Maine Millennium: A Place for Bigfoot and Wessie
My boyfriend blames my excessive and growing collection of pillows on Portland’s International Cryptozoology Museum.
This is because last year we went to the vendor hall at the International Cryptozoology Conference and bought a really awesome handmade pillow (made by Neko-jin designs, an artisan based in Stockton Springs) that had a giant squid on it. And I love myself a giant squid. (Did you know that the very first photos of a living giant squid were only taken in 2004?) When I got home I noticed my awesome new pillow looked alone on the sofa, I thought another pillow would be nice, and now there’s no more sofa .
But if you are not keen on collecting weird cushions and looking for something to do on weekends in this weird, wet and cold season of spring not quite and not over yet winter , I really recommend to visit the museum. It is the only museum dedicated to cryptozoology in the world. Admission is $ 10 for adults and $ 5 for children – cheaper than the movies – and there’s something for everyone in the family: a giant Bigfoot statue for Instagram selfies of teens, old people monster movie artifacts for movie buffs, a collection of Wessie’s artifacts for locals who remember that time last year when a python was roaming free in Westbrook. (These things, they happen.) And, of course, for adults 21 and older who can drink alcohol without their life completely falling apart (not me, of course), Thompson’s Point has a brewery. , a cellar AND a distillery. There are also the beautiful views and scenery of the point (bring a jacket, it’s windy) and ample parking, a rarity in Portland.
Cryptozoology is defined as the study of animals whose existence has not yet been proven. These creatures are called “cryptids”. The words come from the Greek “kryptos”, which means “hidden” or “secret”. Some people think cryptozoology just means a bunch of Bigfoot freaks. And of course, there are definitely people who are crazy about Bigfoot. (Including, of course, Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first men to climb Mount Everest, who mounted an expedition in search of the Himalayan Yeti … and, of course, Denver riggleman, current U.S. Representative from Virginia.) But I think cryptozoology – the study of creatures whose existence has not been proven – is much more than that. It’s not just about facts, figures and DNA testing. Cryptozoologists are collectors of legends.
Is it a coincidence that many diverse peoples and cultures all have similar legends and stories about, for example, sea snakes? Dragons? Fat hairy men living in the woods? (OK, the latter could also describe all of Maine, besides Bigfoot.)
I’m somewhere between Mulder and Scully in terms of a belief in what exists. Seals are probably the only thing in Loch Ness, but it’s a bit presumptuous to think that we humans have discovered everything there is to discover on our Earth, right? That it is not possible that somewhere in the deepest oceans or on the highest mountains there are creatures that have not been added to the scrolls of science?
I like stories. (This is probably no surprise to anyone.)
I like stories about the natural world, the ancient world, the modern world; I love the stories of people who live the impossible; I like a good mystery. The Cryptozoology Museum is a good place to explore these stories and leave your mind tossing around for explanations. How reliable is this evidence? What other explanation for this story could be plausible? Where does this legend come from? Is this plaster even a footprint?
When I look at the stars on a clear night and suddenly hear a rustle in the thicket of trees across the road, that’s the feeling that cryptozoology gives me, that little twitch in my chest, it maybe-just-maybe. I like the idea that there could be something there. I like the idea that there could be maybe-just-maybe Tasmanian tigers out there in the wild that humans haven’t wiped out all of them.
In fact, my fascination with cryptozoology may have been linked to my millennial guilt for the damage humanity is doing to the natural world through climate change and years of environmental degradation. We drill, harvest and clear forests without regard to other living organisms. We are destroying the mysteries of Earth before we even have a chance to explore them. The Cryptozoology Museum is a good place to think about what we could theoretically (very, very theoretically) lose if we continue.
Plus, climate change is probably driving Bigfoot crazy. And you don’t want to drive a Bigfoot crazy.
Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a millennial from Maine. She can be contacted at: