Category: Strange Places

Strange Places

Save the (Plywood) Cows!

For sale: One herd of cows (ceramic, plywood, fabric, paint, etc.). Comes with a supply of warm, gooey cinnamon rolls and a classic cafe.

After 25 years, Jeanne Mae Barwick is retiring from Mae’s Phinney Ridge Cafe in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. She’s put the place up for sale, and threatens to close it in March or April if an appropriate buyer isn’t found.


There’s been a cafe at this location since the 1920s. But when Barwick took it over in 1988, she transformed it from a neighborhood destination into a city institution.

Michael Stern at describes it as “a multi-room cafe decorated everywhere with pictures, statues, blow-up dolls and every sort of nick-nack imaginable, all depicting cows (an ode to the proprietor’s Wisconsin roots).”

On weekend mornings, it can take as long as an hour to get seated. Besides the cinnamon rolls (baked in-house), it offers large portions of your basic American breakfast and lunch fare, plus such specialties as trout and eggs.

It closes at 3 p.m. daily; in offering the business for sale, Barwick notes a new owner could make more money by opening for dinner and offering alcohol.

In an email sent to customers, Barwick says she may hold an “open house and garage sale” at the cafe in March. Depending on what items a new owner may want to keep, the sale could include the cafe’s cow-shaped salt and pepper shakers “and other miscellaneous moo-morabilia.”

Barwick also says she’ll continue to host her popular “Karaoke Bingo” once a month at the Greenwood Senior Center.



Luxury hotel made entirely of salt

Check out this lavish hotel, made from salt.

Sitting on the edge of the largest salt flat in the world stands an amazing and unusual hotel and spa built with one million blocks of salt.

The Palacio de Sal, located in Bolivia, took two years to reconstruct after being dismantled in 2002 and almost everything is built from the salt flat. This includes the chairs, tables, beds and even the swimming pool and golf course. Hotel employees say that many guests are caught licking the walls or furniture just to make sure they are made of salt.
The hotel has 16 twin rooms and 8 double rooms, a sauna, steam room, whirlpool and of course, their own saltwater baths.

A hotel spokesperson states, “Our dining room is indescribable. Guests can enjoy our exclusive and exquisite meals prepared on the basis of salt, flame and lamb meat from the region, or salted chicken.”

Some parts of the hotel need to be maintained and rebuilt each year after the rainy season due to water damage.

Situated 12,000 feet above sea level, stunning sunsets and sprawling starry night skies are an every day event.

Bolivian Salt Hotel

Luna Salada

Spellbound in Seattle

Talisman Store

Having trouble with the bad neighbors next door and their barking dogs? Try throwing some special black salt over the fence and see what happens. No money? How about some “Attract Money Lucky Money Oil”? Having trouble selling a house? Try burying St. Joseph on his head near your “For Sale” sign.

If you luck is so bad lately that you think someone may have accidentally given you the evil eye and put a hex on you, get yourself over to El Talisman shop and get some of jinx-busting powder or lucky bubbles for your bath and start feeling better in no time.

Chock full of spell kits and Chakra oils, candles, Rosary beads and santos, plus herbal remedies, statuary and perfumes, this little shop tucked into a strip mall in Burien, 10 miles South of Seattle is sure to please and surprise anyone wanting to bring good luck into their life. El Talisman features fetishes, amulets, charms and potions and is located at 227 SW 152nd in Burien, just West of Seatac Airport.

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Obscura Day celebrated around the world April 28, 2012

Each spring, Atlas Obscura organizes a global event called Obscura Day.

On Obscura Day thousands of people, all over the world, go out and explore interesting and unusual places. Sometimes they organize the event, sometimes folks organize it themselves! Over the past two years nearly 10,000 people have attend over 200 different events on Obscura Day.

The Atlas Obscura is the definitive guidebook and friendly tour-guide to the world’s most wondrous places. User-generated and editor curated, the Atlas is a collaborative compendium of amazing places that aren’t found in your average guidebook.

And this month, Saturday, April 28th is Obscura Day, an international celebration of unusual places, full of expeditions, back room tours & explorations of the hidden wonders around the world.


Since we’re located in Seattle, we’ll tell you about Atlas Obscura’s two places in the Seattle area that are weird and wonderful enough to be included in the official Atlas Obscura Day celebration, the Official Bad Art Museum of Art and a tour of the Inscape Building and the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore.

Tour #1: Atlas Obscura Day at the Official Bad Art Museum of Art, sponsored by Hendricks Gin, a “Gin made Oddly”.

All day is Atlas Obscura Day at Cafe Racer and the Official Bad Art Museum of Art.

Doors open at 10AM Saturday, April 28th. Have breakfast, peruse the Bad Art in the OBAMA, enjoy some “Hendricks Obscure Punch”.

Schedule is as follows:

2:00pm View in amazement an incredible array of bugs, marine invertebrates, isopods and lepidoptera from “Bug Man” Don Ehlen.


3:00pm Musical performance by Operadisiac, a surreal opera comedy duo that is sure to delight


4:30pm Performance by God’s Favorite Beefcake, featuring Shmootzi The Clod of Circus Contraption fame, with music and sword swallowing and God knows what else.


6:00pm (or thereabouts) the Nu Klezmer Army will entertain with their honkin’ versions of old time favorites.

… The hijinks continue until 1am.

Tour #2: Tour of Inscape building and Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore
Peek into Seattle’s past with a tour of the city’s 77,000-square-foot former Immigration and Naturalization Services building, plus a visit to the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore for rare D.B. Cooper, UFO, and Bigfoot-related artifacts.


International Banana Club Museum

The International Banana Club was founded back in 1972 by Ken Bannister, T.B. (Top Banana). This clubs purpose is to keep you smiling, get you more attention and recognition, give you a vehicle to keep spirits up and stay in good health.

What looks like a banana-is curio shop to us, serves as a networking vehicle for the founder and other members.

After all, the banana is the only fruit shaped like a smile 🙂

International Banana Club on Atlas Obscura

Banana Blog

Cave dining in style

The Cave, located in Richland, Missouri, is the nation’s only restaurant located in (you guessed it) a cave, serving American steakhouse/seafood and Italian fare. The space may not get much natural light, but it has waterfalls, fish ponds, and even a view of the Gasconade River.

The space began as a natural cave that served as a dance hall in the 1920s, situated three stories up on a limestone bluff at a campground (visitors can still rent the cabins). Back then it was not spacious enough for 225 to dine, as it is today; the rest was carved and blasted out over the course of four years.

More weird restaurants from MSNBC

Steve Bard’s Weird House

If UNUSUAL is what you’re looking for, step right this way…

Our friend, Steve, is a great guy who has a thing about collecting unusual treasures to surround him in his home. The collection is incredible, astonishing, visually overwhelming, and sometimes disarming in nature. We’ve posted several times in the past about Steve’s passion for finding items which are unique, yet compliment other items in his multi-layered mix of visual spectacle. Today’s post is a video filmed by Unusual Life’s Marlow Harris. To say his home is a museum of wondrous treasures is an understatement. Marlow’s new video captures of the true essence of Steve’s incredibly strange home. Enjoy!

Steve invites you to take a tour of his Weird House in Seattle

Here are links to our previous posts featuring Steve and his home with many more photos and videos…

Steve’s Strange House ! – from August 2009

Comics, lawsuits, science fiction and a very unusual home from 4/07

Extreme Home Tour – November 2010

Slums into Rainbows

Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, known as Haas & Hahn, saw potential in places that most Brazilians view as unsightly, undesirable and terrifying. Favelas like Vila Cruzeiro and Santa Marta drip with sewage and ring with gunshots and police sirens, but Haas & Hahn wanted to give local residents a source of pride. The Favela Painting Project started with a huge mural called ‘Boy Flying a Kite’ and expanded into covering nearly every surface in Santa Marta with cheerful shades of green, blue, pink and yellow.

Slums into Rainbows

Extreme Home Tour

Gage Academy supporters recently took a tour of several artists homes and studios around the Seattle area in the Mighty Elvis Mobile. Hilarity ensued.

Gage Academy received a donation of $50 in gift certificates, so midway into our tour, we stopped at Dick’s Drive-in for lunch. Delicious!

We started the tour at Close Enough Engineering with Kim Hall and Steve Walker, then went on to the Paint-by-Number Salon and moved to the home and studio of Kelly Lyles, the home of Steve Bard and then ended the day at the beautiful home and studio of Ginny Ruffner.

Mountain Googie

Mountain Googie, originally uploaded by Chimay Bleue.

This unusual building is near Lake Tahoe in Incline City. This was originally an Orbit gas station and has been vacant since around 1998. They’ve been arguing about whether to demolish it or turn it into a Visitors Welcome center for years. Most locals are not fond of the building.

It’s a great example of Googie architecture, modern and eye-catching, awaiting the future in the land of tomorrow.