Dom Joly: Oh for Okanagan and the awesome Ogopogo

Ogopogo is supposed to live in a huge cave under a scary looking island called Rattlesnake Island

Share
Related Topics

'What is your reason for visiting Canada?" asked the immigration officer at Vancouver airport. I hesitated, then blurted it out. "I'm a monster hunter here to find Ogopogo." She looked at me and I could sense her wondering whether to call security. "Well, the best of luck with that, sir. And your real reason for visiting Canada?"

This was history repeating itself. When I was writing my last book, The Dark Tourist, I was kept at Tehran airport for a long time after I announced, truthfully, that I was visiting Iran to "go skiing". One of the hard and fast rules of immigration officers worldwide is that they don't like you to have visited anywhere interesting or done anything unusual.

I'm currently on the first trip for my new book, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, in which I'm travelling the world trying to find out more about famous monsters such as the yeti or bigfoot. It's not easy being a monster- hunter. I had no idea what I'd need to take with me, and I feel very unprepared. This trip is definitely a learning curve, and I hope to be far better prepared when I go after bigfoot in November. I'm also interested in the Mokele-mbembe (a dinosaur-type creature) in the Congo. Japan also has a vast array of monsters that I want to go after, including a man who was supposed to have been irradiated in the atomic explosion in Hiroshima and has taken to the nearby hills. For the moment, I have decide not to pursue the "big cat" that is occasionally spotted in the pages of the local Cotswold newspapers on slower news days.

My first quarry is Ogopogo, the lake creature supposedly residing in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. Ogopogo is supposed to live in a huge cave under a scary looking island called Rattlesnake Island on Lake Okanangan. Locals don't like to go near the place, and I've been told not to mention my destination when renting a boat.

I suppose Tintin had something to do with my interest. As a boy, obsessed with the young cartoon reporter, I had a map on my bedroom wall with pins stuck into all of of his destinations. My two favourite Tintin books, The Black Island and Tintin in Tibet deal with monsters. In Tibet, Tintin comes up against the yeti, while in The Black Island he has to go to a castle on a remote Scottish island that, according to locals, is home to The Beast. On my 12th birthday, my mum gave me Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World. I've wanted to try to find a monster ever since.

Initially, I was going to start my hunt a little closer to home, in Loch Ness. Unfortunately, I've been there before and managed to annoy quite a few people, so I'm wary of returning. About 10 years ago I went up and, using a large footprint on the end of a broomstick, made a series of tracks around the caravan of one particular Nessie obsessive after he'd gone to bed. Curiously enough, Lake Okanagan has very similar topography to the Scottish loch and is on roughly the same latitude.

Back in Vancouver airport, the immigration officer was still waiting for an answer. "That is the real reason for my visit: I want to try and find Ogopogo." She looked at me without a hint of a smile. "And would this be for business or pleasure, sir?" I replied that it was definitely for pleasure ... for the moment. She paused for a second, and then sighed and stamped my passport.

I had a sighting on the first day. Check this out: facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150419181813487

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Ellen E Jones
Scientists have discovered the perfect cheese for pizzas (it's mozzarella)  

Life of pie: Hard cheese for academics

Simmy Richman
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution