Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Yesterday was an awesome holiday that I had never heard of till today. Obscura day. Created by Atlas Obhscura it is a celebration of the weird and less known hiding out in our back yard. A celebration of the curious, a holiday of the hidden, an excursion for the eerie. How did I not know about this until it was over? I talk about weird places all the time and even have a running thread called Geek Obscura.
The way you celebrate is just go to one of the many places that are participating. Here in the Portland environ there were three participants. Two of which I had already been too.
DCotU fav Frekybuttrue: The Peculirium- had a staring contest. The Peculirum is this ice-cream store with a demonstration of spontaneous human combustion and alien abduction displays. I love this place on normal days but the idea of a hoard of peculiar people staring at each other is just my kind of sporting event.
The Shanghai Tunnels gave a special tour. Well the last 300’ that remains of the Shangri tunnels. These relics of the past use to run under the city of Portland Oregon, not originally intended for nefarious purposes, but to drain water from storms into the Willamette River.
The one place that celebrated yesterday I have not been too is the nuclear reactor at Reed College the only reactor in the world mostly run by undergrads. For Obscura Day they gave tours of the reactor.
This is what I think a typical conversation between undergrads in Oregon who run their own nuclear reactor.
Ungraded 1: Hey, dude you want to like collide these super heavy particle together and see if they make any appendages glow?
Undergrad 2: Sure, due, just let me finish of this plate of pot brownies first.
I am sure Reed College is much more responsible with their isotopes than I am portraying but that is still the way I think about it.
These are the three local institutions that chose to participate with Obscura Day, there was 149 participants worldwide, but there are a lot of places you can go to in Portland to discover the obscure.
31 foot metal and concrete statue of Paul Bunyan. Built in 1959 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Oregon’s statehood. I talked to someone who lived here all there life and they didn’t know we had a mega-logger. It is supposed to overlook someplace that they held a big agriculture conference a longtime ago. In reality like everything else in Portland it overlooks a strip club. It is in front of a Wells Fargo. I like to think that if someone tries to rob the bank it would glow green and kick the robbers butts with his mighty ax.
Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park and Portland’s official Leprechaun sanctuary. You could probably jump over it but then you would land smack in the middle of traffic. Some town in England said we couldn’t count it as a park because it didn’t have a fence and animals. So someone took a toy farm set and gave it a fence and plastic animals. Score one Portland.
In the Candy Basket a snack store in Portland there is the world’s largest indoor waterfall of chocolate. OK, so someone made a bigger one somewhere so it is no longer the largest. But who cares IT IS AN INDOOR WATERFALL OF CHOCHOLATE. Why are you still reading this and not on some travel site buying your ticket to Portland right now.
Portland is famous for its “plop art” statues that just look like we plopped them there on the street. But The Green Man of Portland is special. These statues and signs are designed by comic book writer Daniel Duford, tell the story of a person being shot by a magical arrow from the Green Man of Portland, and they can now see the magical world that is hidden by modern Portland. It is concept art becoming a 3D geographical comic book.
Though most of Portland’s max is above ground The Washington station is North America’s deepest subway station. At 260 below the ground it is one of the world’s deepest. And you can take an elevator up to the awesome Oregon zoo. On the wall is a timeline so you can see what was happened in the world since the last time a specific spot was on the surface.
So even though only a few places around the world participated in the official Obscura day, there are thousands of things you could discover in your back yard every day. And who knows maybe you will find something about yourself.