Have you ever seen a creature you could not explain? For one junkyard treasure hunter, her encounter with a strange animal is one she'll never forget.
Sometimes it's difficult to believe your own eyes. When people encounter a thing they cannot explain - something completely alien to their experience - they tend to doubt their own senses at first. The mind tries to relate what is seen to previous experiences, but when that thing is so totally bizarre, many people second-guess their experience. "I couldn't have seen that," they tell themselves. "It doesn't make sense."
In a poll of readers a few years ago, I asked if they had ever seen a living creature they could not explain. Of more than 650 respondents, 47 percent said that they had. That's a lot of unexplained sightings.
Paula M. had one such sighting. But it wasn't of a Bigfoot, a sea serpent, or even a chupacabras. In many ways it was much stranger. And try as she might and after diligent research, she has yet to come up with an explanation for what she saw.
HUNTING FOR GLASS
The encounter took place on a warm, otherwise ordinary day in the summer of 1999 just outside a small town in Oregon.
One of Paula's hobbies was prowling through old junk yards and dump sites for old vintage bottles and glass. On this particular day, she headed to an old off-road dump site that she had heard about but had never been to before. Paula parked her car on the side of the road and hiked a short distance to the dump.
The dump was typical of several she had been to: Piles of discarded household items and furniture, scattered mounds of rusting old appliances and metal. This recess was quiet and secluded. It was surrounded by trees and had patches of tall skimpy grass and weeds amid the trash. A small stream rested at very bottom of the recess with slow moving water one to two inches deep.
HOLES IN THE GROUND
Then Paula noticed something peculiar - something she had never seen at any other dump site.
"As I was staking out the area," she said. "I happened across some tunnel-like holes in the ground. The holes were of a peculiar size, which made me wonder what kind of animal possibly could have dug them."
Paula noticed six or seven of the holes, each about two inches in diameter and partially camouflaged by the sparse growth of the recess. The holes could have been made by any number of burrowing creatures, Paula reasoned. She didn't worry about it.
Experienced in this hunt for junkyard treasures, Paula sifted around here and there for about 30 minutes until she found a spot that looked inviting on the slant of a hill, about three-fourths of the way down to the stream. Dropping to her knees, she took her hand trowel and began to dig. Paula especially valued the old bottles with embossed lettering, but such finds rarely made their appearance quickly or easily. She dug in the dirt for nearly an hour - so long that in this kneeling position her legs were beginning to go to "fall sleep."
Paula decided to take a break from her excavation and stretch her legs. She stood and walked around a bit. "While I was moving about at the bottom of the recess, I thought I saw, from the corner of my eye, a clump of dirt move. It was about the size of my fist."
She turned to look squarely in the direction of the movement, trying to detect it again. But nothing moved. "Nah," she thought, "it was nothing."
Paula was about to return to her dig when she saw it again. About 10 feet away from her, the clump of dirt moved, like it was pushed out of the ground from beneath, and rolled down the hill. Paula began to get a little nervous. Whatever had made those tunnel-like holes was apparently making another one. And she wasn't particularly keen on watching a rat, a snake, or some other potentially dangerous animal come slithering out.
Then she saw it. Something living began to poke itself out of the ground!
Next page: The Creature Appears