Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stinky Things Other Than Big Feet

Traci and I met our friends Joshua and Emily at their house in Santa Cruz Sunday and we all rode in one car to the second roadside attraction we've visited since moving to California - The CapriTaurus Big Foot Discovery Museum!  (The first attraction was The Mystery Spot.)

Shown Actual Size
Let me just say that the four of us went to the museum out of genuine interest in the phenomena surrounding Bigfoot as well as the kitsch factor.  We in no way intended to (nor did we) mock the very friendly and knowledgeable curator, Mike.  Far be it from any of us to poo poo something just because we haven't actually seen it.

I knew that this museum was small but I don't think I fully appreciated just how small until the four of us were huddled together in the front room.  We glanced briefly at the artifacts in this room and I took the time to snap a shot of one thing that was odd, kitschy, and nerdy (it also seemed slightly out of place)...

Storytelling Alf
It's not a bigfoot, but it is a furry alien and I think some people believe that the sasquatch is an alien, or came from aliens.  I'm also pretty sure that this toy is a rip off of Teddy Ruxpin, but I digress.  We rounded the corner to what I guess you would call the "main room" but it too was very tiny.  There was an employee there talking to a mother and her two sons about his own possible bigfoot sighting.  We interrupted to let him know that we were interested in taking the tour.  He said he'd get the curator and went out back.  The curator returned and I asked where I should put our donation (recommended $1 - $2 per person) and the other employee took it from me.

Mike, the curator is an older, white-bearded gentleman with an air about him that says he doesn't suffer fools. I could tell he was eyeballing our motley crew and assuming we were non-believers there to make fun.  Once he realized we weren't that, he set off into his passion, which is talking about his passion, which is all things sasquatch.  He knows more than anyone should know about a subject that half the population thinks is bogus.  Mike is a true believer.  He has even had his own sighting.  Mike has been enamored with Bigfoot since first seeing a photograph in the snow of a yeti when he was a child and has never stopped studying, researching, and learning about Bigfoot.  He has been featured on our local news channels often, as well as having given speeches on cryptozoology to various organizations.  He knows his stuff.  Also, he has horrible breath, or at least he did on the day we visited.

The only still picture from the famous
 1967 film footage allowed to be used

He started the tour by sending us back into the little front room where we started.  This is the pop culture room where there are tons of cool items that have been collected over the years.  I feel like Mike has a love/hate relationship with this side of the Bigfoot legend.  On one hand Bigfoot working his (or her) way into the mainstream means that more people are interested, but on the other hand it makes it far easier for folks to dismiss as hokum all the evidence and sightings and real studies that Mike and other true believers, and interested researchers have amassed.  There were books, plush dolls, records, TV shows, games, and other items that were all sasquatch, bigfoot, or abominable snowman related packed into a couple of glass cases in this room.  He started by showing us a timeline of events for the Santa Cruz area that attempted to dovetail with the actual sighting reports of people (Mike included) in the area.  He showed us the photo of the yeti footprint that started it all for him and also pointed out some of the replica foot castings and other items that are on sale.  The museum runs on donations and purchases so if you're feeling froggy you can buy a T-shirt from the website to help the cause!

I think our big mistake was maybe not showing up armed with questions.  As I've said, Mike knows a lot about the subject, and as any font of knowledge is apt to do, he will just talk and talk and talk and talk about his favorite subject for hours on end.  Had we questions to ask, we probably could have interrupted occasionally to focus the discussion, but we were so in awe of the sheer volume of information he was providing us, that the four of us ended up standing around for an hour in that tiny space listening to him talk to us.  Did I mention the halitosis?  It was pretty terrible.  If I had had any gum on me, I would totally have offered it to the group and hope that Mike would have taken the hint, but I didn't have any gum.  What I had instead, what we all had instead, were watering eyes, it was that pungent.  We spent as much time reading things on the walls and in cases for our own edification as we did as a good reason to try and get out of the stink zone.  Each of us, we discovered later, was looking at the other three wondering if they were just keeping it cool or if they didn't notice the stench.  It would be impossible in that small space to not be aware of it, but to our credit no one said anything or moved to cut short our tour.

This was an outing none of us will soon forget and while I don't think we were swayed into or out of our beliefs in the Bigfoot, it was an interesting outing to say the least.  If you come to visit and want to see the museum, we'll happily draw you a map.

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