Don and Barb — not their real names — spend the holidays every year visiting both of their parents in the St. Louis area, where they were born, grew up, met and married. For the last six years, the couple has lived in rural Jasper County Missouri and normally leaves on the morning of Christmas Eve to make the four-hour drive. This year, however, they decided to make the trip the evening of the 23rd, hoping to avoid the worst of the holiday traffic.

At approximately 7:05 p.m., they were eastbound on I-44 and had passed the Phillipsburg exit in Laclede County by about three or four miles when they both saw a large dark humanoid figure striding out into their lane from the right-hand shoulder, less than 100 feet ahead of their vehicle. As it was illuminated by their headlights they immediately knew what they were seeing.

“It was a Bigfoot, no question about it,” Don told me during a telephone conversation less than three hours after their encounter. When they reached their destination, he immediately used the Internet to look up my number and placed the call.

“It wasn’t a small one, either. He was every bit of seven foot tall and was stocky enough to play pro football with any team in the league. I don’t know if it was a male or a female, but if they are like humans I would have to guess it was a male due to its size. In some ways, it reminded me of the one in the old black and white film from out in California; it had that same arm swing action going and turned its head to glance at us without breaking its stride. It was like he judged the distance and our speed, decided we were not a threat and lost interest. He was only walking at a moderate pace, but with the long strides he was covering some serious ground rather quickly. He crossed both eastbound lanes, the median and we could still see him as he went across the other side of the freeway in the headlights of a pickup driving east. I know the driver saw it, because the brake lights came on and the truck came to a very sudden stop. So with the three of us (their 8-year old son was with them and saw the creature as well) that makes at least four witnesses, and maybe more. The traffic was pretty light on that stretch at the time.”

A few questions led to additional details of the creature’s appearance.

“It was covered with real dark brown hair about three to four inches long all over,” he said. “I would guess his weight to be in the neighborhood of 400 pounds and maybe more. The classic features that I have read about over the years were all there; the kind of pointy head, little or no neck and less hair on the face than the rest of its body. The face looked much more like a human than an ape, although it did have a noticeable brow ridge and a broad nose. I didn’t see any eye shine when it turned its head to look at us, like deer and other animals have at night.”

Don also said that the encounter was something that he had hoped for, but never expected to happen.

“My brother lived out in Oregon for a while and saw one up close about eight years ago. He was all excited when he told me about it, and I started reading up on them on the Internet. I had read there and in your columns about the sightings in southwest Missouri in recent months, and believe me I have kept my eyes peeled whenever I was driving in a rural area, especially at night. Then here we are, driving down the interstate with Christmas dinner and visiting with our family on our minds, and one just walks out in plain sight in front of us.”

The area where this encounter took place would have to be considered excellent territory for one of these reclusive, yet inquisitive creatures to make its home and stake out its territory. There are many large tracts of forest nearby, including the virtual wilderness of sprawling Fort Leonard Wood just a few miles away to the southeast. There have been numerous sightings over the years in that part of the state, including multiple encounters on the military installation’s grounds. (I went to basic training there more years ago than I care to remember, and it bears the nickname ‘Fort Lost in the Woods’.)

If you have had an encounter with any type of paranormal or unexplained phenomena, no matter where or when it occurred, I would like to add it to my ever-growing files. Send me a complete account, with as many details as you can. Include your name and a telephone number or email address I can reach you at if I need more information.

Complete anonymity, if requested, will be observed if your experience is used for publication. Send accounts and comments to samuptegrove@gmail.com. I have a landline telephone now, so you can also call me at (417) 637-6002. Leave a message on the machine if I am not home.

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