11 Quirky, Enlightening Cross-Country Road Trip Stops

If you make all these stops on your next soul-searching road trip, you're guaranteed to come out changed forever.

Want to find yourself and change your life?

America's expansive network of highways and freeways is the perfect place to discover your purpose in the world.

If you're planning on driving from sea to shining sea, you'll be following in the footsteps of countless soul-searching vagabonds, from Jack Kerouac to Chris McCandless—and you'll probably stumble upon some strange sights and profound revelations in the process.

Of course, truly finding yourself might require losing yourself, which might first require confronting your demons and past. But if you stop at all these destinations, you might just wind up changed... forever.

1. Ouija Board Headstone: Baltimore, Maryland

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Every journey of self-transformation has to start by confronting the ghosts of your past and the ghosts of those who traveled this way before you. You can literally do all this by visiting the grave of the man who created the Ouija board, Elijah Brown, in the Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore. This man patented the Ouija board in 1981, but it took until 2007 for someone to find his grave and paint it with his signature design.

You can ask the ghost of Elijah any questions you've been wanting to know, and then use his board to call your ancestors and figure out whether or not you were really an accident. This is the perfect way to begin your transformative road trip across the United States. You might even want to invite the ghosts you meet while in the graveyard—a 16th century milkmaid with dreams of being a burlesque dancer and a sensitive yet hilarious gay cave artist from the year 1 will be the perfect passengers to talk to once you start losing your mind somewhere around Arkansas.

2. Hell, Michigan

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After your trip, wouldn't it be amazing to say that you've been to hell and back—literally? Don't miss the chance to pass through Hell, Michigan. Hell is decked out with year-round Halloween decorations, studded with themed restaurants and bars, and mostly made up of idyllic rural landscapes that resemble classic portraits of Heaven more than anything truly demonic. Maybe the devil we were taught to believe in was actually trying to save us from a tyrannical God, and God kicked the devil out because he was scared of losing his throne to someone who actually had humanity's best intentions in mind?

3. Georgia Guidestones: Elbert County, Georgia

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As you take your road trip across America, which of course is really a soul-searching tour of the cornfields and kitschy roadside attractions that constitute the majority of your thoughts—even though you want to think you're more of a moonlit desert and mystical forest type of thinker—make sure to stop at the Georgia Guidestones. Comprised of 19 large white stones put together by a Georgia man in 1979, this peculiar sculpture is emblazoned with 10 apocalyptic messages written in eight different languages. These messages may just offer the wisdom you'll need to survive the end of the world slash climate change slash slash the end of who you used to be before your soul-searching trip.

4. The Gates of Guinee: New Orleans, Louisiana

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Now, every journey towards enlightenment and transformation requires what's known as a "dark night of the soul." An American road trip offers many opportunities for this dark night, wherein you can confront your shadow-self and the demons of the underworld in one sweep. One perfect place to do this is the Gates of Guinee in Louisiana, a series of seven gates which are supposedly portals to the voodoo underworld. In the French Quarter of New Orleans, each portal will expose you to a negative aspect of yourself, which you'll have to defeat through a series of mental and physical tests that will leave you breathless and shaking but well-prepared to be totally reborn.

5. Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail: Weldon Spring, Missouri

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While confronting your own demons, you'll also want to confront the demons of the land you're from. And if you're from or living in America, those demons will include a legacy of colonization, corruption, and—yes—nuclear warfare. Wade through the wreckage of this nation's pride and joy by climbing a mountain that contains the relics of the largest explosive factory in America, which shut down in 1960. After the factory closed, the EPA put all the contaminated rubble inside a spaceship-like tourist attraction. You can birdwatch, stargaze, or observe the ruins of civilization from atop the odd structure while contemplating your own complicity in systemic oppression and violence. Resolve to protest by attending one monthly meeting when you head back to Brooklyn, and move on.

6. The World's Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things: Lucas, Kansas

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As you approach Kansas, your perception of the world might start to shift and things might start looking topsy-turvy. This is part of the process; you're letting go of who you used to be, of everything you were told to be when you grew up in your cloistered suburban northeastern town, and you're learning to reevaluate your entire worldview. The World's Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things will certainly resonate with your distorted but slowly transforming perception of the time-space continuum.

Erika Nelson, the owner of this mobile home, takes photos of all the "World's Largest" objects in the world and rebuilds tiny replicas of them, and you can see all of them in this museum. It's actually also the perfect metaphor for how every atom in our bodies is a perfect microcosm of the universe.

7. Spoon and Cherry: Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Now that you've faced your demons and walked through the fire, it's time for some sweet rewards. Rediscover life's truest pleasures by visiting the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which features a gigantic spoon topped with a tremendous cherry on top. Sometimes the sweetest things in life are the littlest things, which are even sweeter when they're gigantic versions of the littlest things, so treasure every moment and use this visit to learn to live in the present, so that every moment expands instead of slipping away. Observe every detail—let the sun patterns dappling your dashboard, the dead insects piled underneath the windshield wipers, the coffee stains on your passenger seat, and the strange stain on your motel pillowcase that sort of resembles Jesus Christ grow heavy with symbolism. Magnificent, right?

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas: Arlee, Montana

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Now that you've confronted the shadows of your past and your nation, and revamped your understanding of space and time, you can begin the process of seeking out enlightenment and changing your life and subsequently the world around you. Montana's Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is located in the Flatland Indian Reservation in Lake County, Montana, and is meant to be a pilgrimage location in the Western hemisphere, so it's perfect for your spiritual quest. The statues are arranged in a circular formation to represent the "wheel of dharma," which in turn represents the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that forms of the core of Buddhist cosmology. To escape the wheel, you'll need to actually become a Buddha, which takes many lifetimes and a great deal of meditation—but seeking out a shrine and downloading Headspace is a good place to start.

8. The Thing: Rotterdam, Arizona

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As you drive through the desolate Arizona desert on Interstate 10, you might start seeing signs for something referred to only as "The Thing." What is The Thing? You'll have to take Exit 312 to find out… but unless you do, you'll be stuck with the endless mystery of life buzzing in your ear like a mosquito, filling your mind with unanswerable questions and unfathomable truths.

If you reach The Thing, you will discover that some questions will never be answered, by religion or by philosophy. Learning to make peace with this is a vital step on your journey. As you make your way to the mystery of the Thing, to that dark warehouse where the Thing that is Nothing resides, you'll learn to let go of your desire to know it all. Let go of the idea that you know anything or that you require physical evidence of meaning, your own or the universe's, and embrace the beauty of life's mystery.

9. The Fremont Troll: Seattle, Washington

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The eighteen-foot Fremont Troll has been lurking under a bridge in Seattle since 1990, and it's always been shrouded in strange folklore and legends, making it a roadside destination popular with anyone seeking to tempt fate.

According to one legend, it was sculpted by the gods to bring protection to the area. According to another, once a villain pushed a Volkswagon off the bridge—and the troll caught it, and has held the Volkswagen in a parallel dimension beneath the bridge ever since. The Troll will most likely have some blessings and words of wisdom for you, so be sure to stop by before you reach your final destination. It may even teach you to laugh at yourself a bit, like the best of Trolls, and that may be the most important lesson of all.

10. Salvation Mountain: Imperial County, California

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Once you've passed through the haunted pine barrens of New Jersey—and through winding, probably nonexistent liminal space of the midwest—and once you've at last fought through the searing depths of Death Valley—you'll find yourself rising out of the dust, nearing the sea, approaching Salvation. Mountain, that is. This California roadside attraction is proof that you've fought through Hell and are well on your way to redemption.

Created by a local named Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain is a pastel-colored adobe pastiche located about 80 miles south of Palm Springs. It's the perfect place to mark the end of your journey and the beginning of your new life. Kneel before Christ and realize you're worthy of this new life and of salvation, and know that you will carry these lessons and this spark of hope and deep love with you for the rest of your days, until you, too, can become a ghost who visits young road trippers who stop to ask for advice at Elijah Brown's grave.

After your visit, you can make your way to the ocean, drive your rental car into the waves, and let the salt strip you clean of all the layers of dirt you and your vehicle have accumulated. Wave goodbye to all the ghostly friends you've made and let them rejoin the ocean waves and pass over to heaven (which was Hell all along). Then you can move back to New York, self-publish a memoir about how your trip changed you, and get on with your life.

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Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

Hostelworld HostelworldHostelworld.com

Translator

A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.

Pilot

A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!

Seattle, Washington is a rainy, coffee-fueled, coastal town often referred to as the "Emerald City."

Located against the ecological wonderland of Puget Sound, this cosmopolitan, seaside city is a mishmash of arts, culture, history, nature, and, of course, cloudy weather. Thanks to its proximity to nature, its greenery, and its culturally rich, big-city atmosphere, the city is becoming increasingly popular, both for tourists and those looking for a change of scenery.

The Big Stops: Tourist Seattle

If you only have a few days to visit Seattle, you'll probably want to check out the area's most famous attractions.

For nature lovers and summit-chasers, there's the imposing, wildflower-shrouded Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainierthebesttravelplaces.com

Mt. Rainier

For foodies, there's the popular Pike Place Market, a giant patchwork of food-sellers and friendly chaos where you can purchase everything from giant crabs' legs to bottomless amounts of coffee (more on that later).

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And finally, there's the iconic Space Needle and the Sky View Observatory, which will give you extraordinary views of the city.

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Seattle Arts and Museums

For arts and culture lovers, Seattle has plenty to cut your teeth on. Don't miss the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of extraordinary blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

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Chihuly Gardens

For art, there's the giant Seattle Art Museum Downtown. Seattle also offers the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit that features all your favorite icons from history, and plenty of other options.

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For some history, there's the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, which commemorates Seattle's history as a gold rush hub.

There are plenty of quirky attractions—like the giant Fremont Troll, the 18-foot sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood that cuts an imposing figure.

Fremont Trollsillyamerica.com

You could also take in the city from a boat—marine enthusiasts might enjoy visiting to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to explore the history of this port city.

Seattle, of course, also has a gritty underground side—you may know the city from its time at the heart of the '90s grunge movement.

It also has a long, storied history that has left more than a few scars. You can literally see its underground through one of its underground tours, which will take you on a walk through the "buried city," the remnants left over from before the Great Fire of 1889.

Seattle Undergroundpinterest

Natural Wonders

Seattle is notorious for its natural wonders. For a close-up view, there's the Seattle Aquarium, a marine experience that showcases the best of what Puget Sound has to offer.

For more exposure to the beauty of Seattle's nature, try the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre showcase of Seattle's wetlands and natural wonders.

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You might also pay a visit to the Alki Beach for some time with the ocean waves.

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Or consider taking a more exhaustive adventure to Discovery Park, a giant and labyrinthine natural park at the edge of Puget Sound.

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Food and Drink

Food tours are also popular options for those who want to get more intimate with the city's cuisine, and Seattle is often ranked as one of the best cities for foodies.

It's also a great place for coffee-heads. You might also pay a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, AKA Ultimate Starbucks, a tasting room that features a coffee library amongst other treats for coffee addicts.

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Moving to Seattle

If you're planning on moving to Seattle, locals say there's a few things you should know. First off, it is most definitely overcast the majority of the time, though the rain is rather like a mist. That makes the rare sunny day shine even more, though, locals say, in addition to fostering natural abundance.

The city is generally very congested with traffic, which can be noisy, though it offers great public transportation options, from buses to rail—regardless, you'll want to get an Orca Card for that.

Like every city, Seattle has a number of diverse and charismatic neighborhoods. For example, there's the beachy, more laid-back West Seattle.

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There's the vibrant Capitol Hill, a hub of arts, culture, tech bros, and nightlife (during non-COVID times).

There's the historic and artsy Pioneer Square, featuring plenty of museums, shops, galleries, and pubs.

Pioneer Square SeattleExpedia

Fremont is a more bohemian area. Belltown is a trendy waterfront neighborhood that's close to everything.

In general, Seattle residents love the city for its proximity to nature, from beaches to glaciers, and its abundance of arts and cultural attractions. As Kimberly Kinrade said, "Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it." Residents dislike the steep cost of housing and all things that come from rising prices, including the city's large homeless population.

In general, the city is known as environmentally conscious, liberal, and dog-loving. The people are often referred to as nice but possibly a bit standoffish and cold (the "Seattle Freeze" is when you make plans to hang out and then bail, which is apparently very common). The rain can certainly get depressing, but the proximity to nature helps.

Remember, if you do happen to move: umbrellas are dead giveaways for tourists.


What's your favorite part about Seattle? What did we leave out? Let us know at @thejourniest on Twitter!

Travel

Weed World Candies Exist to Prey on Gullible Tourists

Weed is still illegal in New York, but scamming tourists is not.

You wouldn't know it walking around midtown Manhattan, but marijuana is still illegal in New York.

It does seem strange to think that perhaps the most metropolitan city in the US would be lagging behind so many other parts of the country that have legalized possession, production, and sale of cannabis and THC products, but it's true.

New York's decriminalization of marijuana has led many smokers to be more brazen with their public consumption in recent years, and Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for limited legalization for recreational use at the state level. But for the time being the sale of products containing THC is still very much illegal.

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Adding to the confusion is a company that has sprung up to prey on tourist's uncertainty. Weed World trucks have multiplied at a staggering rate since they first started appearing in Midtown and the Village a few years ago. Easily a dozen RVs and vans now line the tourist-dense streets of Manhattan, advertising Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue, clad in marijuana-leaf decals and occupied by employees who are paid either to be stoned out of their minds, or just to pretend they are.

With eyes nearly in slits and an air of relaxation that suggests that customers are temporary interludes from a permanent nap, they will promise you as much as they can get away with while letting their branding do most of the work. They will sell you four lollipops for $20, which would seem like a great deal if not for the fact that they will not deliver on the strong implication that they'll get you high.

They have a Twitter account where they celebrate the supposed availability of weed and claim to "have New York locked down." They'll even sell you vape cartridges that advise you to "get medicated," and which are packed with potent doses of… flavor?

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An employee once assured me that their candies do contain THC—maybe they wouldn't be so brazenly dishonest today—and in a drunken state I coughed up $5 to test that claim. There is a faint weedy taste to their candies, and you may find trace amounts of CBD inside, but that's it. It's a scam. There is no THC. Nothing that will give their customers the experience they're selling.

Worse than the trucks is the Weed World Candies storefront that opened in midtown in 2019. Just walking past you would swear that people were passing a massive blunt inside.

The smell is unmistakable and overpowering, except that it's fake. Whatever chemical fragrance they pumped onto the street, it was not connected to anyone smoking weed. Inside, the psychedelic wall art complemented shelves lined with suggestive candies and boxes emblazoned with pot leaf insignia.

Whatever the venue, they are all too happy to sell you overpriced hemp products and CBD creams and chocolates made to look like nugs. And if you're a tourist, or a moron like me, you might believe the scam long enough to give them money, but nothing they sell will get you high.

weed world store Hiroki Kittaka

The owners of Weed World, Judah Izrael and Bilal Muhammad—who prefers to go by "Dro Man" or "Doctor Dro"—will defend their products by claiming that they serve to promote legalization and decriminalization efforts by normalizing the idea of public sale of marijuana. But at no point in the purchasing process is the illusion that their candies will get you high broken. At no point are their customers offered literature explaining the mission of Weed World.

On their website's FAQs page, there is no mention of THC or its absence from their products, but the first question, "How much should I eat?" is answered, "It's all based on your tolerance but there's no limit." Tolerance for what? Sugar? The company—which originated in Alabama and has spread to cities around the country—mostly seems like a very profitable way to sell candy to gullible adults.

weed world wall art Nicole Mallete

The best thing I can say in their defense is that one of their trucks was recently busted by police in Saraland, Alabama, with products that "tested positive for marijuana." Assuming this isn't a screw up or deliberate frame-job by the police, it's possible that some of the Weed World trucks are using their faux activism as a front for selling actual drugs. If so, that would be the most honest thing about this company. Until that's confirmed, ignore these trucks and maybe just ask a friend for a hookup.