Tag Archives: USA

Our Recipes /

Would You Dare Eat CheeseSteak Ice Cream?

“That’s possibly the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”

Michelle didn’t use these words lightly. She didn’t say this when I’d suggested we fly across the country to a park staffed by 108 dwarfs, or we hand-feed live animals to hungry tigers, or we train to become professional taxidermists.

But evidently Michelle has her limits, too.

She draws a line at Philadelphia Cheesesteak Ice Cream.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 32 Comments
Strange Tourism /

Collapsing Caves, Dead Spelunkers, Corpse Robbery, and Big Mike’s Mystery House

We stopped just outside of Mammoth Cave at Cave City, a deserted row of run-down attractions. It has teepee-shaped motels, kangaroo zoos, and a hilltop theme park called Gunsmoke Mountain where a rusty chairlift rocked in the rain.

“It’s like we’ve driven back to the 50s,” Laurie laughed.

At the end of Cave City, I’d heard, was a museum devoted to Floyd Collins, the most famous spelunker who ever lived.

His career was cut short in 1925 when a sand cave fell in, crushing a leg and trapping him.

And yet Floyd Collins was still alive. Friends could pass him food, and drink. Newspapermen could interview him. But they couldn’t get him out.

Collins became a national headline. Tens of thousands of sightseers crowded around, to witness the drama. Hawkers sold souvenirs. The scene was an absolute circus. (See Billy Wilder’s amazing “Ace in the Hole” for a vision of it.)

After four days, there was a second cave-in. And the hole disappeared.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Other Obscura /

Hartleyhenge, North Carolina’s Strange Stonehenge

We found this strange spiral of stones in the middle of a North Carolina field. “Welcome to Hartleyhenge,” said Scotty.

“I’m not even sure if Hartleyhenge is the real name,” he admitted, “but that’s what we call it around here.” There’s no sign, and no information. A friend of Scotty’s, John Hartley, built it years ago. There were poems by Rumi, Wendell Berry, and Carl Sandberg printed on the rocks. “I go among trees and sit still,” reads one poem, while another urges, “Drink all your passion, and be a disgrace.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Devoted Obsession /

A Tiny Roadside Village, Made From Quartz

In 1968, Henry L. Warren decided to do something special. He started building a tiny village on the side of the road, using white flint rock, concrete, and red brick. He called it “Shangri-La.”

“Wow,” said Scotty, jumping out of the Dart. “Look at all this quartz!” It was amazing. Warren had mined the rock himself using dynamite on his land, and built the town next to his own home on old highway NC86, forty minutes or so from Chapel Hill.

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/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment