Many people assume that to search for, investigate, and find strange creatures, it’s necessary to travel thousands of miles to locations as exotic as they are mysterious. Well, yes, sometimes that is true. Take, for example, the Chupacabra of Puerto Rico: a glowing-eyed beast that sports vicious fangs and claws and a dangerous row of spikes down its neck and back. You’ll chiefly find it in and around the island’s El Yunque rain-forest. It’s the same with the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti, of the Himalayas. Unless you’re a resident of the area, you’re certainly not going to find the legendary wild thing on your doorstep. The same can be said of the brontosaurus-like Mokele-mbembe which, legend says, haunts the deep waters of the Congo River basin in Africa.
But, there are some monsters which can be found surprisingly close to home. Texas’ expansive area of forestland known as the Big Thicket has been a hotbed of Bigfoot/"wild man"-style activity since the 19th century. Yet, the distance from the fringes of the 84,550-acre area to the city of Houston is not at all far. Similarly, America’s most famous, hair-covered man-beast has also been sighted on the outskirts of New York; Seattle, Washington State; and Portland, Oregon. They are locations hardly known for their remoteness.
It’s very much alike in the UK. Loch Ness, Scotland is the alleged home of the world’s most famous lake-monster, Nessie. Yes, the loch is a wild and huge body of water, one noted for its large surrounding slopes. But, it’s only 170 miles from the Scottish city of Edinburgh, which has a population of around half a million. Plus, the journey from Edinburgh to the loch is a very simple one: for the most part you stay on the A9 road and you practically run into it.
Returning to Texas, there are those hairless coyotes that featured in the SyFy Channel’s movie starring Erik Estrada, Chupacabra vs. the Alamo. In reality, these particular beasts have zero connection – aside from the name – to the Puerto Rican Chupacabras. But, they are regularly seen in and around the woods and fields of the Texan cities of Austin and San Antonio, locales which, combined, are packed to the brim with millions of people. And then there are those tales suggesting entire hordes of crocodiles are living in the sewers of New York. A tall-tale perhaps (to a degree, at least), but again, the location is hardly remote.
Now, those skeptical of the notion that monsters, and bizarre and unidentified beasts, really do lurk among us might very well say something like: "Well, the fact that so many monsters are said to live so close to civilization, but we still can’t catch them, is a sure sign they are nothing but legend and urban myth." On the other hand, it should be noted that many people forget – particularly so in our techno-driven world of today – that it only takes a very short time for us to leave our huge, concrete cities behind us. In just an hour or so, highways can be replaced by expansive forests, malls by murky and mysterious lakes, and the Internet by dark and deep caves housing who knows what.
Civilization is something that we hang onto without giving much thought to the fact that it is highly concentrated in certain specific areas – many of them giant cities, packed to the rafters with millions of people. But, exit the confines of the concrete jungle, and you may still very soon find yourself – even in the 21st Century – in a world filled with wonders, wilderness, creepy woods, dark and deep lakes, and mountains that might be home to, well, just about anything. And all it takes is a tank of gas and, when you arrive, a willingness to put one leg before the other and walk.