Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eccentric street name of the week

The middle of nowhere, you say? Wikipedia and I beg to differ:

The United States Board on Geographic Names lists five places named "Podunk":

  • Podunk, Connecticut, an area of the town of Guilford in New Haven County
  • Podunk, Ulysses, New York, a hamlet in the town of Ulysses in Tompkins County
  • Podunk, Vermont, an area of the town of Wardsboro in Windham County
  • Three places, over 100 miles (160 km) apart, in Michigan:
    • Podunk, Michigan, a community on Podunk Lake in Barry County
    • Podunk, Michigan, a crossroads in Gladwin County
    • Podunk, Michigan, an alternative name for Rogers City, MI in Presque Isle County, Michigan

Other areas known as Podunk include:

  • An area of East Hartford, CT in the Podunk River basin including Vinton's Pond
  • An area nine miles (14 km) south of Shattuck, Oklahoma (now a ghost town) in Ellis County
  • An area in Dixie National Forest containing a guard station known as the Podunk Guard Station
  • Within Worcester County, Massachusetts (and involving three New England towns, each adjacent to at least one of the other two):
    • Podunk, an unincorporated area in East Brookfield, according to The Straight Dope
    • The Podunk Pike, which runs from Sturbridge, north through East Brookfield, and into Spencer.
  • An area of northwestern Rhode Island 3 miles (4.8 km) WNW of Pascoag
  • An alternative spelling; "Podonque" is found as the name of a road leading into a settlement area (intersection of County roads 23 and 243) which is still sparsely populated, believed to having been established in the 1800s as: Podonque, Town of Rushford, New York, Allegany County, NY.
  • Poeville, Nevada a ghost town nicknamed Poedunk after John Poe founder of the mining camp.
  • An area near the Erie Canal lift bridge in Holley, New York.
  • Podunk, Wisconsin, a now defunct town containing a sizable Bradner, Charnley & Co. logging camp, in Door County, Wisconsin.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

You oughta be inn pictures: The Movie Manor motel of Monte Vista, Colorado

Not only does the Movie Manor feature a working drive-in theater, they also still have the old-fashioned speakers you attach to your car...

...and it appears they have at least two brands. This one is an Eprad...

...while this one appears to be a Projected Sound model. Any drive-in aficionados care to enlighten me?

A working drive-in movie theater is a wonder to behold. Relics of a bygone era, they stand proudly as if to say, "Hey, everybody, I'm still here! Home theater? Ha! Is that all ya got, punk? I got chunks of guys like you in my stool!" (okay, that last line came from Phil Hartman). So we were particularly delighted when we came across the Best Western Movie Manor motel while cruising down Highway 160 in south-central Colorado. Back in 1964, the Star Drive-In opened, with a small motel where guests could see the movies from their rooms. Some time later, the Best Western chain took over and changed the name to Best Western Movie Manor and in 2003 they added a second screen for an additional 200 cars. An old self-promotional postcard has this to say about the place (thank you Roloff):

"Kelloff's Best Western Movie Manor, the world's only movie motel. A unique concept in accommodations. Rooms face a giant outdoor movie screen so you can enjoy watching the latest movies, complete with sound, without leaving the comfort of your room. Kelloff's Restaurant, next to the motel, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. While you enjoy your meal, view two spectacular mountain ranges - the San Juans and Sangre de Cristos."

We were on a rather tight travel schedule, so we weren't able to take advantage of this extraordinary movie-lodging opportunity, but we did stop to snap a few pictures. And that post card copywriter wasn't just blowing smoke about the mountain range scenery being spectacular.

Be sure to check out this panoramic photo display from the motel's website.

Beautiful mountain scenery by day, and the theatrical stylings of Mr. Vin Diesel on a screen the size of a Zeppelin hangar by night, all without leaving the comfort of your one-queen, one-king or two-queen bedroom...Colorado, we like your style.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine was born and raised in my hometown, Hamden, Connecticut, and he turns 95 today. 95! I've done a post about Ernie and Hamden before that I'm sure you'll want to reread (and by reread, I mean read). And as a special treat, here's a clip from Ernie's hit TV series "McHale's Navy". As brilliant as Ernie is, though, I think it's Joe "I could just scream" Flynn who really steals the show.

Many happy returns, Ernie. You do Hamden proud!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hail to the chiefs: Some Indian imagery seen along the way

Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota

The Red Feather Lodge, Tusayan, Arizona, one mile from the Grand Canyon

The Wigwam Motel, Rialto, California

The Shawmut Diner, New Bedford, Massachusetts

I shot this back in 2002 in Colorado Springs. Not sure if it's still there.

Indian Motorcycles were manufactured in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History has a great permanent exhibit about them...

...including this awesome photo of the great Jane Russell taking one out for a spin.

Little Big Horn, North Dakota

Tuba City, Arizona

Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, California

The kitsch-o-tastic Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, Nebraska has some great "exhibits", including this diorama of the old Sioux Trading Post...

...this brave playing checkers...

...and a fabulous Muffler Man Indian out back.

This fellow is known as the Big F Indian and he stands in front of the Conundrum Wine Bistro in Freeport, Maine.

This fellow beckons all to the Toh-Atin Gallery of Durango, Colorado's parking lot

A fine item from the Ohio Turnpike Rest Area gift shop

Outside the truly wonderful Plains Hotel, Cheyenne, Wyoming

The Big Chief Drive-In, Glencoe, Alabama

Whether or not you agree it's cool to objectify a race of great people, you see a lot of it while traveling across the USA. Native Americans, in particular. So here, without reservation, we bring you a few sights that may or may not 'wam the cockles of your heart. More pow wow to you, and how.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Eccentric street name of the week

I'll meet you on the corner of Sodom Road and Gomorrah Avenue.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meet the beetles: Colorado Springs' May Museum of Natural History of The Tropics

I've always been a big beetle fan.

The May Museum sits on the property of the Golden Eagle Ranch Campground and RV Park.

An Acrophylla Titan from Australia (that's my finger there for scale)

A giant centipede from Venzuela

A Goliathus Giganticus from the Belgian Congo

A Megalodon moth from New Guinea

A tarantula from South America

I can't read the label on this one...let's just call it Biggus Stickus.

Nine miles southwest of Colorado Springs, Colorado in a campground about a mile off of Route 115 sits something totally unexpected and decidedly eccentric: a Smithsonian-worthy natural history collection of 8,000 exotic insects from the far reaches of the planet. James F.W. May was an adventurer and travelled the world at the turn of the century. He passed along the "bug" for bug collecting to his son John, who was only eight when his father died of yellow fever. John amassed a collection of over 100,000 invertebrates and in 1952, he built a museum to house the collection on the family's ranch in Colorado. Today, the museum looks like it hasn't been modernized since opening: labels written by hand and old-fashioned typewriter accompany the vast selection of wild and weird creepy-crawlies encased under glass and craning lamps. The rustic Colorado locale belies the alien origins of these arachnids: there are moths from Madagascar, beetles from Borneo, cockroaches from the Congo and tarantulas from, er, somewhere beginning with a T. And, as if that wasn't already enough, they also have what eccentric roadside attraction fans pine for: a world's biggest something-or-other...in this case, a giant, Godzilla-sized Hercules Beetle next to their sign on the highway. A couple of very nice ladies that work there told me they get a lot of school groups coming through and who can blame them...there are more insects than you can shake a stick bug at and it's a place where you'll really get the most bang for your bug.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Salty and sweet: Salty the giant seahorse of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts

Salty the Seahorse greets all who drive down Route 6 in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.

He was wearing a jolly Santa hat when we stopped by the other day.

A Mr. Henry Dunseith had a home and gift shop on 3 and a half acres in Mattapoisett and he left the land to the Mattapoisett Land Trust in 1988.

The park features what look like remnants of a former mini-golf course...

...including this cheery fellow.

We're always delighted here at Eccentric Roadside when a community goes to great pains to save a classic roadside icon that could have just as easily been dumped in the eccentric roadside boneyard. Such is the case with Salty the Seahorse, who for years was much loved by the good folks of the pleasant south Massachusetts coast town of Mattapoisett. In the mid-1950s, a Mr. Henry Dunseith had his home and a gift shop on a plot of land on busy Route 6. To bring some attention to his business, he had a 38-foot seahorse erected on his land by a Mr. Theodore Tetreault. The seahorse became a beloved landmark of locals and tourists alike and when Mr. Dunseith passed away in 1988, he willed his 3 and a half acres of land, his buildings and the seahorse to the Mattapoisett Land Trust. The buildings were too dilapidated to restore and they were razed. The notion of doing away with the seahorse was considered, too, but local fans intervened and instead it got a makeover, to go along with the efforts of local garden club members, arborists and Boy Scouts who turned Mr. Dunseith's land into a beautiful playground, picnic area and nature area. The land is on the busiest intersection in town and a fortune could have been made by selling the land to a fast food chain or muffler shop, but the Land Trust stuck to Mr. Dunseith's wishes and a beautiful, quirky and unique park sits there today, reminding passers by of Mattapoisett's nostalgic tourist past (good on you, Land Trust). The park was dedicated in 2000 and a contest was held to name the seahorse-with-no-name (I think I've been through the desert on one of those). Salty was chosen and that's how he's known today (thank you, Gerry Rosser). An especially cool feature of the park are the remains of what must have been a mini-golf course, including a star-spangled buoy, wooden bridge and other loony-link hazards, now overtaken with grass, making it a nice, quirky homage to its retro road attraction past. Of course, you may want to take that with a grain of Salty.