#3. A Medieval Castle in Kansas
Half Medieval Times, half IHOP.
Don Kracht of Kansas decided one day that he was going to start a garden in his backyard, and that's about where the sanity ends in this story, because the garden wound up looking like this:
Before you ask, there's no mini golf.
According to Kracht, the decision to build a castle in his yard was intuitive enough. While digging his garden, he found that the soil was too wet, so he made a lake instead, then he figured his lake needed an island, and his island needed a waterfall, and his waterfall needed a five-story castle. It's just a case of one thing leading to another in crazytown.
If you figured that he was just a stonemason or an architect with too much time on his hands, you'd be wrong -- he was a math teacher. His absolute lack of experience didn't deter him from mixing his own cement and laying each brick by hand until he wound up with a moat, three bridges, a waterfall and the castle itself. The walkways are emblazoned with math equations, just in case this all wasn't nerdy enough.
Only the bravest make it past square root panel number 4. That shit has decimals.
He says that passersby often mistake it for a genuine medieval castle, despite the fact that this is in Kansas and so that doesn't make any sense. It's just another case of someone going outside to build a garden and winding up with Skyrim.
Though the last time we checked, Dragonsreach didn't have plastic chairs or cups.
#2. A Western Town
When the wife of retired dentist Jimmy Helms asked him to refurbish some old sheds in their backyard, Helms took one look at them and decided he had a better idea: converting his yard into an old-timey Wild West town. Incidentally, this is why she never asks him to do things.
The former dentist has spent over 14 years building what he calls New Dubina, a Western-style town that he named after a nearby town that was destroyed in a fire. The town features all of the standard Western movie locations -- a general store, a saloon, a schoolhouse, a small church. Also, this is one of the few circumstances where you can build a gallows in your yard without having it qualify as a hate crime.
"It doubles as a playground!"
Helms' town has 22 buildings in it, approximately 22 more buildings than anyone reading this has probably ever built. Also, they're stocked with actual artifacts from the Old West that Helms collected by searching all around Texas.
The corner store will give you authentic dysentery.
And although some might mock him for his hobby, Helms' obsession was rewarded when a television network found it so authentic that they came out to film a couple of episodes of a Western there -- with Helms playing the sheriff.
Though he probably takes the home schooling a little too far.
#1. A BMX Park
God never misses the X-Games.
When Gordy Toth and his dad moved from Canada to California's Mojave Desert, his dad told him that he could build anything he wanted in the backyard. Toth, being a teenage boy with dreadlocks, knew exactly what he wanted to put there: a gigantic, kickass BMX park.
So, with the help of a group of friends, Toth had the entire yard cleared of trees and cacti and other deserty obstructions and began digging ramps and jumps that would give a health and safety inspector a heart attack. Nearly six whole years later, his biking amusement park was complete.
Actual neck-breaking is heavily discouraged.
Toth said the main purpose of the park was to give riders a place where the hills and turns create enough momentum that the rider doesn't have to pedal or brake. Almost as important was to do away with all that safety stuff and create a course that you can literally die on. Toth says that he's had 13 surgeries and broken nearly every bone in his body. Meanwhile, his dad probably wishes he'd built, like, a koi pond or something.
"I hear a lot of kids are taking up knitting these days ..."
Like any brooding teenager, Toth hit some problems when The Man tried to take his park away; specifically, his town's zoning department, who slapped him with $100,000 in fines. However, with the help of a civic engineer, Toth brought the case to court and got the town to drop all of the charges. Since then, the park has attracted visitors from as far away as Afghanistan and Australia, whose BMX parks apparently suck worse than a teenager's homemade one.
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