Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer of Awesomeness Guest Blog: ROAD TRIP!

What could make your summer more awesome than hitting the open road? As part of Laura at Rhinestone Armadillo's Summer of Awesomeness series, please join me on a virtual roadtrip around the USA, where we will look for the kitschy, the tacky, the interesting, and the downright strange. Maybe one of the sites I've selected will be near you (and if you're a reader from outside the US, maybe some of the sites I've found will inspire you to visit)!

I must, of course, begin with Rhode Island's own Nibbles Woodaway, who stands guard over I-95 outside Providence. The 58-foot-long Big Blue Bug perches on top of the offices of New England Pest Control. He even gets dressed up for various holidays.

Heading southwest-ish, we arrive at the Haines Shoe House in Hellam, Pennsylvania. It was originally designed in 1949 as a gimmick to advertise Mr. Haines' many shoe stores in the area. For the first few years, the house was offered to elderly couples for a free weekend getaway. Nowadays you can take a tour for a nominal fee.

In Hardeeville, South Carolina, we find giant pink and gray elephants standing in front of Papa Joe's Fireworks. Why giant elephants? Why not?

Winging our way north to West Virginia (see what I did there?) we encounter a 12-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture depicting The Mothman. Legend has it that a mysterious creature, part man and part moth, terrorized the town of Point Pleasant back in the 1960s. I don't know if Batboy was involved in any of this, but it sure sounds like his kind of thing.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Gemini Giant, whose photo I took on my first Route 66 adventure with my sister Rachel back in 2008. We took a day trip from Chicago to Wilmington, Illinios, where this relic of America's fascination with the space program stands in front of the Launching Pad diner in all his 1960s kitschy glory. (For you youngsters out there, Project Gemini was the name of NASA's second human spaceflight program in 1965 and 1966.)

While we're on the subject of giants, let's visit The Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota. This advertising icon stands 55 feet tall on the farmland where the Green Giant vegetable company got its start. Ho, ho, ho!

Next, we drive on over to Afton, Wyoming, where we find the Elkhorn Arch stretching 75 feet across Highway 89. The arch is, as the name indicates, entirely made up of elk antlers. There is a sign proclaiming it to be the World's Largest Elkhorn Arch. I'd be willing to bet that's an easy claim to make since it's probably the world's only elkhorn arch.

It's a good thing we are taking this trip in the summertime, because Cut Bank, Montana claims to be the coldest spot in the nation -- and I, for one, have no desire to go there in January to check. It's cold enough in Rhode Island in the winter, thank you very much. This 27-foot penguin, standing in front of the Glacier Gateway Inn, is awfully cute, though.

Tacoma, Washington, is home to Bob's Java Jive. The coffeepot-shaped restaurant was originally built in 1928 and has gone through many incarnations since then. In my opinion, this roadside icon gets extra points for being a kitschy shape and decorated with neon.

At the southern end of the Pacific coast we find Queen Califa's Magical Circle, a sculpture garden created by the French artist Niki De Saint Phalle, in Escondido, California. The garden includes a maze entryway, a snake wall, scultped garden benches, eight totemic sculptures, and a whole lot of awesome. The artwork is adorned with mosaics of paint, stone, glass, and more.

I was excited to cross Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas off my Bucket List this year. Originally created in 1974, this art project pays homage to the tail fin of the Cadillac, as it slowly disappeared from the new models between 1949 and 1963. The project continues to evolve as people spray paint the cars with graffiti. My friend Monica and I signed our names (and the names of her two cats) in Sharpie marker.

The last stop of our whirlwind tour around the USA is in Joseph City, Arizona, home to the Jackrabbit Trading Post. This spot is the perfect place to buy cheesy souvenirs and get your picture taken on the back of a giant jackrabbit wearing a saddle. You know you want to.

I hope you've enjoyed our quick tour of roadside oddities in the USA. There is SO much to see out there, my friends. I encourage you to check out websites such as Roadside America and find out what there is to see in your area. It will make your summer so much more awesome.


Carlin said...

I popped on over from Laura's blog at Rhinestone Armadillo -- I felt you had to know what I have to share :)
First of all, I've been to Afton (I lived in Wyoming for seven years... and that's not the only elkhorn arch. I've seen a few elkhorn arches in public parks in my day ^_^ )
Second of all, the jackrabbit made me think that you need to hear about giant jackalopes. There are a couple in Douglas, WY http://www.roadsideamerica.com/news/16314, and there's a rideable one in a Dubois, WY gas station. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/13249

Maria said...

More than one elkhorn arch? Who knew??? (I sure didn't.) Thanks for the jackalope links -- those are awesome! That definitely goes on teh Bucket List!