Today marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the Alfred Hichcock classic "The Birds". We were lucky enough to visit the movie's locale, Bodega Bay, California, and the nearby town of Bodega which was also used for filming. They're both in a beautiful coastal location about an hour north of San Francisco. Just be careful not to smoke a cigar while you're filling your car at the local gas station.
Click here to read a previous post we did about the place.
We passed through Reno, Nevada early in the morning on a cross country trip in 2011. There was an odd vibe at that hour...nobody around, nothing lit up, deserted. There were lots of cool mid-century motel, casino and restaurant signs, though, similar to the Fremont area of Las Vegas. We never got out of the car, so here's what we saw driving around looking out our windshield on a gray May morning.
Sadly, we didn't see any of these gals walking around.
Reno must be a great place to be a cardiologist.
Is this where I apply for my new Corolla car loan?
These photos have an annoying but necessary watermark on them because the Neon Museum only allows photos for personal use. They charge for commercial use so they can raise money to keep restoring the signs.
This nice lady lead the tour we took back in 2008.
As fans of both roadside stuff and decay, the Las Vegas Neon Museum's Neon Boneyard
is just about the coolest place we've ever seen, even when it's 100 degrees outside. As Vegas's casinos and businesses get
torn down to build even bigger, more up to date places where you can lose your
kids' college fund, the Neon Museum's earnest preservationists
have arranged to have the classic old signs dragged to an area on the
outskirts of town. And thank God, for these signs are history. The Boneyard spreads over two acres and contains over 150 donated and rescued signs dating from the 1930's up until today. It's a
surreal experience to take the tour, a real bargain at $18, and led by local Vegas sign historians/volunteers. The Museum is lovingly
restoring the signs and putting them up around Las Vegas as historical goodwill ambassadors reminding visitors of Sin City's glorious past. They look
fantastic restored but I find them even more amazing in their Boneyard state of
ruin. The irony is overwhelming. Something that was once so glittery,
happy, huge and spectacular is now rusted, busted, and tapped out. A
trip to Vegas is simply not complete without a trip to the Boneyard. The
Neon Museum uses the tour fee to keep on restoring the signs so
visit them, please. Here's their website: http://www.neonmuseum.org/tour-info
So you're driving along a quiet North Dakota road...
...when some of the world's coolest, and biggest, outdoor sculptures pop up!
That's us sitting on this big guy's shoes, for scale.
There are eccentric roadside attractions and then there are the standards by which all others are measured. Western North Dakota's Enchanted Highway belongs in that pantheon. It's a road off Interstate 94 (Exit 72) approximately 20 miles east of Dickinson. It extends for 32 miles south to the town of Regent. Artist Gary Greff has created what's billed as the world's largest metal sculptures along the highway, depicting 50-foot native geese, grasshoppers, deer, prairie birds and fish. He also erected a 51-foot tribute to President Teddy Roosevelt and a whimsical Tin Family made from used farm equipment. We were lucky enough to visit back in 2006 and I can't say enough about how wonderful this place is. Every few miles, the flat, quiet, "middle of nowhere" landscape is interrupted with an awesome display of whimsy, beautifully executed. The scale of these metal sculptures bowls you over and the craftsmanship is remarkable, too. Greff's intention is admirable as well. Worried his hometown might die soon if it relied solely on farming, he began dreaming of ways to bring people and businesses to the small community. He was a teacher and a school principal who had never done any artwork or welding prior to 1989, but he came up with a magical folk art mystery tour of enormous proportions, leading admirers and curiosity seekers to Regent.
And it is with extreme delight that we learned that in the last year Greff has bought the town's high school, of which he graduated in 1967, and has remodeled it into a castle-themed motel, complete with drawbridge. Seems like a natural, since lots of people drive to Regent to see the Enchanted Highway and motels in these parts are scarce. Greff plans to use profits from the Enchanted Castle Hotel to fund future sculptures along the highway. Rooms come with and without hot tubs, and if you feel like shooting a few hoops, the former high school's gym is available. Here's what the Bismarck Tribune has to say about it. Greff also has plans to erect the world's largest motorcycle at 102 feet long and 42 feet high in downtown Regent, to attract the Sturgis crowd as well as fun-loving kooks like us.
God bless guys like Gary Greff, who use their eccentricity to make the world a truly better place. We're enchanted.
This blog is devoted to old fashioned American roadside attractions... the wonderfully big, bizarre, crazy, wacky, quirky, weird, funny, unique and mundane sites you see travelling cross-country by car in the USA, where getting there really is all the fun!