Seeking Story Submissions for New Atlas Obscura Video Series

Attention Atlas Obscura readers! We’re working on a series of mini-documentary snapshots of the country’s most far-flung and inspiring wonders, based on our community’s firsthand adventures. We want to hear your stories of inspiration, discovery, and revelation on the open roads of the United States. We’re looking for stories that meet the following requirements:

  • It involves a specific destination.
  • The destination is in the U.S.A.
  • The location is drivable, either in the wild or in the city.
  • You can provide photographic proof of your trip (think Instagram pics).
  • Your story needs to include: things you learned about the place or tips/hacks, etc, and a description of the most unforgettable moment of your journey.

If you’ve got a story that you think would be a good fit, post it in the comments below, and we’ll contact you if it is chosen for the project. Please include any pictures you have of the journey as well. Help Atlas Obscura bring your great travel stories to life.

2 Likes

On a road trip from Philadelphia to New Orleans a few years ago, my boyfriend and I drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopped by one of the most magical places in America – the Craggy Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a one-mile hike up a mountain trail, and if you come at the right time of year, you’ll be walking through a tunnel of hot-pink rhododendrons. We came juuuust on the tail end of flower season, so rather than a tunnel of blooming flowers, the trail was instead carpeted with the fallen pink blossoms, which was still beautiful. Then, through this shaded trail, you emerge into the sunlight to stand at a plain at the peak of the mountain, known as a bald. You have a 360 degree view of the entire Smokey Mountain range before you. Because the bald is so windswept, it takes on an Impressionistic quality – the grass looks straight out of a Monet painting and the trees, gnarled and bent in wild ways from years of fighting the wind, look like something out of Van Gogh. But the best part is that the rhododendron bushes are tunneled with secret passageways. If you are a petite person, you can crawl through and find yourself hidden in the shaded undergrowth of the bushes. It is the perfect place to steal away with a romantic partner. Or find out where Totoro lives.

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You had me at Totoro.

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My partner and I were driving to Pittsburgh from Baltimore for her Birthday. We had the trip all planned out with plenty of stops at interesting Atlas Obscura entries, such as the giant coffee pot and the birthplace of the banana split. The journey was long, and we were experiencing a mid-trip slump. We were hungry, we had taken a few wrong turns, and we needed to get re-energized. We decided to power through to some destinations before stopping, and took a route that wasn’t what GPS recommended. Out of nowhere on a tiny road we passed a field dotted with tiny buildings. We caught enough of it to pique our interest, so we pulled a u turn as soon as we could and headed back.

What we found was pure magic. We pulled behind a big garage that offered parking, and he wandered into the field. The buildings that we saw dotting the landscape were miniature recreations of a town, from a church and a general store to a restaurant and a gas station. Stretching across a large field, there was so much to see that we spent way too long looking through the windows, exploring the setting, and just drinking it in. At the far end, a bridge crossed a river to a miniature crab shack. There were car parts decorating random trees. A bonfire was circled by rainbow colored chairs. It was so mystical that it resparked our excitement, and truly struck us with wonder.

On our way back out, the owner opened the garage door and greated us. His name is Denny, and he created everything here by hand, for no other reason that just wanting to. He was impassioned by this project, and it showed in how he talked about it. It apparently took him 50 years to create everything in that field, and it showed.

After that, we knew the rest of the trip was going to be amazing. You dont just stumble across something like that every day, and it was only the beginning of the amazing weekend we had.

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It was all because of Bigfoot. My wife and I had driven from Seattle to California down the Pacific Coast Highway visiting various monuments to Sasquatch History, and any other bizarre alligator man or troll bridge we came across along the way. We’d already been on the road for days, pausing frequently to stare in awe at the mountains holding back the Pacific Ocean. Our destination was the Bigfoot Motel in Willow Creek, California, and we still had a long drive through rugged mountains ahead of us and wanted to reach Eureka before dark.

We’d spotted elk from the highway already, but it was either a lone animal crossing the road, or a small group in the distance. We were not prepared to come around a bend in the road and see a full herd grazing in a field spotlit by the golden-hour sun. This was Elk Meadow, and a hundred years in the past a farmer planted the field for his cattle in this valley. No trace of the farm remains, except the non-native grass that still dominates the field. The elk love it. There were dozens of animals of every age. Some were tagged. None cared about the people watching at a very short distance.

The animals graze here with such regularity that signs have been erected warning onlookers to stay back. The only Bigfoot we saw on this trip were carved from redwood, but after two decades traveling those highways back and forth across this country, discovering that herd of elk was the greatest moment of all.

SCOTT NERY’S BOOBY TRAP - The Life of a modern day circus ringleader

Location: LA

Every Wednesday evening Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap takes over an old back alley Hollywood Boulevard theater with an eclectic lineup of performers, all led by its host, a wildly entertaining contortionist-juggler-oddball.

For over 156 consecutive weeks, Scot Nery has produced, curated and (when he’s not traveling the world performing and looking for new talents) served as master of ceremonies in his very unique variety show. Every Wednesday features multiple performers: Cirque Du Soleil acrobats, Magic Castle magicians, comedians with specials on Netflix and Comedy Central, among many other talents. Not to mention the occasional oddball that defies categorization.

Scot Nery is a renowned juggler, comedian, contortionist, performance artist, and host. We will get a look at what it takes to put on this show, find and book the strangest acts and try and understand why Scott does what he does as well as show some highlights from a show.

3 More Pitches

Pitch: The man behind the Pirates of the Caribbean Airbnb in Topanga canyon

Summary We will take a tour of this tropical guest house in Topanga Canyon. As seen on Cody Simpson & Ziggy Marley’s video, “Love” on YouTube. Well also talk to Darrell, the man responsible for this Airbnb. He is a native to California, owns an antique & vintage clothing store in Topanga Canyon.

Characters He has lived in Topanga Canyon since the 70s and has spent many years creating this one of a kind environment. He says, My place is like a combination of the Swiss Family Robinson & the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

Pitch: Slab City

Summary In the Sonoran Desert there is a place called Slab City. The residents here live amongst the concrete slabs that remain here from the abandoned WWII Marine Corps barracks of Camp Dunlap and many camp here for a season and move on.Thousands of mostly older campers stay here during the winter to escape the cold and live amongst a group of around 150 permanent residents.

Characters In Slab city there is a habitable art installation known as East Jesus. They have no religious affiliation, and the place began in 2007 and was founded the gathering; living there until he passed away in ‘11. East Jesus strives to take waste and create useful art from it and share their message with the many tourists that visit. We will talk with permanent residents and some of the visitors.

Pitch: Zorthian Ranch

Summary
The cobbled together compound of a deceased artist which now serves as a filming location. The ranch is a strange compendium of rusting vehicles, roaming llamas, junk and free spirits enjoying free rent.

It is the once-home of artist Jirayr Zorthian, who died in 2004 at the age of 92. Zorthian and his first wife purchased the land and they began building structures and spaces from found objects.

Characters
While Jirayr Zorthian has passed away, his aesthetic legacy at Zorthian Ranch is kept alive by his son, Alan Zorthian, who still resides on the property along with a number of other wandering creatives. We will talk with Alan, get a tour of the ranch and see what life is like here.
In addition to the artistic installations, the ranch also houses a number animals such as horses and goats.

This is amazing! What serendipity to find this out of the blue. I am going to visit my friend in Baltimore next spring or summer and he’s always up for a road trip so would you share with me where this is, please?

Its about two hours outside of Pittsburgh, so its a little far for just a little trip if you’re visiting Baltimore, sadly.

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Hi Vandeverb! Megan, from Atlas Obscura, here. Are these all places you’ve visited?

Hi Megan,

Thanks for getting back to me on the story submissions!
Yes I have been to all those places and would love to collaborate on a video if any are of interest to you.

Thanks for your time.
Bart