Sunday, January 3, 2016

Swamped with controversy: The Florida Everglades' Skunk Ape Research Headquarters










If you thought the Pacific Northwest had a monopoly on mysterious, elusive, camera-shy, hairy, smelly, 7-foot tall, 350-pound bipedal mammals that look like tall guys wearing gorilla suits in shakily-shot videos, you'd be wrong. The Florida Everglades has its own Yeti-like dweller (or at least a legend about one) and there's a place you can learn all about it. The Skunk Ape Research Headquarters sits on a campground about an hour west of the Gulf coast of Florida on Route 41 in tiny Ochopee. There you can learn of its habits and how best to spot one (their website reports 7-9 of them live in the Everglades), and you can also pick up a souvenir or two along the way. The place is run by a Mr. Dave Shealy, the world's leading authority (okay, he's the only one) on skunk apes, so named for their aroma of rotten eggs and methane. The National Park Service denies such creatures exist, throwing the a-word, authenticity, in Mr. Shealy's face. He counters with his concrete casts of skunk ape footprints and photographic evidence of the hairy fellow strolling across an Everglades marsh, not to mention a healthy dose of anger at the government in general. His photo looks very much like the Patterson-Gimlin 1967 film of Bigfoot in Northern California. We like to believe Mr. Shealy's subject is a Pacific Northwest snowbird residing in a South Florida Sasquatch retirement community. Ask him about his grandkids.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Christmas Rhode trip: Rhode Island Christmas ornaments from My Little Town

We ran this post a few years back but it still applies today, so like A Charlie Brown Christmas and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, we hope you'll enjoy this holiday rerun.

The Big Blue Bug, outside Providence on I-95, mascot of Blue Bug Solutions


Haven Bros. Diner car, in downtown Providence

A Del's Lemonade truck, and my shot of one rotting away in North Kingstown


The magnificent Rustic Drive-In theater of Lincoln

There's a company in Rhode Island, www.mylittletown.com, that has turned some of the Ocean State's most beloved and quirky roadside attractions into delightful Christmas ornaments. Some of these sights have been chronicled by us at Eccentric Roadside and we thought we'd show you how well the ornaments replicate the real things. Local entrepreneurs Duke Marcoccio and his daughter Lauren run the business, and, as if that weren't impressive enough, they were also contestants on the CBS TV show "The Amazing Race" back in 2006. It's not too late to order these fine items for your or your loved-ones' trees. Nothing says Merry Christmas to kids from one to 92 like a pest control company's blue termite or an 1888 hot dog trailer. Now, everybody, sing with me: "Jingle Del's, Jingle Del's, Jingle all the way..."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Egg-sit stage left: The new location of Coral Springs, Florida's Humpty Dumpty sculpture






Of all the Humpty Dumpty sculptors in the world, we like Kimber Fiebiger best.

Mr. Dumpty looks out on this cool artwork by Zachary Knudson. 

A little while ago, we blogged about the fabulous Humpty Dumpty sculpture in our recently relocated Eccentric Roadside world headquarters hometown of Coral Springs, Florida (read about it here, why don't you). It has come to our attention that Mr. Dumpty has now been moved to a new, more prominent location. Coral Springs has put in a beautification project called ArtWalk on Northwest 31st Court, just down the road from Mr. Dumpty's old digs and he now sits on a new wall for all to admire. He's in a much sunnier spot than before, though, so we hope he won't fry. There are some other cool sculptures along the way and the plan is to keep adding more. Art for art's sake, money for God's sake. We can't say how much we love this piece of whimsical merriment. Thanks, Coral Springs for putting the egg in egg-centric. You're all you're cracked up to be, and that's no yolk.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Our house is a very, very, very fine mouse: The Truly Nolen mouse building of Pompano Beach, Florida




Drivers on busy I-95 South get to see this awesome sight!

 How can you kill something so cute, Truly?


 The truly awesome Truly Nolen limousine.

We were lucky enough to spot a Truly Nolen classic Nash Metropolitan in Tucson, Arizona. Note the Muffler Man in the background. Score! Read about it here.

If you're going to be in the business of killing household pests, it pays to have a sense of humor. At least it does if you're the Truly Nolen company. They've been around since the 1930s and have employed many whimsical promotional devices over the years. In the 1950s, they began using a fleet of classic cars as moving billboards emblazoned with their company name. This led to a red VW bus made to look like a giant ant, which was the forerunner of today's Truly Nolen yellow mouse car — VW bugs and Toyota Yarises in lemony hues and appointed with round mouse ears, long black mouse tails and cute faces painted on their fronts. They've even got a mouse limousine (lim-mouse-sine?) that makes visits to schools. Their Pompano Beach, Florida headquarters building has taken the mouse concept even further. It's the same bright yellow, with a red mouse nose and whiskers attached to the corner and beneath two round black windows resembling their trademark mouse ears. And it can be seen quite clearly from busy Interstate 95 south. Marketing brilliance.

And if you're wondering about the name, Truly Nolen is a person. Truly Wheatfield Nolen was the founder of the company, and the family has kept the Truly name going for three generations. Other names in the family are Really Nolen, and Sincere Leigh Nolen (I kid you not — it's on their website). Keep up the eccentricity, Truly Nolen. We dig you, truly.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Baring their soles to deliver the mail: The barefoot mailman statue of Hillsboro Beach, Florida



 There are lots of iguanas on hand to pay their respects...



 ...and you may see a parrot or two in the trees.

From 1885-92, the mail route between eastern coastal Lake Worth and Miami, Florida was not what you'd call highly trafficked. Or even paved, for that matter. There was no road to deliver the mail south of Lake Worth but this didn't stop the mighty mail carriers from getting letters and packages through to Victorian southeastern Floridians. Mail was brought by boat as far as practical and mailmen would then get out and make deliveries by foot, sans footwear, along the beaches. The route was 136 miles round trip and took six days. Twenty eight miles were done by row boat and, remarkably, the remaining 108 by foot. And I thought I had a lengthy commute. This delivery system was in place until a rock road from Lantana to Lemon City was completed in 1892. There were 11 barefoot mailmen and one, a Mr. James "Ed" Hamilton, disappeared in 1887, perhaps the lunch of an alligator.  A statue honoring Mr. Hamilton and the others sits in front of the Hillsboro Beach municipal hall. There, he looks out at the beach route, A1A, with a spring in his step and a mailbag over his shoulder, but no togs on his dogs. An added bonus are the many iguanas that sunbathe on the rocks and lawn at his feet. Would G-mail risk an alligator attack and sunstroke to get you the latest email blast from Amazon or Expedia? Doubtful. So here's to you, barefoot mailmen. You went through the agony of the feet for the thrill of vic-toe-ry.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

And the rest is huskory: Looking out the window at the great state of Nebraska

I've visited 46 of the US states and can honestly say it's been a thrill to see every one. One place in particular, not normally known as a vacation destination, is the great state of Nebraska. If you're traveling by car from the east coast to the west, you know you're a long, long way from home when you get to Nebraska, and you've still got a long, long way to go. We took one of our all-time best detours when we drove a couple hours northwest off of Interstate 80 to the small town of Alliance to see Carhenge, the replica of Stonehenge made out of old cars. Well worth the trip, and the getting there really was fun. Who knew Nebraska was full of such pretty sandhills, plains with those cliche windmilly things and lonesome, melancholy small towns? People from Nebraska, I imagine, but its beauty was quite a revelation to us native New Englanders. Maybe Nebraska should be a vacation destination after all, dad gummit. Here are a few shots of our travels through the Cornhusker State, some shot from the highway, some when we got out to stretch our legs a bit. How can you not love a state whose state beverage is milk, state dance is the square dance, and state song is "Beautiful Nebraska"? Long may your goldenrod bloom, Western meadowlark sing and White-tailed deer roam.