Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eccentric street name of the week

This road must take you down for a stretch, then turn you around back to where you started from.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again: The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Presidential Library of West Branch, Iowa

Herbert Clark Hoover

President Hoover's boyhood home...

...and the family outhouse.

They're proud of Hoover in Iowa and for good reason...

...he's the only Iowan elected President. The Hoover site is located just minutes off of Interstate 80 in eastern Iowa.

The presidential library and museum (off-peak)

Hoover was a life-long fishing enthusiast...

...and was a dam good engineer,too.

A Hoover life mask from 1919.

Joyce Harken of Mount Vernon, Iowa made a quilt from t-shirts of 29 schools named after Herbert Hoover. Way to sew, Joyce!

Nobody writes headlines like Variety.

"I did not have sax with that woman": While we were at the Hoover museum, we were lucky enough to see a temporary exhibit featuring Bill Clinton's saxophone.

Presidential libraries and historic sites like Monticello and Mount Vernon always make for good roadside stops, but we at Eccentric Roadside favor the less, shall we say, showy commanders-in-chief. We've had the pleasure of visiting the Chester A. Arthur birthplace in Vermont and the James K. Polk homestead of North Carolina, but those places pale in comparison to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Presidential Library and Museum of West Branch, Iowa. There you'll find out all sorts of fascinating facts about America's 31st president. For instance, he never actually said "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." The Republican National Committee used that phrase in an ad and it stuck to him. It's also a misnomer that he did nothing when the Great Depression broke out. He enacted some programs and by 1932 the Depression was showing signs of improving, but the public blamed Hoover for not doing enough and Franklin Roosevelt defeated Hoover that year. Hoover also donated his salary while president to his fellow government workers whom he considered underpaid and to charity. On the same property as the library/museum, they've also got President Hoover's birth home (a small cottage, actually) complete with the family outhouse, a blacksmith shop, Quaker meeting house and President and Mrs. Hoover's graves. And there's a gift shop full of Hoover clothing, china, books, videos, jewelry and other Hooverabilia to remember your friends and loved ones by.

So, next time you're passing through eastern Iowa, don't live in a vacuum! Drop by the Hoover place. (Hoover? vacuum? That joke really sucks!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

All it's quacked up to be: The rubber duck pharmacy of Cambria Village, California

You'll find some other great sights to see in Cambria Village...

Fifteen miles north of Cambria, the North Elephant Seal rookery, where tubby seals come to sunbathe undisturbed, is not to be missed...

...along with Nitt Witt Ridge (although, truth be told, we never made it here. You can read more about it here, though)

Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on California's stunningly beautiful central Pacific coast highway sits the rugged seaside tourist hamlet of Cambria. It's six miles from Hearst Castle, an awesome place we've blogged about previously and in Cambria Village, you'll find the Cambria Village Pharmacy, where, among the Band-Aids, foot powder and Calamine lotion, reside over 400 variations of rubber ducks. Plain yellow, black leather jacketed, glow in the dark, or celebrity-themed, they're everywhere, waiting to be purchased and floated in a tub near you. According to store manager Loren Empey (in this Trazzler article from 2009), the ducks began about a decade ago as an ordering mistake and now occupy half the store, making the pharmacy one of the world's foremost suppliers of the little yellow guys and all their peripheral gear.

So you might say they really have all their ducks in a row in Cambria. Waddle they think of next?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unfortunately named business of the week

"I've got your test results back from the lab, Mr. Johnson, and it's what I've suspected all along: you have Advanced Gas."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The lay of the land: Greetings from Intercourse, Pennsylvania

For a group of hard-working and seemingly humorless religious devotees, the Amish have a knack for giving their Pennsylvania Dutchland towns some hilariously eccentric names. Blue Ball, Bird In Hand, Lititz, Bareville, Mount Joy, Fertility...stop it, Isaac, you're killin' me! For sheer immature giggles, though, you'd be, er, hard pressed to top Intercourse. The town was originally known as Cross Keys, but at some point around 1814 the name was changed to Intercourse, most likely referring to the intersection of the two main roads through town. The Amish also used the word to mean fellowship, which has a nice friendly ring to it. Little did they know, or perhaps they did, that they were turning their earnest humble berg into the double-entendre capital of the world. Gift shops overflow with "I Heart Intercourse" merchandise and what tourist wouldn't want to remember friends and loved-ones with such tasteful and elegant souvenirs.

So with apologies to anyone with good taste, here goes the obligatory bad pun tag ending: Next time you find yourself among the upstanding members of the Amish country, pay a coitusy call and hump it over to Intercourse where you'll get the most bang for your buck. Cigarette?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Welcome to the machine: San Francisco's Musee Mecanique

Among the busy seafood restaurants, gift shops and tourist trolley and boatriding kiosks of San Francisco's Pier 45 sits a warehouse full of one of the world's largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade museums. The Musee Mecanique is Mr. Edward Galland Zelinsky's astounding collection of over 300 items, dating back about 100 years, including coin operated pianos, antique slot machines, animations and instruments (there's lots more about Mr. Zelinsky here). Want your fortune told? Take that up with Grandma, the Gypsy Fortune Teller. Think you're pretty strong? Challenge the Arm Wrestler. Amorous? Put your libido to the test with the Kiss-O-Meter. The Musee, with its grotesque characters and old, old school entertainment, is like stepping into the movies "Hugo" and "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," not to mention a "Twilight Zone" or two. The warehouse is also a tribute to the Playland At The Beach amusement park, San Francisco's beloved seaside version of Coney Island, popular from the 1920s until it closed in the 1960s.

Be sure to check out these marvels of yesteryear if you're ever in San Francisco, where it's free to get in and you can party like it's 1909.