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October 23, 2014

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Entrepreneurial spirit in the creepy lane

The Thing

On Interstate 10 in New Mexico, the billboards intrigue, they annoy, they pull you in like that bag of Doritos you'll inevitably buy there. Launch slideshow »

Sun Expanded Coverage

(The Sun has gone on the road to listen to voters and talk to political leaders around the West. Reporters will examine the economic, cultural and demographic forces re-shaping the region as they drive to Denver for the first of the two major party conventions the Sun will cover.)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- A quick interlude from politics and policy in the Intermountain West to report on the amazing entrepreneurial spirit of Americans and how creepy it can be. Just like Wall Drug off I-90 and South of the Border off I-95, the signs for "The Thing" in Eastern Arizona on I-10 begin many miles before the highway exit.

The billboards intrigue, they annoy, they pull you in like that bag of Doritos you'll inevitably buy there.

There should be a Harvard B. School class in tourist traps, the art and science of it all. Anyway, no way we weren't stopping for this.

So we go in the entrance to "The Thing" (of course, in the store there's "The Thing" shotglasses and beer glasses and rocks that apparently have some ancient and sacred meaning. Also, huge cups for Mountain Dew. There's a series of barns that are sort of like galleries. In one early one, there's a 1937 Rolls Royce with a sign claiming Hitler rode in this car. Also, a mannequin of Hitler is in the car. Next exhibiit: "Ancient Methods of Torture." See the photo Leila took.

So surprising that Americans seem to be OK with torture, er, enhanced interrogation techniques.

At this point, I started walking quickly. When I finally got to "The Thing," (surprise!) it was anti-climactic. "The Thing" is a kind of mummified, preserved corpse of a Native American. Or something. Calling it "The Thing" seemed really weird and de-humanizing, but then again, the torture wood-carvings should have tipped us off.

Toplikar was in the car the whole time. Asleep, after a long night of editing. Now would be a good time to start drinking caffeine again.

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