Visit Your Own Country!

I have not traveled the world as much as I would wish (who has?), but I have been lucky enough to see parts of Canada, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and Spain. I have also been lucky enough to grow up with a mother who thought that traveling my own country, the United States, could be equally edifying. The list of states that I have not visited (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, North and South Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii – 11 out of 50) is actually much shorter than those I have, and I’ve even managed to actually live in eight (Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, New Mexico, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, and California), but I still hope to see them all in time.

Recently I dreamt that I stole a car and careened off across the states, visiting all manner of crazy sites before the police caught up with me thanks to credit card receipts. In just such an insane spirit, then, here are a few places that are on my list…

The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California, features 110 different themed rooms, including “Caveman,” “Fabulous Fifties,” “Kona Rock,” and “Safari.” The tacky appeal is endless.

The Amargosa Opera House, founded, designed, and performed in by the multitalented 84-year-old ballerina Marta Becket, is located in Death Valley Junction, California. Get tickets sooner rather than later.


Mitchell, South Dakota’s Corn Palace, originally established in 1892, is made of corn. I first saw the Corn Palace at 2 a.m. one morning, falling asleep in front of the Weather Channel, and thought I had hallucinated it. It would certainly make a great setting for a creepy, corn-themed horror film.


Carhenge, in western Nebraska, is a reproduction of Stonehenge, but made with gray-painted vintage automobiles. Check out its eerie power…


South of the Border, located in Dillon, South Carolina, is a complex of shops, restaurants, and other attractions (a dozen weddings performed every weekend in the summer!). SOB combines the best of the old South and old Mexico. I think.

Finally, I had to include York’s Wild Kingdom, in southern Maine, for old time’s sake. It’s a rather grimy little amusement park and zoo that only a child might love – or at least this child. Wild Kingdom was also home to my imaginary childhood tiger-friend, Tigerolly – another story entirely.

So, there are a lot of wild places to visit in this enormous country. Go out and find some, and let me know all about it.