An advertisement for a writer's retreat.

It wasn’t ET phoning home, but it felt about as strange when I came across one of America’s funkiest roadside attractions while returning from vacation last week. 

Just north of Natural Bridge, Virginia, within sight of Highway 11, stands “Foamhenge” — a full-scale replica of the ancient and mystical ring of stones in southern England, generally attributed to the Druids. 

Foamhenge was the brainchild of sculptor/entrepreneur/wise guy Mark Price, who attributes the work to “five Mexicans and one crazy white guy.” The sculpture is constructed entirely of shaped and painted styrofoam blocks, each originally 15 feet long. Each upright block rests on a concrete surface a couple of feet below ground level, and is held in place by means of a pipe that goes through the block and into the concrete. 

Price worked hard to make his homage to Stonehenge an exact replica, consulting with tour guides at the real Stonehenge and with a local astronomer to make sure they were aligned correctly with the stars. Just for fun, he included illustrations of two theories of how the original stones — weighing about four tons each — were transported over many miles and then erected with precision — in the third millennium B.C.E. 

While one exhibit describes the common theory of log rollers and the like, a more whimsical one suggests it was the work of a wizard who floated the blocks into place. To add to the weirdness, Price fashioned the wizard’s face on a cast of a friend’s face — two days after the friend had died. The friend had requested that Price memorialize him in one of his sculptures. 

If all of that doesn’t put the kitsch in kitschy, what does?

Although Price originally planned to add stucco to the sculpture, Foamhenge is showing heavy wear from nine years of weathering and abuse from some less-than-considerate visitors, but it still has considerable appeal, including the price of admission: it’s free, while seeing Natural Bridge will set you back $28 per person. 

Maybe I’ll stop in and see that next time … 

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