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

flickr.com

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

outtheremonthly.com

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

doney.net

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

seattletimes.com

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

salvationmountain.com

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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10 Endangered Animals to Weep Over

Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



SPONSORED

Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.