Category Archives: Epic Travels

Tea’s Weird Week: My Top 5 Strange Places

For the Tea’s Weird Week podcast this week, I met up with and interviewed Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer and creator of the Long Days Travel website. She’s been all over the world to check out cool and unusual places and it got me to thinking about the strangest places I’ve been to. There’s a lot, but I picked out what I think are the top 5. Please note that “strange” doesn’t necessarily mean awesome and good or creepy and bad… just strange.

(1.) The Outpost (undisclosed location in Pahrump, Nevada)

My book American Madness follows the life of Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot, a costumed, conspiracy believing commando. After serving prison time and parole, Richard eventually settled down and bought a home in Pahrump, Nevada. As I describe in a chapter of American Madness titled “Where the Heck is Pahrump?” the small desert town is sort of a magnet for odd characters– Art Bell, original host of Coast-to-Coast AM, lived there, as well as other famous eccentrics.

Richard found a good deal on a house, with one of the selling points being the large Quonset hut on the property, which he visualized as a low budget superhero headquarters/ training facility/ filming set/ Phantom Patriot museum that he named “the Outpost.” I visited the Outpost twice– I traveled to Pahrump in 2015, where we filmed an episode of his webshow, Phantom Patriot Retro Cinema (ep 02, “Assault on Area 51”) and I spent the weekend at his house in his guest bedroom. We also made a day trip to film near Area 51 and the Li’l Ale’ E’ Inn. That was the last time I saw Richard alive.

After Richard died, I returned to the Outpost in November 2019 to join a few of Richard’s friends and neighbors who gathered there to have a memorial and spread his ashes on the property. Just thinking about the whole story– meeting Richard, befriending him, visiting Pahrump and having a stressful filming day out in the desert, learning of his death– all of it is the strangest story I’ve experienced, mainly because I was a part of the story, too. It’s something I’ll never forget.

A photo I took of Richard’s Phantom Patriot costume display in the Outpost, 2015.

(2.) International Cryptozoology Museum (Portland, Maine)

My second book was titled Monster Hunters and it took me to all sorts of strange places– Bobby Mackey’s Music World (a haunted honky tonk), the Skunk Ape Research Center in Florida, the International UFO Congress conference in Arizona, Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, a Bigfoot expedition in Michigan, and more– so it’s hard to pick the best one for this list, but one of my strange and favorite visits was to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine in 2013, I visited on my birthday that year. The museum is curated by Loren Coleman, prolific author and one of the world’s leading and most well-known cryptozoologists. The museum is such a great collection of Sasquatch footprint casts, models of cryptids, rare documents, art, and other interesting items related to the study of unknown creatures. Since my visit, the museum has moved to a new location– time to make a trip to Maine sometime soon!

Website: cryptozoologymuseum.com

Me (left) and Loren Coleman at the International Cryptozoology Museum, 2013.

(3.) The House on the Rock (Spring Green, Wisconsin)

I was reminded of just how strange this place is over the 4th of July weekend. I met my family in Spring Green, where they were having a holiday weekend, to take a trip through the wild fever dream that is the House on the Rock. I can’t really think of anything that compares to this– it is just one huge room after another filled with mind-boggling sights– a giant whale fighting a squid, the world’s largest carousel, which is going just a little too fast and has an automatic band with thumping bass drums adding to the mania– collections of weird guns and circus miniatures and so much more. When I interviewed Jenny Sanchez, it was also the first place she brought up for unusual destinations, she called the House, “the Disneyland of the unusual.”

I’ve been especially wanting to return since reading/ seeing it in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I wrote about the House on the Rock in brief in the “Legendary Places” chapter of my book Wisconsin Legends & Lore.

Website: www.thehouseontherock.com

Just one of the many wild scenes in the House on the Rock. Taken July 4, 2021.

(4.) Survival Condos (undisclosed location in Kansas)

While working on my book Apocalypse Any Day Now, I arranged a tour of the Survival Condos, a state of the art underground bunker built in an old Atlas missile silo. Me and my friend Paul drove out there and spent about 3 hours checking the place out with building developer Larry Hall. The condos not only include the living units but a swimming pool, recreation areas, school, gym, a small grocery store, and a movie theater 14 floors underground. I wrote a chapter about the experience titled “Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous” and did a column/podcast episode revisiting that experience, which you can check out here: Tea’s Weird Week: Doomsday Bunkers of the Rich and Famous (Revisited) | (teakrulos.com)

Outside the Survival Condos blast doors, 2017.

(5.) Wasteland City (Mojave Desert)

Another experience I had while working on Apocalypse Any Day Now was attending Wasteland Weekend, which is a sort of Mad Max-Burning Man of the Damned-post-Apocalyptic festival. “Wasteland City” assembles in the Mojave Desert outside of California City for the week and the junk city includes its own FM radio station, post office, a Thunderdome for cage fighting, marketplace, casino, night clubs, and much more. It is a place that only appears for the duration of the 4-5 days of Wasteland Weekend, which takes place in late September. There are hundreds of Mad Max style cars and thousands dressed in post-Apocalyptic style garb. I even found work there writing short articles for the daily newsletter, The Wastelander, under my Wasteland name, Krulos the Terrible. I had such a fun time getting drinks at the Atomic Cafe and then wandering around Wasteland at night and checking stuff out. I definitely want to return– it’s not likely I will this year, but I’d like to make it a 2022 goal.

Website: www.wastelandweekend.com

Cool car on the grounds of Wasteland City at Wasteland Weekend, 2017.

Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08, Long Days and Weird Weeks: I meet up with Jenny Sanchez, a travel writer who seeks out unique and unusual places to visit, which she documents on her site, Long Days Travel. We talked about strange destinations, bucket list, and travel tips. 

In the news segment, me and Heidi talk about another appearance by the Moorish Sovereign Citizens, the 2014 Slenderman case, the three UFO capitals of Wisconsin, and more. Plus trivia with Miss Information and we bring it all back home by closing with a tribute to Milwaukee, “Good Land,” by The MilBillies

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep08: Long Days, Weird Weeks (podbean.com)
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Tea’s Weird Week: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention

Last weekend (June 26-27) the Tea’s Weird Week crew (Me, Andrew, and Heidi) tabled with the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference and American Ghost Walks at the Midwest Haunters Convention. I was glad to be there to promote the events, but I was also excited to be there to take a look at the world of “Haunters” which is a term for people in the professional haunted entertainment industry or amateurs who just enjoy decorating and appreciating Halloween and the haunting season 365 days a year. It was a fun experience– Haunters are creative, artistic, and like to have spooky fun. I had some interesting conversations and saw a lot of great costumes and props. Since this was such a visual experience, I’m just going to share a bunch of pictures I took for this column.

If you scroll through to the end, you’ll find a link to this week’s Tea’s Weird Week column which features interviews and clips me, Andrew, and Heidi captured live on the conference floor, plus an eerie trivia question by Miss Information and the perfect track for this event “Halloween 365” by Ratbatspider.

This was our Tea’s Weird Week/ Milwaukee Paranormal Conference/ American Ghost Walks table
You’ll here me explain this photo in this week’s Tea’s Weird Week news segment.
Android138, Heidi, and myself.

Paranormal Real Estate Mogul: I like to add a little reoccurring project to the tail end of this column sometimes, so I’m glad to announce this new section. “Paranormal Real Estate Mogul” will share listings I come across that are either haunted, cursed, or have some paranormal tie. We’ll start with this listing:

Property: Village of Lawers

Location: Perthshire, Scotland
Listed at: £125,000 ($175,000US) Realtor: Goldcrest Land and Property Group
Notes: Lots to like with this listing– own your own haunted village! Well, the “village” is just 3.31 acres of the 17th century ruins of Lawers, a village of just 17 people that dropped down to 7 by 1891 and was completely abandoned by 1926. Bonus– it does have it’s own beach on the shores of Loch Tay and huge bonus– it does have a ghost, the “Lady of Lawers” a former resident of the village that had “known for her eerie prophecies.”

Tea’s Weird Week, season 2 episode 7: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention:

Tea, Heidi, and sound engineer Android138 check out the Midwest Haunters Convention, an event geared towards “Haunters,” or people who work in or are fans of the haunted attraction industry, or simply love decorating for Halloween or keeping it spooky year round. The TWW crew did some floor interviews with vendors and other event participants. 

In the news segment, Tea and Heidi talk about a “Redneck Rave” (what could go wrong?), Moorish Sovereign Citizens, Heidi has a new mission for the Satanic Temple (read: #FreeBritney), that new UFO report, and more. Plus an eerie trivia question from Miss Information and we close out with the perfect track for this episode, “Halloween 365” by Ratbatspider. Happy hauntings!

Listen here: Tea’s Weird Week, S2 ep07: Live from the Midwest Haunters Convention (podbean.com)
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Check out my latest books:

American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness (2020, Feral House)

Apocalypse Any Day Now: Deep Underground with America’s Doomsday Preppers (2019, Chicago Review Press)

Wisconsin Legends & Lore (2020, History Press)


Tea’s Weird Week: Milwaukee Rolls the 100-sided Die

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Rather than a typical Tea’s Weird Week column, today I’m just giving some show notes on our latest Tea’s Weird Week podcast episode, the “season one finale,” that is filled with stories about Dungeons & Dragons & Milwaukee. Much was discussed and here’s a rundown of relevant links. Just click on the highlighted text and you’ll find the website/article cited.

Dungeons & Dragon’s Wisconsin origins: Gary Gygax of Lake Geneva, WI, founded the Lake Geneva Wargames Convention, later known as GenCon. The convention eventually settled in Milwaukee– til 2003, when citing lack of hotel space and an unsatisfactory convention center, they moved to the more exotic locale of…Indianapolis. It remains one of the biggest gaming conventions in the world. Gygax co-created Dugeons & Dragons with Dave Arneson. The game was first published in 1974.

The Rare first ten D&D games: My friend Jan Christensen was given one of the first ten copies of Dungeons & Dragons. After playing it a few times, it sat in storage until 2016, when looking for something to sell so she could enjoy a road trip, she found this treasure. She shared with us the exciting story of it’s sale via Ebay to the Strong National Museum of Play in Buffalo, NY. Jan is the former editor of the great community newspaper, the Riverwest Currents.
The pandemic has been tough on independent journalism, please donate to their GoFundMe here: www.gofundme.com/f/help-riverwest-currents-stay-alive-and-printing

Factions: Battlegrounds: Last year I met Peter Ferry and Jason Clayton, two childhood friends who have followed their dream of creating “a multi-player fantasy combat boardgame representing diverse cultures and mythologies.” So cool! And they had a successful Kickstarter, met their stretch goals, and games should be delivered early this summer.
You can read an interview I did with them for the Shepherd Express here: shepherdexpress.com/arts-and-entertainment/off-the-cuff/friends-create-diverse-fantasy-battleground
Check out their website and pre-order a game here: www.factionsbattlegrounds.com

The Manticore Consort: If you’ve visited the Bristol Renaissance Faire, you’ve probably spotted the Manticore Consort, who add greatly to their atmosphere with their hurdy-gurdy and other renaissance instruments. Check out/ buy their music here: manticoreconsort.bandcamp.com

Faklandia Brewing: They brew their own beer, serve food, are an event space, AND are built around a fantasy theme, incorporated into their business on a multi-media gaming front. Faklandia is a realm of it’s own, but you can find it in Saint Francis (just outside of Milwaukee). It’s a wonderful place to visit. Find more at their website: faklandia.com

Tea’s Weird Week Facebook group: We mentioned a D&D poll conducted in this group, it’s a clearinghouse for weird news of all sorts and hella fun. Join us here: www.facebook.com/groups/359809171918389

Satanic Panic: Heidi’s source for details of the Satanic Panic comes from this article, “Why Satanic Panic never really ended,” Vox.com.

Implanted memories: Heidi also mentioned this Wall Street Journal article, “False Memories Can Be Planted and Then Reversed, Researchers Find.”

Lil Nas X: Congrats on starting your own mini-Satanic Panic! Here’s the video we talked about, in case you have yet to see it:

Rev. Bob Larson: I recalled the time I saw Rev. Bob Larson’s “exorcism” session in action. It was one of the strangest things I’ve experienced, and believe me you, that is saying something. I wrote about it in a chapter of my book Monster Hunters. You can see for yourself at the Bob Larson: Real Exorcist YouTube Channel. Content warning: everything.

Robert Wardhaugh’s longest running D&D campaign: We ended by talking about Robert Wardhaugh of London, Ontario, whose Dungeons & Dragons campaign has now been running continuously for 39 years! CNN’s Great Big Story did an article/podcast on him here: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/20/us/dungeons-and-dragons-longest-game-great-big-story-trnd/index.html

Fight Dice: We ended the show with this great new multi-media music project that has a D&D theme. Really fun stuff, the have an EP coming out very shortly. Can’t wait to see more of Tim’s art!

Check out their music here: fightdice.bandcamp.com/releases and see art on their Facebook.

Tea’s Weird Week Patreon: We need your support to keep the podcast going. We have several tiers available with a TON of cool extras– behind the scenes access, bonus episodes, free online and in-person events, signed copies of my books, Tea’s Weird Week shirts and more. Please check it out: https://www.patreon.com/teasweirdweek

Listen: Here’s links to: Tea’s Weird Week episode 13: Dungeons & Dragons & Milwaukee (podbean.com)
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Check out my books:

American Madness
Apocalypse Any Day Now
Tea’s Weird Week: 2020 Review (ebook)