs” in the world.

If at all possible try to find a grove of trees where you can be alone. Just you and the natural world. Find a tree that seems inviting to you. Sit down and lean back against it. Maybe take off your shoes and socks and wiggle your toes in the dirt.

Try and relax your body totally. Talk to the Nature Spirits. Talk to the trees. Talk to the dirt. Talk to God. Whatever seems right for the moment. Even if you feel silly, do it anyway. Enjoy yourself and don’t worry about anything.

Breathe deeply of the fresh air. Try and feel all the pains, stress, and whatever else is bothering you begin to seep out of your body. Close your eyes and allow it to happen.

The results may surprise you.

In The Woods

It happened in the woods. I remember it as if it took place just yesterday. My first major up close and personal experience with the unseen.

It wasn’t that I had never been around trees. Houston, being only 50 miles from the coast, had lots of rain and fog. Perfect for lush growth of all kinds of trees and plants. Heck, there were trees in our back yard. But this place was different. This was dense woods. More nearly a thicket. The parents of my best friend, who lived two houses from me, owned this undeveloped land near the banks of Buffalo Bayou and they had invited me to go there with them for a day.

When we arrived I immediately found myself in completely unexpected surroundings. As I turned slowly in a circle I saw pure, wild, unblemished Nature. All kinds and sizes of trees with a variety of other plant life covering most of the ground. I was speechless. I was thrilled. I just stood there awe-struck with my mouth hanging open. I was brought out of my daze by my friend tugging on my sleeve and telling me to follow him. He said he wanted to take me to a special place he had found. He said it was magical.

As we walked along a dim path the plant life got even more lush, for we were getting closer to the bayou. Soon, the path took a sharp turn and suddenly we were in a small clearing. It was completely surrounded by dense foliage and had an otherworldly air about it. There was what appeared to be the remains of an old wall, built out of large moss covered stones. Just behind it was a huge tree with long beards of Spanish Moss hanging down from its limbs.

Quietly we made our way over to the wall and sat on a low, flat bolder that was nearby. My friend reached down and removed his shoes and socks, indicating I should do the same. Not a word was said between us. We just sat there in silence, wiggling our bare toes in the moist earth and drinking in the atmosphere of the place…and atmosphere it most certainly had.

Suddenly, there was something very special there. I felt it arrive. I closed my eyes as it wrapped its specialness around me and held me close. I could hear occasional hints of the most beautiful music. There was an almost overpowering presence of love and caring that filled me with an incredible warmth and sense of well-being.

I don’t know how long we sat there for time seemed to stand still. Eventually we heard my friend’s mother calling for us to come and eat lunch. We opened our eyes, quickly put our socks and shoes back on, and reluctantly left that place.

What did I encounter that day in the woods? I didn’t know what it was but it touched me deeply. Soul deep in fact. I was very young, but whoever or whatever it was, I knew I liked it and wanted more.

And so, on that magical day, in that magical place, so many years ago, I took my first step on what I call my path to forever.

Forlorn Highway

It’s a state road and it connects with two very busy, heavily used north/south highways.  If a traveler needs a shortcut from one of those routes to the other this road would definitely be the one to use.  Yet it is mostly bypassed.  Perhaps avoided would be more accurate.  So much so that weeds actually grow in the various cracks and potholes that dot the pavement.

Why is this?  Well, the road crosses some of the most forlorn, inhospitable landscape imaginable.  Just a glance at what’s along the roadside is enough to give anyone the creeps.  It looks like miles and miles of land that even the devil would shun.  Yet it seems unlikely that the dismalness of the area would alone be enough to deter the travelers of today who have in mind only to get where they are going as quickly as possible.

No, the problem with this road is something out of the ordinary.  Something mostly unseen but certainly felt exists not so very far from the western terminus of this road.  I do not know what lurks there but I have felt its effects on more than one occasion.  It gives one a definite sense of being threatened by impending evil and ultimate doom.  A bone chilling, soul deep foreboding that all is not well.

There are times when the air seems to thicken and the sunlight dims, as if some dreadful presence is hovering overhead and blocking the light.  Occasionally that presence can even be felt, as if a barrier is pushing against the car or even the driver’s physical body.

After making several trips through that zone and experiencing the utter terror that tries to possess the traveler it becomes very clear why this route is, and should continue to be, avoided.  The final time I drove on that road was so horrible and unsettling that I considered myself most fortunate to have escaped whatever is there.

I will not go that way again.  Nor will I divulge the location of the place, for to do so might encourage someone to foolishly go there to see what it’s like.  Take my word for it…you do not want that experience.

The Wonderful Glorious Golden Age

Back on a certain date in the year 2012 it was believed that great changes were to happen to this planet and its residents. Do you remember?

There were three schools of thought as to what would take place.

One group believed it was the beginning of a wonderful new golden age. That there would be a total overnight change in consciousness and everyone would awaken the next day with hearts so full of love that they were about to burst.

Another group thought that killer comets, massive asteroids, Planet X, or maybe all three, would succeed in bringing an end to all life on earth.

And what about the third group? Well, they basically said, “There ain’t nothing gonna change. The same old crap will be going on, just like yesterday. No change!”

Obviously, the third group was more on the right track, yet they too missed the mark. In what way, you ask, have they missed? Well, just look around you. Unless you’re in the midst of a Rip Van Winkle sleep it should be obvious that things have changed…and in many ways they have changed to something worse.

So, is it all a lost cause? Is humanity going to eventually succeed in its seemingly determined effort to extinguish itself from this planet…or is a new dawn about to break on the currently darkening horizon?

I don’t have the slightest indication as to how all of the hate and greed that the world is mired in can be cleared away, yet somehow I think it will.

Wishful thinking? Well yeah, maybe. But the alternatives sure don’t look very pretty.

Cold Surprise

He pulled off the mountain road and parked near the creek. It was late springtime and although quite a bit of snow was still on the ground the place where he had stopped was mostly clear and dry. He got out of the car and walked over to the bank of the stream, found a comfortable looking spot, and sat down in what seemed to be a kind of depression. It was quite comfortable.

The water tumbling by was so inviting he took off his shoes and socks. Although he knew it would be cold, when he stuck his feet into the stream he was surprised. It was much colder that he had expected. Letting out a yell he immediately jerked his feet back out of the water. Although they had only been in for a few seconds they were numb with cold. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the water off before quickly pulling his socks and shoes back on.

As he sat there shivering while waiting for his feet to thaw a second surprise was on its way. A short distance behind him was a pool of icy water that had collected and been held back by a berm of snow. That natural little dam suddenly gave way and all of the water rushed down a small gully towards him…and the comfortable depression he was sitting in was part of that gully.

The way he was sitting had caused a gap between his jeans and his bare skin. When it hit, the icy water first entered there and completely soaked his pants and the lower part of his body. He moved, and moved quickly, but too late.

Wet from the waist down and cold he got in the car and stripped off the waterlogged clothes. He found a dusty blanket in the back seat and wrapped it around his shivering skin. Then he started the car and headed home, hoping he didn’t get pulled over by a cop for any reason since it would be impossible to explain why he was driving around wearing nothing but a blanket.

The Neighbor

The neighbor across the street. Most of the people on the block didn’t seem to like him. They went out of their way to avoid talking to him. I was probably the only one in the neighborhood who was pleasant to him. He was really quite knowledgeable and interesting. He talked a lot and I was a good listener.

Even his wife didn’t like him. She once told me all he did was talk. She said he even talked in his sleep. She claimed she had turned to alcohol in her effort to try and drown out his constant jabbering. The only thing that had accomplished was make her an alcoholic. She said she was going to leave him and live by herself in the beach house on the peninsula.

One day he knocked on my door and asked me to come over and see his new car. “State of the art,” he said. I went over to take a look.

He thumped the hood to point out how solid it was built. About that time the horn honked and the front bumper fell off with a loud clatter. He went around and looked, saying they must have forgotten to screw it on tight.

He told me he was going to start the engine so I could experience how quietly it ran. He got in and slammed the door. The horn honked again, all of the doors locked, and all of the airbags suddenly inflated. He slumped over and appeared to lose consciousness.

I quickly tried all of the doors but none would open. I turned toward his house to call to his wife when she burst out of the front door. She ran to the car and as she got close her husband turned his head toward her. His nose was bleeding and both of his eyes were already turning black. She let out a wail and when she she touched the car there was a loud click and the doors unlocked.

She got the driver’s side open and helped him out of the car. She put her arm around him and helped him to the house, all the while crying and telling him she would take care of him and everything would be alright.

And so, that’s how a poorly built “state of the art” car (probably assembled on a Friday) saved a marriage.

Memory Location

He stood in the middle of the kitchen, wondering why he was there. What had he gone in there for? He glanced around at the various appliances and utensils, hoping one of them would jog his memory. Nothing provided a clue.

He kind of zoned out and began wondering just where his memory actually resided in his body. Was it in his head or mind? Was his mind in his head or was it somewhere else? Did his mind have anything to do with his memory? How could he know if he didn’t remember?

After a bit he finally emerged from his reverie and looked hopefully around the kitchen once again. Nothing!

Shaking his head he left and walked back to the den. He eased down into the rocking chair and as soon as his rear end was seated he remembered what he had gone to the kitchen for.

He also realized the answer to where his memory lived. In his butt.

Hurricane

It was back in the 1940s. There was a hurricane in the gulf and it was heading for Galveston. I can’t give the name of the storm because this was before the weather service started giving names to hurricanes.

After listening to the latest advisory my dad suggested we drive to Galveston and see what the gulf looked like when there was a storm coming. The forecast had said it wasn’t expected to make landfall until sometime during the coming night. Since it was then mid-morning we should have ample time to go there and get back out well before conditions started getting bad.

As we passed through La Marque, the last town on the mainland before the highway crossed the flats and then Galveston Bay via the causeway, the sky suddenly began to look ominous. My dad pulled over to the shoulder and stopped. Looking at the gray clouds he said he didn’t feel comfortable continuing on into Galveston.

My sister, several years older than me and always highly adventuresome, wanted to go on. I, on the other hand, felt afraid and said so. My sister glared at me and mumbled something about me being a scaredy-cat.

My mother pointed out that there didn’t seem to be any wind and it wasn’t raining. She thought the overcast sky didn’t look all that bad, especially since we were so near the coast.

My dad decided we would continue on to Galveston but if the weather started showing any signs of worsening we would turn around and leave immediately.

We drove across the causeway and as we turned onto 61st street and crossed Offatts Bayou my dad mentioned the wind must have picked up since the water looked somewhat choppy. We continued on and soon arrived at the gulf. He turned left onto Seawall Blvd. and after driving only a short distance he pulled into a parking space.

The surf was rough and the same color as the gray sky. My sister wanted to get out and go look over the seawall to see how close the waves were to the base. My mother said OK since the wind seemed to have died completely.

My sister asked me to come with her but I just shook my head. She gave me another disgusted look and got out of the car. She was almost to the edge of the seawall when the wind hit. At that particular location there was a railing that she was able to grab. Had it not been there she would have been blown off the seawall into the rocks and surf below.

She turned around and tried to come back to the car but the wind was blowing so hard it kept pushing her back against the railing. Finally, she got down on her hands and knees and was able to slowly crawl back to the car.

As soon as she was safe inside my dad said we needed to get away from there and started the engine. Just after we drove onto the causeway torrents of wind-driven rain started lashing the car. Because we were already on the bridge we couldn’t turn around or stop. Although he had the windshield wipers on full speed they were doing nothing to clear the glass. My mother pointed out the reason why. The wind was so strong it was actually lifting the wipers up and they weren’t even touching the windshield.

My dad discovered another worrisome thing that was happening. The bay was extremely rough and as the water crashed against the bridge pylons the wind was blowing the spray up through the expansion joints. He feared the water coming up from below might cause the engine to drown out. Fortunately the car kept running and we finally got across the causeway.

After fighting high wind gusts as we drove across the flats we suddenly reached the edge of the storm and found ourselves in fairly calm weather with only light rain falling. My dad drove about another mile and pulled off the road to try and settle his nerves. He had been gripping the steering wheel so hard his fingers were cramped and he had trouble straightening them.

While we were sitting there my mother turned on the radio just as the announcer said the hurricane was hitting Galveston at that very moment. My dad said, “No Kidding!”

The rain and wind started picking up so we headed for Houston. We arrived home and had enough time to get in the house and have some lunch before the storm arrived there and the power went off. Lucky us, we got to experience the hurricane twice.

And that was my introduction to the power of Mother Nature. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

Galveston Roller Coaster

One of my first adventures in Galveston, but definitely not one of my favorites, involved a roller coaster called the Mountain Speedway. It was located behind the Buccaneer Hotel on Seawall Blvd.

We had gone to the beach in the afternoon and afterward had a seafood dinner at Hill’s Restaurant. By the time we finished eating the sun had set. My sister wanted to go to the amusement park just a few blocks down the street so we headed that way.

As we neared the Buccaneer we caught sight of the roller coaster with all of its dips and curves outlined with small lights. My sister, who was several years older than me, just had to ride it. My mother and dad talked it over and decided that we would all ride it.

Now I was still quite young and didn’t know what a roller coaster was. Rather than several cars hooked together the Mountain Speedway used single cars that held about six people. My sister wanted to be in the front seat, of course, so my dad rode with her. My mother and I sat in the second seat.

Nobody told me what was going to happen but as we began the tow up to the top I began getting nervous. My mother used the diversion of pointing out how pretty the neon sign at the top was. That worked until we got up there and the car was released.

We screamed down the first dip and I totally freaked. My mother had to hold her hand over my eyes while at the same time hold me tight because I was shaking like a leaf.

It was the longest and scariest couple of minutes in my life.

I never rode the Mountain Speedway again. In fact I was in my late 20s before I rode any roller coaster again…and I didn’t enjoy that time either.