Monday, December 6, 2010


The following is a treatise on the merits of the prehistoric English monument known to tourists worldwide as Stonehenge, juxtaposed with those of its American emulator, Foamhenge.

As any Anglophile, Neo-Pagan, middle-Neolithic scholar, or person who's ever flipped on the Discovery Channel even once can tell you, no one quite knows how or why Stonehenge was erected in the middle-of-nowhere (Salisbury), England. Fortunately, this is not the case for Foamhenge, located in the middle-of-nowhere (Natural Bridge), Virginia. Mark Cline built Foamhenge in 2004 because, presumably, he knew what a kick-ass project it would be.

Stonehenge's placement on earth may be astronomically precise and line up with the sun during solstice or whatever, but Foamhenge is only a few feet off and YOU CAN ACTUALLY TOUCH THE THING. At Stonehenge, if you were to set foot over the rope circling it, the Royal Army would likely descend on horseback from behind the surrounding burial mounds, seize you, and lock you in the Tower of London. There are no such guards at Foamhenge. Little did I know, when I pulled off on exit 180 from 81N for some gas, that such a wonder even existed in the New World. But when I drove by a seemingly abandoned clearing with only an open gate and a FOAMHENGE sign, you better believe I whipped the car around. I thought, "I have found a gold mine, and it doesn't even matter that I'm stuck in Sunday-after-Thanksgiving traffic. There is no way I'm going to miss out on Foamhenge." Best decision I made that day.

Now, in England, the weather is perpetually disgusting. (This fact is also known to Anglophiles and tourists worldwide.) At Stonehenge, you have to squint to differentiate the dark gray stones from the dark gray sky surrounding them. Foamhenge, however, sits on a woodsy mountaintop enveloped by the azure Appalachian sky. And while I found no evidence of civilian life off of exit 180 save for an Exxon station, it turns out that Foamhenge sits in a three-mile cluster of other astonishing attractions courtesy of Mark Cline:

-Enchanted Castle Studios
-Dinosaur Kingdom
-Professor Cline's Haunted Monster Museum
-The actual Natural Bridge of Natural Bridge, VA. Cline can't take credit for this one. It's advertised on billboards for miles as the "Rock of Ages," and every summer it serves as the backdrop for a music and laser show entitled The Drama of Creation*.

Stonehenge sits off of a highway trafficked only by tour busses, surrounded by sheep.

Foamhenge's major selling point is its giant floating statue of Merlin, with an explanatory plaque detailing how he levitated the stones to form Stonehenge. Remarkably, Stonehenge covers this mystical element even more sensationally, albeit unintentionally and begrudgingly: this self-proclaimed reincarnation of King Arthur illegally squats at Stonehenge, bedecked in a white robe and brandishing a petition on behalf of the Druids to reclaim Stonehenge from the English Heritage Commission. King Arthur "stands up for the people, Dark Ages style." (Thank God he overcame his youthful identity crisis in which he mistakenly thought he was King John.) If I could witness the meeting of any two people on earth, it would be that of King Arthur and Mark Cline.

My visit to Stonehenge left me marveling at the enduring weirdness of the Brits. My visit to Foamhenge left me marveling at why I ever left the USA in the first place. I bid farewell to Merlin, jumped down from the sacrificial altar, and headed back to I-81. I was hungry and determined to hit up a Chick-Fil-A before they disappeared north of the Mason Dixon line.

*The one from Genesis.