Vortex can affect GPS, sometimes

Dear All Knowers: One recent day while driving southbound on Interstate 5 just south of the city of Rogue River, I glanced at the direction indicator above my car's mirror and saw that — much to my surprise — we were headed due north. Was this the result of us being fairly close to the famous phenomenon known as the Oregon Vortex or was it just that tricky Oregon Department of Transportation sending us back in the direction from whence we came?

— Tom P., Medford

We're flattered you'd consider us All Knowers, Tom, although you'll be sad to hear our editors rarely acknowledge our investigative genius.

That said, we did end up having to call an outside expert for this one. Said expert's name is Holly Holstein, and she's been working at the infamous Oregon Vortex for the past three years.

Holstein said that while it's possible the Vortex could affect GPS units on the interstate, she's never heard of anything like that in the three years she's been there. "It's hard to test because we have trouble replicating the results," said Holstein. "We can't say for sure."

Holstein explained that the Vortex does affect GPS units and compasses closer to the site, however. "Definitely traveling up here the GPS's get all weird, it's pretty consistent with that," she said. "The GPS will tell them to turn left, which you can't because you'll just turn into a ditch or a mountain or a house."

The Vortex, located at 4303 Left Fork Sardine Creek Road, Gold Hill, is known for the kind of oddities commonly found in a carnival funhouse. Balls roll uphill, people seem to change sizes depending on where they stand, brooms stand on end, people unconsciously lean toward magnetic North, and so on.

The source of these strange occurrences, they claim, is a "whirlpool of force" on the property 165 feet and 4.5 inches in diameter, covering roughly half an acre. Skeptics have tried to debunk the mysteries of the Vortex, but the SYA team has yet to hear of any successes.

That's about as much as we can give you Tom, and while the Vortex or that tricky ODOT might've had a hand in your directional difficulties, we're more apt to blame lack of caffeine or your magnetic personality.

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