Veteran’s Day weekend. Fall is almost done, and soon winter comes.
If you’re like me, you might’ve spent it camping. It’s a good way to unwind from our second and maybe third round of midterms? Hey, we need some time to unwind before finals and you can do a weekend without eduroam.
OK, but seriously, the temperature will be perfect during the next few months. The sun will come down earlier, the wind will blow and sweaters will be worn. Do you know what goes well on a chilly night by the warm campfire? Spooky stories.
It seems like a movie cliché. Someone is just trying to scare their friends for the night with some made up story, maybe while pointing the lantern up on their face. And it works! No matter how old you are this semester, how tough you think you are, everyone is a bit of a wuss in the dark.
And ghost stories are fun, but monster stories are better. They’re scarier because they’re more real.
No one has seen Casper the Friendly Ghost, and if they have, doesn’t he just walk right through you? But everyone has seen that trembling footage of Bigfoot, or that black and white of the Loch Ness Monster.
Obviously, there’s a good chance that those images are doctored, or they simply captured something else that was seemingly a monster. But if these monsters are real, imagine the damage they could do when compared to Casper or Danny Phantom or some other lame supernatural entity.
Here in California, we have several to choose from. Starting off strong we have Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. This is probably the most recognizable mythical creature. He resides in the Pacific Northwest and countless hikers have captured footage and audio of this supposedly large, hairy, humanoid beast.
California also has the Tahoe Tessie whom we share with Nevada. Legend has it that it resides under Cave Rock in Lake Tahoe. It’s been compared to the Loch Ness Monster.
The Dark Watchers are exclusively ours though. They reside in the Santa Lucia Mountain range, but disappear if you get too close. Original Spanish settlers saw them too and called them Los Vigilantes Oscuros, a direct translation to The Dark Watchers.
There are notable creatures across the country, though. Texas, with its shared culture with Mexico, has the Chupacabra, a scaly creature that sucks the blood of livestock. Kentucky doesn’t just have one, the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter recounts an entire swarm of small aliens with pointed ears. There’s the Wendigo, which emerges from First Nations’ folklore. Michigan has a half-human half-dog seven-foot tall dog-man.
Now, look, explanations exist for all of these. Bigfoot is probably a black bear. Loch Ness is probably a large fish. The Dark Watchers are probably the Brocken spectre effect, which occurs when atmospheric conditions are just right to cast a shadow from the mountains. Unidentified species in biology exist. Add in a little pareidolia and you can see how folklore emerges.
But when the campfire goes out, and you’re hanging out alone in the woods with a friend or two or maybe even alone … what do you think that noise was?