The Breakers: Lake Superior

  

A sunset over one of one of my favorite beach spots for bonfires and sunset-watching in the Houghton area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: the (black stamp sand) breakers. 

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Europa Spa, Morgantown

Europa Spa is perched on the top of a hill overlooking the river that runs through Morgantown, a nice spot for a spa, and which yet does not boast of many. Though Hope, the owner, started this spa over 22 years ago, it’s only recently moved from its former location at the Seneca Glass Factory downtown to its new spot, the old chamber of commerce. Close the door behind you as you walk in, and all of a sudden you’re no longer on a busy street in Morgantown but in a closed-off pleasure dome—perhaps a scaled-down version of Kublai Khan’s, but a delight nonetheless.

Hope has been in the spa and salon business for over 40 years, beginning in Albuquerque, New Mexico at a hair salon. As time passed, she became more and more enamored with the holistic and healing benefits of spa treatments, and later on she started Morgantown’s first full service spa at the old Seneca Glass Factory.

In its present state in the old chamber of commerce building, they offer, in addition to the hair treatments at the salon, full-body massage, facials, pedicures, manicures, makeup, and even yoga downstairs (see everything they offer here and here). Her expert staff will treat you to a bit of bliss while you retreat inwardly, luxuriating, to your own private place of laughter and forgetting.

By: Ben Britz

In which a short break in the relentless march toward the Bohemian lands allows Paul to take in a bit of sport, and to convalesce slightly from physical and spiritual maladies

Paul Holder August 17 at 5:15am

Hey,

Haven’t got long, as need to check out of hotel in about an hour and lots to do. I am in Geneva, have been since Saturday morning. Much cooler here and raining all the time. I managed to cross France in 30 days, covering 555.82miles. Mental.


In Lyon, I went to see Lyon vs Monaco: first game of the season: Dire match, but good experience. Was 33degrees centigrade the day I left Lyon, and nearly fried to death first couple of days. Then 4 days in the Jura mountains. Hardest thing I’ve ever done but totally totally amazing and humbling and somewhere I will be again. One night slept in a mountain refuge hut 1460m above sea level, with a very odd but kind family. Made a huge fire outdoors, shooting stars, Ricard. Unforgettable.

Badly hurt right knee, had to descend into Geneva walking backwards a lot of the way to take weight off it. A lot of knocks and sores now, but entering another country has put plenty of wind in my sails.
Have not been able to get maps I need, so have one map of Switzerland’s main walking routes that I hope will get me across. Want to enter Germany in a fortnight.

I must go now. Some pictures added, though not all. PLEASE donate what you can. Went over a grand over the weekend, which is amazing, but still a long way to go – don’t make me start a name and shame campaign.

Paul, Lord of the (in)Sole x

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Paul Holder August 17 at 5:15am

Hey,

Haven’t got long, as need to check out of hotel in about an hour and lots to do. I am in Geneva, have been since Saturday morning. Much cooler here and raining all the time. I managed to cross France in 30 days, covering 555.82miles. Mental.

In Lyon, I went to see Lyon vs Monaco: first game of the season: Dire match, but good experience. Was 33degrees centigrade the day I left Lyon, and nearly fried to death first couple of days. Then 4 days in the Jura mountains. Hardest thing I’ve ever done but totally totally amazing and humbling and somewhere I will be again. One night slept in a mountain refuge hut 1460m above sea level, with a very odd but kind family. Made a huge fire outdoors, shooting stars, Ricard. Unforgettable.

Badly hurt right knee, had to descend into Geneva walking backwards a lot of the way to take weight off it. A lot of knocks and sores now, but entering another country has put plenty of wind in my sails.
Have not been able to get maps I need, so have one map of Switzerland’s main walking routes that I hope will get me across. Want to enter Germany in a fortnight.

I must go now. Some pictures added, though not all. PLEASE donate what you can. Went over a grand over the weekend, which is amazing, but still a long way to go – don’t make me start a name and shame campaign.

Paul, Lord of the (in)Sole x

English Paul’s Transcendental Trans-European Trek

My dear and handsome friend English Paul has recently taken it upon himself to journey across the Dark Continent, Europe, by foot—an arduous and thoroughly badass 1000 mile trek from La Rochelle, France, to Prague, Czech Republic, in about two and a half months. This is awesome, needless to say, and is not merely the internal journey of self-discovery the way you might think. Paul is accepting donations (here) on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based charity for the protection of its shores and wildlife.

From Paul’s donation site:

“It would greatly warm my belly if you would consider sponsoring me in this undertaking. It doesn’t need to be much; as little as £10 will go a long long way towards protecting our coastal ecosystems, cleaning up our beaches, and encouraging more sensible fishing practices. I will be doing somewhere between 1000-1200 miles, so think of it as approximately £1 per 100 miles, or about 5pence per blister! Needless to say, if you want to give more then that is most welcome.”

Hear, here. This is a tremendous undertaking, a throwback to the quests of the Icelandic Sagas,  the search for the Holy Grail, the Beat Generation’s exploration of the self in the context of one’s milieu. Please join The Anti Tourist as we support Paul’s efforts wholeheartedly.

At the time of this writing, Paul has so far “managed to cross France in 30 days, covering 555.82 miles. Mental.” He is documenting this on Facebook, mainly through letters written periodically to members of the Facebook Group founded for this purpose. He gave me permission to post his updates on The Anti Tourist; they will be updated here as soon as he sends them out. They will appear exactly as he writes them. He is a fantastic writer and I have thus far enjoyed his updates, even though I am kicking myself for not accepting his invitation to join him.

Learn more about the Marine Conservation Society.

Give donations here.

So far:

In which Paul readies himself for the trip, and ties up some loose ends

In which Paul prepares to travel to London by coach, and expresses regret at the consequences of recent lifestyle choices

In which Paul, having safely arrived in France, embarks on the physical portion of this largely introspective journey in search of the Self; and where he discusses injuries and physical malady whilst the French, as they are wont, celebrate Bastille Day

In which the tired and footsore English Paul reaches Limoges, France, and expostulates on the value dichotomy of physical stress

In which half of France is conquered, though not without sacrifice

In which the weltschmerz is more keenly felt than usual, where modern alienation becomes mere kitsch and loneliness is just a way of being, and where majesty crumbles

In which a short break in the relentless march toward the Bohemian lands allows Paul to take in a bit of sport, and to convalesce slightly from physical and spiritual maladies

In which the varied topography of mountainous Switzerland aptly mirrors the oscillating emotional environment; and in which Paul is joined by a dear friend

By: Ben Britz

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My dear and handsome friend English Paul has recently taken it upon himself to journey across the Dark Continent, Europe, by foot—an arduous and thoroughly badass 1000 mile trek from La Rochelle, France, to Prague, Czech Republic, in about two and a half months. This is awesome, needless to say, and is not merely the internal journey of self-discovery the way you might think. Paul is accepting donations (here) on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based charity for the protection of its shores and wildlife.

From Paul’s donation site:

It would greatly warm my belly if you would consider sponsoring me in this undertaking. It doesn’t need to be much; as little as £10 will go a long long way towards protecting our coastal ecosystems, cleaning up our beaches, and encouraging more sensible fishing practices. I will be doing somewhere between 1000-1200 miles, so think of it as approximately £1 per 100 miles, or about 5pence per blister! Needless to say, if you want to give more then that is most welcome.

Hear, here. This is a tremendous undertaking, a throwback to the quests of the Icelandic Sagas,  the search for the Holy Grail, the Beat Generation’s exploration of the self in the context of one’s milieu. Please join The Anti Tourist as we support Paul’s efforts wholeheartedly.

At the time of this writing, Paul has so far “managed to cross France in 30 days, covering 555.82 miles. Mental.” He is documenting this on Facebook, mainly through letters written periodically to members of the Facebook Group founded for this purpose. He gave me permission to post his updates on The Anti Tourist; they will be updated here as soon as he sends them out. They will appear exactly as he writes them. He is a fantastic writer and I have thus far enjoyed his updates, even though I am kicking myself for not accepting his invitation to join him.

Learn more about the Marine Conservation Society.

Give donations here.

So far:

Ghost Town in Pennsylvania – The Centralia Mine Fire

When I was first forwarded the Wikipedia page for Centralia, Pennsylvania, I was a little confused. The page cited Centralia as the town that inspired the horror movie, Silent Hill. But I thought Silent Hill was in West Virginia…isn’t there where all creepy horror films are set? Wrong. Centralia, PA is, in fact, the town that movie was based off of and surprise surprise, the movie was (kinda) based on a true story:

Centralia was a quaint little American town with thousands of residents not all that long ago. Then, in 1962, the coal mines in the town caught fire. People are still disputing how exactly this happened, but the most popular notion is that trash burned in abandoned strip mine caused a vein of coal to start burning. It has never stopped, in fact, it has only spread since then. Things started unwinding in Centralia from there. The families didn’t move out right away. But then dangerous gases from the fire started polluting the air, the amount of carbon monoxide spewing out of the mine began to reach dangerous levels, a kid fell into a HOT sinkhole (he survived!), and families generally started to worry about raising their families above raging mine fires. I can’t blame them. As cool as the idea of living directly above Hell is, I’d probably move out, too.

From a site devoted to the Centralia mine fire: “An engineering study concluded in 1983 that the fire could burn for another century or even more and ‘could conceivably spread over an area of approximately 3,700 acres.’” No one really knows how far it has spread, or how deep, or where new, hell-hot sinkholes could appear.

But not everyone wanted to go. SO what happened when good citizens didn’t want to leave a town deemed too dangerous to live in? The government stepped in and starting buying out families to relocate to a nearby town. Most families couldn’t turn down the money—in fact, almost all of them took it. There are only 5 families holding out in Centralia today, a town that, may I remind you, had thousands of citizens just a few decades ago. Their rationalization is the the gummint knows there’s rich coal deposits under there and is forcing them to move and give up their mineral rights.

This is all Scary Shit! Sinkholes swallowing up entire homes, steam and smoke billowing up from cracks in the earth; it is said that you can hear Satan joking around with Beezlebub just by putting your ear to the ground.

I just couldn’t resist that! I decided to go to Centralia myself. On the way to Centralia, I was already getting the feeling that I was being stared at. Maybe because the locals didn’t recognize my car. Or appreciate my giant Lyndsay Lohan sunglasses. There may have been zombies lurking in the shadows, too, I couldn’t really tell. I drove on anyway.

Imagine any suburban neighborhood you’ve ever been in. You make a left a Cherry Lane and a right at Oak Road and these small communities go on like this, with quaint streets squaring off the corners of the community, one evenly paved road at a time. I drove down roads that were once these roads, but they weren’t named. No homes existed in the overgrown lots of land. It was an empty grid of cracking, paved residential streets, sans houses. Nature had reclaimed the tar and plants burst out from the cracks in the streets. All that remains is a charred skeleton of a town.

Just beyond a graveyard, I climbed over a rock and dirt pile that had been built to keep people out of the area just beyond it. Not surprisingly, as I walked on past this dirt pile, the air started to smell funny.  Noxious, even. There was an attempt to prevent sinkholes from form by relieving the pressure of  the gasses building up underground by placing pipes in the ground for ventilation. A couple pictures later and I had enough of that.

Curious about the giant crack in old Route 61 that I’d seen pictures of online, I climbed over another barrier and ventured down the now feral highway, complete with graffiti from the local teens. Some disturbing graffiti at that. I left my car, which had just been inspected by my  mechanic days ago and which was, he said, in “perfect condition”, on the side of the road in the care of the recently ankle-sprained fellow TAT editor and photographer Ben Britz.

I arrived at the crack in the road. Not seeing any smoke or smelling any gas, I leaned in closer, and: Heat. I felt heat on my face. “What the hell,” I said. “This town certainly is on fire!” Sweating now, freaked out, I headed back the mile or so to my car to find a bloody scene. Ben had died at the hands of zombies.

But also, transmission oil was everywhere! The car would start, but it would not go. “Great”, I thought. “Frickin’ zombies in in frickin’ Zombietowne USA gnawed through the transmission line!” And I wish I could say that with another attempt to start the car that all was fine…but all was not fine.

Not that I had to battle zombies or anything. A tow truck from the nearest town (SHOCKER:  Centralia does not have a tow service or mechanic) came to my rescue, towed my cursed car away, and dropped me off at a Holiday Inn Express. The driver was a little funny, but probably not a zombie, I think. The mechanic ate Ben, though.

I don’t regret going to Centralia—it’s spooky as Hell (haha!). But I do kind of think Silent Hill was at least partially responsible for my car troubles. Be warned. The spirits of fire-demon town may not want you there. Go anyway. But maybe ride your bike.

By: Ben Britz and Elizabeth Seward

NYC Spas – Faina European Spa

Faina European Spa is named after a Russian woman named Faina. It’s her spa. Go figure. Well-versed in the art of pampering, this lady has put together quite the impressive sprawl on 57th street. Tucked away on the 2nd floor of a predictably glossy building just beneath Central Park’s west side entrance, Faina spa offers hedonists all the fixin’s—especially for those hedonists arm in arm with a lover. Perhaps best known for couples treatments, Faina does romance right. We’re talking champagne scrubs, flower petals, and some post-spa getting lucky time. (Note:  The “getting lucky time” will have to happen on your own time and, yes, as lovely as their spa is, on your own turf).

I stopped at the spa a few weeks ago for a revitalizing lavender sea salt full body scrub, and then a nice and hot steam in the adjacent shower. I followed that up with a massage that put me to sleep like a just-fed baby. And I mean that in the best way possible. Who doesn’t want to wake up with soft muscles in a room that smells like an orchard and is backlit by flickering candles?

I chose the spot pretty randomly. That’s how I like to choose most of my adventures. Turn Left. Turn Right. Turn Right. Go Straight. Get in that elevator. Open that door. Or, you know, something along those lines. And I’m happy I stumbled, more or less, into Faina.

Expect a 100% professional spa so clean you could eat off the floor with body scrubs and oils so delicious sounding that you just might do that.

I mean, umm, that’s gross. And you might die. So don’t do that. But go get your back rubbed.

By: Elizabeth Seward

Other NYC Spas on TAT:

Graceful Services

Fine Living Ayurveda Spa

Costa Rica Zip Line Canopy Tour VIDEOS!

Hurtling through the dense rainforest canopy at 40mph, the ground far away and nearly invisible through the dense foliage, I couldn’t just NOT take a video, could I? It was INTENSE. I’m going back, I promise. I had already done it once before in Ohio, and it was equally awesome, but still, you know, the rainforest, man. So cool.

Here is what it looks like from another angle; I love how you hear the buzz of the cable long before she appears out of the treetops:

Woooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Videos and text by: Ben Britz
(Check out my photography site! I just started it, but be on the lookout for more pictures.)