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Most unusual/unconventional way you've discovered a place you visited?

Discussion in 'Anything Goes' started by Jarrett, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. Jarrett

    Jarrett Most Obnoxious Member 2016 CF Award Winner 2016

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    I think it's fair to say we all do a fair bit of traveling on here, whether it be a weekend warrior's trip about our countries or some big multinational excursion, and I'm sure lots of us have traveled to do things both coasters and not coasters. But what's the most unusual way you've discovered something, decided, "hey, I want to go there," and gone?

    For me, there's no question that it was this place:

    [​IMG]
    Cahokia Mounds Native American Site, Collinsville, Illinois

    Some of you might know this about me, some of you might not, but I'm a huge fan of the Sid Meier's Civilization video game franchise. If you aren't familiar with it, it's basically a computerized game of Risk taken to the literal extreme that's supposed to simulate governing a nation to one of multiple victory types. You have a map to play on with multiple other countries, but also several single city political entities known as City-States. Now all the locations in the game are named after real places so the actual empires you pick from like France, Japan, The Mayans, Morocco, and so forth. The City-States are named after either real world city-states or cities in countries that aren't available in the game. Some of them are pretty obvious (Vatican City, Singapore, Verona, Kiev, ect.), some are a bit more obscure (Lhasa, La Venta, M'banza Kongo). Looking at a list of some of these city states with where their names came from, one of them was Cahokia, which has Mesoamerican architecture in the game. The Wiki described it as one of the largest precolonial cities in North America near the Mississippi River. It was a huge center for trading in the Mississippian Culture for which it served as a sort of capital, so that's why it's a Mercantile City-State in the game. So I did some more research and found out that today it was actually a UNESCO World Herritage Site near St. Louis, just six hours from here! I looked at it and it looked incredible and decided that maybe when it came SFSL's time I would do that while I was out there.

    Well a few months later my NYC trip with Emily fell through so I decided to use the time off I had to SFSL instead, so naturally I wanted to do this as well. I'd done a few Native American sites before in Ohio and one other precolonial city in Mexico (Tulum's Mayan ruins) but this blew all of those away! There's a nice museum on property with artifacts and dioramas that give you an idea what you're looking at and then you go across the street to Monk's Mound to climb it and actually see it for yourself. Getting up there and seeing the sheer scale of what this city actually was is nothing short of amazing and needless to say, it impressed me way more than Serpent Mound back at home ever could. Mom back at home showed Dad the photos I sent her and both of them were floored, neither of them knew that we had anything like it nearby!

    This is one of the coolest things I've ever done in my travels and I found out about it through a video game of all places! What's the most unusual way you've discovered a place you ended up visiting?
     
  2. Ben

    Ben Social Media Team Social Media Team CF Award Winner 2016

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    You appear to have attached the wrong picture, that is of a small hill, and so can't possibly be as interesting as you believe it to be.
     
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  3. Mysterious Sue

    Mysterious Sue Well-Known Member

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    I went on your recommendation when in St Louis last week. I'm glad I went because of what it represents (and because I have a UNESCO cred list) but was very underwhelmed I'm afraid. I don't want to be that terrible European going nernernernerrner we have more history than you but yeah, I have standing stones that are thousands of years old near my house and this is...a small hill.

    As for the topic, I used to go to uni near to Windsor Great Park which is the Queen's dumping ground for her old statues and gifts. There's a beatiful landscaped area called valley gardens full of jawdroppingly colourful azaleas in May. The first time I found it, I was wandering though trees off the path and sort of just came in from the back, went round a tree and there was this incredible view. Also, no one else was there so it was really fab.
    [​IMG]

    Not sure if this counts but whilst doing my geology fieldwork on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, I went up the mountain on my own for the day and fell off a ledge. I must of knocked myself out for a little while and, when I woke up, I was in this lovely little dell with a stag looking down at me and birds circling overhead. For a minute, I thought I'd died, but then my leg hurt and I realised I was very much alive and up a very wet mountain with a gammy leg. Yay.

    This last trip, I visited the town of Fairmount, Indiana which was the birthplace of James Dean. I only went there because it was once featured in a famous Morrissey music video in the 90s I but it was actually fab in its own right. A proper tiny hickville farming town with like 10 shops, traditional houses and fields and fields of maze.

    Must be more, I'll have a think.
     
  4. davidm

    davidm Well-Known Member

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    are you sure that you are not still there? It would explain a lot of things.
     
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  5. Mysterious Sue

    Mysterious Sue Well-Known Member

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    Haha. People often tell me I have my head in the clouds.
     
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  6. Edward M

    Edward M Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I had Native American mounds all around the outskirts of my town. I once just kind of stumbled onto them, assuming they were hills. There's such a rich history of Native American tribes in Mississippi. While I don't take any real pride in growing up in Mississippi, I do have to say the natural beauty as well as the events that have occurred there is terrifying and beautiful, all at once. It's a place that continues to fascinate me. I remember just driving one day. I just drove and drove on this county road, white and chalky dust waving up into the air as I drove. All of the sudden, I stopped. There was this picturesque view of just miles and miles of trees, all below me. It wasn't a mountainous environment; I had just happened upon a spot of higher elevation. The wind was stronger but also crisper and fresher. It was just so nice. There were no houses for miles, and, I know it wasn't, but, it felt like a place of my own, just for a moment. I mean, most places I love I end up stumbling upon. That's the tale of how I literally found all of my favorite spots in NYC. After class, I sometimes just wander around Greenwich Village and just see little corners and shops. It's those tiny streets with locals and cafes that really stick out to me in any city. In Japan, I found that my favorite moments were just wandering Tokyo. Taking in the nightlife and watching the locals. I would find these amazing, tiny restaurants with huge lines then maybe see what unique games were at an arcade. Wander into a store that looks interesting. It was those moments where I felt like a part of the city, not a foreign object there that stuck out to me. Those are the moments I really cherish.
     
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  7. Jarrett

    Jarrett Most Obnoxious Member 2016 CF Award Winner 2016

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    I knew sooner or later someone on CF would want to know why I got so excited over a pile of dirt (and not one being dug up to build a coaster) I will admit that had I not known what it was, I probably would have just driven right past it and not thought any differently. The picture I chose only because it best shows the sharp angles that are the only things that make it look any different from anything natural. Cahokia was actually my second Mesoamerican city after the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico and I will very openly admit that this...

    [​IMG]

    is not nearly as visually impressive as this...

    [​IMG]

    I felt like with Tulum (which we actually found out about in another somewhat odd way, tour company recommended it as a closer alternative to Chichen Itza, which I wanted to visit but was decidedly out of day trip range being on the island where we were staying), it was more about "look at all this cool ancient stuff that's left over," Cahokia was more about "look at this ancient city that used to be here." Tulum had way more to look at in terms of actual ruins, but it's just a guided tour with a few facts here and there and you really didn't get a sense of what was important and they just kind of showed you around, no museum or anything and I think the only artifact that wasn't a building was this horribly faded Mayan tablet that was displayed outdoors. Cahokia had much less left to look at, yes, but the idea is that you go to the museum and learn a great deal about what happened. There's all kinds of well-preserved artifacts on display, dioramas showing how the Mississippian people lived their lives, this fairly informative short film, and even a bit on how archaeologists excavated it. It was a similar type of thing, but done in a totally different way.

    Tulum's actual site is incredible to visit in person with many well-preserved buildings still standing on this gorgeous tropical cliffside, but limited information we were given that told the city's story wasn't terribly interesting. Some cool things about the building construction here and there, but not much on the actual history or significance of the site. You look at it and instantly know, "those are Mayan ruins" but the people who run the site don't really do that great a job of telling its story, which is sad because I found what few things we did learn fairly intriguing. It is about the site and the ruins.

    Cahokia's site is a little more than a few eroded hills in a grassy meadow with one huge man-made pile of dirt plonked in the middle of it and honestly it isn't that interesting to look at, but to me their museum that fills in all the blanks handles the lack of actual ruins very nicely. You climb that mound at the end of your day and you can easily imagine how it looked when it was the biggest city in North America, you know what the different mounds you see were by their shape, know exactly how tough it must have been to build the structure you're standing on (sure it's small by today's standards but considering how it was the biggest of its kind in its day and it was built with a little more than seashell shovels and buckets, that's kind of impressive to think about), and you've seen some of the tools and artwork that made up city life. It is about the story of the city itself, not so much the remaining structures.

    Both are absolutely great but I honestly preferred Cahokia because it's an interesting story not everyone knows about and I found it more thought-provoking, just my opinion. Though if Tulum had a similar museum nearby it would have been the favorite hands down. Not to necessarily derail the thread, just wanted to get that out there because it is actually a good point.
     
  8. Mysterious Sue

    Mysterious Sue Well-Known Member

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    If you ever come to the UK, I'll take you to some places that'll blow your mind. I picnic on places with more info boards and historical recreation things than you can shake a stick at.

    Staying with the theme, I purchased a book about the UK's ancient trees from the National Trust this summer and it's brilliant. We have less forest cover by Sq meter than many other European countries but the highest density of historic trees with lots of oaks that are hundreds of years and yews up to several thousand years old. The book is about famous trees such as the oak that Robin Hood supposedly sheltered in, or the one that Charles II hid in after loosing to Cromwell, or the Tolpuddle Martyr tree (in the photo) under which the first illegally held meetings were held that turned into today's trade unions and the socialist movement. Anyway, I've been visiting some of these trees if I'm nearby. Sadly, the Hex tree isn't in it XD
     

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  9. davidm

    davidm Well-Known Member

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    ^ supposedly as a child I used to play / hide in the Major Oak (the Robin Hood one).
    I am old enough for this to be well before they stopped letting children (or in fact anyone) climb on the thing for its protection.
     

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