Sunday, April 29, 2012

I never metaphor I didn't like: Metaphor, The Tree of Utah

(You really ought to click on these to see what they look like big)

Driving through western Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats affords the eccentric roadside traveler a surreal, other-worldly landscape, and it somehow seems appropriate that a Swedish sculptor would erect an 87-foot tall "tree" with giant tennis ball-like leaves painted in colorful shades here. Back in 1982, Karl Momen began building what would eventually become "Metaphor: The Tree of Utah," a masterpiece made of 225 tons of concrete, 2,000 ceramic tiles, 5 tons of welding rod and a ton or two of minerals and rocks native to Utah. He completed the project in 1986, financed it himself, donated it to the state of Utah and returned to Sweden. It sits 95 miles west of Salt Lake City on a particularly stark and lonesome stretch of Interstate 80, and there is no access to get a good up close look at it, as Momen didn't spring for an exit ramp off the highway, so you either have to stop illegally along I-80, or snap away furiously as you whip past it going down the freeway. It's a wonderful site to behold though, in all its weirdness and odd beauty, right down to the shard-like "leaves" strewn around its fenced-in base.

Coming across a great roadside work of art like this makes me as happy as leaving my cake out in the rain, with its sweet green icing flowing down, and I'll never have that recipe again. How's that for a metaphor?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I read the news today, oh boy: Some eccentric roadside attraction dispatches from the real media

We interrupt this blog to bring you this bulletin concerning two eccentric roadside attraction news events. The first one comes from CBS News and the great Steve Hartman. He interviewed the creator of Amarillo, Texas's Cadillac Ranch, and, as if that wasn't already enough, he also talked to the owners of Alliance, Nebraska's Carhenge in his weekly "On The Road" feature. Take a look:

Photo by Chip Litherland/Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The other noteworthy item comes from The Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune. They report the city's 26-foot "Unconditional Surrender" statue of a sailor kissing a nurse has been removed for repairs due to damage it suffered after a 62-year old woman crashed her Mercedes E350 sedan into it. The impact knocked a hole about the size of a microwave oven into the sailor's foot and the car was left by the statue for some time after until a way to extract the two could be figured out. The driver said she was suffering from a reaction to some medicine when the crash occurred. The plan is to have the statue trucked to New Jersey so that the artist, Seward Johnson, can make the repairs. Here's a link to the story:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Swede it is: Greetings from Swedesburg, Iowa

Swedesburg welcomes you.

The Swedish American Museum

 John Alvine and David Johanson (not The New York Dolls-Buster Poindexter David Johanson, another David Johanson) were Swedeburg's last Swedish immigrants.

David emigrated as a child and before he left Sweden, his mother knitted him these socks, which he kept under his pillow.

Downtown Swedesburg

They have a handsome goat made out of hay bales to beckon the passersby to stop and visit.

One of our favorite things to do when driving through an area we haven't visited before is to get off the main roads and into some tiny little place we couldn't have imagined visiting back home. We looked up Swedesburg, Iowa, since Sherry is of Swedish heritage and I have a Swedish first name. It's a very small, unincorporated community in southeastern Iowa and the great travel website mentioned they have a giant straw goat there, so what more did we need? As you would expect, there are lots of farms in this region, but the Swedes who came here over 100 years ago had to do some swamp-draining to make this place livable, and swamp-drain they did. Reminded me a little of Swamp Castle in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". Today Swedesburg's Swedish American Museum pays tribute to those rugged Scandinavians with pictures, books, documents, exhibits, and living, breathing people who will gladly tell you all about it. You'll see so many references to lutefisk, St. Lucia and dala horses that you won't mind the lack of Ingmar Bergman, Volvos or ABBA.

Swedesburg, vi älskar er!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eccentric street name of the week

No doubt paved with assphalt.

Please like us, please really really like us

Proving that we are only six or seven years behind the cutting edge of technology and social media, we now have a page on Facebook (or is it MyFace?) devoted to Eccentric Roadside. Click on the widget at the top left of this blog (or here) and please like us... we could use all the eccentric friends we can get.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Isn't it ironic?

One door for karate and physical therapy.

Beach, North Dakota

Well, brown's a color too.

A town in the deep south with the same name as the Great Emancipator: Lincoln, Alabama.

I'm sure you can have a good life in Nebraska, but you wouldn't know they're the home of Arbor Day from this picture.

Privilege Street.

I love this place but it's not exactly what you'd call modern.

This was in a gift shop at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

No comment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eccentric street name of the week

Hats off to Larry Street, and all the great Larrys out there. Here are a few of our favorites:

Larry Fine

Larry Tate from "Bewitched"

Larry Storch

Larry Hagman

Amazing Larry, left, from "Pee Wee's Big Adventure"

Larry Mondello from "Leave It To Beaver"

Got a favorite Larry? Let us know.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

It's a big world after all: The world's largest revolving/rotating globe of Yarmouth, Maine

Eartha is housed in this beautiful 3-story glass atrium.

I always hoped to see Cape Horn some day.

Eartha was down for renovations when we were there, so she was more like "The Day The Earth Stood Still".

Eartha is located on DeLorme Drive, just off of Route 1 in Yarmouth, Maine.

They've got a nice map store and gift shop, featuring these extra cool globes... well as everything else in The World.

The DeLorme Company likes to call itself "the longtime leader in innovative mapping and GPS solutions for commercial and government markets." In other words, they make maps and world is their oyster. Their "world" headquarters are in the picturesque Maine coast town of Yarmouth, just down the road apiece from L.L. Bean's flagship store. To put their company on the, er, map, they built a honey of an eccentric roadside attraction: the world's largest revolving/rotating globe, housed inside a 3-story glass atrium. And it's not just a mook like me that says it's the biggest world in the world, it's got the Guinness Book of World's Records' seal of approval. The globe, known as Eartha (and built, one presumes, from an Eartha kit), measures 41 feet, 1 and 1/2 inches and it revolves on a specially designed mechanized cantilever arm. And just like the real thing, Eartha tilts at 23.5 degrees and rotates on its axis. Unlike the real thing, two electric motors do Eartha's spinning. All that largeness and rotating eventually take their toll, however, and Eartha has to be given a tune-up and makeover periodically. This was the case when we visited last fall, but we didn't mind. Even standing still, it was quite a sight to see. More recently, they say the renovations have made a world of difference and Eartha could be spinning again in world-class condition perhaps as soon as a couple of weeks from now.

So, if you'd like to see what the world is coming to, stop by DeLorme's. It's out of this world, it'll do you a world of good and you shouldn't miss it for the world. (And if you think those puns are awful, just be grateful this wasn't the world's largest Uranus).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cart blanche: Johnston, Rhode Island's 12-foot hand cart

Those are real automobile tires, you know.

I couldn't get a picture of a person in front of the cart, so I've photoshopped two 5-foot-six Ringo Starrs in correct proportion to the 12-foot cart.

There's nothing we love along the open road more than an over-sized object to get your attention, and there's a great, big one in the humble New England berg of Johnston, Rhode Island. The Yankee Supply Company, who make used industrial warehousing equipment their specialty, has a 12-foot tall, gleaming red hand cart in front of their headquarters on busy Route 6, near exit 6 off I-295. It's so big, in fact, the wheels are actual Continental brand automobile tires. The Yankee workers refer to it as the "Paul Bunyan hand truck" and it occasionally leaves its perch to travel (by large truck one assumes) to trade shows (thanks

We live for moments like this, when ordinary objects become roadside giants, so hats off to you, Yankee Supply. Baby you can drive our cart, beep beep, mm, beep beep, yeah!