Food · Historical Landmarks · Maine · Museums · Roadside Attractions

 The International Cryptozoology Museum & Other Random Sights of Portland Maine

On Saturday night I had gone to pick up my friend Katherine at Old Orchard Beach. She’d attended a wedding earlier that day and invited me to have dinner with a bunch of the wedding guests and various friends. I figured why not. I drove in around six o’clock and the town was BUZZING. I had been here off season before, when all the rides are shut down and the whole town is a deserted vision of the apocalypse… but on season? WOW. There were so many people!! And noise! Shops bustled, bars boomed, restaurant were full, and the rides were whirring. Parking was a nightmare and I had to be guided into a spot by a sweet old lady – thankfully and coincidentally it was right next to her hotel!

Anyway, dinner was lively with a wonderful bunch of very sweet and passionate people who were very kind in welcoming me into the group. At some point conversation meandered into what Katherine and my plans were for the next day. We were planning on going on an adventure but where to… I suggested the cryptozoology museum which got this reply, “That place is just two big rooms and one guy following you around them because he REALLY BELIEVES in Bigfoot.” Both Katherine and I agreed that this less than raging endorsement made it all the more tempting so the next morning, after having a good bye breakfast with the same group of people, we left for Portland.

DSC_0312Portland is a sweet little port city, not nearly as much of a tourist town as Old Orchard Beach. I had enjoyed walking its streets before but now it was nice to return to a different portion of the city. My GPS led me to where the International Cryptozoology Museum used to be, but not knowing this I placed the Prius in a nearby parking garage and we started to walk. Portland is a city of very mixed architecture – some which appeared very Dutch, some which looked like Lego bricks, and others which seemed more relevant to Maine. I took a few snaps here and there. Katherine kept herself entertained finding ninja’d stickers posted throughout the city reading fiercelyDSC_0324 critical liberal sentiments. The graffiti seemed almost sweet and added another layer of entertainment but where was this bigfoot museum?? Nowhere to be seen. We stopped in a used bookstore instead and oddly it had a map to the new location of the cryptozoology museum which was a seven minute car ride. So off we went to reclaim the car… only to find the parking garage would not let us out. I tried paying for my ticket but the machine kept spitting out my card, not telling me why, and asking me to re-insert the ticket. I was at a loss but with no one behind me I backed out of the toll lane, parked again, and found a machine inside to pay. With this new pre-paid ticket the toll gate actually worked. FWEW!

After driving to the shore we parked in another lot we thought was close by not knowing if we’d find anywhere closer. Parking mistake #2. We ended up walking and walking and walking. We found a greyhound station. Was it in the greyhound station?? No. More walking, across the tracks, we finally found a set of buildings with a food truck parked out front… a deep fried peanut butter and jelly food truck…. “After we go through the museum we should eat there.” “Agreed!”

DSC_0367We spent way longer than we should have continuing to walk around all these unmarked buildings to find nothing. It was getting annoying so we circled back to the food truck and finally found Bigfoot standing around the side of that building, guarding a chicken shack and a brewery. It was a scene that was just so Maine.

DSC_0362We both went in and it’s a two level (but still two room) museum filled with just the most goddamn bizarre things… The bottom floor was for sea monsters and various beasts which was capped off with a five foot tall plastic ninja turtle for no reason I could see. In the display cases there were Fiji mermaids, labelled as hoaxes, but smattered aside things like a GI Joe standing next to a stuffed beaver with a plate reading, “Do giant beavers still exist?” It was completely mental. We were both getting quite a kick out of this place and I was so happy to experience it with a friend instead of going alone as I had planned a few months back.

Upstairs Bigfoot stood with all his associated kin including a display case full of baby dolls which had wads of hair glued to them… baby big foot? And why did I find the red-headed one all the creepier?? There were casts of footprints, random artifacts, and things I think were clearly sold to a shmuck on ebay for shits and giggles like a random rusted out light fixture from some town which had a cryptid incident. Whhhhhy? Just why! Here too was a whole wall dedicated to the museum’s founder. Little cultish – still funny. Totally worth the trip… if you’re a little off in the head like we are.

PS the deep fried S’moares from the food truck, made with New England Fluff, was to die for!

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