I don't know where the summer went. Here it is, the end of summer, and we haven't been anywhere to speak of. While all our friends took off for places like Bali, Hawaii, Mexico and New York, we spent the summer in the backyard, dreaming of the exotic vacations we were missing.

Desperate to get out of town before completely giving up on adventurous travel, we packed up the RV, grabbed the grandkids and waved goodbye to our neighbors. At last, it was our turn to see the sites, buy souvenirs and bring home slideshows to post on Facebook.

Mystery Spot, here we come!

I hadn't been to the Mystery Spot since my kids were kids. And that was my second visit. My parents took my siblings and me to this popular tourist attraction when we were kids, so the place has been around for a long time -- since 1941 to be exact. It hasn't changed much, other than the addition of a snack shack, gift shop, ticket booth, expanded parking lot and picnic tables.

The "geological anomaly" itself is tiny -- only 150 feet in diameter -- but as soon as you enter, you feel like you're in another world, where "the laws of physics and gravity do not apply." The brochure claimed we'd see "water flow upward," "children taller than their parents," and "people walking up walls." How could we not show these amazing scientific wonders to our grandchildren?


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We headed for the redwood forest just outside of Santa Cruz with our prepurchased tickets, prepared to be "stunned, amazed, and perplexed." After a brief history lesson about how the crooked cabin came to rest on this crooked spot. Then, before our very eyes, we saw demonstrations of "impossibility," with answers that "lie beyond the scope of science."

I came out of there feeling like I'd been on the Teacup Ride at Disneyland, dizzy to the point of nausea. While the grandkids oohed, and aahed, I burped and swayed and held on tight to the railing, certain I would lose my lunch on the tilted floor.

Naturally, people wanted an explanation for the phenomenon. The guide gave her practiced spiel. "Carbon dioxide permeating from the earth ..." (We're breathing this?) "A hole in the ozone layer ..." (Global warming?) "Buried cones of metal awaiting a spacecraft ..." (Of course! Aliens!)

The guide did her best not to disillusion us from the visual illusion, but according to my research, it all results from a tilted floor in a tilted cabin on a tilted environment. Children are not really suddenly taller than their parents. It's all "spatial distortions designed to confuse the senses." In fact, you, too, can build your own "mystery spot." Just build a small cabin, place it on a slope, tilt it 25 degrees, disguise it with landscaping to make it look straight, and charge folks to appear taller than their parents.

People love this stuff. We love to be fooled (witness magicians). We love distorted reality (witness reality shows). We love the unexplainable (witness the Kardashians.)

I'm sure you all had a great time in Tahiti or Norway or whatever exotic location you visited this summer. But for six bucks, you just can't beat the Mystery Spot. And the bumper sticker is free.

Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.