7 Bizarre And Beautiful Sinkholes That Became Tourist Attractions


Did the earth move for you, too? Carole King sang the lyrics “’I feel the earth move under my feet” about falling in love. Falling when it comes to love isn’t half bad. But it’s not to be mistaken for the falling sensation of your building sliding into a sinkhole. Fortunately, there are warning signs as most sinkholes occur slowly. But we’ve all seen news stories where the earth opens like a trap door, swallowing up parking lots, roads, and even houses. When the dust settles, it’s human nature to be curious about what went down there, which is why sinkholes make such great tourist attractions. Here are some you can see for yourself.

Sinkhole exhibit at the National Corvette Museum.
National Corvette Museum

1. The National Corvette Museum

Bowling Green, Kentucky

In the early hours of February 12, 2014, a sinkhole 40 feet wide and 20 feet deep opened under the Skydome at the National Corvette Museum. Whoops! Eight one-of-a-kind Corvettes worth millions of dollars nose-dived to their doom. Motion detectors alerted security that something was amiss. According to a CNN report, the staff member sent in to investigate was “in shock all day.” The hole was so deep the vehicles looked like mangled Matchbox cars. In a surprise turn of events, visitor numbers jumped by 70 percent as people lined up to gawk at the mangled cars and that big hole.

It wasn’t feasible to keep the sinkhole, so the museum replicated the attraction with their Skydome Sinkhole Experience. Relive the collapse in a sinkhole simulator. View the security footage of the cave-in and the winched-up remains of those priceless Corvettes (car lovers, bring your tissues). Peek down at the cavern through a small glass viewing portal. Buy sinkhole-related merchandise, such as T-Shirts, postcards, and prints, in the gift shop. Apparently, sinkholes can be great for business. 

Two people walking in Umpherston Sinkhole.
South Australian Tourism Commission / Adam Bruzzone

2. Umpherston Sinkhole

Mount Gambier, South Australia 

Sinkholes aren’t generally a problem in Australia because of the dry conditions. But in Mount Gambier, South Australia, crater lakes formed over 5,000 years ago when volcanoes erupted, and the lava cooled to form a subterranean network of caves. The collapse of cave roofs left more than 50 sinkholes. Umpherston Sinkhole is named after James Umpherston, a retired farmer and politician who had the vision to turn a gigantic sinkhole into a sunken garden in 1886. Also called the Secret Garden, the downward leading terraces are veiled by curtains of vines as if one were entering the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 

In the height of summer, this is a cool, dank sanctuary. Walk down the gentle ramp to the viewing point. People on the cave floor beneath appear as mere dots. Reaching them involves steps — lots of them. Of course, it’s worth the climb. How many people can say they have explored the bottom of a sinkhole? The Jurassic-like gardens have colossal tree ferns and towering palms. Enjoy the lush lawns, sculptures, and water features. You can also hand feed the possums with chopped fruit when they venture out into the floodlit gardens at dusk.

Divers in Kilsby Sinkhole.
Photographer Adam Stern

3. Kilsby Sinkhole

Moorak, South Australia 

While Umpherston is in the town of Mount Gambier, the Kilsby Sinkhole is a 16-minute drive away and in the middle of a sheep paddock! It’s a sink-or-swim experience as this 213-foot deep sinkhole is full of water. Originally Graham Kilsby used the water for farming until he discovered he had a coveted attraction — crystal clear water offering breathtaking visibility. Today Kilsby Sinkhole is world-renowned as one of the best sinkholes for diving. Shafts of sunlight pierce the water, making divers feel like angels descending through heaven or astronauts floating effortlessly in space. Land tours cost a few dollars to learn about the site’s geology and secret military history. Snorkeling is under the supervision of an industry-certified guide. Diving and freediving are permitted but only with approved operators

To-Soa Ocean Trench in Samoa.
edierdel / Shutterstock.com

4. To-Sua Ocean Trench

Apia, Samoa

To-Sua is perhaps the most beautiful and unusual place to swim on the planet. The sinkhole originated thousands of years ago when volcanic eruptions created a lava tunnel. When the roof cooled, it became too heavy and collapsed, lifting the lid on a natural circular swimming hole beneath. Owned by a local village family, To-Sua is surrounded by the lush, tropical gardens they lovingly tend. Setting off this vivid greenery, the water ranges from bright turquoise to sparkling emerald green. Take the nerve-racking climb down on the wooden ladder or a leap-of-faith jump from on high. Pacific Ocean seawater flows in through an underground channel, and tidal surges force water into the pool. Hold the strung rope provided for stability as you bob around like a cork.

Editor’s Note: To-Sua Ocean Trench also made our list of 7 Places Where You Can See The Bluest Waters In The World.

Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com

5. Darvaza Crater (The Door To Hell)

Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan

Darvaza Crater is a fire-and-brimstone sinkhole in Turkmenistan in Central Asia. The origins of this fiery pit are shrouded in mystery. According to some accounts, it was likely caused by pre-1991 Soviet drilling that took place back when Turkmenistan was part of the Soviet Union. Geologists were drilling on a large pocket of natural gas that couldn’t support their equipment’s weight. The site collapsed, taking the drilling rig with it. To stop the escape of toxic fumes, they decided to set this gaping pit alight, expecting the flames to die out in a week. That was in 1971, and the pit still burns 50 years later. This burning cauldron is about the size of a football field in the middle of the Karakum Desert. So don’t expect souvenir shops, water, or an entrance fee. 

The Darvaza Crater is 160 miles from the capital of Ashgabat, a three-hour rough drive in a 4WD drive that includes sand dunes and roaming camels. Tourists can complete this trip in a day. But camping here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nobody camps too close, even on the coldest desert nights. Those flames are hot as hell! That said, seeing the stars under a desert sky near this glowing red cauldron is magic. 

Pro Tip: Turkmenistan travel agencies can organize these trips. Guides cook a traditional meal on the campfires. Unless you enjoy completely wild desert camping, ask whether the yurt camp you will stay in has a toilet tent.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about visiting Darvaza Gas Crater in Teresa Otto’s account of eight fantastic stops she enjoyed on a luxurious Silk Road rail trip.

6. Devil’s Sinkhole

Rocksprings, Texas

As Batman would say, “To the bat cave! There’s no time to lose.” Devil’s Sinkhole is a vertical cavern with a 50-foot-wide opening and a depth of more than 400 feet. According to anthropologists, Native Americans may have regarded sinkholes as symbolic entrances to the underworld and used them as burial sites. Locals have found arrowheads and burned rocks here. The cavern is home to more than three million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats during the summer months. They emerge at dusk like a whirling 60-foot-wide tornado rising en masse in the air in a show that lasts up to an hour. The experience is only available for those on a Texas Parks and Wildlife tour. Guests approach the sinkhole in a bus that’s called — you guessed it — the Batmobile. 

7. Top Of The Rock Golf Course

Ridgedale, Missouri 

Golfers can only dream of hitting a hole in one. Mother Nature made their task easier in 2015 when she remodeled the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course Top of the Rock by opening up a 70-foot-wide, 40-foot-deep sinkhole after heavy rainfall. Instead of filling it in, Johnny Morris, noted conservationist and founder of Bass Pro Shops and Big Cedar Lodge, stabilized the area and began excavations down to 200 feet. The removal of 108,000 loads of dirt and rock unearthed towering formations over 300 million years old. As they resemble spires, he renamed the site Cathedral of Nature for its sheer size and awe-inspiring grandeur.

Even Antoni Gaudi, the creator of the Sagrada Familia, would be impressed. But do more than stare. This area 10 miles south of Branson, Missouri, offers a host of activities. Shuttles run from The Top of the Rock welcome center to the Top of the Rock facilities where guests can enjoy multiple dining options such as Arnie’s Barn, Buffalo Bar, and Osage, plus sweeping views of the Ozarks from the highest point in Taney County. They can also take a peek at the Cathedral of Nature sinkhole. Other attractions include the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail and the Ancient Ozarks Natural Museum. In 2018, plans were unveiled to build a Top of the Rock Lodge overlooking the Cathedral of Nature. Guests will be able to swim close to the edge of the now safe sinkhole in the lodge’s infinity pool. 



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Google Maps Street View: Woman in bikini suffers from bizarre body glitch in weird photo | Travel News


Google Maps Street View: Woman in bikini suffers from bizarre body glitch in weird photo | Travel News | Travel » TechnoCodex





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“Tampa Bay Raptaneers” set to tip off bizarre regular season against Pelicans – Red Deer Advocate


Before team president Masai Ujiri placed the lucky toonie in the Raptors’ new practice floor, the team president held it aloft and said: “This is for the Tampa Bay Raptaneers.”

The joke was a reference to Toronto’s temporary NFL neighbours, the Buccaneers. And it said plenty about the bizarre season the Raptors are about to begin.

The Raptors host New Orleans on Wednesday to tip off a new season. Any other year, Kyle Lowry and a new-look lineup would dominate the storylines. But this isn’t any other year.

Due to Canada’s travel restrictions around COVID-19, the Raptors are forced to play at least the first half of a 72-game schedule in Tampa, Fla. The Raptors have tried to make the city on Florida’s west coast feel like home, building a new practice facility in in a downtown Marriott, and hanging the team’s 2019 NBA championship banner from the rafters of Amalie Arena alongside Lightning star Vincent Lacavalier’s retired jersey.

A year after more than 20,000 fans celebrated the Raptors’ NBA championship ring ceremony on opening night at Scotiabank Arena, a limited crowd of 3,800 fans will be at Amalie for Wednesday’s opener because of COVID-19 protocols.

“I understand what goes into making this thing work … I think everything is in place to ensure that we can be as safe as possible,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said.

“It was a little weird (during the pre-season) being back in front of fans for the first time in a while but I think we’ll all get used to the weirdness of this year quickly.”

The global pandemic could play the big spoiler this season. For now, the league has released the schedule up to March, and the Raptors would love to move back to Toronto for the second half.

But if not?

“We want to win. We want to play basketball. So, whether we are in Naples, whether we are in a bubble in Orlando, whether we’re here, whether we’re coming back, we play sports to win. All of us believe in that,” Ujiri said.

“You are going to have adversity. You are going to have things that get in the way, but we have that mindset as an organization and I’m really proud of them for this. Wherever we are playing (the playoffs next summer) we will try our best.”

On the floor, Lowry will quarterback a new-look lineup after a hectic, abbreviated free agency period saw Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol leave. Ujiri signed Aron Baynes to help replace them.

And if the Raptors have proved anything, it’s their ability to overcome player departures. Toronto had its best regular season in franchise history after losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in free agency, going 53-19 with a 73.6 win percentage before the pandemic shut down last season. Boasting a defence that was second in the league, they clinched the No. 2 spot in the NBA. Nick Nurse earned coach of the year honours.

“I’m thinking we were probably in a similar-ish situation last year,” Nurse said on the eve of the opener. “I don’t think anybody thought super highly of our team going into last year. So, what I do know is we compete very hard and we’ve got a really good core group of guys that’s won a lot of games and they know how to win.

“There’s a lot of specialness inside some of these guys and they certainly show that a lot of times. So I’m excited to see the ball go up for real and watch us bring out our real competitive edge that we seem to play with.”

One of the most promising storylines is the play of Malachi Flynn, picked No. 29 in last month’s draft. The point guard was impressive during the team’s three pre-season games, but can’t wait for his regular-season debut.

“Definitely,” he said. “Pre-season is overrated, it doesn’t count, so, the real thing starts (Wednesday) and it’s something to be excited for.”

The emergence of OG Anunoby last season, particularly in the Disney bubble, was a big boost for the Raptors. Ujiri rewarded the forward on Monday with a four-year contract extension reportedly worth US$72 million.

“He hopefully understands he can become one of the league’s elite defenders,” Nurse said. “I love that part of the game. It’s old-school, it’s like a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel in baseball or whatever. I love that part, there’s a guy that can come in there and you know that’s what he is, right? And then (his offence), I just think continues to develop.”

A spotlight will be on Pascal Siakam this season. Shouldering the scoring load after Leonard left, he fared well for the first few months, earning his first all-star appearance. But when the league restarted in the bubble, he wilted under fierce defensive attention by opponents. Fingers pointed his direction when Toronto was eliminated by Boston in the conference semifinals.

The future of Terence Davis is also a question mark. Davis was arrested in October in New York after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. He had a virtual court appearance on Dec. 11, and has another hearing Wednesday. Nurse said he expected to have Davis in the lineup for opening night.

On the heels of hosting New Orleans, the Raptors head out on their first road trip of the regular season, playing at San Antonio on Boxing Day and Philadelphia on Dec. 29.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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“Tampa Bay Raptaneers” set to tip off bizarre regular season against Pelicans


Before team president Masai Ujiri placed the lucky toonie in the Raptors’ new practice floor, the team president held it aloft and said: “This is for the Tampa Bay Raptaneers.

Before team president Masai Ujiri placed the lucky toonie in the Raptors’ new practice floor, the team president held it aloft and said: “This is for the Tampa Bay Raptaneers.” 

The joke was a reference to Toronto’s temporary NFL neighbours, the Buccaneers. And it said plenty about the bizarre season the Raptors are about to begin.

The Raptors host New Orleans on Wednesday to tip off a new season. Any other year, Kyle Lowry and a new-look lineup would dominate the storylines. But this isn’t any other year.

Due to Canada’s travel restrictions around COVID-19, the Raptors are forced to play at least the first half of a 72-game schedule in Tampa, Fla. The Raptors have tried to make the city on Florida’s west coast feel like home, building a new practice facility in in a downtown Marriott, and hanging the team’s 2019 NBA championship banner from the rafters of Amalie Arena alongside Lightning star Vincent Lacavalier’s retired jersey.

A year after more than 20,000 fans celebrated the Raptors’ NBA championship ring ceremony on opening night at Scotiabank Arena, a limited crowd of 3,800 fans will be at Amalie for Wednesday’s opener because of COVID-19 protocols.

“I understand what goes into making this thing work . . . I think everything is in place to ensure that we can be as safe as possible,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. 

“It was a little weird (during the pre-season) being back in front of fans for the first time in a while but I think we’ll all get used to the weirdness of this year quickly.”

The global pandemic could play the big spoiler this season. For now, the league has released the schedule up to March, and the Raptors would love to move back to Toronto for the second half.

But if not?

“We want to win. We want to play basketball. So, whether we are in Naples, whether we are in a bubble in Orlando, whether we’re here, whether we’re coming back, we play sports to win. All of us believe in that,” Ujiri said. 

“You are going to have adversity. You are going to have things that get in the way, but we have that mindset as an organization and I’m really proud of them for this. Wherever we are playing (the playoffs next summer) we will try our best.”

On the floor, Lowry will quarterback a new-look lineup after a hectic, abbreviated free agency period saw Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol leave. Ujiri signed Aron Baynes to help replace them. 

And if the Raptors have proved anything, it’s their ability to overcome player departures. Toronto had its best regular season in franchise history after losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in free agency, going 53-19 with a 73.6 win percentage before the pandemic shut down last season. Boasting a defence that was second in the league, they clinched the No. 2 spot in the NBA. Nick Nurse earned coach of the year honours.

“I’m thinking we were probably in a similar-ish situation last year,” Nurse said on the eve of the opener. “I don’t think anybody thought super highly of our team going into last year. So, what I do know is we compete very hard and we’ve got a really good core group of guys that’s won a lot of games and they know how to win. 

“There’s a lot of specialness inside some of these guys and they certainly show that a lot of times. So I’m excited to see the ball go up for real and watch us bring out our real competitive edge that we seem to play with.”

One of the most promising storylines is the play of Malachi Flynn, picked No. 29 in last month’s draft. The point guard was impressive during the team’s three pre-season games, but can’t wait for his regular-season debut.

“Definitely,” he said. “Pre-season is overrated, it doesn’t count, so, the real thing starts (Wednesday) and it’s something to be excited for.”

The emergence of OG Anunoby last season, particularly in the Disney bubble, was a big boost for the Raptors. Ujiri rewarded the forward on Monday with a four-year contract extension reportedly worth US$72 million. 

“He hopefully understands he can become one of the league’s elite defenders,” Nurse said. “I love that part of the game. It’s old-school, it’s like a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel in baseball or whatever. I love that part, there’s a guy that can come in there and you know that’s what he is, right? And then (his offence), I just think continues to develop.”

A spotlight will be on Pascal Siakam this season. Shouldering the scoring load after Leonard left, he fared well for the first few months, earning his first all-star appearance. But when the league restarted in the bubble, he wilted under fierce defensive attention by opponents. Fingers pointed his direction when Toronto was eliminated by Boston in the conference semifinals.

The future of Terence Davis is also a question mark. Davis was arrested in October in New York after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. He had a virtual court appearance on Dec. 11, and has another hearing Wednesday. Nurse said he expected to have Davis in the lineup for opening night.

On the heels of hosting New Orleans, the Raptors head out on their first road trip of the regular season, playing at San Antonio on Boxing Day and Philadelphia on Dec. 29. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020. 

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press



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“Tampa Bay Raptaneers” set to tip off bizarre regular season against Pelicans


Before team president Masai Ujiri placed the lucky toonie in the Raptors’ new practice floor, the team president held it aloft and said: “This is for the Tampa Bay Raptaneers.”

The joke was a reference to Toronto’s temporary NFL neighbours, the Buccaneers. And it said plenty about the bizarre season the Raptors are about to begin.

The Raptors host New Orleans on Wednesday to tip off a new season. Any other year, Kyle Lowry and a new-look lineup would dominate the storylines. But this isn’t any other year.

Due to Canada’s travel restrictions around COVID-19, the Raptors are forced to play at least the first half of a 72-game schedule in Tampa, Fla. The Raptors have tried to make the city on Florida’s west coast feel like home, building a new practice facility in in a downtown Marriott, and hanging the team’s 2019 NBA championship banner from the rafters of Amalie Arena alongside Lightning star Vincent Lacavalier’s retired jersey.

A year after more than 20,000 fans celebrated the Raptors’ NBA championship ring ceremony on opening night at Scotiabank Arena, a limited crowd of 3,800 fans will be at Amalie for Wednesday’s opener because of COVID-19 protocols.

“I understand what goes into making this thing work . . . I think everything is in place to ensure that we can be as safe as possible,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said.

“It was a little weird (during the pre-season) being back in front of fans for the first time in a while but I think we’ll all get used to the weirdness of this year quickly.”

The global pandemic could play the big spoiler this season. For now, the league has released the schedule up to March, and the Raptors would love to move back to Toronto for the second half.

But if not?

“We want to win. We want to play basketball. So, whether we are in Naples, whether we are in a bubble in Orlando, whether we’re here, whether we’re coming back, we play sports to win. All of us believe in that,” Ujiri said.

“You are going to have adversity. You are going to have things that get in the way, but we have that mindset as an organization and I’m really proud of them for this. Wherever we are playing (the playoffs next summer) we will try our best.”

On the floor, Lowry will quarterback a new-look lineup after a hectic, abbreviated free agency period saw Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol leave. Ujiri signed Aron Baynes to help replace them.

And if the Raptors have proved anything, it’s their ability to overcome player departures. Toronto had its best regular season in franchise history after losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in free agency, going 53-19 with a 73.6 win percentage before the pandemic shut down last season. Boasting a defence that was second in the league, they clinched the No. 2 spot in the NBA. Nick Nurse earned coach of the year honours.

“I’m thinking we were probably in a similar-ish situation last year,” Nurse said on the eve of the opener. “I don’t think anybody thought super highly of our team going into last year. So, what I do know is we compete very hard and we’ve got a really good core group of guys that’s won a lot of games and they know how to win.

“There’s a lot of specialness inside some of these guys and they certainly show that a lot of times. So I’m excited to see the ball go up for real and watch us bring out our real competitive edge that we seem to play with.”

One of the most promising storylines is the play of Malachi Flynn, picked No. 29 in last month’s draft. The point guard was impressive during the team’s three pre-season games, but can’t wait for his regular-season debut.

“Definitely,” he said. “Pre-season is overrated, it doesn’t count, so, the real thing starts (Wednesday) and it’s something to be excited for.”

The emergence of OG Anunoby last season, particularly in the Disney bubble, was a big boost for the Raptors. Ujiri rewarded the forward on Monday with a four-year contract extension reportedly worth US$72 million.

“He hopefully understands he can become one of the league’s elite defenders,” Nurse said. “I love that part of the game. It’s old-school, it’s like a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel in baseball or whatever. I love that part, there’s a guy that can come in there and you know that’s what he is, right? And then (his offence), I just think continues to develop.”

A spotlight will be on Pascal Siakam this season. Shouldering the scoring load after Leonard left, he fared well for the first few months, earning his first all-star appearance. But when the league restarted in the bubble, he wilted under fierce defensive attention by opponents. Fingers pointed his direction when Toronto was eliminated by Boston in the conference semifinals.

The future of Terence Davis is also a question mark. Davis was arrested in October in New York after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. He had a virtual court appearance on Dec. 11, and has another hearing Wednesday. Nurse said he expected to have Davis in the lineup for opening night.

On the heels of hosting New Orleans, the Raptors head out on their first road trip of the regular season, playing at San Antonio on Boxing Day and Philadelphia on Dec. 29.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2020.

© Copyright Times Colonist





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Man arrested after bizarre wing-walking stunt at Las Vegas airport


On Saturday afternoon, Las Vegas police arrested a man who climbed onto the wing of a departing Alaska Airlines flight at McCarran International Airport. The 45-minute incident was captured on video by passengers seated by windows on the Portland-bound flight.

From various videos, it appears the man was not a passenger on the flight, but somehow managed to get up on the wing from the ramp. One video shows the man sitting on the wing for a few moments, then walking toward the wing tip. (See video here.)

A subsequent video shows him taking off his shoes and trying to scale the wingtip in bare feet. After a few tries, he fell to the ground as police approached from the ramp and from the wing, having gained access to it via the emergency exit door. (See next video here or see below.)

In a statement, Alaska Airlines said, “The aircraft was preparing for take-off when the pilot noticed an individual advancing towards the aircraft. The pilots notified the tower. Law enforcement was dispatched and was able to apprehend the individual.”

According to ABC News, police arrested Alejandro Carlson, 41, who was treated for minor injuries after what appeared to be a very rough fall from the wing.

“This fella is fine, which is great.  A bloody nose…all personnel on the plane and on the tarmac were simply amazing.  So nice to see…” tweeted Brooke Knight, one of the passengers who witnessed the incident and posted a video online.

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