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Tourist Trap

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Like a spider weaving her web, these roadside hucksters lure you in with empty promises of amazing unforgettable sights--then they take your money and eat your young. But what do we care? We love these tourist traps!

THE OREGON VORTEX

260 miles south of Portland, in the innocent sounding town of Gold Hill, lurks a crack in the fabric of the universe, where tennis balls roll uphill, compasses instantly freak out, and Manute Bol and Mini-Me see eye to eye. Scientists have been unable to determine exactly what makes The Oregon Vortex tick, but even a 100% concrete explanation wouldn't lessen the creepy sensation of taking a sudden half-step into a David Lynch film/Lovecraft novel/Yes album cover. The official website claims that "no matter your education or profession you will find a challenge to all your accepted theories." They ain't just blowing smoke! AW

From I-5, drive about 3 hours to Exit 43, Mon-Sat 9 am-5:15 pm, $8, oregonvortex.com

OREGON SURPLUS WAREHOUSE

While not an obvious travel destination, it should be! This warehouse in Salem is the home of all the castaway items that universities, police departments, and state agencies no longer need. Like what? Like desks, chairs, and furniture for $10 each. Like used cop bicycles for $15. Like soda machines, school maps, lawn mowers, computers, gas masks, and old police cars! You can check out some of their stuff online at oregonsurplus.com, or wander around the warehouse. If you're greedy, better bring a pickup truck! WSH

I-5 south to exit #260 (Keizer/Salem Parkway). Go three miles and take a left on Cherry Ave. About a half mile to 1655 Salem Industrial Drive NE. IMPORTANT! They're only open weekdays from 1 pm to 4 pm!

THE TREESORT

Ha ha, get it? It's a resort but it's in a tree! Heh... Anyhow, at the Out N' About Treesort you can rent a hotel room in a tree house. Plus, at the Treehouse Institute of Talkima, you can take classes on everything from tree house construction to horse back riding and crafts! KS

Takilma, OR (north of the California border; see treehouses.comfor directions), (541) 592-2208, rentals start at $90

THE SELF-CLEANING HOUSE

Frances Gabe, born 1915, is one of Oregon's most renown inventors. And a quick dash to Newberg can get you a tour of her most famous invention, "The Self-Cleaning House." Correctly realizing that the constant maintenance of the home is bullshit, Frances crammed roughly 68 timesaving measures into her concrete house in Newberg to keep things tidy. These include ceiling spigots that hose down entire rooms, which are in turn covered with waterproof resin; high-powered blowers, which dry everything afterwards; a closet/washing machine; a cupboard/dishwasher and many other oddly endearing ideas. At almost 89 years old, Frances has plenty of intriguing and inspiring tales about being a woman inventor (however, you can also expect to endure an eye-rolling lecture on how "Mexicans are coming up here and taking all our jobs." What are you gonna do? She's 89 years old). Nevertheless, a visit to the Self-Cleaning House is a bizarre and fun trip out of town, and Frances is the very definition of "a piece of work." WSH

Newberg, OR. Reservations are REQUIRED. Call 503-538-4946 for appointment and directions. $25 for one; $5 additional.

MARSH'S FREE MUSEUM

Nothing says summer like salt water taffy, beautiful seashells, and horribly disfigured animals. Only at the endlessly curious Marsh's FREE (once more: FREE) Museum in Long Beach, WA., can you simultaneously play vintage arcade games, munch delicious homemade candy, and gaze on the stuffed corpse of a two-headed calf, an eight-legged goat, and Jake the Alligator Man (once the subject of almost as many Weekly World News installments as Bat Boy). You're going to the coast anyway, aren't you? Might as well get your mutated taxidermy fix while you're at it. You know, kill two birds with one stone. JWS

30W to Astoria, follow signs to Long Beach Peninsula, WA.

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