Santa Cruz Mystery Spot
Santa Cruz, California
Heading down a spooky, darkly forested dirt road just outside of this beach resort town, we can almost feel invisible force lines twisted askew of normal reality. Yup, another mystery spot, exerting its paranormal pull on our equilibrium and our wallets.
The Santa Cruz Mystery Spot is nearly the same as when we've seen it in the past. The '89 Bay Area earthquake (with its epicenter in nearby Aptos) devastated downtown Santa Cruz, broke some stuff in the Spot gift shop, but had no effect on the spot's antics (Not so for the Oregon Vortex, where the 1980 Mount Saint Helen's eruption weakened the force that makes brooms stand on end).
Our veteran guide, Pat Musselman, points out that people still get headaches on the tour from the STRANGE FORCES . . .
Two tour buses arrive during our visit. One delivers bored, Latino teens along with their teacher-guide. The other disgorges thirty Japanese tourists fresh from the Winchester Mystery House. Pat steps aside as the Japanese guide leads his pack up the hill to various Stations of Discombobulation.
Each group pauses to observe instantaneous height changes in their companions, balls rolling up hill, and the dreaded "Mystery Shack." The clapboard shack has suffered the eerie fate that befalls all spot-straddling real estate: twisted, sucked down the hill and transformed into Vertigo Central.
The tour groups crowd into the shack, watching the various "experiments." Japanese teens charge up the wall, yelling "HOI!" or something, while their elders shrink back and try to make it out the exit without falling.
Pat's been catching faint shack visitors for over ten years -- but he only works here one day a week. He says they're always on the lookout for new mystery spot guides. The training isn't too rigorous, and most of the current guides are "seniors," so they need some new blood.
Note: Everyone goes home with a free Mystery Spot bumper sticker.