Sure, sure, everyone’s a winner in life but that ain’t so when it comes to tourist spots.
Perhaps the fact that I seek out the odd and off-the-beaten-path destines me for a few duds. In case you’re as delightful as I am when hot and disappointed, let me spare you the time of going to these 6 dud destinations.
1. Unclaimed Baggage Center, Scottsboro AL. You fly on Delta and lose your luggage. Bummer. But not for the folks who come through Scottsboro: score! The size of a city block, this depressing, fluorescent-lit, cement floor, thrift-shop-on-steroids has everything you can think of. Skis, tennis rackets, golf clubs, luggage (of course), eReaders, smart phones, perfume, jewelry (costume and gem), clothes, shoes, baby strollers, toys, books…and wedding dresses. They were ugly, but they were still wedding dresses. Oh how I hoped they were lost after the wedding and not before.
In my mind the store was very different from the reality: everything had that twinkle that comes at the end of a commercial. In my imagination it would be a scavenger hunt and not rifling through someone’s frustration and loss. Took a lap around the store with my friend and we were gone in 30 minutes, if that long.
2. Rural Studio, Hale County AL. Auburn University sends its architecture students to a nearby county to put their work to, well, work. Instead of just models, they build low income homes and fire stations. Instead of always thinking about luxurious materials, they learn to build stylish homes on a strict budget. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Survey says: eh, not what you expected.
Those stylish low income homes–can’t see em. They’re private residences (which makes perfect sense). The public buildings turn out to be…buildings. So while it’s cool that they were designed by students and look pretty, they aren’t the dynamic and quirky architecture the website pictures promised. Proximity: no such thing. You’re driving down the long and winding road, often unpaved, and uncertain of where exactly you are. Thankfully, the GPS knows. The GPS doesn’t know whether to turn left or right out of a gas station, but it does know exactly where you are in rural Alabama. And I suppose if I had to choose between the two, I’d pick the latter.
Friend Regina wanted to see the chapel made from car windows. Sounds awesome! And as a structure it was. But as a space it was depressing. We deduced/presumed that the community of 20ish families live where former sharecroppers lived. Those homes were long gone and were replaced with sheds-as-houses or trailers. Yet the cars they drove were top brands, shiny, showy. The contrast stunned me and I learned a lesson in fronting with your car and clothes when your reality is far from that perception.
The chapel was intended to be an outdoor structure, with a dirt floor. And we were certain that the only way G-d’s name was uttered inside was during sex.
3. Bee City, Cottageville SC. OK, not only are there working bee hives, but they’re housed in tiny buildings to look like Main Street USA? Oh hell yeah!
Ummm, where exactly are all the bees? There’s just a petting zoo. Sad Paula returns to her car.
4. U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis MD. I don’t get it; it’s a college. Why is it in the tourist books?
5. Edgar Allen Poe’s House, Philadelphia PA. The Telltale Heart couldn’t beat after going to this spot because it would have been heartbroken. This. Is. Simply. His. House…Sigh. He ate breakfast in this room. He slept in this room, but we don’t know for sure and don’t have any furniture so here’s an artist’s rendering of period pieces. He climbed these stairs.
There’s no romance, no mention of him as a man and how he came to write these terrifying and spectacular tales. There’s a raven statue. Zipadeedoodah. I wanted to build a brick wall and bury someone behind it after discovering what a letdown this place is. (Just to be clear, I’m not homicidal, that’s a reference to the Cask of Amontillado.)
6. World’s Largest Kaleidoscope, Mount Tremper NY. So much potential and they wasted it on cartoons. Yup, cartoons of Presidents and Marilyn Monroe and Jimi Hendrix. It was verrrrry patriotic, which I don’t mind. But in a creepy, trippy way. And that’s not the way I typically take my God Bless America.
And there we have it. Out of all the places that I’ve loved, or merely liked, only six have been marked as duds (so far). They all had such promise, didn’t they? So, you’re welcome–for saving you the time, money, and disappointment.
What dud destinations have you encountered?