The Alabama Tour: World’s largest chair

The World’s Largest Chair in Anniston, AL

I stopped for the night in Anniston during my central Alabama Tour. One of the attractions I found was this: The World’s Largest Chair.

According to Roadside America:

“In 1981, Miller’s Office Supply in Anniston, Alabama, wanted to call attention to itself. Owner Leonard “Sonny” Miller had an inspired idea: he would build the world’s largest chair in the vacant lot next to his building. Since he sold office furniture, he used an office chair as the model, simply converting inches into feet.
The result still stands today: a chair 33 feet tall with a 15-foot-square seat, built out of ten tons of steel (Sonny also had a steel company), anchored in 15 tons of cement.
Sonny asked the president of the HON company, the firm that designed the original chair, to come to the dedication of the giant chair — and he did. Guinness World’s Records officially christened Sonny’s creation the World’s Largest Chair in 1982.
Years passed. Other, larger chairs, were built. Miller’s Office Supply moved to a different part of Anniston, and the chair — now a distant neighbor — grew weathered and rusty.
But then Miller’s moved back. It repainted the chair, adding its 1982 Guinness claim-to-fame to the front, turning it into an historical photo-op giant chair. “As long as we’re here, we’ll be maintaining it,” promised Phyllis Dill, Sonny’s daughter-in-law, now president of the company. She added that Miller’s this time planned to stay.

World’s Largest Office Chair, 1991.
Sonny’s choice of an office chair proved fortunate, as his creation remains the World’s Largest Office Chair (And you can still order the original model chair next door at Miller’s). The space beneath the chair is a popular parking spot on sunny summer days, providing a handy car-size scale of reference for shutterbugs.
A violent storm blew through Anniston in July 2012. It tore the roof off of Miller’s, but it didn’t bother the chair. “That chair will be here long after the rest of us are gone,” Phyllis told us. “It would live through just about anything, except for maybe a sinkhole.”

The salt flats of Maras

Maras is a town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 40 kilometers north of Cuzco, in the Cuzco Region of Peru. The town is well known for its salt evaporation ponds, located towards Urubamba from the town center, which have been in use since Inca times. The salt-evaporation ponds are four kilometers north of the town, down a canyon that descends to the Rio Vilcanota and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Since pre-Inca times, salt has been obtained in Maras by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream. The highly salty water emerges at a spring, a natural outlet of the underground stream.

The flow is directed into an intricate system of tiny channels constructed so that the water runs gradually down onto the several hundred ancient terraced ponds.

it was a beautiful sky

Machu Picchu

This has to be the number one sight in Peru. It’s amazing. Honestly worth all the trouble to see it, too. Let me say that when you visit it, it is worth the extra cost to hire a guide. There is virtually no signage, so you need one.

Here’s the Wikipedia page for information. I’m short on time, so will try to add explanations to the photos later.

To get here, you board a train, an hour outside of Cusco.

It’s a nice train, too. It takes you to Aguacaliente. From there, it’s a bus ride up the mountain. But you need to buy tickets for all of it in advance. The other option is hiking 3-4 days from The same location along one of the Inca Trails.

It’s a busy place.
Really busy.
….and really far down, so don’t fall.

Nazca Lines

Ready to fly!

Honestly, the photos from Peru are hanging a bit heavy on me. There are so many and I’m just not going to find the time to go through them all. As I write this, I’m with my dear friend Jeannie in Huntsville, AL. But tomorrow I leave on the next adventure: Nepal! I won’t have much internet access for the next month while I hike the Annapurna Trail. I’ll try to organize a few more posts, but don’t hold your breath.

Today, I’ll skip ahead on the photos and show you the Nazca Lines, located in the desert outside Nazca, Peru. I took a flight over them. In most cases, I’ve had to zoom in and greatly increase the contrast to see the photos. Very fascinating.

My pilot and co-pilot.
The spiral

According to Wikipedia:

The Nazca Lines /ˈnæzkɑː/ are a series of large ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert, in southern Peru. The largest figures are up to 370 m (1,200 ft) long. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The high, arid plateau stretches more than 80 km (50 mi) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana, about 400 km (250 mi) south of Lima. Although some local geoglyphs resemble Paracas motifs, scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 500 BC and 500 AD The figures vary in complexity. Hundreds are simple lines and geometric shapes; more than 70 are zoomorphic designs of animals, such as birds, fish, llamas, jaguars, and monkeys, or human figures. Other designs include phytomorphic shapes, such as trees and flowers.

The designs are shallow lines made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs but, in general, they ascribe religious significance to them.

Because of its isolation and the dry, windless, stable climate of the plateau, the lines have mostly been naturally preserved. Extremely rare changes in weather may temporarily alter the general designs. As of 2012, the lines are said to have been deteriorating because of an influx of squatters inhabiting the lands.

Contrary to the popular belief that the lines and figures can only be seen from an aircraft, they are also visible from the surrounding foothills and other high places.”

I don’t entirely agree with that last line. There are a few that can be seen by mountain top, but not most.

Here a highway cuts through the upper tail of a lizard on the left. Then the tree of life and the chick to the right.
Chick and tree of life. At the bottom of the photo, you can see the tail of a lizard.
The hummingbird is one of the longest.
The spider.
The monkey and some interesting lines.
A killer whale.
geometric shapes–the triangles
Landing strip on top of a mountain? Who knows?
The spiral.
Maybe a condor?
Baby condor or dinosaur.
The Astronaut.

The blue area in the center is a mine.

Sacred Valley of the Incas: Qenqo

Located just 3 kilometers northeast of Cusco, Oenqo was one of the oddest Incan sites.

From Atlas Obscura: The Incan Empire was completely destroyed by Spanish forces in the 1530’s. Many of their massive temples, fortresses and cities were left standing, but without any clues as to their purpose. Qenqo Temple, fifteen minutes from Cusco is similarly mysterious and a dark account has formed in the historical vacuum.

In Quechua, Qenqo means labyrinth or zig-zag and the temple is named for the crooked canal cut out of its rock. Although it is clear the canal carried some sort of liquid, researchers have been forced to guess at its purpose, and at what liquid it transported. Hypotheses range from carrying holy water, chicha (corn beer), or blood. All three indicate that Qenqo was used for death rituals, possibly to embalm bodies or detect whether a person lived a good life by the course the liquid followed.

Qenqo is a unique temple in its construction as well, having been entirely carved out of a gigantic monolith. Stretched across a hillside, the temple is carved out of rock and marries the man-made tunnels with natural chambers. One of these chambers features 19 small niches and is set up as an amphitheater. Once again, the purpose of the theater has been lost over time, but most agree the area was used for some type of sacrifice to the sun, moon and star gods who were worshipped at the site.

From the information available, it appears Qenqo Temple was an extremely holy site for the Incas. Their dead were judged and possibly embalmed in Qenqo’s winding tunnels, and blood sacrifices were offered to the heavenly gods. Despite the probable grisly purpose of the temple, its carved tunnels and chambers are an amazing work of ancient architecture, and a trip to Qenqo is sure to turn the wheels of mystery inside every visitor.