abita mystery house 4

Yours truly, inspiredI visited the Abita Mystery House (or, more accurately, it visited me) in backwater Louisiana a few years back, and it remains the gold standard of roadside attractions.

Owner/eccentric John Preble, inspired by Albuquerque’s Tinkertown masterpiece (tucked away in the Sandias), opened up UCM Museum – You See ‘Em or, technically, Unusual Collections and Mini-Town – in 1998. You enter via a 1930’s gas station in tiny Abita Springs and stumble mind-bogingly upon 50,000 found and recycled objects or, as the wonderfully outdated and retro web site warns: “Tourists see a miniature Southern town with push-buttons that activate animated ‘displays.’  On exhibit are odd collections, memorabilia, pure junk, and old arcade machines that are fun to play.”

But wait. There’s a “100yr old Louisiana Creole cottage, an exhibition hall of memorabilia and junk, and the much photographed House of Shards…a Mardi Gras parade, a New Orleans jazz funeral, a rhythm and blues dance hall, a haunted Southern plantation, and much more!”

Visually stunning, splattered with humor, and sultry as only the Louisiana bayou can do, all of it resides an hour north of New Orleans.  What’s keeping you?  [please hover over images for captions]

About Ben

Ben Batchelder has traveled some of the world's most remote roads. Nothing in his background, from a degree in Visual & Environmental Studies at Harvard to an MBA from Wharton, adequately prepared him for the experiences. Yet he persists, for through such journeys life unfolds. Having published four books that map the inner and exterior geographies of meaningful travel, he is a mountain man in Minas Gerais, Brazil who comes down to the sea at Miami Beach, Florida. His second travel yarn, To Belém & Back, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. For more, visit www.benbatchelder.com.

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