Welcome to the latest edition of A Walk On the Weird Side – An Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Fabric of Portland. – By Anna Alexander
Welcome to A Walk On The Weird Side – Mermaid Edition. For this adventure, the Barbie Corvette is staying in storage, and we are borrowing Cher’s mermaid car from the movie … Mermaids. You will also be issued a mermaid tail, shell bra, and trident.
We’re going to start at the top of the hill and swim down river. The first item of interest (and weirdest) is the Zymoglyphic Museum. Owned by Jim Stewart, a retired software engineer, this museum of oddities is nothing like you have ever seen or will see again. When I try and explain it to people, the words just aren’t there so I’ll let the website explain: The Zymoglyphic Museum’s primary mission is the preservation of the unique natural and cultural heritage of the Zymoglyphic region. In addition, the museum hosts a variety of special collections and online exhibits related to zymoglyphic themes of natural art, celebration of decay, and museums as curiosity cabinets.
I took my mom to the museum (because doesn’t everyone?) and we oohed and ahhhed over the exquisite displays work that went into each piece. Make sure to visit the mermaid on the second floor and the “Jenny Hanniver” – a small creature made by sailors to resemble a mermaid. Jim showed us the notebook he kept when he was ten years old detailing every single rock, stamp, bug and piece of ephemera he collected. It was quite impressive. Jim is also accepting applications for apprentices if you’re interested. The museum is free, but you will have to make an appointment to visit. And you must visit.
For our next adventure, make sure your mermaid tail is firmly attached because we’re swimming down the hill and across the Willamette River to downtown Portland for a round of mini golf. But not just any mini golf… but glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Glowing Greens is a pirate-themed, blue light golf course in a cave-like environment with hidden treasures and smarty-pants pirate skeletons. It’s the perfect place for families or date night with your favorite mermaid. My husband and I took in a round during a hot a day and the challenging course was the perfect reprieve from the heat.
If you enjoy dark, tropical environments, jump into the mermaid mobile because we’re headed to The Alibi for a drink. This tiki bar began as a roadhouse and bar in the 1800s and was transformed into a tiki bar in 1947 and is one of the oldest tiki bars in the U.S. I’ve been to The Alibi a few times for karaoke and drinks and it’s always enjoyable. The bar itself is very dark and it took us a minute for our eyes to adjust. It has deep chairs and booths and tasty cocktails and lumpia. The Alibi is the place where merfolk go after work for a stiff drink and entertainment.
If you want to skip the bar entirely, I recommend taking your little merkind to Greenbean Books for an excellent selection of mermaid and pirate/ books for kids. A parent could spend a lot clams here and my husband I secretly wished we had access to a cute little bookstore like this this when we were kids. I bought a one-eyed mermaid finger puppet named Shelly.
Our last stop is a little further up the street at La Sirenita. After a busy day of mini golf and museums, you can relax and enjoy a tasty burrito, taco, or carnitas in this mermaid themed restaurant. Much like The Alibi, La Sirentia has a long history in Portland, and it shows because it’s always busy.
I hope you enjoyed the mermaid-themed Walk On the Weird Side. It’s time for me to return the mermaid car as just Cher texted me and demanded I bring it back to Eastport, Massachusetts.
I hope you continue to seek out other mermaid-themed businesses in Portland as there are many. However, if you want to stretch your fins and swim out of town and explore other mermaid attractions, I highly recommend the following places:
- The Mermaid Museum in Aberdeen, Washington
- Devil’s Punchbowl near Newport, Oregon
- Beverly Beach, on the Oregon Coast
- Wreck of the Peter Iredale near Fort Stevens State Park, Oregon (perfect for all your mermaid portraits and selfies)
Thank you for joining me on this journey. The tail and trident are yours to keep.