California’s Oddities


Tessa H., Staff Writer

     California is home to some of the world’s interesting places — some well known, some off the beaten path, all forged from human imagination. If you’re tired of the usual touristy spots, try to explore these unusual destinations.

     Firstly, the Bubblegum Alley in downtown San Luis Obispo is a must visit — for people who don’t get grossed out that easily. This 15-foot high and 70-foot long alleyway’s walls are blanketed in layers of chewed gum stuck on by passersby. While the origins of the accumulation of gum are disputed (some say it was the result of a rivalry, while others claim it started from a graduation event), it has prevailed through multiple cleaning attempts. The unusual alley has been featured on many programs and in newspapers, addressing either the delight or disgust of visitors. The canvas-like walls feature art made out of gum or gum wrappers, such as abstract faces, hearts, flowers, and even notes.

     Another rather mysterious place to visit is the Mystery Spot, located near Santa Cruz and the California Redwood forest. Once inside the mind-boggling wooden house, visitors can experience demonstrations that appear to defy gravity! This anomaly is known as a gravity hill, because the slanted and atypical proportions of the house cause our brains to misinterpret the height of objects. And, if your mind needs a break from the confusing angles, there is also a hiking trail and a dahlia garden in the Mystery Spot.

     Want to find a place with a fascinating story? Look no further than Nitt Witt Ridge in Cambria, a house made with everything from beer cans to abalone shells to rusted car parts. This landmark was constructed by a man named Arthur Robert Beal, who bought his lot and, for the next 50 or more years, worked on creating his residence, dubbed the ‘castle on a hill’. Since Beal was a garbage collector for the city, he decided that he would make good use of what people were throwing away — a perfect example of one person’s trash is another’s treasure. The precarious house and its garden, filled with knick knacks and humor, is open for tours.

     If you fancy ghost towns, you should tour the Calico ghost town! Founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, it was abandoned and later restored to the state of its peak time. Yet, some of the original structures are still standing. Right now, the park offers mine tours, stunt shows, trinket stores/restaurants, and — of course — gold panning. Some other attractions include the Calico and Odessa Railroad, a heritage railroad, and the Calico Cemetery, which gives insight into the mining community that lived there long ago.

     Lastly, Charlie Brown Farms is a quirky roadside shop in Littlerock that has everything — from jerky and Dole Whips to dinosaur toys and vintage goodies. While it started as a small fruit stand, it is now filled with unique candy and gifts that are perfect for presents.

     In conclusion, California’s many oddities stem from intriguing stories. Are you looking for somewhere to go that is different from the usual trip? Give these places a visit.