Bigfoot is Real. (Maybe.)

Maybe you're a non believer, but a visit to the Bigfoot Discovery Project just might change your mind about the existence of the elusive Sasquatch.

 The Bigfoot Discovery Project on Highway 9 in Felton is legendary.

The Bigfoot Discovery Project on Highway 9 in Felton is legendary.

The Bigfoot Discovery Museum, with its eclectic collection of all things Sasquatch, Yeti and Abominable, opened in 2004 “in an attempt to educate the public with the facts and current best guesses as to the true nature of Bigfoot,” according to the museum’s website. Its co-founder, Michael Rugg (a former computer graphic artist and illustrator in Silicon Valley) claims to have seen one early in the morning along the banks of the Eel River in Humboldt County in 1950 while camping with his family when he was five years old. His parents were fixing breakfast one morning and he wandered off. It was about 30 feet away and they made eye contact. He also claims to have collected DNA evidence that Bigfoot exists, but it's tied up in a multi-million dollar legal battle, and as a result, won't be released to the public until the lawsuit is resolved.

The small museum is located on Highway 9 in Felton near Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (where there have been Bigfoot sightings over the years). It won't take you long to get through the small museum. Some of the more kitschy exhibits include abominable snowman dolls, cartoons, comic books, old clippings, Harry and the Hendersons action figures and a Six Million Dollar Man book titled “The Secret of Bigfoot Pass.” ("The Secret of Bigfoot" two-part episode of The Six Million Dollar Man where Steve Austin fights Bigfoot (Andre The Giant) is a true television classic.)

And then it starts to get more serious. There is a large map with colored pins marking over 170 reported sightings in the Santa Cruz Mountains over the past 10+ years. (You can read about a reported sighting in April 2002 near Santa Cruz along Highway 1 at the southern border of Wilder Ranch as documented on the BFDP's website). There are plaster castings of footprints, news articles about research and even some alleged Bigfoot poo. They also have a tooth that might be from a Bigfoot. The footprint casts are rather intriguing, and when you see them up close and in person, they really are big feet – they are impressive and don't look fake.

 Those are some really big feet.

Those are some really big feet.

 Much larger than a human foot. Real or fake?

Much larger than a human foot. Real or fake?

And then there's the clip from the famous 1967 Roger Patterson-Bob Gimlin film from a 16mm movie camera showing a seven foot tall, ape-like, apparently female creature striding through the woods at Bluff Creek in northern California, running on continuous loop with the permission and blessing of Roger Patterson’s widow, Patricia Patterson. The film is regarded by believers as the best evidence that Bigfoot exists since it is from old technology that couldn’t have been faked or Photoshopped. And also because you can see tendon and muscle movement. Meanwhile skeptics dismiss it as a hoax and a guy dressed up in a bad fur suit.

The footage has been repeatedly analyzed by scientists over the last 40 years. It has never been proven to be a hoax. While a number of individuals "confessed" to being the man in the costume, or participated in a hoax over the years, all of the confessions contradict each other, and are strongly suspected of being hoaxes themselves. No one has ever brought forward the actual costume involved, and no one has ever been able to create a matching costume.

 What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

 This could be someone's mom.

This could be someone's mom.

In 2008 renowned Hollywood special effects expert and costume designer Bill Munns was allowed never before access access to a rare first generation (and best quality) copy of the film provided by Roger's wife, Patricia. After extensive detailed restoration and analysis of the Patterson film footage, as seen on the National Geographic channel, he said, "I was the best there was in special effects. I couldn't have come up with anything close to a man in a suit that looked like that." He concluded that what he was seeing in the film was not a human in a costume and that it is something biologically real.

Believe what you will, but consider this. It's a known fact, proven by found fossils, that an extinct genus of ape called Gigantopithecus existed from perhaps nine million years to as recently as one hundred thousand years ago, which stood as high as 10 feet tall, weighed over 1,000 pounds, and walked on two legs. (Sound familiar?)

We're discovering all sorts of strange new species we never knew existed before all the time, like the bizarre looking deep sea Fangtooth and Viperfish creatures, for example. If you were to tell me that there's a fish in the deep sea that has its own reading light on its head, I'd say, "Pass the doobie." But they are, in fact, very real.

So in my mind, this transplant from the Pacific Northwest (where about one-third of all claimed Sasquatch sightings are located) thinks most anything is possible. And until someone can definitively prove otherwise, without a doubt, chances are that Bigfoot is real.

Decide for yourself once you visit the museum – it's definitely worth 10-15 minutes of your time as a roadside attraction among the beautiful redwoods. It's only about eight miles away from Santa Cruz and Beach Haven at Seabright and is a pretty drive. You might even see a Sasquatch or two along the way. The cost is free but donations are encouraged and happily accepted.

Bigfoot Discovery Project. 5497 Highway 9, Felton, CA 95018. Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays. Phone: 831.335.4478 bigfootdiscoveryproject.com

 Sasquatch are often seen by the water.

Sasquatch are often seen by the water.

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