July 13, 2011

Roth and Ramberg get stuck in a rut


On account of a late night dram at the Benleva Hotel (thanks Joe!), we had a wee bit of a sleep in. And it was lovely. But after a quick breakfast (still considered breakfast if you’re on Newfoundland time), we headed off in search of Nessie Hunter Steve Feltham in Dores. But first, Highland cows. So up into the Highlands above the village of Dores we went, trying to locate a spot that Ronnie had told us about the day before. 

It was a beautiful, sunny day and though we were constantly flanked by sheep and goats along the winding country road, no cows in sight.

This is probably a good time to mention that some of the roads around the Loch (and up in the Highlands) are of the single tract variety. Meaning, you have to stop at ‘passing places’ to let oncoming traffic by and avoid the always messy head-on collision.

So there we were, faced with an approaching car, and no passing places in sight. Being the polite Canadians we are, Michele decided to pull off to the side of the road into a meadow. Make that a meadow ditch.

The best thing about driving around parts unknown with two photographers is that even when the shit hits the fan, their first (and simultaneous) response is “Quick, get the camera!” 

We tried everything. Pushing from the front. Pushing from the back. Gunning it while two people stood in the trunk surrounded by camera equipment in order to strategically weigh it down. We even ‘borrowed’ a few fence posts to put under the groundless wheel.

After many failed attempts to solve the ‘rental car in a ditch somewhere in the Highlands’ situation, three brawny Scotsmen on bicycles miraculously appeared and proceeded to push the car back onto the road. Needless to say, we were very grateful. And we put the ‘borrowed’ fence posts back where they belonged.

Obviously, after all that drama, we were in need of a pint, so back to the Dores Inn it was. We bumped into Ronnie once again, and then we all made our way to see Steve Feltham.

We found Steve sitting on the front deck of his converted mobile library / home making Nessie figurines (and sharp ones too) out of fimo and beach rocks. So we walked up and introduced ourselves. But Steve already knew we were coming, thanks a few phone calls from around the Loch. 

Steve calls himself a Nessie Hunter and he’s quite serious about it. Meaning, he’s dedicated the past twenty years of his life to the unusual pursuit. So it made sense that Steve was very receptive to ours. After all, it was a mutual one.

Steve became fascinated with Nessie after a trip to Loch Ness at the age of seven. Although he never forgot it, like most people, he grew up and got a job. Several actually. But he referred to one in particular as soul destroying (installing home alarms).

He reached a point where two weeks a year searching for the monster wasn’t enough. So he decided to pack it all up and make it a permanent gig.

Steve says he’s stopped searching for some pre-historic dinosaur. But he adamantly believes there is ‘something’ in the Loch. And he has some interesting theories, like perhaps Nessie is some sort of wels catfish (catfish on steroids). He says it can’t be a giant eel on account of how it moves in the water – like a snake. Anyone who knows anything about Nessie knows that she moves more like a whale (up and down, not side to side).

He also says that the Loch has a sort of ‘energy’ that draws people in. An energy you can’t explain, but you can’t ignore. And whether you come for the monster, or for something else entirely, people keep coming back to Loch Ness. Some, like Steve, never leave. And if that’s not magical, I don’t know what is.

We photographed Steve just outside his ‘Nessie-ery Independent Research’ unit on Dores beach.