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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Synchronous Fireflies of Elkmont Tennessee

I have waited 10 hours to see Fireflies, and I will tell you want:  I did not regret it. 

Right outside the Mountain paradise of Gatlinburg, TN sits that abandoned mining town of Elmont, TN, now used as a campground and ranger station.  But Elkmont holds a magical secret: Its fireflies.  Synchronous fireflies to be exact.  This is a very rare phenomenon where fireflies blink in unison.  What makes it even more rare is that it only happens one week every June, and this little campground is the only officially recognized place outside of JAPAN that this phenomenon occurs.

This morning tickets to see the fireflies went on sale.  In the time it took my to put my name and address into the online order form the entire week was sold out.  Yes, in a matter of SECONDS tickets to see bugs sold out.  So, no fireflies for me this year.  Fortunately, I have had the rare opportunity to see the fireflies in the past.

In previous years, the trip to the campground was on a first come, first serve basis.  We drove the two hours to Gatlinburg to see the fireflies.  Only to be stopped, told that the parking area was full and told to come back tomorrow.  

 I was totally heart broken, and I may have even said a few swears.

But we were undeterred.  The next day we drove the two hours BACK to Gatlinburg, but this time we were 5 hours early.  We parked at the visitor center, where the tours were given and hiked 2 miles into the city of Gatlinburg in order to get food.   We returned to the visitor center were the trolleys were shuttling people to Elkmont.  This of course meant waiting in line for the slow loading Trolley's for an hour in the rain.


That amount of sheer humanity was impressive on its own.

We finally bordered the trolley and our dead eyed, bearded trolley driver peeled up the mountain on two wheels and took us to the magical city of Elkmont.

Where we were quickly greeted by Firefly border patrol, who take fireflies very serious. 


They ran through the firefly rules.  One of these rules is there is to be no white light, as it confuses the fireflies.  They remedied the situation by give you red cellophane to put over your flashlight.  Of course I had fun with the cellophane, putting it over the flash of my camera and taking pictures.



Now Elkmont was a genuine town at one point and a lot of the buildings are still standing.  I did some exploring and took some pictures with my red flash, that I actually think turned out really cool.




Here is one of the legendary fireflies gently caught and safely released.


As for the fireflies' synchronous display, words cannot do it justice.  The fireflies will all blink five times in unison and then the forest goes completely dark, only to be lit up moments later.  Its the closest you will ever get to walking in an genuine enchanted forest.  Honestly, one of the most magical experiences of my life.  I did try to film at the time, but it did not turn out and looks like junk.  I can't find any other videos that do it justice either.

Sadly, getting to see these fireflies now takes an act of God, which is a shame because everyone should get a chance to see these.

I have had locals where I live in Haywood County NC claiming that we have synchronous fireflies as well, and a lady at my office claims to have watched them from her porch.  There is even a group that takes you a secret location where there is a supposedly second group of fireflies.  I'm not sure if they blindfold you in the back of a truck, but it sounds a little sketchy.

I will roll the dice next year in hopes of getting a ticket.

The Carpetbagger

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Larry Baggett's Trail of Tears Memorial


Sitting alongside old Route 66 in Jermone, MO sits a very run down, but fascinating folk art environment.  The environment was created by the late Larry Baggett as a tribute to the trail of tears, which ran through this property.  Larry believed that his residence was haunted by the spirits of Native Americans from the trail.   He was distrubed at night by these spirits, who he believed were trapped on his property.  He remedied this by building a rock stair case over the hill his property was built on and this supposedly ended the disturbances.



Outside the gate of the memorial sits what was Larry's self portrait


Sadly, someone saw it fit to steal Larry's head.  Hopefully the head haunts them like Jedidiah Springfield.  The statue is however still wearing Larry's boots.  Several other figures dot the gate area/



As you venture up into the woods near Larry's abandoned home you will find that the statues get more bizarre.  Deep in the brush is the statue of a Native American brave holding onto a Buffalo's tail.


Perhaps most remarkable is this downright haunting, one eyed elephant monster....


For a walkthrough of the abandoned property, check out the video below.




The Carpetbagger

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A Detailed Look at Blazing Fury

I have talked in the past about the wonderful dark ride at Dollywood known as Blazing Fury.  Its a splendid old school dark ride that opened in the 1970s and is one of my absolute favorite rides.  This season there is a few changes to the ride.  I made a ride through video to show these changes and I also notated some hidden easter eggs I have found in the ride.





The Carpetbagger

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Angelique's Paradise Estate


I take a look around a mysterious abandoned home in the mountains.


The Carpetbagger

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Cold Evening in Santa Claus, IN

Did you ever wonder where all those letters you sent to Santa as a kid ended up?  Much like you expected, they ended up in a frozen arctic wasteland.  However, instead of showing up at the North Pole like you had hoped, they ended up in Indiana.  A fact that is down right depressing if you think about it.

Back in 1859 the town of Santa Fe, IN received a letter from the United States Post Office.  They were informed that there was already a Santa Fe in New Mexico and were asked to pick a new name. I figure that the federal government didn't want them to trick people into seeking out warm weather in Indiana.

The residents of Santa Fe decided to give the Feds a smart ass answer and asked to be called Santa CLAUS.  They name stuck, but would be end up being a blessing and a curse.
Because of the "Santa Claus" name the town ended up getting millions of letters addressed to Santa Clause the person, so much that extra help has to be brought in around the holidays to handle the unholy influx of mail.

Meanwhile, several savvy entrepreneurs tried to take advantage of the town's unique name.  In the 1930s two competing entrepreneurs created two separate Christmas themed attractions.  One was Santa's Castle, which was at one time a roadside attraction featuring Christmas themed miniatures.  The castle still stands, but it is now simply a candy store.


Around the same time "Santa Claus Land", the world's first amusement park was created.  The amusement park is still in operation, but has changed its name to "Holiday World" in the 80s.

I rolled into town on a cold February evening expecting to find a Christmas Paradise.

First of all, I cannot over state the fact that Santa Claus is in the middle of absolute nowhere.  I drove through endless miles of cornfields searching for Santa Claus.  Finally in the middle of absolute nowhere I spotted several giant roller-coasters poking out into the distance.


And that is basically what Santa Clause, IN, a massive towering amusement park in the middle of a million miles of corn fields.  The town itself only has a population of 2,000.

As far as my hopes of a Christmas paradise, I was a little let down.  They did however, have a grouping of fiberglass Santas greeting me.




There was a small Christmas motif in the town, including this down right depressing Liquor Store Sign.


As a Human Service professional I would like to say that wine is not a suitable replacement for therapy.

I found the world's oldest statue of Santa Clause, perched on the highest point in town.  Of course this is Indiana, so its not up that high.  Even though the hill was not that high, I was not willing to walk in thigh high snow in sub zero temperatures to get a decent picture.


As night fall quickly fell, I desperately criss crossed around town trying to get pictures.  This apparently awoke the suspicions of the Santa Clause Police Department, as they pulled me over and asked why I was driving back and forth across town.  I told them I was just looking around town and the officer sent me on my way as the stars came out in the cold little town of Santa Claus, IN.

The Carpetbagger

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Let's talk about Mold-A-Ramas


A look at the current state of Mold-A-Ramas





The Carpetbagger

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Coon Dog Cemetery


The pet cemetery is very interesting phenomenon to me.  In one sense I understand completely, as I am a pet lover.  In another sense, I can not deny that it is striking to see, a cemetery is an inherently human construction and to see pet names and non human pictures on them is something your brain has trouble processing. 




This past November I had a chance to see one of the most exclusive and specific cemeteries in the world:  The Coon Dog Cemetery in Cherokee, NC.


Now, I must admit, my knowledge of coon dogs is somewhat limited.  From what I can gather they are dogs that are used in the hunting and shooting of racoons.  I'm not clear if they are a specific breed of dogs are not.  Most of all, I am not clear on why they have their own cemetery in the backwoods of Alabama.


Okay, why does it say "Be careful with fire!".  Why would you bring fire to a cemetery anyways?

These fine monuments greet you at the entrance.



The Coon Dogs are all buried in marked graves, with obvious reverence......






And you have to appreciate some of these zany names......





The Carpetbagger

I love hearing from people please comment below.  Also, feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com

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Monday, April 20, 2015

What will Become of Ghost Town in the Sky?

I have talked a great deal about the trials and tribulations of the classic Amusement Park "Ghost Town in the Sky".   You can read my past article and see pictures HERE.  Recently I took a visit to Ghost Town to see the current status.  Check out the video below.



Also, I recently posted this video from 2007 of a Ghost Town gun fight.





The Carpetbagger

I love hearing from people please comment below.  Also, feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com

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And I can't forget my Flickr Photostream, where all this got started.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Big Blue Whale

This past November I had a chance to go on an awesome roadtrip across the South and out to Texas.  I had the pleasure of seeing Route 66 for the first time in my entire life.  One true pleasure was to finally get to meet the Big Blue Whale.


Found in Catoosa, OK the Blue Whale is one of the most well known of examples of roadside fiberglass architecture.

An interesting thing about the whale is that was at one point the center piece of a lost roadside attraction.  The attraction was known as the Animal Reptile Kingdom or A.R.K. a roadside zoo contained in a replica of Noah's Ark.  The dilapidated Ark sits quietly off to the side, almost completely forgotten.


There are a few other relics of the old Zoo such as this cage.....


And these strange mushrooms.....


According to these vintage postcards I bought, this place looked awesome......


And they even had Alligators!


Don't get confused either.........As I have previously discussed, alligators DO live in Oklahoma.....

The whale itself used to be a huge local draw as local children jumped off and swam in the lake.....


Now the lake is a little bit murky and gross.  I asked the lady that ran the small gift shop if anyone swam in the lake anymore.  She said there was only one person that did:  a lady from Wisconsin.  She explained that the lady accidentally dropped her keys in the water and spent four hours slopping around trying to find them.  She never did.


Its still a blast to crawl around inside the whale.





The Carpetbagger

I love hearing from people please comment below.  Also, feel free to email me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com

Make sure you add me on Facebook and Instagram.

Check out my Youtube Page where I regularly post videos. 

And I can't forget my Flickr Photostream, where all this got started.