10 Locations That Allow You to Be in Multiple Places at Once

The U.S.-Mexican border gets a lot of attention, but in Derby Line, Vermont, Canadian residents can just stroll right in. In March, we covered the quirky Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which sits directly on the line that separates the New England town from Stanstead in Québec, Canada. Passports aren’t required to cross from the official entrance on the United States side to the Canadian side where most of the books are kept. But the black borderline that run’s across the library floor is somewhat strictly enforced: Bookworms are expected to return to their respective country post-visit and risk possible detention and fines if they don’t. And the dual-citizenship building, built in 1904, isn’t the only border-straddling site of its kind. Here are a few more spots that play it loose and free with the idea of clear boundaries.

1. DOWNTOWN BRISTOL // VIRGINIA AND TENNESSEE


Twin cities Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee share a name, a border, and a downtown district where residents of both states gather for events such as the annual fall music fest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. As the thousands of music lovers stroll down State Street they should be careful to watch their step—one side of the road is located in Virginia, the other in Tennessee.

2. FOUR CORNERS MONUMENT // UTAH, COLORADO, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA


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The quadripoint where the edges of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona meet is the only place in the United States where four states merge at one point. (Though some argue that the monument isn't exactly precise and the real point of convergence lies 1807 feet to the west.) The monument, managed by the Navajo National Department of Parks and Recreation, makes for a great photo op (place a limb in each state!) but the surrounding area offers little else. There’s no running water, electricity, or telephones and very few stores and gas stations within a 30-mile radius.

3. BAARLE-HERTOG, BELGIUM AND BAARLE NASSAU, NETHERLANDS


Dubbed “the most complicated border town in the world” by The Atlantic, this town, split between the Netherlands and Belgium, actually consists of more than 20 separate pieces of land—some as small as a little league baseball field. (There are also enclaves of the Netherlands enclosed by parts of Belgium that are enclosed by larger portions of the Netherlands.)

The earliest version of the screwy delineations reportedly came about from a series of land-swapping treaties between medieval Dukes. The result is a borderline that runs directly through houses and buildings. Each side of town has its own police officer, fire department, and mayor, and has to abide by different national laws. The messy situation has an unexpected upside, though: When a Dutch law required that restaurants shut down by a certain time, the owners simply had their patrons switch to a table on the Belgian side at closing time!

4. LLOYDMINSTER, CANADA// ALBERTA AND SASKATCHEWAN


Two years after the town was settled by England’s Barr Colonists in 1903, the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created—effectively splitting the area in two. (The fourth meridian line of longitude was selected as the divider.) For the next quarter century, the town of Lloydminster existed in Saskatchewan and the village of Lloydminster was in Alberta. The areas were joined into one municipality in 1930.

5. MONTEGO BAY RESORT // WEST WENDOVER, NEVADA AND WENDOVER, UTAH


This 552-room resort and casino’s official address is in West Wendover, Nevada, but it sits directly on the Utah-Nevada border. The placement means that the resort actually looks into the future. While the rest of Nevada is in the Pacific Time Zone, this tiny resort town, some 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, follows Utah clocks. They observe Mountain Standard Time in the winter and Mountain Daylight time from March until November.

6. NEW PINE CREEK // CALIFORNIA AND OREGON

The California-Oregon border splits this tiny rural town (population: roughly 250) in half, due to a mistake by surveyor Daniel Major in 1868. Because the New Pink Creek’s post office boxes are on the Oregon side of town, residents of the Golden State state carry California driver’s licenses that list Oregon addresses. (The city’s only school is in California.) “It’s a tale of two cities, only we’re just one little town,” local business owner Tom Carpenter told the L.A. Times. “This is definitely a strange place to live.”

7. MOUNT EVEREST// NEPAL AND CHINA


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Scaling to the peak of one of the world’s highest mountain is no small feat—more than 200 people have died attempting the climb. But if you make it to the top you can celebrate another achievement: standing in two countries at once. The China-Nepal international border runs across the mountain’s summit. Something to consider before making the climb during peak season: price. Scaling the south side in Nepal (where most adventures start) will run you about $11,000 just for a climbing permit (which is only a small portion of the total cost.) In China, in the north side, the fee is about a third of that price. But that's not to say that taking the north route from Tibet is easier. Permits are issued by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA), an organization that is known for being inconsistent when it comes to doling out access to Everest.

8. TEXARKANA // TEXAS AND ARKANSAS


The community

on the border of Texas and Arkansas (Tex-arkana, get it?) has two mayors, two police forces, and two fire departments. But the twin cities share a slogan (“Texarkana, U.S.A., where life is so large, it takes two states!”), a main road, and a post office. Stand in front of the border-straddling building and you'll have one foot in each state.

9. HOOVER DAM // NEVADA AND ARIZONA


Thanks to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, completed in 2010, visitors to this national historic landmark have the option of standing in two states at once. Not only that, placing one foot in Nevada and the other in Arizona (about 900 feet above the Colorado River) means you’re also in two different time zones!

10. CORNWALL ISLAND // QUEBEC AND HOGANSBURG, NEW YORK


A part of the Akwesasne reserve, this island is officially part of Ontario, Canada. But its position in the middle of the St. Lawrence River means it also straddles the Canadian province of Quebec and Hogansburg, New York in the U.S. (Some houses are even divided by the border with the house in Canada and the garage in the United States!) Visiting the island can be problematic for Americans: Since the Canadian Customs and Immigration station was moved from the island to the mainland in 2009, after Akwesasne Mohawks protested Canada’s decision to arm their officers, U.S. tourists must drive over one bridge to get to the island, another to check in at customs, and a third to head back.

BONUS: BIR TAWIL // EGYPT AND SUDAN (SORT OF)

This approximately 800-square mile plot of land between Egypt and Sudan was created in 1902, when a group of Brits drew a map that differed slightly from a version drawn three years earlier. The revision awarded Sudan a chunk of fertile area called the Hala’ib Triangle, while Egypt was given Bir Tawil, a fairly useless bit of the desert. Naturally, both Egypt and Sudan say Bir Tawil belongs to the other country, making it the one of the only pieces of land in the world not claimed by any nation. (Still, others have tried to claim it.) But you'll need the help of a knowledgable local to visit the no man's land. There are no maintained pathways to the region.

10 Enchanting Places That Align with the Vernal Equinox

A shadowy serpent appears at Chichen Itza on the equinox.
A shadowy serpent appears at Chichen Itza on the equinox.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

On Thursday, March 19, the vernal equinox heralded the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Ancient civilizations built calendars and observatories to track the movements of the stars and mark this monumental time. Now, people still partake in a variety of traditions and rituals to honor the day when light and dark become equal. To take your celestial celebrations to the next level, here are 10 places that align with the spring equinox.

1. On the vernal equinox, a massive snake appears on the temple at Chichen Itza.

Legend says that on the spring and fall equinoxes, the Maya city of Chichen Itza receives an otherworldly visitor: Kukulcan, the feathered serpent deity. On these days, a shadowy snake slithers down the side of the god's namesake pyramid. As the temple darkens, a single strip of light stretches from the top of the northern staircase to the snake head resting at the bottom, creating the illusion of a wriggling reptile.

2. A beam of light illuminates a petroglyph within Arizona’s Boulder House each vernal equinox.

The Boulder House in Scottsdale, Arizona, looks like a strange home wedged amid a jumble of rocks. But it’s actually a modern house built around a sacred Native American site. The Empie family, who bought the parcel of desert land in the 1980s, commissioned architect Charles Johnson to transform the cluster of 1.6-billion-year-old boulders into a functional house. Johnson crafted a unique structure, incorporating the rocks into the house’s foundation and preserving the prehistoric carvings. On the equinox, sunlight pierces between two boulders in the unusual abode, striking a spiral petroglyph on the wall to create a dazzling piece of home decor.

3. On the vernal equinox, a group of Moai on Easter Island stare directly at the sunset.

Seven Moai gaze face toward the horizon
On the equinox, these Moai stare directly at the setting sun.
abriendomundo/iStock via Getty Images

People aren’t the only ones who pause to watch the sun slip beneath the horizon on the first day of spring. On Easter Island, at a sacred site called Ahu Akivi, a line of seven Moai—the island’s giant, mysterious heads—gaze directly at the point at which the sun sets in the sky on the equinox.

4. Each vernal equinox, light drenches a petroglyph-filled cairn at Loughcrew.

The hills of Loughcrew, one of Ireland’s four main passage tomb sites, are crowned by 5000-year-old megalithic structures. At dawn on the equinox, sunlight fills Cairn T, a passage tomb carved with astoundingly well-preserved examples of Neolithic art. As the light dissolves the darkness, the cup marks that dimple its walls and the symbols adorning its back stones blaze into view. The illumination lasts for about 50 minutes, giving observers ample time to take turns squeezing into the cairn.

5. On the vernal equinox, light streams through one of the Mnajdra Prehistoric Temples.

The Mnajdra Prehistoric Temples on Malta’s southern coast are archaeological wonders. They were built between 3600 and 2500 BCE and are believed to be among the world’s oldest freestanding stone buildings. Not much is known about the people who created these megalithic masterpieces, though it’s clear they constructed one of the temples with an eye to the heavens. On the equinox, the sun streams through the South Temple’s main doorway, flooding the structure’s major axis with light.

6. On the vernal equinox, the sun sits directly atop the main temple at Angkor Wat.

Watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat would be a magical experience any day. Crowds hush as colorful hues paint the world’s largest religious structure with a gilded glow. Dawn at Angkor Wat is even more special on the equinoxes. Then, the sun rises behind the main temple before briefly seeming to balance on its tip like a fiery halo.

7. On the spring equinox, the sun rises through the entrance to Stonehenge Aotearoa.

Stonehenge has inspired replicas around the globe—including as far away as New Zealand. Stonehenge Aotearoa, which opened in 2005, was built by the Phoenix Astronomical Society. The structure is an astronomical tool for observing the local skies, and blends modern astronomy with ancient starlore. If you stand in the center of the circle on the Southern Hemisphere's vernal equinox, you can watch the sun rise directly through the Sun Gate, two carved pillars that flank the entrance to the henge.

8. The shadow of the intihuatana at Machu Picchu disappears at noon on the equinox.

A curious stone structure stands atop a temple at Machu Picchu. It’s one of the rare surviving intihuatanas that wasn’t demolished by the Spanish conquistadors. This “hitching post of the sun” is believed to have been an astronomical tool. At noon on the equinox, the granite pillar’s shadow briefly vanishes. Unfortunately, the invaluable object now looks a bit battered. In 2000, a crane toppled into the intihuatana during the filming of a beer commercial, smashing part of it.

9. At sunrise on the spring equinox, the sun bursts through the door of a temple at Dzibilchaltún.

Sunrise at Dzibilchaltún
Each equinox, the sun appears within the door of the Temple of the Seven Dolls.
renatamsousa/iStock via Getty Images

Though now reduced to a medley of ruins dotting the jungle, Dzibilchaltún was once the longest continually inhabited Maya administrative and ceremonial city. The star attraction here is the Temple of the Seven Dolls, a building named for the mysterious human-like figures discovered inside. At dawn on the equinox, the sun shines through the temple’s main door. It’s believed the sacred structure was aligned with the equinoxes to mark the beginning of the planting season and the end of the harvesting season.

10. The 'Woodhenge' at the Cahokia Mounds aligns with the sunrise on the equinox.

During the Mississippian cultural period, Cahokia's population exceeded that of London. In addition to giant pyramids, the North American city also featured circles of wooden posts, since dubbed “Woodhenge.” The wooden markers were likely used to track the sun’s movements. One of the posts aligns with the equinoxes, as well as with the front of Monks Mound. On sunrise on the equinox, it looks as though the sun is emerging from the enigmatic earthwork.

Lítla Dímun: The Smallest of the Faroe Islands Has Its Very Own Cloud

While some islands are known for their unusual geography or unique history, Lítla Dímun is notable for its weather. The island, which is the smallest of Denmark's Faroe Islands chain, is often capped by a lens-shaped cloud, making it resemble a scene from a fairytale.

According to Mental Floss's own Kerry Wolfe writing for Atlas Obscura, the cloud floating above Lítla Dímun is a lenticular cloud. This type of cloud forms when moist air flows over a protruding geological feature, like a mountain top. When the wind moving up the landmass hits the air current directly above it, a sort of wave is created on the downwind side of the mountain. The moist air falling down this wave evaporates and then condenses into a large, flying-saucer-shaped cloud atop the mountain peak as a result.

Another factor that makes Lítla Dímun distinct is that it's the only one of the 18 main Faroe Islands without human inhabitants. Visitors to the mystical location will instead find a thriving population of sheep. Originally, Lítla Dímun was home to a group of feral sheep likely dating back to the Neolithic era. But they were hunted to extinction in the 19th century. Domesticated sheep were introduced there around the same time, and today, farmers visit the island once a year to round up their flocks.

One of the few signs of human life are the ropes farmers use to scale the cliff faces bordering the island. Even if you have rock-climbing skills, Lítla Dímun may be dangerous to visit. A boat ride to the rocky shore is only possible when the surrounding sea is calm.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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