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.
(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!
(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.
(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)
(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.
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.
Well now, the nice weather is starting to breeze in. What’s an idyllic summer day? Sitting on a dock with a bucket full of ice and beer, listening to The Ramones and scanning a lake with a pair of binoculars, hoping to spot a Lake Monster? Sounds good to me.
In 2015 I had a book published titled Monster Hunters, which documented my adventures hanging out with people looking for evidence of ghost, UFOs, and cryptids (unknown entities of cryptozoology like Bigfoot, Chupacabras, etc.) In the early planning of the book, I knew there were several experiences I wanted to have and one was most definitely getting out on a Lake Monster expedition.
The most famous Lake Monster of all, of course is the Loch Ness Monster aka Nessie, a childhood favorite of mine. In fact, while backpacking through the UK and Ireland in the year 2000, I convinced my travel partner that we should head into the Highlands so we could check out Loch Ness. We stayed at a hostel in the town of Drumnadrochit, a hotspot of Nessie tourism, so we could go to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and visited Urquhart Castle, which rested on the shore of the loch and was an area of several Nessie sightings. It was all very exciting to me and I bought as many Nessie souvenirs as I could cram in my backpack.
But I’m getting a bit off track. I was working on Monster Hunters and cryptozoology grandmaster Loren Coleman (prolific author and director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine) sent me in the direction of Champ Camp, an expedition that took place in Vermont in July of 2013. Champ is often called the American Loch Ness Monster, residing Lake Champlain, which is located between Vermont, New York, and Quebec. I signed up and set up camp with the cryptozoologists in Button Bay State Park in Vermont.
It was really a fun experience, a weekend filled with canoe trips, campfires, talking to Champ eyewitnesses, and visiting Champ landmarks. I wrote all about it in a chapter of Monster Hunters titled “Lake Monster Fever.” On the latest Tea’s Weird Week podcast, I caught up with one of the investigators I met on the trip, Scott Mardis, an extremely dedicated researcher who probably has more knowledge of Lake Monster and Sea Serpent cases in all of the 7 Seas.
Scott actually moved from Alabama to Vermont in the 90s so he could be closer to Lake Champlain and have time for hands on investigation into Champ. Scott says he believes he might have spotted the creature while Champ-watching in 1994. He eventually moved to Florida, where he investigates Florida cases– most recently he’s been paddling down the Saint John’s River looking for a creature nicknamed “Pinky.” But he does get back to Lake Champlain on a regular basis, trying to investigate every summer. This year he’s working on setting up a summer expedition with a new organization he’s a part of called the Lake Champlain Zoological Inquiry. Will they find definitive evidence of Champ? We’ll see.
Here are just a few pieces that Scott says are classic examples of Champ evidence:
What do you think? (Comment on this post). Nessie and Champ are far from the only Lake Monster tales, it seems like every body of water bigger than a swimming pool has some sort of lore about it. Lake Monsters and Sea Serpents have been spotted around the world and these are an ancient fear. A famous historical story is the much feared Kraken, which sailors feared would rip apart their ships. A few more well known North American examples include Ogopogo (spotted in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia), Flathead Lake Monster (of Montana), and the Lake Erie Monster aka South Bay Bessie, spotted in Ohio and Michigan. Here in Wisconsin there’s quite a legacy of historical monster sightings, from Lake Michigan to Rock Lake to Lake Geneva. Last week I talked in my column/ podcast about researcher Chad Lewis, check out his book Lake Monsters of Wisconsin.
So there you go– pack up your binoculars, hydrophones, underwater cameras, biopsy darts, giant nets, your copy of The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep, and a six pack– it’s Lake Monster season! I’ll send you a postcard:
Please Clap Dept.: I am a winner of a Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Award in the “Short Hard News Feature” category for an article I wrote for Milwaukee Magazine in 2020, “Reporting Live from the Street.” I’ll find out in May if it won gold, silver, or bronze, but I’m honored just to be in the top 3. The articles are judged by other press clubs around the country.
Tea’s Weird Week episode 11: I talk more with Scott Mardis about his studies of Champ and other Lake Monsters, then me and Heidi talk about AI pickup lines, a ghost grabbin’ VR game, a major shrinkage problem, and Joe Biden–fact or faked? Miss Information has a new trivia question and we close out with a track by Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, “You Married a Sea Serpent.”
Some of my birthdays have been memorable and others mundane. I had a birthday yesterday, and I spent it doing what I love doing best– sitting around in pajamas, drinking coffee, reviewing a manuscript I wrote. I have a book out next year from Feral House titled American Madness. It’s a non-fiction that tells the action-packed story of a conspiracy theorist I met and the prevalence of conspiracy culture in America. There’s still work to be done, but a lot of progress has happened on the book over the last few months.
Sitting at home reading over my work was great, but my really fun birthdays have been getting out in the field. Here’s two memorable examples:
2013: I spent my 36th birthday in Portland, Maine where I interviewed cryptozoologist and author Loren Coleman at the International Cryptozoology Museum. What a wonderful place to be! I wrote about the experience as the first chapter of my book Monster Hunters, titled “The Monster Hunter and His Museum.” Loren named the book as the top of the “Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015” list and told me that the chapter was “required reading” for new staff, volunteers, and docents.
2017: It was two days after my birthday, but I spent my 40th birthday preparing to voyage out to the desert to attend Wasteland Weekend, a post-apocalyptic festival. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had. I witnessed music, Thunderdome fights, a post-apocalyptic swimsuit contest, and much more, which I wrote out for a chapter of my book Apocalypse Any Day Now titled “Wastelanders.” I’ve really wanted to go back ever since, but this year my travel budget is tied up for a trip I’m doing to Dallas in November. Hopefully, in 2020 I can return to the Waste.
If you’d like to support me on my birthday and help me go on more wild and crazy adventures, the best thing you can do is buy or support my books:
And look for links in 2020 to my new books. Wisconsin Legends & Lore is going to be a cool little book out from History Press and American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theory Hijacked American Consciousness will be out August 2020 from Feral House.
You can also buy me a birthday coffee here: www.buymeacoffee.com/TeaKrulos
This is a wonderful Christmas present and a great honor personally and as a writer. Every year author, researcher, teacher, and museum director Loren Coleman selects his list of top books on the subject of cryptozoology, the science of examining unknown animals.
My book Monster Hunters took the top slot on “The Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015.”
There are many interesting titles and authors on the list. You can read it here: www.cryptozoonews.com/czbks-2015/
At the end of the post you can find out how to support the International Cryptozoology Museum, one of my favorite places on earth.
Many thanks to Loren and the ICM staff. I am humbled and flattered by this recognition.
When I began work on Monster Hunters, I had a few ideas of people I’d like to meet and write about. My two major ideas were, man, I got to meet a group of local ghost hunters and follow them around. My other idea was, man, I got to meet the zen grandmaster of cryptozoology. Party A ended up being the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee. I found Party B in Loren Coleman, who has actively been pursuing cryptozoology since the 60s and is the founder of the International Cryptozoology Museum.
Visiting his museum while working on the book was a fantastic experience and he humored me by allowing me to interview him as I wandered around taking in the collection of unique artifacts.
Monster Hunters has begun to circulate and Loren got a copy this last week. He wrote a review on his website and I am extremely flattered and honored by it. He says I write with “humor, sensitivity, and insight,” but the best compliment by far is that he says: “Krulos’ first chapter will be mandatory reading for every new staff, and current & future docents/ volunteers at our museum, now.”
That is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m also pleased to say that arrangements are being made so copies of the book will be available at the International Cryptozoology Museum’s gift shop, so buy a copy when you stop in.
A huge thank you to Loren and the ICM staff!
Loren’s review is here: www.cryptozoonews.com/tea-review/
ICM website: cryptozoologymuseum.com/
Monster Hunters ordering info: www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php