Blog California

Regurgitation Hill

November 11, 2021

The travel season is over and I am sad. I know California really, really needs the rain and I’m grateful for it, but I’m also allowed to hate it. I hate the mud and I hate wet shopping carts. I hate being stuck indoors because it’s too wet to go exploring.

Now that I have bored you with my complaining, I’m going to go back into my archives. Well, all the way back to September anyway.

On our way home from Eureka we stopped at Confusion Hill, which I like to call Regurgitation Hill because this place is more vomit-worthy than theme park rides that have screens. Barf.

Still, you gotta love its quirkiness. It’s old and rickety and has a sort of falling-down-at-any-moment charm to it. Everything appears to be hand-made, from the wooden sculptures to the signs, at least one of which is a literal threat against the lives of you and your children if you steal from the gift shop. For 50c, you can buy a cup of food for chipmunks that are already so stuffed with food given to them by all the tourists who came before that they’re not even remotely interested in your 50c cup of food. 

Profound words from the purveyors of Confusion Hill.

Places like this started to pop up during the Great Depression when people were unemployed and bored and happy to have something to do for a couple of nickels. There’s another place just like it in Santa Cruz (the Mystery Spot) and the original one is in Oregon (The House of Mystery).

Even today, the people who run these places try to claim there’s something magical or physics-defying going on there. Confusion Hill’s website tells you all about how it just happens to be built in a spot where nature “defie[s] its own laws.”

The truth is, these places are really just ingenious feats of engineering. To put it simply, if you build a house at a funny angle and then you stand inside it, it’s going to seem like it defies the laws of nature when it’s actually obeying the laws of nature while simultaneously messing with your mind. Here’s a simple illustration: 

I want you all to know that I spent way, way, way too much time working on this illustration.

Because your brain has been taught to understand that houses are always built with straight walls and a peaked roof, it tries really hard to orient a crooked house in such a way that it becomes a house with straight walls and a peaked roof. That’s what creates the illusion that everyone is standing at a weird angle and that golf balls are rolling uphill. Provided, of course, that you can actually get to the point where you’re standing inside one of these houses and not vomiting uphill at a weird angle or something, which might actually be an interesting demonstration of the whole gravity-defying illusion.

Personally, I can’t even walk in the general direction of one of these places without feeling like I’m about to lose my lunch. My kids loved it, though. 

Hope I didn’t wreck your fun or anything. I still recommend this place as a fun way to break up that long drive down Highway 101. But don’t waste your money on the chipmunk food.