Established in 1955 with the purpose of honoring the American cowboys, what was then called the Cowboy Hall of Fame has become today’s National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The 200,000 square foot facility features Western and Native American artifacts, sculptures, art and historical galleries. It is one of Oklahoma City’s more popular attractions and one of the most respected museums of its kind in the United States.
America’s Strangest Restaurants
Daniel Chyan of Magic Restroom Cafe
“I am probably the only restaurateur in the entire world who is unapologetically telling you that my food is bad for you, and that you should stay away from it,” Heart Attack Grill’s Jon Basso recently said after one of his regulars suffered (you guessed it) a massive heart attack on his post-meal bus ride home.
With waitresses dressed as sexy nurses and a Guinness World Record for “Most Calorific Burger,” this Las Vegas attraction is surely an only-in-America experience. But in a country that birthed the bloomin’ onion, it’s not the only weird eatery America has to offer. Strange restaurants abound from coast to coast, from a toilet-themed café in the suburbs of Los Angeles to ninja villages in New York City and an actual cave in the Midwest.
“Part of the appeal of a themed or a weird restaurant is that it may not live or die based on how good the food is,” explains Doug Kirby, author of Roadside America, a byway bible to America’s strangest pit stops. “I hear a lot of locals say they would never go to the nearby weird restaurant, but they’d totally take whoever was visiting from out of town.”
On your next trip, here’s where to let your foodie freak flag fly.
Living in a city does have its perks, but even city-dwellers dream of escaping to some small comfortable house or cottage surrounded by wilderness to let their weary souls re-charge. All of these beautiful houses surrounded by picturesque views will inspire…
The Little Desert That Grew in Maine
Herb Swanson for The New York Times
Exposed glacial silt has created an unlikely diversion for tourists in coastal Maine: a desert tour.
MAINE evokes ocean breezes, the smell of beach roses and the sight of lobster boats trawling for the evening catch. But a few miles from the coast in Freeport, there’s an anomaly that has delighted young children and intrigued curious adults for nearly 90 years. Called the Desert of Maine, it is not really a desert at all — but it sure looks like one. And although it is operated as a tourist attraction, this is no ersatz Sahara built of trucked-in sand and designer dunes. Nature laid it down, human error uncovered it, and the hucksters and gawkers arrived late in the game.
On a clear late-summer morning with temperatures in the low 70’s, the “desert,” which emerges incongruously from the surrounding green hills, shimmered at 90 degrees from the reflected heat of its shifting dunes. Walking to the middle of this silent expanse, you’ll find it difficult to believe you are anywhere in the eastern United States, let alone Maine.
Most visitors tour this otherworldly landscape — which takes up most of the Desert of Maine tourist attraction’s 47 acres — on 30-minute tram tours. But there are also easy hiking trails, and visitors can wander on their own. In places, dunes tower high above the trails, kept at bay by trees — the surrounding forest is the natural fence that keeps the sand from spreading.
The Desert of Maine is well known locally, according to Robert Doyle, a retired head of the Maine Geological Survey and former associate professor at the University of Maine at Augusta. “My father took me there when I was 10,” he said.
The story of this strange place began more than 10,000 years ago, Mr. Doyle explained, when the glaciers of the last Ice Age slowly scraped the soil and ground rocks into pebbles and then to a sandy substance known as glacial silt, forming a layer up to 80 feet deep in places in southern Maine. Then, over the centuries, topsoil formed a cap, concealing the “desert,” enabling forest to grow and, when settlers came to North America, supporting agriculture.
Enter William Tuttle, a farmer who bought 300 acres of prime farmland in 1797. Tuttle built a large post-and-beam barn on the site and operated a successful farm for decades, raising cattle and crops. His descendants added sheep to sell wool to textile mills. Poor crop rotation and overgrazing by sheep, which tear the plants out of the soil by the roots, resulted in soil erosion and something eerily beyond.
One day, a patch of sand the size of a dinner plate became exposed. It grew until the family became alarmed. But it was too late. The “desert” had made its entrance, and the more the soil eroded, the more the sand underneath was exposed.
THE Tuttles didn’t give up right away, and tried for years to fight the inevitable. But slowly the sand claimed the farm, swallowing buildings and pasture. By the early 20th century they abandoned the place. Proving that one person’s disaster is another’s gold mine, Henry Goldrup bought the farm in 1919 for $300 and opened it as a tourist attraction in 1925. It now attracts 30,000 visitors a year, according to Mary and Bob Kaschub, who work as tour guides.
The tram tour travels through the starkest portions of the desolate landscape, like the site of a springhouse, built in 1935, that was overtaken by sand by 1962 and is now invisible under eight feet of sand. Pine trees have adapted to the sand and seem healthy, with only their tops exposed and their trunks buried as much as 50 feet deep. The contrast is vivid between the brightness of the dunes and the surrounding forest.
Mica in the silt sparkles in the Maine sun. It also reflects heat, explaining the high temperatures in the middle of the sandy expanse. Readings of more than 100 degrees are not uncommon, Ms. Kaschub said.
Over several years as a tour guide, she has learned to respect the power of the sand. On one tour, a powerful gust of wind suddenly made it impossible to see and nearly impossible to breathe, she said. Visitors and staff had to cover their eyes, noses and mouths until the swirling sandstorm subsided several minutes later. Ms. Kaschub also pointed out trees that had been stripped of much of their bark, essentially sandblasted smooth from the wind. “Every year, I wonder, will the desert win, or will the forest win?” she mused.
On the day of our visit the air was still, making it easy to admire the area’s odd beauty and to feel sorry for the hapless Tuttles. They tried to make bricks out of the sand swallowing their farm, but because of the high mica content, the bricks just crumbled and fell apart. So the sparkling quality that helped make the place a tourist attraction essentially prevented its practical use.
Once the touring and hiking are done, there are more activities for children. A staff artist gives free lessons in fashioning art from the sand, which varies in color. For the purchase of a bottle for a few dollars and a quick lesson in shaping a sand creation, visitors can spend an absorbing hour creating a piece of the “desert” to bring home.
Also on the site are a museum with agricultural implements and a play area where children can search for colored stones that the staff has scattered on the sand.
In the 1950’s, the Desert of Maine kept a camel named Sarah to add to the desert atmosphere. It developed the unfortunate habit of biting and spitting at the tourists and was eventually sent to a zoo. Taking its place now are two life-size statues of camels, one lying down and the other standing. They are not nearly as interactive as Sarah was, but at least tourists who want a souvenir picture won’t have to worry about fending off a dromedary with anger management issues.
Dumb Laws in Florida
City Laws in Florida
Easy Rider – Dropping Acid
“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” is a song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was written and released in June 1967 to promote the Monterey Pop Festival
ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS-“SAN FRANCISCAN NIGHTS”
“San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” is a song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was written and released in June 1967 to promote the Monterey Pop Festival.
dave and myself in San Francisco
Live guitar music still warbles from street corners, tie-dyed t-shirts are hawked by the handful, the smell of pot permanently wafts, colorful peace signs adorn windows of businesses like the Red Victorian Bed & Breakfast — institutions better suited to an earlier time.
(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS)
But said nostalgia is often overshadowed by the sad realities of a neighborhood that has long since evolved from the remnants of a revolution: the wayward teenagers, the tourist traps, the vagabonds, the $6 corporate ice cream cones sold at precisely San Francisco’s most famous intersection.
During its heyday, which culminated in 1967’s infamous Summer of Love, young dreamers converged in the Haight by the thousands. Historians deem the neighborhood the birthplace of the hippie movement, marked by peaceful protests and psychedelic experimentation. The era’s greatest luminaries, from Jerry Garcia to Allen Ginsberg to Jimi Hendrix, all lived nearby.
Then the movement waned, and the area began to decay along with it. “By the fall of 1967, Haight-Ashbury was nearly abandoned, trashed, and laden with drugs and homeless people,” blogger Jon Newman wrote in his essay Death of the Hippie Subculture. “With the Haight in ruins and most of its residents gone, it was simply unable to operate as a hub for music, poetry and art.”
Of course, the Haight still has a certain appeal. There’s no better jazz-and-pizza combo in the city than at Club Deluxe, Amoeba Music offers a truly epic collection, a parklet just popped up in front of Haight Street Market and the 12-piece band that assembles in front of American Apparel on Sunday mornings always move crowds to dance in the street.
Yet we can’t help but heave a sigh while pushing past gaggles of gawking tourists or stepping over the man sleeping on the sidewalk at noon. While a stroll down Haight Street today certainly evokes nostalgia, it also makes us yearn for a place that was once the epicenter of peace and love and youth in revolt, a place we never had the chance to experience ourselves but will be forever engrained in San Francisco’s complex, progressive history.
A History Of Hippies
This is a short documentary about the Haight Street kids living in San Francisco.
It’s in Yellowstone National Park, and it’s actually named The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. At roughly 20 miles long, it features no less than three waterfalls for a sight that’s truly spectacular.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone that you see today is somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000 years old, which the National Park Service describes as “a very recent geologic feature.” It was cut by the Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the continental U.S.
The canyon varies from 800 to 1,200 feet deep — not as deep as the actual Grand Canyon, but we’ll take it.
PATCHIN PLACE, Greenwich Village
Patchin Place, a dead end squeezed onto the north side of West 10th Street between 6th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue, has its own intrinsic charms, but it’s notable because Manhattan has not had a great deal of dead-end alleys since 1900 at least, and likely long before that. Manhattan, which has always been paved over and rebuilt upon relentlessly, has given up many of its alleyways, some picturesque, some slummy and dangerous. This space is landmarked, so it’ll likely be here as long as Manhattan exists.
Patchin Place was created in 1848 or 1849 when Samuel Milligan, the owner of the parcel, decided to build ten townhouses facing each other across an alley. One (#4 Patchin Place) was built as a standalone building, with the rest attached to each other. Milligan’s daughter Isobel married his surveyor, Aaron Patchin, and his name was affixed to the alley, though it doesn’t turn up on maps by name until about 1885 (above). A smaller cul-de-sac issuing from 6th Avenue around the corner was named Milligan Place. It has been thought that the houses were originally built to house (mostly) Basque waiters at the now-demolished Brevoort Hotel on 5th Avenue, but the Brevoort was built in 1855. However the alley may well have been occupied by the workers at some point.
When Patchin Place and its houses were built by 1849, West 10th Street was still known as Amos Street: the principal heir of Sir Peter Warren, who owned the land in the colonial era, was Charles Christopher Amos, and those names were applied to streets when they were built through the area by 1800. Amos Street became West 10th Street in 1857.
Patchin Place is closed to traffic, but it’s built conventionally with a roadbed lined by two sidewalks. In the past, it’s possible that horses and carriages entered the alley and autos backed in and out, but that hasn’t been the case as long as I’ve known about Patchin Place. A gate sees to it that no cars enter, but the latch is usually open on the sidewalks to allow idlers and photographers like me to enter, as well as actual residents.
Tree-lined streets are a dime a dozen in the Village but very few have the reputation of the timeless Patchin Place. This small alley populated with three story row houses dates to the late 1840s but by the early 20th century it attracted writers who could have peace and quiet to work in the middle of bohemia. In the 1910s journalists John Reed and Louise Bryant lived there while Reed finished Ten Days That Shook World, his firsthand account of the Russian Revolution.
In 1923 E.E. Cummings moved into 4 Patchin Place and described it as having “Safety & peace & the truth of Dreaming & the bliss of Work“. Modernist writer Djuna Barnes, who left the Village in 1921 for Paris, returned in 1940 and moved into 5 Patchin Place where she lived until her death in 1982. There she lived the life of a recluse barely showing her face causing Cummings to routinely shout out his window “Are you still alive, Djuna?”Today Patchin Place remains mostly the same even retaining one of the few original gas street lamps minus the gas. The writers have since been replaced by pyschotherapists giving it the new designation of “Therapy Row”.
What: Patchin Place
Who: Djuna Barnes, E.E. Cummings, Louise Bryant, John Reed