Find diversion in peculiar places
Life is always more fun with a dash of oddity.
With that in mind, if you're looking for a destination that's a little out-of-the-ordinary - or just want a reprieve from the whirlwind of the economy - check out these suggestions.
They're some of the most offbeat local landmarks you'll find this side of the Citgo sign.
But mechanical engineer Elis Stenman? He furnished a summer cottage with newsprint.
Tucked away among a clutter of seaside homes on a Rockport hill, his two-room shack features wallpaper and furniture crafted from 100,000 newspapers from all over the world.
Starting it as an experiment in 1922 - and not finishing until 20 years later - Stenman cut and rolled up papers, then assembled them in the fashion of
After a creaky walk across a board porch, you'll see a bevy of items crafted in this fashion: a set of octagonal-seated chairs with the initials "EFS"; a palm-tree shaped lamp; a 4-foot-wide dining table; a desk made wholly of accounts of Charles Lindbergh's famous flight, with headlines such as "Lindbergh sails for home Saturday" clearly visible; a piano; a bookshelf assembled from foreign newspapers; a fireplace; and a grandfather clock made of newspapers from all of the then-48 US capitals.
Meanwhile, walls are plastered with time-tinged diamonds of paper in 215 lacquered thicknesses, with holes burrowed in spots by curious fingers.
Lean in and read the headlines and advertisements, many of which disappear into one another: "New Merchandise Arrivin . . ." "Sox Lose in . . ." ". . . Seek Parents of Dead Boy Cyclist."
All told, this creation prompts the thought: Maybe the three little pigs would've fared better if they just read the newspaper.
Yet the pachyderm's tail is maintained proudly by Tufts University, a benefactor of P.T. Barnum, who showed the wrinkly-skinned peanut-eater in circus shows all over the country until his accidental death.
Caught as a baby in Africa in 1861, Jumbo was the first celebrity elephant - and weighing an imposing 6 tons and standing 12 feet high at the shoulders, he was also said to be one of the largest, according to Tufts.
For several years, he toured with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, drawing crowds and traveling in a specially constructed rail car.
But in 1885, his career ended when he was struck by an oncoming train in Ontario.
Barnum had the beloved elephant's hide and skeleton saved and mounted separately, then continued with both on tour. Later, Tufts was gifted his skin, and the American Museum of Natural History received his bones, according to Tufts archivist Susanne Belovari.
Until a fire destroyed the thick gray epidermis in 1975, Jumbo was stuffed and on display at Tufts, which took him on as a college mascot.
Today, all that remains is his wilted tail, kept in the college's digital collections and archives.
But he's been memorialized in other ways: An urn of his ashes serves as a good luck charm for the school's athletic teams, and an elephant statue in the school quad attests to his continued influence.
Then there are all the historical materials - the college has hundreds of photos and documents. Likewise, he lent his name to the college sports team and yearbook, and he's emblazoned on sweatshirts and notebooks.
"There are a lot of threads going throughout the university," noted Belovari.
This large hunk of a boulder, discovered in a field, was initially passed off as the grave of Thorvald
Scholars have since placed Ericsson's grave in eastern Canada, but Thorvald's Rock continues to draw believers and skeptics alike. Over the years, visitors have chipped away pieces to keep as souvenirs. So authentic or not, it is now protected in a barred, well-like structure. (And the area around its former location is memorialized by Thorwald Avenue and Viking Street.)
"It's highly dubious that it is actually a Viking rock," asserted Tuck Museum director Betty Moore. But, she added, "People love to believe these stories."
This isn't the Mozart of the natural world - melodious notes won't drift up from the pale, warm sand as you stroll along in search of skittering sea creatures or clam shells.
Instead, get up high and dry, drag your feet or dig your heels in, and you'll hear distinct, high-pitched squeaks (created by the pressure of the grains colliding).
Not exactly music to the ears (or the feet), but an intriguing coastal oddity.
Propped-up in a grassy gully and truly out of its element, this massive monument of Cold War maritime ingenuity was the first Navy-designed vessel built specifically to operate underwater (its predecessors, by contrast, were classified as surface vessels with the capacity to dip below the waves.)
According to its website, the teardrop-shaped USS Albacore (below) was designed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and saw service from 1953 to 1972.
At its high and dry memorial, explore a propeller field - each blade wider than the average man - duck through watertight oval doors with an intaglio of whirligigs, and squeeze through narrow, utilitarian quarters.
Then note the irony of this revolutionary vessel resting for eternity on land.