Why is it that any tourist town in the mountains or near caverns offers the same souvenirs and attractions? You have gem mining sites, plenty of colorful minerals or “geodes,” kitschy things made of the colorful stones, an animatronic gold prospector, wood carvings in all shapes and sizes, shops named for “Hillbilly something-or-other,” and kitschy hillbilly miniature golf courses. Sometimes, they throw in some cowboys-and-Indians-type kitsch, and maybe some dinosaur attractions.
Or, if you’re really lucky, you find a souvenir shop with all the standard items, plus a little something special – and by special, I mean weird. When we were on our Kentucky road trip over the weekend, Sweetums and I came across Big Mike’s Rock & Gift Shop at 566 Old Mammoth Cave Road in Cave City, KY. Click here for a map.
It was not only one of the largest shops in the area but it also featured a Mystery House and a prehistoric creature, so of course it was irresistible.
The dinosaur attraction was “Big Mo,” the World’s Largest Fossilized Mosasaur Skull, which came from a prehistoric sea creature estimated to be 40 feet long and 65 million years old (See slideshow below for pics). The massive skull in its glass case was impressive but Big Mike couldn’t leave it at that – he built a replica mosasaur of concrete in front of the shop, complete with sharp teeth.
STORY CONTINUES AFTER SLIDESHOW
After taking photos of Big Mo the skull and Big Mo the replica, we bought tickets at a hefty $2 a pop to enter Big Mike’s Mystery House. Mystery Houses and Mystery Spots can be found across the country. They basically rely on fooling the eye with angles and optical tricks but they are still plenty of fun. It’s hard to pass one without going in.
I hadn’t seen one since I was a kid, so Sweetums and I took the very short tour where the illusions made me dizzy, something that didn’t happen when I was younger. Our favorite room was the one that makes people look different heights than they are (well, except for the “skinny mirror,” which I really wanted to buy). Because Seeetums is a foot and an inch taller than me, when I was on the “tall” side and Sweetums on the “short” side, we were actually about the same height. Of course, when he was on the “tall” side, he looked like a giant.
Big Mike’s was just a brief stop from our busy weekend of touring central Kentucky – including a Shaker Village, a Stonehenge replica, the World’s Largest Glass of Evan Williams and Tallest Bottle of Evan Williams (5 stories high!!), the World’s Largest Baseball Bat, the World’s Largest Vampire Bat, the World’s Largest Pair of Underwear, a 30-foot-tall golden statue of David and lots more. I’ll post more from our trip over the next couple of weeks.