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


Getty

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


Getty

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.

The Netherlands Is Asking the World Not to Call It “Holland” Anymore—Here’s Why

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
dennisvdw/iStock via Getty Images

If you avoided ever referring to the Netherlands as “Holland” because you weren’t quite sure if that was correct, keep doing what you’re doing. The country kicked off 2020 by officially striking the name from use.

Though Holland technically refers to only two of the Netherlands’ 12 provinces, North and South Holland, citizens have long accepted and even embraced it as another moniker for the entire country. But because those two provinces are home to popular destinations like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden, and The Hague, unmanageable masses of tourists are clogging the region and inching the Netherlands towards an over-tourism crisis.

Terminating references to Holland is part of the Netherlands’ nationwide endeavor to remind prospective tourists that the country isn’t just Holland, and it has plenty of other appealing locales beyond the quaint canals and cat houseboats of Amsterdam. As part of the rebrand, Holland will be replaced with the Netherlands in all promotional and marketing materials, as well as at companies, embassies, government offices, and universities. The country’s official logo is changing, too—instead of Holland beside an orange tulip, it’ll be the word Netherlands to the right of the initials NL (which are designed to resemble a tulip).

It’s not the Netherlands’ first attempt to keep tourism in check. According to Forbes, the Board of Tourism stopped promoting Holland as a tourist destination last May, and they’re shutting down offices in Spain, Italy, and Japan to help curb the influx of visitors. Amsterdam, meanwhile, is planning to increase its tourist tax for the second time in two years.

This latest campaign coincides with an especially significant year for the Netherlands in terms of international exposure. Not only will the country compete in this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, it’s also slated to host the Eurovision Song Contest and four soccer matches in the UEFA Euro tournament.

[h/t Forbes]

7 Mysterious Geological Formations That Still Baffle Scientists

bennymarty/iStock via Getty Images
bennymarty/iStock via Getty Images

Earth is covered with incredible geological structures, from volcanos to crystal-encrusted caves to awe-inspiring canyons. While some of our planet’s mysteries have been solved, some of its formations defy easy explanation. Here are a few that continue to baffle scientists.

1. The Eye of the Sahara // Mauritania

The Richat Structure, a.k.a. the Eye of the Sahara
ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center, NASA // Public Domain

The Eye of the Sahara, also known as the Richat Structure, is a 28-mile-wide site of huge concentric circles found in the western African nation of Mauritania. Geologists initially thought the site was created by an asteroid impact, but there isn’t enough melted rock among the rings to support this theory. Similarly, there’s no evidence to suggest a volcanic eruption. New Age enthusiasts hint that the Eye of the Sahara could represent the remains of the mythical sunken island of Atlantis, based on Plato’s allegory.

More recently, geologists have proposed that the Eye of the Sahara could be an eroded, collapsed geological dome, formed some 100 million years ago when the supercontinent Pangea broke up. Bolstering this theory are ancient rocks found on the surface, which originated as much as 125 miles beneath the Earth’s crust and before life existed on Earth. Research continues.

2. Lake Hillier // Australia

Pink Lake Hillier in Western Australia
Kurioziteti123, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This small, saltwater lake on an island off Western Australia is only one-third of a mile long, but its bubblegum-pink color makes it especially striking. The lake was documented in 1802 by British explorer Matthew Flinders, who took a sample of its waters but failed to understand how it got its startling hue. Tourists can visit only by helicopter, though it is safe to swim in the waters.

Scientists today suspect the color is due to the presence of a pink alga, Dunaliella salina, and/or a pink bacterium, Salinibacter ruber. But unlike other pink lakes around the world, such as Lake Retba in Senegal, Lake Hillier’s color doesn’t fluctuate with temperature or sunlight—so the investigation goes on.

3. The Great Unconformity // United States

Great Unconformity at the Grand Canyon
Alex Demas, USGS // Public Domain

The Great Unconformity is a huge gap in the geological record: Layers of rock dating from about 1.2 billion to 250 million years ago are completely missing from certain areas around the globe. This enormous chunk of lost time can be seen clearly in the stratigraphy of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Geologists studying the anomaly there have noted that there is plenty of rock, full of fossils, from the Cambrian period (540 million years ago) but the layer beneath it is basement rock, formed roughly 1 billion years ago and empty of fossils. So, what happened to the stuff in between?

An emerging theory—"Snowball Earth”— may explain where the rock disappeared to. Around 700 million years ago, Earth was encased in snow and ice. Moving glaciers peeled off the planet’s crust with the help of lubricating sediments, pushing it into oceans, where it was reabsorbed by subducting tectonic plates. Many questions remain unanswered, though—such as the multimillion-year gap between the end of Snowball Earth, around 635 million years ago, and the start of the Cambrian period.

4. Nastapoka Arc // Canada

Aerial view of Hudson Bay
Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In the southeast corner of Hudson Bay, Canada, lies a near-perfect arc. The mysterious half-circle, also known as the Hudson Bay Arc, was first thought to be an impact crater from a meteorite. But none of the usual confirming evidence, such as shatter cones or unusual melted rocks, has been found in the vicinity.

The most commonly accepted theory for the arc, based on geological evidence collected in the 1970s and later, is that it is a boundary formed when one shelf of rock was pushed under another other. That doesn’t explain how or why is it’s so perfectly round—so the Nastapoka Arc remains subject to ongoing study.

5. Mima Mounds // United States

Mima Mounds in Washington
zrfphoto/iStock via Getty Images

The Mima Mounds are mysterious, uniform undulations in the grasslands of Washington State near Olympia, ranging from 10 to 164 feet in diameter and up to 6.5 feet tall. When American explorer Charles Wilkes set eyes on them in 1841, he believed they were human-made burial mounds and had three of them excavated, only to find them filled with loose stones. Similar mounds are found from California to Colorado and have puzzled naturalists for years.

Scientists suggest that some of the mounds may be 30,000 years old, which makes decoding them complex; humans are believed to have arrived in North America several thousand years later than that. Many theories about their cause—glacial flooding, whirlpools, and even wind-blown sediment clumping around vegetation—have been dismissed. The current leading theory, based on computer modelling, is that pocket gophers created the mounds. Yet doubts remain: No one has ever witnessed a pocket gopher building one.

6. Fairy Circles // Namibia

Fairy circles in Namibia
demerzel21/iStock via Getty Images

Up close, the fairy circles in the Namib Desert are just circular patches of bare red earth, surrounded by tufts of grass. But from a bird’s-eye view, these spots stretch endlessly across the arid landscape, creating a regular polka-dot pattern. Folktales claim the spots are the gods’ footprints, but scientists have searched for an evidence-based explanation.

At first, some proposed that the circles are created when plants compete for water: The root systems of the successful vegetation dominate the ground, while smaller plants are unable to compete, leaving bare patches of desert. In 2017, a promising new theory appeared in the journal Nature. Excavations of several circles revealed termite nests under each one, implying the circles were created by the termites eating the vegetation above their territory, allowing desert grasses to flourish only between each nest. Ecologists modeled both the plant-competition and hungry-termite theories, and found that both supported conditions conducive to fairy circles. But with such a complex ecosystem, scientists say more research is needed.

7. Yamal Craters // Russia

Aerial view of the Yamal Peninsula, Siberia
Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, NASA // Public Domain

In 2014, a helicopter pilot flying over the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, which juts into the Kara Sea, noticed an enormous hole in the permafrost. Scientists rushed to analyze the nearly 100-foot-wide crater and determine its origin. A meteorite impact, a natural gas explosion, or alien interference were all floated as possible causes.

Tests of the air at the bottom of the crater revealed very high levels of methane, pointing to an explosion—possibly brought on by several unusually warm summers that destabilized the permafrost. But an equally likely explanation, according to some researchers, is that the crater represents a slow, long-term collapse of the permafrost itself rather than a recent explosion. Since then, more craters have been discovered. Further study is needed, but the treacherous permafrost makes research difficult.

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