It’s tough to follow the House on the Rock, one of my all-time top must-see places, but I’ll give it a shot.
My name is Annetta Black, and I’m the senior editor here at Atlas Obscura. Here’s little bit about me:
I got an early start as a traveler when my family moved to Riyadh for my dad’s work. The flight itself was exotic enough, with three stopovers in far flung cites, and then Saudi Arabia’s camels, maze-like souks, and ancient mud castles were magical to me as a seven year old. En route home, we detoured through seven European countries, giving me an early taste for train travel, street markets, and strange licorice flavored candies. As soon as I was done with school I got on another plane, and I have been traveling as often as possible ever since.
Years later, I abandoned my relatively stable San Francisco life for six months of seriously under-funded, mostly solo travel in Europe, a move I highly recommend even if it means occasionally having to consider stolen packets of soup crackers an acceptable dinner substitute.
I’ve always loved macabre stories and secret places, but on that trip I discovered a previously unsuspected passion for history. The catalyst was an unplanned bus tour through the Flanders countryside (Belgium in March is freezing. The brochure promised heating.). One afternoon of exploring lead-soaked farmland, collapsed trenches, and German pillboxes changed me from completely indifferent to rabidly interested in WWI history. I realized how little I knew, and after seeing the rebuilt cathedral in Ypres and unexploded 80 year old munitions by the side of country roads, I sought out the stories that would put the places I saw into context. I began to see travel as a way not only of seeing the world as it is, but understanding the past, and I also began to see how knowing the stories changes the way you see a place.
I joined up with Josh and Dylan shortly after the Atlas launched. I had been looking for something like it for years, and had started to compile the strange places I had seen in my travels when I came across the freshly minted Atlas. It appears that we all share some sort of creepy travel/esoterica/history/doom hive mind. I hope you do, too.