Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THIS BOOK IS subtitled “For the World’s Most Adventurous Kid,” and it is a fine addition to my collection of guidebooks, Baedeker’s and all. “For ages 9 and up,” it reads; I clearly qualify and I bet you would too.

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco, illustrated by Jou Ang, Workman Publishing, 2018.

Atlas Obscura is an online magazine, digital media company, and organizer of adventurous outings. Among other travel-oriented items are its original Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, Atlas Obscura Page-A-Day Calendar 2019, and its Gastro Obscura online portion covering “distinctive food locations around the world.”

With The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide, anyone of any age can enjoy vicarious visits to 47 countries and 100 extraordinary places. Each place gets a page of text, an illustration, and the location’s latitude and longitude for Google Map exploring. Here are examples.

Tiny Sealand is The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide’s answer to “Have you ever wanted your own country?” This micronation, just off the English coast in the North Sea, was celebrated here at SimanaitisSays.

Sealand. This and other images from Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide.

In 1967, Englishman Roy Bates established Sealand on Rough’s Tower Gun Platform, a disused military installation about the size of a baseball diamond. Today, the Principality of Sealand is the perfect place for buying an official passport, a title of nobility, even a Sealand Football jersey (er, soccer to us Yanks).

Sealand, about 7 1/2 miles off the coast of England, southeast of Felixstone, Suffolk. Image from lonely planet Micro Nations.

Ouarzazate, Morocco also made an appearance here at SimanaitisSays. In south-central Morocco, Ouarzazate was the start of a BMW drive I once did with Ron Wakefield to Marrakech and back.

Complexities of international travel precluded my taking a customary few days of “early retirement” at the time, but had I done so, Atlas Film Studios would have made a fascinating side trip.

Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate, Morocco.

As The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide notes, “Take a moment to think about your favorite movies and TV shows. Do any of them have scenes that take place in the desert? If so, they may well have been shot at Atlas Film Studios. Here the desert is littered with old movie props—some small, and some colossal.”

Ouarzazate, Morocco. Below, a closeup of Atlas Film Studios. Both images from Google Maps.

Scenery arrays at Atlas Film Studios include those from Game of Thrones, Gladiator, Patton, Star Wars, and a bunch of other desert adventures. With the help of Google Maps and other Internet links, it’s fun to perform one’s own photo tour of Atlas Film Studios.

Atlas Film Studios entrance, Ouarzazate, Morocco. Image from Sawadi Ecolodge, which also lists some 30 films shot at the venue.

Future (Vicarious) Travel. Among the guide’s 98 other venues, I’m especially eager to explore China’s Underground Project 131 (a Chairman Mao nuke haven); Malta’s Popeye Village (a 40-year-old movie set); and Vanavara, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Siberia (the site of the 1908 Tunguska Event—a meteorite hit? a black hole collision?). ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2018

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